Embattled UK climate scientist steps down

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:53 PM GMT on December 03, 2009

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The embattled director of the University of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit (CRU), Dr. Phil Jones, announced that he will be temporarily standing aside as director. An independent review of his conduct in light of the emails illegally hacked from his computers last month is in progress. In a press release, Professor Jones said: "What is most important is that CRU continues its world leading research with as little interruption and diversion as possible. After a good deal of consideration I have decided that the best way to achieve this is by stepping aside from the Director's role during the course of the independent review and am grateful to the University for agreeing to this. The Review process will have my full support".

The University and the police are investigating the break-in, and it is currently unknown if this was the act of an insider or an external break-in. I think it is highly unlikely this was the work of an insider in a whistle-blower type of action, since a computer at realclimate.org was hacked into the same week (via a computer in Turkey), and the criminal attempted to upload the emails stolen from CRU to the realclimate.org server. This is not the sort of action a whistleblower would do. Dr. Gavin Schmidt of realclimate.org said in a comment yesterday that the CRU break-in appeared to have been done from the outside, into a backup mail server. It is unlikely the hacker acted alone, since hackers aren't typically intimately familiar with the details of the climate change science debate. The emails and code stolen were selectively culled by someone who appeared to have considerable expertise in climate science.

What did Dr. Jones do wrong?
So, what did Dr. Jones do wrong? For starters, he should have confronted the allegations raised by his critics immediately and talked candidly to the press about some of the specific accusations being made. For example, one of the emails contained the statement that he would like to "redefine what the peer-reviewed literature is" to exclude two questionable papers from the IPCC report. Well, that's not something a good scientist should seriously advocate, and is an impossibility, in any case. No one can redefine the peer-reviewed literature, since the rules for this are well-established an not subject to change. When I read the comment in the context it was made, it reads as a joke. There is no discussion in the hacked emails about how to go about redefining the peer-reviewed literature. In the end, the two papers Jones was referring to with this comment, McKitrick and Michaels (2004) and Kalnay and Cai (2003), ended up being cited and discussed in Chapter 2 of the IPCC AR4 report. Those intent on discrediting the science of human-caused global warming are spinning the comment differently, creating a controversy about something that is impossible to do, and was not being seriously suggested. Jones should have immediately spoken up to quash the hype on this comment.

The "trick" to "hide the decline"
Another area of concern is over a graph Dr. Jones helped construct in 1999 showing the "hockey stick" of Earth's surface temperature going back 1,000 years. This graph combined instrumental measurements made since the 1800s with older paleoclimate data (including data from tree rings) to show a continuous 1,000 year record of Earth's temperatures. The paleoclimate data after 1960 show a bogus decline in Earth's temperatures that does not agree with what modern thermometers have been measuring, due to a well-known variation in tree ring thickness as a function of time, referred to as "the decline". Thus, Jones elected to toss out the bogus paleoclimate data (using a "trick" to "hide the decline") rather than present it in the graph. The graph was not properly labeled to show this was done, so viewers of the graph would have had needed to be familiar with a 1998 paper published in Nature or the 1999 paper referenced in the caption on the graph, which explained this well-known data issue. The graph that Jones used his "trick" on was put into a 1999 report called the "WMO Statement on the Status of the Global Climate". The report was given to policy makers, but was never published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. No reputable climate scientist believes that the paleoclimate data since 1960 is of higher quality than the instrumental record (this is discussed in detail in Chapter 6 of the 2007 IPCC report). In order to make the "hokey stick" graph less confusing, removing "the decline" from the tree ring data is a reasonable thing to do--provided one labels the graph properly. The graph was not properly labeled. Does Jones' "trick" and failure to properly label the graph constitute data falsification, or was it merely sloppy science? The hacked emails contain no suggestions that the "trick" was done to intentionally fool people, and the "trick" never appeared in the peer-reviewed scientific literature, including the IPCC reports. In Dr. Jones' words, "This is well-known and is called the "decline" or "divergence". The use of the term "hiding the decline" was in an email written in haste. CRU has not sought to hide the decline. Indeed, CRU has published a number of articles that both illustrate, and discuss the implications of, this recent tree-ring decline, including the article that is listed in the legend of the WMO Statement figure".




