Record warmth in Atlantic Main Development Region for hurricanes

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 4:52 PM GMT on March 08, 2010

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Sea Surface Temperatures (SSTs) in the Atlantic's Main Development Region for hurricanes were at their highest February level on record last month, according to an analysis of historical SST data from the UK Hadley Center. SST data goes back to 1850, though there is much missing data before 1910 and during WWI and WWII. The region between 10°N and 20°N, between the coast of Africa and Central America, is called the Main Development Region (MDR) because virtually all African waves originate in this region. These African waves account for 85% of all Atlantic major hurricanes and 60% of all named storms. When SSTs in the MDR are much above average during hurricane season, a very active season typically results (if there is no El Niño event present.)


Figure 1. The departure of sea surface temperature (SST) from average for March 7, 2010, as derived from the AMSR and AVHRR satellite data. Image credit: NOAA.

SSTs in the Main Development Region (10°N to 20°N and 20°W to 85°W) were an eye-opening 1.02°C above average during February. This easily beats the previous record of 0.83°C set in 1998. SSTs in the Main Development Region are already warmer than they were during June of last year, which is pretty remarkable, considering February is usually the coldest month of the year for SSTs in the North Atlantic. The 1.02°C anomaly is the 6th highest monthly SST anomaly for the MDR on record. The only other months with higher anomalies all occurred during 2005 (April, May, June, July, and September 2005 had anomalies of 1.06°C - 1.23°C).

What is responsible for the high SSTs?
Don't blame El Niño for the high Atlantic SSTs. El Niño is a warming of the Pacific waters near the Equator, and has no direct impact on Atlantic SSTs. Instead, blame the Arctic Oscillation (AO) or its close cousin, the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO). The AO and NAO are climate patterns in the North Atlantic Ocean related to fluctuations in the difference of sea-level pressure between the Icelandic Low and the Azores-Bermuda High. They are some of the oldest known climate oscillations; seafaring Scandinavians described the pattern several centuries ago. Through east-west oscillation motions of the Icelandic Low and the Azores-Bermuda High, the AO/NAO controls the strength and direction of westerly winds and storm tracks across the North Atlantic. A large difference in the pressure between Iceland and the Azores (positive NAO) leads to increased westerly winds and mild and wet winters in Europe. Positive NAO conditions also cause the Icelandic Low to draw a stronger south-westerly flow of air over eastern North America, preventing Arctic air from plunging southward. In contrast, if the difference in sea-level pressure between Iceland and the Azores is small (negative NAO), westerly winds are suppressed, allowing Arctic air to spill southwards into eastern North America more readily. The winter of 2009 - 2010 has seen the most negative AO and NAO patterns since record keeping began in 1950, which caused a very cold winter in Florida and surrounding states. A negative AO/NAO implies a very weak Azores-Bermuda High, which reduces the trade winds circulating around the High. During December - February, trade winds between Africa and the Lesser Antilles Islands in the hurricane Main Development Region were 1 - 2 m/s (2.2 - 4.5 mph) below average (Figure 2). Slower trade winds mean less mixing of the surface waters with cooler waters down deep, plus less evaporational cooling of the surface water. As a result, the ocean has heated up significantly, relative to normal, over the winter. This heating is superimposed on the very warm global SSTs we've been seeing over the past decade, leading to the current record warmth. Global and Northern Hemisphere SSTs were the 2nd warmest on record in both December and January.


Figure 2. Sea level pressure averaged for the period December 2009 - February 2010 (left) and the sea level pressure averaged for the period December - February from the long-term mean (1968 - 1998). This winter, the Azores-Bermuda High was about 3 - 4 mb weaker than in a typical winter, due to strongly negative AO/NAO conditions. Image credit: NOAA/ESRL.


Figure 3. Departure of surface wind speed from average for December 2009 - February 2010. Winds were about 1 - 2 m/s (2.2 - 4.5 mph) lower than average over the Atlantic hurricane Main Development Region (MDR). Image credit: NOAA/ESRL.

