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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414. TerraNova
1:47 PM EST on June 26, 2008
398. TampaSpin 1:39 PM EST on June 26, 2008
Terra convection is really gathering at that spin location the last 2 updated satellite pics...


Yep I saw that, question is whether it can manage to do anything before it comes ashore in Florida. Wind shear is pretty high in that area (you can see the convection getting sheared off to the NE on visible imagery).
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413. catastropheadjuster
6:45 PM GMT on June 26, 2008
SC2007 u got mail
Member Since: August 24, 2006 Posts: 21 Comments: 3678
412. Buhdog
6:25 PM GMT on June 26, 2008
Could all of this high cloud moisture from the gulf actually supress some of the rain? Alot of the moisture you see coming into SWFL is not making it to the ground, however the clouds are keeping temps down and that should supress some storms right?
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411. catastropheadjuster
6:40 PM GMT on June 26, 2008
jp i copied it and sent it to DrM's E-mail I hope I didn't do wrong.
Sheri
Member Since: August 24, 2006 Posts: 21 Comments: 3678
410. TampaSpin
2:42 PM EDT on June 26, 2008
NE of the Yucatan is really firing
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 178 Comments: 20443
409. Patrap
1:43 PM CDT on June 26, 2008
Listen, the drama isnt for the main Blog .

I know its frustrating,but just forward any threats to admin and they will take care of that asap.

The Rules of the Road are very specific on Threats.

Use the ignore feature and just let fools fall to the wayside.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128764
408. Stormchaser2007
6:42 PM GMT on June 26, 2008
.
Member Since: June 9, 2007 Posts: 4 Comments: 15921
407. weathermanwannabe
2:37 PM EDT on June 26, 2008
The GOM "clouds" are not likely to develop into anything and starting to lose convection as we speak (too much shear right now); we may not even get that much rain from it at this point; as the Godfather said, "there just wasn't enough time Michael, there just wasn't enough time........."........
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406. Stormchaser2007
6:40 PM GMT on June 26, 2008
Sheri is it possible to send me that message? I want to show admin.
Member Since: June 9, 2007 Posts: 4 Comments: 15921
404. catastropheadjuster
6:40 PM GMT on June 26, 2008
His handle is Tropicaldiscussion
Member Since: August 24, 2006 Posts: 21 Comments: 3678
402. sonofagunn
6:37 PM GMT on June 26, 2008
Long range radar from baynews9.com shows a little circulation West of Tampa, but, in my ignorant opinion, little swirls like these seem pretty common in fronts and tropical waves and don't really mean anything.

I'm sure all tropical systems start as a tiny swirl, but I doubt these are anything important. But again, IANAM
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401. catastropheadjuster
6:37 PM GMT on June 26, 2008
JP you got that right, he threaten to kill me. amost the other nasty stuff he said.
Sheri
Member Since: August 24, 2006 Posts: 21 Comments: 3678
400. Patrap
1:37 PM CDT on June 26, 2008
Real Boomer here right now..some small pea size hail..a lil Gusty,One Transformer went "Pow"

NEXRAD Radar
New Orleans, Base Reflectivity 0.50 Degree Elevation Range 124 NMI Link

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128764
399. Stormchaser2007
6:38 PM GMT on June 26, 2008
JP whats the fools handle?
Member Since: June 9, 2007 Posts: 4 Comments: 15921
398. TampaSpin
2:35 PM EDT on June 26, 2008
Terra convection is really gathering at that spin location the last 2 updated satellite pics...
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 178 Comments: 20443
397. Weather456
2:24 PM AST on June 26, 2008
Tropical Update (Updated)
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394. catastropheadjuster
6:32 PM GMT on June 26, 2008
I really hate to get off the subject but i need a little help please. How do i send a threatning and nasty e-mail to him that someone sent me? It's all about that plagerism stuff that went on this morning.
Can someone tell me how please?
Sheri
Member Since: August 24, 2006 Posts: 21 Comments: 3678
393. TampaSpin
2:31 PM EDT on June 26, 2008
391. TerraNova 2:30 PM EDT on June 26, 2008

Terra that is the exact corrd. i was referring to ......it may not do anything but, just an observation.
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 178 Comments: 20443
392. presslord
2:30 PM EDT on June 26, 2008
surfmom...as our younguns are moving (being pushed ) out of the nest, things are becoming a bit less chaotic...
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10492
391. TerraNova
1:27 PM EST on June 26, 2008
386. TampaSpin 1:16 PM EST on June 26, 2008
Gang visible satel shows some level of lower level spin....due West of Naples about 300 miles out.