Figure 1. The WMO 1999 "hockey stick" figure (top) with climate reconstructions and instrumental temperatures merged, and a version (bottom) with the climate reconstructions (coloured) and instrumental temperatures (annual & summer in black) shown separately. Note "the decline" in the temperature obtained from tree ring data (green curve) in the bottom curve. Image credit: University of East Anglia.

Global warming contrarians are spinning the "trick" as reason to discredit the "hockey stick", claiming that the data was falsified to hide the fact that tree rings were telling the real story. Since the hockey stick was falsified, some claim, the entire science behind human-caused global warming needs to be questioned. This is plain ludicrous. The graph was never published in a scientific journal. Several updated versions of the "hockey stick" graph have been published in the ten years since the disputed graph was produced, and the "hockey stick" can be reproduced in essentially the same form excluding the controversial tree rings, using other paleoclimate data such as boreholes (See Mann et al., 2008, Figure 2). Furthermore, the peer-reviewed science supporting human-caused global warming is not based solely upon the "hockey stick" and the CRU data used for the last 150 years of the hockey stick graph. There are three separate data sets of global temperatures maintained by NASA, the CRU, and NOAA's National Climatic Data Center, that all show essentially the same global warming. We also have evidence from nature herself in the form of plants and animals expanding their ranges poleward, the record loss of Arctic sea ice in 2007 and record loss of multi-year Arctic sea ice this year, the shrinking of mountain glaciers, reductions in the length of freeze season in many Northern Hemisphere lakes and rivers, the shifting of spring blooms earlier in most regions of the world, and on and on and on. Again, Jones should have spoken up immediately to kill the ridiculous hype being pushed by global warming contrarians about the importance of a 10-year old graph that is now scientifically irrelevant, and was never published.


Figure 2. The "hockey stick" of global temperature anomalies since 300 A.D., as published in a 2008 paper in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by Mann et al.. Even if one excludes tree rings (blue curve), the hockey stick looks the same.

Resistance to releasing data to other researchers
The hacked emails also show that Dr. Jones resisted releasing his data to contrarians and urged others to delete emails regarding Freedom Of Information (FOI) related requests. Many countries protect their weather data under an international agreement called World Meteorological Organization Resolution 40, which prohibits the data from being made public (this is why wunderground can't give out the UKMET model forecasts on our web site, for example). About 5% of the CRU data fell in that category, making release illegal. However, deleting emails related to FOI requests is inadvisable and implies one has something to hide. The investigation should certainly pursue the issue of whether Dr. Jones properly handled the requests to turn over his data to outside researchers. Ideally, weather data documenting Earth's climate history should be free to everyone on the planet (I am not a big fan of WMO Resolution 40). However, another aspect to this issue is the time it takes for the scientists involved to prepare the data for release. Large, complicated data sets require extensive documentation and access to related computer codes in order to process them, and making the data available to every amateur investigator interested in the data puts an unfair burden on the scientists who maintain the data sets. In particular, an amateur climate science investigator named Stephen McIntyre, who runs the web site Climate Audit, has created such an issue. McIntyre, a retired mining executive and an investor, is not a professional scientist, but has been successful identifying several technical errors made in the published literature. He has also generated a huge amount of misleading and incorrect information over the years, and has done a tremendous amount of damage to the understanding of climate science. McIntyre is intent on discrediting the science of human-caused global warming--presumably for ideological reasons, since he has no obvious ties to the fossil fuel industry--and has generated a large number of Freedom of Information requests to further his cause. One of the hacked emails, from Dr. Ben Santer, complained that McIntyre's FOI requests were intrusive and unreasonable with no scientific justification or explanation given, and appeared to be a calculated strategy to divert Santer's attention and focus away from research. It's worth reading Santer's reaction to the hacked email affair to learn more. Given such tactics by McIntyre, Dr. Jones' resistance to FOI requests from McIntyre is understandable, but appears to have been poorly handled.

