Top global weather story of 2009: drought in the Horn of Africa

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:44 PM GMT on January 19, 2010

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I'm in Atlanta at the 90th Annual Meeting of the American Meteorological Society, and the picture I'm getting from the presentations here is that the most significant weather event of 2009 was the failure of the summer rains in the Horn of Africa. Rainfall over most of the Horn of Africa between February and September 2009 was 2 - 12 inches (50 - 300 mm) below average, leading to a continuation of the region's deadly 6-year drought. This drought has very likely contributed significantly to the ongoing civil wars and high levels of violence in some of the affected countries, as the affected population competes for scarce resources. The Horn of Africa has two rainy seasons, a main rainy season in April/May, and then the "short rains" of October/November. The failure of the 2009 main rainy season was the worst such failure of the past six years. The "short rains" of the secondary October/November were mostly near average over the region, fortunately, but millions of people in Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia, Uganda and Tanzania face hunger and poverty due to withered crops, dead livestock, and dried up ponds and streams, according to the aid group Oxfam. Cattle prices have tumbled from $200 to $4 in some areas as families try to sell dying animals to buy food. Over 1.5 million animals have died in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, with an estimated net worth to the region of nearly $360 million, Oxfam said. Cattle represent the only wealth for many nomadic families, and the death of these animals can begin a spiral into poverty and dependency that can trap a family for generations. The those areas where the "short rains" failed--like large parts of the Turkana region of northern Kenya, which received just 12mm of rain October through December--almost one person in three is malnourished. This region of Kenya now has the opposite problem to contend with--severe flooding. Massive downpours, probably linked to El Niño conditions, hit the region December 27 - January 5, resulting in heavy flooding that killed at least 34 people and left 10,000 people homeless. The flooding was worsened by the preceding drought, which killed much of the vegetation that ordinarily would have stabilized the soil and absorbed rainwater before it could run off and create destructive floods. Thousands of cattle were killed and large areas of crops were ruined by the flooding.

The current endemic lawlessness in countries such as Somalia and Yemen are very likely due, in large part, to the extreme drought conditions that have gripped the Horn of Africa over the past six years. Thus the continuation of this drought in 2009 likely contributed to hundreds or thousands of deaths. According to the Associated Press, in addition to the war in Somalia, which has killed at least 300,000 people since 1991 and left 1/2 of the nation's 7.2 million people in need of external aid, rebel groups are battling the central government in Ethiopia, which has restricted access to aid agencies. In northern Kenya and parts of Uganda, heavily armed ethnic militias conduct cattle raids and fight over precious grazing ground and water.


Figure 1. Hydrological drought conditions over the Horn of Africa for a 1-year period (left) and 3-year period (right) as computed using the Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI). Exceptional drought on a 1-year and 3-year time scale was affecting approximately 20 million people in the Horn of Africa, according to the Global Drought Monitor.


Figure 2. Rainfall over most of the Horn of Africa between February and September 2009 was 2 - 12 inches (50 - 300 mm) below average, leading to a continuation of the deadly 6-year drought in the region. Image credit: NOAA Climate Prediction Center.

Droughts and civil war in Africa
African countries are highly dependent on rain-fed agriculture for both employment and economic production, with agriculture accounting for more than 50% of gross domestic product and up to 90% of employment across much of the continent (World Development Indicators 2009, World Bank). One third of the population of Africa lives in drought-prone areas (World Water Forum, 2000), and about 25% of the population of Africa currently experiences high water stress. Since increased drought in Africa leads to increased competition for life-giving water, and it is logical to assume that reduced rainfall will result in increases in civil war. Several scientific studies have shown this to be true. For example, Raleigh and Urdal (2007) found that "decreasing levels of freshwater are associated with higher risks on conflict". They found this relationship was compounded by higher population densities and therefore more competition for resources. Applying a similar approach, Levy et al. (2005) found that when rainfall was significantly below normal, the likelihood of conflict outbreak was higher the subsequent year. Hendrix and Glaser (2007) also found that water availability increased the chances of conflict, but that large year-to-year changes in rainfall were more important in triggering war. For example, a dry year immediately following a wet year was more likely to cause conflict than two dry years in a row, since societies have trouble adjusting to large changes in water availability.

However, we should not just be looking at precipitation, but temperature as well, since higher temperatures also contribute to drought. Higher temperatures increase crop evapotranspiration and accelerate crop development. The combined effect of these two mechanisms is predicted to reduce the yield of African staple crops by 10% - 30% per °C of warming (Lobell et al., 2008). A 2009 study by Burke et al. titled, "Warming increases the risk of civil war in Africa", found a correlation between rising temperatures and civil war in Africa. The researchers found that a 1°C warming--the amount of warming that is expected for Africa by 2030 under some of the typical IPCC climate change scenarios--has historically caused a remarkable 49% relative increase in the incidence of civil war. The authors concluded "this historical response to temperature suggests a roughly 54% increase in armed conflict incidence by 2030, or an additional 393,000 battle deaths if future wars are as deadly as recent wars". While a 1°C warming of temperature will have little impact to societies in many parts of the world, this research suggests that Africa will be very sensitive to global warming. More than two-thirds of the countries in sub-Saharan Africa have experienced civil conflict since 1960, resulting in millions of deaths and monumental human suffering. A 3°C warming by 2100 could kill an additional million people in Africa, if the conclusions of this research are correct. It's easy to think of climate change as a long way off, the researchers said in a press release, but their study shows how sensitive many human systems are to small increases in temperature, and how fast the negative impacts of climate change could be felt. "Our findings provide strong impetus to ramp up investments in African adaptation to climate change, for instance by developing crop varieties less sensitive to extreme heat and promoting insurance plans to help protect farmers from adverse effects of the hotter climate," said lead author Marshall Burke of Stanford's Program on Food Security and the Environment. One promising research development is the recent isolation of a "thermometer gene" that helps plants sense temperature. The discovery could lead to the development of food plants able to flower in much higher temperatures.


