Record storm surges hit Mid-Atlantic coast

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 4:22 PM GMT on November 13, 2009

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Record storm surges have caused major flooding along the North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware coasts over the past 24 hours, thanks to the powerful winds of a slow-moving Nor'easter energized by the remains of Hurricane Ida. Norfolk, Virginia, suffered its highest storm surge on record last night, when a surge of 5.96 feet hit the Sewells Point tide station. The previous record was 5.62' during Hurricane Isabel of 2003, with the Chesapeake-Atlantic Hurricane of 1933 close behind at 5.61'. Last night's peak surge did not hit at high tide, and the storm tide--the combination of surge plus the tide--peaked at 7.74' above Mean Lower Low Water (MLLW), slightly below the 7.89' storm tide of Hurricane Isabel.


Figure 1. Rain gauge-measured precipitation from Ida-extratropical for the 24 hours ending at 7 am EST this morning. The storm dumped copious amounts of rain over a wide swath of coast. Image credit: NWS Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service.

The highest storm surges at Sewell's Point tide gauge in Norfolk, Virginia since 1927:

5.96' Nov 2009 Ida-extratropical
5.62' Sep 2003 Hurricane Isabel
5.61' Aug 1933 Chesapeake-Atlantic Hurricane
4.73' Sep 1933 Hurricane 13, Cat 1)
4.66' Mar 1962 Ash Wednesday Nor'easter
4.05' Sep 1936 (Hurricane 13, Cat 2)

Top storm tides in Norfolk history:

1933 hurricane (Aug 23rd 1933)..............8.9 feet MLLW
April 11th 1956 Nor'easter..................8.0 feet MLLW
Hurricane Isabel (Sep 18th 2003)............7.9 feet MLLW
Ida-extratropical (Nov 12th 2009)...........7.8 feet MLLW
Ash Wednesday storm (Mar 7th 1962)..........7.8 feet MLLW

Serious coastal flooding is occurring from northern North Carolina to the Delaware/New Jersey border, with record high storm surges recorded at many locations. The storm surge at Lewes Point, Delaware at 9:48 pm EST last night reached 4.63 feet, beating the record high of 4.17' set during the January 4, 1992 Nor'easter. Tide records go back to 1919 at Lewes Point. The highest surge at any of the NOAA-maintained tide gauges from Ida-extratropical was 6.74' at 9:24 pm EST at Money Point, Virginia, located on an inlet about five miles south of downtown Norfolk.

Ida-extratropical also brought hurricane-force wind gusts to the Virginia coast yesterday, with a gust of 75 mph recorded at the Oceana NAS. The Norfolk airport recorded sustained winds of 52 mph, gusting to 70 mph, at the height of the Nor'easter last night. Heavy rains of 6 - 11 inches since Tuesday have created flooding on most of the the rivers along the entire North Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland coasts. Ida-extratropical is slowly weakening and pulling away to the northeast, and the rains have ended along most of the coast, though. Virginia has now seen its highest storm surges, but this afternoon's high tide cycle is likely to bring another round of record or near-record storm tides to the coasts of Maryland, Delaware, and extreme southern New Jersey. This afternoon's high tide is forecast to bring a storm tide of 7.6' to Atlantic City, NJ, which would be the 10th highest tide there since 1911, but well short of the record 8.98' storm tide during the December, 1992 Nor'easter. By Saturday, Ida-extratropical will be on its way out to sea, and the storm surges and rains will finally abate.


Figure 2. Predicted storm tide (height above Mean Lower Low Water (MLLW, the lowest tide measured in a full 19-year natural tidal cycle, black line) for Lewes, Delaware (at the mouth of Delaware Bay), as predicted by the GFS model. A storm tide of 8.0 feet is forecast this afternoon during the high tide. For a full description of this plot, see the NOAA Extratropical Surge web site.


Figure 3. Tide gauge trace from the Sewell's Point gauge in Norfolk, VA, shows a storm surge of nearly 6 feet (green line) hit at 8:30 pm EST, with a maximum storm tide of 7.8 feet above MLLW occurring at high tide. Image credit: NOAA Tides and Currents.