The science of human-caused global warming remains unaffected
None of the hacked emails reveal any conspiracy to publish falsified or "fudged" material in the peer-reviewed scientific literature. The science of human-caused global warming will require no revision as a result of this affair. Baseless accusations of fraud, data manipulation, and conspiracy against climate change scientists stemming from the hacked emails are being massively hyped by the Manufactured Doubt industry in an effort to discredit climate scientists, since no flaw with the science can be found. Most of the public is in no position to distinguish good science from bad, so if you can create doubt, uncertainty, and confusion, you can win--or at least buy time, lots of it. The hacked email affair is all about politics, not science. Dr. Jones is an excellent scientist, but unfortunately was over-matched as a politician. It was hardly a fair fight--one scientist against the political might of the mightiest PR campaign against science ever waged, armed with some selectively culled stolen emails taken out of context.

Other posts in this series
The Manufactured Doubt industry and the hacked email controversy
Is more CO2 beneficial for Earth's ecosystems?

Next post
I'm working on a post called, "Don't shoot the messenger", and plan to run this Sunday or Monday.

Our Climate Change expert, Dr. Ricky Rood, will be in Copenhagen for Monday's start to the crucial COP15 climate change treaty negotiations. Be sure to tune into his blog for updates on the talks. Wunderground has provided financial support for several University of Michigan students to attend the talks, and I may be featuring portions of their blogs over the coming weeks.

Jeff Masters

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1175. Patrap
GOES-8 Viz



US radar




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1174. xcool
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1173. xcool
FLPandhandleJG im.on working it
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Still not much of an update on FL's snow chances...hoping forecasts change a bit tonight.
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xcool.. any new maps with the GFS with any luck towards the panhandle of FL lol .. thanks
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1168. xcool
btwntx08 were you at
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Quoting hurricanejunky:


Grothar! I thought you were traveling.


he is, he has to get some Urge LOL
Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 24 Comments: 8201
Quoting Grothar:


You know Antonio?


Grothar! I thought you were traveling.
Member Since: August 28, 2006 Posts: 6 Comments: 2895
35 give or take in mid Galveston county
Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 1 Comments: 9628
25N 85W "Thar She Blows"
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Bayside Subdivision, Miramar Beach, Florida (PWS)
Updated: 1 sec ago
Scattered Clouds
46.8 °F
Scattered Clouds
Windchill: 44 °F
Humidity: 84%
Dew Point: 42 °F
Wind: 7.0 mph from the North
Wind Gust: 10.0 mph
Pressure: 30.04 in (Falling)
Visibility: 10.0 miles
UV: 2 out of 16
Clouds:
Scattered Clouds 1800 ft
(Above Ground Level)
Elevation: 25 ft

would love to c some snow tonight or early morning..
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Quoting TheCaneWhisperer:


Glad it's the weekend and I don't have to work tomorrow.


Well, what a way to start the weekend :0)!! Watching that color radar and lurking/hanging out with your pals on WU!!
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1159. Grothar
Quoting pearlandaggie:


should it have a symbol...say, something like this?


You know Antonio?
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Earlier? Faster? Further south?

The rain/snow on NWS hourly plot (for Covington, LA) has not changed in 2 days...except to reduce the total snowfall amount in the last day.


(full size, click!)
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12461
Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 24 Comments: 8201
Quoting Bordonaro:


LATEST FROM THE SPC REGARDING SEVERE WEATHER THREAT FOR FLORIDA

DAY 1 CONVECTIVE OUTLOOK
NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER NORMAN OK
0140 PM CST FRI DEC 04 2009

VALID 042000Z - 051200Z

...THERE IS A SLGT RISK OF SVR TSTMS ACROSS THE SOUTHERN HALF OF THE
FL PENINSULA...

