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Monsoon floods and landslides ravage China, India, and Pakistan; Colin still weak

By: Dr. Jeff Masters, 1:31 PM GMT on August 08, 2010

Tropical Storm Colin continues to take its time reaching Bermuda, but should finally move past the island today as the steering currents pushing the storm northward strengthen. Colin is still suffering from wind shear and dry air being pumped in from an upper-level low pressure system to the west. Wind shear is a moderate 10 - 20 knots over Colin today, but the storm is so disorganized that it is unlikely to increase in strength more than about 10 mph before blowing past Bermuda tonight. Recent satellite imagery shows that Colin is a disorganized system, with the level-level center exposed to view and displaced to the north of the storm's heavy thunderstorm activity. The intensity and areal coverage of Colin's thunderstorms have shown a modest increase in the past few hours. Rains from these thunderstorms can be seen approaching Bermuda on Bermuda radar.

Forecast for Colin
The latest SHIPS model forecast predicts that wind shear will rise to the high range, 20 - 50 knots, tonight through Tuesday, and it is unlikely that the storm will ever attain hurricane status. Colin may bring 40 mph winds to the southeast corner of Newfoundland on Tuesday night and Wednesday.

Figure 1. Morning radar image of Colin from the Bermuda radar.

A tropical wave (Invest 93) midway between the Lesser Antilles and Africa is moving west-northwest at 10 mph. This wave has plenty of spin, but only a limited amount of heavy thunderstorm activity, thanks to dry air and wind shear of 10 - 20 knots affecting it due to a large upper-level low pressure system to the west. Wind shear is expected to stay in the moderate range, 10 - 20 knots, over the next four days, which may allow 93L to become a tropical storm. NHC is giving a 60% chance 93L will become a tropical depression by Tuesday morning. Both the GFDL and HWRF models predict 93L will develop, and the GFDL predicts the storm will become a hurricane. This storm will probably recurve out to sea, and only be a concern to shipping interests. There are no other areas of concern the models are showing for the next seven days.

Figure 2. Monsoon floods in Pakistan destroyed this section of the Karakoram Highway last week. Image credit: Pamir Times.

The deadly 2010 monsoon kills hundreds in China and India over the weekend
The Asian Southwest Monsoon has hit yet another nation with extreme rains and deadly flooding. Northwest China's Gansu province was hard hit with torrential monsoon rains yesterday, and the resulting flooding and landslides claimed at least 127 lives. Over the past two weeks, at least 1,600 people have perished in Pakistan's monsoon floods, which some have called Pakistan's Katrina. At least 137 died in floods and landslides in the neighboring Indian state of Kashmir over the weekend, and monsoon flooding and landslides have also killed at least 65 people in Afghanistan in the past two weeks. Dave's Landslide blog has some great discussions of the flooding and destruction wrought by the terrible monsoon rains this year in Pakistan, India, Afghanistan, and China. I plan to write much more about this year's deadly monsoon later this week.

The Great Russian Heat Wave of 2010 chokes Moscow with smoke for a third day
Smoke from wildfires cause by the worst heat wave in Russia's history are choking Moscow for a third straight day today, bringing air pollution levels to three times the safe level and forcing cancellation of dozens of flights. However, air pollution is not quite as bad as it was yesterday, when carbon monoxide levels peaked at 6.5 times the safe level. Visibilities at Moscow's airport were higher today (500+ meters), but temperatures still hit 97°F (36°C). The past 26 days in a row have exceeded 30°C in Moscow, and there is no relief in sight--the latest forecast for Moscow calls for high temperatures near 100°F (37.8°C) for the majority of the coming week. As I reported in Friday's post, the number of deaths in Moscow in July 2010 was about 5,000 more than in July 2009, suggesting that the heat wave has been responsible for thousands of deaths in Moscow alone. I would expect that by the time the Great Russian Heat Wave of 2010 is over, the number of premature deaths caused by the heat wave will approach or exceed the 40,000 who died in the 2003 European Heat Wave. As seen in Figure 3, the Russian heat wave of 2010 is more intense and affects a wider region than the great 2003 European heat wave.

Figure 3. A comparison of August temperatures, the peak of the great European heat wave of 2003 (left) with July temperatures from the Great Russian Heat Wave of 2010 (right) reveals that this year's heat wave is more intense and covers a wider area of Europe. Image credit: NOAA/ESRL.

Next post
I'll have an update Monday.

Jeff Masters


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