California fires and global warming; 90L lashes Puerto Rico

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:38 PM GMT on October 26, 2007

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A surface low pressure system (90L) moved over Puerto Rico this morning, and is now centered just west of the island. The surface low is entangled with an upper-level low pressure system that is bringing about 30 knots of wind shear, so no development is likely today. Long range radar of of Puerto Rico shows isolated bands of heavy rain that are not well-organized. Satellite loops show most of the heavy thunderstorm activity is to the east of the low's center of circulation, and the high wind shear is keeping this thunderstorm activity disorganized. This morning's QuikSCAT pass showed a large, vigorous circulation. Top winds were about 30 mph to the north of the center, and 90L is close to tropical depression status.


Figure 1. Latest satellite rainfall estimate of 90L.

The surface low is separating from the upper level low today, and will move west-southwest at about 10 mph. This will bring heavy rains and the threat of flash flooding and mudslides to Puerto Rico. Heavy rains of 2-4 inches in just two hours hit the Virgin Islands this morning (Figure 1), prompting flash flood warnings there. Heavy rains also hit many of the islands of the northern Lesser Antilles. Rain amounts as high as 3-5 inches are expected today over eastern Puerto Rico. Several mudslides have already been reported on the island.

The action shifts to the Dominican Republic on Saturday and Haiti on Sunday, as 90L tracks just south of the island of Hispaniola. These nations can expect rains of 3-6 inches, which could trigger life-threatening flash floods and mudslides. It is possible 90L could intensify into a tropical depression on Sunday, as wind shear will slowly fall to 20 knots. The Hurricane Hunters are on call to fly Sunday afternoon, if necessary. On Sunday, 90L will be approaching Jamaica, and the ECMWF and NOGAPS models predict that wind shear will drop to 10-20 knots. These models develop 90L into at least a strong tropical storm as it moves slowly into the Western Caribbean. The GFS model keeps wind shear 20-30 knots through the period, and does not develop 90L. The HWRF model also does not develop 90L. The GFDL is not keen on developing the system either, but does suggest that a weak tropical storm may form a week from now. I believe the most reasonable solution is the NOGAPS and ECMWF solution, and 90L will intensify into hurricane in the Western Caribbean late next week. The long-term path of such a storm is very uncertain, with the NOGAPS and ECMWF suggesting a track north into the Gulf of Mexico to threaten the U.S., and the GFDL predicting 90L will get trapped in the Western Caribbean and perform a counter-clockwise loop. If you have travel plans that take you to Jamaica or the Cayman Islands Sunday through Tuesday, or Cancun/Cozumel/Western Cuba Tuesday through Saturday next week, be prepared for the possibility of disruptions.

California's smoke
The worst of the air pollution hazard from California's fires has now passed. The smoke has thinned some, as seen on satellite images (Figure 2). The smoke made it yesterday to Fresno, in California's Central Valley, and is moving northward into Nevada and northwest Arizona today. Most of this smoke is aloft at altitudes of about 15,000 feet, but some mixing down to the surface has occurred, thanks to an upper-level low pressure system. Increases in particulate matter pollution due to smoke are expected to affect Las Vegas this weekend (Figure 1). However, the smoke will be dilute enough to keep pollution levels in the Moderate range--below the federal air quality standard.


Figure 2. Visible satellite image at 11:15 am PDT Thursday October 25, showing thinning smoke over the Pacific Ocean and much of California. Low stratus clouds are visible over the ocean, and these clouds have moved ashore into Los Angeles and San Diego this morning, triggering Dense Fog Advisories. Image credit: NASA and EPA.

Were the California fires worsened by global warming?
Dr. Ricky Rood points out in his latest wunderblog that the California fires were mostly a land-use and land-management issue. In a previous blog, he had this to say about the link between climate change and Western U.S. fires:

We do know that drought and floods, heat waves and cold snaps are all part of nature. Like the problem of urban heat waves, we have an event that already exists, and there should be a change associated with global warming. I have already mentioned that some studies have attributed the pinyon pine die off in the U.S. Southwest to the fact that the temperature in the recent drought years is higher than in previous droughts. Therefore, ground water is reduced; there is more stress on the plants. (And perhaps it is really the warmer nighttime temperatures that matter?)