What does this imply for the coming hurricane season?
According to Dr. Phil Klotzbach of the University of Colorado, February temperatures in the MDR are not strongly correlated with active hurricane seasons. The mathematical correlation between hurricane season Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) and February SSTs is only 0.26, which is considered weak. Past hurricane seasons that had high February SST anomalies include 1998 (0.83°C anomaly), 2007 (0.71°C anomaly), and 1958 (0.68°C anomaly). These three years averaged 13 named storms, 8 hurricanes, and 3 intense hurricanes, which is considerably higher than the average of 10, 6, and 2. The big question is, how long will the strong negative AO/NAO conditions keep the Azores-Bermuda High weak? Well, the AO has risen to near-neutral values over the past week, and the latest 2-week forecast from the GFS model show that the AO and NAO will not be as strongly negative during March. This should allow the Azores-Bermuda High to strengthen some this month and increase the trade winds over the MDR. However, I still expect we'll set a record for warmest-ever March SSTs in the Main Development Region. Longer term, the crystal ball is very fuzzy, as our ability to predict the weather months in advance is poor. The long-range NOAA CFS model is predicting SSTs in the Atlantic MDR will be about 0.70°C above average during the peak months of hurricane season, making it one of the top five warmest years on record--but not as warm as the unbelievable Hurricane Season of 2005, which averaged 0.95°C above normal during August - October. The other big question is, when will El Niño fade? El Niño is currently holding steady at moderate intensity, and I expect that will continue through at least mid-April. It is possible El Niño will linger long enough into the year that it will create increased wind shear that will suppress this year's hurricane season.

Brazilian disturbance
An area of disturbed weather off the coast of Brazil, near 24S 36W, has changed little over the past two days. This disturbance still has a slight potential to develop into subtropical or tropical depression by Wednesday, according to the latest runs of the ECMWF, GFS, and NOGAPS models. Satellite imagery shows little organization to the cloud pattern, and only limited heavy thunderstorm activity. Wind shear over the region is about 20 knots, which is rather high, and should keep any development slow. Sea surface temperatures are about 27°C, about 1°C above average, which is warm enough to support a tropical storm. The system is small, limiting its potential to become a tropical cyclone. I don't think it will become a subtropical depression.

I'll have a new post on Wednesday.
Jeff Masters

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Quoting atmoaggie:


Excellent Info atmoaggie!!!
Member Since: August 11, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 2315
Quoting Patrap:
Storms dont strengthen over the Glades nor did fay,or Katrina.

The Thermocline isnt no where deep enough for that to occur.

A Storm may maintain some of its strength over these types of waters,but they are way to shallow for any significant strengthening.

Florida is a Land Mass,..a Low one with Lil width..and that Factor is the most important as the friction time for any core is limited as it passes East to west or vice versa.

I am of the opinion that the depth of the 26C isotherm is way overblown in hurricane heat potential in shelf waters (and inland swamp areas). Where colder waters exist on the shelf, I think shelf waters have sharp enough changes in temps from surface layer to bottom layer that even in the presence of a hurricane above, they stay in their stably stratified setup. Cold water, more dense, warm water less dense. Tends to stay that way. Ponder for a moment if 90 degree F surface waters would easily mix with river-outflow waters, below, of 60 F.

Part of the reasoning for this is what we have seen after hurricanes come and go. We all know they are capable of leaving a trail of colder waters in their wake, most famous of which is probably Isabel. But, this trail of colder water does not suddenly grow larger or colder at the intersection of deep waters and shelf waters. And the cooler wake is still only a few C cooler than before, not 10 C, not even close to 10.

Imagine what SST maps would really look like if a Katrina, Ike, Isabel significantly stirred up water 30 F cooler than the SST with the cold water being present in far greater volumes than the warm surface layer.

