Extreme fire weather interior; Ileana to the south

Yesterday’s dry lightning outbreak over OR, WA, and ID initiated many new fire starts. These new fires…as well as existing ones…will be fanned by dry, hot, and windy conditions that will persist for at least the next few days. This year will probably go down as one of the worst fire seasons in recent history, at least in terms of acres burned.

Tropical Storm Ileana in the Eastern Pacific is currently looking very impressive on satellite imagery. The storm will continue to strengthen rapidly, and would not be at all suprised to see Ileana reach cat. 3 strength or higher in 48 hours. The system is currently taking a NWly track, and that is expected to continue for the next 2-3 days. After that, there is some uncertainty as to its final direction. Interestingly, the GDFL and UKMET, two reliable hurricane models, take Ileana much further north than would be expected of a tropical cyclone within 750 miles of southern California. They indicate that the remnants of Ileana could pass within 200 miles (or less) of San Diego, possibly as a storm or depression. This climatologically very unfavorable track could be in response to an upper low that some models develop off the CA coast by day 4. It’s still unlikely that the cyclone makes it that far north, but there is some possibility that at least some remnant moisture from Ileana could wrap around the upper low and feed into CA from the S. Stay tuned for updates.

In the much longer term, the GFS is already beginning to bring fall-like systems into the PacNW by day 10. Usually the model begins to forecast these systems 3-5 weeks before they actually arrive, leading me to believe that they should still be about a month away. That’s still pretty early, though, so there is a possibility that we’re looking at an early start to the winter wet season in the West. That certainly won’t be unwelcome. On a final note, the GFS continues to develop strong and north-moving tropical systems in the 16 day period. The next 4-6 weeks are generally considered to be the peak of the E. Pac. hurricane season, so this is highly plausible. Therefore, our best chance at being impacted by remnant tropical moisture this warm season in CA may still be ahead.

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