California fires could reach record levels in 2008

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 9:42 PM GMT on June 25, 2008

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.

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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1012. stormdude77
8:03 AM AST on June 27, 2008
Oh Java won't let me get satellite loops from the SSD Tropical Satellite Imagery, so I can't confirm if there is a surface low, with this CATL ''disturbance''...
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1011. stoormfury
12:02 PM GMT on June 27, 2008
back later off for a medical revieuw. by that time the blog will be very interesting.
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1010. BahaHurican
8:01 AM EDT on June 27, 2008
1007. DestinJeff 8:01 AM EDT on June 27, 2008

Well, if we can talk about fires, floods, tornados, et al, why can't we talk about the north pole too? I actually think it's interesting, since the last genuinely warm period up there nobody from our culture was around measuring things.
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1008. stoormfury
12:00 PM GMT on June 27, 2008
if this area of convection is not a wave ---it was not mentioned in the 8.05 tropical disussion then it is a pertabation from the ITCZ
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1006. melwerle
11:59 AM GMT on June 27, 2008
MOrning Everyone - morning StormW!
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1005. extreme236
11:57 AM GMT on June 27, 2008
Well I will BBL
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1004. stormdude77
7:54 AM AST on June 27, 2008
Morning StormW!
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1003. stormdude77
7:52 AM AST on June 27, 2008
Yeah Extreme, I just noticed that...I'm still waiting for a visible SAT to confirm this, though...
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1001. extreme236
11:48 AM GMT on June 27, 2008
I notice there isn't a tropical wave associated with that convection near 35W. It's probably just some ITCZ convection that will be gone by later today or tomorrow.
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1000. BahaHurican
7:00 AM EDT on June 27, 2008
Morning everybody. Gotta go to work this morning :(

Weather here is great, though LOL . ..
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999. stormdude77
7:44 AM AST on June 27, 2008
Shear map...Link
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998. stormdude77
7:29 AM AST on June 27, 2008
Morning all

Nice flare up of convection around 7N, 34W. Some slow development is even ''possible'' here, as SSTs are hot enough, not to much dry air around, (good outflow pattern to the NW), and there's an anticyclone futher west of the wave...the only inhibiting factor is that it's to far south...
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997. stoormfury
11:33 AM GMT on June 27, 2008
have you seen any shear maps ahead of the system
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996. TheWeatherMan504
11:32 AM GMT on June 27, 2008
I think an area of low pressure is trying to develop off the coast of belize.
Member Since: May 18, 2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 1042
995. IKE
6:27 AM CDT on June 27, 2008
Near 8 N and 36 W is a nice spin...shear is under 20 knots....
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 38327
993. stoormfury
10:49 AM GMT on June 27, 2008
that is right people like to stick to tradition. hurricane ivan was a typical example for hurricane to form so far out in the alt and south of 10deg N. this system is in the same position as ivan except it is juns and ivan was in sept. climatology is a guide but not gospel
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992. extreme236
10:44 AM GMT on June 27, 2008

That doesn't matter. You see, climo says that development shouldn't occur until about August out there because conditions aren't normally favorable. But currently, shear is low and SSTs are above average and there is low dust. So the factors are there. Just because Climo says it can't happen doesn't mean and won't. Look at Hurricane Bertha in 1996. It happened there.
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990. stoormfury
10:20 AM GMT on June 27, 2008
i cannot find any worthwhile shear maps ahead of thr eatl system. also waiting for visible sat pics of the area
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988. IKE
5:13 AM CDT on June 27, 2008
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 38327
987. stoormfury
9:58 AM GMT on June 27, 2008
an area of disturbed weather is associated with a tropical wave few hunderd miles sw of the cape verde islands. there appears to be a mid level circulation near 6n 35w. there is also good outflow from the nw of the system. shear and sst is favourable in the area and the system should gradually organised as it moves westward. the QS nor the ASCAT were not available and will have to wait a little later to see if a surface is low forming with the system
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986. jabjb2
6:07 AM GMT on June 27, 2008
conditions look to be favorable in that area we will just have to wait and see.
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985. 7544
5:50 AM GMT on June 27, 2008
new wave off africa is it arriving early then expected and its looking very good could the lull be over

