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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995. UYA
11:22 AM GMT on October 27, 2007
8:05 TWD.
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994. IKE
6:04 AM CDT on October 27, 2007
Buoy 262 NM south of Panama City,FL.


"Updated: 5:49 AM CDT on October 27, 2007
Air Temperature: 78° F
Humidity: 84
Wind direction (W Dir): ENE (55 - 64 Degrees)
Wind Speed (W Spd): 25.3 kts (29.1 mph)
Dominant Wave Period (DWP): 7 sec
Dominant Wave Height (DWH): 5.91 ft
Dominant Wave Range (DWR): exactly 5.9 ft
Wind Wave Period (WWP): 5 sec
Wind Wave Height (WWH): 4.92 ft
Wind Wave Range (WWR): 4.10 - 5.74 ft
Wave Swell Period (WSP): 7 sec
Wave Swell Height (WSH): 3.28 ft
Wave Swell Range (WSR): 2.46 - 4.10 ft
Atmospheric Pressure (AP): 29.93 in"
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993. underthunder
4:38 AM CST on October 27, 2007
bless their hearts...
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992. UYA
10:35 AM GMT on October 27, 2007
I do have children...all grown and registered voters!
Scary thought isn't it.
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991. underthunder
4:21 AM CST on October 27, 2007
UYA...I know this is off topic...but do you have children?
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990. UYA
10:28 AM GMT on October 27, 2007
NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
530 AM EDT SAT OCT 27 2007

FOR THE NORTH ATLANTIC...CARIBBEAN SEA AND THE GULF OF MEXICO...

THE BROAD AREA OF LOW PRESSURE OVER THE EASTERN CARIBBEAN SEA IS NOW
CENTERED ABOUT 175 MILES SOUTH OF SANTO DOMINGO IN THE DOMINICAN
REPUBLIC. THE ASSOCIATED SHOWER ACTIVITY REMAINS DISORGANIZED AND
UPPER-LEVEL WINDS ARE CURRENTLY NOT FAVORABLE FOR DEVELOPMENT. THE
LOW IS EXPECTED TO MOVE GENERALLY WESTWARD AND TROPICAL CYCLONE
FORMATION...IF ANY...IS NOT EXPECTED UNTIL THE SYSTEM REACHES THE
WESTERN CARIBBEAN SEA IN A DAY OR TWO. SHOWERS AND SQUALLS ARE
EXPECTED TO CONTINUE TODAY OVER PORTIONS THE VIRGIN ISLANDS...PUERTO
RICO...AND HISPANIOLA.

AN AREA OF DISTURBED WEATHER ASSOCIATED WITH A BROAD TROUGH OF LOW
PRESSURE CONTINUES OVER THE NORTHWESTERN CARIBBEAN SEA. THERE ARE
NO SIGNS OF ORGANIZATION AND DEVELOPMENT...IF ANY...SHOULD BE SLOW
TO OCCUR.

ELSEWHERE...TROPICAL CYCLONE FORMATION IS NOT EXPECTED DURING THE
NEXT 48 HOURS.
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989. UYA
10:24 AM GMT on October 27, 2007
And the NHC says they're waiting for decent visibles on 90L just like we are.
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988. UYA
10:13 AM GMT on October 27, 2007
AREA FORECAST DISCUSSION
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE JACKSONVILLE FL
346 AM EDT SAT OCT 27 2007

NUMERICAL MODELS ARE IN GENERAL AGREEMENT THAT A PROLONGED NOR'EASTER
EVENT WILL ENSUE SUNDAY AND CONTINUE FOR MUCH OF NEXT WEEK. THIS
IN RESPONSE TO STRONG AND LARGE HIGH PRESSURE SYSTEM HOLDING TO
OUR NORTHWEST AND NORTH WHILE LOWERING PRESSURE WILL CONTINUE OVER
THE CARIBBEAN. THE PLACEMENT OF THESE PRESSURES WILL LEAD TO STRONG
PRESSURE GRADIENT ACROSS THE LOCAL AREA...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
987. UYA
10:04 AM GMT on October 27, 2007
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE TALLAHASSEE FL

