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 , 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!
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