Category Archives: Forest fires

On 26 July 2011 – The Caribbean and Texas.

It is Tuesday 26 July 2011: a tropical wave in the northwestern Caribbean to the south of extreme western Cuba near the Cayman Islands continues to move west by northwest at 24 – 25 kph. This weather system is showing signs of getting better organized and at the end of the day it was being given a medium [approx. 40%] chance of developing into a tropical cyclone over the next 24-48 hours.

Color-enhanced infrared GOES satellite image showing a tropical wave active in the northwestern Caribbean moving west by northwest at 24 kph

On its current track this system has the potential for continuing to affect most of Cuba, the Cayman Islands and Jamaica, and eventually the Yucatan Peninsula, eastern Mexico and southern Texas in the next 24 – 72 hours. This tropical wave is being monitored closely by the National Hurricane Center in Miami, which gives it a 40% probability of cyclonic development in the next 24-28 hours.

This GOES satellite image for the aviatin industry shows a close-up of the tropical wave in the late afternoon on 26 July 2011. Several extreme rain cells are visible over the region

At the very least interests in the northern regions of the Yucatan peninsula, in eastern Mexico and southern Texas should expect precipitation from this system over the next 24 – 72 hours. However, given the potential for further development these regions should be prepared for potentially stronger impacts over the next coupe of days.

Elsewhere in the larger basin there is a large region of disturbed weather affecting Panama and portions of Central America and adjacent off-shore regions in the southern Caribbean and the eastern east Pacific. Also, hurricane alley is showing some signs of becoming more active than in recent weeks, with several waves of tropical weather near the windward Islands and farther east over the Atlantic. It is clear all interests over the larger basin need to monitor these various weather systems closely, remaining alert and prepared for potential developments in coming days and weeks as we approach the historically more active months of the Atlantic hurricane season in August and September. Along these concerns sea surface temperatures have warmed noticeably along hurricane alley and the central Caribbean, and especially along the eastern Gulf of Mexico and the Florida straits.

Composite satellite image showing sea surface temperature of the water over tie larger basin on 25 July 2011. It s clear hurricane alley and especially the eastern Gulf's waters have warmed-up considerably in recent days

For the state of Texas the arrival of this tropical wave and whatever rain it may bring would be a welcome event, as the state is suffering perhaps the worst drought of its history. The situation is so bad in Texas, and other southern and southwestern states in the USA that major disaster declarations have been issued for hundreds of counties, where from 30% to 90% of the crops have been lost already, cattle is suffering critically sever hardship and the combination of dryness and extreme heat has lead to hundreds of wild fires burning hundreds of thousand acres.

A just published report by the National Climate Data Center of NOAA: State of the Climate. National Overview for June 2011 illustrates these dire conditions with satellite images from the U.S. Drought Monitor that are included below:

 on board the TERRA satellite compares plant growth between 26 June and 11 July. The brown colors indicate below average growth in most of Texas"]”]
TERRA satellite image using data from the MODIS instrument showing temperature anomalies over the USA, where it becomes clear that very high temperatures over Texas have contributed to critically hazardous fire conditions and severe undergrowth and dryness in vegetation

For more information on these climate-related conditions I recommend you visit http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/national/2011/6  and also go to the site for NASA’s Earth Observatory at http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/NaturalHazards.

So, as we continue to monitor happenings over the larger Atlantic basin to see what course the 2011 Atlantic Hurricane season might take in coming days and weeks, it is clearly important that we also continue to monitor how the impacts of global warming and climate change may be affecting the USA. There cannot be any question that some major impacts are afoot across large regions of the United States, and the World for that matter, which although somewhat masked by climate variability still point to  global climate change as the main driver.

2011 Hurricane Season is Here!

Several storm and rain cells are active of the 4th day of the 2011 Atlantic Hurricane season

 On the 4th day of the 2011 Atlantic Hurricane season and 20th day of the eastern Pacific season, a color-enhanced infrared image from the GOES [geostationary] satellite [courtesy of NASA] shows several active tropica cells in the central Atlatinc, the Caribbean, the Gulf, the eastern east Pacific off the coast of Mexico and Central America and over the northern regions of Colombia and Venezuela.

#1 on the satellite image taken on 4 July 2011 at 14:45 DST identifies an area of low pressure to the southeast of Jamaica where heavy precipitation and storms are taking place. This cell is being monitored by NOAA’s Tropical Prediction Center [TPC] for potential tropical cyclone development over the next 36 – 48 hours. The system is expected to bring heavy rain to portions of Cuba, Haiti, the Domincan Republic, Jamiaca and quite possibly Grand Cayman and portions of Honduras and NIcaragua over the next day or so.
On the eastern east Pacific, where the official 2011 Hurricane season got off on 15 May 2011, #2 on the satellite image identifies another cell of disturbed weather off the coast of Central America and Mexico associated with a nucleus of low pressure that may warrant monitoring for potential further development over the next 24-48 hours. This region. where surface sea waters are quite warm [above 30 celsius], of the eastern Pacific saw numerous similar cells during 2010 quite possibly influenced by the ongoing La Nina event off the coast of Peru in the Pacific, and the pattern appears to be continuing in 2011.
Over in the southwestern Gulf of Mexico near the coast of Veracruz, Mexico there is a small area of disturbed weather that appears to be getting better organized and may warrant some monitoring.
Also seen on the NASA satellite image are numerous cells of disturbed weather over the central Atlantic and the northern regions of Colombia and Venezuela. Both these areas have see several flashes of disturbeb weather over the past few weeks in a pattern that is a repeat of activity in the same regions during the 2010 Atlantic Hurricane Season.
Based of these flashes of disturbed weather and the continuously warmer surface waters in the larger basin, it would appear it may not be too long before cyclogenesis takes place. Related to this it is interesting to note the drought conditions that continue over the Yucatan peninsula, especially in Quintana Roo state where I visited this week (June 1-3) to take part in events related to the activation of civil defense hurricane committees in several of the political subdivions [“municipios”] in which the state is divided, and where there were numerous active wild fires because of the severly dry conditions and increasingly warmer temperatures affecting the region.