BEYOND THE MIDDLE OF THE WEEK THE FORECAST
BECOMES MUCH MORE UNCERTAIN AS UPPER ENERGY INTERACTS WITH
MOISTURE AND LOW PRESSURE LIFTING NORTH FROM THE CARIBBEAN.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
986. UYA
9:51 AM GMT on October 27, 2007
I'm posting the Key West Discussion because it appears to have been written by a pre-teen!



AREA FORECAST DISCUSSION FOR THE FLORIDA KEYS
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE KEY WEST FL
355 AM EDT SAT OCT 27 2007

.DISCUSSION...
.OBSERVATIONS...
SKIES WERE CLOUDY THIS MORNING OVER THE ISLANDS. TEMPERATURES WERE
IN THE UPPER 70S WITH EAST WINDS AROUND 10 MPH ON LAND...15 KNOTS ON
THE REEF WITH HIGHER GUSTS.

OUR RADAR SHOWED SCATTERED SHOWER(S) IN THE WESTERN STRAITS AND LOWER
KEYS...LINGERING STRATIFORM RAIN IN THE EASTERN STRAITS AND UPPER
KEYS. MOVEMENT WAS TOWARD THE NORTHWEST.
&&

.ANALYSIS...
WINDS HAVE PICKED UP AS AN EASTERLY SURGE MOVES THROUGH OUR WATERS.
THIS IS IN ADVANCE OF HIGH PRESSURE BUILDING IN FROM THE
EAST...WHICH SEEMS FINALLY TO HAVE WASHED OUT THE SURFACE TROF
RESIDENT IN THE STRAITS FOR THE LAST COUPLE OF DAYS.

IT IS EVIDENT FROM THE SATELLITE AND RADAR IMAGERY THAT THIS NEW
AIRMASS HAS LOWER VALUES OF TOTAL MOISTURE CONTENT AND HIGHER VALUES
OF STATIC STABILITY.
&&

.FORECASTS...
WITH THIS SITUATION IN MIND WE HAVE BEGUN TO REDUCE OUR RAIN CHANCES
FOR TODAY AND TONIGHT. BY THIS AFTERNOON THE RELATIVELY DRY...STABLE
AIR WILL HAVE OVERSPREAD THE FORECAST AREA SO WE HAVE CHOSEN 16Z AS
A BREAK POINT. YOU SHOULD EXPECT AN UPDATE AROUND NOON.

HOWEVER MOISTURE AND INSTABILITY WILL COMMENCE TO BUILD ONCE AGAIN
BY SUNDAY. IN ADDITION THE PRESSURE GRADIENT ALSO WILL INCREASE.
THIS IS DUE TO THE COMBINATION OF STRENGTHENING HIGH PRESSURE TO OUR
NORTH...AND DEEPENING LOW PRESSURE TO OUR SOUTH. GUIDANCE DEVELOPS A
CLOSED LOW NEAR THE CAYMAN ISLANDS BY WEDNESDAY WHICH WOULD KEEP THE
WINDS GOING AND ALSO WOULD TEND TO SEND CLOUDS AND SHOWERS UP FROM
THE SOUTH.

SO WE HAVE A LOT OF INS AND OUTS IN THE LATTER HALF OF THE
FORECAST...ALL DEPENDENT UPON EVENTS WITH A HIGH DEGREE OF
UNCERTAINTY. FOR NOW WE ARE CLINGING TO CLIMATOLOGY FOR RAIN CHANCES
WITH SLIGHTLY HIGHER TEMPERATURES ALL BASED UPON EASTERLY FLOW.
GUIDANCE HAS NOT BEEN ALL THAT IMPRESSIVE LATELY...SO LETS WAIT AND
SEE.
&&

.MARINE...

