We're changing our WunderBlogs. Learn more about this important update on our FAQ page.

Lee's winds fan deadly Texas fires; a dangerous day for Lee's floods and tornadoes

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 4:43 PM GMT on September 05, 2011

Texas' unprecedented heat wave and drought turned deadly yesterday when fires fanned by Tropical Storm Lee's gusty winds swept through East Texas, torching 300 homes near Austin, and killing a woman and her 18-month old daughter who couldn't escape the flames in Gladewater. At Austin Bergstrom Airport yesterday afternoon, the counter-clockwise circulation around Tropical Storm Lee brought sustained winds of 25 mph, gusting to 31. Lee didn't bring any clouds or moisture to Austin, and the afternoon high hit 102°, with a humidity of 22%. With the region enduring it's driest 1-year drought on record, yesterday's heat, dryness, and winds resulted in extremely critical fire conditions. The forecast today for Austin is marginally better--temperatures will be cooler, only reaching the upper 80s, but strong winds of 20 - 25 mph will continue to blow, and the atmosphere will be drier, with humidities in the 15 - 25% range. NOAA's Storm Prediction Center has declared a "Critical" fire weather danger area for East Texas today, one level below yesterday's "Extremely Critical" conditions. You can monitor today's fire activity by using our wundermap for Austin with the fire layer turned on. The summer of 2011 now holds every major heat record for the city of Austin, including most 100° days (67 so far), hottest month in recorded history (August, breaking the previous record by a remarkable 2.1°), hottest summer (by 1.1°), and hottest day in history (112°F, tied with Sep, 5, 2000.)

Texas' unprecedented heat
For as long as people have been taking weather measurements in Texas, there has never been a summer hotter than the summer of 2011. As wunderground's weather historian Christopher C. Burt documents in his latest blog post, seventeen major cities in Texas recorded their hottest summer on record in 2011. Most of these stations had records extending back more than 100 years, and several of the records were smashed by an amazing 3.4°F--at Lubbock and at Wichita Falls. Neighboring states also experienced unprecedented heat, with Oklahoma recording America's hottest month by any state in recorded history during July, and Shreveport, Louisiana breaking its record for hottest month by 3°F in August. Mr. Burt commented to me: " I do not believe I have ever seen a site with a long period of record, like Shreveport, where records go back to 1874, break its warmest single month on record by an astonishing 3°. This is unheard of. Usually when a site breaks its single month temperature record, we are talking about tenths of a degree, rarely a whole degree, let alone 3 degrees! Hard to believe, frankly." Texas has also had its worst fire season on record, with over 3.5 million acres burned this year, and it's driest 1-year period in recorded history.


Figure 1. Observed rainfall for the seven-day period ending at 8 am EDT Monday Sep 5, 2011. Tropical Storm Lee had dumped in excess of ten inches of rain sections of Louisiana and Mississippi (pink colors). Image credit: NOAA/AHPS.

Heavy rains from Lee creating dangerous flooding situation
Tropical Storm Lee has been absorbed by a cold front, and is no longer a tropical depression. However, the remnants of Lee are bringing torrential rains to the South and Appalachians today, and pose a serious flood threat. NOAA's latest Quantitative Precipitation Forecast warns that "an excessive and life-threatening rainfall event will be unfolding today and tonight across the Tennessee Valley and also the Southern Appalachians." A wide region of 4 - 8 inches of rain is expected along the path of Lee's remnants as they slide northeastwards along the front. These rains will likely accumulate later this week to 2 - 3 inches over New England regions devastated by Hurricane Irene's floods. Also of concern is the potential for tornadoes today. NOAA's Storm Prediction Center has logged 22 tornado reports so far from Lee, and today promises to be the most serious day for tornadoes yet, with SPC predicting a "Moderate Risk" of tornadoes across the South. Lee's heaviest rain amounts, by state, as of 10 am CDT today:

Holden, LA: 15.43"
Florence, MS: 13.45"
Mobile, AL: 11.35"
Milton, FL: 10.03"
Cumberland City, TN: 5.09"
Bridge City, TX: 3.12"
Plum Springs, KY: 3.10"


Figure 2. Predicted rainfall for the 5-day period 8am EDT Monday - 8 am EDT Saturday, Sep 10, 2011. Lee's remnants are expected to bring a large swath of 4+ inches of rain all the way to Pennsylvania. Image credit: NOAA/HPC.


Figure 3. Severe weather risk for Monday, September 5, 2011.

Hurricane Katia
Hurricane Katia is close to major hurricane strength, and is now a high-end Category 2 hurricane with 110 mph winds. Latest satellite loops show a well-defined eye and good upper-level outflow on all sides, but the hurricane still has a lopsided appearance, due to the impacts of dry air and moderate wind shear on its south side.

