California fires and global warming; 90L lashes Puerto Rico

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:38 PM GMT on October 26, 2007

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A surface low pressure system (90L) moved over Puerto Rico this morning, and is now centered just west of the island. The surface low is entangled with an upper-level low pressure system that is bringing about 30 knots of wind shear, so no development is likely today. Long range radar of of Puerto Rico shows isolated bands of heavy rain that are not well-organized. Satellite loops show most of the heavy thunderstorm activity is to the east of the low's center of circulation, and the high wind shear is keeping this thunderstorm activity disorganized. This morning's QuikSCAT pass showed a large, vigorous circulation. Top winds were about 30 mph to the north of the center, and 90L is close to tropical depression status.


Figure 1. Latest satellite rainfall estimate of 90L.

The surface low is separating from the upper level low today, and will move west-southwest at about 10 mph. This will bring heavy rains and the threat of flash flooding and mudslides to Puerto Rico. Heavy rains of 2-4 inches in just two hours hit the Virgin Islands this morning (Figure 1), prompting flash flood warnings there. Heavy rains also hit many of the islands of the northern Lesser Antilles. Rain amounts as high as 3-5 inches are expected today over eastern Puerto Rico. Several mudslides have already been reported on the island.

The action shifts to the Dominican Republic on Saturday and Haiti on Sunday, as 90L tracks just south of the island of Hispaniola. These nations can expect rains of 3-6 inches, which could trigger life-threatening flash floods and mudslides. It is possible 90L could intensify into a tropical depression on Sunday, as wind shear will slowly fall to 20 knots. The Hurricane Hunters are on call to fly Sunday afternoon, if necessary. On Sunday, 90L will be approaching Jamaica, and the ECMWF and NOGAPS models predict that wind shear will drop to 10-20 knots. These models develop 90L into at least a strong tropical storm as it moves slowly into the Western Caribbean. The GFS model keeps wind shear 20-30 knots through the period, and does not develop 90L. The HWRF model also does not develop 90L. The GFDL is not keen on developing the system either, but does suggest that a weak tropical storm may form a week from now. I believe the most reasonable solution is the NOGAPS and ECMWF solution, and 90L will intensify into hurricane in the Western Caribbean late next week. The long-term path of such a storm is very uncertain, with the NOGAPS and ECMWF suggesting a track north into the Gulf of Mexico to threaten the U.S., and the GFDL predicting 90L will get trapped in the Western Caribbean and perform a counter-clockwise loop. If you have travel plans that take you to Jamaica or the Cayman Islands Sunday through Tuesday, or Cancun/Cozumel/Western Cuba Tuesday through Saturday next week, be prepared for the possibility of disruptions.

California's smoke
The worst of the air pollution hazard from California's fires has now passed. The smoke has thinned some, as seen on satellite images (Figure 2). The smoke made it yesterday to Fresno, in California's Central Valley, and is moving northward into Nevada and northwest Arizona today. Most of this smoke is aloft at altitudes of about 15,000 feet, but some mixing down to the surface has occurred, thanks to an upper-level low pressure system. Increases in particulate matter pollution due to smoke are expected to affect Las Vegas this weekend (Figure 1). However, the smoke will be dilute enough to keep pollution levels in the Moderate range--below the federal air quality standard.


Figure 2. Visible satellite image at 11:15 am PDT Thursday October 25, showing thinning smoke over the Pacific Ocean and much of California. Low stratus clouds are visible over the ocean, and these clouds have moved ashore into Los Angeles and San Diego this morning, triggering Dense Fog Advisories. Image credit: NASA and EPA.

Were the California fires worsened by global warming?
Dr. Ricky Rood points out in his latest wunderblog that the California fires were mostly a land-use and land-management issue. In a previous blog, he had this to say about the link between climate change and Western U.S. fires:

We do know that drought and floods, heat waves and cold snaps are all part of nature. Like the problem of urban heat waves, we have an event that already exists, and there should be a change associated with global warming. I have already mentioned that some studies have attributed the pinyon pine die off in the U.S. Southwest to the fact that the temperature in the recent drought years is higher than in previous droughts. Therefore, ground water is reduced; there is more stress on the plants. (And perhaps it is really the warmer nighttime temperatures that matter?)

