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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613. Floodman
10:43 PM GMT on June 26, 2008
600. TampaSpin

You got that right...
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 9922
612. Floodman
10:42 PM GMT on June 26, 2008
602. MonkeeInDaTrunk

I hear you...hang in there, huh?
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 9922
611. TampaSpin
10:41 PM GMT on June 26, 2008
Conditions at 42021 as of
(5:00 pm EDT)
2100 GMT on 06/26/2008: Unit of Measure: English Metric Time Zone: Station Local
Atmospheric Pressure (PRES): 1017.8 mb
Pressure Tendency (PTDY): -4.5 mb ( Falling Rapidly )
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 178 Comments: 20439
610. TampaSpin
10:39 PM GMT on June 26, 2008
609. TheWeatherMan504 6:37 PM EDT on June 26, 2008

Nope no joke.
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 178 Comments: 20439
609. TheWeatherMan504
10:37 PM GMT on June 26, 2008

606. TampaSpin 10:34 PM GMT on June 26, 2008
There appears to be a Surface low developing just off the Florida West coast just north of Tampa Bay.......


are you saying that because you live in tampa?
Member Since: May 18, 2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 1042
608. TampaSpin
10:37 PM GMT on June 26, 2008
Loop this link 15 times and zoom into just North of Tampa Bay and speed it up some.Link
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 178 Comments: 20439
607. JRRP
10:35 PM GMT on June 26, 2008
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 5813
606. TampaSpin
10:34 PM GMT on June 26, 2008
There appears to be a Surface low developing just off the Florida West coast just north of Tampa Bay.......
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 178 Comments: 20439
605. surfmom
10:34 PM GMT on June 26, 2008
RE 597 guess he got whipped by boobies ROTFL (sorry if I offended anyone)
Member Since: July 18, 2007 Posts: 30 Comments: 26536
604. surfmom
10:32 PM GMT on June 26, 2008
Oh yes! Patrap - you are the bearer of good links. I see some potential wave action for me in the near future --at last potential waves on the horizon. I am soo Excited

Feeding time
Member Since: July 18, 2007 Posts: 30 Comments: 26536
603. TerraNova
10:29 PM GMT on June 26, 2008
Evening everyone.
The GFS now has it's forecasted African wave emerging on Monday...96 hours out. Being sooner than 100 hours out, this is now a short range forecast (short range forecasts go out to four days).

Member Since: July 30, 2007 Posts: 76 Comments: 4063
602. MonkeeInDaTrunk
10:29 PM GMT on June 26, 2008
595. Floodman 3:17 PM PDT on June 26, 2008

Getting close to you, isn't it? Though the worst seems to be to your north


It was worse last year...it got REALLY close...like inches of ash all over my home and car...cough cough cough....

But, it happens every year....since I can remember....we need more goats to eat up the weeds....lots of hills out here with dried up stuff...just begging to burn....scarey times...
601. TheWeatherMan504
10:26 PM GMT on June 26, 2008
looks impressive.
Member Since: May 18, 2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 1042
600. TampaSpin
6:23 PM EDT on June 26, 2008
598. Floodman 6:21 PM EDT on June 26, 2008
597. TampaSpin

Anyone we know, TS?


Nope just a news flash of not to drink in a topless bar. Hell of a way to die....
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 178 Comments: 20439
599. Drakoen
10:22 PM GMT on June 26, 2008
The GFS 18z run continues to show development of a strong cyclone of the African coast. This run marks 10 consecutive runs on the GFS.
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598. Floodman
5:20 PM CDT on June 26, 2008
597. TampaSpin

Anyone we know, TS?
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 9922
597. TampaSpin
6:15 PM EDT on June 26, 2008
Man downed 23 vodka shots before dying in a topless bar in Tampa........
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 178 Comments: 20439
596. stormlvr
10:12 PM GMT on June 26, 2008
578. SLU 9:54 PM GMT on June 26, 2008

