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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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
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94. BahaHurican
11:59 AM EDT on October 26, 2007
BBL, folks. I gotta make some non-Internet connections and want to beat whatever afternoon rain is likely to show up here. I'll check in as the afternoon progresses to see how things are going ULL-to-surface and 90L wise . . . .

Later!
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92. Patrap
10:57 AM CDT on October 26, 2007
Im getting Quoted again...!!!
I Must be reaching..
Ahhh, Life iz Good again.. LOL
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91. BahaHurican
11:56 AM EDT on October 26, 2007
JRRP,

It has been for a while. Just also south.

U think it's stopped dropping south?
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90. JRRP
3:49 PM GMT on Octubre 26, 2007
90L IS MOVING WEST I THINK
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88. DallasGumby
3:50 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
52. Patrap 3:18 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
How does a single Man..a Man of Politics..scare the be Jesus outta other Grown Men with bringing Climate Change to the Public view?


Because the man, and his extremist message, is being promoted to force significant, very costly (in both economic and human suffering terms) changes in public policy.
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87. BahaHurican
11:53 AM EDT on October 26, 2007
jp, I got it 3 times.

LOL

Maybe the haywire blog was getting to me without me even knowing it . . .
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86. Patrap
10:51 AM CDT on October 26, 2007
Wear the BAN Badge with Honor.Its a distinction not laid on many.
Be like a Politician. Wear ya mud openly.
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85. BahaHurican
11:48 AM EDT on October 26, 2007
I'm getting paranoid about 24-hour blog bans . . . sorry folks.

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83. Floodman
10:47 AM CDT on October 26, 2007
S'long, katadman
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82. BahaHurican
11:44 AM EDT on October 26, 2007
78. Patrap 11:43 AM EDT on October 26, 2007
. . . . Just cruising the Blogs.Watching the invest become a Major ..LOL


Whether literal or figurative, hey, Pat?

LOL
(not that it's impossible, mind u)
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81. Inyo
3:45 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
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.


I agree, and I know a lot more about fires than I know about weather. I might post about it in my blog in the next few days, if I have time.
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80. katadman
10:44 AM CDT on October 26, 2007
I'm outta here.

It will be interesting to watch 90L early next week.

Patrap, glad that you are recuperating well. Hope you don't have any set-backs.

I'll "see" y'all tomorrow.
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79. Floodman
10:46 AM CDT on October 26, 2007
That's good to hear, man...we missed you in here; you're such a stabilizing influence...LOL
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78. Patrap
10:41 AM CDT on October 26, 2007
Im fine.Eating solids and enjoying Apple Juice. Thanx Floodman.
Just cruising the Blogs.Watching the invest become a Major ..LOL
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77. Floodman
10:41 AM CDT on October 26, 2007
LOL, Patrap

How you feeling, by the way?
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76. Patrap
10:36 AM CDT on October 26, 2007
B.H?..."Bobby Hebert?".. Hes not Playing anymore. But does a Good Saints "After Game" show.

LOL
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75. TampaSpin
11:35 AM EDT on October 26, 2007
Could it be if it rains for 40 days and 40 nites we might fear a problem.......lol
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 179 Comments: 20448
74. listenerVT
3:29 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
Okay, so I'm supposed to be elsewhere, I'm a concerned layperson and citizen. So I'd like to suggest that we would progress a lot faster toward remedies for our concerns with the current planetary problems if we looked at what we are in agreement on and got some related practical work underway. Whether it's artificial warming or natural fluctuations (heck, it's probably some of each), we actually need to do something about it.

When the scientists on the "fluctuations" side sit down peacefully with the scientists on the "warming" side, we'll get something accomplished. Please don't wait too long.
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73. Floodman
10:32 AM CDT on October 26, 2007
57. Patrap 10:22 AM CDT on October 26, 2007
Hebert Boxes..LOL (Pronounced "A-bear" )