Figure 3. The forecast change in precipitation for the period 2090 - 2100, as predicted by 21 climate models used to formulate the 2007 IPCC report on climate change. The "A1B Scenario" results here are for a moderate-case warming, with a best estimate temperature rise of 2.8°C with a likely range of 1.7 - 4.4°C (5.0°F with a likely range of 3.1 - 7.9°F). Blue areas show where more than 90% of the 21 models agree that precipitation increases are likely, while orange areas show where more than 90% of the 21 models agree that precipitation decreases are likely. Image credit: Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2007 Report.

The future of drought in Africa
Global warming theory predicts that although global precipitation should increase in a warmer climate, droughts will also increase in intensity, areal coverage, and frequency (Dai et al., 2004). This occurs because when the normal variability of weather patterns brings a period of dry weather to a region, the increased temperatures due to global warming will intensify drought conditions by causing more evaporation and drying up of vegetation. However, the models used in the 2007 IPCC report on climate change mostly predict an increase in rainfall over the Horn of Africa and the Sahel region of Africa (the southern boundary of the Sahara Desert) by the end of this century (Figure 3). The increased precipitation may act to limit the length and areal extent of droughts in these regions in coming decades. The droughts that do occur may increase in intensity, though, since temperature are predicted to increase by several degrees Centigrade. Could increased rainfall lead to a re-greening of the Sahara towards the lush conditions that existed 12,000 years ago? It is possible, argues Stefan Kropelin of the Institute of Prehistoric Archaeology at the University of Cologne in Germany. Satellite imagery has shown a greening of some southern portions of the Sahara (the Sahel) in recent years, he points out. However, some climate models show lower precipitation in coming decades for the Sahel and Horn of Africa, leading architect Magnus Lasson to propose building a 6,000 km long wall across the Sahara Desert to stop the spread of the desert. The wall would effectively be made by "freezing" the shifting sand dunes, turning them into sandstone using a bacterium called Bacillus pasteurii commonly found in wetlands. The microorganism chemically produces calcite--a kind of natural cement.

What the future ultimately holds for African climate is highly uncertain at this point. While the models used to formulate the 2007 IPCC report do a reasonable job simulating the the current climate over most of the world, they do a poor job of simulating Africa's current climate. The models put too much precipitation in southern Africa, and displace the band of heavy thunderstorms called the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) too far south. The 2007 IPCC report concludes, "the absence of realistic variability in the Sahel in most 20th-century simulations casts some doubt on the reliability of models". In other words, since these models do a poor job simulating the current climate of the Sahel region of Africa, we shouldn't trust their predictions for the future climate.

References
Burke, M.B., Miguel, E., Satyanath, S., Dykema, J.A., and D. B. Lobell, "Warming increases the risk of civil war in Africa", PNAS 2009 106: 20670-20674.

Dai A., K.E. Trenberth, and T. Qian, 2004: A global data set of Palmer Drought Severity Index for 1870-2002: Relationship with soil moisture and effects of surface warming", J. Hydrometeorol., 5, 11171130.

Hendrix, C.S., and S.M. Glaser (2007), "Trends and triggers: Climate, climate change and civil conflict in sub-Saharan Africa". Political Geography 26:695-715.

Levy, M. A., Thorkelson, C., Vörösmarty, C., Douglas, E., and M. Humphreys (2005), "Freshwater availability anomalies and outbreak of internal war: results from a global spatial time series analysis". Paper presented at the International Workshop on Climate Change and Human Security, Oslo, Norway, June 21-23.

Lobell, D.B. et al. (2008), "Prioritizing climate change adaptation needs for food security in 2030", Science 319:607-610.

Raleigh and Urdal, 2007, "Climate change, environmental degradation and armed conflict", Political Geography 26 (6) (2007), pp. 674-694.

Sheffield, J., K. M. Andreadis, E. F. Wood, and D. P. Lettenmaier, 2009, "Global and continental drought in the second half of the 20th century: severity-area-duration analysis and temporal variability of large-scale events", J. Climate 22, pp 1962-1981.

Portlight successfully gets much-needed water filtration systems and medical supplies into Haiti
Portlight.org, the disaster-relief charity that has sprung up from the hard work and dedication of many members of the wunderground.com community, has successfully shipped medical equipment and a water filtration unit capable of supplying the needs of 3,500 people per day to the Dominican Republic. The supplies were loaded on trucks and driven into Haiti, and have reached the earthquake zone. These supplies are targeted to go to those with disabilities, or to those who are living in areas forgotten by the main aid efforts. Portlight is working through the local Catholic Church in Haiti, which is probably best positioned to deliver private aid donations to those in need. Paul Timmons, leader of the Portlight relief efforts, wrote this yesterday:

Thanks to Wunderground blogger Dak Simonton (Dakster) we were made aware of Richard Lamarque, a Haitian expatriate and 15 year veteran of the Miami Police Department who was planning to go back to Haiti this week to look for family members and to help with recovery efforts. Our on scene coordinator, Richard Lamarque, will be leaving for Haiti in a few days. He is from there, is well connected there, and has a skill set and life experiences which will be invaluable to our work there.

He will be traveling by ship. We have committed to purchasing for him a small truck to take with him. The truck will be loaded with supplies. Upon arrival, the benefits of having a vehicle on site are self evident. The truck will cost roughly $3,000 - $5,000. We have already earmarked $2000.00 for this.

We want this to be a uniquely Weather Underground community initiative. We will place WU signage on the truck...and we will be able to post photos of it at work in Haiti.

The Weather Underground community has been the genesis of our efforts. And the WU truck will be a long term, tangible symbol of the generosity of the WU community.

The next $3000 we receive will be earmarked for the WU truck. Please post this announcement to blogs...and forward it to all your WU friends.

