Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.
By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:06 PM GMT on June 10, 2011
The powerful winds that have fanned Arizona's massive Wallow fire into the state's second largest fire on record will remain relatively modest on Friday, and the forecast for Eastern Arizona calls for afternoon winds of just 10 - 15 mph. On Thursday, Luna, New Mexico, located about 50 miles northeast of the fire, had sustained winds that peaked at just 12 mph, with gusts to 22. These are the lightest afternoon winds the fire region has seen all week, though firefighting efforts were hindered by very low relative humidities that reached 5% on Thursday. Firefighters were able to make progress Thursday, and the Wallow fire is now 5% contained. Unfortunately, NOAA's Storm Prediction Center forecasts that critical fire conditions will return on Saturday and Sunday, with strong southwest winds of 15 - 20 mph, gusting to 35 mph. The return of critical fire conditions this weekend means that the Wallow fire will likely become Arizona's largest wildfire in history, a distinction currently held by the 2002 Rodeo-Chediski fire (732 square miles.) The Wallow fire has grown steadily from 300 square miles on Sunday to 603 square miles on Thursday--about 50% of the size of Rhode Island.
Figure 1. Smoke from Arizona fires, including the Wallow Fire, continued traveling toward the northeast on June 8, 2011. As the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on the Terra satellite acquired this natural-color image at 12:10 Central Daylight Time, thick smoke stretched from New Mexico and Texas northeastward to Illinois. Image credit: NASA Earth Observatory.
94L bringing heavy rains to the Bahamas
The large, disorganized tropical disturbance (94L) that brought heavy rains to Jamaica, Cuba, and Haiti early this week reorganized slightly overnight, and is now bringing heavy rains to the Bahama Islands. The storm killed at least 23 people in Haiti earlier this week, due to torrential flooding rains. Satellite-estimated rainfall amounts indicate 8 -10 inches of rain fell over Haiti's southwestern peninsula this week. None of the reliable computer models is showing development of 94L into a tropical depression, and NHC is giving the disturbance a 10% chance of developing by Sunday. Wind shear is a high 20 - 30 knots in the region between Cuba and South Carolina, making development unlikely. Elsewhere in the Atlantic, none of the reliable computer models is predicting tropical cyclone development over the next seven days.
Figure 2. Morning satellite image of Hurricane Adrian taken at 10:15am EDT June 10, 2011.
Annular Adrian becomes the first major hurricane of the Eastern Pacific hurricane season
Hurricane Adrian put on an impressive bout of rapid intensification Thursday, intensifying into the season's first major hurricane in the Eastern Pacific. Adrian is the globe's 6th Category 4 or stronger tropical cyclone of the year. Adrian is expected to remain far enough offshore the coast of Mexico to not pose a threat to that country. Gradual weakening is likely through the weekend, since Adrian will be tracking over cooler ocean waters. Adrian's decay will be slower than usual for a hurricane, since it has become what is called an annular hurricane. Annular hurricanes feature a large eye surrounded by a very thick eyewall, with no spiral rain bands. The very thick eyewall makes annular hurricanes resistant to weakening due to wind shear, dry air, or cool waters. Annular hurricanes are rare; only 3% of all Eastern Pacific tropical cyclones become annular, and 1% of all Atlantic ones.
A record 100-year flood on the Missouri River
The greatest flood in recorded history is occurring along sections of the Missouri River, which runs from Montana to St. Louis, Missouri. On Thursday, the river hit 28.0' feet at Williston, North Dakota, surpassing the record flood height set in 1912. The river is expected to continue to rise to 1.4' above the 1912 mark by Tuesday. This week, the Missouri River at Omaha, Nebraska surpassed the level set during the great 1993 flood, and the river's height is currently the 2nd greatest on record, 9' below the mark set in 1952. Water releases at the six flood control dams on the Missouri River are now at more than double their previous all-time highs; these dams were built between 1940 and 1964. This great 100-year flood on the Missouri River is just beginning, and is likely to cause major damage over the next few weeks.
Have a great weekend everyone, and I'll be back Monday with a new post.
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