California fires could reach record levels in 2008

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

Share this Blog
5
+

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
()

Reader Comments

Comments will take a few seconds to appear.

Post Your Comments

Please sign in to post comments.

or Join

Not only will you be able to leave comments on this blog, but you'll also have the ability to upload and share your photos in our Wunder Photos section.

Display: 0, 50, 100, 200 Sort: Newest First - Order Posted

Viewing: 1164 - 1114

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25Blog Index

1164. TheWeatherMan504
4:18 PM GMT on June 27, 2008
.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1163. stoormfury
4:18 PM GMT on June 27, 2008
Lastest ASCAT of the ITCZ pertabation in the CATL


Link
Member Since: August 22, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 2720
1162. Beachfoxx
11:17 AM CDT on June 27, 2008
Hi all,
GOM blob barely moving... looks like it could be a heavy rainmaker.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1161. IKE
11:18 AM CDT on June 27, 2008
Good afternoon.

1157. TheWeatherMan504 11:12 AM CDT on June 27, 2008
there is an LLC in the BOC you can see the west wind on the visible loop!


Looks like a ULLWater Vapor Loop
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
1160. 786
4:09 PM GMT on June 27, 2008
What does it actullay mean when the MJO is in its Westerly phase and the QBD is in the Westerly phase please?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1158. Drakoen
4:10 PM GMT on June 27, 2008
1156. IKE 4:10 PM GMT on June 27, 2008
1151. Drakoen 11:05 AM CDT on June 27, 2008
The GFS still wants Cape Verde development and its pulled the time frame even closer.

Has it forming by Monday/Tuesday....why am I telling you this? LOL.


LOL.

The prospect of Cape Verde development is interesting.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1157. TheWeatherMan504
4:11 PM GMT on June 27, 2008
there is an LLC in the BOC you can see the west wind on the visible loop!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1156. IKE
11:08 AM CDT on June 27, 2008
1151. Drakoen 11:05 AM CDT on June 27, 2008
The GFS still wants Cape Verde development and its pulled the time frame even closer.


Has it forming by Monday/Tuesday....why am I telling you this? LOL.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
1155. IKE
11:07 AM CDT on June 27, 2008
1150. philliesrock 11:05 AM CDT on June 27, 2008
Well, the factor that is preventing the CATL blob from developing is latitude. If it moves north, it's in the SAL; and if it stays where it is, it'll still be too far south.


Probably....like walking through a maze.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
1154. Nolehead
4:06 PM GMT on June 27, 2008
viking, oh yeah we know...if any of the guys live on the GOM..then they understand what were saying...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1153. IKE
11:03 AM CDT on June 27, 2008
Area forecast discussion
National Weather Service Brownsville Texas
936 am CDT Friday Jun 27 2008


Discussion...the main features on the weather map are the ridge of
high pressure over northern Mexico and the upper level trough of low
pressure over the central Gulf.
At 300 mb the center of the trough is
located about 250 miles east southeast of Brownsville. Convection is
located to the east of the axis where the upper level flow becomes
more divergent between SW winds over the central Gulf and westerly
winds aloft over the eastern Gulf. By Sunday 00z the GFS depicts
an area of upper level divergence located north south just off the
coast of Brownsville from southern tamaulipas in Mexico to Corpus
Christi. This area of divergence will enhance the chance of
showers and thunderstorms in our County Warning Area for Saturday evening. The 12z
sounding from this morning shows a total precipitable water
content of 1.65 in. For Sunday at 00z the forecast precipitable
water is slightly above 2 inches which in conjunction with the
dynamical forcing expected for Saturday will produce scattered
showers and thunderstorms that could start in the late morning.
The grids were updated to reflect a 50 percent of precipitation
for Saturday afternoon along the coast with lower values inland.

For Monday the trough over the eastern US amplifies bringing northwest
winds at 200 mb over deep south Texas. This dissipates the area of
divergence aloft.
The rain chances decrease Sunday and only a
small risk of isolated showers is expected for Monday. The
precipitable water is forecast to stay between 1.70 and 1.90 for
the later part of the week with isolated showers possible."..............



Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
1152. 69Viking
11:01 AM CDT on June 27, 2008
1143. Nolehead

I've learned to never discount something so close to home when the waters are that warm.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1151. Drakoen
4:01 PM GMT on June 27, 2008
The GFS still wants Cape Verde development and its pulled the time frame even closer.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1150. philliesrock
12:03 PM EDT on June 27, 2008
Well, the factor that is preventing the CATL blob from developing is latitude. If it moves north, it's in the SAL; and if it stays where it is, it'll still be too far south.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1149. philliesrock
11:55 AM EDT on June 27, 2008
Why the Gulf blob won't develop: There is a huge ULL there and shear is marginal at best.







Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1148. 69Viking
10:48 AM CDT on June 27, 2008
1136. IKE

If it persists long enough you never know....
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1147. IKE
10:57 AM CDT on June 27, 2008
It looks like that mass of clouds in the GOM is slowly heading west...so much for the NAM and a cyclone forming in the NE GOM....not a tropical model.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
1146. IKE
10:55 AM CDT on June 27, 2008
SAL doesn't look too bad......

Link
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
1145. Nolehead
3:55 PM GMT on June 27, 2008
true, but it wouldn't suprise me in the least bit..
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1144. philliesrock
11:54 AM EDT on June 27, 2008
1142. Well, we need the SAL to diminish before that thing has any real shot at developing...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1143. Nolehead
3:51 PM GMT on June 27, 2008
phill, just watch that little swirl inthe BOC..the temps in the GOM are a sauna..would not take much of anything to get going in that hot bath..just cause a model doesn't say so, don't mean anything...viking..thanks, we know about it..lol
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1142. IKE
10:52 AM CDT on June 27, 2008
In the Atlantic basin...the wave w/circulation near 8N and 36W is the thing to watch. It is in a low shear area.....

CIMSS 1200UTC Shear Map
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
1141. philliesrock
11:46 AM EDT on June 27, 2008
The blob in the Gulf has no circulation at any levels and no models do anything with it.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1140. TheWeatherMan504
3:47 PM GMT on June 27, 2008
Ull suposed to somewhat weaken.but even if it doesent amount to anything the gulf coast and inland is going to get heavy rainfall.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1139. 69Viking
10:43 AM CDT on June 27, 2008
1125. Nolehead

I mentioned it too yesterday but nobody responded, pretty much ignored my question when I asked about the convection SE of the Yucatan which is now that BLOB North of the Yucatan. No rain here yet but the radar is starting to pop and this time it looks to be more widespread and coming off the water so just maybe!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1138. TheWeatherMan504
3:42 PM GMT on June 27, 2008
none of them do. however i was taught to never worship the models. the models is just a second opinion. I was taught to make obsevations not just looking at the models.you need to look at whats going on now not in 72 hours or 384 hours.now is important.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1137. OUSHAWN
3:43 PM GMT on June 27, 2008
IMO...the only thing that has been stopping something from forming in the GOM the last few days has been that pesky ULL. If it is weakening than it will open the door for something to fire up out there.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1136. IKE
10:45 AM CDT on June 27, 2008
From the 8:05 am Atlantic discussion...

"...Discussion...

Gulf of Mexico...
an upper level low is pinching off in the west central Gulf near
25n93w. S to swly flow between this low and a ridge to its east
centered over the NW Caribbean extends northeastward towards
Cape Hatteras and is advecting deep layer tropical moisture
northward into the ern Gulf across Florida and the NW Bahamas.
Scattered showers are across the ern Bay of Campeche...Yucatan
Peninsula and the Gulf E of 93w. Isolated tstms are across the
central Gulf from 23n-26n between 88w-92w. At the surface a weak
ridge extending from the central Atlc is keeping a weak pressure
pattern in place across the Gulf. This is maintaining light se
10-15 kt winds across the Gulf. Expect scattered showers and
tstms to re-develop across the central Gulf Fri afternoon as
upper low is stagnant to move much and remain over the wrn Gulf
waters.".............


