Three Atlantic threat areas may develop; a record fire season for the U.S.

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:43 PM GMT on August 20, 2012

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A large tropical wave (Invest 94L) located about 1100 miles east of the Lesser Antilles Islands is headed west at 20 - 25 mph, and is showing increasing organization today. The storm is under light wind shear of 5 - 10 knots, and is over waters of 27°C. A large area of dry air lies just to the north of 94L, as seen on the latest Saharan Air Layer (SAL) analysis and water vapor satellite loops. This dry air is interfering with development, and this morning's visible satellite loop shows that 94L's heavy thunderstorm activity is sparse. However, the satellite loops do show that 94L has now separated from the clumps of heavy thunderstorms to its south, and a pretty well-defined surface circulation has developed. Heavy thunderstorms are now attempting to fire up around this circulation center, but are being hampered by dry air. The center of 94L was about 80 miles to the north of buoy 41041 at 10 am Monday morning, and the buoy recorded SW winds of 10 mph, confirming that 94L probably does have a closed surface circulation. The disturbance will have to build and maintain more heavy thunderstorms than it has now to be considered a tropical depression, though. The first hurricane hunter mission into 94L is scheduled for Tuesday afternoon.


Figure 1. Morning satellite image of Invest 94L.

Forecast for 94L
The latest 8 am EDT run of the SHIPS model predicts that wind shear will be low, 5 - 10 knots, for the next five days. Ocean temperatures will warm from 27°C this morning to 28.5°C by Wednesday morning, and the total heat content of the ocean will increase sharply during that period, as well. The main impediment to development will be dry air to the north, and the SHIPS model predicts the amount of dry air will change little over the next five days. I expect that 94L will continue to struggle with dry air through Wednesday, when it will probably have had enough time to moisten the surrounding atmosphere and protect itself against the dry air. The models have shown increasing unity in taking 94L through the Lesser Antilles on Wednesday, and I expect the storm will be a tropical depression or weak tropical storm with 40 - 50 mph winds at that time. In their 8 am EDT Tropical Weather Outlook, NHC gave 94L a 80% chance of developing into a tropical depression by Wednesday morning. None of the reliable models predict that 94L will reach hurricane strength over the next five days, and it is unlikely that 94L will be able to organize quickly enough to become anything stronger than a 60 mph tropical storm before reaching the Lesser Antilles, given the storm's current struggles with dry air, and the lack of model support for intensification. However, once 94L enters the Eastern Caribbean, wind shear will be low, oceanic heat content high, and the storm should have had enough time to moisten the atmosphere to allow steady strengthening to occur. The main factor that might prevent intensification into a hurricane late this week would be a close pass by the island of Hispaniola. Our top models for long-range 4 - 5 days forecasts all show a path for 94L very close to the island.

Will 94L hit the U.S. mainland?
This storm is a long-range threat to the U.S., as historically, 16% of storms in 94L's location have gone on to hit the U.S., with North Carolina the preferred target (10% chance.) A trough of low pressure capable of pulling 94L to the north enters Western Canada Thursday night, and the exact timing and amplitude of this trough will determine the ultimate landfall location of 94L. The long range 7 - 14 day runs of the GFS model over the past three day have all predicted an eventual landfall for 94L in the U.S., though these long-range runs are notoriously unreliable. The predicted landfall locations have ranged from New England to Texas--which isn't much help. The past three runs beginning on Sunday afternoon have all taken 94L over Florida during the August 27 - 29 time frame, which I'm sure is making organizers of the Republican National Convention uncomfortable, since the convention is in Tampa August 27 - 30. However, 94L could miss Florida completely, as the average error in model forecasts going out 7 days is in excess of 500 miles. We can't rule out a North Carolina landfall, but the pattern we've seen so far this year is for landfalls in Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, so a more southwards path for 94L into the Yucatan is definitely a possibility. Also, we have that huge drought region in the Midwest, which tends to create its own high pressure bubble, which reduces the odds of storms making the turn and hitting the Central or Western Gulf Coast. If 94L makes it to the Western Caribbean, I see the two most likely options as a landfall in Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula (and then westwards into Mexico south of the Texas border), or recurvature into the Florida Gulf Coast.


