Fred is born; storm surge survival misconceptions

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 1:29 PM GMT on September 08, 2009

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Tropical Storm Fred sprang to life yesterday off the coast of Africa, but is not a threat to any land areas for at least the next week. Satellite imagery from the European satellite shows a well-organized circulation with plenty of low-level spiral bands and high cirrus clouds streaming away from the storm at high levels, indicating good upper level outflow. There is dry air of the Saharan Air Layer to the north of Fred, but it is far enough away so as not to be a major impediment to development. Wind shear is moderate, 10 - 15 knots, and ocean temperatures are 1 - 2°C above the threshold needed for tropical cyclone formation.


Figure 1. Morning satellite image of Fred, off the coast of Africa. Note the layer of low stratocumulus clouds to Fred's north, a sign of relatively dry, stable air there.

The forecast for Fred
Wind shear this afternoon is expected to drop to the low range, 5 - 10 knots, and continue to remain low until Thursday morning, when it will rise to the moderate range again. Given Fred's current improving appearance, the storm should be able to attain hurricane status by Thursday. At that time, a strong trough of low pressure traversing the North Atlantic will bring higher shear, weakening the storm. The trough will also pull Fred to the northwest and then north. Most of the models foresee that this trough will not be strong enough to fully recurve Fred to the northeast and out to sea. However, with the steering pattern for this year continuing to feature plenty of deep troughs of low pressure moving off the U.S. East Coast, the odds of Fred making it all the way across the Atlantic to threaten land areas appear low at this time.

Elsewhere in the tropics
An area of concentrated thunderstorms has developed off the North Carolina coast in association with the remains of an old cold front. This system is under about 20 - 30 knots of shear, and is not tropical. However, it will bring heavy rain to eastern North Carolina and Virginia today and Wednesday, as the storm slides north-northeastward along the coast.

A strong low pressure system is expected to move into the central U.S. by this weekend, dragging a cold front into the western Gulf of Mexico. In several of their runs over the past few days, the GFS and ECMWF models have been predicting a tropical system may develop along this front in the western Gulf of Mexico by Sunday or Monday. The latest GFS phase space analysis of the predicted storm confirms that this would be a tropical cyclone, and not extratropical. There is currently not an area of disturbed weather in the Gulf, but we will have to keep an eye out there beginning this weekend, when the front moves offshore.

I'll have an update Wednesday, when I'll also announce the release of wunderground's excellent new series of storm surge pages. The new storm surge section provides more than 500 detailed, zoomed-in storm surge maps from the official storm surge model used by the National Hurricane Center--the Sea, Lake, and Overland Surge from Hurricanes (SLOSH) model. The Weather Underground has created SLOSH model worst-case flood maps for Category 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 hurricanes for the entire U.S. Atlantic coast, plus Hawaii, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and the Bahamas. Zoom-in maps of fifteen important cities such as Miami, New York City, Boston, Tampa, and Corpus Christi are included. To help coastal residents see how past storms have affected their region, the wunderground storm surge pages also include SLOSH model animations of the surge for more than 30 historic storms--from the Great Colonial Hurricane of 1635 to Hurricane Ike of 2008. Included here is one section from the new storm surge pages, "Storm Surge Survival Misconceptions".

Storm Surge Survival Misconceptions
The storm surge is usually the most dangerous threat of a hurricane. The ten deadliest U.S. hurricane disasters, including the Galveston Hurricane of 1900 (8000 killed), the Lake Okeechobee Hurricane of 1928 (2500 killed), and Hurricane Katrina of 2005 (1833 killed), were all primarily storm surge disasters. The Biloxi-Gulfport Sun Herald ran a series of stories in 2005 on people who were lucky enough to survive Hurricane Katrina's record storm surge. There were some common misconceptions that were touched on in these stories, and are reproduced here from Margie's Kieper's blog on the Hurricane Katrina storm surge.


Figure 2. A man wearing a tiny life jacket and clutching a neon green noodle and a pet dog floats on the remains of a house in Waveland, MS, during Hurricane Katrina. The photo was taken from the second floor window of a home, and the water is close to the roof line of the first floor. The home was at an elevation of about 17 feet, and the surge is close to ten feet deep here. There are electric lines running down from a pole to a home from left to right. In the distance on the right is a home with water up to the roof line. The eye is probably overhead, as the water is relatively calm and there appears to be little wind or rain, even though the pine trees are bent from the recent force of the eyewall winds. The photo was taken by Judith Bradford. Her husband, Bill Bradford, swam out and rescued the man and his dog, and two other people who floated by. He reported that the water was nothing like white water, but was a gentle, continuous flow. He was lucky. In the nearby Porteaux Bay area, a woman watched her fiance get pulled from a tree by the force of the current. The man was washed out into the Gulf and drowned. The image above is described in more detail on Margie Kieper's Katrina storm surge web page.

