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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496. InTheCone
5:51 PM EDT on October 26, 2007
BBL
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495. hurricane23
5:48 PM EDT on October 26, 2007
Iam real excited about my NHC tour in the coming weeks hopefully if all goes well iam looking on chatting with beven and some of the others at the NHC.

Raining here in miami hopefully things let up later this evening.
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494. Floodman
4:51 PM CDT on October 26, 2007
489. NRAamy 4:48 PM CDT on October 26, 2007
Happy Birthday! 30 is a good one...

yes it was....many moons ago...



No way
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493. 786
9:48 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
Hurricane23, Haapy b-day fellow Scorpio, mines on Monday and lol we might just have a TS of weak Hurricane on it. That'll be an intesting b-day present.
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492. DallasGumby
9:44 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
451. cantoriesnumber1fan 9:31 PM GMT 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.


Well, then!!! Since you know it's going to become a hurricane in 2-3 days, I suppose you know where evacuations should be ordered. And, I suppose you're willing to take the heat, and pay the cost, of unnecessary evacuations and precautions should your certainty prove wrong.
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491. Patrap
4:49 PM CDT on October 26, 2007
A NEW HURRICANE COASTAL IMPACT SCALE–CONTINUED WORK
BUSH, David M., Department of Geosciences, State Univ of West Georgia, Carrollton, GA 30118, dbush@westga.edu and YOUNG, Robert S., Department of Geosciences and NRM, Western Carolina Univ, Cullowhee, NC 28723

The idea for a new Hurricane Impact Scale (HIS) emphasizing coastal impact at landfall evolved from several field studies and discussions with Orrin Pilkey. The well-known Saffir-Simpson Scale (SSS) is a good representation of hurricane strength over open water and of damage potential over land, but lacks an indicator of size of the storm. The proposed HIS uses three parameters to rank hurricanes: (1) maximum elevation of storm surge, (2) storm surge spread (coastal length impacted by higher water level), and (3) wind speed (SSS category). A ranking of 1-5 is given for each of the 3 criteria, making the possible range of HIS values 3-15. The HIS provides a broader range of categories than the Saffir-Simpson Scale (15 versus 5) and allows more precise classification for predictive (prestorm) and comparative (poststorm) modes.

Other investigators have suggested new hurricane scales. Balsillie (1999) uses the event longevity parameter (ELP—storm surge height and duration) as a measure of volumetric beach and coast erosion from hurricanes, but does not include length of shoreline impacted (size of the hurricane). A storm impact scale for barrier islands (Sallenger, 2000) compares water level versus barrier island elevation at landfall, but it also does not include a measure of length of shoreline impacted. The National Hurricane Center is working to include inland winds and rainfall potential as part of a revised hurricane scale, but those are inland effects.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 420 Comments: 127536
490. Floodman
4:48 PM CDT on October 26, 2007
486. InTheCone 4:47 PM CDT on October 26, 2007
Flood -

You bet - used to go w/ my family most every Sat. when I was in town. Great margaritas - can't remember much else except I always needed an afternoon nap afterwards - lol!!!



I'm from the north side, but I found Hacienda when I was living off of Big Bend...many an afternoon nap...lol
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489. NRAamy
2:47 PM PDT on October 26, 2007
Happy Birthday! 30 is a good one...

yes it was....many moons ago...

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488. Patrap
4:47 PM CDT 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.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 420 Comments: 127536
487. hurricane23
5:44 PM EDT on October 26, 2007
Thanks guys for the congrats on the birthday...Probably going to dinner and then head out to the movies tommorow.
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486. InTheCone
5:45 PM EDT on October 26, 2007
Flood -

You bet - used to go w/ my family most every Sat. when I was in town. Great margaritas - can't remember much else except I always needed an afternoon nap afterwards - lol!!!
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484. Floodman
4:43 PM CDT on October 26, 2007
470. hurricane23 4:38 PM CDT on October 26, 2007
Talking about birthdays my 30th birthday is sunday.


Happy Birthday! 30 is a good one...
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483. InTheCone
5:42 PM EDT on October 26, 2007
Local met. here in WPB is talking up 90l- says it could develop. Not saying much about track - not suprising since we really don't have one as of yet....

Valvoline Pat?? Must be a new treatment for those recovering from abdominal surgery - sure keeps things lubricated!!
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482. Orcasystems
9:39 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
Sheesh.... you have the "B" word.. The "H" word... $3 a gallon for gas.. and a Dollar worth $0.97 in Canada... what next.. dancing Purple Hippos.. yeah thats it
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481. Floodman
4:42 PM CDT on October 26, 2007
472. InTheCone 4:39 PM CDT on October 26, 2007
Flood -

Warson Woods, very small town situated next to Kirkwood.



Yep...you ever go to Hacienda on Manchester?
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480. extreme236
9:43 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
BBL
Member Since: August 2, 2007 Posts: 19 Comments: 19234
479. Patrap
4:41 PM CDT on October 26, 2007
Adrian..turning 30!!! Now there's reason to Pop the Champagne Bottle. MAn ..thats a good year. Enjoy it. Youll be old and Grumpy before ya know it. Happy B-day Dude!
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 420 Comments: 127536
478. TampaSpin
9:41 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
Gotta go. Son plays HS football game tonite...Everyone be nice.......Peace.
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477. Patrap
4:40 PM CDT on October 26, 2007
Tigers getting Beat Tampa is a rare event,Like a Tampa Bucs season with multiple wins..LOL. Or a Tampa Hurricane Strike..

