Gulf of Mexico disturbance; Ultramarathon today in Death Valley

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:01 PM GMT on July 24, 2006

An area of disturbed weather associated with a tropical wave and a weak trough of surface pressure is generating some intense thunderstorms with strong wind gusts over the southwestern Gulf of Mexico. At 10am EDT, the winds at buoy 42002, 275 miles South-Southeast of Sabine, TX, recorded a wind gust of 50 mph. Sustained winds have been in the 25-30 mph range at this buoy the past few hours. The thunderstorm activity has increased since yesterday, but wind shear remains high, 15-25 knots, which is probably too high to allow a tropical depression to develop today. There was a hurricane hunter flight scheduled to take off at 11:30am today to investigate the disturbance, but it was cancelled. The disturbance shows no signs of a ciculation, as one can monitor via Brownsville, TX radar.

Both the GFS and NOGAPS models are forecasting the wind shear to fluctuate up and down through Wednesday, but probably remain above 15 knots. This amount of shear is likely too much for the disturbance to develop into a tropical depression. By Thursday, the wind shear is forecast to drop sharply, increasing the chances for development--if the disturbance hasn't moved over land by then. The disturbance is close to the Mexican coast, and may move ashore by Tuesday near the Texas/Mexico border. NHC has not scheduled a Hurricane Hunter flight for Tuesday.

Figure 1. Preliminary model forecast tracks for the area of disturbed weather in the Southwest Gulf of Mexico.

New wave to watch
A large tropical wave with a surface circulation is near 14N 45W, 1100 miles east of the Lesser Antilles Islands. The wave is moving west at 15 mph, and should reach the Lesser Antilles islands on Thursday. The wave has entered a region of low wind shear of 5-10 knots which is forecast to persist for the next three days, so some slow development is possible. The primary impediment will be dry air--the wave is surrounded by a huge cloud of African dust and dry air, and thunderstorm activity is currently minimal. A Hurricane Hunter airplane is tenatively scheduled to investigate the system on Thursday.

Figure 2. This morning's visible image of a tropical wave to watch 1100 miles east of the Lesser Antilles Islands.

More heat news
The heat continued to set records across the Southwest U.S. over the weekend. On Saturday, the mercury hit an unofficial 120 degrees in Usta, South Dakota, tying that state's all-time high temperature record. The record is expected to be certified by the National Climatic Data Center, according to the local National Weather Service office. The 95 degree low temperature yesterday at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport tied the second all-time warmest low temperature. The all-time warmest low temperature was 96 degrees, set on July 15, 2003.

OK, this is NUTS!
The high temperature in Death Valley reached 125 degrees both Saturday and Sunday, which should cheer up the competitors in today's Badwater Ultramarathon, billed as "the most demanding and extreme running race offered anywhere on the planet". The race starts out in Badwater, Death Valley (just down the road from Furnace Creek, Dante's Peak, and other hellishly named Death Valley attractions!). The competitors run non-stop for 135 miles and three days across Death Valley in the heat of day, across three mountain ranges with a combined vertical ascent of 13,000', and finish at 8,000 feet altitude on Mt. Whitney. Not recommended for the sane!

Jeff Masters

Dante's Peak (waytobleu)
View of Badwater
Dante's Peak

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

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27. OneDay
3:11 PM GMT on July 24, 2006
and thank you, too, weatherguy03
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26. weatherguy03
3:09 PM GMT on July 24, 2006
Bookmark this for shear model info..Link Models are run twice a day at 12Z and 0Z. Those AVN shear forecast maps are wrong.
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25. OneDay
3:09 PM GMT on July 24, 2006
Thank you, Randrewl.
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23. wxwatcher
3:05 PM GMT on July 24, 2006
Wind shear is expected to decrease by Thursday... only problem is this wave will be over the Rio Grande Plains by then. Therefore, expect no development with this system.
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22. rapidintensify
2:58 PM GMT on July 24, 2006
Yeah, what is the deal with the wind shear models. There are reds which shows low shear but he is saying the shear is high? I just don't get it.
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21. tbonehfx
2:53 PM GMT on July 24, 2006
Agreed on the windshear forecast comments Miami & OneDay. Those AVN windshear charts seem to contradict Dr.M often. For Example light shear is forecast SE of Carolina for the foreseeable future...With the vigorous cold front pushing off the east coast I wonder if some remanant convection has a chance of getting started up like Beryl...
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20. OneDay
2:45 PM GMT on July 24, 2006
Hello Miami...I've noticed that also...does anyone know of a better place to get shear info?

I know it's a bad bet to bet against Dr. M, but this is my thinking (from my blog post:)

Here I go again talking about a GOM Blob (or should I say a BOC Blob? ;-) I've held off as long as possible in the name of moderation, but I can't help it anymore...the disturbance in the Bay of Campeche looks really, really good (for not really being anything other than a disturbance, that is.) First of all, my comments on my own comments:

Posted By: OneDay at 9:22 PM GMT on July 22, 2006.
We've got a pretty robust (for this time of year) cool front making its way south into SE TX. If the energy associated with it (and causing our current severe weather) makes it into the GOM I bet we'll get a tropical system out of it. Especially considerring the forecasted low amount of shear after 24 hours.

I have two points to make on the NW GOM; here is a quote from this mornings Hous/Galv NWS discussion:

At the surface...have drier dw points across the extreme
north...where the weak front stalled yesterday. What is left of the front will dissipate today and lift north...

