California fires could reach record levels in 2008

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 9:42 PM GMT on June 25, 2008

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An unusually early and dangerous fire season has hit California, where at least 33 fires burning over a total of 190,000 acres are active, according to the Interagency Fire Center. The fires were sparked over the weekend when an unusually far southward-moving storm system brought numerous thunderstorms to central and northern California. Over 8,000 lightning strikes hit the region. Most of these strikes were not accompanied by rain, since a very dry atmosphere at low levels caused much of the thunderstorm rain to evaporate before reaching the surface. The lightning strikes ignited an unusual number of fires, due to exceptionally dry vegetation in California. This year, the state experienced its driest spring season (March-April-May) since record keeping began in 1895, and much of the state is in moderate to severe drought.


Figure 1. Visible satellite image from NASA's Aqua spacecraft on Monday, June 23, 2008, showing smoke from hundreds of wildfires sparked by lightning in California. The red regions show where the satellite's sensor detected fires burning. The smoke has created air pollution levels in excess of the federal standards for fine particulate matter (PM2.5) over much of California's Central Valley. Image credit: NASA.

The forecast
With the dry season only beginning, it could be a record fire year in California. Even before last weekend's lightning storms, California had already seen an unusually large number of destructive wildfires, according to CalFire--90,000 acres had burned, compared to 42,000 acres during the same period last year. It is not unusual for large portions of the state to receive no rain at all in July and August, such as occurred last year (Figure 2). The jet stream typically moves far enough north in summer that the migrating low pressure systems that bring California most of its rain only hit the northernmost portions of the state. With high fuel levels due to a century of misguided fire suppression efforts, moderate to severe drought gripping the state, no rain in sight for months to come, and an above-normal chance of warmer than average temperatures forecast this summer for the state by NOAA's Climate Prediction Center, expect a record fire season in California.


Figure 2. Observed precipitation over California during 2007. Much of the state received no rain at all during July and August, which is a common occurrence. A little bit of thunderstorm activity did make it into the easternmost portion of the state, thanks to moisture flowing north-westward from the Arizona Monsoon. However, the Sierra Mountains block this moisture from reaching the central and western portions of the state. Image credit: NOAA.

Tropics
It's quiet in the tropical Atlantic. There are no threat areas to discuss, and none of the models are forecasting tropical storm formation in the next seven days. Beyond a week from now, the GFS is hinting that the region off the coast of Africa could see some development, but it is still probably too early for this too occur, despite warmer than average sea surface temperatures in the region.

Jeff Masters

San Bruno Mountain Fire - Cresting the Ridge (ajkimoto)
Photo taken as the fire crested the ridge of San Bruno Mountain
San Bruno Mountain Fire - Cresting the Ridge
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714. Tazmanian
5:01 PM PDT on June 26, 2008
that fool Tropicaldiscussion ban me from his blog


he is now baning evere one ohs post there
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713. Stormchaser2007
11:59 PM GMT on June 26, 2008
Dang JL!! Thanks didnt realize that! Nice catch
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711. severstorm
7:56 PM EDT on June 26, 2008
702 take it somewhere else nobody wants to see that
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710. JLPR
11:56 PM GMT on Junio 26, 2008
remember the ignore user button if someone annoys you =)
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709. yamil20
11:56 PM GMT on Junio 26, 2008
whats wrong with you men,stop your comments.
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708. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
11:55 PM GMT on June 26, 2008
688. extreme236 11:46 PM GMT on June 26, 2008
I would say there is a high chance for 94E and 95E to develop into Tropical Depressions soon

--
yup looks like both invest will have the "HIGH" Potential in the next TWO
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707. TampaSpin
7:52 PM EDT on June 26, 2008
You can sorta see how it went up the coast maybe.....lol
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 178 Comments: 20443
706. pearlandaggie
11:54 PM GMT on June 26, 2008
699. last year by July 7th we had had an entire year's worth or rain! as dry as it's been, we were only about 4-5 inches below normal until the recent rains. i think the la nina conditions that were bringing us the dry weather are starting to break down (no real data to support that other than observation)
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704. JLPR
11:55 PM GMT on Junio 26, 2008
stormchaser the NHC isnt updating the satellites =(
There isnt much convection in the gulf
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703. yamil20
11:53 PM GMT on Junio 26, 2008
697. Tropicaldiscussion

can you please leave of this blog if you dont want to disscuss something about weather,you are so disrespectful,how can you post something like that here!!
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701. Stormchaser2007
11:54 PM GMT on June 26, 2008
Discussion,dont modify what you said! Im sure everyone would love to hear what you said about them!!
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700. Stormchaser2007
11:53 PM GMT on June 26, 2008
.
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699. severstorm
7:50 PM EDT on June 26, 2008
692 i'm 1.5 over for this year thats because we had a very wet feb. and mar. but i was 20 inches below last year only had 29.58 inches all of last year tinder box here.
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698. Stormchaser2007
11:51 PM GMT on June 26, 2008
693. I dont know In this frame it has the Storm finding a weakness in the ridge and moving north...btw No problem I always enjoy our conversations!

