Tag Archives: Drought

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.

On 10 June 2011 a Categoy 4 Hurricane and a Weather-maker!

On 1 June 2011 the Atlantic hurricane season opened with plenty of disturbed weather over the eastern and southern Caribbean as well as along the coastline of Panama and Central America , which over time began to evolve, move and progress until by 5 June one coaleced around a center of low pressure in the central Caribbean showing some signs of potential cyclonic development, and another cell over quite warm surface waters of the eastern east Pacific off Nicaragua also began to show signs of possible cyclonic development [See 5 June 2011 posting here: “The Caribbean and Esatern East Pacific Flare-up on 5 June 2011”].

More recently, over the past five days, the Caribbean system has weakened but caused heavy rains, and flash floods as it interacted with the mountains of Cuba, Jamaica and Hispanolia, while moving generally northward toward eastern Cuba and the Bahamas. In the course of these developments, flash floods in Haiti resulted in at least 30 dead and addiitonal suffering for the thousands of survivors of the 2010 earthquake still living in tent cities and makeshift shelters. Meanwhile over in the eastern east Pacific we had tropical storm Adrian form off the coast of Mexico to the southwest of the resort city of Acapulco [See 8 June 2011 posting here: “The Northern Tropics are Acting-up!”], and far away from our neck-of-the-woods large tropical waves generated disturbed weather over the South China Sea just west of the Philippines and west of Mumbai, India over the Arabian Sea.

Category 4 Hurricane ADRIAN over eastern east Pacific near Mexican coast

  Today, 10 June 2011, there is category 4 Hurricane ADRIAN near the Pacific coast of Mexico some 500 south of Puerto Vallarta, moving toward the northwest and away from the continental land mass. Adrian is the first tropical cyclone of the 2011 East Pacific season that started on 15 May 2011.

The satellite view on the left [courtesy of the Navy Research Laboratory] shows a well defined and large storm churning along toward the northwest, which will take it away from land toward the central north Pacific .

Another satellite view [courtesy of NASA], below, shows a color-enhanced infrared image of Hurricane Adrian with a well defined eye as it moved basically in parallel to the Pacific coast of Mexico in the early morning of Friday 10 June 2011.

Color-enhanced infrared satellite view of Hurricane ADRIAN on 10 June 2011
Also on 10 June 2011 the weather-maker system that traversed  from the Caribbean over Cuba is now centered above the Bahamas and moving generally northward, while generating plenty of stormy weather and scattered thunderstorms and rain over a large region, as seen in the satellite image below [courtesy of NASA]:
GOES satellite view of the larger Caribbean basin on 10 June 2011
The main question concerning this system, which is moving into an atmospheric environment ahead that does not favor cyclonic development, is how much it will affect Florida if at all. This is quite an important issue as the Florida peninsula is suffering one of its worst drought of the past 30 years, and a weather-maker like this could bring some much needed rain to the state. Although any rain generated by this system over Florida will not solve the problem, it would at least alleviate some of a current situation that has the waters of Lake Okeechobee at such low levels that no water is flowing naturally through the C-8 canal, and water management authorities have had to use pumps to provide water to the agricultural area south of the lake, while diverting water away from the Calootsahatchee River causing an environmental problem with high salinity, dead fish and flora, and severe adverse impact on tourism dependent activities in Fort Myers and adjacent areas, as well as throught the greater Everglades. Given these problematic issues, there are some in Florida who are wishing for the 2011 Atlantic hurricane season to send a couple of wet hurricanes toward Florida soon, even though the quid-pro-quo might be structural damage and human suffering for some. What a dilemma!!
While we wrestle with this important question in Florida, far away over the South China Sea tropical storm SARIKA, which generated a coupld of days ago off the Philippines coast near Manila, is now approaching landfall in mainland China as a weakened cyclone that is generating plenty of rain over a wide region. The satellite image below illustrates:
Color-enhanced infrared satellite image of tropical storm SAKIRA on 10 June 2011
So, what will be next over the northern tropics? Will tropical cyclone activity drive rain toward parched regions enduring severe drought? Or will tropical cyclones only bring damage and destruction to affected areas worldwide? Only time will tell what happens next, we must however remain prepared and vigilant for it only takes one impact to cause a disaster and plenty of human suffering. Be prepared! Pay attention!! Mitigate!!!