Storm surges and sea level rise
The storm surge flooding in the Norfolk area was exacerbated by the fact that sea level has risen and the land has subsided significantly over the past century. Over the past 60 years, absolute sea level along the coast of Virginia has risen by about 2.6 mm/year. However, the relative sea level has risen by 4.44 mm/year since 1927 (Figure 4), meaning that the land has sunk by about 1.84 mm/year. The net result is that the ocean is now about 1.16 feet higher at Norfolk than it was in 1927. The Norfolk tide gauge shows the highest rate of relative sea level rise of any gauge on the U.S. East Coast (though relative sea level rise is much higher along the Gulf Coast, with rises near 3 feet/century at New Orleans). Thus, today's 5+ foot storm surge brought water more than a foot higher in Norfolk than the 5+ foot storm surge of the 1933 hurricane. Storm surge damages will steadily increase along the entire coast this century as sea level rise accelerates and coastal development continues. It is urgent that government take action in coming years to limit development in vulnerable coastal regions. The ocean is going flood our sand castles that we are building in harm's way, at an ever increasing rate.


Figure 4. Monthly mean sea level at the Sewells Point, VA tide gauge in Norfolk, without the regular seasonal fluctuations due to coastal ocean temperatures, salinities, winds, atmospheric pressures, and ocean currents. The long-term linear trend is also shown, including its 95% confidence interval. Relative sea level has increased by 1.16 feet since 1927, the highest rate of rise on the U.S. East Coast. Image credit: NOAA Tides and Currents.

Portlight responding to the flooding in Virginia
Portlight.org is deploying up to 3 self-sufficient mobile kitchens capable of feeding over 2000 people a day to the Virginia coast. They will be providing meals for first responders, volunteers, and, of course, affected residents. Donations are welcome--visit the portlight blog to learn more and make a PayPal donation. Thanks!

Take action: sign the QuikSCAT letter
The QuikSCAT satellite, launched in 1999, provides crucial measurements of surface wind speed and direction over Earth's oceans twice per day. Forecasters world-wide have come to rely on data from QuikSCAT to issue timely warnings and make accurate forecasts of tropical and extratropical storms, wave heights, sea ice, aviation weather, iceberg movement, coral bleaching events, and El Niño. QuikSCAT's antenna is expected to fail within the next six months, according to engineers at NASA/JPL, and QuikSCAT data has already been removed from our global weather forecast models, due to concerns about data reliability.

There exists a narrow window of opportunity in the next few days to get the wheels in motion to launch a QuikSCAT replacement instrument on a Japanese satellite in 2015. The funding for this must start within the next budget cycle, and there is currently no funding in place for a replacement QuikSCAT. If we miss this this opportunity, it may be ten years or more before a QuikSCAT replacement can be launched. To this end, I urge all of you to sign the QuikSCAT funding letter being presented to John Holdren, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

The letter is at: http://coaps.fsu.edu/scatterometry/statement/.

If you agree with the letter, please sign it (via the web site) as soon as possible: there is a very small window of opportunity to influence the next budget cycle, with this window closing within a few days.

Note that to validate your signature you must type the validation code in the bottom box. This code is the word that appears after 'code =', then click on the sign button.

For more information on QuikSCAT, see my post, The case for a new QuikSCAT satellite.


Figure 5. NASA's QuikSCAT satellite, launched in 1999. Image credit: NASA.

Expect a new blog until Monday, when I'll discuss the outlook for the remainder of hurricane season. It is finally over?

Jeff Masters

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471. nrtiwlnvragn
4:31 PM GMT on November 14, 2009
Here are a couple of pdf presentations covering hurricanes and climate.

