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Australia Avoids a Fire Catastrophe; Raymond Spares Mexico; Lekima a Cat 5

By: Dr. Jeff Masters, 2:26 PM GMT on October 23, 2013

Sydney, Australia and the Blue Mountains to its west endured extreme fire weather conditions on Wednesday without catastrophe, as "aggressive" and "high-risk" fire fighting strategies kept the 71 fires burning in New South Wales from causing major devastation. "The broader risk to a much larger, more widespread population has certainly eased," said Shane Fitzsimmons, a fire official for the region. The fire conditions in the region were about as bad as it gets on Wednesday. The high temperature in Sydney hit 92°F, with sustained winds of 34 mph gusting to 47 mph, and a humidity as low as 4%. Temperatures are expected to be cooler on Thursday, but westerly winds blowing from the dry interior of Australia will still be blowing strongly, keeping fire danger extreme. Insurance claims from the huge fires that have ravaged areas just west of Sydney over the past week are already set to exceed $97 million (U.S. dollars), according to The Insurance Council of Australia, even though the worst-hit areas have not been assessed yet. This price tag already makes the disaster Australia's fifth most expensive fire on record, according to EM-DAT, the international disaster database. Wunderground's weather historian Christopher C. Burt has a new post on the history of Australian wild fires.


Figure 1. Smoke from fires burning over Southeast Australia streams out over the ocean near Sydney, Australia, due to strong westerly winds. MODIS photo taken at 03:15 UTC on October 23, 2013. Image credit: NASA

Fires worsened by Australia's hottest September on record
Australia has just had its hottest September on record, and the 12-month period ending in September 2013 set a record for the hottest 12-month period in Australian history. Australia's warmest summer and 3rd warmest winter on record occurred during this 12-month period. It has also been quite dry in the fire region over the past few months, with soil moisture levels in the lowest 10% historically for this time of year. However, the latest drought statement from the Bureau of Meteorology is not showing that long-term drought conditions exist.


Figure 2. Running means for the departure of temperature from average (the anomaly) for Australia for 12-month periods ending 31 August 2013. Vertical grid lines mark 12-month periods commencing January 1920, January 1930, etc. Australian temperatures are now, on average, more than 1°C warmer than during the 1950s. Image credit: Australian Bureau of Meteorology.

Climate Change and Australian fires
“Climate change is increasing the risk of more frequent and longer heat waves and more extreme hot days, as well as exacerbating bushfire conditions.” So said the independent non-profit Australia Climate Council in a report on the record September 2013 heat in Australia. In April 2013, the group (then called the Australia Climate Commission) published a report, "The Critical Decade: Extreme Weather", which gave an excellent overview of climate change and wild fires in Australia. According to the report, " many regions have already experienced an increase in extreme fire weather as indicated by changes in the Forest Fire Danger Index (FFDI). The main contributors to this increase are prolonged periods of low rainfall and the increased frequency and intensity of extreme heat. The FFDI increased significantly at 16 of 38 weather stations across Australia between 1973 and 2010, with none of the stations recording a significant decrease. The increase has been most prominent in southeast Australia, and has been manifest as a longer duration fire season, with fire weather extending into November and March. The opportunity for fuel reduction burning is reducing as fire seasons have become longer. Overall, this means that fire prone conditions and vulnerability to fire are increasing. The projected increases in hot days across the country, and in consecutive dry days and droughts in the southwest and southeast, will very likely lead to increased frequencies of days with extreme fire danger in those regions."

Australia's Climate Commission was defunded after the new government led by Prime Minister Tony Abbott took power in September 2013, writes Brian Kahn at climatecentral.org. However, the commissioners banded together and used crowd-funding to raise $1 million to start the non-profit Climate Council, a nonprofit organization aimed at providing climate information on Australia to the public. The Council is planning to release a report specifically about wildfires in November 2013. Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who is a volunteer fire fighter, and famously said in 2009 that the science behind climate change is “absolute crap”. On Wednesday, he remarked: "Climate change is real, as I've often said, and we should take strong action against it. "But these fires are certainly not a function of climate change--they're just a function of life in Australia."