...SOUTH FL...
ADJUSTED THE ONGOING SLIGHT RISK TO INCORPORATE MORE OF THE SOUTHERN
FL PENINSULA...BUT FEW CHANGES TO PRIOR OUTLOOK REASONING WITH THE
PRIMARY SEVERE THREAT STILL EXPECTED LATER TONIGHT. SHOWERS WITH
SOME LIGHTNING PRODUCING CONVECTION SHOULD GRADUALLY BECOME MORE
COMMON INTO TONIGHT...WITH THE BULK OF THIS OCCURRING TO THE NORTH
OF A GRADUALLY NORTHWARD RETREATING FRONTAL BOUNDARY ACROSS THE FL
PENINSULA AHEAD OF AN AMPLIFYING SOUTHERN STREAM SHORTWAVE TROUGH
FROM TX TO THE CENTRAL GULF COAST STATES. BUT AS THE UPPER SYSTEM
APPROACHES/DEEP LAYER WIND FIELDS STRENGTHEN AND A MOIST/POTENTIALLY
UNSTABLE AIRMASS RETURNS NORTHWARD OVER SOUTHERN
PENINSULA...POTENTIAL FOR SURFACE BASED STORMS CAPABLE OF DAMAGING
WINDS/FEW TORNADOES WILL INCREASE MAINLY LATE TONIGHT/EARLY
SATURDAY
.

..GUYER.. 12/04/2009


Glad it's the weekend and I don't have to work tomorrow.
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1154.

The temperature in Galveston, TX at 1:53PM was 39F.
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Quoting RitaEvac:
Folks along La coast and Miss. dont get your panty in a wade just yet....a non event is happening here in Galveston county along the TX coast, rain mixed with snow/sleet is all we are seeing, it's not even sticking to the roofs, cars/windows or anything. it's too warm

What temp are yall at Rita?
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1153. SQUAWK
The Saints need to be very careful this Sunday. I remember a season not so long ago when Dallas went undefeated except for 1 game -- yea, they lost to the Redskins -- and that was the only game the skins won that year. Not so long after that it reversed. Only game Dallas won was against the skins. A down dog can be very dangerous sometimes.
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Folks along La coast and Miss. dont get your panty in a wade just yet....a non event is happening here in Galveston county along the TX coast, rain mixed with snow/sleet is all we are seeing, it's not even sticking to the roofs, cars/windows or anything. it's too warm
Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 1 Comments: 9628
Quoting TheCaneWhisperer:


A couple years ago, similar situation, had one touch down less than a mile from the house. I couldn't sleep a wink after that, the noise was very unique. I had never been that close to a tornado before.


LATEST FROM THE SPC REGARDING SEVERE WEATHER THREAT FOR FLORIDA

DAY 1 CONVECTIVE OUTLOOK
NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER NORMAN OK
0140 PM CST FRI DEC 04 2009

VALID 042000Z - 051200Z

...THERE IS A SLGT RISK OF SVR TSTMS ACROSS THE SOUTHERN HALF OF THE
FL PENINSULA...

...SOUTH FL...
ADJUSTED THE ONGOING SLIGHT RISK TO INCORPORATE MORE OF THE SOUTHERN
FL PENINSULA...BUT FEW CHANGES TO PRIOR OUTLOOK REASONING WITH THE
PRIMARY SEVERE THREAT STILL EXPECTED LATER TONIGHT. SHOWERS WITH
SOME LIGHTNING PRODUCING CONVECTION SHOULD GRADUALLY BECOME MORE
COMMON INTO TONIGHT...WITH THE BULK OF THIS OCCURRING TO THE NORTH
OF A GRADUALLY NORTHWARD RETREATING FRONTAL BOUNDARY ACROSS THE FL
PENINSULA AHEAD OF AN AMPLIFYING SOUTHERN STREAM SHORTWAVE TROUGH
FROM TX TO THE CENTRAL GULF COAST STATES. BUT AS THE UPPER SYSTEM
APPROACHES/DEEP LAYER WIND FIELDS STRENGTHEN AND A MOIST/POTENTIALLY
UNSTABLE AIRMASS RETURNS NORTHWARD OVER SOUTHERN
PENINSULA...POTENTIAL FOR SURFACE BASED STORMS CAPABLE OF DAMAGING
WINDS/FEW TORNADOES WILL INCREASE MAINLY LATE TONIGHT/EARLY
SATURDAY
.

..GUYER.. 12/04/2009
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1150. Patrap
GOM IR Loop

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1149. Patrap
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1147. IKE
From the Tallahassee afternoon discussion....

