Influenza and the weather

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 1:14 PM GMT on May 04, 2009

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It is well known that influenza hits hardest in winter--November to March in the Northern Hemisphere, and May to September in the Southern Hemisphere. In fact, the name influenza comes from the Italian word influenza, meaning "influence"--referring to the "influence of the season" (winter) in causing the illness. In the tropics, where there is little change in seasons, influenza occurs year-round (though increased incidence has been noted in rainy seasons--Viboud et al., 2006). Do the cold temperatures and lower humidities of winter cause increased transmission of the flu virus? If so, why is the current H1N1 swine flu outbreak doing so well, now that it is May, traditionally the end of flu season in the Northern Hemisphere? Or could it be that indoor crowding, lack of sunlight lowering vitamin D levels, and a more depressed immune system in winter are largely responsible, as some researchers have suggested?

Flu infections increase under cold or dry conditions
To test these hypotheses, researchers at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York did a study in 2007 that looked at flu transmission among guinea pigs, which are highly susceptible to human influenza and easily transmit the virus to other guinea pigs (Lowen et al., 2007). The animals were placed in adjacent cages, so that infections could occur by airborne transmission, but not by direct contact (guinea pig lovers will be happy to know that the influenza virus-infected guinea pigs did not display detectable symptoms of disease--weight loss, fever, sneezing, and coughing--during the experiments). By carefully controlling temperature and humidity, the scientists were able to study the effects of each. They found that the animals shed much more of the virus--and over a longer period of time--at cold temperatures, which led to increased infection rates. The animals' immune system showed no signs of stress from the cold weather, arguing against the idea that cold conditions lead to increased infections by lowering the immune system. Lower humidities were also found to increase flu transmission rate, though the variation of infection rate with humidity was more complicated. The scientists built a model (Figure 1) to fit the data, and proposed that lower humidity increased infection rates through two mechanisms:

1) The stability of influenza virons in the suspended aerosol particles infected creatures cough out is dependent upon the humidity. Viruses are most stable at low RH (20%-40%), least stable at intermediate RH (50%), and stable again at high RH (60%-80%) (Schaffer et al., 1976). Thus, the virus has better staying power at the low moisture levels typical of winter.

2) At high RH (80%), exhaled respiratory droplets grow quite large as water vapor condenses around them, and these drops quickly settle to the ground under the force of gravity. Thus, even though the virus is stable at high humidities, it settles out of the atmosphere quickly, and cannot contribute to influenza virus spread.


Figure 1. A model of influenza transmission rates at 68°F (20°C) (dashed line) and 41°F (5°C) (solid line), as a function of relative humidity. Transmission efficiency is highest at low relative humidity, when influenza virions in an aerosol are relatively stable, and exhaled respiratory droplets stay small and don't settle out under the force of gravity. Transmission is diminished at intermediate humidity when virus particles are relatively unstable, but improves in parallel with influenza virus stability at higher humidities. At high humidity, evaporation from exhaled particles is limited, respiratory droplets settle out of the air, and transmission is blocked. At cold temperatures (solid line), transmission is more efficient than at warm temperatures (dashed line), but is reduced to a rate of 50% at higher humidities. Image credit: Lowen, A.C., S. Mubareka, J. Steel, and P. Palese, 2007, "Influenza Virus Transmission Is Dependent on Relative Humidity and Temperature", PLos Pathogons, October 2007.

The researchers found no guinea pig infections at 86°F (30°C), which implies that in tropical climates, people may transmit the virus by direct contact rather than by coughing and sneezing. A second study Lowen et al., 2009) confirmed this idea--at least among guinea pigs. The authors concluded, "To our knowledge, we demonstrate for the first time that cold temperatures and low relative humidity are favorable to the spread of influenza virus. Although other factors likely contribute to the periodicity of influenza epidemics, it is clear that air temperature and RH could play an important role. Influenza virus transmission indoors could potentially be curtailed by simply maintaining room air at warm temperatures (>20 °C) and either intermediate (50%) or high (80%) RHs".