Figure 2. MODIS satellite image of Hurricane Gordon taken on Sunday August 19, 2012, at 11:55 am EDT. At the time, Gordon was a Category 2 hurricane with 100 mph winds. Image credit: NASA.

Gordon hits the Azores
The eye of Hurricane Gordon passed over Santa Maria Island in the eastern Azores Islands near 1:30 am EDT this morning. Gordon was a Category 1 hurricane with 75 - 80 mph winds at landfall. Winds at the Santa Maria airport reached a sustained 49 mph at 3 am EDT, but the airport did not report winds during passage of the eyewall at 1:30 am. Reuters reported that Gordon caused only minor flooding and power outages. The hurricane is being sheared apart by strong upper-level winds, and the extratropical remnants of Gordon will not bring any strong winds or significant rain to Europe.

Disturbance 95L in the Gulf near the Texas/Mexico border
A region of disturbed weather (Invest 95L) has developed in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast, just northeast of Tampico, Mexico. The disturbance is due to a trough of low pressure and its associated cold front which moved off the coast over the weekend, but has been fortified via moisture from Tropical Storm Helene, which made landfall Saturday near Tampico. If 95L were to develop into a tropical storm, it would receive a new name. In their 8 am EDT Tropical Weather Outlook, NHC gave 95L a 30% chance of developing into a tropical cyclone by Wednesday morning. An Air Force hurricane hunter aircraft is scheduled to investigate 95L this afternoon. Winds at Tampico this morning were light out of the northeast, which implies that no surface circulation is forming at this time. Radar out of Altamira, Mexico does show some banding to the precipitation echoes, though, which may be indicative of something trying to spin up. The computer models show that 95L should move little over the next few days.


Figure 3. Radar out of Altamira, Mexico at 9:45 am EDT August 20, 2012, shows some banding to the precipitation echoes in association with 95L.

Disturbance 96L off the coast of Africa
The tropical Atlantic is very busy this third week of August, and this is the week of the year that we typically see a major ramp-up of tropical storm activity in the Atlantic. A new tropical wave that emerged from the coast of Africa Sunday (Invest 96L) is headed west at 15 - 20 mph. This disturbance has a modest amount of spin and heavy thunderstorm activity, and is under a moderate 10 - 20 knots of wind shear. In their 8 am EDT Tropical Weather Outlook, NHC gave 96L a 20% chance of developing into a tropical cyclone by Wednesday morning. This disturbance does not have much model support for development.


Figure 4. The new Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership satellite (S-NPP) carries an instrument so sensitive to low light levels that it can detect wildfires in the middle of the night. On August 17, 2012, the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on Suomi-NPP acquired this image of the wildfires blazing in Idaho. The images were created with data from the instrument’s "day-night band," which sensed the fire in the visible portion of the spectrum. The Halstead Fire, centered about 18 miles northwest of Stanley, was sparked by lightning on July 27, and is burning in an area with large numbers of trees killed by the mountain pine beetle. As of Sunday afternoon, the fire had burned 92,000 acres was only 5% contained, according to InciWeb. The fire prompted the evacuation of the town of Featherville on Saturday night. Red flag warnings for adverse fire weather were posted in the region yesterday, and temperatures reached the low 90s with 16% humidity and winds of 10 mph. Image credit: NASA.

A record fire season in the U.S.
Massive fires continue to burn in Nevada, Idaho and California, and fires that are currently active in the Western U.S. have consumed over 1.3 million acres of land--an area approximately the size of Delaware. Thanks to widespread drought and unusually high temperatures over the past month, 3 million acres have gone up in flames since mid-July, and the fire season of 2012 now ranks in first place for the most acreage burned at this point in the year. According to the Interagency Fire Center, 6.8 million acres have burned as of August 19 this year, beating the previous record set just last year (6.5 million acres for the year-to-date period.) The Interagency Fire Center shows year-to-date records just for the past ten years. The 2012 fire season is well ahead of the pace of 2006, which was the worst fire year in the U.S. for total acreage burned in a year (records began in 1960). In 2006, 9.9 million acres burned, and 6.4 million acres had burned by August 19. With drought conditions far more widespread this year compared to 2006, and the latest forecasts calling for little drought relief over the coming two months, 2012 is likely to surpass 2006 as the worst fire year in U.S. history before the end of the year.


