The Lost Hurricane/Typhoon Hunters VI: Typhoon Bess, October 12th, 1974

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:20 PM GMT on December 28, 2009

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It's getting to be the end of the year, and its time to conclude the 6-part series I began earlier this year honoring the memory of the hurricane and typhoon hunter missions that never returned to base. I've made a permanent link to the series on the "Articles of Interest" section of our tropical/hurricane page.

The most recent recent loss of a Hurricane Hunter flight came on October 12, 1974. An Air Force WC-130H (tail number 65-0965, call sign Swan 38), from the 54th Weather Reconnaissance Squadron based at Anderson AFB, Guam, was lost in the South China Sea while flying Category 1 Typhoon Bess. Bess had formed east of the Philippines on October 8, then passed over northern Luzon Island on the 11th, triggering flooding and landslides that killed 29 people and caused $9 million in damage. On the 12th, Bess emerged over the South China Sea as a minimal Category 1 typhoon with 75 mph winds, and "Swan 38" was sent out to provide reconnaissance information. The aircraft had only recently arrived at the 54th WRS after having been converted to WC-130H, and had previously spent eight years assigned to combat rescue as an HC-130H. Swan 38 departed Clark Air Base in the Philippines, and successfully completed its first penetration and most of an "Alpha pattern" peripheral track. They were preparing for their second penetration, on the north side of the storm about 400 miles northwest of Clark AFB, when the last radio contact came at about 2200. An investigation board later speculated the crew was on the final leg inbound to make a second fix when they encountered some catastrophic problem. No emergency communications were received. Four days of relentless searching by rescue aircraft and two surface ships proved unsuccessful, and the six crewmen were declared missing and presumed dead. The name "Bess" was retired from the active list of typhoon names as a result of the loss, and the call sign "Swan 38" was also retired. A plaque honoring the crew was affixed to the squadron building at Andersen AFB (the plaque was removed when the 54th closed in 1987, and it's whereabouts are currently unknown). The crew members, carried on AWS rolls as Killed In Action, were:

Capt Edward R. Bushnell
1Lt Gary W. Crass
1Lt Michael P. O'Brien
1Lt Timothy J. Hoffman
TSgt Kenneth G. Suhr
Sgt Detlef W. Ringler


Figure 1. Above: plaque dedicated to the crew of Swan 38 (WC-130H 65-0965), located at Kirtland AFB. Inset image, top left: Swan 38 during an engine-running crew change at Guam in 1974. Image credit: Tom Robison.

Sources: Air Reconnaissance Weather Association May 2008 Newsletter; New York Times 13 Oct 1974 58:1; http://www.awra.us/WhiskeyCharlie.html by Tom Robison, 1974 Annual Typhoon report of the Joint Typhoon Warning Center.

Other notes:
The Air Force has had 24 weather reconnaissance missions that have resulted in loss of life; only three of these were typhoon flights. A full list of the missions is at the Air Weather Reconnaissance Association web site.

Special addendum: a Cold War mystery
September 10, 1956: An Air Force RB-50G Superfortress flying in the vicinity of Typhoon Emma was lost over the Sea of Japan. This was not a typhoon hunting aircraft, as is often reported. The aircraft was stationed at Yokota Air Base, Japan, and assigned to the 41st Air Division, 5th Air Force, and was performing electronic of photographic intelligence of the Soviet Union, North Korea, and China. The military gave out a "cover story" saying that the aircraft was lost performing weather reconnaissance. From Bernie Barris of the Air Reconnaissance Weather Association, "This aircraft was NOT lost in a typhoon penetration, nor was it shot down by the Soviets, as was often speculated. It was an RB-50G on a Strategic Reconnaissance mission. Everything I've read is that they were on the fringes of the typhoon, but more than likely the plane was lost due to mechanical problems, which plagued the B-50 in the 1950's. The typhoon did impact search efforts. The Soviets never released any records of tracking or attacking this flight; it is one of those true Cold War mysteries."


Figure 2. A Popular Mechanics cover story from 1950 dramatized the dangers that the early typhoon hunters faced. From the article: "It is impossible for me to describe accurately or exaggerate the severity of the turbulence we encountered. To some it may sound utterly fantastic, but to me it was a flight for life. I have flown many weather missions in my 30 months with the 514th Reconnaissance Squadron. I have flown night combat missions in rough weather out of England, and I have instructed instrument flying in the States, but never have I dreamed of such turbulence as we encountered in Typhoon Beverly. It is amazing to me the ship held together as it did."