So, please visit the Portlight.org blog to learn more and to donate. Floodman's blog has the latest info on Portlight's plan for Haitian relief. The Reeve Foundation, founded by Christopher and Dana Reeve has awarded Portlight Strategies a $10,000 Quality of of Life grant to assist in the relief efforts in Haiti. This is very big and will allow Portlight to pursue more aggressive relief efforts over the course of the next few weeks.

For those of you more interested in helping out with the long-term rebuilding of Haiti's shattered infrastructure from the quake, I recommend a contribution to Lambi Fund of Haiti, a charity that is very active in promoting reforestation efforts, use of alternative fuels, and infrastructure improvements at a grass-roots level in Haiti. I've developed a great respect for the work they do in the country in the five years I've been a supporter.

Next post
My next post will be Thursday.

Jeff Masters

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1050. hydrus
4:18 PM GMT on January 21, 2010
Quoting jeffs713:

Personally, I think that shipping 3000 audio bibles to Haiti is beyond inappropriate. It is an insult to the Haitian people that they would even be needed. It is also a sad reflection upon the company that is shipping the product, as they actually believe there is a need for them. Yes, the Haitian people need comfort in these trying times. But audio books can't feed someone without access to food, can't give them clean water, can't fix their broken leg, or give them shelter that isn't in danger of collapsing on the next aftershock.
I understand what you are saying. I believe there intentions were good. I am sure some people lost there good books in the earthquake. They actually may be needed after all. (But without the audio, just the books).
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 21214
1049. jeffs713
4:10 PM GMT on January 21, 2010
Quoting drg0dOwnCountry:

I never heard so many prayers like the last days from the earthquake victims. Isn't ironic than to sent them 3000 audio bibles? Imagine the situation you pray to god every minute and than "help" arrives in form of these pervert audio bibles. In the meantime people die from lack of food/water/meds ...
Back to topic.

Personally, I think that shipping 3000 audio bibles to Haiti is beyond inappropriate. It is an insult to the Haitian people that they would even be needed. It is also a sad reflection upon the company that is shipping the product, as they actually believe there is a need for them. Yes, the Haitian people need comfort in these trying times. But audio books can't feed someone without access to food, can't give them clean water, can't fix their broken leg, or give them shelter that isn't in danger of collapsing on the next aftershock.
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5882
1048. AwakeInMaryland
4:06 PM GMT on January 21, 2010
Quoting atmoaggie:
new blog
(thankfully)

LOL!! Okay...AGREED!
Member Since: August 19, 2008 Posts: 32 Comments: 1918
1047. atmoaggie
3:59 PM GMT on January 21, 2010
new blog
(thankfully)
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12461
1046. AwakeInMaryland
3:58 PM GMT on January 21, 2010
1037. Unfriendly 3:40 PM GMT on January 21, 2010

@Awake

Not every day you see a Voltaire quote on a weather blog, lol.


(chuckle)...That is very true! And I appreciate that, and the attribution, too!
Member Since: August 19, 2008 Posts: 32 Comments: 1918
1045. TampaSpin
3:52 PM GMT on January 21, 2010
Quoting Bonedog:
Sorry Tampa Sorry Everyone =(

I worked a double last night and from lack of sleep I am a little on edge. I appologize for offending anyone or thier beliefs.

Tampa I hope you understand my comments had nothing to do with you or twords you just commenting on the comments. Thats all. You are one of the normally folks around here and I enjoy reading your insightful comments.

I am going back to lurking now folks and try to get some sleep. Hopefully I will be allowed to return and have normal weather related discussions again =)



Bro, its ok.....i got a thick skin.....Just was trying to tell the history and the Haitian Culture. For anyone to judge me as prejudice person have no clue of me and my friends and the Charity work i do for others of all skin color and religion. Get you some Sleep my friend.
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 178 Comments: 20439
1044. presslord
3:50 PM GMT on January 21, 2010
Dan...spot on...the Catholic tent is wide, tall and deep...that's what I like about it...we did away with the thumbscrews years ago...
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10490
1043. atmoaggie
3:47 PM GMT on January 21, 2010
Quoting jeffs713:


Well, at least I wasn't completely wrong. One of these days I will educate myself enough to hang with some of y'all in forecasting. Right now, I just have a bajillion tidbids spread out all over the place, and I'm still working on connecting the dots.

Might I be so bold as to suggest a MetEd/COMET module?
Principles of Convection I: Buoyancy and CAPE: http://www.meted.ucar.edu/mesoprim/cape/
(may have to complete the free registration if you haven't before)
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12461
1042. TampaTom
3:46 PM GMT on January 21, 2010
Quoting Bonedog:
Sorry Tampa Sorry Everyone =(

I worked a double last night and from lack of sleep I am a little on edge. I appologize for offending anyone or thier beliefs.

Tampa I hope you understand my comments had nothing to do with you or twords you just commenting on the comments. Thats all. You are one of the normally folks around here and I enjoy reading your insightful comments.

I am going back to lurking now folks and try to get some sleep. Hopefully I will be allowed to return and have normal weather related discussions again =)



Hey, Bone, it ain't nothin but a thing! :-)
Member Since: June 20, 2005 Posts: 22 Comments: 1054
1041. Bonedog
3:45 PM GMT on January 21, 2010
Sorry Tampa Sorry Everyone =(

I worked a double last night and from lack of sleep I am a little on edge. I appologize for offending anyone or thier beliefs.

Tampa I hope you understand my comments had nothing to do with you or twords you just commenting on the comments. Thats all. You are one of the normally folks around here and I enjoy reading your insightful comments.

I am going back to lurking now folks and try to get some sleep. Hopefully I will be allowed to return and have normal weather related discussions again =)

Member Since: July 14, 2005 Posts: 14 Comments: 7418
1040. AussieStorm
3:43 PM GMT on January 21, 2010
FLASH TROPICAL CYCLONE ADVICE NUMBER 11
Issued at 9:05 pm WST on Thursday, 21 January 2010
BY THE BUREAU OF METEOROLOGY
TROPICAL CYCLONE WARNING CENTRE PERTH

A Cyclone WARNING is current for coastal areas from Mitchell Plateau to Beagle
Bay.