There have also been papers which make a compelling argument that wild fires in the western U.S. are increasing in intensity and duration. In the paper of Westerling et al. (Science, 2006), the conclusion is drawn that this is directly related to snow melt occurring earlier in the year, a hotter and drier forest, and hence, a longer burning season. Plus they isolate the impact to be at mid-elevations in the Rockies, and hence, relatively free of land-use changes. While many newspapers reported that this work showed an increase of wild fires due to climate change, I quote directly from their paper: "Whether the changes observed in western hydroclimate and wildfire are the result of greenhouse gas-induced global warming or only an unusual natural fluctuation is beyond the scope of this work".


Jeff Masters

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596. extreme236
11:28 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
90L though could be a problem for Cuba, and we cant rule out a possible threat to Florida
Member Since: August 2, 2007 Posts: 19 Comments: 19234
595. Tazmanian
4:24 PM PDT on October 26, 2007
when you all think we will see $100 a barrel???


there at $92 right now
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594. zoomiami
11:27 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
90L probably won't come this way - last weekend I wanted to store the shutters, but I didn't, they are still out. So, since I won't have to drag them all around, I won't need them. ::}}
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593. extreme236
11:26 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
587. Tazmanian 11:24 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
send 90L to MX


Im afraid with that front there that wouldnt happen, but its a possibility. And anyway, Mexico has had their fair share of storms this year.
Member Since: August 2, 2007 Posts: 19 Comments: 19234
592. ShenValleyFlyFish
7:24 PM EDT on October 26, 2007
576. nash28 7:19 PM EDT on October 26, 2007 As a fellow blogger who has been through this stuff for the last few years, I can say with much confidence that Drak's analysis is typically spot on and HONEST! He does a fantasic job in my book.,

HEAR HEAR
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591. zoomiami
11:26 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
Hi Baha: has it been raining over there today?
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590. extreme236
11:24 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
586. Drakoen 11:24 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
Wind shear not favorable yet. Still in the 20-30 knot shear region.

Well I guess not quite yet, however it will soon be moving into a more favorable enviroment, a decrease in shear is already a little bit noticable as shear is gradually decreasing
Member Since: August 2, 2007 Posts: 19 Comments: 19234
589. zoomiami
11:25 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
Taz - be nice! JFV: can you summarize what Don Noe said?
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588. BahaHurican
7:22 PM EDT on October 26, 2007
488. Patrap 5:48 PM EDT on October 26, 2007
Anyone been following the New Hurricane Scale to replace the Old outdated Saffir-Simpson one. Lotsa Phd's a working on it. Big story come next season.


I saw some stuff people posted here earlier this season. Haven't heard anything new on it recently, though. Are they planning to bring it onstream for 2008 season?
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587. Tazmanian
4:23 PM PDT on October 26, 2007
send 90L to MX
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586. Drakoen
11:22 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
Wind shear not favorable yet. Still in the 20-30 knot shear region.
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 30565
585. extreme236
11:23 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
94L wasnt sheared either, as it moved inland and would later become 99L (or at least I believe part of it became 99L)
Member Since: August 2, 2007 Posts: 19 Comments: 19234
583. extreme236
11:22 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
And Drak, dont let any negative comments get to you, your analysis and opinions are always welcome.
Member Since: August 2, 2007 Posts: 19 Comments: 19234
582. BahaHurican
7:16 PM EDT on October 26, 2007
476. JFV 5:41 PM EDT on October 26, 2007
Any miami dade county bloggers in here right now, please go to www.local0.com and watch don noe's weather video forecast for this afternoon you might find it quite interesting concerning 90L. Or at least watch him live alongside max mayfield at 6pm.


Dangit! Got here to late to catch this. I firmly believe local10's now got the best weather in the TriCounties area . . . Actually I thought so even before Max went there. Don is pretty good.