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984. Stormchaser2007
5:20 AM GMT on June 27, 2008
983.Thanks I will!! Have a Good night!
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983. catastropheadjuster
4:50 AM GMT on June 27, 2008
SC2007 Have fun, be careful.
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982. Stormchaser2007
4:44 AM GMT on June 27, 2008
980. Well Sheri that image is about 6 hours old so the waves convection is gone...but fer this time of year its impressive none the least. Well im headed out to a bachelor party.....see yall later Sheri and Pat. Oh yeah good night lurkers!!
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981. catastropheadjuster
4:40 AM GMT on June 27, 2008
Well i guess everyones gone to bed.
One question has anyone heard from Floodman? I think he had some test done the other day, he was on here but wasn'tfeeling to good. I was just wondering.
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980. catastropheadjuster
4:35 AM GMT on June 27, 2008
SC2007- hey what cha think about the wave. I know it's to early, just wondering
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979. catastropheadjuster
4:30 AM GMT on June 27, 2008
Pat- I really hope we never see another 2005, I live in Lower Alabama, well Mobile right outside of it. It was he?? over here and i just can't imagine in my head how bad it was for you all. When they showed that one man on tv with his kids and his wife said to save the kids and let her go or however it went, I cried so bad and the super dome it was just sickining. We had it pretty rough over her to. Our shop went under water. it was bad.
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978. Stormchaser2007
4:31 AM GMT on June 27, 2008
Wow...nice wave!

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977. Patrap
11:18 PM CDT on June 26, 2008
Effects of Vertical Wind Shear on Developing Canes Link

Notice the Date and tone of this one from NOAA Link
Almost Spookie now
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 452 Comments: 144118
976. Patrap
11:17 PM CDT on June 26, 2008
Found that one and wondered how it got overlooked
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975. catastropheadjuster
4:15 AM GMT on June 27, 2008
Patrap that's a pretty neat picture. It shows alot.
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974. Patrap
11:10 PM CDT on June 26, 2008
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 452 Comments: 144118
973. Stormchaser2007
4:04 AM GMT on June 27, 2008
970. JFV name a male hurricane that amazed you??

Look through these...

Alphabetical list of retired names
Agnes 1972
Alicia 1983
Allen 1980
Allison 2001
Andrew 1992
Anita 1977
Audrey 1957
Betsy 1965
Beulah 1967
Bob 1991
Camille 1969
Carla 1961
Carmen 1974
Carol 1954
Celia 1970
Cesar 1996
Charley 2004
Cleo 1964
Connie 1955
David 1979
Dean 2007
Dennis 2005
Diana 1990
Diane 1955
Donna 1960
Dora 1964
Edna 1968
Elena 1985
Eloise 1975
Fabian 2003
Felix 2007
Fifi 1974
Flora 1963
Floyd 1999
Fran 1996
Frances 2004
Frederic 1979
Georges 1998
Gilbert 1988
Gloria 1985
Hattie 1961
Hazel 1954
Hilda 1964
Hortense 1996
Hugo 1989
Inez 1966
Ione 1955
Iris 2001
Isabel 2003
Isidore 2002
Ivan 2004
Janet 1955
Jeanne 2004
Joan 1988
Juan 2003
Katrina 2005
Keith 2000
Klaus 1990
Lenny 1999
Lili 2002
Luis 1995
Marilyn 1995
Michelle 2001
Mitch 1998
Noel 2007
Opal 1995
Rita 2005
Roxanne 1995
Stan 2005
Wilma 2005
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972. yamil20
4:00 AM GMT on Junio 27, 2008

jfv try this one.
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971. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
3:55 AM GMT on June 27, 2008
area of convection (95E) located near 12.2N 120.2W or 870 NM southwest of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Recent animated METSAT Imagery indicates consolidating convection over a low level circulation center. A ASCAT PASS depicts a well defined low level circulation center with 25-30 knot unflagged weasterly winds south of the circulation. Upper elvel analysis shows low vertical wind shear and good diffluence aloft with an upper level trough to the north further enhancing poleward outflow.

Maximum sustianed winds near the center is 22-27 knots with a minimum sea level pressure of 1008 MB. Due to the improved consolidation of the low level circulation and good upper level support, the potential for this disturbance to form into a significant tropical cyclone within the next 24 hours is UPGRADED TO GOOD.
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969. 0741
3:51 AM GMT on June 27, 2008
thank you
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968. BajaALemt
3:42 AM GMT on June 27, 2008
lol, ok..same thing
Member Since: September 25, 2007 Posts: 53 Comments: 8533
967. BajaALemt
3:38 AM GMT on June 27, 2008
This is the only other one I have *shrugs*


Someone else surely has the one that shows africa too (I like this one I's BIG and I can SEE
Member Since: September 25, 2007 Posts: 53 Comments: 8533
966. Stormchaser2007
3:40 AM GMT on June 27, 2008
965. Its just coming off now! Link
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964. 0741
3:29 AM GMT on June 27, 2008
962. BajaALemt 3:28 AM GMT on June 27, 2008
which one show gfs all way to afica??? the one i saw is only near usa
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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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