A Cyclone WATCH is current for coastal areas from Beagle Bay to Bidyadanga, and
extends to remaining inland parts of the west Kimberley.

At 8:00 pm WST Tropical Cyclone Magda, Category 2 was relocated by satellite and
surface observations and estimated to be
115 kilometres north northwest of Kuri Bay and
305 kilometres north of Derby and
moving southeast at 11 kilometres per hour towards the coast.

Tropical Cyclone Magda has been relocated based on recent satellite imagery and
is taking a southeastwards track towards the Kimberley coast. Magda has weakened
a little during the afternoon but is likely to reintenisify overnight and reach
category three as it impacts the Kimberley coast during Friday.

There is the risk of very destructive winds with gusts to 250 kilometres per
hour near the cyclone centre on Friday, when the cyclone should be close to the
coast, between Mitchell Plateau and Cockatoo Island.

Gales with gusts to 100 kilometres per hour may develop in coastal areas between
Mitchell Plateau and Cockatoo Island tonight as the cyclone approaches. Gales
may extend to Derby later on Friday and may reach as far south as Bidyadanga
including Broome on Saturday.

Heavy rainfall, with falls in excess of 100mm, is expected near the cyclone
track in the west Kimberley on Friday and Saturday.

Tides on Friday will be higher than expected between Mitchell Plateau and
Cockatoo Island with flooding of low lying areas possible.

FESA State Emergency Service [SES] advises of the following community alerts:
RED ALERT: People in or near Kuri Bay need to go to shelter immediately.
YELLOW ALERT: People in or near communities between Koolan Island and Cape
Leveque, including the communities of Koolan Island, Cockatoo Island, One Arm
Point, Lombadina, Djarindjin and Cape Leveque need to take action and get ready
to shelter from a cyclone.
BLUE ALERT: People in the remaining coastal communities between Mitchell Plateau
and Beagle Bay, including the communities of Mitchell Plateau, Derby and Beagle
Bay need to prepare for cyclonic weather and organise an emergency kit including
first aid kit, torch, portable radio, spare batteries, food and water.
Remaining communities in the west Kimberley including Broome should listen for
the next advice.

Details of Tropical Cyclone Magda at 8:00 pm WST:
.Centre located near...... 14.6 degrees South 124.1 degrees East
.Location accuracy........ within 45 kilometres
.Recent movement.......... towards the southeast at 11 kilometres per hour
.Wind gusts near centre... 130 kilometres per hour
.Severity category........ 2
.Central pressure......... 987 hectoPascals

The next advice will be issued by 12:00 am WST Friday 22 January.
_________________________________________________________________________________
TROPICAL CYCLONE ADVICE NUMBER 5
Issued by the Bureau of Meteorology, Brisbane
Issued at 10:42pm EST on Thursday the 21st of January 2010

A Cyclone WATCH remains current for coastal areas from Coen to Port Douglas.

At 10:00 pm EST, Ex-Tropical Cyclone Neville was estimated to be 205 kilometres
northeast of Cooktown and 235 kilometres east of Cape Melville and was slow
moving.

Ex-Tropical Cyclone Neville is expected to remain slow moving off the far north
Queensland coast during the next 24 hours, before beginning a westward track and
slowly intensifying.

GALES are not expected to affect the coast within the next 24 hours, but may
develop between Coen and Port Douglas on Saturday.

People between Coen and Port Douglas should consider what action they will need
to take if the cyclone threat increases. If you are unsure about the actions to
be taken, information is available from your local government or local State
Emergency Service.

Details of Ex-Tropical Cyclone Neville at 10:00 pm EST:
.Centre located near...... 14.3 degrees South 146.7 degrees East
.Location accuracy........ within 55 kilometres
.Recent movement.......... slow moving
.Wind gusts near centre... 85 kilometres per hour
.Severity category........ below cyclone intensity
.Central pressure......... 998 hectoPascals

The next advice will be issued by 5:00 am EST Friday 22 January.
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15935
1039. hydrus
3:41 PM GMT on January 21, 2010
Quoting beell:
Looking at the sat loops, the dry air/dry slot is sure there, Jeffs. And shows up well on the sounding as you noted. And an abrubt end of convection just behind the storms.
They say we have a risk of severe thunderstorms in middle Tennessee today. Do you agree? It appears there is a lot of dry air around here.
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 21214
1038. PcolaDan
3:41 PM GMT on January 21, 2010
I suggest a study of Catholicism for some. It is not near as concrete as seems apparent. It has always been a very fluid religion in some respects. Most think of it only in terms of the Inquisition. For most of it's history, nothing could be further from the truth.
Member Since: August 22, 2008 Posts: 12 Comments: 6010
1037. Unfriendly
3:40 PM GMT on January 21, 2010
@Awake

Not every day you see a Voltaire quote on a weather blog, lol.

But in all honesty... I am a radical humanist first and foremost, regardless of creed, color, OR religion. I simply cannot understand how people can be so shallow when it comes to others suffering - how they see only something that they are not - and how they can ignore it despite the obvious signs of distress these people are showing. Call it indifference if you want, but when it comes down to it, it is prejudice, pure and simple.
Member Since: July 21, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 317
1036. TampaSpin
3:37 PM GMT on January 21, 2010
Quoting Bonedog:
OK Tampa I see what your saying as far as dual practicioners. OK so what is the big deal? Natural Disasters are now aimed at certain people for their beliefs? What did the gulf states do? China? Burma? Texas? California? Australia? Turkey? Philipienes? ect ect ect ect?

I dont want to get into a tit-for-tat religous debate. Too many folks have died over religion mostly by human hands directed by someone who twists beliefs not by some omnipresent being reaching down from the heavens and raining fire and brimstone down on the non believers then opening up the earth and swallowing them whole if he missed a few.