Any chance of a re-broadcast at 10, JFV?
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581. extreme236
11:21 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
95L wasnt sheared, as it was an extratropical invest
Member Since: August 2, 2007 Posts: 19 Comments: 19234
580. extreme236
11:20 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
Actually, taz, windshear is favorable right now over the center...
Member Since: August 2, 2007 Posts: 19 Comments: 19234
579. Drakoen
11:19 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
Thank you Nash.
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 30565
578. UYA
11:19 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
POLAR JET
Marked by a concentration of isotherms and strong vertical shear, this jet is the boundary between the polar air and the subtropical air. It often divides into two branches, the north and the south, and marks the high speed core of the prevailing westerlies. It is associated with the location and motion of the high and low pressure areas of the middle latitudes, and therefore, is variable in position, elevation, and wind speed. Its position tends to migrate south in the Northern Hemispheric winter and north in the summer, and its core winds increase during the winter and become less strong in the summer.
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577. Tazmanian
4:11 PM PDT on October 26, 2007
90L is RIP


this like 94L 95L 96L 96L 97L 98L 99L in the last round we had and they all where RIP and 90L will do the same thing you all go out and have a nic weekend wind shear is this too strong for any thing right now and we dont need 90L in the gulf any way that will this make gas go higher then what they are now RIP 90L die 90L die 90L RIP 90L RIP 90L
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576. nash28
11:18 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
As a fellow blogger who has been through this stuff for the last few years, I can say with much confidence that Drak's analysis is typically spot on and HONEST! He does a fantasic job in my book.,
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575. Patrap
6:16 PM CDT on October 26, 2007
Dr.Van Heerden is the foremost authority on A lot of what is bantered here. I met Him Shortly after Katrina at the 17th St. Canal. A nice individual to be sure.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128764
574. zoomiami
11:12 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
JFV: always have it ready - hate to get caught without. It really seems like old hat now though - being prepared. If a storm were to come this way, the only thing I would need is gas for the generator. Don't like to keep that around the house, and the gas station is across the street.
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573. BahaHurican
7:13 PM EDT on October 26, 2007
463. Drakoen 5:35 PM EDT on October 26, 2007
As i said before and i will say it again, this blog never changes.


Hey, Drak.

We've actually been trying to do a bit better of late. The "gentleman" above is about as bad as it's gotten in here of late. I have a feeling a ban is coming on . . . hopefully it won't be me banned . . . LOL
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572. extreme236
11:15 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
Looks like the LLC is moving into a more favorable shear enviroment. 21Z shear map continues to show favorable shear west of 70W and some new bursts of convection have formed over the center
Member Since: August 2, 2007 Posts: 19 Comments: 19234
571. ShenValleyFlyFish
7:11 PM EDT on October 26, 2007
Patrap Thanks for links for information on Dr VH. His book sounds like a definite must read.
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570. BahaHurican
7:01 PM EDT on October 26, 2007
451. cantoriesnumber1fan 5:31 PM EDT on October 26, 2007
Floodman 9:26 PM GMT on October 26, 2007 Hide this comment.
I'm not a troll, I simply strongly disagree with his analysis. Is that a crime?


Disagreements are fine, but between gentlefolk...put your bludgeon away, there is no place for it here...

Who are you to tell me how or what to post? Are you the blog police or something? Give me a break, you have way too much time on your hands to discredit my posts. Drak's analysis was poor and I don't want people to buy into it and become complacent.


Frankly, your approach makes YOU look foolish and unsporting, in which case MORE people rather than less are likely to not only read Drak's analysis but believe it to be creditable. Right now, you are doing a fine job of discrediting yourself, since you also have not given a single piece of scientific deduction to back up your caveman-like ranting. (and I don't mean Geico-savvy cavemen either).

There is a big difference between "carrying a big stick", as President Roosevelt did, and bludgeoning people over the head with it.

And guess what? Your peers on this blog ARE the blog police, yes indeedy.
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569. UYA
11:08 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
EXTENDED FORECAST DISCUSSION
NWS HYDROMETEOROLOGICAL PREDICTION CENTER CAMP SPRINGS MD
255 PM EDT FRI OCT 26 2007

VALID 12Z MON OCT 29 2007 - 12Z FRI NOV 02 2007


...FL...

WE ARE STILL EXPECTING THAT A TROPICAL SYS COULD DEVELOP IN THE NW
CARIBBEAN SEA AROUND MON. THIS SYS WILL BEGIN DRIFTING NW...THEN
GRADUALLY RECURVE TO THE NE DAYS 6-7 AS IT GETS CLOSER TO THE SRN
FRINGE OF THE POLAR WESTERLIES. PERIODS OF HEAVY PCPN LIKELY OVER
THE STATE ALONG/N OF A WAVY FRONTAL BOUNDARY...ESPECIALLY ALONG
THE E COAST AND BACK OVER THE KEYS.


