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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864. weathermanwannabe
9:08 PM EDT on June 26, 2008
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE TALLAHASSEE FL
230 PM EDT THU JUN 26 2008

THE NAM CONTINUES TO FORECAST SURFACE CYCLOGENESIS OVER THE SOUTHEAST GULF
TONIGHT, THEN TAKES THE LOW ASHORE NEAR DESTIN FL LATE FRIDAY NIGHT. THE GFS REFLECTS THIS CYCLOGENESIS, BUT IS MUCH WEAKER THAN THE NAM.
THEREFORE, WILL PLACE MORE EMPHASIS ON THE GFS SOLUTION.


Been out this afternoon; what's the word on this folks?......I just don't see it happening with 20 knots of shear....
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863. pearlandaggie
1:12 AM GMT on June 27, 2008
"Looks like Mrs. Kranz has been at it again."
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861. Tazmanian
6:09 PM PDT on June 26, 2008
oh rates i was hoping the East Pacific would go all the way in tell the end of june with out name storm oh well
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860. BajaALemt
1:12 AM GMT on June 27, 2008
Google Earth Flight Sim Link
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859. auburn (Mod)
8:10 PM CDT on June 26, 2008
ADMIN...please return my emails...and Dr.Masters where is the consistency of the rules on WU...my kid just seen this crap!!!!I am not a happy camper at all!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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858. Patrap
8:09 PM CDT on June 26, 2008
Okay GSM..we can see ya coming down the Ladder..

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 420 Comments: 127543
856. BajaALemt
1:10 AM GMT on June 27, 2008
I have that Pat. Fun program. Also have played with the 'hidden' flight sim in Google Earth
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855. CoastJeep
1:10 AM GMT on June 27, 2008
Actually Jeff there are over 1000 fires not 33
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854. thelmores
1:10 AM GMT on June 27, 2008
Hey GS...... bout time you showed up! LOL
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853. weathermanwatson
1:09 AM GMT on June 27, 2008
I hope some decent tropical moisture makes it to the southeast to help calm the drought.
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851. thelmores
1:07 AM GMT on June 27, 2008
Pat..... remind me to not go flyin with you? LOL

On another topic, is it true that there was a report that said the levy's down your way wouldn't hold up to anything above a cat 2?

Why can't we copy what the Dutch have done?? I just hate doing things half @$$! Promises made.... but apparently not kept!
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850. pearlandaggie
1:08 AM GMT on June 27, 2008
843. look at the sharp contrast around 15N 40W...like it's not well mixed or there's an intrusion of cold water from the east...

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849. extreme236
1:08 AM GMT on June 27, 2008
Most recent dvorak estimates:

T2.0/2.0 95E -- East Pacific Ocean

T2.0/2.0 94E -- East Pacific Ocean
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847. presslord
9:07 PM EDT on June 26, 2008
I tried to make him a sailor...but his passion is drilling holes in the sky.....
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10479
846. JLPR
1:06 AM GMT on Junio 27, 2008
wow =O If we had two invests in the atlantic like 95E and 94E some people would be freaking out in this blog lol =D
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845. pearlandaggie
1:06 AM GMT on June 27, 2008
843. helifino! LOL

could it have something to do with the AMO?
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844. Patrap
8:04 PM CDT on June 26, 2008
I enjoy taking my Old 98 MS Flight Simulator up to round 60,000 ft in the 737 Like over Mobile Bay.
Then Cut the engines to the 737 and try to Grease her in with dead reckoning Like a Shuttle and land at MSY New Orleans,


Its a Blast cept when I miss and Wind up in the swamp.
But the replay angles are a riot!
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 420 Comments: 127543
843. thelmores
1:04 AM GMT on June 27, 2008
836....

Whats causing that?? from 40w to almost 50w??
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842. CybrTeddy
12:59 AM GMT on June 27, 2008
Yep, that wave over Central Africa, has to be what the GFS been predicting, with the other models. I think Drakeon, as well with some other people on here, that July might be an turning point. I think
judging by right now, that if a System were to go past the Antilles, that it would head into a path very similar to Hurricane Dean. Not saying it will be a Monster like Dean, although I wouldn't be suprised to see a CAT 5 this year. Not Wishcasting.
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841. TampaSpin
9:03 PM EDT on June 26, 2008
834. Patrap 9:00 PM EDT on June 26, 2008
I agree 100%
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 178 Comments: 20439
840. Stormchaser2007
1:02 AM GMT on June 27, 2008
95EINVEST.25kts-1009mb-



94EINVEST.25kts-1007mb



TROPICAL WEATHER OUTLOOK
NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
500 PM PDT THU JUN 26 2008

FOR THE EASTERN NORTH PACIFIC...EAST OF 140 DEGREES WEST LONGITUDE..

A BROAD AREA OF LOW PRESSURE IS LOCATED ABOUT 570 MILES
SOUTH-SOUTHWEST OF MANZANILLO MEXICO. THIS SYSTEM HAS BECOME
BETTER ORGANIZED TODAY...AND IT HAS THE POTENTIAL TO BECOME A
TROPICAL DEPRESSION AT ANY TIME AS IT MOVES WEST-NORTHWESTWARD NEAR
15 MPH.

