Joe’s Weather Blog: About that firenado video from California (SAT-8/4)

Good morning…clouds in the region today should keep a lid on the potential highs this afternoon. Yesterday Downtown KC hit 97° while KCI hit 93°. Today I think temperatures won’t attain those somewhat lofty levels. Sunday however is a different story as the clouds will be gone and with the winds stirring the air up the temperatures should pop well into the 90s once again. Rain is also something that’s needed for many parts of the region…and I’m somewhat hopeful that some can move in in a few more days.



Forecast:

Today: Mixed clouds and sunshine…hot but not overly humid with highs near 90°

Tonight: Clearing out and pleasant after sunset with lows close to 70°

Sunday: Mostly sunny and hotter with highs in the mid 90s..some hotter. Dew points not terrible so the heat index should mostly be under 100°

Monday: Partly cloudy with a chance of some rain towards Monday night or Tuesday morning. 90s again but also more humid so the heat index will be a bit higher.



Discussion:

I’ll get to our weather later in the blog…but I wanted to write about something that has caught my attention. You’e heard about the devastating fires out west. Today may be a bad day IF something gets started because of the tinder dry conditions and the strong winds across parts of the west. Humidity levels will be 10-20% or so…temperatures will be in the 90s for many out there…and the winds (almost the most critical aspect of this) will be gusting to near 30 MPH…again IF something gets going (arson…dry thunderstorms with lighting…accidental starts)…it may spread quickly. Some of the mountain regions may gust to 60 MPH.

Fire Weather Watches are in effect for many areas out west.

There are already lots of fires out there…some rather small…some much larger. Some of being fought…others aren’t because of terrain and/or safety concerns. These fires are getting lots of media attention…it’s important to remember that these fires have been occurring for decades…and sometimes as mankind builds in places that have lots of trees and are prone to drought conditions…and have a lot of available fuel…bad things happen. To put this year in perspective compared to last year…

2018: From January 1 to August 2, 2018, there were 38,079 wildfires, compared to 39,227 wildfires in the same period in 2017, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. About 4.9 million acres were burned in the 2018 period, compared with 5.6 million in 2017.

The Carr fire, which broke out on July 23 in Northern California, is the 7th most destructive fire in the state’s history and is still not contained as of August 2. Six fatalities are attributed to the fire and over a thousand structures have been destroyed.

(From the Insurance Information Institute)

So we’re about 1200 fires away from matching last year…this with 4 months of the year to go. We’re about 1 million acres away from burning more land than last year…

Here is how this year matches the last decade or so…

Year-to-date statistics

2018 (1/1/18 – 8/3/18) Fires: 38,333 Acres: 4,916,686
2017 (1/1/17 – 8/3/17) Fires: 39,635 Acres: 5,730,848
2016 (1/1/16 – 8/3/16) Fires: 34,898 Acres: 3,600,570
2015 (1/1/15 – 8/3/15) Fires: 36,754 Acres: 5,929,374
2014 (1/1/14 – 8/3/14) Fires: 34,151 Acres: 1,702,600
2013 (1/1/13 – 8/3/13) Fires: 28,398 Acres: 2,417,275
2012 (1/1/12 – 8/3/12) Fires: 38,255 Acres: 4,346,788
2011 (1/1/11 – 8/3/11) Fires: 46,622 Acres: 6,117,568
2010 (1/1/10 – 8/3/10) Fires: 37,933 Acres: 2,010,232
2009 (1/1/09 – 8/3/09) Fires: 57,649 Acres: 3,997,202
2008 (1/1/08 – 8/3/08) Fires: 56,539 Acres: 3,716,066

10-year average Year-to-Date
2008-2017 Fires: 40,892 Acres: 3,886,573

(data above via the National Interagency Fire Center)

Interesting comparisons. This fire season (so far) is not as worse as in 2017…also 2011 was considerably worse than this year. So yes it’s bad…but it’s been worse.

You can see the smoke pouring into the atmosphere yesterday from northern CA.

Weeks of fires out there have sent smoke through the Plains thanks to the jet stream winds…so we actually have been having some of that smoke in our atmosphere.

Things really hit the media spotlight about 10 days ago with the devastating fires around the Redding, CA area (the Carr Fire) and how it’s expanded over the days…

Almost 1300 homes have been damaged or destroyed (mostly destroyed). Here is the latest from yesterday via CAL FIRE

The Carr fire isn’t even the biggest one out there…the Mendicino fire is bigger at near 160,000 acres burned so far and only 30% containment.

I wanted to bring this all up because you may have seen this video…which is both scary, and to me at least, fascinating because of how the firenado behaved and how strong it got.

Listen to the sounds from the video.

Here is another view…

Upon researching this firenado…and utilizing damage indicators and doppler radar…they discovered that the winds in that firenado may have been as strong oas 140 MPH+! This would be the equivalent to an EF3 tornado…

Fascinating stuff from a research standpoint…

Onwards…

Our next decent chance of anything more than some spotty showers this afternoon is later Monday or Tuesday morning as a weak cold front slips through the area…hopefully we’ll get some rain from this…although I won’t promise widespread rains at this point.

I’ll add in Pleasant Hill radar just in case there are a few scattered showers this afternoon…

The air above us though is pretty dry overall…the morning balloon launch from the NWS out towards Topeka indicates this. Note the large spread between the red temperature line (as you go up in the atmosphere) and the green line (the dew points). The larger the spread the lower the humidity…the drier the air.

There are a couple of layers of somewhat more saturated air…particularly at the 700 mb level…or about 9,500 feet up. I guess there could be a random sprinkle or something out there today but it should amount to all that much.

A final note…Hurricane Hector is churning in the eastern and soon to be central Pacific. Actually it should make a somewhat close pass to Hawaii and the Big Island TUE>WED of next week. Odds heavily favor it passing well south of Hawaii BUT it may churn up the surf on the eastern part of the Island.

The satellite pictures show a well defined hurricane…look between Hawaii and the Baja CA area…see the small eye in the center of the storm?

That’s Hector…not a very large hurricane (size wise) but it does have 120 MPH winds with it right now.

Right now, aside from some increase in the surf…no major impacts are expected on the Hawaiian Islands. The surf though could get pretty rough…depending on how far north the track ends up being…one of our models deals with surf forecasting.

That’s 12-20 foot waves on the east and south beaches of the Big Island. The map above is valid for Wednesday at 7PM our time. It tracks the eye towards about 17 north in latitude…a bit farther south and perhaps the surf won’t be as bad.

OK that will do it for today…hope you have a great weekend and I’ll try and update the blog again tomorrow and drill down into the rain chances a bit more.

Our feature photo comes from Elizabeth Tuttle of the pretty sunrise from this morning.

Joe

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