Climate change and influenza
The results of this study imply that global warming may significantly reduce influenza world-wide, since a warmer climate will also be more humid. Typically, there are between three and five million cases of severe flu and up to 500,000 deaths worldwide each year. In the United States alone, an average of 41,400 deaths and 1.68 million hospitalizations are attributed to influenza each year. A warmer world should reduce these numbers, if the current research is correct. However, these gains must be balanced against the possibility that malaria will become more widespread in a warmer world, since malaria kills about one million people per year.


Figure 2. Combined flu and pneumonia deaths in the United Kingdom during the great 1918 flu pandemic showed that the flu had three distinct peaks: one in June - July (a relatively mild form of the disease), followed by an extremely deadly outbreak in October, then another during the winter of 1918 - 1919. The 1918 flu pandemic infected 1/3 of the world's population, killing 50 - 100 million people. Strangely, the October peak occurred almost world-wide, with Bombay, India and Boston, Massachusetts peaking the same week. Image credit: Jordan, E., "Epidemic influenza: a survey", Chicago: American Medical Association, 1927.

Flu pandemics show little seasonality
The current Mexican H1N1 swine flu outbreak is seemingly unusual, since it is hitting at the end of the traditional flu season, in April - May. However, when a new flu strain develops that humans have no immunity to, the new strain is less constrained by seasonality. According to Dr. Jeffery Taubenberger, the virologist who helped isolate the genetic code of the virus responsible for the great 1918 flu pandemic, "Historical records since the 16th century suggest that new influenza pandemics may appear at any time of year, not necessarily in the familiar annual winter patterns of inter-pandemic years, presumably because newly shifted influenza viruses behave differently when they find a universal or highly susceptible human population." Indeed, the 1918 flu pandemic reached its peak in September - October (Figure 2), and the most recent flu pandemic, the 1968 Hong Kong flu, began in July. It wouldn't surprise me if the current flu outbreak dies down in the Northern Hemisphere over the summer months, as the combined effects of high temperatures, higher humidities, less indoor crowding, and increased sunlight interfere with its spread. However, we need to be ready for the virus to reappear in the Fall--potentially in a mutated, more virulent form--such as occurred during the 1918 flu pandemic.

References
Lowen, A.C., S. Mubareka, J. Steel, and P. Palese, 2007, "Influenza Virus Transmission Is Dependent on Relative Humidity and Temperature", PLos Pathogons, October 2007.

Lowen, A.C., S. Mubareka, J. Steel, and P. Palese, 2009, "High Temperature (30°C) Blocks Aerosol but Not Contact Transmission of Influenza Virus", Journal of Virology, June 2008, p. 5650-5652, Vol. 82, No. 11 0022-538X/08/$08.00+0 doi:10.1128/JVI.00325-08

Schaffer, F.L., M.E. Soergel, and D.C. Straube, 1976, "Survival of airborne influenza virus: effects of propagating host, relative humidity, and composition of spray fluids", Arch Virol 51: 263-273.

Viboud, C, W.J. Alonso, and L. Simonsen, 2006, "Influenza in tropical regions", PLoS Med 3: e89 doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0030089.

Vitamin D and influenza links:
http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/51913.ph p
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/08/0808 11195629.htm
http://www.vitamindcouncil.org/science/research/v itamin-d-and-influenza.shtml

Jeff Masters

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Quoting theshepherd:
People who live in glass houses....BTW, have you paid your Health Ins premium this month or are you "stillwaitng" for us to do it for you.



Ha,Ha....lol,nope "stillwaiting",lol....
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Quoting TampaSpin:


Are the Yanks in your house or are you there now.


Hey,Tampa, I think Crawford is making a special trip to Yankee stadium so he can steal 5 more bases
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92. Skyepony (Mod)
Kinda got a 3 in a row happening, though the one farthest north is really ragged & more an extratropical thing.

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Let not leave anything out...
The Top 100 Effects of Global Warming
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Afternoon........Nasty looking blob over LA...How are Yall doing over there?
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89. Skyepony (Mod)
01W Kujira

click pic for loop

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Quoting HurricaneKing:
Has anybody noticed the slightly subtropical entity next to the Bahamas?