Figure 5. Comparison of drought conditions between the previous record fire year in the contiguous U.S. (2006) with 2012. Drought is much more widespread in 2012 compared to 2006, and 2012 will likely finish ahead of 2006 for the most acreage burned since record keeping began in 1960. Image credit: U.S. Drought Monitor.

Global warming expected to increase fire activity in the Western U.S.
As I blogged about in June, the severe fire seasons of 2012 and 2011 fit the pattern of what we expect to see more of with global warming. Hotter heat waves dry out vegetation more readily, resulting in increased probability of more acreage burned. A study published in the Journal Ecosphere in June 2012 used fire models driven by the output from sixteen climate models used in the 2007 IPCC report and found that while 8% of the planet should see decreases in fire activity over the next 30 years, 38% should see increases. By the end of the century, 20% of the globe should see decreased fire activity, and 62% increased fire activity. In the U.S., the regions most at risk of increased fires are the tundra regions of northern Alaska, and the West, with Arizona and Colorado at particularly high risk.

Jeff Masters

hugh blanket of smoke (got2dogs)
blew in about an hr after my last upload here - I thought I was done for the nite, but this smoke was incredible! made for some awesome light - sooooo eerie!
hugh blanket of smoke
Smoke! What smoke ?? (saltydawgg)
12th Ave road South looking north. Nampa Idaho full of smoke from 7 fires at last count with more dry lightning on the way.
Smoke! What smoke ??
Temecula Fire (photoandy)
This is just two hours after ignition! It quickly became a PYROCUMULUS...
Temecula Fire

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from last blog

right just want to put this out there

this was my forecast cone from late last night in colour




and this is mine now the cone has shifted abit N and has a more N track at the end of the run also extended for an extra 24 hours

(tracks on Jamaicas S coast and track NW between Grand Cayman and its sister islands then up into Cuba then towards Fl and turns back WNW towards NE GOM coast warning no colour



I don't have much confidence with this cone due to the fact that 94L is not offically TD9 yet I am waiting for advisory to come out and forecast cone given
Member Since: June 13, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 11002
Uh Oh, I live in Ft. Myers.
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Quoting AllStar17:
SHOWER AND THUNDERSTORM ACTIVITY HAS INCREASED OVER THE WESTERN GULF
OF MEXICO IN ASSOCIATION WITH A SURFACE TROUGH. SOME GRADUAL
DEVELOPMENT OF THIS SYSTEM IS POSSIBLE DURING THE NEXT DAY OR SO IF
IT REMAINS OFFSHORE. THIS SYSTEM HAS A MEDIUM CHANCE...30
PERCENT...OF BECOMING A TROPICAL CYCLONE DURING THE NEXT 48 HOURS.
REGARDLESS OF DEVELOPMENT...HEAVY RAINFALL IS POSSIBLE IN THE
MEXICAN STATES OF TAMAULIPAS AND VERACRUZ DURING THE NEXT DAY OR
TWO. AN AIR FORE RESERVE HURRICANE HUNTER AIRCRAFT IS SCHEDULED TO
INVESTIGATE THIS SYSTEM LATER TODAY.


Anybody know if this is still a go into 95L?

Yes!
Member Since: June 4, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 767
Quoting Charliesgirl:


lord, Pat! good thing that stuff set up south of us. We would all have to get out our swim fins to get around.


I hear ya Darling.

"Splish Splash I was taking a bath"....
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 420 Comments: 127543
I've been marking the position of 94L based on satellite fixes, lined it out, and this is what I got:

Member Since: August 1, 2011 Posts: 28 Comments: 7898
Anyone else notice there is convection and a mid level circulation forming under a small anti-cyclone in the W. Caribbean!?

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Not looking too hot right now. Dry air coupled with a 20 knot forward speed isn't helping at all.

This is a very large system with a large cyclonic envelope, so it will take at least 24-36 hours to completely mix out dry air. Once this nears the islands, foward motion might slow a little to 10-15 knots, but that might only help a little.

Right now I could see a 50 mph tropical storm affecting the islands in 48 hours. Thereafter, I would look for more steady intensification in the eastern/central Caribbean. Anywhere from 50-70 knots seems reasonable right now. The IVCN has made a big adjustment up to C2 just south of Hispaniola by D5, so this does have the potential to strengthen into something formidable ONLY IF 94L can take advantages of small breaks in forward speed and dry air.