There have also been papers which make a compelling argument that wild fires in the western U.S. are increasing in intensity and duration. In the paper of Westerling et al. (Science, 2006), the conclusion is drawn that this is directly related to snow melt occurring earlier in the year, a hotter and drier forest, and hence, a longer burning season. Plus they isolate the impact to be at mid-elevations in the Rockies, and hence, relatively free of land-use changes. While many newspapers reported that this work showed an increase of wild fires due to climate change, I quote directly from their paper: "Whether the changes observed in western hydroclimate and wildfire are the result of greenhouse gas-induced global warming or only an unusual natural fluctuation is beyond the scope of this work".


Jeff Masters

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246. OZarkfrompcola
1:56 PM CDT on October 26, 2007
no no no no boxes.....and no no no no pinholes......OOPS i said the p...word
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245. Floodman
1:58 PM CDT on October 26, 2007
226. LakeShadow 1:51 PM CDT on October 26, 2007
is it a "Hebert" box or "Herbert" ?



it begins...
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244. NEwxguy
6:58 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
Floods our troll detector
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243. NRAamy
11:57 AM PDT on October 26, 2007
Jerry...

I'm fine...just trying to keep a hold of Felix over here...he wants to jump into this blog so bad....

bad cat, bad cat!!
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242. FloridaScuba
6:57 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
carnage on a biblical scale will now ensue...

don't worry, i think we got a blog for that. lol
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241. HIEXPRESS
6:53 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
224. LakeShadow
We're in the Green - Fl KBDI

227. floridafisherman
Snook dude I started my furnace last night.
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240. Floodman
1:57 PM CDT on October 26, 2007
216. OZarkfrompcola 1:44 PM CDT on October 26, 2007
Floods eyes are ok....he has a green light and a red light



LOL
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239. seflagamma
2:56 PM AST on October 26, 2007
Amen to that Cane!
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238. Patrap
1:57 PM CDT on October 26, 2007
Its been a wuss of a season.. Thankfully.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129093
237. Floodman
1:56 PM CDT on October 26, 2007
211. LakeShadow 1:38 PM CDT on October 26, 2007
I see no troll, flood.
I think he left that one post and retreated into lurkmode



I knew there was one around...the hairs on the back of my neck are standing up
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236. extreme236
6:55 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
HPC discussion says the low near Cayman is closed
Member Since: August 2, 2007 Posts: 19 Comments: 19234
235. TheCaneWhisperer
6:54 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
I wish this season would end already! I'm running out of fingernails to chew on, almost there.
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234. Floodman
1:52 PM CDT on October 26, 2007
Good time to remind everyone about the boxes :-)


Now you've done it! You've even shown them!Widespread panic and carnage on a biblical scale will now ensue...
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233. NEwxguy
6:54 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
what happened,who banned Amy?
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232. extreme236
6:54 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
Looks like the 18Z models show 90L at 68.8W/16.8N...system continues to move toward the WSW/SW...should be in conditions a tad more favorable by tonight...however the center is far exposed from the main convection
Member Since: August 2, 2007 Posts: 19 Comments: 19234
230. nash28
2:54 PM EDT on October 26, 2007
Don't worry Seflagamma- The models will change 100 times before it's set in stone.
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229. TheCaneWhisperer
6:52 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
The Former Lake.
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228. Floodman
1:50 PM CDT on October 26, 2007
Amy, how are you? Good to see you back...
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227. floridafisherman
6:43 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
213. HIEXPRESS 6:41 PM GMT on October 26, 2007

Somebody was talking about dew points in the 30s in Florida this weekend. How's that seem to be working out?

i cant speak for northern fla, but here in sw fla its been rather pleasant out the last 2 days. i didnt even need my airconditioner on last night! humidity was lower than usual, although was still present. im sure folks in n florida has some lower humidity and dew pts
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226. LakeShadow
6:49 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
is it a "Hebert" box or "Herbert" ?
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225. seflagamma
2:49 PM AST on October 26, 2007
nash28 2:49 PM AST on October 26, 2007
12z NOGAPS is interesting...

Takes 90L W of Cuba and then brings a strengthening system N then NEWD toward SW FL.



