Zeta (again!), and the Texas drought

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 4:06 PM GMT on January 05, 2006

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I was hoping to be able to declare an end to the Hurricane Season of 2005 today, but Zeta had other ideas. After weakening to a tropical depression last night, Zeta has made another comeback and is a tropical storm again. Satellite imagery is showing deep convection moving in towards Zeta's center on the east side, and both ship reports and satellite measurements support calling Zeta a tropical storm once again. The wind shear has apparently dropped this morning, allowing the re-organization. This is likely to be short-lived, and extremely high levels of wind shear are forecast to impact the storm tonight. This shear will surely tear Zeta apart by Saturday at the latest.

The Texas/Oklahoma drought
The latest drought map for the U.S. was released today, as it is every Thursday by the NOAA Climate Prediction Center. Comparing today's image to the one from a month ago shows the steady increase in area and severity of the drought affecting Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and surrounding areas. Today's drought map now puts the Dallas/Fort Worth metro area into the "exceptional" drought category, the most severe category of drought. Ninety-day rainfall totaled less than half normal across the southern Mississippi Valley, resulting in "severe" drought expanding into northeastern Arkansas and southwestern Missouri, while the "extreme" drought in southern Texas joined the extreme drought area in the north. Twelve-month rainfall deficits exceed 20 inches in southeast Oklahoma, northeast Texas, southwest Arkansas, and parts of Louisiana. It's ironic to note that had Hurricane Rita hit Houston and moved northward across Dallas/Fort Worth as originally forecast, her 4-8 inch rains would have likely saved tens of millions of dollars in drought damage the area is seeing now. Of course, Rita would have done billions in other damage, so I'm sure given the choice, the drought-stricken areas will take the drought!

Easing of the Northwestern U.S. drought
Figure 1 also shows a marked easing of the drought affecting the Northwest U.S., where most areas have been under a significant 5-7 year drought. While just one season of rains cannot put enough groundwater back into the aquifers to fully break such a long term drought, conditions this winter are a fantastic turn around for an area that was under extreme to exceptional drought for years.

Figure 1. Drought maps for December 6 and January 3, showing the progression of the drought over Texas, and the relaxing of the drought over the Northwestern U.S.

Jeff Masters

Wildfire near Stephenville (Schnucki)
This wildfire was put out by the brave firefighters in Erath County, TX on January 3rd, 2006
Wildfire near Stephenville

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89. atmosweather
5:03 AM GMT on January 06, 2006
Hey David, send some over to central Florida please :)
Member Since: September 24, 2005 Posts: 33 Comments: 9265
88. haydn
5:01 AM GMT on January 06, 2006
Hope everyone has a good day tmorrow. Here it's midnight. If I happen to wake at 4 I'll check on Zeta. My prediction when I wake is a depression. I'll see if it verifies later on. Goodnight.
87. KatrinaRitaWilmaZeta
4:58 AM GMT on January 06, 2006
haydn no i live in ca where we got a lot of rain that tx needs but they are not get it
86. KatrinaRitaWilmaZeta
4:52 AM GMT on January 06, 2006
made my frist post
85. haydn
4:40 AM GMT on January 06, 2006

I noticed we posted at the same time with the same info. What are the odds of that? Are you in an area of drought conditions?
84. haydn
4:37 AM GMT on January 06, 2006
not at once....too much erosion
83. haydn
4:36 AM GMT on January 06, 2006

Are you affected by the drought? I know others on this blog are. IN the SE there is a greater chance of relief from a tropical system than in other areas. Last year the only rain for a few months was from the hurricanes that hit Fl. Good for us. Bad for them. Hope it doesn't happen like that again.
82. ProgressivePulse
4:36 AM GMT on January 06, 2006
I think that would flood them KRWZ, dry ground and lots of rain are not good bedfellows.
Member Since: August 19, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 6190
81. KatrinaRitaWilmaZeta
4:32 AM GMT on January 06, 2006
what all give tx 30 to 40inc of rian do you think they would like to have that?
80. haydn
4:31 AM GMT on January 06, 2006
There were 12 more storms. NC had three hits and Cat 5 Janet hit the Yucatan at that intensity. To some not a good season. All this stuff can be found at Wikipedia. The other option is to do a google search and look for links. If you have multiple windows open, you can post on the blog and be searching for stuff st the same time. Many times I answer my questions without posting.