"WITH WINTRY PRECIPITATION FALLING WITH THIS SYSTEM OVER IN THE
HOUSTON TX AREA THIS AFTERNOON...THERE HAS BEEN ALOT OF QUESTIONS AS
TO THE SNOW/MIX POTENTIAL FOR OUR NECK OF THE WOODS. NO MATTER WHAT
GUIDANCE PACKAGE YOU LOOK AT...IT APPEARS THE CHANCES FOR ANY
WINTRY PRECIP IN OUR AREA IS VERY LOW.
PARTIAL THICKNESSES HOLD
ABOVE TYPICAL VALUES UNTIL AFTER THE PRECIP HAS EXITED TO THE EAST.
THESE VALUES GET CLOSE TO WHAT WOULD BE LOOKED AT FOR A RAIN/SNOW
MIX TO THE NORTHWEST OF DOTHAN LATE TONIGHT...HOWEVER NAM/GFS
SOUNDINGS BOTH SHOW AT LEAST A 1200 FOOT ABOVE FREEZING LAYER UNTIL
AFTER THE PRECIP ENDS. THIS LAYER WILL BE PLENTY ENOUGH TO MELT ANY
FLAKES. THEREFORE...LOOKS LIKE JUST A COLD RAIN EVENT FOR ALL WITH
TEMPS IN THE 30S AND 40S."
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Quoting alaina1085:

Awesome!


yeah, about time! LOL
Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 24 Comments: 8201
Quoting tornadodude:
Was walking across campus to my office, and it started snowing (: finally

Awesome!
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Was walking across campus to my office, and it started snowing (: finally
Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 24 Comments: 8201
It snowed yesterday here in northern New Mexico and DAMN its cold.

Must mean something.
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Quoting TheCaneWhisperer:


A couple years ago, similar situation, had one touch down less than a mile from the house. I couldn't sleep a wink after that, the noise was very unique. I had never been that close to a tornado before.


My late wife saw the funnel cloud come down over our neighborhood in SW Arlington, TX in 4-1994. She said it sounded like a thousand freight trains as it passed. About 15 min later, an F4 Tornado hit Lancaster, TX, at NIGHT, causing extensive damage.

Like an idiot, my kids and I did NOT watch the weather, we were at the Ballpark in Arlington watching golf ball size hail, 60MPH winds and vivid lightning/thunder. When I got home, my late wife ALMOST kicked my butt.
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1141. Patrap
NWS Radar National Loop,Full Rez
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1140. Skyepony (Mod)
natrwalkn~ Looks like you've got a great chance of precipitation, just laying a little right of the cold enough to snow line. If the cold air pushes a little deeper south you'll get snow.
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The cold air should be here soon. Central Louisiana is 10 degrees colder then SELA, so the line of cool air is making its way.
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Quoting Inyo:


No, of course not. But it is odd that some people are more outraged about one scientist misusing statistics than they are about corporations and a complicit administration literally denying/deleting data, which was all too common during the last administration.

I don't actually have time to keep up with this blog now, but wanted to throw that out there

Misusing data among your peers is one thing. You mention that the last administration deleted information yet, you ignore the admission by UEA that the original data had been 'accidentally' erased. Either deleting data is wrong, no matter who does it, or...

Misusing data to falsely influence those in power that we are all going to die soon is something altogether different.

It could be that those caught up in AGW are simply unwitting dupes, who are seizing the moment for their 'fifteen minutes of fame' before fading back into the background from whence they came.

Either way, they are 'withholding evidence' and/or 'tampering with evidence' and that is not right.

I repeat, WE, the people of the entire planet deserve to have unfettered access to the data and to the methodology that was used to bring those scientists to their conclusions. If it is, as they insist, this is as simple as 2 plus 2 equals 4, there will be no denying it. Either the proof is there for all to see and for the AGW crowd to then snicker and then say 'See, I told you so.', or it is not.

Don't you think it a bit odd that they are so steadfast in their refusal to release the original 'unaltered' data?