SST before the TC mixing of Henri and Isabel:


Cooler water wake left by Henri (to the right) and Isabel (to the left)


We have seen storms weaken, intensify, undergo genesis, etc. in both deep waters where the 26C isotherm is deep and in shallow waters where it either is shallow, or undefined, as it is beyond the sea floor. (I keep bringing up that isotherm as it *is* a large part of the TCHP, and related products).

Shelf waters in the Aqua color:


Same for most of the NW Atlantic basin:


Of course, the 26C isotherm clearly has *some* importance, especially for a slow mover. I just think it is given too much credit, when dry air entrainment is primarily responsible for most of our storms generally weakening intensity as they near land...that being large landmasses, not parts of the Caribbean or Central America, where there does also exist continental shelf-depths.
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12461
Sorry, folks, got pulled away for a sec...Storm, my friend, how are you?
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Lol I just love our local lake-effect phenomenon look at this!

The radar has shown Homer in the clear all night long and yet it's been snowing like heck the whole time. I love it. Our lake-effect showers are too shallow to be detected by radar, unlike most of the lake-effect snow down in the Great Lakes region.

Several times our NWS has failed to issue any sort of warning down here because they had no clue it was snowing until somebody calls in to let them know. They have finally caught on that this is a regular event every winter, and they now issue blizzard warnings specifically for my area (for like a 10-mile radius) when conditions are favorable for lake-effect. I'm proud to have studied this local thing long before they did :)

Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 628 Comments: 26455
Quoting weathermanwannabe:


You had to remind us in Tallahassee; we were caught in the training bands and received 22 inches of rain from Fay.......... :)


Hey it brought Lake Jackson back up, till the next time the sink hole swallows it again.

I fished it the next weekend, but never thought about if you have fish condensed into a pond and then the lake fills back up and gives them 5 times as much water, how hard do you think it is to find 20 fish in a lake.lol
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Quoting StormChaser81:


Almost like someone was in the driver seat :-o
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;)
Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 24 Comments: 8185
Quoting StormW:


Join the club...you know me!


Indeed =)
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 628 Comments: 26455
Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 24 Comments: 8185
342. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Seychelles Meteorological Services
Tropical Disturbance Advisory Number TWO
PERTURBATION TROPICALE 13-20092010
16:00 PM Réunion March 9 2010
====================================

At 12:00 PM UTC, Tropical Disturbance 13R (1005 hPa) located at 19.9S 50.8E has 10 minute sustained winds of 25 knots with gusts of 35 knots. The disturbance is reported as moving south at 4 knots.

Dvorak Intensity: T2.0

Forecast and Intensity
=====================
12 HRS: 20.0S 50.7E - 30 knots (Depression Tropicale)
24 HRS: 20.2S 50.3E - 35 knots (Tempête Tropicale Moderée)
48 HRS: 19.8S 48.7E - (Depression sur terre)

Additional Information
=======================
System shows a curved bands feature since 0900z. It slowly moves southward at about 200 kms from the Malagasy eastern coast. Over the next 36 hrs, environmental conditions are rather good with improved low levels tradewinds inflow and no wind shear and good divergence under upper level high pressures. System could reach the moderate tropical storm stage. Within the next 24 hrs, system should remain quasi-stationary (or slowly southward drift), then keep on track west northwestward under the steering influence of low and mid levels highs. Landfall is expected between 36-48 hrs over the Malagasy coast between Mananjary and Toamasina.
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Quoting StormChaser81:


You had to remind us in Tallahassee; we were caught in the training bands and received 22 inches of rain from Fay.......... :)
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340. JRRP
positive mJo has several days or weeks on SW Atlantic

Link
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Member Since: August 11, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 2315
From Jeff's Blog on Fay