Link



No, Patrap, no! You used the "H" word AND the "B" word!
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72. Floodman
10:30 AM CDT on October 26, 2007
DOH! I said the "B" word...I must go and chastise myself...
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71. extreme236
3:30 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
And it looks like they mentioned that broad low in the NW caribbean
Member Since: August 2, 2007 Posts: 19 Comments: 19234
70. extreme236
3:29 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
Pretty much what Dr. M said...a depression could form out of 90L on Sunday, and that is two days from now
Member Since: August 2, 2007 Posts: 19 Comments: 19234
69. hurricane23
11:26 AM EDT on October 26, 2007
Models do show a system coming close to some very warm SST'S i believe to the south of jamaica.If this system ends up in the NW caribbean things could get interesting as a strong cold-front might try to pull 90L NE which is what models like the nogaps and the ecmwf are hinting at. Adrian
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68. OZarkfrompcola
10:27 AM CDT on October 26, 2007
OMG...OMG....FLOODMAN AND PATRAP said the boxes.......doom i say DOOM...LOL
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67. extreme236
3:28 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
000
ABNT20 KNHC 261527
TWOAT
TROPICAL WEATHER OUTLOOK
NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
1130 AM EDT FRI OCT 26 2007

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

THE AREA OF LOW PRESSURE HAS BEEN MOVING TOWARD THE WEST-SOUTHWEST
ABOUT 10 MPH AND IS NOW LOCATED IN THE CARIBBEAN SEA JUST SOUTH OF
THE MONA PASSAGE. SURFACE PRESSURES HAVE CONTINUED TO FALL BUT THE
SHOWER ACTIVITY HAS NOT BECOME ANY BETTER ORGANIZED SINCE
YESTERDAY. THE LOW IS EXPECTED TO CONTINUE MOVING ON A GENERAL
WEST-SOUTHWESTWARD OR WESTWARD TRACK AND TROPICAL CYCLONE
FORMATION...IF ANY...IS NOT EXPECTED TO OCCUR UNTIL THE SYSTEM
REACHES THE WESTERN CARIBBEAN SEA IN ABOUT TWO DAYS. SHOWERS AND
SQUALLS ARE EXPECTED TO CONTINUE OVER PORTIONS THE VIRGIN
ISLANDS...PUERTO RICO...AND HISPANIOLA.

AN AREA DISTURBED WEATHER ASSOCIATED WITH A BROAD AREA OF LOW
PRESSURE HAS FORMED OVER THE NORTHWESTERN CARIBBEAN SEA. LITTLE
MOTION IS ANTICIPATED AND ADDITIONAL DEVELOPMENT...IF ANY...WILL BE
SLOW TO OCCUR.

ELSEWHERE...TROPICAL CYCLONE FORMATION IS NOT EXPECTED DURING THE
NEXT 48 HOURS.

$$

FORECASTER AVILA
Member Since: August 2, 2007 Posts: 19 Comments: 19234
66. extreme236
3:28 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
I just looked at the WV loop and I dont see what your seeing H23 but Im not going to say your wrong because you might not be wrong
Member Since: August 2, 2007 Posts: 19 Comments: 19234
65. Floodman
10:27 AM CDT on October 26, 2007
52. Patrap 10:18 AM CDT on October 26, 2007
How does a single Man..a Man of Politics..scare the be Jesus outta other Grown Men with bringing Climate Change to the Public view?.
I just get all goose Pimply when I see folks get nervous and all antsy over Gore. Its the message I think they fear..not the Man. Its a wonderful thing to sit back and enjoy. Almost Like Cane number predictions. Lotsa folks weigh heavy on the numbers. But those who have experienced the Havoc of the Hurricane,..know that its impacts that count. Thats Why I focus on them...as we wind down the season.
Just random thoughts from a Blogger..Nothing more.



Absolutely...the message, and not the man. The message, if true in only some small part, is terrifying. Al Gore himslef is considerably less than menacing, though from an intellectual standpoint, he's no midget.

As for the message *breaks out the soapbox*, I can't say that it isn't happening; anyone who says they know for a fact that it isn't is either a liar or a fool. We produce more CO2 today than we did yesterday; the climate is a closed system and you can't uncontrollably add things to a closed system without changing it; it's the degree that needs to be quantified at this point. Sorry, randomness from another blogger.
*steps off soapbox and stows it away*
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64. TampaSpin
11:14 AM EDT on October 26, 2007
Just one stupid question. If a climate change was to occur, what would be the first signs? Promise no more GW from me.....lol
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 179 Comments: 20448
63. extreme236
3:25 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
The main thing we can all agree on is we know its sheared and that isnt any surprise to anyone (I hope)
Member Since: August 2, 2007 Posts: 19 Comments: 19234
62. hurricane23
11:24 AM EDT on October 26, 2007
58. jphurricane2006 11:23 AM EDT on October 26, 2007
Adrian why are you being so testy really, we know its being sheared

That comment was not for you...Its for extreme236!
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60. extreme236
3:22 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
LLC Continues to be sheared and thunderstorms are not able to come together near the center.