Misconception: Call 911 and you can be rescued, while the water is pouring into your home.
How? No one will be able to get to you. Water rises quickly--sometimes six to ten feet within minutes; cars can't drive in it, and it is usually unnavigable by boats when it is coming ashore.

Misconception: Just stuff towels under the door jambs. Then rush around to start picking up things that are close to floor level, so you can save them.
Bad idea. In a minute or so the surge will burst open the door, and instead of standing in a room with four inches of water, you'll be knocked off your feet and into whatever piece of furniture is closest, and will suddenly be in three or four feet of moving water that you can't make any headway into...just before the refrigerator, quickly rushing through the water towards you, knocks you cold.

Misconception: You'll be able to maneuver around in the rushing water.
Probably not. Some people who drowned were not even able to get out of the room they were in, when the water started pouring into the home. The speed of water in surge can be equivalent to a Class III or IV rapids (Class V is hardly navigable by expert kayakers and canoers, and Class VI is not navigable at all).

Misconception: You'll know in time.
The surge is usually not a wall of water as is often assumed, but rather a rapid rise of water of several feet over a period of minutes. It can sneak in unexpectedly, on little cat feet. Most people that were not completely taken by surprise simply happened to look out the window at the right time.

Misconception: You can outrun the storm surge in your car.
Here's an email I got last year from a resident in the Florida Keys who ignored the evacuation order for Hurricane Ike in 2008: I hate to bother you again, but we live on Marathon in the Florida Keys on the Atlantic side, and my husband says that if we see water coming up from storm surge and have an inch of water in our house, that we can outrun the storm surge in our car. Can you please tell me if there is any way this can possibly be true? P.S., I don't know of anyone who lives down here who is planning on evacuating for Ike. Everyone says they are staying. If you wait until the water is an inch high before trying to outrun the surge, the odds are that the surge will rise to over a foot high before you get your car out of the driveway. If the water is a foot high, the typical 10 - 15 mph speed of the storm surge's current has enough force to sweep a car away. In many places along the coast, there is only one road out of a low-lying region prone to storm surges, and the surge will cut off one's only escape route. The Keys have only one road, and the storm surge will likely be moving perpendicular to the road, cutting off the only escape route. One of these days, there are going to be a lot of people who fail to evacuate caught and killed in the Keys by the storm surge from a major hurricane.

How to Survive a Storm Surge
People who survived Katrina's storm surge did one of several things: they floated out an open window, and managed to hang onto debris, a tree, or some other structure above the water, until the surge receded, hours later. Or, they were able to pull themselves into an attic, or make it up to a second floor, where water did not reach, and luckily the home was not swept away. It is common in many flood-prone regions behind levees to keep an axe fastened to the wall of the attic. Then, if water comes in unexpectedly, you can get into the attic and chop a hole through the roof to escape. Don't forget to keep a length of rope there that you can use to tie yourself to a sturdy part of the house (don't tie yourself to the steel beams of the house, as these will sink).

The best way to survive a storm surge is to heed evacuation orders and leave before the surge arrives!

Storm Surge Safety Actions
- Minimize the distance you must travel to reach a safe location; the further you drive the higher the likelihood of encountering traffic congestion and other problems on the roadways.

- Select the nearest possible evacuation destination, preferably within your local area, and map out your route. Do not get on the road without a planned route, or a place to go.

- Choose the home of the closest friend or relative outside a designated evacuation zone and discuss your plan with them before hurricane season.

- You may also choose a hotel/motel outside of the vulnerable area.

- If neither of these options is available, consider the closest possible public shelter, preferably within your local area.

- Use the evacuation routes designated by authorities and, if possible, become familiar with your route by driving it before an evacuation order is issued.

- Contact your local emergency management office to register or get information regarding anyone in your household whom may require special assistance in order to evacuate.

- Prepare a separate pet plan; most public shelters do not accept pets.

- Prepare your home prior to leaving by boarding up doors and windows, securing or moving indoors all yard objects, and turning off all utilities.

- Before leaving, fill your car with gas and withdraw extra money from the ATM.

- Take all prescription medicines and special medical items, such as glasses and diapers.

- If your family evacuation plan includes an RV, boat or trailer, leave early. Do not wait until the evacuation order or exodus is well underway to start your trip.