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985. UYA
9:49 AM GMT on October 27, 2007
I just personally spoke with Key West.....they're referring everything to the NHC>
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984. UYA
9:48 AM GMT on October 27, 2007
AREA FORECAST DISCUSSION
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE MELBOURNE FL
450 AM EDT SAT OCT 27 2007

.DISCUSSION...

OLD BOUNDARY HAS BECOME NEARLY STATIONARY DRAPED N-S ACROSS THE FA
STRETCHING ROUGHLY FROM JUST OFFSHORE VOLUSIA COUNTY SOUTHWARD
ACROSS THE CAPE TO JUST WEST OF LAKE OKEECHOBEE. THE BOUNDARY MAY
PIVOT AND BECOME ORIENTED NE-SW ACROSS THE AREA TODAY AND IT WILL
PROBABLY WASH OUT IN ANOTHER 24 HOURS OR SO.

MON-FRI...LATEST GFS AND ECMWF FORECASTS LOOK SIMILAR AS THEY BOTH
CLOSE OFF A LOW OVER THE NORTHERN CARIBBEAN BY THURSDAY AND LIFT IT
NORTHEASTWARD ACROSS THE CENTRAL BAHAMA ISLANDS FRIDAY AND BEYOND.
MAIN DIFFERENCE IS THEIR CENTRAL PRESSURES WITH THE ECMWF BEING
2-3MB LOWER THAN THE GFS SOLUTION WHICH WOULD IMPACT WIND SPEEDS
LATER IN THE WEEK. EXPECTING A STRONG NORTHEAST TO EAST GRADIENT OF
5 TO 6 MB BETWEEN JACKSONVILLE AND MIAMI TO DEVELOP BY MONDAY AND BE
MAINTAINED THROUGH THURSDAY
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983. BigToe
9:37 AM GMT on October 27, 2007
UYA... Thanks for the "WHITE BIRD" video... almost forgot about that song.
Good Morning campers
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982. ShenValleyFlyFish
5:05 AM EDT on October 27, 2007
972. TampaSpin 3:55 AM EDT on October 27, 2007 It always seems to me the NHC has always been quick to call an invest early in the season than late in the season.

I bet its to calibrate their instruments, get new folks up to speed and play with their new gadgits.
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981. UYA
8:33 AM GMT on October 27, 2007
Ya done good Shen.
An Invest is declared......there's no such thing as an Invest formation in the Cyclogenesis process in the Atlantic Basin.
It is only declared by the NHC/TPC.....and after the required parameters are met a TCFA might be issued by the NRL.
A TCFA is not an Invest Declaration.
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980. ShenValleyFlyFish
4:24 AM EDT on October 27, 2007
971. UYA 3:53 AM EDT on October 27, 2007 Right....but an Invest is not an official anything! It's a convenient Declaration by the NHC....and the NHC/TPC only. It is not defined as a meteorological term anywhere.

Well I didn't guess too badly for a hill country boy. I figured it was short for investigate which could be for a number of reasons.
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979. UYA
8:18 AM GMT on October 27, 2007
Have a nice day all:



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978. UYA
8:09 AM GMT on October 27, 2007
How much of our technological advances as a nation have been stifled by undeclared war expenditures?
That's what keeps me awake.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
977. guygee
7:45 AM GMT on October 27, 2007
958. UYA 7:17 AM GMT on October 27, 2007
Guygee....interesting information.

Thanks for the link, UYA, scanning through the first 35 pages of that document really drives home how our priorities are totally messed up. I wonder how much of the budget cuts and how many of the canceled missions are due to IMO a misguided re-emphasis on manned flights? To read that and recall I used to belong to the Planetary Society makes me sick. We are going to lose continuity on vital data monitoring our own planet, but we can afford a mission to Pluto...