Next post
My final post of the year will be on Wednesday or Thursday. I plan to present my pick for the top U.S. weather story of 2009.

Jeff Masters

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Quoting GeoffreyWPB:
Forecast low for West Palm/Lake Worth tomorrow morning 46...High tomorrow 69.

For fun, count how many people you see wearing parkas tomorrow morning.
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5880
Forecast low for West Palm/Lake Worth tomorrow morning 46...High tomorrow 69.
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Quoting AstroHurricane001:


I, on the other hand, am used to the cold weather. Recently I remember walking in temperatures below -20C, with the wind chill making it feel colder. When I inhale the insides of the nostrils freeze.
I would guess you being from Canada the cold is just part of everyday life for a large part of the year. Canada does get some strange weather, a lot of it in the form of cold and ice storms. And of course the occasional tornado.
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 21173
AREA FORECAST DISCUSSION
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE MIAMI FL
124 PM EST MON DEC 28 2009

...WIND CHILL ADVISORY FOR GLADES COUNTY WITH SOME 30'S ELSEWHERE IN
THE NORTH AND SOUTHWEST PORTIONS OF SOUTH FLORIDA...

IN THE EXTENDED...THERE IS ANOTHER COLD FRONT EXPECTED TO MOVE
ACROSS THE AREA BY THE END OF THE WEEK...WHICH MIGHT BRING THE FIRST
FREEZE OF THE SEASON ACROSS INTERIOR AREAS THIS WEEKEND. LITTLE
MOISTURE IS EXPECTED TO MOVE ACROSS THE AREA AHEAD OF THE FRONT.

Miami NWS Discussion
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Quoting hydrus:
The coldest temperature I have experienced is -2 F. No wind that day. I am from Florida was not prepared for the bitterly cold air moving rapidly through my lungs and sinus passages. After a half hour it was enough to make me go in in the house. If there had been wind, I don,t believe I could have stood it for over 5 minutes. This happened on the Cumberland Plateau last year.


I, on the other hand, am used to the cold weather. Recently I remember walking in temperatures below -20C, with the wind chill making it feel colder. When I inhale at that temperature the insides of the nostrils freeze.
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Quoting Bordonaro:


Well, you may have an instant replay over the next 14-17 days. The long term forecast is going to bring the Arctic/Siberian airmass into the Eastern 2/3 rds of the US. Since the timeframe for this blast in near the 1/5/10 -1/7/10 timeframe or later, the meteorologist have mentioned it, but cannot pinpoint how cold and exactly where.
I will be better prepared this time. I will also watch for your posts here. You seem to have a grasp on what might be coming our way.
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 21173
Quoting AstroHurricane001:


In Mid December 2009, some parts of Alberta recorded temperatures below -40C, which came as a brief cold snap and at one point I think a weather station near Edmonton was the second-coldest location in the world was at that time at -46C (-51F). I thought this occured in early November, but it was in December.
In the summer and fall of 1985 We were working on the Great Lakes ( all of them except Michigan ) the weather became very cold and the lines on board the ship froze solid. There were times when we had the lines had to be beaten around the cleats and bits with sledge hammers. Shipping up there is extremely dangerous. This aside, it was some of the most beautiful and rugged country I have ever seen.
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 21173
Quoting Bordonaro:


Well, you may have an instant replay over the next 14-17 days. The long term forecast is going to bring the Arctic/Siberian airmass into the Eastern 2/3 rds of the US. Since the timeframe for this blast in near the 1/5/10 -1/7/10 timeframe or later, the meteorologist have mentioned it, but cannot pinpoint how cold and exactly where.


Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 30486
Quoting hydrus:
The coldest temperature I have experienced is -2 F. No wind that day. I am from Florida was not prepared for the bitterly cold air moving rapidly through my lungs and sinus passages. After a half hour it was enough to make me go in in the house. If there had been wind, I don,t believe I could have stood it for over 5 minutes. This happened on the Cumberland Plateau last year.


