Weather and mortality

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:21 PM GMT on February 27, 2009

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Hurricanes, earthquakes, and tornadoes get the attention-grabbing headlines when a natural disaster kills people in the U.S. Yet heat waves, cold winter weather, severe thunderstorm winds, and flooding all killed more people in the U.S. between 1970 and 2004, according to a December 2008 article published by Kevin Borden and Susan Cutter of the University of South Carolina. Tornadoes and lightning were tied for fifth place, and Hurricanes and earthquakes tied for eighth place. However, had this study extended one more year into 2005, the roughly 1800 hurricane deaths from Hurricane Katrina would have vaulted hurricane deaths into third place, behind heat wave deaths and cold weather deaths. The study also showed that people living in rural areas were most likely to die from a natural disaster than those living in cities.


Figure 1. U.S. deaths due to natural hazards between 1970 and 2004 showed that weather associated with extremes of hot and cold weather, along with severe thunderstorm winds (the "Severe Weather" category), killed the most people. Image credit: Spatial patterns of natural hazards mortality in the United States, International Journal of Health Geographics. Authors: Kevin Borden and Susan Cutter of the University of South Carolina.

The authors used Spatial Hazard Event and Loss Database for the United States (SHELDUS)(available at http://www.sheldus.org). This database provides hazard loss information (economic losses and casualties) from 1960-2005 for eighteen different hazard types, and is primarily based on data from the NOAA/National Climatic Data Center publication, "Storm Data". The numbers have high uncertainty, and the authors conclude, "There is considerable debate about which natural hazard is the most "deadly". According to our results, the answer is heat. But this finding could be changed depending on the data source, or how hazards within a data source are grouped."


Figure 2. U.S. deaths due to natural hazards for the 10- and 30-year period ending in 2007, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Image credit: NOAA.

To illustrate, a 2008 study by Thacker et al. called, "Overview of deaths associated with natural events, United States, 1979-2004", concluded that cold deaths were twice as common as heat deaths in the U.S. However, they noted that the 1995 Chicago heat wave, which killed between 600 and 700 people by some estimates, was not properly represented in the data base used in their study. This data base attributed only 50 deaths in the entire state of Illinois to heat in 1995. The authors conclude that their data base "under-reports the actual number of deaths due to severe heat".

Another example: NOAA plots up annual natural hazard deaths from the same source ("Storm Data") as the first study I montioned. Their statistics for the ten-year period ending in 2007 show a much different picture (Figure 2). Heat deaths are a much more dominant source of mortality than cold and winter storm deaths, by a factor 3.5. The take-home message from all this is that heat- and cold-related extreme weather are probably the deadliest weather hazards in the U.S., but we really don't know the proportion of people killed by each. One can easily cherry pick the study of one's choice to show a desired result.

How global warming might affect heat and cold-related deaths
If the globe continues to warm up this century, as predicted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), heat-related deaths will increase and cold-related deaths will decrease (duh!). Unfortunately, that's about the most intelligent thing one can say about the matter. The 2007 IPCC report (section 8.4.1.3, Heat- and cold-related mortality), does not attempt to estimate the numbers, saying, "Additional research is needed to understand how the balance of heat-related and cold-related mortality could change under different socio-economic scenarios and climate projections."

This high uncertainty in future heat- and cold-related deaths does not stop advocates on either side of the global warming issue from cherry picking results from selected studies to support a particular point of view. For example, opinion columnist George Will stated in a recent Newsweek column: "In Europe, cold kills more than seven times as many as heat does. Worldwide, moderate warming will, on balance, save more lives than it will cost--by a 9-to-1 ratio in China and India. So, if substantially cutting carbon dioxide reverses warming, that will mean a large net loss of life globally." Will bases his arguments on Danish statistician Bjørn Lomborg's controversial 2007 book, "Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming." However, as pointed out by Danish biologist Kåre Fog, who has assembled a large web site dedicated to pointing out the errors in Lomborg's books, the huge number of excess deaths attributed to cold by Will and Lomborg are in large part because the death rate naturally rises in the winter: "Old and seriously sick people have less vitality in the dark season. It is too bold to say that the excess deaths during the dark part of the year are `deaths due to excess cold?. There is no evidence that a warmer climate will alter the seasonal variation. These people would soon die in any case, even if winters became warmer. Indeed, cold and warm climates, like Finland and Greece, have approximately the same seasonal variation in mortality." The IPCC underscores this problem, stating: "projections of cold-related deaths, and the potential for decreasing their numbers due to warmer winters, can be overestimated unless they take into account the effects of influenza and season".