Hurricanes and Global Warming: What Does the Data Tell Us?
Chris Landsea



Is Global Warming Affecting Hurricanes, and Will it Do So in the Future?
Kerry Emanuel
Member Since: September 23, 2005 Posts: 14 Comments: 11215
470. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
4:24 PM GMT on November 14, 2009
AwakeinMD: of course I am ^_^

Madagascar has upgraded to Moderate Tropical Storm so next advisory from Mauritius may name it "Anja" now



Member Since: May 24, 2006 Posts: 51 Comments: 45599
469. lawntonlookers
4:20 PM GMT on November 14, 2009
Good morning. I see that XIDA is still out there and heading to the SE. I also see that the tides are still quite high in the Hampton Roads area. Do I see a high building up in the Maritimes that could possibly push XIDA further south?
Member Since: March 22, 2006 Posts: 9 Comments: 1570
468. AwakeInMaryland
4:11 PM GMT on November 14, 2009
Couldn't resist, one more post to add:

good slideshow of VA destruction, www.wavy.com

Link
Member Since: August 19, 2008 Posts: 32 Comments: 1918
467. beell
4:02 PM GMT on November 14, 2009
Something to look into if you're really bored-from the Doc's current post:

The storm surge flooding in the Norfolk area was exacerbated by the fact that sea level has risen and the land has subsided significantly over the past century.
Member Since: September 11, 2007 Posts: 143 Comments: 16729
466. AwakeInMaryland
3:55 PM GMT on November 14, 2009
464. HGW, you're just having a field day, aren't you? Knock yourself out!

465. Crandles, bless you and thank you! I'm just a dime-a-dozen Communications major, not a scientist!

Okay, folks, it's been great being able to ask "Weather for Dummies" questions without being flamed, and I thank you. But I've got to get off this addictive blog and tie up loose ends around here -- have WAY too many since we started watching Ida, what, seems like a month ago (exaggerating, just a little though).
We were talking about what the heck and if to name dang Ida remnants, nor'easter, big bad storm last night.
So I see TWC went through same exercise (we know you all are smarter, lol). They came up with NorIda. Eh. I think there have been better suggestions on WU.
Take care out there, and good luck in Pacific NW. I'm sure ski folks are happy this year.
Member Since: August 19, 2008 Posts: 32 Comments: 1918
465. crandles
3:47 PM GMT on November 14, 2009
Increasing destructiveness of tropical cyclones over
the past 30 years
Kerry Emanuel (One m not 2 sorry)

ftp://texmex.mit.edu/pub/emanuel/PAPERS/NATURE03906.pdf

Its quite readable.
Member Since: October 26, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 11
464. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
3:46 PM GMT on November 14, 2009
AXIO20 FIMP 141200
MAURITIUS METEOROLOGICAL SERVICES
SATELLITE TROPICAL CYLONE ANALYSIS.
1 . A SATELLITE : METEOSAT 07
2. A ORBIT NUMBER : GEOSTATIONARY
3. A ORBIT DATE/TIME : 14.11.09 @ 1200 UTC
0. B CYCLONE SERIAL NUMBER : 02
1. B CYCLONE NAME : TROPICAL DEPRESSION
2. B LATITUDE : 12.9 DEGREES SOUTH
3. B LONGITUDE : 70.8 DEGREES EAST
4. B DEGREE OF CONFIDENCE : FAIR.
5. B T. NUMBER / C.I NUMBER : 2.5 / 2.5 D 0.5/ 12HRS
6. B MOVEMENT : SOUTH SOUTH WEST 08KT
7. B OTHER INFORMATION: SYSTEM IS EXPECTED TO INTENSIFY FURTHER,
BEING FOUND IN A FAVOURABLE ENVIRONMENT.

---
Now Mauritius states cyclone number 2, LMAO
Member Since: May 24, 2006 Posts: 51 Comments: 45599
463. AwakeInMaryland
3:45 PM GMT on November 14, 2009
Thanks, HGW, that answers one of my many questions.

