Record rains and flooding swamp Rhode Island and Massachusetts

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 4:58 PM GMT on March 31, 2010

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Record rains from a slow-moving and extremely wet Nor'easter have triggered historic flooding in Rhode Island and Southeastern Massachusetts, with several rivers exceeding their 100-year flood levels. The 16.32" of rain that has fallen on Providence, Rhode Island, this month is the most rain recorded in any month, besting the previous record of 15.38" set in October 2005. Blue Hill Observatory in SE Massachusetts also set a record for wettest month ever, with 18.79" (previous record: 18.78", August 1955.) Records extend back to 1905 and 1885 at the two sites. The Rhode Island all-time state record for heaviest precipitation in a month was smashed as well, thanks to the 19.62" observed this March at North Kingstown. The old state record was 16.70", set at North Foster in October 2005. Many locations in the Northeast recorded their wettest March ever, including New York City and Boston.


Figure 1. Observed precipitation for the month of March. Image credit: NOAA.

From a historical perspective, river flooding in parts of Rhode Island and eastern Massachusetts is expected to rival or exceed the all-time record floods of August 1955, when Hurricanes Connie and Diane hit within one week of each other. Several rivers in the region that set their all-time flood heights just two weeks have set new records this week. It's pretty remarkable that we are having record rainfall and record flooding in the cold season month of March. It's much easier to set records in August, when there is much more moisture in the air available for record rains.

Here is a summary of the major flooding occurring, courtesy of the National Weather Service:

* Pawtuxet River in Rhode Island...flooding will exceed what occurred in middle March. Record-shattering flooding is forecast along the Pawtuxet River through Thursday. Records at the Cranston gauge date back to 1939.

* Blackstone River in Rhode Island...flooding at Woonsocket is forecast to be the worst flooding since the flooding associated with Connie and Diane in 1955. However...due to the heavier rains which have fallen below Woonsocket...flood impacts approaching the 1955 event may be realized.

* Charles River at Dover Massachusetts...near record flooding is forecast. This is expected to be the worst flooding since the flooding associated with Connie and Diane in 1955.

* Neponset River at Norwood Massachusetts...major flooding has already occurred...with a crest of 11.2 feet. This crest is well below the record crest of 14.65 feet which occurred in August 1955 with Connie and Diane.

* Sudbury at Saxonville Massachusetts...record flooding is forecast. This will be the worst flooding since the April 1987 flood.

While the storm responsible for the rains has moved out to sea, there will be a prolonged period of urban and small stream flooding...which should last for at least a couple of days. To keep track of the flood situation, use our wundermap with the USGS river layer turned on.

Severe weather season is here
Two tornadoes occurred near Charlotte, NC on Sunday, March 28, 2010. One of these twisters passed within a few miles of one of the FAA's high-resolution TDWR Doppler radars. Our tornado expert, Dr. Rob Carver, has written an excellent post showing high-resolution images and animations of this tornado.

I'll have a new post on April Fool's Day.
Jeff Masters

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Quoting Jeff9641:
From Friday thru the next 7 days after the forecast calls for 85 to 90 with no rain but isolated seabreeze storms may start occuring later next week. This heat should really begin to warm the coastal waters around Florida. I tend to think that we will see below average water temps go by the wayside over the next couple of weeks. This pattern may mean an early start up to the rainy season across Florida. Long Range models are hinting at this and some of these models are indicating Tropical developement the 3rd week of May so get ready.


Thats quite far off for models to be predicting a Tropical Cyclone to form.. and a lot of uncertainty. Can I have a link to these long range models?
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Quoting Levi32:


Haha, we shall see.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Brb.


Dont let it pass, start making plans for the future. You could find yourself setting in the NHC and not believing your there.

IM OUT
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Quoting StormW:
Good afternoon!


Hey, Storm! How's Orlando?
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Wetlands loss linked to Outer Continental Shelf oil and gas pipelines in new study
By Mark Schleifstein, The Times-Picayune
October 05, 2009, 9:46PM



Chevron Canals Dug thru the Se La. Wetlands

A new study for the federal Minerals Management Service concludes that the construction of pipelines related to oil and gas production in the Outer Continental Shelf of the Gulf of Mexico "can cause locally intense habitat changes, thereby contributing to the loss of critically important land and wetland areas."



