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

Share this Blog
59
+

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

Reader Comments

Comments will take a few seconds to appear.

Post Your Comments

Please sign in to post comments.

or Join

Not only will you be able to leave comments on this blog, but you'll also have the ability to upload and share your photos in our Wunder Photos section.

Display: 0, 50, 100, 200 Sort: Newest First - Order Posted

Viewing: 131 - 81

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30 | 31 | 32 | 33 | 34 | 35 | 36 | 37 | 38 | 39 | 40 | 41 | 42 | 43 | 44 | 45 | 46 | 47 | 48 | 49 | 50 | 51 | 52 | 53 | 54 | 55 | 56 | 57 | 58 | 59 | 60 | 61 | 62 | 63 | 64 | 65 | 66 | 67 | 68 | 69 | 70 | 71 | 72 | 73 | 74 | 75 | 76 | 77 | 78 | 79 | 80 | 81 | 82 | 83Blog Index

"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."

Thank you as always, Dr Masters and this FL Gulf Coaster says no to recurvature!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
my daughter just moved to North Carolina, and I live on the Gulf...I don't like ANY of the models now...
too much uncertainty and guessing.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting sar2401:


Umm...sure...OK...huh?
I believe they are referring to Dr. M's blog post about the decrease in greenhouse gas emission and possible attribution of using natural gas rather than coal. The aquisition of natural gas deposits in the shale, be it from the Barnett or elsewhere. requires Hydraulic Fracturing or 'fracking' of the rock. The process is fairly straight forward - using 'salt water' at high speeds to break apart the rock, thereby sending the pockets of gas toward the surface. The main issue is the 'salt water.' Each energy company going after natural gas uses their own, proprietary and therefore patented cocktail of 'salts' along with the public water supply of the area they are in to get the gas. It is impossible to recapture 100% of the 'salt water." Therefore, some of it remains in the ground, polluting the water table, and anyone who has a well in the area will get sick drinking their own water. 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.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
94l moving fast

Member Since: Posts: Comments:



Member Since: August 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1933
Quoting nofailsafe:
I woke up yesterday morning with the GFS showing Isaac knocking on my door here in Houston, I wake up this morning and see that it wants to crash the party in Florida, with two more hours until the 12z GFS I half expect it to wind up in Georgia.


12z already running. :)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:


STRONG CAT 3...is there room for cat 5 since moving so slowwww...
very bad for Taiwan
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
122. CJ5
Quoting CarolinaHurricanes87:


Have you not seen videos of people who can literally light their running water on fire? I personally would prefer not to drink flammable "water", and am pretty angry at NC legislato(R)s for approving fracking here.


The lighting of water on fire from a faucet has been around before fracking was even a technology. Not to say that there are some issues with fracking but firey faucets is not one of them.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting GetReal:





It appears that 95L is going NOWHERE fast, as it is currently located in an area lacking steering.

94L should continue west, or slightly WSW for the immediate future.

Hopefully it will just hitch a ride on the front's tail and keep moving without develop. Looks like Florida is in for a lot of rain though.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
I woke up yesterday morning with the GFS showing Isaac knocking on my door here in Houston, I wake up this morning and see that it wants to crash the party in Florida, with two more hours until the 12z GFS I half expect it to wind up in Georgia.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

Even though they take it through the Caribbean, they show that trough sitting on the East Coast for a long time. It should eventually get pulled north somewhere.


It does get pulled north but more than likely this happens in the C or Western Caribbean because of 94L not being able to organize more quickly. It 94L were stronger then it would tend to go more east. That seems to be the thinking of the GFS and Euro.

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting RTSplayer:
Arctic Sea Ice Area has broken the all time record low, even though the historical average annual low is on Sept 10 or 11.


An interesting connection is that the peak in sea ice coincides with the peak in tropical cyclone activity in the Atlantic Basin - September 10th or so.

As weather cools, sea ice starts expanding, the polar jet stream strengthens and shifts southward, bringing higher shear first to the mid-latitudes and then to the tropics.

It would be interesting to research the reduction in sea ice and how that impacts this process (my hypothesis would be that it'll extend the hurricane season a bit as the increasing shear would be somewhat slower to develop).

There is already some research that suggests the reduced sea ice leads to increased snowfall in the Autumn in high latitudes as more moisture is available from the ocean.
Member Since: June 15, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 291
Quoting CarolinaHurricanes87:


Have you not seen videos of people who can literally light their running water on fire? I personally would prefer not to drink flammable "water", and am pretty angry at NC legislato(R)s for approving fracking here.


Yes, I have, but this is not the time to be discussing fracking when we have a bunch of active invests, tropical storms, and typhoons happening at the same time.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting StormTracker2K:


That would be the case however the trough lifts out and allows the Bermuda High to build back across FL allowing for a WNW or NW near or over FL. Levi's track is way out to lunch especially when 2 of our most reliable models show 94L to come up across Cuba then over FL. Of course models change but it really appears as if the Euro and GFS are locking in a solution here.


Even though they take it through the Caribbean, they show that trough sitting on the East Coast for a long time. It should eventually get pulled north somewhere.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Got a bit of low pressure in the gulf. Haven't seen it off the coast on GFS for days.