Okay, folks -- for those of you who aren't Mid-Atlantic & NC U.S. (because you can't miss it if you live around here),

The deal is, Gov. Tim Kaine is going to tour several most damaged parts of Virginia today, and then is expected to ask for a Major Disaster Declaration (which needs to be signed by President Obama). IMO, the declaration will be swift.
Member Since: August 19, 2008 Posts: 32 Comments: 1918
462. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
3:35 PM GMT on November 14, 2009
India Meteorological Department
14:30 PM IST November 14 2009
=====================================

The low pressure area over Comorin area and neighbourhood persists.



southern India is the low pressure area
Member Since: May 24, 2006 Posts: 51 Comments: 45599
461. AwakeInMaryland
3:31 PM GMT on November 14, 2009
460. re: Emmanuel paper

Crandles -- I've seen this referred to several times on this blog. Guess it's high time I looked it up, or at least a layperson's explanation of it (hope Wiki's is decent). Thank you.
Member Since: August 19, 2008 Posts: 32 Comments: 1918
460. crandles
3:25 PM GMT on November 14, 2009
>"Uh -- Climate Change?"

Hmm. I thought it was very difficult to see any trend in the number of storms but there may be some effect on proportion of strongest storms increasing and on power disipated ie maybe storms last longer once formed. eg Emmanuel paper a couple of years ago. (I forget reference to proportion of cat 4 and 5 papers.)
Member Since: October 26, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 11
459. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
3:25 PM GMT on November 14, 2009
Mauritius Meteorological Services
Tropical Cyclone Advisory Number TWO
DEPRESSION TROPICALE 04-20092010
16:00 PM Réunion November 14 2009
=========================================

At 12:00 PM, Tropical Depression 04R (998 hPa) located at 12.9S 70.6E has 10 minute sustained winds of 30 knots with gusts of 45 knots. The depression is reported as moving south-southwest at 4 knots.

RSMC Dvorak Intensity: T2.5

Forecast and Intensity
======================
12 HRS: 13.4S 70.5E - 40 kts (Tempête Tropicale Modereé)
24 HRS: 13.6S 70.2E - 50 kts (Forte Tempête Tropicale)
48 HRS: 14.5S 69.1E - 50 kts (Forte Tempête Tropicale)
72 HRS: 16.2S 68.2E - 30 kts (Depression Tropicale)

Additional Information
========================
The system is deepening rapidly and is tracking slowly south southwest. The last animated satellite imagery depicts a burst of convection over the supposed low level circulation center fix. Environmental conditions remains very favorable, with good equatorward inflow, a very good polar inflow thanks to the subtropical high pressures center moving south of the system. In the upper layers, the vertical wind shear is poor. An upper level outflow is developing in the southern sector. Environmental conditions are expected to remain very favorable within the next 48 hours at least. This system is expected to track slowly generally southwest within the next 24 hours, and then accelerate southwest. Its steering flow is a miss latitude ridge in its south that will move in its east progressively

The next Tropical Cyclone Advisory will be issued at around 18:30 PM UTC..
Member Since: May 24, 2006 Posts: 51 Comments: 45599
458. AwakeInMaryland
3:11 PM GMT on November 14, 2009
457.
I am sure that is going to be a very very poor analysis compared to Dr Masters next post but anyway what do you consider to be inportant missing factors?


Uh -- Climate Change?

(Now I run and hide...I have no idea really but as Acting Blog Instigator thought I'd try to get the ball rolling for you.)

454 & 455, good morning. This will be my first fall/winter w/ WU, and I'm a novice. Is this "typical", re track and blobs. If current systems get stronger, what land masses would be in path, if any? Sorry to be so stoo-pid.

Add-on: And by the by, it is SO strange to see palm trees in Great Britain. I suppose they've always been there but I never noticed before. I think we always imagine the great gardens in the U.K.
Member Since: August 19, 2008 Posts: 32 Comments: 1918
457. crandles
3:03 PM GMT on November 14, 2009
I picked 17 years for similarity to this years strengthening El Nino. Of these, 2004 had a storm form on 26 Nov, 1986 had a storm form on 18 Nov and 1969 had a storm form on 21 Nov. 3 in 17 isn't great odds of another storm forming. The models not seeing anything in next 7 days would reduce odd but MJO predicted to be in phase 3 with declining amplitude would increase odds. If those roughly cancel out we are still left at about 1 in 6 odds of something forming before season end.