NASH!!!! nooooooooo..... That is NOT what I want to hear... I am in denial at this point of this year....

got to get some work done bbl..
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224. LakeShadow
6:46 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
Somebody was talking about dew points in the 30s in Florida this weekend. How's that seem to be working out?
no fire warnings posted in FLA, although the conditions seem right with the strong onshore flow of the jetstream and the low humidity, you'd think there'd be a little something...then again nothing is posted for CAli either...
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223. seflagamma
2:48 PM AST on October 26, 2007
Mr Cane,
Please ... we do not want to be reminded of those dang boxes... they are rumored to have an effect on Florida! LOL
Thank you,
Gams
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222. UYA
6:48 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
What boxes? LOL!
221. nash28
2:47 PM EDT on October 26, 2007
12z NOGAPS is interesting...

Takes 90L W of Cuba and then brings a strengthening system N then NEWD toward SW FL.
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220. TheCaneWhisperer
6:47 PM GMT on October 26, 2007


Good time to remind everyone about the boxes :-)
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219. seflagamma
2:45 PM AST on October 26, 2007
Man, this blog was getting real slow there for a few weeks and now it will be popping again with 90L and those others we are watching.
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218. seflagamma
2:43 PM AST on October 26, 2007
Well, I see Amy has been allowed back on this blog... now girl, just leave Felix in your blog; he gets you banned over here! LOL


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217. LakeShadow
6:43 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
As the rain approaches, my yard is invaded with crows??? rather ironic...
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216. OZarkfrompcola
1:41 PM CDT on October 26, 2007
Floods eyes are ok....he has a green light and a red light
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215. Eyewall911
6:38 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
What the "F" is up guys/Gals? I thought I wouldn't be posting here until next season. Did not expect anything else to form this year. Looks like we might have us something to pay attention to. Look forward to the blogs.
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214. Floodman
1:36 PM CDT on October 26, 2007
201. TampaSpin 1:35 PM CDT on October 26, 2007
Flood
How many times we have to tell ya don't say the "B" word......lol



Sorry :(
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213. HIEXPRESS
6:33 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
Somebody was talking about dew points in the 30s in Florida this weekend. How's that seem to be working out?
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212. TampaSpin
6:39 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
90L is moving WSW fast it seems
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211. LakeShadow
6:37 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
I see no troll, flood.
I think he left that one post and retreated into lurkmode
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210. TampaSpin
6:37 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
Flood--He made it throught the check point that you was in charge of.....you really need to get your eyes fixed......LMAO
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209. NRAamy
11:37 AM PDT on October 26, 2007
198. MisterPerfect 11:34 AM PDT on October 26, 2007

How long until Hurricane season is over?


;)
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208. TheCaneWhisperer
6:38 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
Did someone say boxes?
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206. NRAamy
11:36 AM PDT on October 26, 2007
TampaSpin 11:35 AM PDT on October 26, 2007

Flood
How many times we have to tell ya don't say the "B" word....


or, on this blog, the "F" word....

Felix.....
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205. Floodman
1:35 PM CDT on October 26, 2007
I can't see him, but is there a troll in here?
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204. UYA
6:35 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
HPC Tropical Discussion....too much to post.
202. hurricane23
2:35 PM EDT on October 26, 2007
90L moving towards the NW caribbean.
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201. TampaSpin
6:34 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
Flood
How many times we have to tell ya don't say the "B" word......lol
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200. stormybil
6:33 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
_high.90LINVEST.25kts-1004mb-175N-670W.100pc.jpg |
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199. TampaSpin
6:33 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
JP,
It does appear 90L is actually starting to get its act together a little better. What do you think.
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198. MisterPerfect
6:33 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
How long until Hurricane season is over?
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197. CloudFreak
6:33 PM GMT on October 26, 2007
sporteguy03

Thank you G35 Wayne for the inconsistent updates

LOL!
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196. Floodman
1:32 PM CDT on October 26, 2007
191. OZarkfrompcola 1:28 PM CDT on October 26, 2007
Slow blog with a possible Hurricane coming.......backed up by Floodman and Patrap's boxes



OMG...he said "boxes"
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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.