"Tropical Storm Fay (AKA "The Joker") is pulling a trick that may be unprecedented--significantly intensifying over land, developing a full eyewall. The radar and satellite images of Fay this afternoon (Figures 1 and 2) show a much better-organized storm than the Fay that made landfall this morning. Fay now has a symmetric appearance with a full eyewall, and the winds near the center were sustained at 60 mph this afternoon at Lake Okeechobee. These winds are higher than anything measured at landfall this morning. Remarkably, the pressure has fallen over 10 mb since landfall, and I can't ever recall seeing such a large pressure fall while a storm was over land. Hurricane Andrew of 1992 crossed South Florida and did not weaken significantly, but "The Joker" has significantly intensified. It does happen sometimes that the increased friction over land can briefly act to intensify a hurricane vortex (doesnt a vortex rotate?) , but this effect is short-lived, once the storm is cut off from its oceanic moisture source. To have a storm intensify over land and maintain that increased intensity while over land for 12 hours is hard to explain. The only thing I can think is that recent rains in Florida have formed large areas of standing water that the storm is feeding off of. Fay is also probably pulling moisture from Lake Okeechobee. Anyone want to write a Ph.D. thesis on this case? Wow."
Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 24 Comments: 8185
Quoting StormW:
Hurricane Katrina was reduced to a tropical storm while still over the Everglades but quickly reached hurricane strength again as it moved into the Gulf of Mexico. With water temperatures of around 27° C (80° F), unstable atmospheric conditions, moist air and little to no wind shear in the Gulf of Mexico, conditions were perfect for Katrina to rapidly strengthen, reaching Category 5 status with winds exceeding 250 km/h (155 mph) as it sped towards New Orleans for its second US landfall.



Yeah I know, I have a bad habit of disagreeing with the NHC on a lot of things.

I remember the entire blog disagreeing with the decision to downgrade it, not that it really mattered, but surface wind obs were obviously going to be lower as she traveled across, simply due to frictional effects. She just really didn't seem to weaken on her way over at all. The visible satellite from that day would show it better but I don't have it.

Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 628 Comments: 26455
"When hurricanes move over land, they usually start to weaken quickly because they no longer have their source of fuel: warm moist air above the sea.


Sometimes, though, hurricanes can get stronger for a little while when they move over land if the land is very warm and swampy. This is because warm swamplands can provide a lot of warm moist air to a hurricane. Some scientists think this happened when Hurricane Andrew moved over the Florida Everglades in 1992."

source
Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 24 Comments: 8185
Quoting StormChaser81:


Sorry have to disagree with you on this one. Dr. Masters even did a blog entry on Tropical Storm forming a eye over land in south Florida.

strengthening might not be the right word, maybe organized over land, but a storm that is organizing usually means a storm that is strengthening.=)



I know the entry your mentioning,but the forces involved over land in a ROTATING Meso scale complex,..arent the same as over a 80F Sea water.

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I remember Wilma crossing the Glades from Naples area and coming out on the Florida East Coast.....NWS had forcast some weakening after landfall but the Doppler radars clearly showed the storm/eyewall holding on real good.....I called friends in South Florida to advise them that it was not weakening that much and sure enough, a few of them (expecting a weak tropical storm) were holding their doors to keep them from blowing in from Miami to Palm Beach "on the backside"..........
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Quoting NRAamy:
Tdude....Jerry....

:)

SQUAWK!!!!!

:)


hey trouble ;)
Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 24 Comments: 8185

Snowstorms wreak havoc in Spain

Schools closed and commuters stranded after blizzards sweep across north east

Some 220,000 people in Catalonia, north-east Spain, were without power today and railway lines and roads have been cut off after a severe snowstorm.

The region's interior minister, Joan Boada, said the outage, caused by a fault in a high-tension cable, was affecting the area around Girona city, north of Barcelona, the regional capital.

Spain's border with France at La Junquera was closed today because of heavy snowfall, while many schools cancelled classes for a second consecutive day.

About 3,000 people were put up in a town hall last night and many others were stranded in their cars as railway lines and roads became impassable, Boada said.

Authorities said the situation was improving but below-freezing temperatures would continue to cause transport delays.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/mar/09/spain-snowstorms-wreak-havoc

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Quoting nishinigami:
Pat, How is it on your end? It is starting to boom here in Plaquemines.