Nothing there.....
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
1134. DocBen
3:43 PM GMT on June 27, 2008
It seems like that monster high over the Atlantic is doint TWO things - keeping any African waves so far south that they hit South America instead of getting up into the Carib and also keeping the Southeast in drought.

It also seems that these waves then traverse into the EPAC and might develop there.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1133. TheWeatherMan504
3:41 PM GMT on June 27, 2008
IKE, look at the GOM loop it looks intresting.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1132. IKE
10:41 AM CDT on June 27, 2008
1130. jabjb2 10:41 AM CDT on June 27, 2008
Is there any models showing anything developing in the GOM.


Nope.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
1130. jabjb2
10:41 AM CDT on June 27, 2008
Is there any models showing anything developing in the GOM.
Member Since: June 9, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 39
1129. IKE
10:40 AM CDT on June 27, 2008
1127. TheWeatherMan504 10:39 AM CDT on June 27, 2008
this might be some trouble.


Where? There's no invest anywhere in the Atlantic.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
1128. Nolehead
3:39 PM GMT on June 27, 2008
i know i kept asking and never was getting a response then had to leave, so i'm sure ot was brought up after i left...no prob..just been waiting for something to fire up down there..
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1127. TheWeatherMan504
3:39 PM GMT on June 27, 2008
this might be some trouble.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1126. CybrTeddy
3:37 PM GMT on June 27, 2008
We were talking about the system in the BOC yesterday.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1125. Nolehead
3:33 PM GMT on June 27, 2008
i knew it..lol i called it yesterday asking what that was in the BOC..it was just below that ULL yesterday..yep this could get very interesting..viking, getting alot of rain today...you should be getting it also..
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1124. HurricaneKing
11:26 AM EDT on June 27, 2008
It looks to me like there is alot of dry air near the wave in the central atlantic. I think it's starting to choke into it.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1123. CJ5
3:28 PM GMT on June 27, 2008
Shear appears to be somewhat favorable for the CATL wave it could develop further over the next 24-48 it seems to me.
Member Since: July 4, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 1755
1122. IKE
10:22 AM CDT on June 27, 2008
I don't see it on the Navy site?
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
1121. TheWeatherMan504
3:19 PM GMT on June 27, 2008
Uhhh-Ohhhhh!!!!!!! 92L SOON??????

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1120. OUSHAWN
3:19 PM GMT on June 27, 2008
There looks to be a spin going on in the southern BOC and the ULL in the western gulf looks to be weakening as forecasted. If this is the case and with all the energy in the GOM things could possibly get interesting soon out there in the gulf.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1119. IKE
10:15 AM CDT on June 27, 2008
1118. 786 10:15 AM CDT on June 27, 2008
IKE I agree, I would be suprised if it went North the way the GFS predicts it to


I'm talking about the wave near 8N and 36W.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
1118. 786
3:13 PM GMT on June 27, 2008
IKE I agree, I would be suprised if it went North the way the GFS predicts it to
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1117. IKE
10:09 AM CDT on June 27, 2008
From the Atlantic discussion...on the high....

"The remainder of the Atlc is dominated by a
large ridge anchored on a 1028 mb surface high near 37n32w SW of
the Azores. A mostly dry and stable atmosphere is associated
with this ridge producing a wide swath of strong to moderate
easterly flow across the N tropical Atlc into the Caribbean Sea.
Surface ridge across the central Atlc is expected to gradually
strengthen during the next 24 hours."..........


That central-Atlantic wave may be west-bound.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
1116. Drakoen
3:11 PM GMT on June 27, 2008
Most of the convection is east of the wave axis. Tropical cyclone development is unlikely as the wave approaches unfavorable upper level winds and an increasingly subsident environment with the SAL.
Photobucket
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1115. pearlandaggie
3:10 PM GMT on June 27, 2008
that tropical genesis page keeps locking up FF3 on my machine?!?!?!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1114. pearlandaggie
3:06 PM GMT on June 27, 2008
1112. thanks, i found it! D@M#%%$( GOOGLE! LOL
Member Since: Posts: Comments:

Viewing: 1164 - 1114

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25Blog Index

Top of Page

About

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

Local Weather

Overcast
47 °F
Overcast