I am sure that is going to be a very very poor analysis compared to Dr Masters next post but anyway what do you consider to be inportant missing factors?
Member Since: October 26, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 11
456. Skyepony (Mod)
3:01 PM GMT on November 14, 2009
That's 94S on the far right..
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 174 Comments: 38171
455. Skyepony (Mod)
3:00 PM GMT on November 14, 2009
01S
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 174 Comments: 38171
454. adb42
2:58 PM GMT on November 14, 2009
The first tropical cyclone of the Southern Hemisphere season has formed some 1100 miles eastnortheast of La Reunion in the southern Indian Ocean.
Member Since: December 6, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 43
453. unf97
2:52 PM GMT on November 14, 2009
Quoting StormW:
Good morning!


Good Morning Storm and to everyone out there on the WU blog!
Member Since: September 25, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 1193
452. Cotillion
2:47 PM GMT on November 14, 2009
On the storm yesterday. The low was named 'Hans' by the Berlin University.

"Winds of up to 100mph (160km/h) have battered parts of the UK as a storm moves across the south coast of England.

The figure was recorded at The Needles on the Isle of Wight, while Southampton was hit by winds of 59mph (94km/h).

A squally weather front is moving east with winds dying down behind that. Dorset, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight to Kent are worst affected.

Dover port was closed on Saturday afternoon due to the high winds.

BBC weather forecaster Chris Fawkes said: "It's worth pointing out that winds are usually strong at The Needles but that's nevertheless a beast of a gust."

Link

(Some of the strongest winds in that article weren't noted.. a fair few 70-80mph readings were recorded in Wales.)
Member Since: August 23, 2008 Posts: 7 Comments: 5300
Quoting StormW:
Good morning!

Good Morning, Sir,
and woof woof to your pup from ours.
I seem to have killed the blog,
but I'm sure they'll return now that you're here!
Member Since: August 19, 2008 Posts: 32 Comments: 1918
Quoting stormy2008:
Just got power back on here in Norfolk, VA... thank god for generators! :)

There was major flooding, lots of big trees up-rooted, some structural damage, etc... I'll try to post some pics later.


Hello! Glad to see you back on the webbernet.
The pics/video/stories out of Norfolk have shown some awful flooding.
How's your home?
Looking forward to your pics.
Dang, I seem to be one of the worst blog killers...
Portlight is down there somewhere, help me out someone, Poquoquin? sp?

FLOODSMART

Link
Member Since: August 19, 2008 Posts: 32 Comments: 1918
435. K8eCane 12:35 PM GMT on November 14, 2009
Quoting banjowes:

We have had the longest sustained sound side flooding that I can remember. it is still flooding and we are trapped at our home!! We are in Frisco on Hatteras Island NC. yehaw!!!

Are you in danger...its still flooding?


Good Morning (still gray skies here),

Ditto from me -- banjowes, you sound okay, but just in case...might want to call your County Emergency Management office and/or EMS/Fire & Rescue to give them a heads-up --

Here's Flooding Prep and Recovery Info:

Link
Member Since: August 19, 2008 Posts: 32 Comments: 1918
Just got power back on here in Norfolk, VA... thank god for generators! :)

There was major flooding, lots of big trees up-rooted, some structural damage, etc... I'll try to post some pics later.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
442. IKE
Quoting P451:


I know we like to focus on the OFFICIAL ending of the season. Yet we all know the season ends when the last storm has dissipated.

So I never really understood the focus put on the date (including the official start to the season) other than to know that the TWO's will be there or not.

Aside from XIda pulling a loop and re-intensifying the season is probably done.


And I don't see that happening. Models don't show it.

I think it's over already.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
NRL Monterey Marine Meteorology Division


Southern Hem.
Season: 10

Link
Member Since: July 12, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6049
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting banjowes:
We have had the longest sustained sound side flooding that I can remember. it is still flooding and we are trapped at our home!! We are in Frisco on Hatteras Island NC. yehaw!!!


