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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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.

:)
545. Drakoen
10:51 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
Nash did you see the GFS 18z? It takes the system into central Florida further north than the NOGAPS 12z.
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 30693
544. nash28
10:49 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
Hello folks....

Right now, I believe the GFS is the outlier here. Mixture of the NOGAPS and ECMWF is most likely.
Member Since: July 11, 2005 Posts: 190 Comments: 16972
543. Drakoen
10:49 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
541. FloridaScuba 10:46 PM GMT on October 26, 2007

thanks drak. that anticyclonic high looks like it would steer 90l straight to key largo... barring wherever it moves in the next X days. maybe it'll turn n and ne next week and burn through the bahamas, away from fla


The upper level high is not what is steering it. An area of high pressure anchored north of Bermuda is.
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 30693
542. Drakoen
10:47 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
538. JFV 10:45 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
Drakoen when would you potentially expect 90L to really begin to wine up. (speaking strenght wise of course) Thanks


Central Caribbean. If its there by Sunday (maybe late Saturday) we could see some significant development of the system.
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 30693
541. FloridaScuba
10:46 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
thanks drak. that anticyclonic high looks like it would steer 90l straight to key largo... barring wherever it moves in the next X days. maybe it'll turn n and ne next week and burn through the bahamas, away from fla
540. Drakoen
10:46 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
Continue to watch this system carefully. Recent imagery shows some convection flaring on the west side. With a good circulation like it has it will take a while to wear down, good chance it can survive the shear and then establish an upper level high (anticyclone)
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 30693
537. CaneAddict
10:44 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
Ok folks im back and my blog has been updated!
Member Since: October 5, 2007 Posts: 3 Comments: 2151
536. FloridaScuba
10:43 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
oh? the 18z gfs is out? hmm, i only see 12z and it's still in the sw gom then, barely developed if at all
535. Drakoen
10:43 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
Another note: An upper level high can be seen on here which is the cimss wind shear product which not only shows how fast the upper level winds are but what direction they are moving in. An upper level high is depicted on this imagery when the upper level winds rotate clockwise in a region. You can see a good upper level high in the southern Caribbean.
Link
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 30693
534. IKE
10:41 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
FloridaScuba 5:39 PM CDT on October 26, 2007
i'm diving on the east fl coast on nov 3-4. does it look like that won't happen? we already cancelled our research dive in the gom for tomorrow morning. bad viz


According to the 18Z GFS it should be moving away from Florida by next weekend. That's too far in advance to know for sure. Best to keep 2 eyes on it.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37860
533. heretolearninPR
10:41 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
If you are talking about 90L with copious rains, we are getting them now in Puerto Rico. At least the winds we had last night and this morning have passed by us.
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 229
532. ShenValleyFlyFish
10:40 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
Flood I wasn't holding the Dead responsible for the Hells Angels or any of their fans (you or I included :-p~). I saw them at the Filmore East so security wasn't the issue. Just had never been that up close and personal with REAL Bikers. Come to think of it I'd never been that uc+p with a lot there. LOL
Member Since: September 9, 2007 Posts: 36 Comments: 4687
531. FloridaScuba
10:39 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
i'm diving on the east fl coast on nov 3-4. does it look like that won't happen? we already cancelled our research dive in the gom for tomorrow morning. bad viz
530. IKE
10:36 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
FloridaScuba 5:33 PM CDT on October 26, 2007
man, that last blue dot in the "Z"... is my house. :(


Pretty good bet you're gonna get some rain...above normal amounts in the next week. Maybe tropical conditions...time will tell.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37860
529. Drakoen
10:35 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
An anticyclone is an area of high pressure in the upper levels of the atmosphere. This clockwise flow brings low wind shear to regions that it covers. A tropical cyclone spins counter clockwise at the surface and spirals clockwise in the upper levels. If a system gets vertically stacked with an upper level high it would bring low wind shear and give the system a good upper level outflow.
heres an image that illustrates that:

Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 30693
528. FloridaScuba
10:33 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
man, that last blue dot in the "Z"... is my house. :(
527. Drakoen
10:30 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
The GFS is a further north that the NOGAPS but the same state of Florida...Its long range so nothing to be too concerned about.
Heres the NOGAPS 12z track:
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 30693
526. FloridaScuba
10:29 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
could someone explain about anticyclones, what they are, etc. i don't get it. if a invest/t.d. is out there... why is 'anticyclone' talked about alot? is it a clockwise low that disprupts formation of a storm? is it just a term for things like shear that keep things from developing?
525. IKE
10:28 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
12Z NOGAPS is in line with the 18Z GFS...

Link
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37860
524. IKE
10:26 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
To me, the GFS is as good as any model there is.....it's so believable in the 3 to 5 day time frame. It has been forecasting strong winds for the eastern GOM for several days and from what I've read it's going to be correct.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37860
523. Sfloridacat5
10:25 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
Local T.V. meteorologist are starting to take notice of 90L.
They said 90L is something to watch for next week.
For the past few days, they were saying 90L wouldn't affect my area. Now they seem to think it could be a player next week.
Member Since: September 16, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 8884
522. Drakoen
10:24 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
The NOGAPS has some company...
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 30693
521. IKE
10:23 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
Looks like a trough will come down and force 90L up and to the NE according to the GFS 18Z run.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37860
520. Drakoen
10:22 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
yea Ike i saw that as well.
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 30693
519. IKE
10:21 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
Drakoen 5:08 PM CDT on October 26, 2007
GFS 18z run is coming out. Looks like it might be an interesting run. Has the system in the central Caribbean with moist conditions.


