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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663. Stormchaser2007
11:30 PM GMT on June 26, 2008
JFV, E.Atl Storm 156 hours at tropical storm strength....IMO



Member Since: June 9, 2007 Posts: 4 Comments: 15947
662. pearlandaggie
11:29 PM GMT on June 26, 2008
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660. Tazmanian
4:30 PM PDT on June 26, 2008
hi . KoritheMan do you think 92L will pop up in the gulf???
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659. KoritheMan
11:30 PM GMT on June 26, 2008
Guys, does the latest GFS model run continue to develop our Cape Verde tropical storm next week? If so, where would this critter go, any thoughts?

Look at the top of the previous page.
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658. Patrap
6:30 PM CDT on June 26, 2008
We all bring something to the table here,...Flood
Its the Good Drs. Entry,.

I think that gets lost in the fray sometimes.

Ugh,Sir! aint required fer my silly butt...Flood

thanx though,Dude


Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 427 Comments: 129435
657. KoritheMan
11:29 PM GMT on June 26, 2008
Hi, Taz.
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655. KoritheMan
11:27 PM GMT on June 26, 2008
So back to the weather....Whats happening in the GOM??

Some sort of circulation appears to be developing north of Tampa Bay, as TampaSpin already pointed out earlier. I checked this myself. The spin isn't easy to see with satellite imagery, but it's there. I noticed it after awhile. In addition, numerous buoy observations show the pressure is rapidly falling in association with the area of disturbed weather.

There's only one thing I haven't checked, and that's the direction in which the winds are coming from. In order to tell if something is trying to form, we're gonna need to check that.
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654. TampaSpin
7:25 PM EDT on June 26, 2008
weatherman504 i just copied and saved that troll spray.....lol
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 179 Comments: 20448
653. Tazmanian
4:27 PM PDT on June 26, 2008
hi all
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652. pearlandaggie
11:24 PM GMT on June 26, 2008
628. LOL...my thoughts exactly! i've been lurking most of the afternoon watching the dust from a safe distance!
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651. Stormchaser2007
11:26 PM GMT on June 26, 2008
So back to the weather....Whats happening in the GOM??
Member Since: June 9, 2007 Posts: 4 Comments: 15947
650. KoritheMan
11:26 PM GMT on June 26, 2008
Evening, JFV.
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649. Stormchaser2007
11:25 PM GMT on June 26, 2008
Lol weather...you sound like me when my mother in law visits!
Member Since: June 9, 2007 Posts: 4 Comments: 15947
648. TheWeatherMan504
11:25 PM GMT on June 26, 2008
I could sue him and get lots of gas money but i wont because im a genorus man.
Member Since: May 18, 2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 1042
646. KoritheMan
11:24 PM GMT on June 26, 2008
You're amazing, Pat...this place wouldn't be the same without you, sir LOL

I second that. XD

And LOL @ 643.
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645. Tazmanian
4:21 PM PDT on June 26, 2008
dont look ok you can look may be this loop eddy is helping in makeing the mb fall Rapidly

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642. Floodman
6:22 PM CDT on June 26, 2008
640. Patrap

You're amazing, Pat...this place wouldn't be the same without you, sir LOL
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 9922
641. Floodman
6:21 PM CDT on June 26, 2008
638. TampaSpin

Links? I just changed PCs and I find a number of my favorites are missing
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 9922
640. Patrap
6:19 PM CDT on June 26, 2008

If one has a Problem with a post,entry..or Mail.
Report it.

Or..

Flag it and forget it.