Ya cant touch this..its Powered by "Valvoline"
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 420 Comments: 127536
475. Miamiweather
9:40 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
Happy early birthday buddy
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473. Floodman
4:37 PM CDT on October 26, 2007
454. TampaSpin 4:32 PM CDT on October 26, 2007
Drak--don't stay away i enjoy the your comments and humor.



Yes, by all means!
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472. InTheCone
5:38 PM EDT on October 26, 2007
Flood -

Warson Woods, very small town situated next to Kirkwood.
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471. weathermanwannabe
5:35 PM EDT on October 26, 2007
Have a Good Weekend, and, be nice to one another folks.....We will have to wait to see what happens in the next few days and any "firm" predictions about development are not prudent, much less about possible tracks, when all we have is a few disorganized lows (in late October albeit) and not even a TD yet....Got family in town and I'm off for BBQ and Football for the Weekend.....Peace..
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470. hurricane23
5:38 PM EDT on October 26, 2007
Talking about birthdays my 30th birthday is sunday.
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469. extreme236
9:37 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
90A and perhaps 99b look better organized in the North Indian ocean...90A's winds are up and the pressure is low (1004mb)
Member Since: August 2, 2007 Posts: 19 Comments: 19234
468. icmoore
5:36 PM EDT on October 26, 2007
Thank you Tampa. Trying to get myself out of a funk with happy hour and you guys!
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467. TampaSpin
9:36 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
461. Patrap 9:34 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
Wow..this is better than the soaps. Lemme get a cold drink and some more Ju-Ju-bees.


It almost as good as watching the tigers get beat......Wow.....lol
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466. Floodman
4:36 PM CDT on October 26, 2007
456. InTheCone 4:33 PM CDT on October 26, 2007
Flood -

You from MO?? I sprouted in St. Louis, haven't been back in a loong time.....



Raised in Fulton, grew up in St Louis...I'm in DFW now...what part of St Louis you from?
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465. InTheCone
5:35 PM EDT on October 26, 2007
Pat -

They giving you some Meds. to aid in your recuperation?? You're positively ebullient this evening - lol!!! HAppy Friday :o)
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464. Floodman
4:31 PM CDT on October 26, 2007
451. cantoriesnumber1fan 4:31 PM CDT 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.



I'm not telling you anything...quite frankly you can say whatever you want, but if you come in here and start spouting crap, you can expect a reaction...here's mine: *ignore*
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463. Drakoen
9:35 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
Amy i can deal with the comments. I ignore them internally.
Yes patrap, more drama...northing new in the blog...
As i said before and i will say it again, this blog never changes.
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 29885
462. TampaSpin
9:34 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
458. icmoore 9:33 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
NRAamy, Love your purple hippo but if you ride him to work watch out that those methane emissions do not exceed limits!LOL


Good one, real good.......LMAO
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461. Patrap
4:34 PM CDT on October 26, 2007
Goes-12 Low Cloud Product..Click to ENlarge.

Link
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 420 Comments: 127536
460. hurricane23
5:33 PM EDT on October 26, 2007
What else is new in 2007 per the 530 from the NHC.
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459. extreme236
9:33 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
I feel saying a cane in 2-3 days is hyping 90l up
Member Since: August 2, 2007 Posts: 19 Comments: 19234
458. icmoore
5:22 PM EDT on October 26, 2007
NRAamy, Love your purple hippo but if you ride him to work watch out that those methane emissions do not exceed limits!LOL
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457. NRAamy
2:33 PM PDT on October 26, 2007
Drak....just put him on ignore...

:)
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456. InTheCone
5:32 PM EDT on October 26, 2007
Flood -

You from MO?? I sprouted in St. Louis, haven't been back in a loong time.....
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455. extreme236
9:32 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
well cantories there is no way in my mind that 90L will become a hurricane in 2-3 days...it looks like it would take it that long just to organize enough to become a TS
Member Since: August 2, 2007 Posts: 19 Comments: 19234
454. TampaSpin
9:30 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
Drak--don't stay away i enjoy the your comments and humor.
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453. NRAamy
2:30 PM PDT on October 26, 2007
446. Tazmanian 2:29 PM PDT on October 26, 2007

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- With oil prices setting records over $90 a barrel and $100 looking ever more likely, experts say there's a good chance drivers will see $3 gasoline before the end of the year



What do they mean before the end of the year?? I've been paying more than $3 per gallon this entire year!!!!
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452. Floodman
4:26 PM CDT on October 26, 2007
440. NRAamy 4:25 PM CDT on October 26, 2007
I'm going to have to shoot a few of them as a leeson to the others, you think?


Jerry, you a member of the NRA? What would the other dead "peace and love" rock stars think?

;)



Nope, I'm a country boy from south central MO...I was shootin' stuff BEFORE the NRA was cool LOL
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450. UYA
9:28 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
I believe it's trending.....West!
449. InTheCone
5:26 PM EDT on October 26, 2007
Cantorefan -

Disagreement is not the issue, it's the heavy handed approach. Drak. spent a great deal of time and effort on his analysis and it should be respected.

If you have such an in depth analysis that would counter his, I would be more than willing to give it a look.
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448. Drakoen
9:28 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
The very reason i want to keep quite from this blog always seems to surface when i come back...
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 29885
447. extreme236
9:29 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
once 90L passes 70W, it reaches lower shear, and due to its quick movement, then we might see some slow development overnight and into tomorrow
Member Since: August 2, 2007 Posts: 19 Comments: 19234

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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.