The computer models have finally come into agreement on the long-range future of Katia, determining that the trough of low pressure that will develop over the Eastern U.S. later this week will turn the hurricane to the north well before the storm reaches the U.S. As the storm moves northwards past North Carolina, Katia will get caught up in west-to-east moving winds associated with the jet stream, and taken northeastwards out to sea. No land areas are in Katia's cone of uncertainty, though Newfoundland, Canada will need to watch future forecasts to see how close Katia may pass to the southeastern portion of that province. The main impact of Katia will be high surf leading to beach erosion and dangerous rip currents. Long period swells from Katia are arriving at the Southeast U.S. coast today, and the entire U.S. East Coast will receive an extended multi-day period of high surf.


Figure 4. Afternoon satellite image of Hurricane Katia.

95L off the coast of Africa
A large tropical wave with plenty of intense thunderstorm activity and spin is located about 500 miles southwest of the Cape Verde Islands off the coast of Africa. This wave, Invest 95L, is under a moderate 10 - 20 knots of wind shear, and is headed west at 15 mph. Water vapor satellite images show that 95L is embedded in a very moist environment. Ocean temperatures are near 28°C, which is 1.5°C above the 26.5°C threshold usually needed for a tropical storm to form. With wind shear predicted to drop to the low range tomorrow, I don't see anything that would keep 95L from becoming a tropical depression in two or so days. NHC is giving 95L a 20% chance of developing into a tropical depression by Wednesday; given the storm's rather impressive organization and spin apparent on recent satellite loops, I'd put these odds at 40%. The NOGAPS model predicts 95L will develop by Saturday, a few hundred miles north of the Northern Lesser Antilles Islands, but this storm could just as easily pass directly through the Lesser Antilles on Saturday or Sunday, and develop into a tropical storm much sooner. If you plan on being in the Lesser Antilles Islands this weekend, pay attention to 95L.

New Gulf of Mexico disturbance
A cold front swept into the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Texas behind Tropical Storm Lee early this morning. The front is expected to continue to the east and stall out Tuesday and Wednesday along a line from Louisiana to Mexico's Bay of Campeche in the southern Gulf of Mexico. Several recent runs of the ECMWF and GFS models have given support to the idea that a tropical depression would form at the tail end of this front late this week, in Mexico's Bay of Campeche. The path such a storm might take would depend strongly on where the center forms. A more northerly formation location near the top of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula would likely result in a northward motion towards the Florida Panhandle, while a more southerly formation location might lead to the storm getting trapped in a region of weak steering currents, resulting in a slow, erratic motion in the southern Gulf. NHC is currently not highlighting the Bay of Campeche in their Tropical Weather Outlook, and it will likely be Wednesday before enough heavy thunderstorms build to warrant mention.

Jeff Masters

Up In Smoke (Madermade)
Another wildfire this afternoon in Bridgeport, Tx... still burning!
Up In Smoke
Mandeville, Louisiana Lakefront during TS LEE (hurricanep)
Mandeville, Louisiana Lakefront during TS LEE
Lake Pontchartrain Lakefront (hurricanep)
TS Lee still affecting Louisiana
Lake Pontchartrain Lakefront
Tropical Storm Lee-Day 2 #2 (jennjeff1)
Tropical Storm Lee-Day 2 #2

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

Comments will take a few seconds to appear.

Post Your Comments

Please sign in to post comments.

Log In or Join

You be able to leave comments on this blog.

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

Viewing: 362 - 312

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 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30 | 31 | 32 | 33 | 34 | 35 | 36 | 37 | 38 | 39 | 40 | 41 | 42 | 43 | 44 | 45 | 46 | 47 | 48 | 49 | 50 | 51 | 52 | 53Blog Index

will 95L be a major hurricane before Saturday?

A. YES
B. NO
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting MZT:
I think Katia is this year's "Earl". Close enough to be interesting, and well formed, but safely offshore.


Not for Nova Scotians it wasn't.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:


Yep.

Is the Bastrop fire in the "Lost Forest Area"?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Currently sustained winds of 27 gusting to 39 on the Pinellas County coast, have had 0.27 from a 2 min shower and a peak gust from the shower to 49 mph and lost power briefly.

I think we are getting higher wind speed averages than occurred with the "inner core" of Lee at Landfall, LOL.

Wave action is getting pretty crazy, looks like I may be getting a psuedo tropical storm overnight into tomorrow lol.

Models are insisting on developing a TC on the stalled front and bringing it up into my area, hopefully that will hold as long as the system remains tamed. I haven't seen tropical action in a very long while and I'd sure love to as long as its stays below hurricane status!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting 1900hurricane:

Radar shows another large fire (possibly associated) may have broken out in Bastrop County west of the original:



okay look that looks scary
Member Since: Posts: Comments:



sheer on the rise in the GOM
Member Since: Posts: Comments:



sheer on the rise in the GOM
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
355. MZT
I think Katia is this year's "Earl". Close enough to be interesting, and well formed, but safely offshore.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:


Yep.


