California fires and global warming; 90L lashes Puerto Rico

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

Share this Blog
3
+

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

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: 146 - 96

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21Blog Index

146. LakeShadow
5:34 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
I wonder what they are saying in vegas? I heard the GFS odds were 10:1,000,000
lol
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
145. UYA
5:34 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
Now we get down to the true forecasting.

Yep! Time to drag out the big Guns.
144. LakeShadow
5:32 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
Hmmmm,too many models to flip a coin I guess we'll have to use a cube
Anybody got D&D dice?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
143. NEwxguy
5:33 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
141. UYA 5:31 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
I'll be using the M8B model until something better comes into focus:

Now we get down to the true forecasting.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
142. Patrap
12:29 PM CDT on October 26, 2007
GOES-12 Low Cloud Product Image 16:45 UTC.
90L a lil circulation in a Big Pond for now.
But a circ nonetheless.Link
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
141. UYA
5:31 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
I'll be using the M8B model until something better comes into focus:



Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting



140. BahaHurican
1:24 PM EDT on October 26, 2007
I don't think anybody was expecting significant development w/ 90L before Sunday. It'll be interesting to see if the big development S of Cuba comes from 90L or from the end of that front. Our local weather people are saying that high pressure is building in here as that front retrogrades, so I'm still wondering about anything going north across Cuba before the weekend is over.

Also, as the front backs into the GOM, wouldn't it likely take that low pressure area that's looking so promising now with it?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
139. NEwxguy
5:26 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
135. LakeShadow 5:25 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
so heads it is...which model is that? lol!

Hmmmm,too many models to flip a coin I guess we'll have to use a cube
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
138. Floodman
12:25 PM CDT on October 26, 2007
The CMC has a major, and the MM5's are on that wagon...GFS shows a weak system, and the GFDL and NGP dissipate
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
137. OUFan919
5:25 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
That is one strong low level center with 90L. I can see that thing strenghtening as the shear lessens over the area.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
136. UYA
5:22 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
One positive comment I have about the current CMC run is that it is very close to the basic climatological track for this time of year.
And JP is right.....the warm front is backing into the Gulf....so a track across Central/South Florida would not be out of the ordinary. But it's all a long way out.
135. LakeShadow
5:24 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
so heads it is...which model is that? lol!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
134. Floodman
12:22 PM CDT on October 26, 2007
130. G35Wayne 12:20 PM CDT on October 26, 2007
Looks like 90L is coming to an end just like the season. wonder what next year will bring?



How did I miss ignoring you? Bye...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
133. NEwxguy
5:22 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
flip a coin,shadow
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
132. LakeShadow
5:20 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
doesnt look like any of the models are agreeing w/ each other... Whats the popular one today?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
130. G35Wayne
5:18 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
Looks like 90L is coming to an end just like the season. wonder what next year will bring?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
129. Floodman
12:18 PM CDT on October 26, 2007
126. UYA 12:16 PM CDT on October 26, 2007
12Z Canadian is out. Link



Wow, now they have it truning NE...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
128. NEwxguy
5:16 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
some of those models,are really showing it developing big time
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
127. LakeShadow
5:12 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
hey folks...
90l's spinning away..looks like some minor convection is starting to form near the COC.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
126. UYA
5:15 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
12Z Canadian is out. Link
125. NEwxguy
5:10 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
90L is a really broad area of circulation without much convection around it,going to have to get into less shear if it;s going to do anything
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
124. ShenValleyFlyFish
12:54 PM EDT on October 26, 2007
Border Patrol agents also found four charred bodies in what was believed to be a migrant camp east of San Diego, near the Mexican border. Medical examiners were trying to determine their identities and whether they had died in a fire that destroyed almost 100 homes.

Deportees (Plane Wreck at Los Gatos) Lyrics

Lyrics by Woody Guthrie
Music by Martin Hoffman

The crops are all in and the peaches are rotting
The oranges are piled in their cresote dumps
They're flying you back to the Mexico border
To pay all your money to wade back again

My father's own father, he wanted that river
They took all the money he made in his life
My brothers and sisters come working the fruit trees
And they rode the truck till they took down and died

CHORUS
Good-bye to my Juan, good-bye Rosalita
Adios mis amigos, Jesus y Maris
You won't have a name when you ride the big air-plane
And all they will call you will be deportees.