Yes, in fact I posted a pic of it at the beginning of this blog ( earlier page ). It has hung around from last week and had faded away due to high shear. With shear relaxing to between 10 and 20 knots over that area it has now made a bit of a comeback.

While there is vorticity at the 850 mb level, it does not appear to have a surface signature at this time.

Quikscat missed it last night and this morning but the peripheral data from this morning's pass suggests that there is no surface low with it.

The official forcast is that it will dissipate as part of a Westward moving trough. Remains to be seen whether that happens or if it manages to organize further into something sub tropical.

Kind of early for a typical warm core tropical system in that area and the SST values are not warm enough at this time IMO
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
"Climate change and influenza
The results of this study imply that global warming may significantly reduce influenza world-wide, since a warmer climate will also be more humid. Typically, there are between three and five million cases of severe flu and up to 500,000 deaths worldwide each year. In the United States alone, an average of 41,400 deaths and 1.68 million hospitalizations are attributed to influenza each year. A warmer world should reduce these numbers, if the current research is correct. However, these gains must be balanced against the possibility that malaria will become more widespread in a warmer world, since malaria kills about one million people per year."

**********************************************************************************************
That's more than just a "possibility" in a warmer world scenario. It's a "guarantee". Wildlife and domestics alike. Along with all the other mosquito born illness, I would much rather have the flu.

Member Since: September 11, 2008 Posts: 9 Comments: 10165
Our first trip to the new stadium
Quoting TampaSpin:


Are the Yanks in your house or are you there now.


Our first trip to the new stadium
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Hey,Tampa,you must have been happy this weekend,unlike myself.
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Quoting NEwxguy:


LOL,careful.


Quoting TampaSpin:


LOL....OUCH!


Tampa, I thought you meant

RedSox'sOFLMAO :)

ouch
Member Since: June 12, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 8188
Quoting NEwxguy:


LOL,careful.


Are the Yanks in your house or are you there now.
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Quoting theshepherd:
People who live in glass houses....BTW, have you paid your Health Ins premium this month or are you "stillwaitng" for us to do it for you.


LOL....OUCH!
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Has anybody noticed the slightly subtropical entity next to the Bahamas?
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Quoting TampaSpin:


ROFLMAO


LOL,careful.
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LOL at 71...
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Are these worth their Salt?

If so, looks like a bullseye on TX moving forward.

Member Since: June 12, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 8188
Subject: Category One Cyclone In The South China Sea

At 15:00 PM UTC, Tropical Storm Chan-Hom (990 hPa) located at 11.3N 112.1E has 10 minute sustained winds of 45 knots with gusts of 65 knots. The storm is reported as moving northwest slowly.

Dvorak Intensity: T3.0

Gale-Force Winds
===============
180 NM from the center in northwest quadrant
120 NM from the center in southeast quadrant

Forecast and Intensity
=======================
24 HRS: 13.1N 113.2E - 55 knots (CAT 2/Severe Tropical Storm)
45 HRS: 14.5N 115.4E - 60 knots (CAT 2/Severe Tropical Storm)
69 HRS: 15.0N 118.1E - 65 knots (CAT 3/Typhoon)
Member Since: May 24, 2006 Posts: 52 Comments: 46907
Quoting Ossqss:
Was there a formal Derecho yesterday?
Ooops..74 has it.
Member Since: September 11, 2008 Posts: 9 Comments: 10165
Quoting stillwaiting:



It seems like its been so long since we've had a president who can speak so eliquintly.....Obama reminds of JFK and Reagan more and more!!!!!,but only history will be the true judge of all of his actions.....