What happened to those poor souls in Hati had nothing to do with beliefs. It was caused by rocks moving and sticking together over millions of years and finally doing what they have done for millenia, move again. Only this time we human beings decided to put a town there. Nothing more Nothing less.



Bone,
Someone else last nite said where is God at for the people of Haiti. I simply was stating what the people of Haiti practice as a religion! This has nothing to do. I was simply stating the countries primary beliefs. Thats all. GEESSSH....
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 178 Comments: 20439
1035. TampaTom
3:37 PM GMT on January 21, 2010
Quoting Bonedog:
OK Tampa I see what your saying as far as dual practicioners. OK so what is the big deal? Natural Disasters are now aimed at certain people for their beliefs? What did the gulf states do? China? Burma? Texas? California? Australia? Turkey? Philipienes? ect ect ect ect?


It doesn't matter a thing at all.

When I read something like this:

But, Paul what kind of Catholic.....its called Vodoo Catholic........its not the same as we know as they worship something different just to be clear. Just telling the facts without offending anyone again.

I just want to make sure the record is set straight....

Believe me, sir, my line of work is 100% geared toward public education and safety, and when one gets hit by a natural disaster, everyone gets hit.
Member Since: June 20, 2005 Posts: 22 Comments: 1054
1034. jeffs713
3:33 PM GMT on January 21, 2010
Quoting beell:
1017.
For sure, Jeffs,
A dry slot spells the end of convection. However, sometimes passage of the dry slot clears the air and allows for destabilization to occur later in the day if a supply of moisture can rebuild back in. Probably won't happen today. And atmo is exactly correct (imo) describing the effect of evaporative cooling. More cool air aloft adds to the lapse rate and instability well off the surface so convective updrafts can continue pushing upwards.

But this process is in front of the slot.

Shucks, atmo. ya makin' me blush!


Well, at least I wasn't completely wrong. One of these days I will educate myself enough to hang with some of y'all in forecasting. Right now, I just have a bajillion tidbids spread out all over the place, and I'm still working on connecting the dots.
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5882
1033. drg0dOwnCountry
3:32 PM GMT on January 21, 2010
Quoting Unfriendly:
Does it matter AT ALL what religion Haitians are?

Seriously, if you are so narrow minded and prejudiced that you can't see the suffering, starvation, and genuine anguish these people are currently living, then you are far more deserving of their plight then they are.

They are people. I have a problem saying that ANYONE that agrees with statements made by Pat Robertson and the like are the same.

"Of all religions, Christianity is without a doubt the one that should inspire tolerance most, although, up to now, the Christians have been the most intolerant of all men."
Voltaire

I never heard so many prayers like the last days from the earthquake victims. Isn't ironic than to sent them 3000 audio bibles? Imagine the situation you pray to god every minute and than "help" arrives in form of these pervert audio bibles. In the meantime people die from lack of food/water/meds ...
Back to topic.
Member Since: September 22, 2005 Posts: 11 Comments: 2032
1032. Bonedog
3:31 PM GMT on January 21, 2010
OK Tampa I see what your saying as far as dual practicioners. OK so what is the big deal? Natural Disasters are now aimed at certain people for their beliefs? What did the gulf states do? China? Burma? Texas? California? Australia? Turkey? Philipienes? ect ect ect ect?

I dont want to get into a tit-for-tat religous debate. Too many folks have died over religion mostly by human hands directed by someone who twists beliefs not by some omnipresent being reaching down from the heavens and raining fire and brimstone down on the non believers then opening up the earth and swallowing them whole if he missed a few.

What happened to those poor souls in Hati had nothing to do with beliefs. It was caused by rocks moving and sticking together over millions of years and finally doing what they have done for millenia, move again. Only this time we human beings decided to put a town there. Nothing more Nothing less.

Member Since: July 14, 2005 Posts: 14 Comments: 7418
1031. TampaSpin
3:30 PM GMT on January 21, 2010
Quoting AwakeInMaryland:
1022. SOURCE, TS, SOURCE.

I know you know that is essential -- c'mon, it's unethical to reprint without a source and attribution (intellectual property laws, for one), and I know you know that, too!


WOW! UNREAL!

http://countrystudies.us/haiti/33.htm
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 178 Comments: 20439
1030. TampaTom
3:29 PM GMT on January 21, 2010
Quoting Bonedog:

Tampa seems to me you are looking at the minority and extrapolating it to the majority. Please dont jump to conclusions so quickly.


I never said that the majority of people don't practice Voodoo. I couldn't care less one way or another how anyone chooses to worship.

However, to claim there is this hybrid "Catholic/Voodoo" religion out there endorsed by the Vatican is ludicrous.

Just as many folks celebrate a secular Christmas (Santa, Rudolph, etc) and a religious one (Away in a Manger) here in the States... I'm sure that both are celebrated side-by-side in Haiti...
Member Since: June 20, 2005 Posts: 22 Comments: 1054
1029. drg0dOwnCountry
3:29 PM GMT on January 21, 2010
Quoting twhcracker:


it is terrible here, i just drove from bay county to walton co west on hwy 20 and i had to pull over twice. The town of ebro is totally blacked out, even the tower at the dog track with the red light to keep planes from hitting it is blacked out. coworkers say streets are flooded all over walton and near defuniak a van is in a ditch with water up to the windows. lots of lightning and flooding rain.

Almost reassembles an end world scenario. Photos or videos would be great ...
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1028. AwakeInMaryland
3:27 PM GMT on January 21, 2010
Does it matter AT ALL what religion Haitians are?

No, not for relief efforts, etc.

Hope you all know that I'm a stickler for fair and objective journalism, if at all possible in this day and age...and sources and attribution.

Also, a lot of us have a wide spectrum of interests as well as weather.

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1027. SGILighthouse
3:23 PM GMT on January 21, 2010
Small percentage of population, but quick action in relief efforts.
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1026. AwakeInMaryland
3:22 PM GMT on January 21, 2010
1022. SOURCE, TS, SOURCE.