Radar shows another large fire (possibly associated) may have broken out in Bastrop County west of the original:



*Edited to include the correct image
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting SPLbeater:
so any1 got a microwave of Katia? would be nice...plz lol


There haven't been any microwave passes since 0933 UTC, which was 9 hours ago, but nonetheless, here it is:

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:




well thank ya bud, i knew the eywall was complete was wondering how thick lol
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting SPLbeater:
funny...we skipped the orange crayon and used the red, lol. this system could be a TD by LATE tnoight, if current trend continues


Early development tends to favor a northward pull. I'm wondering if a hurricane can stay South of the Islands and make it into the Caribbean?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Altestic2012:

Isabel lopsided? Isabel was perfect.


Not at first, she was lopsided on her right.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Drakoen:
GFDL develops 95L and takes it just south of PR.

Hope that if we in Puerto Rico will get another direct hit after Irene, this season, it wont be nothing like Katia, so lets wish our latin sister María treat us with some compassion.. ;)
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:




this may be bad for S.FL
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
12z ECMWF; 96 hours. Katia curves out to sea; the system in the BOC is organizing; not much interest shown in 95L.





that is cuting it way too close too home with Katia
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
Quoting SPLbeater:
so any1 got a microwave of Katia? would be nice...plz lol


Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting wunderweatherman123:
haha wait until the end of the run 0z ECMWF has 95L developing AFTER entering the carribean
That may be, but does it seem logical, given the strength of 95L as of now?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:


okay so you know the weather is funky when... it's summer and louisiana has temps in the seventies, what has this world come to
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
It's cocked, locked, and ready to rock


Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
Quoting RitaEvac:
Bastrop fire showing on visible loop again


Yep.

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
GOM/BOC
XX/AOI/XX
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
funny...we skipped the orange crayon and used the red, lol. this system could be a TD by LATE tnoight, if current trend continues
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Bastrop fire showing on visible loop again
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
Quoting Patrap:




looks like she used the dry air to make this eye
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting tropicfreak:


Doesn't the eye look a little lopsided to you? I mean not like Isabel lopsided but a little bit?


no.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
so any1 got a microwave of Katia? would be nice...plz lol
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
12z ECMWF; 96 hours. Katia curves out to sea; the system in the BOC is organizing; not much interest shown in 95L.

haha wait until the end of the run 0z ECMWF has 95L developing AFTER entering the carribean
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
POSS T.C.F.W.
95L/INV/XX
MARK
9.93N/31.18W
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting SPLbeater:
Katia look nice. btw, im back ppl!!


Doesn't the eye look a little lopsided to you? I mean not like Isabel lopsided but a little bit?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
MAJOR
012L/MH/K/C3
MARK
24.73N/64.48W
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
12z ECMWF; 96 hours. Katia curves out to sea; the system in the BOC is organizing; not much interest shown in 95L.

Member Since: Posts: Comments:


Member Since: Posts: Comments:
lmao@ a TS busting a high
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting PensacolaDoug:



She pretty much up-graded herself.




lol, yeah.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
So far the ECMWF 12z through 96hrs agree with the southern solution models with 95L.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Altestic2012:
Wow...Lee regains TS strength over land, pulling an Erin and a Fay. What a fighter!


Lee's a little different in nature at this point.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
why are the NHC waiting?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
The National Hurricane Center will be waiting until the 5PM advisory to upgrade Katia to a Category 3 hurricane.



She pretty much up-graded herself.


Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Clearwater1:
I think Katia was just as low in Lat. imo I think more of an Irene track or or it may follow any weakness created by Katia. Either way, another storm to track in a very active season.


The GFS shows 95: hitting Maine and Massachusetts
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting masonsnana:
I'm getting tired of some in here bashing florida. Who ever said they want a hurricane is nuts and should be ignored! Move on!


I think Texas is more wishing for a hurricane. They probably would take the sacrifice over the drought and wildfires. I think they understand that a Tropical Storm would just be destroyed by the dry air from Texas Heat; therefore, a hurricane is the only solution to giving then ANY drought relief. I wouldn't normally wish it on anyone but those folks over there the rain more than anyone.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Big front moved through with temperatures in the Upper 70s and low 80s as highs and low temps in the mid 50s here in South Louisiana...thats unheard of this early in the fall season...with all these amplified troughs pulling storms like Katia and possibly 95L out to sea east of the U.S. i'm starting to think this could be a hard winter for us here in the south...rarely is there a year where i see storms constantly forming at 10N or so that cant make it into the Caribbean...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Katia look nice. btw, im back ppl!!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:

Viewing: 362 - 312

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 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30 | 31 | 32 | 33 | 34 | 35 | 36 | 37 | 38 | 39 | 40 | 41 | 42 | 43 | 44 | 45 | 46 | 47 | 48 | 49 | 50 | 51 | 52 | 53Blog Index

Top of Page
Ad Blocker Enabled

Category 6™

About

Cat 6 lead authors: WU cofounder Dr. Jeff Masters (right), who flew w/NOAA Hurricane Hunters 1986-1990, & WU meteorologist Bob Henson, @bhensonweather

Local Weather

Mostly Cloudy
46 °F
Mostly Cloudy

JeffMasters's Recent Photos

Mountain wave clouds over Labrador
Mountain wave clouds over Labrador
Mountain wave clouds over Labrador
Labrador ice