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting MaryMichell46:


What in the hell does this have to do with the subject at hand. You must have drank some of duranta's radioactive water.

I asked a quick question to him, since I'm concerned about my state. Then back on topic.
Member Since: August 1, 2011 Posts: 28 Comments: 7900
see comment 33 for my update on 94L graphic forecast...
if you have not already...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Tropicsweatherpr:


I wonder if this may nudge the high eastward allowing 94L to track north of the Leewards and having the Levi forecsst track.


That would be the case however the trough lifts out and allows the Bermuda High to build back across FL allowing for a WNW or NW near or over FL. Levi's track is way out to lunch especially when 2 of our most reliable models show 94L to come up across Cuba then over FL. Of course models change but it really appears as if the Euro and GFS are locking in a solution here.

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting ILikeIke:

So when will they peg this thing TD9?
Need more thunderstorms to forms and that's it.
Member Since: August 1, 2011 Posts: 28 Comments: 7900
Quoting ILikeIke:

So when will they peg this thing TD9?


When it has A thunderstorm
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
104. VR46L
Hmmm this is a rather interesting shot of the GULF in Rainbow

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting CarolinaHurricanes87:


Pretty recently. Expect more bad things once Bev Purdue is voted out :(

Also voted to ignore sea level rise studies (expecting a 3.3 foot sea level rise) to help make sure coastal regions are prepared... instead going with the average sea level rise over the previous 88 years (avg 8 inches a year). Hopefully it cools down soon or coastal NC will be in trouble
Guess so... I just really hate it when politics disrespect science.
Member Since: August 1, 2011 Posts: 28 Comments: 7900
Quoting GetReal:





It appears that 95L is going NOWHERE fast, as it is currently located in an area lacking steering.

94L should continue west, or slightly WSW for the immediate future.


The weeknrss is la
Member Since: Posts: Comments:





It appears that 95L is going NOWHERE fast, as it is currently located in an area lacking steering.

94L should continue west, or slightly WSW for the immediate future.
Member Since: July 4, 2005 Posts: 204 Comments: 8806
Quoting Bluestorm5:
Seriously? When did they approved fracking in our state?


Pretty recently. Expect more bad things once Bev Purdue is voted out :(

Also voted to ignore sea level rise studies (expecting a 3.3 foot sea level rise) to help make sure coastal regions are prepared... instead going with the average sea level rise over the previous 88 years (avg 8 inches a year). Hopefully it cools down soon or coastal NC will be in trouble
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting GetReal:


95L seems to have possibly made the connection to the front that is currently across the northern GOM. Waiting to see if it will react and start moving ENE.


The situation was similar yesterday, with 95L's convection almost joining up wth the convective wave from the front to the north. All the convection from 95L collapsed during the night and is now begining to regenerate. It appears that 95L has almost become the southern end of the front, and should die or head west as the front dissipates by Wednesday.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting StormTracker2K:
It looks like a Springtime set up today across FL with a 120knt jet nose moving in later along with a squall line. Tampa Bay area over to Orlando are going to get whacked later today. As this squall line moves in it will cause lot of low lying flooding as 2" to 4" are likely to occur over a very short period of time especially as some of these storms begin to train in.





I wonder if this may nudge the high eastward allowing 94L to track north of the Leewards and having the Levi forecast track.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
And I wundered why the blog was dead...

There was a new blog
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting GetReal:


Looks to be winding up there pretty good.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 20505
Here is what we are looking at for Typhoon Tembin which is currently at 125 mph and forecasted to become even stronger before landfall that is forecasted to be around T'aitung, Taiwan which has a population of ~ 230,000 people.

Population density map of Taiwan...



City and Elevation Detail of Tawain...



Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Tembin.
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 20505
Member Since: July 4, 2005 Posts: 204 Comments: 8806
Arctic Sea Ice Area has broken the all time record low, even though the historical average annual low is on Sept 10 or 11.



Yeah.



Member Since: Posts: Comments:
It looks like a Springtime set up today across FL with a 120knt jet nose moving in later along with a squall line. Tampa Bay area over to Orlando are going to get whacked later today. As this squall line moves in it will cause lot of low lying flooding as 2" to 4" are likely to occur over a very short period of time especially as some of these storms begin to train in.



Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting odinslightning:



As I have said in the past if you don't know what your talking about please shut up and don't confuse those that come here for valid information.


You're absolutely right, some of us come here for valid information. However, when I, (because I am one of those coming for valid information)come here and see folks tell others to shut up, the validity of your information plunges into the depths of misinformation.

So, maybe take a kinder and gentler stance next time you disagree with another blogger.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:

Viewing: 131 - 81

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30 | 31 | 32 | 33 | 34 | 35 | 36 | 37 | 38 | 39 | 40 | 41 | 42 | 43 | 44 | 45 | 46 | 47 | 48 | 49 | 50 | 51 | 52 | 53 | 54 | 55 | 56 | 57 | 58 | 59 | 60 | 61 | 62 | 63 | 64 | 65 | 66 | 67 | 68 | 69 | 70 | 71 | 72 | 73 | 74 | 75 | 76 | 77 | 78 | 79 | 80 | 81 | 82 | 83Blog Index

Top of Page

About

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