Thursday, June 13, 2013

Colorado Wildfires Rage; No End in Sight

The fires in Colorado continue to ravage the state, with the Black Forest fire doubling in size yesterday and becoming the most destructive in state history.

Satellite imagery above shows smoke from these fires billowing across Colorado and even into the western Plains as meteorological summer is only 13 days old. Poor winter conditions, combined with an ongoing drought through the Plains and Western states have led to the enhancement of annual wildfires.

Considering the atmospheric pattern currently in place appears to have enhanced wildfires (especially the Black Forest fire), it is unlikely we are going to see a break from these fires. The pattern coming up in the next 16 days involves little to no precipitation (under 1.00'' of rain) for areas currently experiencing these wildfires. With temperatures likely to stay high, and winds unlikely to cease in the next few days, it is highly likely that these ongoing wildfires will be enhanced.

Model projections from the HYSPLIT model suggest smoke from these wildfires will track north across Wyoming, Montana and North Dakota before shifting well into Canada. From there, any smoke still prevalent in the air mass will either circle around in Canada and shift east or dissipate in the western portion of that nation.

Regardless of where the smoke goes, it is the unfortunate probability that the next several days will see an enhancement of ongoing wildfires in the state of Colorado.


Late June/Early July Holds Tropical Threat

Latest indications are that the next tropical threat could arise in late June into early July, and that this threat could be more formidable than when Andrea formed.

The long range forecast over the seven day period from June 20 to June 27 depicted above shows upper level divergence anomalies. Areas of green depict below normal anomalies and thus increased chances for enhanced tropical convection, while above normal anomalies signal a less favorable environment for tropical convection. The GFS Ensembles project these divergence anomalies to drop into the below-normal range and increase the risk of tropical cyclone formation. This would supposedly be associated with a Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO) wave making its way to phases that are favorable for tropical cyclone formation. However, a comparison to other models suggests that the GFS Ensembles may be a bit too fast with the movement of this MJO wave into favorable phases, and that is why early July remains on the table for timing.

The GFS Ensembles, between June 23 and June 28, then predict a large swath of the Gulf of Mexico to be under the influence of rather substantial low mean sea level pressure (MSLP) anomalies. This would seem to indicate the willingness of the GFS Ensembles to attempt and formulate an environment favorable for tropical cyclone formation. Towards the end of this particular GFS Ensemble run, the SLP anomalies are even lower than what is shown above, leading me to believe there is a growing consensus that late June into early July is a reasonable timeframe for the Atlantic basin's second shot at tropical cyclone formation. Support by the aforementioned MJO wave would make this second shot the more formidable of the two.