I see a swirl near 26N -84 W...but it's so faint I'm not even completely sure it's spinning. Buoy air pressure tendency graph shows falling pressures W of Key West, but only two stations are reporting significant drops.
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390. TampaSpin
2:26 PM EDT on June 26, 2008
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 178 Comments: 20443
389. surfmom
6:22 PM GMT on June 26, 2008
#379 - LOL my fav. quote - approx. chaos! lol --the meaning of life
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388. TampaSpin
2:19 PM EDT on June 26, 2008
This is the bouy just off Naples

Conditions at 42023 as of
(12:59 pm EDT)
1659 GMT on 06/26/2008: Unit of Measure: English Metric
Wind Direction (WDIR): E ( 80 deg true )
Wind Speed (WSPD): 3.0 m/s
Atmospheric Pressure (PRES): 1019.5 mb
Pressure Tendency (PTDY): -2.3 mb ( Falling )
Air Temperature (ATMP): 25.8 °C
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 178 Comments: 20443
387. Stormchaser2007
6:15 PM GMT on June 26, 2008
Shear decreasing near the wave....

Member Since: June 9, 2007 Posts: 4 Comments: 15921
386. TampaSpin
2:13 PM EDT on June 26, 2008
Gang visible satel shows some level of lower level spin....due West of Naples about 300 miles out.
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 178 Comments: 20443
385. Drakoen
6:16 PM GMT on June 26, 2008
The wave of the African coast and the circulation over Mali are unlikely to develop,
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384. JRRP
6:13 PM GMT on Junio 26, 2008
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383. CaneAddict
6:09 PM GMT on June 26, 2008
TROPICAL WAVES...
A NEW TROPICAL WAVE HAS MOVED OFF THE COAST OF WESTERN AFRICA
AND IS NOW ALONG 18W S OF 18N. INITIAL ESTIMATES HAVE THE WAVE
MOVING W AT 15-20 KTS. UPPER AIR DATA FROM DAKAR DEPICT A ENE-SE
WIND SHIFT AT 850 MB SUGGESTING THAT THE WAVE PASSED THE STATION
THIS MORNING. BROAD LOW TO MID LEVEL CIRCULATION IS SEEN ON
VISIBLE SATELLITE IMAGERY. SOUTHEASTERLY UPPER FLOW HAS
DISPLACED ASSOCIATED CONVECTION W OF THE AXIS. SCATTERED
MODERATE CONVECTION IS FROM 6N-11N BETWEEN THE AXIS AND 22W


I'm going to be watching this wave closely for possible tropical development over the next few days....i believe this could possibly evolve into our next tropical depression.
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382. presslord
1:56 PM EDT on June 26, 2008
an old college dorm mate of mine, David Stooksbury, is now the climatologist for the state of Georgia....he's done some great interviews on the art and science of climatology v meteorology...google him...he's a pretty cool guy...
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10492
381. stormdude77
1:51 PM AST on June 26, 2008
The GFS is showing a very active ''wave train'', for at least the next two weeks (which seems reasonable; as the MJO will be in that vicinity)...
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380. stormlvr
5:01 PM GMT on June 26, 2008
Climo is the base in forecasting almost like a weather "god". If all else fails, go with climo. The chances of being right are very high. You want to spot a forecaster--watch for the bloggers most reluctant to go against it LOL. However, records are set every day some where and extremes are what drew me to weather so many years ago. There are valid reasons as already stated by several bloggers to go against climo in the eastern atlantic this year. I like the odds for development east of 60W for approximately 2 weeks starting with the 4th Jul weekend. Several waves should move off the coast and at least one should be able to maintain a low level trajectory across the CATL. Really liked the look of a wave earlier in June and conditions will only be more favorable now(Climo again:). Will also be interesting to see how the pattern evolves along the east coast particularly the southern end of the trof for a week or so around the 4th. Nothing of note on the models at this time but will be watching the E. Gulf-SW Atl-W Car.
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379. presslord
1:53 PM EDT on June 26, 2008
jp...366...exactly...this is as much art as science...an attempt to "...approximate chaos..."
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10492
378. IKE
12:39 PM CDT on June 26, 2008
Thunderstorm and down to 71.8 degrees at my house........
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377. Drakoen
5:36 PM GMT on June 26, 2008
Another tropical wave with a circulation:

...TROPICAL WAVES...
A NEW TROPICAL WAVE HAS MOVED OFF THE COAST OF WESTERN AFRICA
AND IS NOW ALONG 18W S OF 18N. INITIAL ESTIMATES HAVE THE WAVE
MOVING W AT 15-20 KTS. UPPER AIR DATA FROM DAKAR DEPICT A ENE-SE
WIND SHIFT AT 850 MB SUGGESTING THAT THE WAVE PASSED THE STATION
THIS MORNING. BROAD LOW TO MID LEVEL CIRCULATION IS SEEN ON
VISIBLE SATELLITE IMAGERY. SOUTHEASTERLY UPPER FLOW HAS
DISPLACED ASSOCIATED CONVECTION W OF THE AXIS. SCATTERED
MODERATE CONVECTION IS FROM 6N-11N BETWEEN THE AXIS AND 22W.


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376. surfmom
5:31 PM GMT on June 26, 2008
barometer now 30.19 and rising SRQ/SWFL/Gomex
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375. OSUWXGUY
5:21 PM GMT on June 26, 2008
Wave watching over Africa this afternoon...

If you follow the link below you can see a vigorous tropical wave moving through western Africa with two larger scale low level circulations and a couple other smaller mesovortices. Just click on sector 5 or 2 to see in more detail.

>Link



While this wave looks quite promising, the SSTs off of Africa are generally only favorable south of the Cape Verde Islands. I would expect a low to move off the coast in about 36 hours. How far south the dominant circulation is will determine if development will occur near the coast. If it is farther north it could still occur with this wave/low...but only several 3-5 days from now as it moves east and eventually reaches warmer water.

Link
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374. surfmom
5:26 PM GMT on June 26, 2008
messy, crumb dropping, drink spilling,non-dishing washing males in my kitchen....I'm on lurk mode.............bbl
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373. surfmom
5:25 PM GMT on June 26, 2008
FLweathrfrk....just too cool - I think I have to admit I have become a weather junkie. I'll never watch TV again LOL
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372. FLWeatherFreak91
1:23 PM EDT on June 26, 2008
You know, i wouldn't be surprised if that cell in East Manatee will get a warning with it coming here in a sec.... the hail is indicated at .75" and that Storm is producing some heavy downdrafts as well.
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371. surfmom
5:20 PM GMT on June 26, 2008
just love watching these storm roll in - see them on the radar and then go to a safe spot to watch or experience them. MY Young buck is tied to his computers today, would love a good thunder/light show and good drenching rain
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370. FLWeatherFreak91
1:21 PM EDT on June 26, 2008
#353

Yessir, I am willing to bet we'll have some pretty heavy stuff come through. The axis of instability in the Gulf is about to cross Tampa from the South and while that happens the West and East coast sea breezes will also be colliding right over us. Check out the radar, it's already developing
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369. surfmom
5:17 PM GMT on June 26, 2008
hurricane soup, hurricane soup, the gulf feels like hurricane soup.
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368. RMM34667
5:16 PM GMT on June 26, 2008
353. FLWeatherFreak91 4:58 PM GMT on June 26, 2008
Looks like we are in for a squeeze play this afternoon here in Pinellas County. Storms are coming at us from the S,SW,E and SE. Been real rainy since last Saturday.

Yeah. We're in for some Mega-Wx today


Do you think we will see sever weather in Tampa this afternoon?
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367. FLWeatherFreak91
1:15 PM EDT on June 26, 2008
#360.

Yeah, I think I'm gonna run down to the beach in N Pinellas (howard Park) to watch these Storms move in. And I'm at 30.12 here in Odessa.
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365. IKE
12:16 PM CDT on June 26, 2008
363. surfmom 12:15 PM CDT on June 26, 2008
First big rumble of thunder...LOL I really nailed it perfectly today.


Same here! LOL.
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364. IKE
12:14 PM CDT on June 26, 2008
It's already thundering at my house.........

Florida panhandle
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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.