Are you in danger...its still flooding?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
i think i've survived another hurricane season with my house and pocketbook intact....but i feel for those who havent and i thank the Lord for Portlight
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What Ike Said!!
Yehaw!!!!
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402 hours, eh ike? Sounds like just another work week to me...

banjowes- you sound happy. At least you still have the net to keep you occupied.
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We have had the longest sustained sound side flooding that I can remember. it is still flooding and we are trapped at our home!! We are in Frisco on Hatteras Island NC. yehaw!!!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
430. IKE
Quoting aquak9:
16 days...
18 hours...
13 minutes...and...it's over...


And then it dawns on some if us...
A. It's an ElNino winter
B. We live in the southeast.

sigh....


Just counting the hours til it's finished....

T-minus 402 and counting, right.............................................................now:)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
16 days...
18 hours...
13 minutes...and...it's over...


And then it dawns on some if us...
A. It's an ElNino winter
B. We live in the southeast.

sigh....
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
428. IKE
16 days...
18 hours...
13 minutes...and...it's over...

TROPICAL WEATHER OUTLOOK
NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
700 AM EST SAT NOV 14 2009

FOR THE NORTH ATLANTIC...CARIBBEAN SEA AND THE GULF OF MEXICO...

TROPICAL CYCLONE FORMATION IS NOT EXPECTED DURING THE NEXT 48 HOURS.

$$
FORECASTER BERG

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
427. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
laughs at the numbering system

Mauritius says 01
Madagascar say 04
Reunion takes 04 from Madagascar numbering list =P
Member Since: May 24, 2006 Posts: 51 Comments: 45599
426. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
AXIO20 FIMP 140700
1. MAURITIUS METEOROLOGICAL SERVICES
SATELLITE TROPICAL CYLONE ANALYSIS .
1 . A SATELLITE : METEOSAT 7
2. A ORBIT NUMBER : GEOSTATIONARY
3. A ORBIT DATE/TIME : 14/11/09 @ 0600Z
0. B CYCLONE SERIAL NUMBER : 01
1. B CYCLONE NAME : TROPICAL DEPRESSION
2. B LATITUDE : 12.7'S
3. B LONGITUDE : 71.2'E
4. B DEGREE OF CONFIDENCE : GOOD
5. B T. NUMBER / C.I NUMBER : 2.0 / 2.0 D 0.5 /24HR
Member Since: May 24, 2006 Posts: 51 Comments: 45599
425. xcool
lol
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
its ida reborn!! /no
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423. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
there we go!

html coding errors gone LOL
Member Since: May 24, 2006 Posts: 51 Comments: 45599
422. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)


System number 4 already this season may be the one to become ANJA.
Member Since: May 24, 2006 Posts: 51 Comments: 45599
421. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Mauritius Meteorological Services
Tropical Cyclone Advisory Number ONE
PERTURBATION TROPICALE 04-20092010
10:00 AM Réunion November 14 2009
=========================================

At 6:00 AM, Tropical Disturbance 04R (1002 hPa) located at 12.8S 71.3E has 10 minute sustained winds of 25 knots with gusts of 35 knots. The disturbance is reported as moving south-southwest at 4 knots.

RSMC Dvorak Intensity: T2.0

Forecast and Intensity
======================
12 HRS: 13.5S 71.4E - 30 kts (Depression Tropicale)
24 HRS: 14.0S 71.7E - 40 kts (Tempête Tropicale Modereé)
48 HRS: 15.2S 72.1E - 50 kts (Forte Tempête Tropicale)
72 HRS: 16.7S 71.3E - 30 kts (Depression Tropicale)

Additional Information
========================
The system has deepen rapidly during the last hours. It is moving slowly south-southwestward, Environmental conditions are expected to remain favorable for intensification within the next 36 hours, with good low layers inflows and a weak vertical wind shear. Sea surface temperatures are superior to 26C north of 16.0S.

Next Tropical Cyclone Advisory will be issued at around 12:30 PM UTC
Member Since: May 24, 2006 Posts: 51 Comments: 45599

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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.