79. ProgressivePulse
4:28 AM GMT on January 06, 2006
That was the season after Alice.
Member Since: August 19, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 6190
78. ProgressivePulse
4:27 AM GMT on January 06, 2006
Found Something

The 1955 Atlantic hurricane season was an ongoing event in the annual cycle of tropical cyclone formation. It officially began on June 1, and ended on November 30.

The 1955 season was a fairly active one, with twelve tropical storms forming.

Three hurricanes hit North Carolina in 1955: Connie, Diane and Ione. Hurricane Connie swamped the Outer Banks and Hurricane Diane caused millions of dollars in damages.

Hurricane Janet struck Belize as a Category 5 on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale. Beach erosion was severe, hundreds were killed, and dozens of oceanfront homes were completely destroyed. Janet had a recorded minimum central pressure of 914 millibars, making Janet one of the most intense storms on record in the Atlantic.

Member Since: August 19, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 6190
77. haydn
4:24 AM GMT on January 06, 2006
Texas isn't the only area that needs rain. The whole midwest needs rain.

Progressivepulse, I'd like to know about the storms too. Storms should not persist in high shear and low sst. NOw before Alberto comes there will be time to figure that out.
76. ProgressivePulse
4:23 AM GMT on January 06, 2006
Or if patterns of late season storms mean something for the following season. What was the season after Alice #2 like? anyone know.
Member Since: August 19, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 6190
75. haydn
4:17 AM GMT on January 06, 2006
It is amazing.
74. ProgressivePulse
4:14 AM GMT on January 06, 2006
How about the persitance in these late season storms, kind of amazing. I think it would be worth the money to get out there and find out why.
Member Since: August 19, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 6190
73. KatrinaRitaWilmaZeta
4:14 AM GMT on January 06, 2006
haydn TX need some rain what give tx some rian any hurricane out there for tx so tx can have some rain i think 10 to 20 inc of rain would do it
72. ProgressivePulse
4:12 AM GMT on January 06, 2006
I think we have found the replacement for the Energizer Bunny . Looks like crap but it is trying to hold on to all that it can, still turning.
Member Since: August 19, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 6190
71. haydn
4:07 AM GMT on January 06, 2006
Here's another report link. I think it's more official. The Katrina report is 42 pages. Some may disagree with the first landfall. Since I don't have access to the data, I have no opinion at this moment.

70. haydn
4:00 AM GMT on January 06, 2006
Not much.....no drought here.....just me and my raisins....Today was a normal day though I feel for the people in the drought area. My sister is in this area. I'm going to have to call her and see how things are going.
69. haydn
3:56 AM GMT on January 06, 2006
Will this link help? It has summaries of some of the strorms. ...none for Cindy and Emily yet...I'm looking for more links.

68. KatrinaRitaWilmaZeta
3:48 AM GMT on January 06, 2006
hey haydn whats up
67. KatrinaRitaWilmaZeta
3:43 AM GMT on January 06, 2006

any news on this yet?
66. Trouper415
3:43 AM GMT on January 06, 2006
Hehe, let me rephrase that. There are people here who know nothing about weather and thus, this is a place for them to learn. There are also very knowledgeable people here who help the needy. A true equilibrium.
Member Since: September 22, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 704
65. Trouper415
3:37 AM GMT on January 06, 2006
SickOfDumbQuestions- This is a place for people who know nothing about weather to learn. Dont come here and critisize other people. If you have nothing better to do then thats pretty sad. quit complaining about peoples questions.
Member Since: September 22, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 704
64. haydn
3:29 AM GMT on January 06, 2006
Wow ... still a tropical storm... barely...Didn't expect to see that.
Bye to greek names. In the article that was mentioned above a decision hadn't been made concerning Zeta's statistics. Since it formed in 2005, I think the statistics should be included in 2005.
63. KatrinaRitaWilmaZeta
3:25 AM GMT on January 06, 2006
snowboy yes it is so what are they say whit the A storm #2 update?
62. KatrinaRitaWilmaZeta
3:23 AM GMT on January 06, 2006
hey hurricane Wilma where hurricane Fred hehehe would you like to go out for a pizza tonight hehehe