It just got harder to get to sleep than it already was for me tonight! Goodnight now.
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976. UYA
8:04 AM GMT on October 27, 2007
00Z UK:



Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting



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975. TampaSpin
3:58 AM EDT on October 27, 2007
973. jpritch 3:57 AM EDT on October 27, 2007
I see 2 systems coming together to form 1 with a large wind and rain field. What is your opinion.

I think they are probably far enough apart to go their separate ways, but it's really too early to tell. It will be interesting to see what they look like in the morning. Oh wait - it IS morning. I mean after the sun comes up. LOL.


Have a good early morning im going back to bed and probably not sleep....lol Good Morning....
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 177 Comments: 20430
974. jpritch
7:58 AM GMT on October 27, 2007
I'm off to bed finally. More work to get up and do in a couple of hours. See you then...
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973. jpritch
7:53 AM GMT on October 27, 2007
I see 2 systems coming together to form 1 with a large wind and rain field. What is your opinion.

I think they are probably far enough apart to go their separate ways, but it's really too early to tell. It will be interesting to see what they look like in the morning. Oh wait - it IS morning. I mean after the sun comes up. LOL.
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972. TampaSpin
3:53 AM EDT on October 27, 2007
It always seems to me the NHC has always been quick to call an invest early in the season than late in the season.
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 177 Comments: 20430
971. UYA
7:51 AM GMT on October 27, 2007
Right....but an Invest is not an official anything! It's a convenient Declaration by the NHC....and the NHC/TPC only. It is not defined as a meteorological term anywhere.
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970. TampaSpin
3:49 AM EDT on October 27, 2007
JPRitch,
I see 2 systems coming together to form 1 with a large wind and rain field. What is your opinion.
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 177 Comments: 20430
968. jpritch
7:41 AM GMT on October 27, 2007
There's over 12,000 terms in the Glossary of Meteorological Terms.....Invest is not one of them.

It's in the National Weather Service Glossary of National Hurricane Center terms:

Invest:
A weather system for which a tropical cyclone forecast center (NHC, CPHC, or JTWC) is interested in collecting specialized data sets (e.g., microwave imagery) and/or running model guidance. Once a system has been designated as an invest, data collection and processing is initiated on a number of government and academic web sites, including the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) and the University of Wisconsin Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies (UW-CIMSS). The designation of a system as an invest does not correspond to any particular likelihood of development of the system into a tropical cyclone; operational products such as the Tropical Weather Outlook or the JTWC/TCFA should be consulted for this purpose.
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967. TampaSpin
3:45 AM EDT on October 27, 2007
962. jpritch 3:39 AM EDT on October 27, 2007
Tampa, you're up way too late. ;)

The last frame of the northern Caribbean disturbance is looking rather large:
Link


just woke up and logged on for a second and was rather shocked at the current Sat. shots.
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 177 Comments: 20430
966. cieldumort
7:41 AM GMT on October 27, 2007
It does look like we are witnessing a real improvement of both features (90L & Western Caribbean) tonight.

I'm surprised NHC has held off Invest tagging the western Caribbean low so far, although to their defense, it has been tangled up with the front up until tonight.

Shear is supportively low in the central and western Caribbean. It will be interesting to see if one or the other becomes dominant and detracts from the other, or if they both detract from each other, or if even both continue to develop. "Stranger things have happened."





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965. JUSTCOASTING
7:40 AM GMT on October 27, 2007
So I am not the only one who could not sleep tonight lol
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964. UYA
7:40 AM GMT on October 27, 2007
There's over 12,000 terms in the Glossary of Meteorological Terms.....Invest is not one of them.
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963. UYA
7:39 AM GMT on October 27, 2007
Ya think?
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962. jpritch
7:37 AM GMT on October 27, 2007
Tampa, you're up way too late. ;)

The last frame of the northern Caribbean disturbance is looking rather large:
Link
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961. JUSTCOASTING
7:38 AM GMT on October 27, 2007
THIS IS WHAT I WOULD CALL A LOT OF MODELS COMMING INTO AGREEMENT