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696. Stormchaser2007
11:50 PM GMT on June 26, 2008
690. They might actually start to interact with one another soon...especially if they both become Tropical Storms. That would be a pretty interesting event if it were to unfold.
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695. pearlandaggie
11:49 PM GMT on June 26, 2008
692. how much are you guys behind for the year?
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694. TampaSpin
7:48 PM EDT on June 26, 2008
689. thelmores 7:46 PM EDT on June 26, 2008
why no 7pm at 42021??


It runs 1 hour behind...next update will be in about 10 minutes.
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692. severstorm
7:46 PM EDT on June 26, 2008
681 zephyrhills fl. 5.14 inches this month should be over 8 inches.
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691. Stormchaser2007
11:46 PM GMT on June 26, 2008
The Last quickscat caught 35mph winds...but no circ.

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690. Floodman
6:46 PM CDT on June 26, 2008
679. Stormchaser2007

I was wondering about those two orbiting one another...proximity?
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689. thelmores
11:46 PM GMT on June 26, 2008
why no 7pm at 42021??
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688. extreme236
11:42 PM GMT on June 26, 2008
I would say there is a high chance for 94E and 95E to develop into Tropical Depressions soon.
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687. Stormchaser2007
11:45 PM GMT on June 26, 2008
Decent convection...

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686. thelmores
11:45 PM GMT on June 26, 2008
684.....

That may be true.... but still not enough time friend.....
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685. Stormchaser2007
11:44 PM GMT on June 26, 2008
680. We have to see how it all plays out...but yeah im surprised too.
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684. TampaSpin
7:42 PM EDT on June 26, 2008
678. thelmores 7:40 PM EDT on June 26, 2008

Looking at Stearing it should stay off shore for a while....IMO
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683. thelmores
11:41 PM GMT on June 26, 2008
Conditions at 42021 as of
(6:00 pm EDT)
Atmospheric Pressure (PRES): 30.08 in
Tendency (PTDY): -0.11 in ( Falling Rapidly )


pressure falling rapidly, but still relatively high........
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682. Tazmanian
4:39 PM PDT on June 26, 2008
236 that is the old TWO from 11:30am
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681. pearlandaggie
11:40 PM GMT on June 26, 2008
how's the rain situation in florida? i mean, i realize that you're still under drought conditions, but how much rain have you guys logged recently?
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679. Stormchaser2007
11:39 PM GMT on June 26, 2008
JFV its on the Gulf and its probably there for the increase in convection there....
______________________________________________

Also I thin we might see some Fujiwara on these two soon...

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678. thelmores
11:31 PM GMT on June 26, 2008



seems there is something brewing, but its a non-issue.... very little time before landfall, and unlikely to amount to much.....

if it were further out in the Gulf.....

Good eye though Tampa.....
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677. pearlandaggie
11:39 PM GMT on June 26, 2008
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676. Floodman
6:35 PM CDT on June 26, 2008
658. Patrap
You're right, and I think that does get past us sometimes...Dr. Masters is owed great thanks for this forum.

As for not calling you sir, I'll bear that in mind, Pat...I'm not a sir either, nor am I Mr. Flood (that honor belongs to the Cards great, Curt Flood...LOL).
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 9922
674. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
11:33 PM GMT on June 26, 2008
wu will be swift
warnings have already been sent
do not take matters into ones own hands
tag it bag it and move along
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673. Stormchaser2007
11:38 PM GMT on June 26, 2008
JFV, according to the GFS it would steer it NW to N later in the track...which is typical for this time of year.
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670. extreme236
11:35 PM GMT on June 26, 2008
If you check out the newest EPAC TWD, the NHC now says 95E could become a depression in the next 48 hours as well as 94E.
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669. TampaSpin
7:34 PM EDT on June 26, 2008
The only thing stopping it is shear....as you can see the tops getting whipped off.
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 178 Comments: 20443
667. Stormchaser2007
11:34 PM GMT on June 26, 2008
Well tampa, Rammb has a floater on it now....

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666. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
11:27 PM GMT on June 26, 2008
well lots of fun in here
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665. pearlandaggie
11:32 PM GMT on June 26, 2008
one more...couldn't resist :)

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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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