I know you know that is essential -- c'mon, it's unethical to reprint without a source and attribution (intellectual property laws, for one), and I know you know that, too!
Member Since: August 19, 2008 Posts: 32 Comments: 1918
1025. Unfriendly
3:18 PM GMT on January 21, 2010
Does it matter AT ALL what religion Haitians are?

Seriously, if you are so narrow minded and prejudiced that you can't see the suffering, starvation, and genuine anguish these people are currently living, then you are far more deserving of their plight then they are.

They are people. I have a problem saying that ANYONE that agrees with statements made by Pat Robertson and the like are the same.

"Of all religions, Christianity is without a doubt the one that should inspire tolerance most, although, up to now, the Christians have been the most intolerant of all men."
Voltaire
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1024. AwakeInMaryland
3:17 PM GMT on January 21, 2010
Please believe I'm trying to do objective research, quickly... I know this is a weather blog...not a religion blog...but saw the necessity of some sources outside individual's opinions.

This is kind of dated.

http://countrystudies.us/
Country Studies

This website contains the on-line versions of books previously published in hard copy by the Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress as part of the Country Studies/Area Handbook Series sponsored by the U.S. Department of the Army between 1986 and 1998. Each study offers a comprehensive description and analysis of the country or region's historical setting, geography, society, economy, political system, and foreign policy.

IN PART:

Roman Catholicism is the official religion of Haiti, but voodoo may be considered the country's national religion. The majority of Haitians believe in and practice at least some aspects of voodoo. Most voodooists believe that their religion can coexist with Catholicism. Most Protestants, however, strongly oppose voodoo.
Voodoo

Misconceptions about voodoo have given Haiti a reputation for sorcery and zombies. Popular images of voodoo have ignored the religion's basis as a domestic cult of family spirits. Adherents of voodoo do not perceive themselves as members of a separate religion; they consider themselves Roman Catholics. In fact, the word for voodoo does not even exist in rural Haiti. The Creole word vodoun refers to a kind of dance and in some areas to a category of spirits. Roman Catholics who are active voodooists say that they "serve the spirits," but they do not consider that practice as something outside of Roman Catholicism. Haitians also distinguish between the service of family spirits and the practice of magic and sorcery.
Member Since: August 19, 2008 Posts: 32 Comments: 1918
1023. beell
3:16 PM GMT on January 21, 2010
1017.
For sure, Jeffs,
A dry slot spells the end of convection. However, sometimes passage of the dry slot clears the air and allows for destabilization to occur later in the day if a supply of moisture can rebuild back in. Probably won't happen today. And atmo is exactly correct (imo) describing the effect of evaporative cooling. More cool air aloft adds to the lapse rate and instability well off the surface so convective updrafts can continue pushing upwards.

But this process is in front of the slot.

Shucks, atmo. ya makin' me blush!
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1022. TampaSpin
3:15 PM GMT on January 21, 2010
Quoting Bonedog:
The exact number of Vodou practitioners is unknown. However, a significant amount of the population practice it, often alongside their Christian faith.

Yes they say a significant amount but what percentage? I still think the catholosism is more prevalant then the voodoo



RELIGION
Haiti Table of Contents
Roman Catholicism is the official religion of Haiti, but voodoo may be considered the country's national religion. The majority of Haitians believe in and practice at least some aspects of voodoo. Most voodooists believe that their religion can coexist with Catholicism. Most Protestants, however, strongly oppose voodoo.

Voodoo
Misconceptions about voodoo have given Haiti a reputation for sorcery and zombies. Popular images of voodoo have ignored the religion's basis as a domestic cult of family spirits. Adherents of voodoo do not perceive themselves as members of a separate religion; they consider themselves Roman Catholics. In fact, the word for voodoo does not even exist in rural Haiti. The Creole word vodoun refers to a kind of dance and in some areas to a category of spirits. Roman Catholics who are active voodooists say that they "serve the spirits," but they do not consider that practice as something outside of Roman Catholicism. Haitians also distinguish between the service of family spirits and the practice of magic and sorcery.

The belief system of voodoo revolves around family spirits (often called loua or mistè) who are inherited through maternal and paternal lines. Loua protect their "children" from misfortune. In return, families must "feed" the loua through periodic rituals in which food, drink, and other gifts are offered to the spirits. There are two kinds of services for the loua. The first is held once a year; the second is conducted much less frequently, usually only once a generation. Many poor families, however, wait until they feel a need to restore their relationship with their spirits before they conduct a service. Services are usually held at a sanctuary on family land.

In voodoo, there are many loua. Although there is considerable variation among families and regions, there are generally two groups of loua, the rada and the petro. The rada spirits are mostly seen as "sweet" loua, while the petro are seen as "bitter" because they are more demanding of their "children." Rada spirits appear to be of African origin while petro spirits appear to be of Haitian origin.

Loua are usually anthropomorphic and have distinct identities. They can be good, evil, capricious, or demanding. Loua most commonly show their displeasure by making people sick, and so voodoo is used to diagnose and treat illnesses. Loua are not nature spirits, and they do not make crops grow or bring rain. The loua of one family have no claim over members of other families, and they cannot protect or harm them. Voodooists are therefore not interested in the loua of other families.

Loua appear to family members in dreams and, more dramatically, through trances. Many Haitians believe that loua are capable of temporarily taking over the bodies of their "children." Men and women enter trances during which they assume the traits of particular loua. People in a trance feel giddy and usually remember nothing after they return to a normal state of consciousness. Voodooists say that the spirit temporarily replaces the human personality. Possession trances occur usually during rituals such as services for loua or a vodoun dance in honor of the loua. When loua appear to entranced people, they may bring warnings or explanations for the causes of illnesses or misfortune. Loua often engage the crowd around them through flirtation, jokes, or accusations.