Well, you may have an instant replay over the next 14-17 days. The long term forecast is going to bring the Arctic/Siberian airmass into the Eastern 2/3 rds of the US. Since the timeframe for this blast in near the 1/5/10 -1/7/10 timeframe or later, the meteorologist have mentioned it, but cannot pinpoint how cold and exactly where.
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Quoting Bordonaro:
Hydrus, when its near 0F and the winds howling it hurts to even breathe. My mustache would freeze solid in 2 minutes from just breathing. Your eyes water up, nose starts to drip, it's horrible.
The coldest temperature I have experienced is -2 F. No wind that day. I am from Florida was not prepared for the bitterly cold air moving rapidly through my lungs and sinus passages. After a half hour it was enough to make me go in in the house. If there had been wind, I don,t believe I could have stood it for over 5 minutes. This happened on the Cumberland Plateau last year.
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 21173




US HAZARDS ASSESSMENT


SYNOPSIS: AN ACTIVE WEATHER PATTERN IS EXPECTED FOR THIS ASSESSMENT PERIOD. A LOW PRESSURE SYSTEM IS PREDICTED TO DEVELOP OFF THE EAST COAST AND RAPIDLY INTENSIFY DURING THE FIRST FEW DAYS OF THE PERIOD. ARCTIC HIGH PRESSURE IS THEN EXPECTED TO DIVE SOUTHWARD OUT OF CANADA ACROSS THE CENTRAL CONUS. SEVERAL DAYS LATER, ANOTHER AREA OF LOW PRESSURE IS FORECAST TO DEVELOP OVER THE GULF COAST STATES, BRINGING ADDITIONAL PRECIPITATION TO THAT REGION. RELATIVELY COLD, DRY CONDITIONS ARE ANTICIPATED IN ALASKA, WITH A WETTER PATTERN EXPECTED FOR SOUTHERN AREAS LATE IN THE ASSESSMENT.

HAZARDS
MUCH BELOW NORMAL TEMPERATURES FOR THE NORTHERN AND CENTRAL GREAT PLAINS AND MISSISSIPPI VALLEY, DEC 31 - JAN 2.

FREEZING TEMPERATURES FOR NORTH-CENTRAL FLORIDA, JAN 2.

STRONG WINDS FOR THE NORTHEAST, MID-ATLANTIC, AND GREAT LAKES, JAN 2-4.

HEAVY SNOW (RAIN ALONG IMMEDIATE COAST) FOR NEW ENGLAND, JAN 1-2.

HEAVY LAKE-ENHANCED SNOW FOR THE GREAT LAKES, JAN 2-4.

ONGOING FLOODING FOR PARTS OF GEORGIA AND SOUTH CAROLINA.

ONGOING FLOODING FOR A GOOD PORTION OF THE MISSISSIPPI VALLEY.

HEAVY RAIN AND SNOW FOR WESTERN WASHINGTON AND OREGON, AND NORTHWESTERN CALIFORNIA, DEC 31 - JAN 2.

SEVERE DROUGHT IN PARTS OF WISCONSIN, TEXAS, AND AREAS IN THE WESTERN US, WITH SOME IMPROVEMENT IN WISCONSIN AND EASTERN WASHINGTON STATE.
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Quoting gregpinehurstnc:
thanks bordonaro, u gave me the link days ago,, he is quite good at what may happen


You're welcome! The insane El Nino weather continues. For the first half of Jan 10, it looks like there will be regular intrusions of cold air into the eastern 2/3 of the CONUS. Looks like some record lows may be broken over parts of FL.
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The current radar shows several fast-moving bands of snow squalls in S. Ontario, New York State, and Pennsylvania, not the usual ones I've seen parallel to the direction to the wind, but perpendicular, with the snow coming off the lakes feeding into the bands rather than comprising them.
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thanks bordonaro, u gave me the link days ago,, he is quite good at what may happen
Member Since: August 18, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 88
Iron Mountain, Michigan (Airport)
Updated: 2:54 PM CST on December 28, 2009
16 °F
Scattered Clouds
Windchill: 1 °F
Humidity: 59%
Dew Point: 4 °F
Wind: 16 mph from the NNW
Wind Gust: 25 mph
Pressure: 30.08 in (Rising)

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WOCN11 CWTO 282046 CCA
Special weather statement
Corrected by Environment Canada Ontario region. 3:56 PM EST Monday
28 December 2009.