Because of this, I don't really expect anything to develop in the NW GOM from the cool front. There is, however, a very interesting (if nothing else) swirl in the NW GOM that shows up well in the water vapor loop.

Now, in terms of the BOC Blob...IMHO this is the best looking Gulf system (Alberto notwithstanding) this year. This morning the cloud tops have cooled significantly. The satellite presentation is impressive, showing the strongest storms organized in two distinct curved bands. Wind shear is expected to be marginally favorable for development over the next couple of days. During this time of year we really need not wonder whether or not the SST's of the GOM are sufficient for tropical storm development...they are, and if I remember correctly (can anyone help me with a link?) there is an eddy of really warm water that has broken off of the loop current and making its way into the western GOM. One final ingrediant...according to the water vapor imagery, there is no extremely dry air around for the system to contend with. The NHC center has begun watching this system more closely also; a Hurricane Hunter was scheduled to check it out (but that has been cancelled,) the NHC is mentioning it in their Tropical Weather Outlook, and they have moved Satellite Floater #1 to the Bay of Campeche. The factors that could inhibit development would be an unexpected significant increase in shear (that could be caused, ironically, by the cool front actually making its way into the gulf) and the wave's close proximity to land.

Bottom line, I give this wave a 45% chance of becoming Tropical Depression #3, a 30% chance of becoming a tropical storm, and a 20% chance of becoming a hurricane.

Thoughts, anyone?

BTW...please take a look at my compilation of info on Texas landfalling tropical systems over the past 50 years.
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19. mrpuertorico
10:47 AM AST on July 24, 2006
cyclone turns on his tunnels and snow begins to fall in pr
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17. nash28
2:42 PM GMT on July 24, 2006
Thanks for the link Rand. The Canadian model has a pretty good looking storm just off the Bahamas in 108 hrs. That is a lifetime away in terms of predictions and atmospheric patterns, but if they get this one right, we in Florida may have something to be concerned with.
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14. buckeyefan1
2:36 PM GMT on July 24, 2006

Good morning everyone! Drop by our site and check out everything! We would love to hear everyone's opinions on the message board! There are some great links to all of the models on the tropical page and GREAT video of the storm that went through St. Louis earlier in the week. Thanks!
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13. miamiamiga
10:37 AM EDT on July 24, 2006
I have been following Dr. Masters' blog for the past three years. This is the first time that I have posted. With all the tools that this site provides, I feel I have become rather good at figuring out what is going on in the tropics. This season, however, the wind shear forecast linked to the tropical weather page seems to be off.

Wind shear has played a significant role in suppressing development of storms this year (thankfully, as it is taking all season to install my new generator!!). But whenever Dr. Masters says that there is strong wind shear in a certain area, I look at the graphics for the wind shear and everything is bright red, or low wind shear...this time Dr. Masters is saying that wind shear in the Gulf is supposed to drop dramatically by Thursday, yet the wind shear predictions show a relative increase in wind shear by Thursday all over the Gulf (more oranges instead of red, where as now the wind shear forecast for today shows mostly reds, with a little yellow). I did not notice this issue last year. As a matter of fact, I relied heavily on the wind shear forecast last year and it seemed right on the money. What gives this year with those graphics???
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10. nash28
2:34 PM GMT on July 24, 2006
Agreed. When the GFS does show activity in the ATL, GOM or Carrib. I will pay attention.
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9. SLU
2:26 PM GMT on July 24, 2006
yeh the GFS has behaved reasonably well so far this season .. especially in the EPAC .. so I will trust it for now.
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8. FortLauderdaleNole
10:25 AM EDT on July 24, 2006
It may be 125 in Death Valley...but it's a dry heat....hehehe
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7. nash28
2:24 PM GMT on July 24, 2006
I mentioned that earlier, but I don't buy the CMC at all. Almost every run from them has something forming but the GFS never has anything worthy of noting.
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6. SLU
2:24 PM GMT on July 24, 2006
also the long range GFS is still bullish about a developing cyclone in the eastern atlantic by the end of next week.

that sounds more reasonable
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5. NearTEXcoast
2:24 PM GMT on July 24, 2006
Thanks for the BOC update Dr. Masters, we are watching it here in SE Texas with interest!
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4. SLU
2:19 PM GMT on July 24, 2006
Good day to all

The latest CMC develops the mid-atlantic wave into a cyclone and takes it just north of the Leewards, Puerto Rico and the Bahamas then recurves it polewards just off the eastern seaboard of the US.

However in a world governed by the CMC there would be 28 named storms every year so I dont buy that solution just yet
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3. nash28
2:22 PM GMT on July 24, 2006
Wow, that was pretty short and sweet from Dr. Masters. You know it is dreadfully slow in the tropics when the heat gets more coverage than the tropics. Nothing even mentioned for the coming week or the Atlantic.
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2. cas23
10:05 AM EDT on July 24, 2006
i might last 5 miles with 130 left to go, no chance-thats insane!!!!!!!!!
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1. Denverite
2:05 PM GMT on July 24, 2006
Morning all...
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Cat 6 lead authors: WU cofounder Dr. Jeff Masters (right), who flew w/NOAA Hurricane Hunters 1986-1990, & WU meteorologist Bob Henson, @bhensonweather

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