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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Quoting GeoffreyWPB:
Super Bowl 41....did not remember that..Feb. 4, 2007

67 °F (19 °C), rainy (first Super Bowl to be played in the rain)


MUD BALL without John Madden just wouldn't be right.
Is mud weather related?
Member Since: August 19, 2008 Posts: 32 Comments: 1918
Super Bowl 41....did not remember that..Feb. 4, 2007

67 °F (19 °C), rainy (first Super Bowl to be played in the rain)
Member Since: September 10, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 11155
Quoting HIEXPRESS:
I found a grapefruit size hailstone in about 6" of ice left on the ground by a storm in Sanford, FL around the first week in April 1982 I believe. The storm did not make it into the records, but it cleaned the glass out of a lot of vehicles, including mine. The windshield was on the front seat. It was a black cloud from the North, with horizontal hail and continuous CG lightning. It stripped the metal strips from a privacy chain link fence, and wrapped them all into a big tumbleweed. Dude came into the shop with a brand new convertible Trans-AM, looking to buy duct tape.


Same thing happened in the Orlando/Maitland area during the summer in the early 1990's. Hail the size of golf balls and it was over knee deep in some parking lots in Maitland. Actually, it happened twice in less than a month. The trees in the area looked like PacMan had taken a bite out of the crown of the tree.

Our patio roof collapsed under the weight of the ice and most of us had to have our roof shingles replaced because the insurance companies agreed that the tar had been broken and the leak damage would likely occur later.

Kind of weird seeing drifts of hail almost a foot deep up against our fence.

Weather people said that it was caused by a tight loop in the jet stream that occurred over the area and took the cloud tops to over 75,000 feet. If I recall correctly, the lightning strikes totaled over 8000 in less than six hours.
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Quoting GeoffreyWPB:
Congrats to the N.O. Saints! A perfect 9-0. How great it would be for them to make it to the Super Bowl in Miami where the weather will be fantastic!


Unless it will be like Super bowl 41.
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766. Great, you got Portlight info! You're very welcome.
Member Since: August 19, 2008 Posts: 32 Comments: 1918
766. Halyn
GeoffreyWPB .. Thank you for that beautiful clip .. I have never seen a happier dog .. :)


Awake ... Thank you for the information .. :)
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The 'skins won.
WHAT????????????
The Deadskins Won.
You're joking.
No, really, I'm serious.

P.S. I LOVE post #762.

And in order to avoid a flag, in case Admin. is working during a slooooow blog & football Sunday --
Isn't Portlight in POQUOSON?

Good slide show of damages, hope they add a pic. of Portlight mobile facilities sometime!

Poquoson
Brought together by the storm


Link
Member Since: August 19, 2008 Posts: 32 Comments: 1918
Congrats to the N.O. Saints! A perfect 9-0. How great it would be for them to make it to the Super Bowl in Miami where the weather will be fantastic!
Member Since: September 10, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 11155
Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 25 Comments: 8339
For those who haven't seen this yet...A soldier returns home to reunite with his "best friend".

Member Since: September 10, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 11155
wow slow in here 3 posts for past hr cane season must really be coming to an end
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CI# /Pressure/ Vmax
5.7 / 958.5mb/107.2kt


Final T# Adj T# Raw T#
5.7 6.7 6.7

Latitude bias adjustment to MSLP : +3.3mb

Estimated radius of max. wind based on IR :<10 km

Center Temp : -21.1C Cloud Region Temp : -75.5C

Scene Type : PINHOLE EYE



hey look i see a pinehole eye
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T-11 hours and holding to the launch of Atlantis

Looking at the air force predictions, and weatherundergrounds predictions it looks perfect.. 90% chance of GO FOR LAUNCH per Air Force. There wont be a cloud in the sky.

Launch is scheduled for 2:28 p.m EST tomorrow afternoon.
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 24021
Quoting BobLouie:
What is the sea level measured relative to?


The land, I think?
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26137


Seismic Monitor

AOI

AOI

Humor in Comments
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What is the sea level measured relative to?
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Quoting P451:
Seems to have fallen apart this afternoon however.


shear on the west side, to be expected in november.
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It's a splendid, warm sunny day here, the leaves still have gorgeous colors. I'm trying to decide if we paid in advance for a day like this...or if we're going to pay, dearly.