Heat wave deaths are subject to a degree of uncertainty as well. It is somewhat of a subjective call if an elderly person who dies during a heat wave died primarily as a result of the heat, or of a pre-existing heart or respiratory condition. Complicating the diagnosis is the fact that air pollution is at its worst during heat waves, and can also be blamed as the cause of death in some cases. Different studies will use different criteria for classify deaths due to heat, pollution, or pre-existing medical conditions during a heat wave, leading to widely varying estimates of mortality. For example, the European heat wave of 2003 is blamed for 35,000, 52,000, or 70,000 deaths, depending upon the source. You're more likely to hear the higher 70,000 figure quoted by advocates of doing something about global warming, and the 35,000 figure quoted by those opposed.

The three 2008 studies for the U.S. show the ratio of cold deaths to heat deaths ranges from 2:1 to 1:3, which is very different from the 7:1 and 9:1 figures quoted by Will and Lomborg for Europe, India, and China. I don't trust any of these numbers, since heat and cold mortality statistics are highly uncertain and easy to cherry pick to show a desired result. It is rather unproductive to argue about how many people die due to heat and cold in the current climate or in a future climate. Excess heat deaths due to climate change should not get as much attention as the potential for death due to reduction in crop yields due to increased heat and drought, regional collapses of the oceanic food chain from the steady acidification of the oceans, and the wars these conditions might trigger.

For more information
For those interested, Kåre Fog also presents a list of the errors in Al Gore's book and movie, An Inconvenient Truth, and has a Comparison of error counts between Al Gore and Bjørn Lomborg. Lomborg has assembled a Short reply to Skeptical Questions to respond to some of Fog's criticisms, but does not answer Fog's criticism on cold deaths vs. heat deaths. Suffice to say, one should be wary of trusting climate change information from either source, or from opinion columnists, or from politicians. Blogs can also be a questionable source of climate change information, though I think wunderground Climate Change blogger Dr. Ricky Rood is one of the most knowledgeable and unbiased climate change experts in the world. Though imperfect, the best source of climate change information is the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The level of scientific collaboration and peer review that went into that document is one of the most remarkable achievements in the history of science, and the IPCC was fully deserving of the Nobel Prize awarded to it last year. Blogs and books like Lomborg's and Gore's have not gone through peer-review by scientific experts on climate change, and will have far more errors, biases, and distortions of the truth than the IPCC reports.

Jeff Masters

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Thanks Aqua for deciphering -- looks like when I get home from work tomorrow I'll have some severe weather to look at and practice radar reading.
Member Since: July 18, 2007 Posts: 30 Comments: 26536
Thats a Big un Skyepony..
UNYSIS page Link
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220. Skyepony (Mod)
Looking up stream..
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 161 Comments: 37359
Tropical Cyclone Image Gallery Link
MIMIC movie of Hurricane Ike during rapid intensification

Morphed Integrated Microwave Imagery at CIMSS (MIMIC)
Version 1
Ike
2008-09-03 00:00 -- 2008-09-05 18:00








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Mel -- did you sail today? or is it tomorrow?

Ike -- the reminder... going to have opportunity to flash my Portlight.org Hurricane IKE t-shirt. Never thought people be walking around w/you picture hun?
Member Since: July 18, 2007 Posts: 30 Comments: 26536

Tropical low

A Tropical Low, 996 hPa, is currently situated off the WA Pilbara very close to Port Hedland, moving south at 19 km/h.

Wind speeds near the centre are estimated to continue at 85 km/h.

A Cyclone Warning has been canceled for coastal areas between Wallal and Mardie.

The low is not expected to develop into a category 1 tropical cyclone any more. It is expected to move to the southeast and weaken further.
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Historical Hurricane Tracks

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The Historical Hurricane Tracks tool is an interactive mapping application that allows you to easily search and display Atlantic Basin and Eastern North Pacific Basin tropical cyclone data.

Looking for a Specific Storm Track? Curious Where Katrina, Iniki, or Even Donna Made Landfall?

Check out the Query Storm Tracks feature.Link

Easily search for tropical cyclone tracks from Atlantic and Pacific data by entering a ZIP Code, latitude and longitude coordinates, city or state, or geographic region and then view the selected tracks on a map.