Special weather statement issued for..
City of Toronto
Windsor - Essex - Chatham-Kent
Sarnia - Lambton
Elgin
London - Middlesex
Simcoe - Delhi - Norfolk
Dunnville - Caledonia - Haldimand
Oxford - Brant
Niagara
City of Hamilton
Halton - Peel
York - Durham
Huron - Perth
Waterloo - Wellington
Dufferin - Innisfil
Grey - Bruce
Barrie - Orillia - Midland
Belleville - Quinte - Northumberland
Kingston - Prince Edward
Peterborough - Kawartha Lakes
Stirling - Tweed - South Frontenac
Bancroft - Bon Echo Park
Brockville - Leeds and Grenville
City of Ottawa
Gatineau
Prescott and Russell
Cornwall - Morrisburg
Smiths Falls - Lanark - Sharbot Lake
Parry Sound - Muskoka
Haliburton
Renfrew - Pembroke - Barry's Bay
Algonquin
Burk's Falls - Bayfield Inlet.

A cold front will sweep through Southern Ontario this afternoon and
evening. As the cold front passes, brief bursts of heavy snow and
blowing snow may be associated, reducing visibilities to a few
hundred metres or less.

Additionally, after the front passes, temperatures will fall
dramatically. Overnight and early morning temperatures are expected
to be in the minus 15 to minus 20 celsius range. Strong and gusty
northwesterly winds will result in wind chill values of minus 25 to
30, before the temperatures and winds moderate somewhat Tuesday
afternoon.

Further, the cold northwesterly winds passing over the open waters of
the Great Lakes will favour development of snow squall bands. A snow
squall watch is currently in place for regions to the Lee of Georgian
Bay and Lake Huron. The watch may be upgraded to a warning in the
coming hours.

Listen for further statements. Additional information may also be
found by consulting the latest public forecast. The next public
forecast will be issued by 5 AM.

END/OSPC
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The last comment was 13 min. ago,ZZZZZZZZZZZZZ!!!!!
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From Allan Hoffman, a meteorologist out of Raleigh, NC, we use his "raleignwx" weather maps. Link on upcoming January freeze:


Link

Link on the upcoming North Texas snow:

Link

Examiner article on Dallas Snow, link:

Link
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not very good at posting,, sorry,, but i do remember the winter of 78.. we had lakes and ponds frozen. which NEVER happens here in south nc.. im talkin 4 inch deep ice.. first time i ever truly ice skated, lol.. in tennis shoes,, my sis and bro would push and then we would do the same, it was fun
Member Since: August 18, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 88
http://www.examiner.com/x-4053-Raleigh-Weather-Examiner~y2009m12d27-More-snow-on-the-way-for-Texas-in credible-weather-pattern-to-continue
Member Since: August 18, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 88
Quoting gregpinehurstnc:
The 00z ECMWF shows a rare and historic snowstorm for parts of the very deep south and southeast with nada from upstate South Carolina north. The 00z GGEM was further north and showed a major snowstorm for the Tennessee Valley, Carolina, and mid-Atlantic. The GFS and its ensemble members are very suppressed and don%u2019t show much at all, as well as many of the ECMWF and GGEM ensemble members. It will all depend on the progress of the 500mb low over New Engl


Can you post it? Or a link?
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Hi, Doug!

Okay, since the topic appears to be insanely cold weather...I think this is appropriate to share this video. These guys are crazy. Just watching this made me appreciate our "cold" weather...it's not so bad!

Artic Surfing
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Good afternoon folks. A quiet day on here. Anyone out there have a computer model update on the Arctic Air for the first week on Jan 2010?
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The 00z ECMWF shows a rare and historic snowstorm for parts of the very deep south and southeast with nada from upstate South Carolina north. The 00z GGEM was further north and showed a major snowstorm for the Tennessee Valley, Carolina, and mid-Atlantic. The GFS and its ensemble members are very suppressed and don’t show much at all, as well as many of the ECMWF and GGEM ensemble members. It will all depend on the progress of the 500mb low over New Engl
Member Since: August 18, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 88
Random, from the "Approvers Choice" I think.
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Quoting PensacolaDoug:


I have a question: are the scenes for WU Rapid Fire random, and are the images taken from the specific area of the location?
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Quoting LongStrangeTrip:
Good afternoon, all! :)


Hello!
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Good afternoon, all! :)
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NWS Hazards assessment:

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Currently -43, low of -61F tonight.

http://www.wunderground.com/global/stations/24688.html
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All NOAA Floater Imagery
Use the Menu at top for more


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Quoting hydrus:
Someone mentioned -50 in parts of Canada. I cannot imagine what that must feel like. Especially if there is wind.