ROFLMAO
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Yeah. From the storm prediction center from yesterday:

WITH A WARM/MODERATELY UNSTABLE AIRMASS DOWNSTREAM...WELL-ORGANIZED
FAST MOVING DERECHO /WITH A LONG LIVED HISTORY OF WIND DAMAGE/
SHOULD CONTINUE TO POSE A WIDESPREAD DAMAGING WIND/ISOLATED TORNADO
THREAT AS IT PROGRESSES EAST-NORTHEASTWARD ACROSS THE REMAINDER OF
EAST-CENTRAL/SOUTHEAST AL INTO WESTERN/NORTH GA THROUGH EARLY
EVENING. SEE LATEST WATCHES/MESOSCALE DISCUSSIONS FOR THE MOST
CONTEMPORARY SHORT TERM DETAILS. ASIDE FROM WIDESPREAD DAMAGING
WINDS...PRIMARY TORNADO THREAT OVER THE NEXT SEVERAL HOURS SHOULD
REMAIN WITH LEADING QUASI-DISCRETE SUPERCELLS AND/OR NEAR THE
INTERSECTION OF THE BOW ECHO AND A MODIFYING/NORTHWARD LIFTING
SOUTHWEST-NORTHEAST ORIENTED OUTFLOW BOUNDARY FROM CENTRAL AL INTO
WEST CENTRAL/NORTHERN GA. BUT...RELATIVELY MODEST 0-1 KM SRH PER
BIRMINGHAM WSR-88D VWP/18Z SPECIAL OBSERVED RAOB...AMPLE DRY AIR
ALOFT PER 18Z BMX RAOB...AND AN OBSERVED TREND OF A GRADUALLY DRYING
BOUNDARY LAYER DOWNSTREAM OF THE BOW SUGGESTS DAMAGING WIND GUSTS
WILL REMAIN THE PRIMARY RISK...WITH ONLY AN ISOLATED/BRIEF TORNADO
THREAT OVER THE NEXT FEW HOURS.

Quoting Ossqss:
Was there a formal Derecho yesterday?
Member Since: December 18, 2006 Posts: 7 Comments: 2687
Was there a formal Derecho yesterday?
Member Since: June 12, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 8188
Japan Meteorological Agency
Tropical Cyclone Advisory #16
TYPHOON KUJIRA (CAT 3)
03:00 AM JST May 5 2009
================================

Subject: Category Three Cyclone In Sea East Of The Philippines

At 15:00 PM UTC, Typhoon Kujira (955 hPa) located at 17.0N 130.3E has 10 minute sustained winds of 75 knots with gusts of 105 knots. The typhoon is reported as moving northeast at 13 knots.

Dvorak Intensity: T5.5

Storm Force Winds
=================
50 NM from the center

Gale Force Winds
===============
180 NM from the center

Forecast and Intensity
=======================
24 HRS: 19.6N 135.0E - 80 knots (CAT 3/Typhoon)
45 HRS: 23.0N 139.0E - 80 knots (CAT 3/Typhoon)
69 HRS: 31.3N 145.3E - 65 knots (CAT 3/Typhoon)
Member Since: May 24, 2006 Posts: 52 Comments: 46907
Interesting spin around 25N/70W, don't know probably mid to upper levels though.
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Philippines Atmospheric Geophysical Astronomical Services and Administration

Tropical Cyclone Bulletin #13
===========================
Typhoon "DANTE" has accelerated as it continues to intensify further while moving away from the country.

At 11:00 PM PhST, Typhoon Dante (Kujira) located at 17.0ºN 130.1ºE or 760 kms east northeast of Casiguran, Aurora has 10 minute sustained winds of 70 knots (130 km/h) with gusts of 85 knots (160 km/h). The storm is reported as moving east northeast at 9 knots.

The public and the disaster coordinating councils concerned are advised to watch for the next bulletin to be issued at 11 A.M. tomorrow.
Member Since: May 24, 2006 Posts: 52 Comments: 46907
67. Skyepony (Mod)
KEH~ Looking at the T-Depth temps an anomilies this week I'll up the chance of impending El Niño conditions to 70%. If it holds long enough to be an official el nino event..little early yet.