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206

Only 3 months left

I wonder if there would be any pre-seasonal tropical cyclones...
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A perfect example of how dry things are here in south florida is that yesterday here in port st lucie small brush fire came 3 feet away from burning homes. And also almost every lawn here is pretty much brown.
Member Since: August 12, 2007 Posts: 2 Comments: 2838
melwerle 205:

WE ARE NOW
LOOKING AT SOME DEVELOPMENT TO MATERIALIZE LATE THIS EVENING BUT
THE BULK OF THE SECONDARY FRONT ACTIVITY WILL MOVE THROUGH AFTER 10AM
AND LIKELY PERSIST WELL INTO THE EARLY MORNING HOURS ON SUNDAY.
ALTHOUGH FIRST GOOD 850 WIND CORE WILL MISS THE AREA TO THE NORTH
AND EAST....MODELS AGREE ON A SECONDARY SURGE OF 40 TO 45 KNOTS
MOVING THROUGH BY 1PM.
..AFFECTING MAINLY THE SUWANNEE VALLEY TO
BRUNSWICK AND POINTS SOUTHWARD WITH SEVERE GUST POTENTIAL.

Mel there might be a secondary line- I changed the zulu times to our times to make it understandable- So tomorrow late morning/early afternoon still deserves an open eye for the possibility of severe weather.

This is from the JAX NWS discussion.
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211

You are a fortunate one

My grass is bone dry.

I will no longer depend on the rain...I water the plants myself

I will only be satisfied if get AT LEAST an inch tomorrow
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I got 2inches of rain today. Now tonight its suspose to be freezing rain/rain then after 3am sleet/rain then after 3pm all snow up to 5inches+. I put a + because they said my area had a chance to be under the heavy snow band unless the deformation zone shifts.

I hope everyone in the south gets this March snowstorm! And no more severe weather.*
Been watching the Southeast IR Satellite for most the afternoon tracking the development of this potential storm system in the region. In analyzing the satellite imagery, it appears the deep upper level low has been moving slower than originally anticipated. Also, been watching the convective activity over the Gulf diminish some as the upper level support has yet to arrive. But, as the upper level low comes in closer interaction with the developing frontal system over the Gulf coast, expect action to increase overnight. Will be very interested to see just how far south this upper level low dives overnight since this could play a role in determining whether or not the thunderstorms developing over Northern Florida can maintain themselves migrating down the state.
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Ike it looks like you may get some of that white stuff late tonight. ;D
Member Since: September 7, 2008 Posts: 17 Comments: 1604
Thanks Ike - figured that someone was smoking crack at the switch...had everyone all bunkered down here waiting for the nonsense to hit the fan. I'll relax a bit now. COCKTAILS!
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207. IKE
Quoting melwerle:
dumb question of the hour...looking at the radar and we have a pretty good line of storms moving through...but looks like it should pass fairly quickly. Why do they give us a 100% chance of severe storms through tomorrow with a chance of tornados etc through our late evening early morning hours? Is it the low that's coming through or is it the storm line they are talking about...confused and sorry to ask such a dumb question...still learning.


They'll probably drop that severe threat.
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206. IKE
92 days
6 hours...
56 minutes....

until the 2009 Atlantic hurricane season starts.
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dumb question of the hour...looking at the radar and we have a pretty good line of storms moving through...but looks like it should pass fairly quickly. Why do they give us a 100% chance of severe storms through tomorrow with a chance of tornados etc through our late evening early morning hours? Is it the low that's coming through or is it the storm line they are talking about...confused and sorry to ask such a dumb question...still learning.
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Been watching the visible satellite throughout the afternoon and have been noticing thunderstorms beginning to explode over the central Gulf of Mexico. Will continue to watch this development as it could signify that the atmosphere is becoming increasingly more unstable over Florida. If this is the case, thunderstorms would be a good bet in Florida tomorrow preceding the cold front. Just waiting for the next upper air sounding for MFL at 00z to confirm my suspicions.

For those interested, I have finished updating the CCHS WEATHER CENTER site with new forecasts for Southern, Central, and Northern Florida. Soon I will be adding a Graphical Forecast to the page for the state.
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Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:
This is pretty wild--the gridded NWS forecasts bring snow showers down to about 200 yards north of my house--the gridded forecast here: Link

And here it cuts off ;) Link


You are gonna have some fun
Member Since: September 7, 2008 Posts: 17 Comments: 1604
Maybe it will get to you anyway! one never knows...I'm hoping to see a little snow here actually - kids would love a chance to see it...as long as it goes away as fast as it comes.
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No rain here yet - VERY dark clouds moving in...no wind really although earlier it was blowin stink. Weather station says 72 but it feels kind of sticky out.
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COASTAL WATERS FORECAST
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE NEW ORLEANS LA
328 PM CST SAT FEB 28 2009

PASCAGOULA TO ATCHAFALAYA RIVER OUT 60 NM

GMZ575-011300-
COASTAL WATERS FROM PASCAGOULA MS TO THE SOUTHWEST PASS OF THE
MISSISSIPPI RIVER FROM 20 TO 60 NM-
328 PM CST SAT FEB 28 2009

...SMALL CRAFT ADVISORY IN EFFECT UNTIL 6 PM CST THIS AFTERNOON...
...GALE WARNING IN EFFECT FROM 6 PM CST THIS EVENING THROUGH LATE
TONIGHT...
...SMALL CRAFT ADVISORY IN EFFECT FROM SUNDAY MORNING THROUGH
LATE SUNDAY NIGHT...