In Mid December 2009, some parts of Alberta recorded temperatures below -40C, which came as a brief cold snap and at one point I think a weather station near Edmonton was the second-coldest location in the world was at that time at -46C (-51F). I thought this occured in early November, but it was in December.
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Snow and Ice IMS Products
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Dont want any of that here..too many exposed pipes in the Older homes.

Trouble starts here when we reach 27F for 5 hours or more..


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Patrap, nice graphics. Those -20 to -60F air temps over Siberia will dump over the N Pole into N Canada Archipeligo by 1-5-10. The $64,000 question of the day is, "Does the Siberian/Arctic air come in waves of several cold fronts or does it just dump into the Easter 2/3 RDS of the US?
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Quoting AstroHurricane001:
There's been a snowsquall here in S. Ontario for the past two hours, and although it's currently hovering close to freezing, it's expected to drop down to -16C (3F) overnight with -27C (-17F) windchills. Now that's cold, even for us, and a huge temperature drop! The Siberian cold Arctic airmass seems to be descending rather rapidly.


That is just the first 'lil piece! Just wait till later in the week, into next week. I made sure my barometer was set properly. The barometric pressure maxed out at 30.52" earlier this morning, rising from 30.10" on Christmas day.
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There's been a snowsquall here in S. Ontario for the past two hours, and although it's currently hovering close to freezing, it's expected to drop down to -16C (3F) overnight with -27C (-17F) windchills. Now that's cold, even for us, and a huge temperature drop! The Siberian cold Arctic airmass seems to be descending rather rapidly.
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Quoting pcbdragon:
anyone remember the storm around Jan 19, 1977?
It actually snowed in Miami.


I lived in West Hempstead, LI. I put my first real weather station to good use. We had about 80" of snow (normal-24"/winter) that winter, with a 13" snowstorm, followed by 24" one week later. Four days after that it all melted and flooded everything. I remember reading the articles about the S FL snow, the Seminole Indians did not know what to make of that unbelievable snow event.
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Quoting Floodman:


You have to take care of that before go out...LOL


Oh, so true! Thank God I live in Arlington, TX where it's warm! At 48, I could see a many of accidents coming. Man, when I wash dishes, I've gotta stop, sprint across the house to releave myself now :0). Sounds like I may need "Flomax", ha, ha, ha!
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Quoting presslord:


...this does not please me...
i think that arctic high is gonna park right over you
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anyone remember the storm around Jan 19, 1977?
It actually snowed in Miami.
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Quoting Bordonaro:
Flood the coldest I've experienced was -8F when I lived in Buffalo, NY, in early 1980. It was a raw, biting, nasty, damp cold off Lake Erie. The lowest wind chills I've experienced -60F in Buffalo, NY. I used to wear 2 pairs of sox, thermal bottoms, 2 pairs of blue jeans, t-shirt, thermal top, heavy cotton shirt, a parka, scarf, face mask and mittens and it was still freezing. And it was hard to use the rest room with 2 pairs of pants and a thermal bottom!


You have to take care of that before go out...LOL
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 9922
Hydrus, when its near 0F and the winds howling it hurts to even breathe. My mustache would freeze solid in 2 minutes from just breathing. Your eyes water up, nose starts to drip, it's horrible.
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Quoting vcastle61:


I remember reading about the Klondike Gold Rush, when I was a kid, and marveling at people surviving in -40 or -50 F with the clothing they had at the time. I remember someone said that below -50 was hard to survive, and at -75 you might as well not even try to get out in it. At -75 the clothing they had could not protect you...
There is (I think) a 30/30/30 rule--at - 30 degrees, wind blowing at 30 mph,exposed skin freezes in 30 seconds. Validity unknown. bbl
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 21173
Flood the coldest I've experienced was -8F when I lived in Buffalo, NY, in early 1980. It was a raw, biting, nasty, damp cold off Lake Erie. The lowest wind chills I've experienced -60F in Buffalo, NY. I used to wear 2 pairs of sox, thermal bottoms, 2 pairs of blue jeans, t-shirt, thermal top, heavy cotton shirt, a parka, scarf, face mask and mittens and it was still freezing. And it was hard to use the rest room with 2 pairs of pants and a thermal bottom!
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Quoting AussieStorm:
I have just finished uploading the photo's I took while i was away. You can find them here


Very nice pictures of Australia. Reminds me alot of the topography SW of Ft Worth, TX.
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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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