Sorry H23, Im not trying to be smart about it but im just saying its just that the way you posted it you almost seemed to infer they were two seperate problems inhibiting development when in fact problem one, the shear, is inhibiting teh convective development. Maybe thats not what you were infering and sorry if it seemed to be a "smart" comment
Member Since: August 2, 2007 Posts: 19 Comments: 19234
57. Patrap
10:20 AM CDT on October 26, 2007
Hebert Boxes..LOL (Pronounced "A-bear" )

Link

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56. hurricane23
11:14 AM EDT on October 26, 2007
40. extreme236 11:13 AM EDT on October 26, 2007
We know its still sheared lol...that is why convection cant form near the center lol

What is it with you bro!

Why do you have a smart remark for everything i post??Ive been tracking tropical cyclones for almost 15 years trust me theres nothing you can teach me or show me something that i have not seen in regards to a tropical cyclone.

JP take a look at this loop...Tell me what you see?

The circulation around 90L is strong and its proven till now to be a fighter so its 50/50 it will survive.

Personally for me when theres divergence like this with the models its not what you want to see of your looking for tropical cyclone development. Adrian
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55. NEwxguy
3:14 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
13. Floodman 2:49 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
10. PensacolaDoug 9:47 AM CDT on October 26, 2007
No not the "H" word!



Just so long as no one mentions the "B" word

Don;t want to hear the GW words.
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54. extreme236
3:19 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
Yea, baha I just re-read it and yeah he did mention it lol...didnt notice
Member Since: August 2, 2007 Posts: 19 Comments: 19234
53. BahaHurican
11:17 AM EDT on October 26, 2007
I thought Dr. M did mention the ULL:

The surface low is separating from the upper level low today, and will move west-southwest at about 10 mph.
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52. Patrap
10:14 AM CDT on October 26, 2007
How does a single Man..a Man of Politics..scare the be Jesus outta other Grown Men with bringing Climate Change to the Public view?.
I just get all goose Pimply when I see folks get nervous and all antsy over Gore. Its the message I think they fear..not the Man. Its a wonderful thing to sit back and enjoy. Almost Like Cane number predictions. Lotsa folks weigh heavy on the numbers. But those who have experienced the Havoc of the Hurricane,..know that its impacts that count. Thats Why I focus on them...as we wind down the season.
Just random thoughts from a Blogger..Nothing more.
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49. Ztapedoc
3:01 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
good morning from Puerto Rico where on the north side of the sland we have light winds from the NE, mostly cldy and no rain... Temps 84F pres 1009 steady. A beautiful morning ----so far.... Ztapedoc
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47. Orcasystems
3:13 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
37. BahaHurican 3:10 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
Orca, just about anything's possible with weather :o}. If we are in such a cycle, it'll be the first one that Western civilization records. (We've lost so much information from civilizations in this era that we can't truly say it's NEVER been recorded before.)

There's so much out there to understand and learn.


Well thats a good thing... at least you didn't think I was some kind of fringe loonie.. thats a good start to a friday.
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46. listenerVT
3:13 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
Just to add before I zoom...

Part of the problem with the wildfires is human-made, in that we build where it is unwise to build. The forest was able to tend itself better, despite the natural wildfires, when humans weren't messing so much in the mix. We've been messing with it so long that I don't know how we'd ever unscramble the building and rebuilding from nature's natural tendencies. Perhaps insurance companies will decide that for us, when they decline to insure people who rebuild on wildfire-prone areas ~ particularly given the added feature of longer and larger droughts. The droughts ARE related to the warming of the planet, whether it's caused by Global Warming or natural fluctuation. We need to consider pro-active approaches and educate the people. Many thanks to all here who are educators!
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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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