Lets not fan the Flames of insanity here.
Be Adults
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 427 Comments: 129435
639. KoritheMan
11:14 PM GMT on June 26, 2008
me threaten to kill?what lies are u talking about

wtf? I smell something. But what IS it? Oh, that's right. It's the smell of a troll.
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638. TampaSpin
7:16 PM EDT on June 26, 2008
632. thelmores 7:14 PM EDT on June 26, 2008

Check out all the bouys around Tampa. Every single one is FALLING RAPIDLY
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 179 Comments: 20448
637. Patrap
6:17 PM CDT on June 26, 2008
GOES WV Loop of the GOM and Tropical Basin Link

Atlantic and GOM Buoy Quick Access Link
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 427 Comments: 129435
636. Floodman
6:16 PM CDT on June 26, 2008
633. TampaSpin

While the spin isn't easily visible, the buoy data supports the finding, I think...
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 9922
635. Buhdog
11:16 PM GMT on June 26, 2008
Tampa.....right on.
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634. Floodman
6:12 PM CDT on June 26, 2008
Another one down the oubliette *POOF!*

I wish the ignore button made a flushing sound when you use it...

Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 9922
633. TampaSpin
7:14 PM EDT on June 26, 2008
631. Buhdog 7:11 PM EDT on June 26, 2008
Hey Tampa....I have to admit I am pulling for some Genesis here...just for the fact you were a little ribbed earlier about the "spin" you saw.


I only observe and report what my eyes and knowledge feels is correct.
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 179 Comments: 20448
632. thelmores
11:13 PM GMT on June 26, 2008
I looked off Tampa and didn't see anything..... course after a couple pitchers of Guinness, my focus is a little off! LOL

Post a pic Tampa.....
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631. Buhdog
11:10 PM GMT on June 26, 2008
Hey Tampa....I have to admit I am pulling for some Genesis here...just for the fact you were a little ribbed earlier about the "spin" you saw.
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629. TheWeatherMan504
11:07 PM GMT on June 26, 2008
626. Tropicaldiscussion 11:06 PM GMT on June 26, 2008
Some people owm me an apology


HAHAHHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHA IN YOUR DREAMS!!!!!!!!!.

I loved your well written e-mail.
Like im gonna apologise to someone who theatens to kill so many fellow blogers including me!

YOU GOT SOME NERVE!!!!!
Member Since: May 18, 2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 1042
628. Buhdog
11:08 PM GMT on June 26, 2008
uh oh......
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627. TampaSpin
7:05 PM EDT on June 26, 2008
Shear is about 20kts maybe lower.
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 179 Comments: 20448
625. TampaSpin
7:02 PM EDT on June 26, 2008
Just checked all the other bouys in the area and all are FALLING RAPIDLY
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 179 Comments: 20448
624. Patrap
5:59 PM CDT on June 26, 2008



GOES IR Loop of the Gulf of Mexico Link

Gulf of Mexico (Updated every ~10-15 mins.)
3 Channels IR,WV and Low Cloud Visible Link

GOM 60 Hour Wave Forecast Model (using Wave Watch III) Link

Atlantic Ocean View 3 Channels (Updated ~3 hours)Link
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 427 Comments: 129435
623. TampaSpin
6:57 PM EDT on June 26, 2008
Steering shows it should stay off shore all the way to the panhandle.
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 179 Comments: 20448
622. TampaSpin
6:56 PM EDT on June 26, 2008
The NHC web site satelites are down..not updating.
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 179 Comments: 20448
621. Levi32
10:51 PM GMT on June 26, 2008
I've gone over the GFS model data for Africa and I'm pretty sure this is the wave we're going to be watching in 4-5 days. It's somewhere around 25E south of 10N right now traveling at 7-8 degrees of longitude per day westward. I'm not really sure how far north the wave axis extends at this point, but the bulk of the wave is south of 10N.
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620. Floodman
5:52 PM CDT on June 26, 2008
619. TampaSpin

I believe you're right
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 9922
619. TampaSpin
6:48 PM EDT on June 26, 2008
Just North of Tampa about 80 miles off shore
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 179 Comments: 20448
618. TampaSpin
6:46 PM EDT on June 26, 2008
The Panhandle should get perpared for some rough weather and possible tornado's possible late this evening into the early morning hours.
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 179 Comments: 20448
616. Buhdog
10:42 PM GMT on June 26, 2008
Tampa spin

I don't see it....how far off? That Bouy reading is something though.
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615. TampaSpin
6:44 PM EDT on June 26, 2008
Use the link at post 608 and it is very clear.....
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 179 Comments: 20448

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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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