Kinda like the kid standing before his mother with a cookie behind his back insisting he didn't get into the cookie jar, all the while spinning around as mom attempts to see what he has behind his back!!
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Quoting Bordonaro:


That is a PARTICULARY DANGEROUS SITUATION shaping up. NIGHT TIME TORNADOES are extremely dangerous, as it's dark, they're rain wrapped, and you have little warning they are approaching, until it's too late. Pay close attention to ANY watches/warning issued for your area!!!


A couple years ago, similar situation, had one touch down less than a mile from the house. I couldn't sleep a wink after that, the noise was very unique. I had never been that close to a tornado before.
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Quoting natrwalkn:
Thanks Bordonaro. That's sorta what I figured. Keeping my fingers crossed for a nice snowfall!! Hope all you folks in the deep south enjoy yours! :-)


You're welcome. I am going on a hunch, as I am NOT a meteorologist, but I have been watching weather for almost 42 yrs, this storm system may produce some hefty snow totals. Earlier computer model runs showed the heaviest precip was expected OFFSHORE of the Carolina's. That may change :0)!!
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1135. boyzNme
Snowing in Southeast Texas! Just spoke to the folks in Silsbee, TX (north of Beaumont) and it is snowing really well. There is nothing sticking to the ground, but it is an amazing site to see. Just wanted to share.
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Quoting TheCaneWhisperer:
Updated graphic from SPC comes out in 36 minutes. Seems conditions are ever improving for Severe WX and tornado's tonight Bordonaro.


That is a PARTICULARY DANGEROUS SITUATION shaping up. NIGHT TIME TORNADOES are extremely dangerous, as it's dark, they're rain wrapped, and you have little warning they are approaching, until it's too late. Pay close attention to ANY watches/warning issued for your area!!!
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Thanks Bordonaro. That's sorta what I figured. Keeping my fingers crossed for a nice snowfall!! Hope all you folks in the deep south enjoy yours! :-)
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Quoting natrwalkn:
I know everyone on here is excited about the snow in Texas and Louisiana, but I'd love to get an analysis of the snow potential for Greensboro, NC. I'm hoping to get a little snoww but forecasters are only calling for a slight dusting at the most. Are they being conservative with the forecast and could we get a small accumulation? Thanks!


This is an evolving system. It is starting to get its act together. You wull have a better idea of the snowfall potential for your area in about 12 hrs.

This system has already produced the earliest snowfall over SE TX. This is a storm that just might surprise everybody.

W NC at the moment stands to receive the heaviest snowfall, up to 3-6" in the mtns. And lesser amounts the closer to the coast, maybe 1-3". Just kinda need to "watch and wait" :0)
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Updated graphic from SPC comes out in 36 minutes. Seems conditions are ever improving for Severe WX and tornado's tonight Bordonaro.
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I know everyone on here is excited about the snow in Texas and Louisiana, but I'd love to get an analysis of the snow potential for Greensboro, NC. I'm hoping to get a little snoww but forecasters are only calling for a slight dusting at the most. Are they being conservative with the forecast and could we get a small accumulation? Thanks!
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HERE IT COMES LA, MS and AL

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I'm wishcasting too.
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Quoting tornadodude:
Lafayette, Purdue University Airport
Lat: 40.43 Lon: -86.93 Elev: 623
Last Update on Dec 4, 1:54 pm EST

Overcast

28 °F
(-2 °C)
Humidity: 58 %
Wind Speed: W 13 MPH
Barometer: 30.20" (1023.3 mb)
Dewpoint: 15 °F (-9 °C)
Wind Chill: 17 °F (-8 °C)

Visibility: 10.00 mi

OMG, stay inside.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
A WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY MEANS THAT PERIODS OF SNOW...SLEET...OR
FREEZING RAIN WILL CAUSE TRAVEL DIFFICULTIES. BE PREPARED FOR
SLIPPERY ROADS AND LIMITED VISIBILITIES...AND USE CAUTION WHILE
DRIVING
.

Welcome to my world!
DC is the land of northern hospitality,
and southern efficiency.

(Stolen, er, borrowed from a famous local comedian except I can't remember his famous name right now.)
Member Since: August 19, 2008 Posts: 32 Comments: 1918

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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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