Ancestors (le mò) rank with the family loua as the most important spiritual entities in voodoo. Elaborate funeral and mourning rites reflect the important role of the dead. Ornate tombs throughout the countryside reveal how much attention Haiti gives to its dead. Voodooists believe the dead are capable of forcing their survivors to construct tombs and sell land. In these cases, the dead act like family loua, which "hold" family members to make them ill or bring other misfortune. The dead also appear in dreams to provide their survivors with advice or warnings.

Voodooists also believe there are loua that can be paid to bring good fortune or protection from evil. And, they believe that souls can be paid to attack enemies by making them ill.

Folk belief includes zombies and witchcraft. Zombies are either spirits or people whose souls have been partially withdrawn from their bodies. Some Haitians resort to bokò, who are specialists in sorcery and magic. Haiti has several secret societies whose members practice sorcery.

Voodoo specialists, male houngan and female manbo, mediate between humans and spirits through divination and trance. They diagnose illnesses and reveal the origins of other misfortune. They can also perform rituals to appease spirits or ancestors or to repel magic. Many voodoo specialists are accomplished herbalists who treat a variety of illnesses.

Voodoo lacks a fixed theology and an organized hierarchy, unlike Roman Catholicism and Protestantism. Each specialist develops his or her own reputation for helping people.

François Duvalier recruited voodoo specialists to serve as tonton makouts to help him control all aspects of Haitian life. Duvalier indicated that he retained power through sorcery, but because voodoo is essentially a family-based cult, Duvalier failed to politicize the religion to any great extent.


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1021. Bonedog
3:09 PM GMT on January 21, 2010
now back to lurking.....
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1020. atmoaggie
3:09 PM GMT on January 21, 2010
I believe now is the time for a reading from the book of Psalms...

L8R.
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1019. drg0dOwnCountry
3:06 PM GMT on January 21, 2010

On Wednesday morning, as Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) teams in Haiti continued to work through long queues of patients waiting for treatment and surgery, the country was shaken anew by a powerful aftershock. In Choscal hospital, where MSF has been running two operating theaters, patients were so alarmed by the tremors that they had to be relocated into tents outside the building. The surgeons stayed in the hospital, however, rotating in regular shifts, performing one operation after another.

In the week since the January 12 earthquake, MSF has established 10 operating theaters in the battered country. Seven are in Port-au-Prince hospitals—Choscal, Trinité, Carrefour and Chancerelle—and three others are outside the capital, in the towns of Leogane and Jacmel. Overall, MSF surgical teams have been carrying out an average of 130 operations per day. Simultaneously, logisticians are racing to find new facilities or rehabilitate damaged ones. Additional operating theaters are being prepared in Leogane and Grand Goave, west of the capitol, and inside Port-au-Prince, where a team expects to complete the construction of an inflatable hospital with two operating theaters by Friday.

When possible, MSF has been expanding its services. The team working in Carrefour, for instance, initiated psychological support programs for patients who’ve had limbs amputated. Physiotherapy for burn victims is now available at another MSF facility, while dialysis treatment for people with crush injuries has begun at Port-au-Prince’s General Hospital.

According to Dr. Greg Elder, deputy operations manager for MSF in Haiti, some sites are facing a 10 to 12 day backlog of patients due to the huge number of people who need treatment and ongoing delays in getting crucial supplies into the country. Some victims are already dying of sepsis, an illness caused by infections that can affect people with untreated wounds. While the emphasis now remains on providing immediate care, Elder says that the next health risk could include outbreaks of diarrhea, respiratory tract infections, or other diseases among the hundreds of thousands of Haitians living in overcrowded camps with poor or nonexistent sanitation. Another issue is the provision of care for chronic illnesses that cannot be attended to in the emergency phases of a response such as the one now underway in Haiti.
http://doctorswithoutborders.org/news/article.cfm?id=4184&cat=field-news
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1018. atmoaggie
3:06 PM GMT on January 21, 2010
Quoting jeffs713:

The dry slot at 500mb may be supressing the CAPE values.

edit: Or based on what Beell posted... I could just not know what I'm talking about at all.

Don't worry, beell has set me straight when discussing severe potential more than once...he is the guy around here for that subject.

Aside: CAPE is independent of Td values aloft to a degree...but, in fact, it is possible that a dry layer can aid evaporative cooling in a dry layer, reduce the values of the "red line" and thereby increase CAPE after rain starts falling. Results: a more vigorous updraft and a better possibility of downbursts/hail/nadoes.
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1017. jeffs713
3:05 PM GMT on January 21, 2010
Quoting beell:
Looking at the sat loops, the dry air/dry slot is sure there, Jeffs. And shows up well on the sounding as you noted. And an abrubt end of convection just behind the storms.

Would a dry slot like that act to hold down CAPE, so to speak? Or are they independent factors in storm development?
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1016. Bonedog
3:05 PM GMT on January 21, 2010
The exact number of Vodou practitioners is unknown. However, a significant amount of the population practice it, often alongside their Christian faith.

Yes they say a significant amount but what percentage? I still think the catholosism is more prevalant then the voodoo

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1015. presslord
3:02 PM GMT on January 21, 2010
Its only a very small percent that are Roman Catholic......

dead wrong
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1014. Bonedog
3:02 PM GMT on January 21, 2010
About 95% of the population claim Christian beliefs, and the most professed denomination by far is Roman Catholicism. Similar to the rest of Latin America, Haiti was colonized by Roman Catholic European powers. Following in this legacy, Catholicism is enshrined in the Haitian constitution as the official state religion, and between 80 and 85% of Haitians are Catholics. Pope John Paul II visited Haiti in 1983. In a speech in the capital of Port-au-Prince, he criticized the government of Jean-Claude Duvalier; it is believed that the impact of this speech on the Catholic bureaucracy in Haiti contributed to his removal in 1986.