Raymond weakens to a tropical storm; threat diminishes for Mexico
Tropical Storm Raymond continues to spin just offshore of Acapulco, Mexico, but its top winds have weakened to 65 mph. As of 8 am EDT Wednesday, Raymond was stationary, and centered about 190 miles west-southwest of Acapulco. Raymond brought 7.05" of rain Saturday through Tuesday to Acapulco. All watches and warnings have been discontinued for the coast of Mexico, but Raymond is expected to bring an additional 1 - 2" of rain to the coast. Raymond is in an area with weak steering currents, but a ridge of high pressure is forecast to build in later Wednesday and force the storm west-southwestwards, away from the coast. Recent satellite loops show the weakening trend of Raymond, and wunderblogger Lee Grenci has a new post discussing the causes.


Figure 3. MODIS satellite image of Hurricane Raymond, taken at approximately 2:30 pm EDT on October 22, 2013. At the time, Raymond was a Category 1 hurricane with winds of 75 mph. Image credit: NASA.

Tropical Storm Lorenzo in the Atlantic no threat
Tropical Storm Lorenzo continue to head eastwards into the Middle Atlantic, and will not be a threat to any land areas. Satellite loops show that Lorenzo has a small area of heavy thunderstorms, which are being pushed to the southeast side of Lorenzo's center of circulation by strong upper-level winds out of the northwest that are creating high levels of wind shear. The shear is forecast to remain in the high range through Friday, which will likely destroy the storm by then.

Typhoon Francisco weakening, but will still bring heavy rain to Japan
Typhoon Francisco continues to weaken, due to cool waters and increasing wind shear, and is now a Category 1 storm with 80 mph winds. Francisco is traversing a large cool patch of ocean left behind by the churning action of Typhoon Wipha last week. Francisco will make its closest approach to Japan on Thursday and Friday, and will likely be a tropical storm undergoing transition to an extratropical storm. Although the latest computer model guidance keeps Francisco well offshore from Japan, the storm will still bring plenty of tropical moisture over Japan, which will be capable of causing mostly minor flooding problems.

Super Typhoon Lekima reaches Category 5 strength
The Western Pacific has made up for a slow start to its typhoon season, and has now cranked out its third Category 5 super typhoon of the year. Super Typhoon Lekima intensified to Category 5 status about 1,500 miles southeast of Japan at 18 UTC on Tuesday, joining Super Typhoon Francisco, Super Typhoon Usagi, and Tropical Cyclone Phailin as the four members of 2013's Category 5 club. Four Cat 5s is a fairly typical number of these top-end storms for Earth to experience in one year. Satellite loops show an impressive typhoon with a prominent eye surrounded by a solid ring of eyewall clouds with very cold cloud tops. Lekima is predicted to recurve to the northeast without affecting any land areas.


Figure 4. MODIS satellite image of Typhoon Francisco (left) and Super Typhoon Lekima (right), taken at approximately 02 UTC on October 23, 2013. At the time, Lekima was a Category 5 super typhoon with winds of 160 mph, and Typhoon Francisco was at Category 1 strength with 80 mph winds. Image credit: NASA.

Jeff Masters

Fire Hurricane

The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.

Reader Comments

1033mb big Butted High there Keeper, bring it on home.
Quoting 497. Patrap:
Currently 63F in NOLA

current 41 chill 36
503. VR46L
Quoting 495. cRRKampen:

Sorry mate, I didn't want to talk that occlusion away. But let's be serious, it ain't that special either.
Inch of rain, perhaps two depending on relief. So some yellow alert re a possibility of 'localized flooding'.
The developing low as of Sunday afternoon even re rain much more interesting.


Err I never brought it actually up .... I responded to a comment about it being Lorenzo tail end and just said it was a front coming through with some Sat images showing such .... I don't make a drama about weather much ...

And for the record do you refer to females as mate ? MATE....

Quoting 493. AussieStorm:


This is Springwood in the Blue Mountains.

The one you've shown is Sydney Airport which did get down to 7%. But Sydney Airport is about 100km from where the fires are.


METARS at YSSY (which is called Sidney NW in our database) had an RH of 4% on the 23rd:

http://www.wunderground.com/history/airport/YSSY/ 2013/10/23/DailyHistory.html

This is the station I was quoting.