Some of us are illega, and others not wanted
Our work contract's out and we have to move on
But it's six hundred miles to that Mexican border
They chase us like outlaws, like rustlers, like theives.

We died in your hills, we died in your deserts
We died in your valleys and died on your plains
We died 'neath your trees and we died in your bushes
Both sides of the river, we died just the same.

CHORUS

A sky plane caught fire over Los Gatos canyon
Like a fireball of lightning, it shook all our hills
Who are all these friends, all scattered like dry leaves?
The radio says they are just deportees.

Is this the best way we can grow our big orchards?
Is this the best way we can grow our good fruit?
To fall like dry leaves to rot on my topsoil
And be called by no name except deportees?

RIP
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
123. TheCaneWhisperer
5:00 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
Looks like it will do just that according to visible Nash. Trucking off to the WSW now at a good clip.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
122. utilaeastwind
4:57 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
Hi Baha,

It doesn't look like 90L has any convection around the center and the rotation is weakening. Maybe it will heat up again later, but the area that looks best to me is SSW of Cayman. I am not a pro though.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
121. thelmores
4:58 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
benrica, it could be the ULL and surface circ "splitting" as Dr. Masters mentioned......
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
120. thelmores
4:58 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
quite a vigorous circ.... if this does reach an area of lower shear..... look out!

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
119. benirica
4:52 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
hey guys! here in Puerto Rico (San Juan) its partly cloudy... last night we had on and off strong showers but nothing big to report. The SouthEast coast of the Island, around Humacao, Yabucos, and Guayama they had pretty constant rain early this morning but things are calm now. The wind advisory if already canceled but we have a Flash Flood Watch because the atmosphere is sooo unstable around us.
Interesting to see on the 24hour loop how the low looked soo great going WSW across the waters and coast of Puerto Rico.
Seems like a new low could form SE of Puerto Rico and it could be moving NW, bringing more rain to our area here (raind the really isnt needed)...
There is still alot of convection out the over the islands and a little shift to the west could be a bit of an issue here for us. Still uncertain what could happen here.
Anyone else heard of this new possible low? Local meteorologist just reported on it.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
118. BahaHurican
12:54 PM EDT on October 26, 2007
Right, I'm off again for while . . .
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
117. BahaHurican
12:52 PM EDT on October 26, 2007
Utila, I'm wondering if they're expecting it to get "run down /over" by 90L . . .
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
116. OZarkfrompcola
11:51 AM CDT on October 26, 2007
Hey weather who's the hunk in the red shirt
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
115. BahaHurican
12:49 PM EDT on October 26, 2007
I did immediately go look at the pic, wannabe. I wasn't sure at first if that was u, or the little one being carried was u, just as precocious as could be LOL

That is a great family shot, BTW. I like the composition.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
114. utilaeastwind
4:36 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
I am wondering why there is not more interest in the area SSW of Cayman.

Everything is looking favorable for Trop Development. Moisture from north of Panama is being pulled in from the south which should provide a good convective boost.

It also looks like a COC is developing at 18.0 82.5
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
113. ShenValleyFlyFish
12:42 PM EDT on October 26, 2007
95. Patrap 12:06 PM EDT on October 26, 2007
pssst. FACT: The New Vp Guy cant shoot to well...cept at Lawyers ..LOL!!!

Send him more shotgun shells!!

Although wouldn't want to tangle with his buddies in Black Humvees.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
111. weathermanwannabe
12:42 PM EDT on October 26, 2007
105. OZarkfrompcola 12:31 PM EDT on October 26, 2007
WHAT are you all testing for......is something big going to happen........no no not the h word

....My Blog Photo; decided to bite the bullet and come out of the dark of total anonimity....Some of you feel like old friends so I said what the heck.......
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
110. HIEXPRESS
4:46 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
104. nash28

How's it goin' Nash?
Isn't that upper ridge centered over land? S of it would also be inland?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
109. OZarkfrompcola
11:45 AM CDT on October 26, 2007
WOW,SLOW BLOG......is everyone at lunch or out getting supplies...?????????.....OZ
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
108. JRRP
4:37 PM GMT on Octubre 26, 2007
gusty winds here in santo domingo but not rain
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 5482
107. Patrap
11:41 AM CDT on October 26, 2007
WHDH-TV - National News - Closing of stadium evacuation center ...
An Associated Press investigation revealed that nearly two dozen water-dropping helicopters and two cargo planes sat idle as flames spread, ...