- If you live in an evacuation zone and are ordered to evacuate by state or local officials, do so as quickly as possible. Do not wait or delay your departure, to do so will only increase your chances of being stuck in traffic, or even worse, not being able to get out at all.

- Expect traffic congestion and delays during evacuations. Expect and plan for significantly longer travel times than normal to reach your family's intended destination.

- Stay tuned to a local radio or television station and listen carefully for any advisories or specific instructions from local officials. Monitor your NOAA Weather Radio.

Source: NOAA

Jeff Masters

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265. jpsb
Quoting Patrap:


Not that Im aware of,..the BOC has been deceptively quiet this year,..and that entity isnt the one forecasted to form,but anything there this time of year has some potential as with trofs coming down,and High SST's..one has to be aware of development.
Ok, I thought that was a normal daily blob that forms on land everyday (rain forest) and dissipates over water every evening.

I'll keep an eye on it. thanks
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Quoting Patrap:
18 Z TS Fred Dynamic Models (More sophisticated models)



Patrap, seriously, are the sophisticated models coming in line with the dynamic models moving Fred in a more westerly motion than previously thought?
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Quoting TheDawnAwakening:
It seems the statistical models initialized Fred too far east now.


Best get some more class time under yer belt. The Initialization is Very Correct
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the old stalled out front trick probally wont be the last one
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18 Z TS Fred Dynamic Models (More sophisticated models)

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Quoting jpsb:
Isn't that blob in the BOC pretty much and everyday thing?


Not that Im aware of,..the BOC has been deceptively quiet this year,..and that entity isnt the one forecasted to form,but anything there this time of year has some potential as with trofs coming down,and High SST's..one has to be aware of development.
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It seems the statistical models initialized Fred too far east now.
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Fred will probably be a hurricane by the next advisory. The CIMSS Intensity Algorithm is kind of weak still with only 51kt winds and pressure at 996mb. Fred is trying to get rid of the dry air or prevent dry air from getting into his core. His core is not stable enough to undergo furious intensification, also the SSTs are not that favorable for such intensity. Shear is mighty off to his north and northwest, which is a reason why he should stay south. If he is a cyclone that wants to survive the trek of the Atlantic he will probably stay west with an anticyclone on top of his circulation. Also his 200mb circulation is strengthening as well as his centers at 500mb, 700mb and 850mb which seem all aligned. I have an introduction to Meteorology lab at 2pm through 315pm then I should be back around 330pm.
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18 Z TS Fred Statistical/Simple Models (CLIPER,BAMs,LBAR,other Statistical Models)

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shear map
Link
Member Since: July 13, 2008 Posts: 6 Comments: 10796
Quoting jeffs713:

Forecasts:
Today: Snow. Cold. Maybe some wind.
Tomorrow: Snow. Cold. Maybe some wind.
The day after: Snow. Cold. Maybe some wind.
And the day after that: Snow. Cold. Maybe some wind.
And so on..

Maybe they do like the Long Island, NY weather forecasters on WGBB AM in Westbury, NY, name their NORWAY storms!! I'm sure they're are plenty of them!!
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251. jpsb
Quoting Patrap:
Isn't that blob in the BOC pretty much and everyday thing?
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Quoting IKE:
12Z CMC...
Quoting Patrap:
The entity in the BOC is NOT the one that is forcasted to maybe form,..that Genesis will occur after the frontal passage along the Western Lower part of the front to come down into the western GOM,..


In which direction is it forecast to go. I hope not near the Victoria Pub.
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Quoting jeffs713:
I knew StormW would have a more technically correct answer than I would. ;)


Quoting StormW:


Shear is basically caused by the same thing that creates our surface winds...temperature differences in the atmosphere. There are more thermodynamics involved, but for the sake of writing forever, I wanted to keep it simple.

The shear you see on the maps now for the GOMEX and U.S. are related to the jetstream, and basically the jetstream separates cool/cold air to its north, and warm air to it's south. When you look at the CIMMS shear map, the values are derived from taking the 150-300mb layer mean, and subtracting the 700-925mb layer mean. Winds move faster in the upper atmosphere due to lack of friction. So if you have a mean wind of 60 kts in the 300-150 mb level, and in the lower level (near the surface) if you have a mean of 20 kts, then you are looking at 40 kts of wind shear.


now coming off lunch here at work...thank you both for ur explanation...i think i understand it better now :)
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Quoting IKE:
12Z CMC...