Jeff Masters
Quoting 501. Patrap:
1033mb big Butted High there Keeper, bring it on home.
waitin on the rtn flow

then a fall storm
Quoting 487. GTstormChaserCaleb:
What is tall boys?


Tall boys are 16 ounce beer cans...
Quoting 506. Patrap:
Weather History for Sydney, NW
Wednesday, October 23, 2013 %u2014 View Current Weather Conditions
That's awfully warm for springtime.

I went to Perth last year in December, the weather was really pleasant apart from the occasional showers.
Quoting 453. Torito:
The T-Wave looks a little better this morning.

It looks like the MJO is roaring. Amazing to see all this moisture in October ... finally? Maybe the season will go until Christmas this year, and I can get some relief from my

LackoHurricaneophobia, that I've been suffering from.
Quoting 477. 47n91w:


Had my first snowfall several days ago... a couple weeks before I typically see the first snowflakes in the air. From the local paper:



My sister sent me pictures of the first (of many, I am certain) snowfall near Terra Alta, WV yesterday. My 3 year old nephew ran from window to window, just to make sure it was snowing outside of each one. Hey, you never know... it might only snow on the north side!
Quoting 508. MoltenIce:
That's awfully warm for springtime.

I went to Perth last year in December, the weather was really pleasant apart from the occasional showers.





Temperature

Mean Temperature 80 °F
-
Max Temperature 91 °F 74 °F 91 °F (2013)

Min Temperature 68 °F 58 °F 46 °F (2008)

Cooling Degree Days 14

Growing Degree Days 30 (Base 50)

Weather History for Sydney, NW
Wednesday, October 23, 2013 — View Current Weather Conditions
Quoting 487. GTstormChaserCaleb:
What is tall boys?

Don't worry about it, I'll have yours ;)
Quoting 512. Klolly23:

Don't worry about it, I'll have yours ;)
Quoting 503. VR46L:


Err I never brought it actually up .... I responded to a comment about it being Lorenzo tail end and just said it was a front coming through with some Sat images showing such .... I don't make a drama about weather much ...

And for the record do you refer to females as mate ? MATE....


Resetting...
Starting up...
Sorry, dear :)

Pfff, actually I'm rather gender blind when discussing weather & climate.

So, not Lorenzo, just some of his air will merge into Sunday/Monday's runner. I hope it will help, I have a personal taste for violent weather.

Quoting 509. OracleDeAtlantis:
It looks like the MJO is roaring. Amazing to see all this moisture in October ... finally? Maybe the season will go until Christmas this year, and I can get some relief from my

LackoHurricaneophobia, that I've been suffering from.
Well the EPAC certainly looks like it is heading that way.

Quoting 512. Klolly23:

Don't worry about it, I'll have yours ;)




Something went awry there! Locally in the central Apps they are known as long-neckers.
Quoting 445. Sfloridacat5:
Hurricane Wilma was just a shadow of her former self when she made landfall in S. Fl. Wilma had a big eye structure with a rather unimpressive eye wall on radar.

It was still worse than Jeanne and Frances in central palm beach county!
Raymond's barely a TC according to raw T-numbers.

UW - CIMSS
ADVANCED DVORAK TECHNIQUE
ADT-Version 8.1.5
Tropical Cyclone Intensity Algorithm

----- Current Analysis -----
Date : 24 OCT 2013 Time : 131500 UTC
Lat : 14:39:55 N Lon : 105:51:20 W


CI# /Pressure/ Vmax
2.6 /1005.0mb/ 37.0kt


Final T# Adj T# Raw T#
2.6 3.0 3.5

Center Temp : -67.5C Cloud Region Temp : -58.0C

Scene Type : CURVED BAND with 0.96 ARC in LT GRAY

Positioning Method : FORECAST INTERPOLATION

Ocean Basin : EAST PACIFIC
Dvorak CI > MSLP Conversion Used : PACIFIC

Tno/CI Rules : Constraint Limits : 0.5T/hour
Weakening Flag : OFF
Rapid Dissipation Flag : OFF

C/K/Z MSLP Estimate Inputs :
- Average 34 knot radii : 42km
- Environmental MSLP : 1010mb

Satellite Name : GOES13
Satellite Viewing Angle : 39.3 degrees

The wet and low lying Everglades did not slow Wilma down at all on her way from the SW Gulf/Naples region towards the East Coast of Florida.  Her eye wall remained intact and walloped the East Coast and parts of Central Florida.  Lots of damage from that one; I drove near/around Lake O about a month after Wilma and the migrant worker mobile home communities looked like refugee camps with all the damage and tarps everywhere.