ANOTHER LOW PRESSURE AREA...LOCATED ABOUT 950 MILES SOUTHWEST OF THE
SOUTHERN TIP OF BAJA CALIFORNIA...IS ACCOMPANIED BY LIMITED
THUNDERSTORM ACTIVITY. HOWEVER...THIS SYSTEM HAS BECOME BETTER
ORGANIZED AND IT COULD DEVELOP INTO A TROPICAL DEPRESSION IN THE
NEXT DAY OR SO BEFORE IT MOVES INTO AN ENVIRONMENT LESS CONDUCIVE
FOR DEVELOPMENT.

ELSEWHERE...TROPICAL CYCLONE FORMATION IS NOT EXPECTED DURING THE
NEXT 48 HOURS.

$$
FORECASTER PASCH/BLAKE
Member Since: June 9, 2007 Posts: 4 Comments: 15776
839. thelmores
1:02 AM GMT on June 27, 2008
837...

Introduce him to flight sim if he keeps showing out! LOL
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838. pearlandaggie
1:02 AM GMT on June 27, 2008
sea surface height anomaly...

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837. presslord
8:56 PM EDT on June 26, 2008
went flying along the coast with my 17 year old son this afternoon....it was beautiful....he soloed at 16 last year...just got liscensed...he practiced 'stalls' out over the Atlantic just to show me how cool he is....I hate him....
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10479
836. pearlandaggie
1:00 AM GMT on June 27, 2008
look at the SST animation...the retreat is showing up in SSTs as well

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835. thelmores
12:59 AM GMT on June 27, 2008
833....

Well..... thought that might get a chuckle! LOL
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834. Patrap
7:59 PM CDT on June 26, 2008
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Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 420 Comments: 127543
833. hurricane23
8:57 PM EDT on June 26, 2008
827. thelmores 8:56 PM EDT on June 26, 2008
23, look at 764....

for what its worth, the CMC is on board with the GFS.....

CMC... Thats funny.Again i need to see more signficant model support before i even begin to buy into that idea in late june.
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831. Patrap
7:55 PM CDT on June 26, 2008
NCOF Global SST Intercomparison

Overview

This page shows the differences between daily sea surface temperature (SST) analyses and also differences between the median SST and multiyear means for the same time of year (climatology).

SST Ensemble Intercomparison Statistics Link
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 420 Comments: 127543
830. melwerle
12:55 AM GMT on June 27, 2008
Hey Tampa - too funny - was teaching my daughter those moves today (she never heard of "air guitar"...go figure. However, I think it was David Lee Roth that was on the radio..."hot for teacher"

"i don't FEEL tardy..."
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829. PanhandleChuck
7:54 PM CDT on June 26, 2008
823. thelmores
Chuck, hopefully its early morning..... afternoon could be Tstorm's and delays! :(

Fly out of P-Cola at 10 am then a 4 hour lay over in dreaded Atlanta
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828. TheWeatherMan504
12:54 AM GMT on June 27, 2008
KoritheMan you forgot because its tropicaldisscuses fault.
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827. thelmores
12:55 AM GMT on June 27, 2008
23, look at 764....

for what its worth, the CMC is on board with the GFS.....
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824. melwerle
12:53 AM GMT on June 27, 2008
Patrap - always the voice of reason...bless you.
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823. thelmores
12:50 AM GMT on June 27, 2008
Chuck, hopefully its early morning..... afternoon could be Tstorm's and delays! :(
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822. Patrap
7:52 PM CDT on June 26, 2008
I have Favs and Links that Make Dick Cheney wince.

LOL
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 420 Comments: 127543
821. zoomiami
12:47 AM GMT on June 27, 2008
TS - thats priceless
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819. hurricane23
8:50 PM EDT on June 26, 2008
Evening!

Not really buying into good old GFS calling for development out in the eastern atlantic in the coming days.It shows an upper anticyclone moving right with the system before it gets picked up.Iam looking for more model support personally but i will say this development close to home seems more probable as an MJO pulse makes its way into the region in the next week or two.You can see whats already taking shape in the e-pac with our 2 systems trying to spin up.Overall it should be interesting to see what happens.

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818. KoritheMan
12:51 AM GMT on June 27, 2008
90L was Arthur....91L was in the CATL.

Oh right. I forgot about that wave in the CATL that became 91L. I don't see how, though! My brain is deteriorating, perhaps? XD
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817. catastropheadjuster
12:48 AM GMT on June 27, 2008
Hey Aquak How ya doing today. It's been such a nice day. I see I see.
Sheri
Member Since: August 24, 2006 Posts: 21 Comments: 3652
816. PanhandleChuck
7:51 PM CDT on June 26, 2008
805. TampaSpin

Thanks Tampa.... Just gonna be a little stormy around here for a couple of days
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815. TheWeatherMan504
12:50 AM GMT on June 27, 2008
806. KoritheMan 12:49 AM GMT on June 27, 2008
hi . KoritheMan do you think 92L will pop up in the gulf???

Don't you mean 91L? AFAIK, we've only had one invest, which became Arthur.

And maybe. There's certainly a chance.


We had 91L which made landfall in South America

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814. KoritheMan
12:51 AM GMT on June 27, 2008
As for the TCHP decreasing, that is a mystery to me. However, it seems that in that last loop (June 25), it has increased again near the northern and northeastern coast of Jamaica.
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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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