That's about as good as it gets for tonight.
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568. nash28
11:06 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
As long as Tampa area doesn't get 12" of rain out of this, I would not mind a weak TD crossing over.....

If the NOGAPS solution played out, not so good....
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566. nash28
11:01 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
Yeah Drak, clearly visible that it is a very well defined robust circulation....

Let's pray it does not get its act together.
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565. BahaHurican
6:48 PM EDT on October 26, 2007
441. Floodman 4:23 PM CDT on October 26, 2007
[quoted somebody} I'm not a troll, I simply strongly disagree with his analysis. Is that a crime?


Disagreements are fine, but between gentlefolk...put your bludgeon away, there is no place for it here...


Hey Flood, I knew I had a reason for thinking you were cool, but this post is proof positive . . . LOL
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564. Drakoen
10:59 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
this is a 12z map and you can see how defined the circulation is.
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 30565
563. zoomiami
11:00 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
raining, and raining, and then some. Its getting ready to start again. The ducks are having a great time.
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562. nash28
10:59 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
Don't think my last post made it, but I am sure the chatter of "Tampa hurricane" will ensue at some point this weekend.....

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561. FloridaScuba
10:59 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
gotta go... and lurk again later. thanks drak for the anitcyclone edumacation
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560. Drakoen
10:57 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
no prob Nash. Yea the rain would be nice. The wind we can do without. Its been raining here in South Florida now that the warm front is sliding back west.
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 30565
559. FloridaScuba
10:56 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
Compressed air kinda dude here

not me, that stuff makes me sick for three days. nitrox all the way
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558. ShenValleyFlyFish
6:47 PM EDT on October 26, 2007
539. Floodman 6:45 PM EDT on October 26, 2007
You saw them at the Fillmore? You lucky #$%^@!

East-NYC Summer 71 New Riders opened. Part of a life changing summer. Make a great blog entry. Let you know if I ever get it together.
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557. UYA
10:54 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
At this point tonight the models are just entertainment and anyone taking anything seriously regarding them needs to just relax.
No man nor computer is going to even be close to what will happen in 120/140 hours from now.
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556. nash28
10:55 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
Just saw it Drak, thanks!

Boy, the rain would be lovely for me, but not sure it will be as weak as the GFS depicts...
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555. Patrap
5:56 PM CDT on October 26, 2007
WV Loop Tropical Basin

Link
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128764
554. FloridaScuba
10:54 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
i'm somewhat interested because i got smacked by 2 canes in 2 years.. but mostly i just want to know if i can dive a week or 2 out.. planning ahead
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553. Patrap
5:55 PM CDT on October 26, 2007
Thats why I observe the No-decomppression time Table. Compressed air kinda dude here. LOL
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128764
552. Drakoen
10:53 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
Nash, the GFS 18z shows a weak system traversing through the Caribbean and into Central Florida.
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 30565
551. FloridaScuba
10:52 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
i can't read steering currents...but i can tell you your dive time on the bottom of the ocean at 90' with 36% nitrox after a 45 minute surface interval. lol
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550. Drakoen
10:53 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
546. FloridaScuba 10:51 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
oh. see, that's why i don't says much and just listen to you Xperts. me wedder dum.

:)


you should speak up, that way you will learn.
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 30565
549. NRAamy
3:52 PM PDT on October 26, 2007
As of 1:10 PM 10/26/07, the fire is within one hour of Silverado Canyon. OC Sheriff Deputies are attempting to evacuate remaining residents.

This fire has burned 27,000 acres and is 30 percent contained.


great...I get to go home to this...

looks like the fat lady hasn't sung yet on the hurricanes, nor our fires...

Member Since: January 24, 2007 Posts: 317 Comments: 31946
548. nash28
10:51 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
No Drak. 12z was the last run I saw of the GFS. Just got home and updatded my blog...

Does the 18z GFS still not develop 90L?

Gonna check right now for myself...
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546. FloridaScuba
10:50 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
oh. see, that's why i don't says much and just listen to you Xperts. me wedder dum.

:)
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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.