Dark with a southerly fetch,..warming.Thunder off to the WEST
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Quoting StormW:
However, on the other side of the coin, Katrina did weaken (slightly) and not as quickly as first thought she might. The main factor for Katrina was she was able to maintain a solid core, which allowed her to explode once in the GOMEX.



Yes indeed StormW. Maintaining a Solid core is KEY FOR A Hurricane to survive a Land Mass crossing as she did.

And when that Core found those Loop Current SST's well,we saw history.



Hurricane Katrina (08/23 - 08/31 Landfall Regional Radar Loop
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Tdude....Jerry....

:)

SQUAWK!!!!!

:)
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Pat, How is it on your end? It is starting to boom here in Plaquemines.
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so pretty much, if there is enough moisture, and the land mass isnt inhibiting, then strengthening over land happens, correct?
Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 24 Comments: 8185
There were some indications that Erin also strengthened over land. Interesting stuff :)

Was that a Hurricane? In Oklahoma?

Tropical Cyclone Report
Tropical Storm Erin
(AL052007)


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I remember watching Katrina....I doubt she weakened at all crossing the Everglades. She was rapidly intensifying coming ashore on the east coast and the land disrupted that process but certainly did not weaken her. Her structure actually improved over land. I remember it like it was yesterday.

Her and Fay were quite amazing to watch over Florida, especially Fay. That was just insane lol. It is not impossible though Pat. It goes against everything we know but if you think about it it is possible over Florida when you have water surrounding the storm on two sides. If the upper-level conditions are perfect, then the storm can sometimes suck in enough moisture to stay alive or even strengthen slightly.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 628 Comments: 26455
Morning folks!
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Time/date Coordinates Pressure wind speed
19/1200 26.4,-81.4 988 55
19/1800 27.0,-81.1 986 60

The first coordinates puts you 30 miles inland.

The second coordinates puts you 76 miles inland right on the northwest side of Lake Okeechobee.

It went down 2 mb and the wind speed increase to 60.

That's strengthening...Overland at that...

TS Fay NHC PDF
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Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 24 Comments: 8185
Good morning all.

I can't wait to see what it looks like outside when the sun rises. Sustained winds of 40mph with gusts to 60 have been hammering us all night with lake-effect snow, and the temperature is now 6 degrees at my house with a wind chill of -23.

From the airport:


Current Conditions

Homer, Alaska (Airport)
Updated: 39 min 48 sec ago

12 °F
Light Snow Freezing Fog

Windchill: -10 °F
Humidity: 85%
Dew Point: 9 °F
Wind: 34 mph from the WSW

Wind Gust: 43 mph

Pressure: 28.89 in (Steady)
Visibility: 0.5 miles
Elevation: 82 ft
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 628 Comments: 26455
According to meteoalarm, this thing is packing hurricane force winds.





Weather warnings
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Quoting Patrap:
Storms dont strengthen over the Glades nor did fay,or Katrina.

The Thermocline isnt no where deep enough for that to occur.

A Storm may maintain some of its strength over these types of waters,but they are way to shallow for any significant strengthening.

Florida is a Land Mass,..a Low one with Lil width..and that Factor is the most important as the friction time for any core is limited as it passes East to west or vice versa.


Sorry have to disagree with you on this one. Dr. Masters even did a blog entry on Tropical Storm forming a eye over land in south Florida.

strengthening might not be the right word, maybe organized over land, but a storm that is organizing usually means a storm that is strengthening.=)

Member Since: August 11, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 2315
THANKS TO ALL!!
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 486

668
WUUS54 KLIX 091450
SVRLIX
LAC057-109-091545-
/O.NEW.KLIX.SV.W.0014.100309T1450Z-100309T1545Z/

BULLETIN - EAS ACTIVATION REQUESTED
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE NEW ORLEANS LA
850 AM CST TUE MAR 9 2010

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN NEW ORLEANS HAS ISSUED A

* SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING FOR...
CENTRAL LAFOURCHE PARISH IN SOUTHEAST LOUISIANA...
NORTHERN TERREBONNE PARISH IN SOUTHEAST LOUISIANA...
THIS INCLUDES THE CITY OF HOUMA...