On the 850vort it just shows an unoganized blob up and down the TX coast while it picks up the trough split farther east?
Member Since: August 15, 2008 Posts: 10 Comments: 3665
247. jpsb
Quoting IKE:
Who said the GOM was off-limits the rest of the 2009 Atlantic hurricane season?
I'll believe that when I see it.
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I thought Fred was supposed to at least turned to the NW by now.It's 1pm and he's still moving(11.9W)basically due west,after a 7degree drop to the SW last night.He better start turning-like now so that he can make good on that forecast.
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Quoting BurnedAfterPosting:


not if that anticyclone lines up with it wont

the anticyclone weakened looking at the shear map
Member Since: July 13, 2008 Posts: 6 Comments: 10796
Quoting homelesswanderer:


That just gets scarier every time they do a new run. If that actually panned out I would have to do a new run! Yipe!

Very interesting!! I understand that GOM storms can be bad news! Looks like the systems if/when they do develop will be weak! I wouldn't be overly concerned, just watch the new model runs and see what happens!!
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Quoting homelesswanderer:


That just gets scarier every time they do a new run. If that actually panned out I would have to do a new run! Yipe!


The GOM is never clsoed for business with that much energy potential...what develops may not get very far, but the fuel is there
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That's what I was thinking. Looks like a big ol' hula hoop. Lol. Hopefully it'll never happen like that. Wow.

Unless systems continue to develop along the "surface trof" and trof stalls. But still there will be High Pressure in the center for this to happen imo... any thoughts?
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blog is starting awake a little
Member Since: July 13, 2008 Posts: 6 Comments: 10796
The entity in the BOC is NOT the one that is forcasted to maybe form,..that Genesis will occur after the frontal passage along the Western Lower part of the front to come down into the western GOM,..
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Quoting IKE:
12Z CMC...

has a hard time picking the gom system if not nothing at all
Member Since: July 13, 2008 Posts: 6 Comments: 10796
Quoting laflastormtracker:
I know they drag them all through TX starting over our friend BT'S house, through us, then around and around. I have never seen something like that.

For this scenerio, High Pressure will have to be centered in the Gulf...


That's what I was thinking. Looks like a big ol' hula hoop. Lol. Hopefully it'll never happen like that. Wow.
Member Since: August 15, 2008 Posts: 10 Comments: 3665
Quoting SomeRandomTexan:
Well, looks like something is trying to get going in BOC... loosing some of its convection now tho... it will have to fight some hardcore shear tho


not if that anticyclone lines up with it wont
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Well, looks like something is trying to get going in BOC... loosing some of its convection now tho... it will have to fight some hardcore shear tho
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235. IKE
12Z CMC...
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I know they drag them all through TX starting over our friend BT'S house, through us, then around and around. I have never seen something like that.

For this scenerio, High Pressure will have to be centered in the Gulf...
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Quoting homelesswanderer:


I know they drag them all through TX starting over our friend BT'S house, through us, then around and around. I have never seen something like that.

sure is
Member Since: July 13, 2008 Posts: 6 Comments: 10796
Quoting SomeRandomTexan:
WOW! lol! that is pretty intense. I mean like 3 or 4 systems there


I know they drag them all through TX starting over our friend BT'S house, through us, then around and around. I have never seen something like that.
Member Since: August 15, 2008 Posts: 10 Comments: 3665

Hurricane Juan near peak intensity
Formed October 26, 1985
Dissipated November 1, 1985
Highest
winds
85 mph (140 km/h) (1-minute sustained)
Lowest pressure 971 mbar (hPa; 28.67 inHg)
Fatalities 24 direct
Damage $1.5 billion (1985 USD)
$3 billion (2009 USD)
Areas
affected Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida Panhandle



Hurricane Juan in October-Early Nov in 1985 caused enough Flooding in Lafitte,Louisiana,that Coffin's were popping out their tombs and family were scurrying to collect their deceased Loved ones,floating down the Bayous..




More on Juan 85 here



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little naked swirl is gaining a few clouds n.e. of the northern windwards
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Quoting homelesswanderer:


That just gets scarier every time they do a new run. If that actually panned out I would have to do a new run! Yipe!

yep not good for all of us
Member Since: July 13, 2008 Posts: 6 Comments: 10796
WOW! lol! that is pretty intense. I mean like 3 or 4 systems there
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not good if that gfs pans out correctly
Member Since: July 13, 2008 Posts: 6 Comments: 10796
Quoting IKE:
Who said the GOM was off-limits the rest of the 2009 Atlantic hurricane season?