Here's more fuel for the fire, but it's too nice to stay inside!

Maybe somebody already posted; as always, apologies in advance!


Hawaii's famed white sandy beaches are shrinking
AP …
By AUDREY McAVOY, Associated Press Writer Audrey Mcavoy, Associated Press Writer
Sat Nov 14, 8:16 pm ET

KAILUA, Hawaii – Jenn Boneza remembers when the white sandy beach near the boat ramp in her hometown was wide enough for people to build sand castles.

"It really used to be a beautiful beach," said the 35-year-old mother of two. "And now when you look at it, it's gone."

What's happening to portions of the beach in Kailua — a sunny coastal suburb of Honolulu where President Barack Obama spent his last two family vacations in the islands — is being repeated around the Hawaiian Islands.

Geologists say more than 70 percent of Kauai's beaches are eroding while Oahu has lost a quarter of its sandy shoreline. They warn the problem is only likely to get significantly worse in coming decades as global warming causes sea levels to rise more rapidly.

"It will probably have occurred to a scale that we will have only been able to save a few places and maintain beaches, and the rest are kind of a write-off," said Dolan Eversole, a coastal geologist with the University of Hawaii's Sea Grant program.

The loss of so many beaches is an alarming prospect for Hawaii on many levels. Many tourists come to Hawaii precisely because they want to lounge on and walk along its soft sandy shoreline. These visitors spend some $11.4 billion each year, making tourism the state's largest employer.

Disappearing sands would also wreak havoc on the environment as many animals and plants would lose important habitats. The Hawaiian monk seal, an endangered species, gives birth and nurses pups on beaches. The green sea turtle, a threatened species, lays eggs in the sand.

Chip Fletcher, a University of Hawaii geology professor, says scientists in Hawaii haven't yet observed an accelerated rate of sea level rise due to global warming.

Instead, the erosion the islands are experiencing now is caused by several factors including a steady historical climb in sea levels that likely dates back to the 19th century.

Other causes include storms and human actions like the construction of seawalls, jetties, and the dredging of stream mouths. Each of these human actions disrupts the natural flow of sand.

But a more rapid rise in sea levels, caused by global warming, is expected to contribute to erosion in Hawaii within decades. In 100 years, sea levels are likely to be at least 1 meter, or 3.3 feet, higher than they are now, pushing the ocean inland along coastal areas.

Fletcher says between 60 to 80 percent of the nation's shoreline is chronically eroding. But the problem is felt particularly acutely in Hawaii because the economy and lifestyle are so dependent on healthy beaches.

The state is doing everything it can to keep the sand in Waikiki, for example, joining with hotels in the state's tourist hub on a plan to spend between $2 million and $3 million pumping in sand from offshore.

Sam Lemmo, administrator of the state's Office of Conservation and Coastal Lands, says the state would need a variety of adaptation strategies for different beaches.

It would likely have to abandon hope for beaches in posh Lanikai and suburban Ewa Beach on Oahu because they're already lined with seawalls and are badly eroded.

The same probably goes for shoreline next to highways or other critical public infrastructure, where seawalls already exist or may have to be built.

Seawalls protect individual properties from encroaching waters but they exacerbate erosion nearby by preventing waves from reaching the sand needed to replenish the beach.

For undeveloped shoreline, the state wants to make sure these areas stay pristine. This happened recently when a Florida-based developer announced plans to build luxury homes on sand dunes in Kahuku on Oahu's North Shore.

"We just kind of went nuts, pulled out all the guns on that one, basically got them to back off," Lemmo said. "We're working pretty hard to keep any new development away from these areas."

The University of Hawaii's Sea Grant program is working with a consultant to develop a beach management plan for Kailua that would address how to deal with a 1 meter rise in sea level. The state hopes this will be the first of many site-specific management plans for Hawaii's beaches.

A "triage," strategy could be applied to Kailua, which is lined by multimillion-dollar homes but doesn't have seawalls.

Fletcher proposes identifying areas where a land conservation fund would buy five or six adjoining properties. The state would tear down buildings on these plots and allow the beach to shift inland.

He said when erosion hits more sections of Kailua beach, there's going to be a clamor to put up seawalls.