* UNTIL 945 AM CST

* AT 845 AM CST...NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE METEOROLOGISTS DETECTED A
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM CAPABLE OF PRODUCING QUARTER SIZE HAIL. THIS
STORM WAS LOCATED 29 MILES WEST OF GRAY...OR 7 MILES SOUTH OF BAYOU
VISTA...AND MOVING EAST AT 40 MPH.

* OTHER LOCATIONS IN THE WARNING INCLUDE BUT ARE NOT LIMITED TO BAYOU
CANE...MONTEGUT...MATHEWS AND LOCKPORT

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

IN ADDITION TO HAIL...CONTINUOUS CLOUD TO GROUND LIGHTNING IS
OCCURRING WITH THIS STORM. MOVE INDOORS IMMEDIATELY! LIGHTNING IS
ONE OF NATURES NUMBER ONE KILLERS. REMEMBER...IF YOU CAN HEAR
THUNDER...YOU ARE CLOSE ENOUGH TO BE STRUCK BY LIGHTNING.

THIS STORM HAS A HISTORY OF PRODUCING QUARTER SIZE HAIL. SEEK
SHELTER NOW INSIDE A STURDY STRUCTURE AND STAY AWAY FROM WINDOWS!


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P451 "What is so hard to understand here? What is wrong with these people? TURN THE CAR OFF."

Still usin' them buggy whips and reins to control yer horses, eh?
For those living in the post2001, "I'm sorry, Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that." is a realistic possibility.
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Storms dont strengthen over the Glades nor did fay,or Katrina.

The Thermocline isnt no where deep enough for that to occur.

A Storm may maintain some of its strength over these types of waters,but they are way to shallow for any significant strengthening.

Florida is a Land Mass,..a Low one with Lil width..and that Factor is the most important as the friction time for any core is limited as it passes East to west or vice versa.
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Quoting doabarrelroll:
I was hoping for some more research based responses. I am sure that many on this blog will say ask me about the the back side of ____ including people from Florida.


As some have noted as to Fay, there is probably some research/observation based data out there to support an argument in terms of Florida. One issue, in South Florida, is the Everglades and the heat content that can still support an eyewall and structure if a storm passes over the South end of the State.....We have seen this many times over the years (the crossover from the Atlantic to Gulf or vice versa) and I remember Hurricane Wilma which did not weaken too much over the Glades on the way to the East Coast from the Gulf. Secondly, the very nature of the Peninsula, and flat terrain, alows for a continued draw of moisture from both coasts. Again, we have dozens of storms that have successfully crossed the State relatively intact which would include a good wallop on the backside of the storm........This happened a few times in 2004............ :)
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Quoting atmoaggie:

Unless you are driving a pickup with a gun rack, in which case they will wave. (The full scenario will never happen, though, those with gun racks don't call 9-1-1)


Good point. On both counts.
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5792
Gotta run for the day.....You all have a nice day! NO FIGHTING KIDS!
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Quoting TampaTom:
And, in other crazy news...

Man awarded $1.5 million in lawsuit over table saw accident.

Wow... a saw that cuts... Who knew?

And this technology has only been out for 4-5 years. How can you mandate all table saws have a new, expensive technology that quickly?
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5792
Quoting jeffs713:

I think they would allow calls to 9-1-1. Unless you happened to be driving through a small town in Texas, in which case, you are going to get pulled over, fined, get 3 demerit points, and have your car searched.

Unless you are driving a pickup with a gun rack, in which case they will wave. (The full scenario will never happen, though, those with gun racks don't call 9-1-1)
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12461

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About JeffMasters

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.