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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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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813. Stormchaser2007
12:50 AM GMT on June 27, 2008
806. 90L was Arthur....91L was in the CATL.
Member Since: June 9, 2007 Posts: 4 Comments: 15950
811. Patrap
7:50 PM CDT on June 26, 2008
For those who dont have the guy or person on ignore.

Ya ruining the experience for the rest of us here.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129903
810. melwerle
12:50 AM GMT on June 27, 2008
too funny - i don't think i've seen so much solidarity against a troll before on this blog...keep up the good work everyone!

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808. PanhandleChuck
7:48 PM CDT on June 26, 2008
I hope the storms hold off tomorrow, I'm flying to Ohio through Atlanta :(
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807. thelmores
12:48 AM GMT on June 27, 2008
Hey Pat..... how big is your "favorites"??? About 2GB? lol
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806. KoritheMan
12:48 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.
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805. TampaSpin
8:47 PM EDT on June 26, 2008
796. PanhandleChuck 8:46 PM EDT on June 26, 2008

Panhandle you got a surface low heading at you that is having a shear problem......just to make you aware.
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 179 Comments: 20448
804. pearlandaggie
12:47 AM GMT on June 27, 2008
795. maybe you need something stronger....

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803. Patrap
7:48 PM CDT on June 26, 2008
95E.INVEST 26 JUN 2008 2345Z Link
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802. JLPR2
12:47 AM GMT on Junio 27, 2008
Whys the TCHP decreasing??

hey yeah whats up with that?
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801. thelmores
12:47 AM GMT on June 27, 2008
787....

True..... Will be interesting to watch the next several days.....

definately a HUGE wave over central Africa!

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800. Patrap
7:44 PM CDT on June 26, 2008
FNMOC EFS Gale Probability Forecasts (North Atlantic Basin)Link

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129903
799. melwerle
12:45 AM GMT on June 27, 2008
Go Aqua!!! Kick his...well...clouds...

If he was sooooooo into his threats, he would leave them instead of modifying them withing seconds of posting. I think someone isn't watching their 10 year old...
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798. TheWeatherMan504
12:45 AM GMT on June 27, 2008
LOL!!! @ 788
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797. pearlandaggie
12:45 AM GMT on June 27, 2008
793. LOL!
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796. PanhandleChuck
7:45 PM CDT on June 26, 2008
Good evening all
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795. TheWeatherMan504
12:43 AM GMT on June 27, 2008
To, TROPICALDISSCUSSION.DONT MAKE ME SPRAY YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!
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794. Stormchaser2007
12:44 AM GMT on June 27, 2008
Whys the TCHP decreasing??

Member Since: June 9, 2007 Posts: 4 Comments: 15950
793. melwerle
12:44 AM GMT on June 27, 2008
Hey TD... I think you meant "shut"...

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792. pearlandaggie
12:43 AM GMT on June 27, 2008
789. well, thanks...i guess all the beers over the years are finally gettin' to the old noodle! LOL
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791. PanhandleChuck
7:38 PM CDT on June 26, 2008
Tropicaldiscussion = ALL ABOUT TROLLISM

Link
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790. aquak9
8:42 PM EDT on June 26, 2008
Why, there's that little bugger!

Maybe I should openly post some of TropicalDiscussion's death threat wu-mails?

C'mon Admin, do something...
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789. thelmores
12:40 AM GMT on June 27, 2008
Pearl, they can bloom as early as mid June.....
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787. pearlandaggie
12:40 AM GMT on June 27, 2008
784. well, haven't we already seen a storm named over land this year? LOL
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786. Patrap
7:41 PM CDT on June 26, 2008
UNCLASSIFIED
Back
FNMOC WXMAP Model: NOGAPS Area: North America DTG: 2008062618 Link
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129903
785. extreme236
12:39 AM GMT on June 27, 2008
94E looks much better organized than earlier today...I would think it would become a depression late tonight or early tomorrow morning. 95E looks well organized on visible imagery, however convection is somewhat limited right now.
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784. thelmores
12:38 AM GMT on June 27, 2008
pearl, join the party, I hit it for the first time in three years! LOL

Has there ever been an invest before something even comes off the African coast? LOL
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783. pearlandaggie
12:38 AM GMT on June 27, 2008
anyone know when crape myrtles typically bloom? i just looked out the window and realized mine are starting to bloom....weird, because i thought they had bloomed a LOT earlier last year.
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781. Patrap
7:38 PM CDT on June 26, 2008

Navy Coupled Ocean Data Assimilation (NCODA)
Sea Surface Temperatures (SST)
Sea Surface Temp
SST Anomaly
SST Climatology Link
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129903
779. pearlandaggie
12:36 AM GMT on June 27, 2008
i guess i'm going to have to break the seal on that Ignore button! LOL
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778. thelmores
12:35 AM GMT on June 27, 2008



for those like me who had a hard time seeing....

I use FF3.... let me know if the blog stretches for IE users and I will link it.....
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777. extreme236
12:34 AM GMT on June 27, 2008
773. Your annoying go away...you've threatened people via email and now I am going to ignore you.
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776. Patrap
7:35 PM CDT on June 26, 2008
Poof..

had nuff of that nut.











Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129903
775. Tazmanian
5:35 PM PDT on June 26, 2008
heh
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774. Patrap
7:35 PM CDT on June 26, 2008
UNCLASSIFIED
Back
FNMOC WXMAP Model: NOGAPS Area: Atlantic DTG: 2008062618 Link
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129903
772. Patrap
7:31 PM CDT on June 26, 2008
FNMOC WXMAP Link
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129903
771. pearlandaggie
12:31 AM GMT on June 27, 2008
hey folks...the "Modify Comment" feature just worked in FF3. i guess admin fixed it!

/sorry if this has already been posted and i'm just slow to the party!
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770. melwerle
12:22 AM GMT on June 27, 2008
Hey JFV - don't worry about it - some folks are just buttheads and need to go away.

On a lighter note, you will find after being here for a while (which you have) that you actually become friends with and miss the folks that you have spoken to throughout hurricane season on the off season...most are kind, compassionate and totally wonderful. It's just the few that make things difficult for a few days here and there...just hit ignore and don't respond (and i SOOOOOOO know that is hard to do....)

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768. pearlandaggie
12:27 AM GMT on June 27, 2008
(observation from pat's link)....

it's interesting to see the large swath of abnormally cold water along the CAtl MDR....it even extends into the Caribbean
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767. Stormchaser2007
12:24 AM GMT on June 27, 2008
745. Yep see that.....I guess Were the Banned (like the movie) Of Brothers!! lol sorry really bad pun! I apologize!
Member Since: June 9, 2007 Posts: 4 Comments: 15950
766. TheWeatherMan504
12:27 AM GMT on June 27, 2008
tropical is a nut!!!!!!
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765. Patrap
7:26 PM CDT on June 26, 2008
ANytime..glad to share the links and entry here .
Lord Knows it can be difficult sometimes.

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129903
764. thelmores
12:25 AM GMT on June 27, 2008
the next post besides weather, I am leaving..... now there is a real threat! LOL






Looks like the CMC and GFS are in good agreement... and as Drak pointed out, the GFS is convinced!


There I did my part!
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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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