Interesting to note that both 1996 and 1989 have been used as analog years at various times this year by some mets.
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595. Floodman
5:16 PM CDT on June 26, 2008
Getting close to you, isn't it? Though the worst seems to be to your north
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 9922
594. MonkeeInDaTrunk
3:14 PM PDT on June 26, 2008
I hear ya Jerry...my trunk is gettin' pretty hot and smokey ( and it's not from what I ate last night)....might be a good time to cruise on outa here!
593. Floodman
5:10 PM CDT on June 26, 2008
Yep, Monk...a century of misguided fire suppression, I think, makes Cali a tinderbox. Don't get me wrong, I think trying to save peoples homes is very much a worthwhile endeavor, but when you build new subdivisions in the midst of the chaparral...well, I wouldn't want to live in a BBQ pit, but apparently some folks don't share my concern
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 9922
592. Patrap
5:09 PM CDT on June 26, 2008
AP:California forest fire moving closer to Big Sur

By AMANDA FEHD – 3 hours ago Link
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 424 Comments: 128284
591. stormdude77
6:05 PM AST on June 26, 2008
SLU, I hope you have a good time in Europe then, LOL...
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590. MonkeeInDaTrunk
3:06 PM PDT on June 26, 2008
hey Jerry...how about them fires in California?
589. Patrap
5:01 PM CDT on June 26, 2008
Fascinating entries today.



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: 424 Comments: 128284
588. Drakoen
9:59 PM GMT on June 26, 2008
I don't see the need to post in all capital letters. Nobody here works for the NHC.
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587. Floodman
4:59 PM CDT on June 26, 2008
584. HadesGodWyvern

Nope, it appears to be a direct response to Drak...hurts my eyes
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 9922
586. KrazyKaneLove
9:55 PM GMT on June 26, 2008
hi everyone, looks like this coming week may ease the doldrims a bit...at least an invest?
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585. SLU
9:59 PM GMT on June 26, 2008
584. HadesGodWyvern 9:58 PM GMT on June 26, 2008
578. SLU

Lose the all caps, please

---
I think it was written in caps when they copied and pasted it..


this is an original analysis if you didn't know
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584. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
9:57 PM GMT on June 26, 2008
578. SLU

Lose the all caps, please

---
I think it was written in caps when they copied and pasted it..
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
583. clamshell
9:57 PM GMT on June 26, 2008
Whoever posted this link a few blog entries back deserves a gold medal. Everytime someone mentions a suspected circulation, I have gone to this link and seen clearly that no such thing was happening. In fact, I put it on my toolbar for quick access. Perhaps you all might want to do the same?

http://cimss.ssec.wisc.edu/tropic/real-time/tpw2/natl/anim/latest72hrs.gif

Thanks again to whoever posted this link in the first place.
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582. Floodman
4:56 PM CDT on June 26, 2008
578. SLU

By the way, LOL at the prolonged European vacation
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 9922
581. Stormchaser2007
9:54 PM GMT on June 26, 2008
TC formation alert with 94E.....

Member Since: June 9, 2007 Posts: 4 Comments: 15891
580. Floodman
4:54 PM CDT on June 26, 2008
578. SLU

Lose the all caps, please
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 9922
579. JLPR
9:53 PM GMT on June 26, 2008
oh I see lol I was like What? =D
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578. SLU
9:28 PM GMT on June 26, 2008
554. Drakoen 9:15 PM GMT on June 26, 2008

THIS A PUZZLING. THE GFS TAKES THE SYSTEM WNW OVER THE EASTERN ATLANTIC AND STILL DEVELOPS IT. THE FURTHER NORTH IT GOES THE LESS LIKELY THE CHANCE OF DEVELOPMENT DUE TO COOLER SST'S AND DRIER AIR. THAT'S WHY I'M STILL DISCOUNTING THE GFS SOLUTION UNLESS IT WILL EVENTUALLY SHIFT THE SYSTEM FURTHER SOUTH OF WHERE IT WANT'S IT TO GO NOW.

