Tag Archives: U.S. Drought Monitor

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.