61. davefoster
3:22 AM GMT on January 06, 2006
Hey Colby,

I'm very glad they didn't downgrade it too. I've already given up tracking Zeta once today when it became a depression (I only track storms and hurricanes). I don't want to stop again only to find it resurrected again tomorrow!


Dave Foster's Hurricane Pages
60. snowboy
3:22 AM GMT on January 06, 2006
thanks KRWZ for the notice on the NHC update, I just spent some time at the NOHC site checking out the sat images

- pretty cool that you came up with the KRWZ name when two of the storms (Wilma and Zeta) hadn't formed yet, and when no one thought there would ever be a Zeta..
Member Since: September 21, 2005 Posts: 10 Comments: 2555
59. ForecasterColby
2:53 AM GMT on January 06, 2006
They didn't downgrade it! I'm glad, but a bit suprised - the models initialized at 30kt and that's a pretty solid indicator.
58. KatrinaRitaWilmaZeta
1:59 AM GMT on January 06, 2006
Tropical Storm Alpha update is out by the nhc what all take a look
57. ForecasterColby
1:56 AM GMT on January 06, 2006
A quick statement from me:

Tropical Storm Zeta
Amateur Hurricane Center
Statement - 9:00PM EST January 5, 2006

Again, there is not enough change with Zeta to issue an advisory. However, a breif update:

Zeta continues to fire deep convection, and is appearing somewhat more likely to survive the oncoming trough. Cold cloud tops down to as low as -70c are evident quite near the center, and the low and mid-level circulations are stacked again. Normally, I would increase initial intensity now, but a QuickScat pass does not show any uncontaminated 30kt(35mph) vectors. Given that convection has developed over the area where tropical storm force winds were observed earlier, however, I will assume 35kt(40mph) winds exist there and leave the forecast as-is.
56. SickOfDumbQuestions
1:56 AM GMT on January 06, 2006
Let me apologize if my post came off much more negative than it should. After reading through it again after it posted, I felt that the tone was harsh and want to apologize to all whom I angered or offended.

55. tornadoty
1:52 AM GMT on January 06, 2006
They won't update anything about storm names until they receive the revised list for 2011.
54. snowboy
1:50 AM GMT on January 06, 2006
so maybe the site needs updating - it was an NHC forecaster that was being interviewed in palmettobug53's article...
Member Since: September 21, 2005 Posts: 10 Comments: 2555
53. ForecasterColby
1:48 AM GMT on January 06, 2006
Zeta will go back to 30kt at the 10PM advisory, though why I don't know.
52. ForecasterColby
1:45 AM GMT on January 06, 2006
According to the NHC site, the greek names are still used.
51. KatrinaRitaWilmaZeta
1:38 AM GMT on January 06, 2006
MIAMI, Florida (AP) -- Zeta again strengthened into a tropical storm Thursday and could break the record for the storm lasting the longest into January since record keeping began in 1851
50. KatrinaRitaWilmaZeta
1:31 AM GMT on January 06, 2006
Forecasters predict that hurricane seasons will be more active than usual for at least another decade.