Link
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960. TampaSpin
3:24 AM EDT on October 27, 2007
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 177 Comments: 20430
959. TampaSpin
3:20 AM EDT on October 27, 2007
It appears the system South of Cuba has seperated from the front and is forming....interesting and 90L appears better also.
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 177 Comments: 20430
958. UYA
7:17 AM GMT on October 27, 2007
Guygee....interesting information.
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957. UYA
7:15 AM GMT on October 27, 2007
Those are TCFA requirements...not associated with Invest declarations.
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956. guygee
7:02 AM GMT on October 27, 2007
Nice link flaboyinga, thanks.

Enjoying the late season rain...and hoping for more.

Back to lurk mode now, goodnight!
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955. flaboyinga
2:51 AM EDT on October 27, 2007
Navy Invest requirement to determine the need to issue an Invest.


Link
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954. guygee
6:51 AM GMT on October 27, 2007
It is true that QuickSCAT windspeed measurements get "whacked" by rain contamination. It really works better for extratropical gales and storms than tropical storms for this reason. That is why OPC is a big supporter of Quickscat, and NHC not as much.
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953. UYA
6:50 AM GMT on October 27, 2007
We're spending about a million US bucks per plane to equip them all with the SFMR also and those readings are mostly tossed in favor of the Dropsondes.
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952. UYA
6:47 AM GMT on October 27, 2007
Quick Scat is only the most accurate regarding cyclone formation in the elemental stages....the incubation as it were.
Producing a recognizable presentation of a surface circulation. That's good.
After that it is whacked for wind speeds. That's a given.
Time after time.
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951. guygee
6:39 AM GMT on October 27, 2007
QuickSCAT errors have been widely studied and validated, and are well-characterized...in the absence of rain contamination it does a good job on the wind speeds, it is the wind directions in certain parts of the swath that can have a relatively large error.

Some links:
QuickSCAT(pdf)
Scatterometry (pdf)
The Capability of Hurricane Wind Monitoring by SAR(pdf)
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950. jpritch
6:39 AM GMT on October 27, 2007
I'm wishing they'd reposition the floater on 90L. RAMSDIS still has a good center on it, but it's nice to be able to see all the enhanced loops. :(

Also, we might wake up to three areas of interest instead of just one. There's a lot more convection over the northern Caribbean, though it's hard to see if there's any surface circulation yet. More convection to the south as well, and some clear circulation there. And in the eastern part is 90L firing up again.
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949. flaboyinga
2:38 AM EDT on October 27, 2007
A good night to all and a better tomorrow.


Zoomiami, if you're still on, I found a link to a list of invest requirements.
Link
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948. UYA
6:35 AM GMT on October 27, 2007
Bwahahahaha.....Guygee!


The QS is at its best dealing with a FLAT surface I think.

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947. KoritheMan
6:37 AM GMT on October 27, 2007
No point in me trying to convince you otherwise

Just ignore him. If anyone thinks they know everything, I ignore them.
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946. guygee
6:31 AM GMT on October 27, 2007
909. UYA 3:39 AM GMT on October 27, 2007
"While I do trust the QS for outlining a circulation....I'm not a big believer in the ability of a microwave measurement of foam on the ocean's surface for an accurate wind measurement.
Just a personal problem I have.
"

From:
Recent Successes in the EOS Program: Needed Research on Unanswered Questions About These Spacecraft and What They Can Do"

Willard Pierson — Professor, New York City College
March 13, 2002

Abstract
The EOS (or the Earth Observing System) program has had a number of very import successes during the past few years. Some are (1) the ability to predict the tides for the deep ocean to within 2 cm rms, (2) the measurement of the winds by means of QuickSCAT within undoubtedly an error of less than 2 m/s rms for the range of wind speeds from 3 to 20 m/s or 10% rms for winds from 20 m/s to 30 m/s...
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About JeffMasters

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.