And it brings copious amounts of moisture into Florida and the extreme eastern GOM in 126 hours. I have a feeling the system will eventually get pulled NE...

Link
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37860
518. BahaHurican
10:18 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
Hey. I'm back. I notice some posting has gone on while I've been gone . . . I'm going to get some dinner, do a little back reading to see what's spinnin', and throw in a comment or three after that.
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 22682
517. Floodman
10:17 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
440. NRAamy 5:25 PM EDT on October 26, 2007 Jerry, you a member of the NRA? What would the other dead "peace and love" rock stars think?

Jerry may have been all peace and love (I never figured out which is part of what I loved- Dead were more complex than portrayed) but his fans definitely all weren't. The Hells Angels scared the ass off this country boy the one time i got to see the Dead. Long ago in a land far away.


I saw them a number of times...11 in a row one summer, but security was always venue based, and not provided by the band
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 9922
516. Patrap
10:15 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
A must read for any Hurricane Buff. Met or Amateur Hobbyist.Link
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 427 Comments: 129419
515. CaneAddict
10:15 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
Well folks good evening...Ill be back as soon as my blog is updated.
Member Since: October 5, 2007 Posts: 3 Comments: 2151
514. Smyrick145
10:14 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
I'm not quite sure where the COC is actually located, but it seems like there is convection building in that general area. Everyones thoughts on this?
Member Since: September 30, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 14
513. Patrap
10:13 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
An article on Ivor Van Heerden

Link
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 427 Comments: 129419
512. 0741
10:13 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
their only allow group to tour nhc and weather office that what i was told and say on nhc web site
511. NRAamy
10:13 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
I prefer Junior Mints....

;)
Member Since: January 24, 2007 Posts: 317 Comments: 31946
510. CosmicEvents
10:11 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
Drak...you just have to ignore some comments....all of us do. The user that said Drak's analysis was bad and giving people a false sense of security obviously has a big problem with reading comprehension. As I read it, Drak basically agrees with the NHC. Says to wait and see, and we'll have a better handle on what might happen in 2-3 days. Until then, pass the ju-jubes.
Member Since: August 3, 2005 Posts: 10 Comments: 5673
509. Patrap
10:11 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
The roof is the Heart of the NHC. Those Dishes are the Hard link to the Sats. Earth Scan Labs at LSU has a great tour too. They the Up and coming site with a Full compliment of Arrays to Gather the Data. Ivor Van Heerden of LSU fame is the Man of late. If you want ...read all his Papers. You'll be on the cutting edge of Cane research and Impact studies. Its HIGHLY reccomended reading.


LSU Earth Scan Labs roof
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 427 Comments: 129419
508. Drakoen
10:08 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
GFS 18z run is coming out. Looks like it might be an interesting run. Has the system in the central Caribbean with moist conditions.
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 30693
507. ShenValleyFlyFish
10:04 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
440. NRAamy 5:25 PM EDT on October 26, 2007 Jerry, you a member of the NRA? What would the other dead "peace and love" rock stars think?

Jerry may have been all peace and love (I never figured out which is part of what I loved- Dead were more complex than portrayed) but his fans definitely all weren't. The Hells Angels scared the ass off this country boy the one time i got to see the Dead. Long ago in a land far away.
Member Since: September 9, 2007 Posts: 36 Comments: 4687
506. hurricane23
10:03 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
Pat i know alot of the staff at the NHC and i will tell that public tours are not allowed during cane season.Formosa is someone ive know for a few years now and he's going to give me another look at the satelitte's up on roof of the NHC.I live just a few blocks from there.
Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13841
505. hurricane23
9:59 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
Come early next year i'll be attending classes at Rosential school of marine and atmospheric were i look on getting my degree.

Looking foward to that for sure.
Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13841
504. Patrap
9:56 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
Public entities Like The NHC never charge for a tour. Its the taxpayers House. They just work in it. One can visit your Local NWS office with a Phone call. Most are very accomadating.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 427 Comments: 129419
501. Floodman
9:54 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
yes it was....many moons ago...



No way


Did I really just make a comment on a woman's age? Good or bad, you never make a comment on a woman's age...

Drizzle, drazzle, druzzle drome
time for this one to go home...
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 9922
500. Patrap
4:53 PM CDT on October 26, 2007

Time to Replace the Saffir- Simpson Hurricane Scale? A PDF report::::::::::::::::::::::::::

Link
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 427 Comments: 129419
498. Miamiweather
9:52 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
23 i send you an email a couple of hours back
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
497. NRAamy
2:51 PM PDT on October 26, 2007
Santiago Fire

Per CAL FIRE... 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.


great....

oh and Jerry...way...

Member Since: January 24, 2007 Posts: 317 Comments: 31946
496. InTheCone
5:51 PM EDT on October 26, 2007
BBL
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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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