Notice on the bottom one the heat spreading from west to east.
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Quoting Skyepony:
Canewarning~ This is a few weeks old but using todays info we can narrow to '85-'86 & '00-'01

Link


Thanks - I'll save that link.
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65. Skyepony (Mod)
Canewarning~ This is a few weeks old but using todays info we can narrow to '85-'86 & '00-'01

Link
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Quoting Skyepony:
This weeks ENSO numbers are out..
region 1,2 = 0.4
region 3 = 0.3
region 3,4 = 0.0
region 4 = 0.1

true nuetral already

Neutral sliding into El Nino? Or is that just wishful thinking?
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Quoting Skyepony:
This weeks ENSO numbers are out..
region 1,2 = 0.4
region 3 = 0.3
region 3,4 = 0.0
region 4 = 0.1

true nuetral already



How does this compare with other years?
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Quoting Skyepony:
This weeks ENSO numbers are out..
region 1,2 = 0.4
region 3 = 0.3
region 3,4 = 0.0
region 4 = 0.1

true nuetral already




wow thanks run for your life its going to be other 2005
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Tropical Cyclone Advisory #15
TYPHOON KUJIRA (CAT 3)
21:00 PM JST May 4 2009
================================

Subject: Category Three Cyclone In Sea East Of The Philippines

At 12:00 PM UTC, Typhoon Kujira (955 hPa) located at 16.8N 129.6E has 10 minute sustained winds of 75 knots with gusts of 105 knots. The typhoon is reported as moving northeast at 12 knots.

Dvorak Intensity: T5.5

Storm Force Winds
=================
50 NM from the center

Gale Force Winds
===============
180 NM from the center

Forecast and Intensity
=======================
24 HRS: 19.5N 134.2E - 80 knots (CAT 3/Typhoon)
48 HRS: 23.0N 139.0E - 80 knots (CAT 3/Typhoon)
72 HRS: 31.3N 145.3E - 65 knots (CAT 3/Typhoon)

---
weird the JMA puts the dvorak at 5.5 but give Kujira 75 knots instead of 90 knots for that intensity.. O_o
Member Since: May 24, 2006 Posts: 52 Comments: 46907
60. Skyepony (Mod)
This weeks ENSO numbers are out..
region 1,2 = 0.4
region 3 = 0.3
region 3,4 = 0.0
region 4 = 0.1

true nuetral already

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Japan Meteorological Agency
Tropical Cyclone Advisory #11
TROPICAL STORM CHAN-HOM (CAT 1)
21:00 PM JST May 4 2009
================================

Subject: Category One Cyclone In The South China Sea

At 12:00 PM UTC, Tropical Storm Chan-Hom (990 hPa) located at 11.2N 112.2E has 10 minute sustained winds of 45 knots with gusts of 65 knots. The storm is reported as moving north-northwest slowly.

Dvorak Intensity: T3.0

Gale-Force Winds
===============
180 NM from the center in northwest quadrant
120 NM from the center in southeast quadrant

Forecast and Intensity
=======================
24 HRS: 13.1N 113.4E - 55 knots (CAT 2/Severe Tropical Storm)
48 HRS: 14.5N 115.4E - 60 knots (CAT 2/Severe Tropical Storm)
72 HRS: 15.0N 118.1E - 65 knots (CAT 3/Typhoon)

Member Since: May 24, 2006 Posts: 52 Comments: 46907
Better hurricane warning system touted

MIAMI, May 2 (UPI) -- The hurricane warning delivery system in Florida is mired in last-century technology and needs to be updated, a U.S. congressman says.

U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., said Friday that while the National Hurricane Center in Miami is using the latest in cutting-edge science to find and plot the paths of hurricanes, the way its warnings are delivered -- the Cold War-era "beep, beep, beep" broadcasts on television and radio -- is a relic, The Miami Herald reported.

Diaz-Balart told Hurricane Center forecasters and Red Cross emergency managers he is drafting a bill that would instruct the Federal Emergency Management Agency to ramp up development of a wireless warning system that would speed information not just to broadcasters, but also to wireless phone text message inboxes, Web-based e-mails and future communications methods.
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Imagine bush trying to say all that!!!,he can't even pronounce half the words!!!!lol....
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Quoting auburn:


dates back to the Great Plague. A rosy rash, they allege, was a symptom of the plague, posies of herbs were carried as protection, sneezing was a final fatal symptom , and “all fall down” was exactly what happened.’ Another translation:Ring around the Rosie: people with the plague often had a bright rose-colored rash that people would see and make a large ring around them. A pocket full of posies: people without the plague often carried around posies, believing this would purify the air and protect them from getting ill. Ashes, Ashes: When people died, sometimes they would be burnt to ashes. Then those ashes would be put in a jar and buried. In this way, there was enough room in the graveyards for everyone. We all fall down: ‘falling down’ meant dying and many people did die.