"That will be a very important moment," Fletcher said. "If we allow the first home to put up a seawall, then we're probably dooming the entire beach over the course of a couple of decades . . .

Ultimately the beach will disappear. Or we could have an alternative to that, to identify now some portions of Kailua shoreline where we want the beach to live."
Member Since: August 19, 2008 Posts: 32 Comments: 1918
someone was mentioning the thing in the BOC.. what is it? Dry upper low? It's creepy, looks like the eye of Sauron XD
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Quoting disasterperson:
I have a question for AwakeinMaryland. I see that you work with FEMA. I see also that you have the stats for VA. I too am a Disaster Reserve but I am with SBA. Thanks for the info. And I too am waiting for the call for VA. Keep up the info...

Just got back from my sis-in-law's birthday lunch. How cool is this -- Maybe we'll end up at the same JFO! See WU mail for my personal e-mail addy.

Also, P451, thanks for answering a question I asked last night about the remnants of the Ida She-Monster.

I'll be hopping on and off while I'm still home, so please forgive me if I don't see someone's questions and/or comments. No one's on iggy...this week...btw, my husband is waiting for one of the Taco's important emergency communications from the executive office. WU mail welcome.
Member Since: August 19, 2008 Posts: 32 Comments: 1918
Quoting P451:
CMC, GFS, NGP all continue her ESE and then kick her off to the NE - somewhat as if the energy splits and a remnant area dissipates SE'erly while the northern piece deepens and merges with another system south of Greenland.


CMC




GFS





NGP





looks to me like they are developing a surface circulation EAST of bermuda, and that goes north, yet the big low that everyone is watching will go south.
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Global average sea level rise for the past few hundred years has been between 1 and 3 mm per year. So Virginia has lucked out, being on the mow side. In 60 years, the sea has risen there 6 1/4 inches. The land has sunk 4 1/4 inches. So that's a grand total of 10 1/2 inches in 60 years.

Sea level is dropping in Alaska. Australia has seen only 1 mm/yr over the last 150 years. Amsterdam, 1.5 mm. For us metrically handicapped Americans, 1 mm is 4/100ths of an inch.

Globally, we have had slowly rising sea levels for the last 7,000 years or so, and there is no reason to expect that to stop. The unusual thing, the shocking news, the worrisome news would be if the level of the sea remained constant for any significant time.

Despite alarmists' prognoses, sea levels are not expected to rise significantly faster in the near (100 year range) future than they have over the last 6,000 years.

Nonetheless, Jeff is right is his opinion that those who build their houses on the sand have failed to follow good advice -- and governments should restrict such development. Sky-scraping hotels and co-ops built on sand bars and barrier islands (just bigger sand bars) are unwise investments.



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745. xcool



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Quoting 789:
456 was seriuosly missed by a lot of us ,my version of welcome back ,thanks atmo ,taz your name fits you well peace dude



789 thanks
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:




front is building even more rain looks like lots of rain orca break out the boots better than aa shovel



I think its time to go and make sure the gutters are clean... back later
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742. 789
Quoting atmoaggie:

I knew exactly where he was and that was a joke. A rather clear joke if you read it.
Wrong side of the bed???
Nothing in my post today could possibly make you think I actually thought he was banned...
456 was seriuosly missed by a lot of us ,my version of welcome back ,thanks atmo ,taz your name fits you well peace dude
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Quoting Tazmanian:
789 and atmoaggie 456 was nevere banned i dont no where you guys evere came up with that he was not on the blogs for 8 days be come he had a cold and now he is feeling better


i say i think atmoaggie sould be the one that get banned for 24hr for giveing out fales inof about some one that got banned when they did not he was out with a cold and now he is better

I knew exactly where he was and that was a joke. A rather clear joke if you read it.
Wrong side of the bed???
Nothing in my post today could possibly make you think I actually thought he was banned...
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I have a question for AwakeinMaryland. I see that you work with FEMA. I see also that you have the stats for VA. I too am a Disaster Reserve but I am with SBA. Thanks for the info. And I too am waiting for the call for VA. Keep up the info...
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789 and atmoaggie 456 was nevere banned i dont no where you guys evere came up with that he was not on the blogs for 8 days be come he had a cold and now he is feeling better


i say i think atmoaggie sould be the one that get banned for 24hr for giveing out fales info about some one that got banned when they did not he was out with a cold and now he is better
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Quoting Orcasystems:



KOG, they are calling for almost a foot of rain here between now and Tuesday :(

Pineapple express :(




front is building even more rain looks like lots of rain orca break out the boots better than aa shovel
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
should maintain heading ese today then drift further s mon and tuesday then become stationary on wed from what i see may end up near 25 n 60 w



KOG, they are calling for almost a foot of rain here between now and Tuesday :(

Pineapple express :(
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Quoting Bordonaro:

Intensifying over the Warm Gulf Stream waters as we watch! Whether or not she becomes a STS or a TD again is up in the air at the moment.

It would not surprise me to see her sail up the Eastern Seaboard again as a Nor'Easter or a STS.

I think she is beyond the Gulf stream...and the waters are not all that warm, either.

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To borrow from 456's blog, the analysis of XIda's rainfall shows a local maximum NW of the Wakefield, VA radar of over 200 mm (7.9 inches). This analysis does not include WSR-88D radar estimates per the caption from NASA/GSFC/TRMM. The radar data showed nearly that same maximum, but was appropriately discounted due to bright banding from the mixed phase hydrometeors.


Caption from TRMM: The rainfall analysis above used merged rainfall Data (3B42) from TRMM, other NASA satellites, Department of Defense satellites, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration polar-orbit satellites, and geostationary satellites.

So, my question, for which I cannot come up with an acceptable answer, is the rainfall by microwave and IR satellite measurement also affected by the same features we know existed there and were the reason the radar reflectivity-derived rainfall totals were discounted? I am not a rainfall rate by satellite expert by any means.

Nothing in the algorithm details answers my question...not directly anyway.
The algorithm 3B42 details, executive summary style: http://trmm.gsfc.nasa.gov/3b42.html
Maybe there is a nugget there that means a little something more to someone else besides myself.
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Quoting Bordonaro:

Intensifying over the Warm Gulf Stream waters as we watch! Whether or not she becomes a STS or a TD again is up in the air at the moment.

It would not surprise me to see her sail up the Eastern Seaboard again as a Nor'Easter or a STS.
should maintain heading ese today then drift further s mon and tuesday then become stationary on wed from what i see may end up near 25 n 60 w
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Quoting CybrTeddy:
I really am not sure what Ex-Ida's doing..


Intensifying over the Warm Gulf Stream waters as we watch! Whether or not she becomes a STS or a TD again is up in the air at the moment.

It would not surprise me to see her sail up the Eastern Seaboard again as a Nor'Easter or a STS.
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Quoting 789:
i see your bann is over lmao glad your better good blog !


lol, That is a good one. If I did get banned that long (8 days), I would never have return.
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AOI/XX/XXL
MARK
31.1N/66.3W

183 DEGREES SSW OF BERMUDA
MOVEMENT 108 DEGREES ESE
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Quoting 789:
i see your bann is over lmao glad your better good blog !


LOL. He probably doesn't even know about the pseudo-rumor I started...

456, someone asked where you were, so in a moment of too-dry humor I said:
"He got banned for posting an on-topic image"

A few folks didn't catch the "on"-topic part and thought you had been banned...I think it was straightened out.

Glad you are back and presumably over your illness (or on your way).
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727. 789
Quoting Weather456:


I went on the assumption, other energetics were incorporated after Ida went Extra-tropical.
i see your bann is over lmao glad your better good blog !
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Oh, well, it would be an interesting map if you could see the whole thing, trust me!!!
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26137
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26137
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26137


AOI/XX/XXL
MARK
31.1N/66.3W
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Quoting P451:


I think that is long gone. I think that got booted to the NE or flat out ran over by XIda's outer reaches. Possibly even absorbed.


November 11th: (98 in the lower right)



November 13th: (98 = gone)

IMG alt=""

src="http://i38.tinypic.com/6pswad.jpg">






451, I agree with you on I98L. I beleive that when Ida transfered her energy to the new Ida off the SC coast, 98 got pulled into it. What we are calling the XIda near Bermuda was the circulation that was off the VA, NC coast for the last few days.
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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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