According to the Catholic Church in Haiti, the ten dioceses of the two ecclesiastical provinces of Haiti count up to 251 parishes and about 1500 Christian rural communities. The local clergy has 400 diocesan priests and 300 seminarians. There are also 1300 religious missionary priests belonging to more than 70 religious order and fraternities. Vocations to the priesthood are plentiful.
Other Religious denominations
The Seventh-day Adventist Church, Pentecostalism, and the Jehovah's Witnesses movement also have significant followings. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints claims more than 14,000 members in Haiti. 10-15% of Haiti's professed Christians are evangelical protestants. The Eastern Orthodox Church also has missions in Haiti

Vodou
The New World Afro-diasporic religion of Vodou is also practiced. Vodou encompasses several different traditions, and consists of a mix encompassing African, European and indigenous Taìno religious elements. In this way, it is very similar to other Latin American syncretist movements, such as the Cuban Santería. It is more widespread in rural parts of the country, partly due to negative stigmas attached to its practice.

The exact number of Vodou practitioners is unknown. However, a significant amount of the population practice it, often alongside their Christian faith.


Islam
There is a small Muslim community in Haiti, mainly residing in Port-au-Prince, Cap-Haitien and its surrounding suburbs. The history of Islam on the island of Hispaniola (which Haiti shares with the Dominican Republic) begins with the slavery in Haïti.

Many Muslims were imported as slaves to Haiti. Although many were forced to abandon Islam over time[citation needed], their Islamic heritage has persisted in the culture of native Haitians. In 2000, Nawoon Marcellus, a member of Fanmi Lavalas from San Raphael, became the first Muslim elected to the Chamber of Deputies of Haïti.

Tampa seems to me you are looking at the minority and extrapolating it to the majority. Please dont jump to conclusions so quickly.

Just like not everyone in Jamiamca is rastafarian or practices voodoo
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1013. presslord
3:01 PM GMT on January 21, 2010
also as a Practicing Catholic....I agree...
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1012. TampaSpin
3:00 PM GMT on January 21, 2010
Quoting TampaTom:


Just to jump in as a practicing Roman Catholic...

Haiti had a bishop and a cathedral. I have a very difficult time believing that the Vatican would appoint anything other than a main-line Catholic bishop to a country...


Its only a very small percent that are Roman Catholic......All i am saying is it is what it is there....I am done with this topic. One can only hope that things improve. Its just the background and the history of Haiti and its current status before the quake.
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1011. beell
3:00 PM GMT on January 21, 2010
Looking at the sat loops, the dry air/dry slot is sure there, Jeffs. And shows up well on the sounding as you noted. And an abrubt end of convection just behind the storms.
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1010. weathermanwannabe
2:58 PM GMT on January 21, 2010
Quoting presslord:


I'm not comfortable questioning anyone's practice of Christianity...


Amen........... :)
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1009. code1
2:57 PM GMT on January 21, 2010
I suggest you go study up on Haitian Vodou TS. It's NOT the Hollywood variety. If you have a good friend who is Haitian, you should already KNOW this.
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1008. presslord
2:56 PM GMT on January 21, 2010
Quoting TampaSpin:


But, Paul what kind of Catholic.....its called Vodoo Catholic........its not the same as we know as they worship something different just to be clear. Just telling the facts without offending anyone again.


I'm not comfortable questioning anyone's practice of Christianity...
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1007. TampaTom
2:54 PM GMT on January 21, 2010
Quoting TampaSpin:


But, Paul what kind of Catholic.....its called Vodoo Catholic........its not the same as we know as they worship something different just to be clear. Just telling the facts without offending anyone again.


Just to jump in as a practicing Roman Catholic...

Haiti had a bishop and a cathedral. I have a very difficult time believing that the Vatican would appoint anything other than a main-line Catholic bishop to a country...
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1006. TampaSpin
2:50 PM GMT on January 21, 2010
Quoting Portlight:


Haiti is 85% Catholic...


But, Paul what kind of Catholic.....its called Vodoo Catholic........its not the same as we know as they worship something different just to be clear. Just telling the facts without offending anyone again.
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1005. TampaSpin
2:46 PM GMT on January 21, 2010
Quoting beell:
996.

The sounding shows mostly elevated convection, Tim. Note the bulge in the temp profile (red line). A low level inversion up to about 850mb. Warmer here than at the surface. Most of the CAPE is above 850mb and is evaluated on the skew-t by looking at the "size" or area between the parcel path (black dashed line) and the red temp profile. Bigger area = more CAPE. It is here the lifted parcel is warmer than the air around it and will continue to rise. This explains the 1400J/Kg of MU (most unstable CAPE). Acording to the sounding convection would be elevated and not surface based. But that's just one look earlier this morning. Things could change!


Yep the heating of the day will start to make things rise at the surface.....then things will change big time...
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1004. jeffs713
2:45 PM GMT on January 21, 2010
Quoting TampaSpin:
One would usually find a higher CAPE with this kind of activity....


The dry slot at 500mb may be supressing the CAPE values.

edit: Or based on what Beell posted... I could just not know what I'm talking about at all.
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1003. beell
2:41 PM GMT on January 21, 2010
996.

The sounding shows mostly elevated convection, Tim. Note the bulge in the temp profile (red line). A low level inversion up to about 850mb. Warmer here than at the surface. Most of the CAPE is above 850mb and is evaluated on the skew-t by looking at the "size" or area between the parcel path (black dashed line) and the red temp profile. Bigger area = more CAPE. It is here the lifted parcel is warmer than the air around it and will continue to rise. This explains the 1400J/Kg of MU (most unstable CAPE). Acording to the sounding convection would be elevated and not surface based. But that's just one look earlier this morning. Things could change!
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1002. StormChaser81
2:40 PM GMT on January 21, 2010
Looking very impressive. Super cells!!!


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1001. Portlight
2:34 PM GMT on January 21, 2010
Quoting TampaSpin:



I understand the sensitivity of the matter but, was just trying to put things into perspective that what is honestly the thoughts of the Haitian people.....just like many i have a very good Haitian friend and feel the grief and see the grief he is feeling. But, the beliefs of many is what it is.


Haiti is 85% Catholic...
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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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