President Barack Obama, in his weekly address on May 2, put it best: "Because we have it within our power to limit the potential damage of this virus, we have a solemn and urgent responsibility to take the necessary steps. I would sooner take action now than hesitate and face graver consequences later." Better safe than sorry - when it comes to diseases it's as clichÉd as washing your hands, and just as smart.



It seems like its been so long since we've had a president who can speak so eliquintly.....Obama reminds of JFK and Reagan more and more!!!!!,but only history will be the true judge of all of his actions.....
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Interesting knowledge booster. A Virus is not actually alive in the traditional sense and the Flu is a virus. They can impact virtually any living thing.

Virus

Where did viruses come from?
Member Since: June 12, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 8188
Quoting SomeRandomTexan:
Weather456--

Thanks for the verification... u rock!


anytime
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Weather 456 nice explanation.
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Weather456--

Thanks for the verification... u rock!
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Kmanis:about your feature from the NHC:SYNOPSIS FOR CARIBBEAN SEA AND TROPICAL N ATLC FROM 07N TO 22N
BETWEEN 55W AND 65W
530 AM EDT MON MAY 04 2009

.SYNOPSIS...SFC TROUGH ALONG 65W MOVES W TO 70W MON NIGHT THEN
DISSIPATES TUE NIGHT INTO WED. HIGH PRES BUILDS N OF AREA WED
THROUGH FRI.
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Quoting SomeRandomTexan:
the feature east of cuba... is this the same system that came off Africa last week?

Weather456 I believe you may have been talking about the possibility of it being a tropical wave when coming off Africa... tia


Entirely different system and genesis. These troughs spin up at the surface typically east of any upper level feature. Reason being, the upper divergence to the east of these feature induce surface lift and hence low pressure, that is, a trough of low pressure.
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Foxxy, Auburn

Thanks folks, very interesting, indeed. Makes one wonder about all those nursery rhymes. So who was Humpty Dumpty - other than a lost cause?

Wish I could stay for the fun. Work calls.

Pax, y'all
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This flu, like many other "plagues" came into existance through poor conditions. However, at this point it does not choose between rich or poor. This virus will travel as we do and eventually it will mutate again, hopefully we can get ahead of it because the second time around it will be worse.
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Hey Aub,

Did you get those nasty storms last night?

Its interesting when you look at the Rhymes from our youth.... many had meanings that children often would not know or understand.
Quoting auburn:


dates back to the Great Plague. A rosy rash, they allege, was a symptom of the plague, posies of herbs were carried as protection, sneezing was a final fatal symptom , and %u201Call fall down%u201D was exactly what happened.%u2019 Another translation:Ring around the Rosie: people with the plague often had a bright rose-colored rash that people would see and make a large ring around them. A pocket full of posies: people without the plague often carried around posies, believing this would purify the air and protect them from getting ill. Ashes, Ashes: When people died, sometimes they would be burnt to ashes. Then those ashes would be put in a jar and buried. In this way, there was enough room in the graveyards for everyone. We all fall down: %u2018falling down%u2019 meant dying and many people did die.


President Barack Obama, in his weekly address on May 2, put it best: "Because we have it within our power to limit the potential damage of this virus, we have a solemn and urgent responsibility to take the necessary steps. I would sooner take action now than hesitate and face graver consequences later." Better safe than sorry - when it comes to diseases it's as clichd as washing your hands, and just as smart.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
the feature east of cuba... is this the same system that came off Africa last week?

Weather456 I believe you may have been talking about the possibility of it being a tropical wave when coming off Africa... tia
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I red the docs blog its really all about weather. Some people have a hard time dealing with diversity, its not June 1st yet. Remember his blogs when they count. If you read the flu maybe stoppable by altering in door climates something we maybe able to control with little expense.
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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.

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