That just gets scarier every time they do a new run. If that actually panned out I would have to do a new run! Yipe!
Member Since: August 15, 2008 Posts: 10 Comments: 3665
Quoting IKE:
Who said the GOM was off-limits the rest of the 2009 Atlantic hurricane season?

wow a low forms right over me and besides that a couple of bulleyes on rain over me as well wow!
Member Since: July 13, 2008 Posts: 6 Comments: 10796
Quoting IKE:
Who said the GOM was off-limits the rest of the 2009 Atlantic hurricane season?


Surely only those who dont know her Power thru November Ike...!
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Quoting cdnbananabelt:

A strong low pressure system is expected to move into the central U.S. by this weekend, dragging a cold front into the western Gulf of Mexico. In several of their runs over the past few days, the GFS and ECMWF models have been predicting a tropical system may develop along this front in the western Gulf of Mexico by Sunday or Monday. The latest GFS phase space analysis of the predicted storm confirms that this would be a tropical cyclone, and not extratropical. There is currently not an area of disturbed weather in the Gulf, but we will have to keep an eye out there beginning this weekend, when the front moves offshore.

(The above was quoting Dr. Masters - I am asking whether that feature looks to be moving north - possibly the interaction later next weekend?)


Interesting! Any reliable information about wind shear in the Gulf during this period? It would be a player, no doubt. Water is still very warm.
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Quoting cdnbananabelt:

A strong low pressure system is expected to move into the central U.S. by this weekend, dragging a cold front into the western Gulf of Mexico. In several of their runs over the past few days, the GFS and ECMWF models have been predicting a tropical system may develop along this front in the western Gulf of Mexico by Sunday or Monday. The latest GFS phase space analysis of the predicted storm confirms that this would be a tropical cyclone, and not extratropical. There is currently not an area of disturbed weather in the Gulf, but we will have to keep an eye out there beginning this weekend, when the front moves offshore.

(The above was quoting Dr. Masters - I am asking whether that feature looks to be moving north - possibly the interaction later next weekend?)


Hmmmm? You would think it would have to come into play at some point unless it totally dissipates soon.
Member Since: August 15, 2008 Posts: 10 Comments: 3665
Quoting Grothar:


Bod, CAOC3. Very interesting. Over and out!


Skoal..Tre Beers,Please.. make um Mack-O's
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who those are interested please come to my blog thanks :)
Member Since: July 13, 2008 Posts: 6 Comments: 10796
Very interesting read from Blogger Skyepony's Current Blog entry.






NOAA Report Explains Sea Level Anomaly this Summer along the U.S. Atlantic Coast

August 31, 2009


Persistent winds and a weakened current in the Mid-Atlantic contributed to higher than normal sea levels along the Eastern Seaboard in June and July, according to a new NOAA technical report.

After observing water levels six inches to two feet higher than originally predicted, NOAA scientists began analyzing data from select tide stations and buoys from Maine to Florida and found that a weakening of the Florida Current Transport%u2014an oceanic current that feeds into the Gulf Stream%u2014in addition to steady and persistent Northeast winds, contributed to this anomaly.
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Quoting Patrap:


Im of the camp,..that the trof next weekend,come this Fri-Sat will Move Fred out to Sea ,..on a recurvature track,,but I always go with the NHC and their Cone,..as they are the Word.


Bodø, CAOC3. Very interesting. Over and out!
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Quoting CaicosRetiredSailor:
BOC looks like some surface circulation

Image centered at Latitude= 19.02 N Longitude= 94.33 W




Buoy M42055
lat: 22.00 lon: -94.00
Wind: East at 16mph



MMMT Minatitlan, Mexico
lat: 18.10 lon: -94.58
WSW at 12mph

A strong low pressure system is expected to move into the central U.S. by this weekend, dragging a cold front into the western Gulf of Mexico. In several of their runs over the past few days, the GFS and ECMWF models have been predicting a tropical system may develop along this front in the western Gulf of Mexico by Sunday or Monday. The latest GFS phase space analysis of the predicted storm confirms that this would be a tropical cyclone, and not extratropical. There is currently not an area of disturbed weather in the Gulf, but we will have to keep an eye out there beginning this weekend, when the front moves offshore.

(The above was quoting Dr. Masters - I am asking whether that feature looks to be moving north - possibly the interaction later next weekend?)
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Quoting jeffs713:

First work day after a long holiday weekend, the kiddos are in school.

hmmm thats btw am a college student so no one is preventing me from coming in here lol
Member Since: July 13, 2008 Posts: 6 Comments: 10796

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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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