49. palmettobug53
1:34 AM GMT on January 06, 2006
No, snowboy, I haven't gotten that far, as to looking up a list of the backup names! I don't know if I even WANT to know! LOL
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
48. snowboy
1:28 AM GMT on January 06, 2006
hey SODQ, you have mail...

and KRWZ, there may be a place where you can get the list (and reserve list for 2006) - anyone have a link? we may need the first name soon...
Member Since: September 21, 2005 Posts: 10 Comments: 2555
47. KatrinaRitaWilmaZeta
1:14 AM GMT on January 06, 2006
hmmm i loike to no what kind of name's they got for the 2nd one if we go over 21 like we did this year
46. snowboy
1:10 AM GMT on January 06, 2006
hey SickOfDumbQuestions, sorry for my contribution to the long list of dumb questions... :-)

On another note, it is possible that the weird end-of-season storms we're seeing now were around before and that we just didn't have the technology to see them. It's also possible that they represent something new, and are a symptom of larger-scale shifts in atmospheric dynamics resulting from global climate change. It would be prudent to take the latter possibility into account and think about what the impliactions might be.
Member Since: September 21, 2005 Posts: 10 Comments: 2555
45. meteorman
1:08 AM GMT on January 06, 2006
I think Zeta is the first North Atlantic storm to have a name starting with "Z" since the regular list of names excludes "Z".
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
44. SickOfDumbQuestions
1:10 AM GMT on January 06, 2006
Well KRWZ, if you take 2 seconds, and take into context what was saidm there will be no more Zeta storm ever.

No more Greek Alphabet either. There is going to be a primary list of name's and a secondary list of English names in case we go over 21 storms.

Now, that wasn't hard to figure out from that nice post that palmettobug53 posted... did you really have to ask that question?
43. snowboy
1:01 AM GMT on January 06, 2006
interesting article palmettobug53, thanks
- I'm glad to see the end of the greek letters
Member Since: September 21, 2005 Posts: 10 Comments: 2555
42. SickOfDumbQuestions
1:00 AM GMT on January 06, 2006
I have been a lurker here for about 2 years, never making a post. I have to say that I really enjoy reading a majority of the posts and blogs that are on this site. ForcasterColby and hurricanechaser seem to be the one that I enjoy the most.

I have to say at times it gets really really old to keep reading the same questions over and over and over again. Recently in one of the 170 post blogs, I counted at least 7 or 8 posts asking the same questions. People it doesn't take that long to read through previous posts to get your answer.... sorry about the Rant.

I'm originally from Central Florida(both as a Civie and as an Enlisted man in the Navy) and moved to Alabama where the 'Canes seemed to be following me. :) I enjoy coming here every day to see the latest on the next TS or 'Cane.

I wanted to add my two cents into the posts above about how come we "never" really took into account the "hybrid" systems that we seem to have see pop up this year. My guess would be that if we go back to the previous peak in activity in the Atlantic basin, it would put us in the 30's-70's (I could be wrong with the span) and our technology with satellites and ship observations has greatly improved in the last 3 decades. I believe that these storms existed before, but now we can get much more detailed information with our new Satellites.

Who knows what we may find out in the next 30 years. It could be found that there are more storms that should be classified as a "tropical" or warm core storm. Some of those polar lows look interesting.

Anyways, keep up the good work Jeff, and I look forward to reading everyones comments.. :)

41. KatrinaRitaWilmaZeta
12:59 AM GMT on January 06, 2006
what do they mean this would be the only time we see the Z storm?
40. palmettobug53
12:53 AM GMT on January 06, 2006
Regarding the Greek alpha, our local paper had an article about Zeta this morning. It states that the Greek alphabet will not be used again:

" Zeta will be the last tropical storm to have a Greek alphabet name. Starting this year, forecasters will use a reserve list of English alphabet names if the annual list of 21 names is exhausted, Pasch said.

Unsettlingly enough, after a year when the English list was exhausted in mid-October, the reserve list will also have 21 names. "

He was quoting NHC specialist, Richard Pasch. To read the full article, go to:

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
39. snowboy
12:49 AM GMT on January 06, 2006
hey LKMSL, hadn't thought about that. That would be way cool (another first for the record books), esp. since these Atlantic storms aren't threatening death and destruction
Member Since: September 21, 2005 Posts: 10 Comments: 2555

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Dr. Masters co-founded wunderground in 1995. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990. Co-blogging with him: Bob Henson, @bhensonweather

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