19 June 2017

Fire & Rain, and Heat as Well.

Posted by Dan Satterfield

The NASA Terra Satellite image of Portugal from midday Sunday shows smoke covering a large area of central Portugal and it appears the deadly forest fire is still burning.

Intense heat, with low humidity has led to a horrible catastrophe in Portugal. The hot and dry weather in Europe led to a firestorm in Portugal that killed at least 60 people. A strong upper level high pressure system will stay over the area tomorrow and little or no rain is in sight. This high pressure is bringing warm weather all the way into the UK with highs tomorrow in London reaching a rare 30ªC.

In the Atlantic, there are two separate tropical waves that are looking rather strong and may become named storms. One is entering the Western Caribbean and the other is in the western Caribbean. It would be very unusual to see something in the Atlantic this early in the season, but waters are unusually warm, and it looks likely that at least one if not both systems will develop. An image of both systems from GOES-16 is below.

GOES-16 Channel 13 (thermal IR). From Univ. Wisconsin. Image at 18 GMT Sunday.


Water temps. in the tropical Atlantic and i he Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean are warmer than normal, with extremely warm water off of Florida. If this warm water continues, it may have a real impact on the hurricane season and could add energy and moisture to the storms, especially a storm heading northward on the U.S. East Coast.

Images ctsy. WX Bell from NOAA data. Click for large version.

In Arizona, the Phoenix area hit 112-113º F today and it will get hotter tomorrow. The hottest temperature reading on record in Phoenix is 122ºF and model guidance indicates that this record is in jeopardy by Tuesday. This is deadly heat, and the models are in strong agreement that the extremely hot weather will last all week. The new experimental Euro model running at 9 km resolution is forecasting 118ºF on Wednesday.

Look at the WRF model (NOAA) below. This model can at times run too cool, so an all-time record in Phoenix is in jeopardy.

NOAA WRF model forecast of maximum temps near Phoenix Tuesday. Click image for larger version.

While you cannot blame climate change on any one weather event, the shift in temperature makes these kind of events much more likely. The graph below illustrates this. If you plot all the temperatures at any one spot for a year, you get what statisticians call a bell curve. The ends of the curve are where the record highs and record lows are, and they happen very infrequently. When you warm the air, the curve shifts to the right and extremes on the hot side become more likely (a hat tip to Climate Central for this infographic.).

The model guidance shows some extreme and life threatening weather ahead this week, and we may be in for a hot and stormy summer.