AND YOU ARE MORE LIKELY TO WITNESS A TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE SUN EVERYDAY FOR 3 CONSECUTIVE DAYS THAN TO WITNESS THE FORMATION OF A CAPE VERDE CYCLONE IN EARLY JULY. BERTHA OF 1996 WAS THE ONLY EXAMPLE IN 156 YEARS OF HURRICANE DATA OF A TROPICAL CYCLONE FORMING EAST OF 35W DURING THE 1ST 10 DAYS OF JULY. THE ONLY OTHER SYSTEM WHICH COMES ANYWHERE CLOSE WAS BARRY FROM 1989 WHICH FORMED AT 13N 38W.

I SAY THE CHANCES OF THIS HAPPENING NEXT WEEK ARE LESS THAN 20% (WITH ALL DUE RESPECT TO THE GFS). MAYBE THE SYSTEM MAY EVENTUALLY DEVELOP FURTHER WEST IN THE CENTRAL ATLANTIC AS THE CODITIONS ARE FORECAST TO BE VERY FAVOURABLE. BUT ALMOST CERTAINLY NOT A CLASSICAL CAPE VERDE-TYPE SYSTEM AT THIS TIME. IF THIS HAPPENS THEN I'M GOING TO LEAVE THE ATLANTIC BASIN AND GO FOR A LONG VACATION IN EUROPE UNTIL NOVERMBER BECAUSE I WON'T WANT TO BE AROUND WHEN THE SEASON REALLY STARTS LATER ON.
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577. DocBen
9:51 PM GMT on June 26, 2008
They are probably praying for a Bertha now - they need the rain that bad.
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576. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
9:49 PM GMT on June 26, 2008
Rise Set
Moon No Moon Rise 12:33 PM AST

LOL, It usually means there is no moon rise on this date since it rose last night before 12:00am
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575. stormlvr
9:43 PM GMT on June 26, 2008
570. leftovers 9:38 PM GMT on June 26, 2008
John Hope said early season storms that form in the CVerde Is. area have a higher chance of to make it all the way west. Have a good night.

Less intervention from the north and a stronger ridge axis early.
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574. JupiterFL
9:41 PM GMT on June 26, 2008
Its really coming down in buckets here in Jupiter.
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573. Drakoen
9:41 PM GMT on June 26, 2008
July 5th 1996 the day the tropical wave of Africa formed into a depression that became Bertha. Notice that strong A/B in the Atlantic which helped keep the system on the WNW track through the tropical Atlantic. Upper level winds were favorable for development with the upper level easterlies prevailing. The sea-surface temperatures are 26C+ necesary to sustain the system.


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572. JLPR
9:40 PM GMT on June 26, 2008
what?
Rise Set
Moon No Moon Rise 12:33 PM AST

so what Does the moon pop from nowhere? lol magic?
I think WU made a lil mistake there lol
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571. tropicfreak
5:38 PM EDT on June 26, 2008
Where did bertha first form
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569. TheWeatherMan504
9:33 PM GMT on June 26, 2008
HURRICANE BERTHA 1996



Member Since: May 18, 2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 1042
568. Floodman
4:35 PM CDT on June 26, 2008
565. TheWeatherMan504

That's fine, as long as it bypasses NOLA...a CAT1 would be bad news for those guys
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 9922
565. TheWeatherMan504
9:30 PM GMT on June 26, 2008
Hope the blob off the yucatan turns into a cindy and brings some needed rain to atlanta.
Member Since: May 18, 2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 1042
564. Drakoen
9:29 PM GMT on June 26, 2008
Bertha made landfall as a category 2 hurricane over North Carolina . Amazing it was able to make it that far west. Excellent poleward outflow and equatorward outflow.
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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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