Member Since: June 9, 2007 Posts: 4 Comments: 15776
Quoting StormTracker2K:
94L now aims for the RNC Convention! LOL!

..would be funny tho..watching all those fat cats running lol..nah it wont happen..hurricanes dont come here, not this time of year
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 36855
Right over Fort Myers FL

Member Since: October 26, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2651
SHOWER AND THUNDERSTORM ACTIVITY HAS INCREASED OVER THE WESTERN GULF
OF MEXICO IN ASSOCIATION WITH A SURFACE TROUGH. SOME GRADUAL
DEVELOPMENT OF THIS SYSTEM IS POSSIBLE DURING THE NEXT DAY OR SO IF
IT REMAINS OFFSHORE. THIS SYSTEM HAS A MEDIUM CHANCE...30
PERCENT...OF BECOMING A TROPICAL CYCLONE DURING THE NEXT 48 HOURS.
REGARDLESS OF DEVELOPMENT...HEAVY RAINFALL IS POSSIBLE IN THE
MEXICAN STATES OF TAMAULIPAS AND VERACRUZ DURING THE NEXT DAY OR
TWO. AN AIR FORE RESERVE HURRICANE HUNTER AIRCRAFT IS SCHEDULED TO
INVESTIGATE THIS SYSTEM LATER TODAY.


Anybody know if this is still a go into 95L?
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219. 7544
999 mb picks up the warm waters by the keys hmm could be a cat 1 for so fl imo
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

Shhhh, you're going to scare people.


You must still be on lunch break I take it. LOL.
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Quoting Bluestorm5:
Levi on Facebook: 95L, a split-off from Helene, is making noise at the tail-end of the front in the Gulf of Mexico SSE of Brownsville. Recon plane to go in there in a few hours. Remember? I told you she wasn't done. Still worth keeping an eye on for fast ramp-up near the coast, especially if it gains some latitude.


I missed yesterday: did it split from Helene as a spin-off or simply develop from that batch of T-storms left over the water? -- Or....? Thanks for the update.
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Morning Baha, good to see ya. How about keep an eye on this one and do NOT let it some how sneak to the N of PR/DR and Cuba....
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Quoting Patrap:




lord, Pat! good thing that stuff set up south of us. We would all have to get out our swim fins to get around.
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Quoting 7544:
looks like another fl run



I would rather be in the cone early in the cycles. That pretty much improves the chance that this storm will stay way clear of the RNC.
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Quoting aquak9:
161. duranta 12:04 PM EDT on August 20, 2012 +0
There's a lot of ignorance on this blog about fracking.


There's a lotta ignorance on this blog about the TOPIC!!!

(twit? or bonehead? pondering, pondering...)

BONEHEAD!


He breaks one rule (going off topic)... you respond by breaking EVERY rule:

1) Off topic
2) Personal attack
3) Didn't ignore the original off topic post

If you don't like it, ignore it. If it becomes a problem with dozens of off-topic posts clogging up the blog, report it. I feel responses like yours are more of a problem than an occasional off topic (but still interesting to some) post...

Anyway, on to the tropics:

I know the models have been pointing 94L to Florida for a few runs now... have they been consistent on the timing, and if so, what is the timeframe looking like? TIA
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Quoting MississippiWx:
Kind of funny, or not so funny, that one of the top analogs being shown now for the 8-10 day period is August 29, 2005.


Shhhh, you're going to scare people.
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Could be a total evacuation of Tampa Bay area if this plays out. Notice that a piece of this trough breaks off and slides into the Gulf while ventilating 94L


Member Since: October 26, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2651
if this system does manage to avoid land and takes the southern route over water then barely skirts cuba as shown in this run, that is not good at all
Quoting StormTracker2K:
YIKES!!!