Pretty frightening watching the loops of the eye wall, from up here in North Florida, and frantically calling friends and family in SE Florida telling them to batten down the hatches because the storm was not weakening after land fall on the Gulf Coast.................It caught lots of folks by surprise assuming they were only going to deal with tropical storm conditions on the East Coast.  



Quoting 507. Greg01:


Tall boys are 16 ounce beer cans...


What do you call 40s? Fat Boys?
1921 Tampa Bay hurricane:

The storm turned more north-northeastward, and upon reaching the Gulf of Mexico on October 24 it rapidly intensified to a 140 mph Category 4.
from Our National News CBC Atlantic hurricane season predictions fall flat ...
Forecasters called for three to six major storms in 2013

Hurricane Season Falls Flat
Quoting 522. Melagoo:
from Our National News CBC Atlantic hurricane season predictions fall flat ...
Forecasters called for three to six major storms in 2013

Hurricane Season Falls Flat
There is something wrong in that article, it was stated that we haven't had such poor predictions since the early 1990s. I thought the 2006 season was predicted to be above normal and look at how that ended up. I think these predictions are literally hit or miss, since they are based more primarily on climate factors regarding the conditions of ENSO. I think neutral years are even harder to predict. Then again the 2004 hurricane season proved otherwise.
Quoting 522. Melagoo:
from Our National News CBC Atlantic hurricane season predictions fall flat ...
Forecasters called for three to six major storms in 2013

Hurricane Season Falls Flat


Calling Captain Obvious....

For pretty evident reasons (the relative extremes between an El Nino year and a La Nina year) Neutral years, by definition, can swing a little bit in both directions and vary in between............Tough call during hurricane seasons, and the upcoming Winter, as to what conditions we might expect and what might ultimately happen.

A good example is the current frontal pattern across Conus; it has been pretty dry so far including the Gulf so we have not been having any real severe weather issues yet across the Gulf States, or the related frontal remnants that can often spur storms in the Gulf this time of the year...............Bone Dry at the moment on all fronts.
Quoting 507. Greg01:


Tall boys are 16 ounce beer cans...


16 oz beers are pounders
Adios to Lorenzo.

POST-TROPICAL CYCLONE LORENZO DISCUSSION NUMBER 13
NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL AL132013
1100 AM AST THU OCT 24 2013

DRY AIR AND NORTHERLY SHEAR HAS TAKEN ITS TOLL ON LORENZO. THE
SYSTEM HAS NOT HAD ANY ORGANIZED DEEP CONVECTION FOR OVER 12 HOURS
AND HAS BECOME A SWIRL OF LOW CLOUDS. AS A RESULT...LORENZO HAS
DEGENERATED INTO A REMNANT LOW AND THIS WILL BE THE FINAL NHC
ADVISORY ON THIS SYSTEM. THE INITIAL INTENSITY IS LOWERED TO 25
KT...IN ACCORDANCE WITH A DVORAK INTENSITY ESTIMATE FROM TAFB AND A
RECENT ASCAT PASS. ALTHOUGH THE VERTICAL SHEAR IS FORECAST TO
DECREASE DURING THE NEXT 12 TO 24 HOURS...DRY AIR AND COOLING SEA
SURFACE TEMPERATURES ALONG THE FORECAST TRACK SHOULD CAUSE THE LOW
TO CONTINUE TO GRADUALLY SPIN DOWN. THE LOW IS FORECAST TO
DISSIPATE BY LATE FRIDAY AHEAD OF A COLD FRONT THAT WILL BE MOVING
EASTWARD OVER THE CENTRAL ATLANTIC.

THE LOW IS MOVING NORTHEASTWARD AT ABOUT 5 KT. THE CYCLONE SHOULD
CONTINUE HEADING NORTHEASTWARD UNTIL DISSIPATION AS IT REMAINS
WITHIN LOW-LEVEL SOUTHWESTERLY FLOW.