.TONIGHT...NORTHWEST WINDS 25 TO 35 KNOTS WITH GUSTS TO AROUND
50 KNOTS. SEAS 7 TO 9 FEET BUILDING TO 9 TO 11 FEET AFTER
MIDNIGHT. ISOLATED SHOWERS AND THUNDERSTORMS IN THE EVENING.
.SUNDAY...NORTHWEST WINDS 25 TO 35 KNOTS. SEAS 8 TO 11 FEET.
.SUNDAY NIGHT...NORTH WINDS 20 TO 30 KNOTS. SEAS 8 TO 10 FEET.
.MONDAY...NORTH WINDS 15 TO 20 KNOTS BECOMING NORTHWEST 5 TO
10 KNOTS LATE IN THE AFTERNOON. SEAS 5 TO 7 FEET SUBSIDING TO
3 TO 4 FEET IN THE AFTERNOON.
.MONDAY NIGHT...NORTH WINDS 5 TO 10 KNOTS. SEAS 2 TO 3 FEET.
.TUESDAY...EAST WINDS 5 TO 10 KNOTS. SEAS 2 FEET.
.TUESDAY NIGHT...SOUTHEAST WINDS AROUND 10 KNOTS. SEAS 2 FEET.
.WEDNESDAY...SOUTHEAST WINDS AROUND 10 KNOTS. SEAS 3 FEET.
.WEDNESDAY NIGHT...SOUTHEAST WINDS 10 TO 15 KNOTS. SEAS 4 FEET.
.THURSDAY...SOUTHEAST WINDS AROUND 15 KNOTS. SEAS 4 TO 6 FEET.
.THURSDAY NIGHT...SOUTH WINDS AROUND 15 KNOTS. SEAS 4 TO 6 FEET./strong>
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Hey St.Simons...getting a little ugly looking here in Richmond hill...how's it looking down your way?
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Been watching the visible satellite throughout the afternoon and have been noticing thunderstorms beginning to explode over the central Gulf of Mexico. Will continue to watch this development as it could signify that the atmosphere is becoming increasingly more unstable over Florida. If this is the case, thunderstorms would be a good bet in Florida tomorrow preceding the cold front. Just waiting for the next upper air sounding for MFL at 00z to confirm my suspicions.

For those interested, I have finished updating the CCHS WEATHER CENTER site with new forecasts for Southern, Central, and Northern Florida. Soon I will be adding a Graphical Forecast to the page for the state.
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I got to tell ya man,
That ULL is diving father to the west than it is supposed to be...

Member Since: September 7, 2008 Posts: 17 Comments: 1604
188 if you get snow and I don't i'll be mad
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190. Happy for you!! Hope we get some here!
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SHORT TERM...[SUNDAY THROUGH MONDAY NIGHT]...MOSTLY CLOUDY SKIES
WITH LIGHT RAIN MIXED WITH LIGHT SNOW ONGOING SUNDAY MORNING ACROSS
SOUTHWEST ALABAMA AND THE WESTERN FLORIDA PANHANDLE. THE SKIES WILL
CLEAR FROM WEST TO EAST THROUGH THE DAY SUNDAY...WITH THE RAIN AND
SNOW MIX LASTING INTO EARLY AFTERNOON ACROSS OUR NORTHEASTERN ZONES.
UP TO ONE-HALF INCH OF SNOW IS EXPECTED TO FALL ACROSS OUR
NORTHEASTERN ZONES..

Happy Dance Happy Dance :)
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26511
GOM 60 Hour Surface Current Forecast(Loop Current)Link

GOM 60 Hour Wave Forecast (using WW3)Link
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Now im all excited!!! :D

Photobucket
Member Since: September 7, 2008 Posts: 17 Comments: 1604
Quoting jeffs713:
Jumping in a little late on this topic, but comparing Katrina's surge and Ike's... also take into the account the sheer amount of water moved. Ike's surge had a lower peak height, but also was spread over a *massive* area. Katrina's was higher, but impacted a smaller area.

Either way, I agree that the S-S scale needs to be changed. Winds have become less of a damaging factor, and storm surges and sheer size have taken on a larger role.