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Quoting duranta:
There's a lot of ignorance on this blog about fracking. Here's a link to the waste water generated from fracking.:

Risk analysts have concluded that the disposal of contaminated wastewater from hydraulic fracturing (or “fracking”) wells producing natural gas in the intensively developed Marcellus Shale region poses a substantial potential risk of river and other water pollution. That conclusion, the analysts say, calls for regulators and others to consider additional mandatory steps to reduce the potential of drinking water contamination from salts and naturally occurring radioactive materials, such as uranium, radium and radon from the rapidly expanding fracking industry.

http://ecowatch.org/2012/fracking-water-pollution -risk/


Off-topic from weather, nevertheless, I will say they should not risk peoples' drinking water & wellbeing for corp. greed, so need to not chance disasters -- they cannot undue things if they screw up, so gotta be careful.
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208. 7544
looks like another fl run
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Quoting LargoFl:
..................when a plane finally goes in and they find it still disorganized..what then
85% mayb
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Member Since: October 26, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2651
PR NEWS: AEMEAD exhorta a repasar planes de emergencia

Por su parte, el director ejecutivo de la Agencia Estatal para el Manejo de Emergencias y Administración de Desastres (AEMEAD), Heriberto Saurí, exhortó hoy a la ciudadanía a que debe mantenerse alerta ante paso de una onda tropical al Sur de Puerto Rico entre miércoles y jueves; y a repasar los planes de emergencia familiar como parte de la preparación en esta temporada de huracanes

AEMEAD encouraged to review emergency plans

Meanwhile, the executive director of the State Agency for Emergency Management and Disaster Management (AEMEAD), Heriberto Saurí Tuesday urged the public to be alert to passage of a tropical wave south of Puerto Rico between Wednesday and Thursday, and review family emergency plans as part of preparedness this hurricane season




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204. CJ5
Quoting AegirsGal:
The EPA has its hands tied. It can't test the water, or air, if the mix of chemical 'salts' used are being protected by patents.


Please keep the discussions honest. That last sentence has no basis in fact. The EPA can and does test air and water without regard to proprietary or patented formulas.
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The GFS 006z

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Quoting will40:



getting his act back together but 150 hrs out
Hello Donna....
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West-Southwest Winds At the Buoy 41041.


Interesting looking at the Dew Point changes through the hours...

Background dewpoints preceding 94L were around 80-81F, close to the ocean temp. As the disturbance approached, some dry air on the western side dropped the dew point to around 75.

It appears now that the dewpoint is bouncing back as the southern portion of the disturbance is more moist.


Essentially, dry SAL air is being pulled down in the northeast winds ahead of the disturbance, but the inflow in the southern (and likely eastern) quadrants of the storm are more favorable.

This agrees with the satellite imagery (RGB) loop that I had analyzed and posted about earlier this morning.


Member Since: June 15, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 291
4 runs in a row with a FL landfall.
Member Since: October 26, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2651
Kind of funny, or not so funny, that one of the top analogs being shown now for the 8-10 day period is August 29, 2005.

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NOAA Historical Hurricane Tracks

Plug in your zip code and a radius, and see all the storms that have passed through your area.

Thanx Emmy,...
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 420 Comments: 127543



getting his act back together but 150 hrs out
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Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 36855
YIKES!!!

Member Since: October 26, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2651
I did a blog at 4 this morning. If anyone wants to look at it. I was very tired so it is not very good. If you don't, I'll understand.


I lost my times next to the GFS models on the Huffman site. Can anyone provide them for me?
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Quoting ILikeIke:
So it'll probably be a weak TS and crash into Haiti im guessing?


A trip over PR/DR and then the eastern mountains of Cuba is a very, very daunting task for anything to become much more than a TS after it gets off of Cuba unless it finds more open water than just the Fl straits.
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Quoting ChimpWidaLimp:


The Pattern simply does not support an easy recurve.


Well... it doesn't..
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94L now aims for the RNC Convention! LOL!

Member Since: October 26, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2651
Afternoon all.

On the SAL, I'm wondering if it's drier than average conditions or higher than average winds that are leading to the increased SAL this late in the season. Normally by now the monsoonal rains over SubSaharan W AFrica have done a fair amount to moderate dust production....

Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 21483
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Quoting reedzone:


I said this many times, but all I get is "Reeds wishcasting the storm to Florida or NY"


The pattern shown in that graphic has not been a common pattern this season. Blocking over SE Canada has been basically weak to non-existent since an area of weak troughing has been present most of the season.
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Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 36855
Here we go!

Member Since: October 26, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2651


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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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