FORECAST POSITIONS AND MAX WINDS

INIT 24/1500Z 30.2N 47.6W 25 KT 30 MPH...POST-TROP/REMNT LOW
12H 25/0000Z 31.0N 46.9W 25 KT 30 MPH...POST-TROP/REMNT LOW
24H 25/1200Z 32.0N 45.8W 20 KT 25 MPH...POST-TROP/REMNT LOW
36H 26/0000Z 33.0N 44.5W 20 KT 25 MPH...POST-TROP/REMNT LOW
48H 26/1200Z...DISSIPATED

$$
FORECASTER BROWN

Raymond still hanging there.

TROPICAL STORM RAYMOND DISCUSSION NUMBER 19
NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL EP172013
800 AM PDT THU OCT 24 2013

A BURSTING PATTERN OF CONVECTION HAS BEEN OCCURRING NEAR THE
APPARENT CENTER OF RAYMOND DURING THE LAST SEVERAL HOURS. ALTHOUGH
OVERNIGHT MICROWAVE AND EARLY-LIGHT VISIBLE IMAGES DO NOT
DEFINITIVELY SHOW THE CENTER...IT APPEARS TO BE CLOSE TO THE
SOUTHERN EDGE OF A STRONG AREA OF CONVECTION. SUBJECTIVE/OBJECTIVE
DVORAK ESTIMATES SUGGEST 35-45 KT AS A CURRENT WIND SPEED...AND
WITH THE UNCERTAINTY ABOUT THE INITIAL POSITION I HAVE ELECTED TO
KEEP 40 KT AS THE INTENSITY.

RAYMOND SEEMS TO BE MOVING WESTWARD...WITH NO SIGN OF THE
SOUTH-OF-WEST MOTION OBSERVED YESTERDAY. AS A RIDGE BUILDS TO THE
NORTHWEST OF THE CYCLONE...MOST OF THE GUIDANCE DO SUGGEST A RETURN
TO THE WEST-SOUTHWEST MOTION FOR THE NEXT FEW DAYS. AFTER THAT
TIME...A LARGE TROUGH OVER THE EASTERN PACIFIC SHOULD ERODE THE
WESTERN PORTION OF THE RIDGE AND INDUCE A MORE POLEWARD MOTION OF
RAYMOND. THE ECMWF IS BASICALLY ON ITS OWN SHOWING A SHARP
RECURVATURE OF THE CYCLONE BY 120W...WHILE MOST OF THE OTHER
RELIABLE GUIDANCE ONLY SHOW A NORTHWARD TURN BY DAY 5. SINCE THE
ECMWF HAS BEEN THE BEST-PERFORMING SINGLE MODEL IN THE EASTERN
PACIFIC THIS SEASON...IT SEEMS WISE TO WAIT UNTIL THE NEW 12Z MODEL
RUNS COME OUT BEFORE MAKING ANY LONG-RANGE CHANGES TO THE PREVIOUS
FORECAST. THE NEW FORECAST IS CLOSE TO THE PREVIOUS NHC
PREDICTION...BETWEEN TVCE AND THE ECMWF.

THE INTENSITY FORECAST IS PERPLEXING THIS MORNING. WHILE ALL OF THE
MODELS ARE SHOWING A DECREASE IN SHEAR WHILE THE SYSTEM MOVES OVER
WARM WATER...NONE OF THEM SAVE THE GFDL SHOW SIGNIFICANT
INTENSIFICATION. PERHAPS SOME DRY AIR AND SOME SOUTHERLY SHEAR
WILL BE THE MAIN LIMITING FACTORS...BUT THESE DO NOT SEEM NEGATIVE
ENOUGH TO CAP STRENGTHENING THAT MUCH. THE NEW NHC FORECAST IS
BASICALLY THE SAME AS THE PREVIOUS ONE...ON THE HIGH SIDE OF THE
GUIDANCE...AND IT WOULD NOT SURPRISE ME IF THE FORECAST HAD TO BE
RAISED LATER TODAY.