It is being addressed next week at the IHC

63rd IHC ACTION ITEMS

5
Title Changes to the Saffir Simpson Hurricane Scale (SSHS)

Submitter NOAA

Discussion
Hurricane Ike was an example of the failure of the SSHS to represent the potential for
loss of life and property. The large wind field constituted a severe storm surge threat
despite a relatively modest SSHS Category 2 maximum sustained surface wind speed.
The NWS decided to remove all references to storm surge from the Saffir-Simpson scale.
A team led by NWS Headquarters is working to revise the text impacts in the scale and
to remove surge and flooding references. The team is revising the scale only for the
SSHS as it relates to the continental United States.

Recommendation
Informational. The latest effort of the team will be shared with the IHC. Comments to the
team are welcomed but required before April 1, 2009, to allow NWS to implement
changes for the 2009 hurricane season. Amend NHOP (Appendix E) if the team reaches
a final decision before NHOP goes to printer (~ May 15, 2009). Forward to RA-IV
Committee.

Action
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Jumping in a little late on this topic, but comparing Katrina's surge and Ike's... also take into the account the sheer amount of water moved. Ike's surge had a lower peak height, but also was spread over a *massive* area. Katrina's was higher, but impacted a smaller area.

Either way, I agree that the S-S scale needs to be changed. Winds have become less of a damaging factor, and storm surges and sheer size have taken on a larger role.
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Quoting natrwalkn:


OMG!! That must be on the West Coast!! Our flounders don't get that big. That certainly is quite a catch! Any idea how much it weighed?


420lbs
Westcoast Halibut

Here is a page of them from Victoria BC
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26511
Quoting Orcasystems:




OMG!! That must be on the West Coast!! Our flounders don't get that big. That certainly is quite a catch! Any idea how much it weighed?
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183. HTV
Quoting Orcasystems:



Now that's a fishtail and a fish tale. I'd like a stringer full of them.
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Quoting natrwalkn:


LOL!! I wish I knew! Unfortunately, I didn't have a scale to weigh it. I actually gigged that flounder at night. I guessed it was in the 5-7lb range. He was a lot of fun, and made a meal for four people!!


Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26511
180. Skyepony (Mod)
1432 5 WNW BLEECKER LEE AL 3261 8524 SEVERAL HOMES DAMAGED WITH PEOPLE TRAPPED INSIDE. TREES WERE BLOWN DOWN. LOCATION NEAR SALEM ON HIGHWAY 280 NEAR LEE ROAD 254. (BMX)
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 161 Comments: 37359
178 I'm just outside the red zone I'm not denying were getting precip but the temperature right now is 40 and snow might not stick or form at all
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Quoting unf97:
Yeah, I am currently here in Charlotte visiting the in-laws for this weekend. Currently, NWS is forecasting 2-4 inches here. It is expected to changeover sometime mid-late Sunday afternoon and last into the evening. All depends on the track of the Low tomorrow of course.

I'm even more concerned about potential severe weather/tornado threat back at home later this evening in Jax area.


Oh my God!!!!!!!!! Snowed in with the in-laws!!!!!!! A fate worse than violent death!!!!!!!!!
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10479
Quoting HTV:
Natrwalkn 173
Holey Crap! How much did that flounder weigh? I caught one close to that size that went 8lbs.-11ozs. at Seawolf Park, Galveston, TX.


LOL!! I wish I knew! Unfortunately, I didn't have a scale to weigh it. I actually gigged that flounder at night. I guessed it was in the 5-7lb range. He was a lot of fun, and made a meal for four people!!
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175. HTV
Natrwalkn 173
Holey Crap! How much did that flounder weigh? I caught one close to that size that went 8lbs.-11ozs. at Seawolf Park, Galveston, TX.
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174. unf97
Yeah, I am currently here in Charlotte visiting the in-laws for this weekend. Currently, NWS is forecasting 2-4 inches here. It is expected to changeover sometime mid-late Sunday afternoon and last into the evening. All depends on the track of the Low tomorrow of course.

I'm even more concerned about potential severe weather/tornado threat back at home later this evening in Jax area.
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Quoting stillwaiting:
I have a feeling this "southern snow" will be a much lighter affair then predicted,the flow seems to zonal...


There's going to be a cutoff low that breaks away from the jet stream and moves south, giving the south the snow.
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172. unf97
Yeah, I am currently here in Charlotte visiting the in-laws for this weekend. Currently, NWS is forecasting 2-4 inches here. It is expected to changeover sometime mid-late Sunday afternoon and last into the evening. All depends on the track of the Low tomorrow of course.

I'm even more concerned about potential severe weather/tornado threat back at home later this evening in Jax area.
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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.