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Aug 30 2011

Relief may be in sight for Texas

Tropical Storm Edouard near the Texas-Louisiana coast in 2008

As Texas politics heat up, there may be some cooling relief in sight for the blistering local weather and record drought. Via Jeff Masters:

One other area we need to watch later this week is the Gulf of Mexico. A significant shift in the atmospheric circulation is predicted for the region, with the ridge of high pressure that has brought Texas its record heat and drought predicted to shift eastwards and allow a flow of moist, tropical air into the state. A low pressure region is forecast to develop in the Gulf near the coast of Texas on Wednesday or Thursday, and this low will need to be watched for tropical development. The shift in the large scale weather pattern does not signal a permanent end to the Texas drought, but it should bring welcome rains and cooler temperatures to the Lone Star state beginning on Thursday. This will be a relief to the residents of Austin, where the temperature topped out at 112°F yesterday–the hottest day in Austin’s recorded history ..

That would be great. It’s awful here, not just baking hot, but dry as a bone too. I was out at a local lake over the weekend and it looked more like a narrow desert river snaking through the bottom of an impressive limestone canyon. We need rain desperately. The one thing that worries me about that quote above is the part I put in bold.

Tropical waves coming off of western Africa aren’t the only way hurricanes form in the Atlantic. Any low pressure system over warm ocean water a few degrees of latitude away from the equator can turn into one. This is what happened in 2008 with Tropical Storm Edouard. The disorganized system formed in the gulf, and wandered west near the Texas coast. In a short burst, the storm went from tropical disturbances to a strong Tropical Storm. Had Edouard not been a couple of hours away from landfall when this happened it could easily have blown up into a major hurricane and caught the nearby coast completely off guard. The year before a similar system popped up and did reach Hurricane status. Humberto came out nowhere and intensified faster than any storm I’ve ever seen before striking east Texas as a category 1.

Right now the gulf is so hot almost any disturbance could become a depression. And in these conditions, any depression could bloom into a major hurricane with little in the way of warning. That would probably mean great relief for much of Texas, at the small risk of disaster for a section of coast.

4 comments

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  1. 1
    ogremk5

    My house was run over by Humberto. We were without power for about 8 hours, then the electric company fracked up and we were without power for another 4 days.

    You are completely right, when we went to bed, Humberto was barely a tropical low. When the eye swept over my place, we knew it was bad.

    I think it’s pretty much too late. There is so much dead stuff here in Austin, its surprising. I haven’t seen so much as a bird in over a week.

    Of course, Perry will claim that his stupid prayers worked. Of course, for that reason alone, i hope we get a hurricane out of it… just to shut him up.

  2. 2
    Stevarious, Public Health Problem

    How much more evidence does Perry need that if a god does exist, he clearly doesn’t like they guy?

  3. 3
    Francisco Bacopa

    Allison, the only storm to have its name retired without having become a hurricane, also formed this way. No warning at all.

    Allison dropped almost half a years worth of rain in three days. That’s the sort of thing we need to get out of this drought.

  4. 4
    docsarvis

    Let’s see. Here in Texas we had our hottest year ever in 2008, followed by an even hotter summer in 2009. This year we had the hottest June on record, July was the hottest month on record, and August has been even worse. Yet Gov. Goodhair stills denies global warming and has no plans to deal with droughts. And this man want to ruin run, our country.

    The Dems will have plenty of ammunition to defeat this guy. Will they use it?

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