FORECAST POSITIONS AND MAX WINDS

INIT 24/1500Z 14.8N 105.9W 40 KT 45 MPH
12H 25/0000Z 14.7N 107.2W 45 KT 50 MPH
24H 25/1200Z 14.5N 109.2W 45 KT 50 MPH
36H 26/0000Z 14.0N 111.5W 45 KT 50 MPH
48H 26/1200Z 13.6N 113.8W 50 KT 60 MPH
72H 27/1200Z 13.5N 118.0W 50 KT 60 MPH
96H 28/1200Z 14.7N 120.2W 50 KT 60 MPH
120H 29/1200Z 16.0N 120.5W 45 KT 50 MPH

$$
FORECASTER BLAKE
www.portlight.org



Our friends at the Paying it Forward Foundation have taken on the huge task of rebuilding the Seaside American Legion Hall in New Jersey, which was badly damaged in Hurricane Sandy. The Veterans who are members of the hall do not have anywhere else to go, and continue to use the facility, often daily, despite the smell and the poor conditions.



There are no events being held there by the boy scouts or any other entity due to the uninhabitable conditions of the building. As some legion members stop by they are very discouraged and overwhelmed with no funds or resources not knowing where to turn.
Paying it Forward Foundation will be leading the project to accomplish multiple tasks with the help of various small grassroots organizations (including Portlight) and individual volunteers.

The work includes demo, sheetrock, flooring and painting. Outside, we will paint, clean the monument and flagpole area; and help install new electrical signage. We are in need of a heating system and new roof as well. The old roof was destroyed by Sandy and can no longer be patched.


In order to make this project successful, we need your help. The Paying it Forward Foundation's goal is to raise $15,000 for this project. This money will be used to purchase the wood, tools, and other equipment needed for this project. Portlight Strategies, Inc. supports this project and we ask you, our supporters, to consider making a donation to this project.


Visit our website at www.portlight.org and click on the PayPal button to make a donation to this project. Please indicate "Legion" in the memo field of your donation.

Thank you for supporting this worthy cause.

Portlight/FaceBook

LOL My God some people are still trying to find storms on the LONG RONGE FANTASY MODELS LMAO, season is a bust JUST LIKE I SAID 4 months ago and no one listened. pshhhhhhhhhhhhh now whos laughing
Quoting 532. SuperStorm093:
LOL My God some people are still trying to find storms on the LONG RONGE FANTASY MODELS LMAO, season is a bust JUST LIKE I SAID 4 months ago and no one listened. pshhhhhhhhhhhhh now whos laughing


My insurance company is (Citizens) all the way to the bank and they continue to do double digit premium increases.
So when is the MJO estimated to hit the Caribbean again?
A nice bit of the Vapor for FL..
JeffMasters has created a new entry.
Quoting 519. weathermanwannabe:
The wet and low lying Everglades did not slow Wilma down at all on her way from the SW Gulf/Naples region towards the East Coast of Florida.  Her eye wall remained intact and walloped the East Coast and parts of Central Florida.  Lots of damage from that one; I drove near/around Lake O about a month after Wilma and the migrant worker mobile home communities looked like refugee camps with all the damage and tarps everywhere.

Pretty frightening watching the loops of the eye wall, from up here in North Florida, and frantically calling friends and family in SE Florida telling them to batten down the hatches because the storm was not weakening after land fall on the Gulf Coast.................It caught lots of folks by surprise assuming they were only going to deal with tropical storm conditions on the East Coast.  





Wilma took FOREVER to move away from Naples/Fort Myers area. Compared to Charley, who moved quick. I was without power for 10 days after Wilma's visit. Luckily no real damage to property. A few seawalls caved in around our neighborhoos but ours wasn't one of them (thankfully)
Quoting Dakster:


My insurance company is (Citizens) all the way to the bank and they continue to do double digit premium increases.

Dak, do you mean Citizens of Florida? If so, it's a non-profit, state run company set up when no private insurers would write policies after 2005. They can't raise rate without permission of the state, so your state rep is the place to start if you feel you are getting screwed.
Quoting 442. wxchaser97:
Lekima is undergoing an EWRC. Microwave image from 3 hours ago clearly showing the concentric eyewalls:


Looks like Lekima mixed out the little tongue of dry air affecting her earlier really well.
Can I say, textbook EWRC?