"The challenge now is starting to rebuild and getting them the resources they need to do that," San Diego County spokeswoman Lesley Kirk said Friday. "The county and city of San Diego are very committed to helping these people."

A show of the federal government's support came Thursday when President Bush toured the fire-ravaged area with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Bush pledged the government's cooperation.

"We want the people to know there's a better day ahead -- that today your life may look dismal, but tomorrow life's going to be better," he said.

As the governor and president witnessed the devastation, the state came under criticism for failing to deploy sufficient aerial support in the wildfires' crucial first hours.

An Associated Press investigation revealed that nearly two dozen water-dropping helicopters and two cargo planes sat idle as flames spread, grounded by government rules and bureaucracy.

The Navy, Marine and California National Guard helicopters were grounded for a day partly because state rules require all firefighting choppers to be accompanied by state forestry "fire spotters" who coordinate water or retardant drops. By the time those spotters arrived, the high winds made it too dangerous to fly.

Additionally, the National Guard's C-130 cargo planes were not part of the firefighting arsenal because long-standing retrofits have yet to be completed. The tanks they need to carry thousands of gallons of fire retardant were promised four years ago.

"When you look at what's happened, it's disgusting, inexcusable foot-dragging that's put tens of thousands of people in danger," Republican U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher said.

The wildfires are directly blamed for killing three people, a 52-year-old man in Tecate along the Mexican border and a couple in Escondido. Their bodies were discovered in the charred remains of their hillside home.

Link
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
106. ShenValleyFlyFish
11:49 AM EDT on October 26, 2007
Good Day All
We're actually under a Flood watch here in Central VA. A little "high water event" (stream hydrology speak) would clear out the silt and help the water critters. Just hope no damage to folks down-river.

24. thelmores 10:56 AM EDT on October 26, 2007 AAAACK! Global Warming again! It's either Bush's fault, or Global Warming's fault for just about everything bad that happens in this country.

GW+Bush=G. W. Bush NOW I see why I'm in this handcart and why its rolling downhill so fast.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
105. OZarkfrompcola
11:29 AM CDT on October 26, 2007
WHAT are you all testing for......is something big going to happen........no no not the h word
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
104. nash28
12:26 PM EDT on October 26, 2007
My belief is that if 90L avoids Hispanola and stays over water south of there, we will have a TD before the weekend is out.

As far as long term outlook, it really all depends on whether or not it can catch up to the Anticyclone and move south of it.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
103. HIEXPRESS
4:06 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
Awesome blog, Doc M. A concise view not to be found elsewhere. That shear still seems to be the key. The WU shear tutorial only scratches the surface on the complexity of shear. More than just two different densities, speeds, directions, heights, all happening at once - it's the configuration of the environment that controls a storm's growth, just like a fire. I think a storm can change to adjust to a shear pattern to a certain extent & then can still grow, but has trouble when the shear profile (tendency or any combination of the above factors)is rapidly and/or constantly shifting.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
102. JRRP
4:17 PM GMT on Octubre 26, 2007
yellin ? jeje ok i understand now
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 5482
99. cattlebaroness
4:03 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
Morning. So it must be a slow day if yall are already discussing GW.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
97. Floodman
11:11 AM CDT on October 26, 2007
96. JRRP 11:09 AM CDT on October 26, 2007
OK IS POSSIBLE THAT WAS A LITTLE SHIFT

CONTINUE TO THE WSW MOVEMENT BUT MORE WEST THAN SOUTH



Why are you yelling?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
96. JRRP
4:02 PM GMT on Octubre 26, 2007
OK IS POSSIBLE THAT WAS A LITTLE SHIFT

CONTINUE TO THE WSW MOVEMENT BUT MORE WEST THAN SOUTH
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 5482

Viewing: 146 - 96

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21Blog 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.