The report is part of ongoing research by the Minerals Management Service to understand the effects of the production of oil and gas in federally controlled Gulf waters.

Louisiana officials have long argued that the federal government should share a greater financial burden in restoring coastal wetlands and land areas because of the effects of such offshore development.

For the study, the authors used computer models to interpret satellite and other data, gauging the impacts of pipelines and navigation channels on coastal areas in Louisiana, Texas, Alabama and Mississippi. They also conducted more in-depth reviews of the effects of individual pipelines and man-made canals.

The study said that in Louisiana the Outer Continental Shelf pipelines covered 480 square miles of wetlands and land, and the navigation channels covered 137 square miles. That represents about 11 percent of the Louisiana coast.

The biggest impacts were found to be the greater loss of wetlands and land areas associated with Outer Continental Shelf-related pipelines and canals in Texas and Louisiana. The effects varied according to the construction methods used.

Dredging of flotation canals, for instance, caused far more damage than installing pipes using a push-pull method in ditches that were backfilled, or by using directional drilling to put the pipes underground.

A flotation canal, about 250 feet wide, is dredged with a drag line or backhoe mounted on a barge, with the pipeline placed in a ditch within the canal. Dredged material often is used to build spoil banks along the canal.

The less damaging push-pull method uses machinery on a barge to place the pipe into a 10-foot ditch within a canal usually no more than 125 feet across.

In the case of directional drilling, a third method, a pipe is placed into the ground beneath the marsh and soil surface, using a horizontal drilling rig. It requires removal of soil or marsh only at the point where the pipe enters and exits the ground.

The report found direct impacts from dredging and indirect impacts from construction of canals and spoil banks. They included altered flooding patterns for adjacent wetlands caused by the spoil banks or saltwater intrusion from the Gulf through the canals.

But the report also concluded that those impacts "can be greatly minimized or avoided with proper application of mitigation techniques."

The report also suggested that "the cumulative effect of hundreds of pipelines contributes to regional trends in land loss."

Pipeline mitigation should include the keeping of adjacent marsh areas at pre-construction heights and restoring local hydrology to pre-construction conditions, the report said.

The report also recommended that if more than one construction method is suitable, "the least damaging and most easily mitigated method can be used."

For navigation canals that are still being used for petroleum exploration, or by other boat traffic, the report concluded that direct impacts may be difficult to avoid. But keeping the canal banks in place and building wetlands with material dredged from the canals can mitigate damaging effects, the report said.

The report found a strong relationship between the time period when the canals and pipelines were built and the amount of space used for their construction to the amount of land loss occurring within 500 feet of individual pipelines and within 1,640 feet of navigation canals studied in Louisiana's delta and chenier plains.

In Louisiana, the loss was consistently higher near pipelines than the regional loss rates, the report said. The same pattern held true for navigation canals in Louisiana delta areas east of the Atchafalaya River.

The loss rates were highest soon after the pipelines or canals were built, and dropped off in later years for all areas, except the Texas chenier plain area east of Galveston Bay.

The highest rates of land loss within 500 feet of Outer Continental Shelf-related pipelines were highest in Louisiana and lowest in the Mississippi and Alabama coastal areas.

Higher wetland loss rates in Louisiana's delta are explained in part by the high density of pipelines located there, including a large number of open pipeline canals, combined with a high rate of subsidence -- sinking soils -- in that area, which is exacerbated by the lack of sediment reaching wetlands.

Lower wetland loss rates on Texas's barrier islands and the Mississippi and Alabama coastal area can be explained in part by the use of more environmentally friendly construction methods, the report said. In fact, it noted, the Mississippi and Alabama area experienced an 8 percent gain in wetlands from the 1950s to the 1990s.

For navigation canals, the greatest land loss rates occurred in the Texas chenier plain, with rates a bit lower in Louisiana and the lowest in Alabama and Mississippi.

. . . . . . .

Mark Schleifstein can be reached at mschleifstein@timespicayune.com or 504.826.3327.
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Oil and gas isn't going away. It may phase out in time, but your looking at a century down the road
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Quoting Jeff9641:


Be a good way for him to leave Alaska and forecast here in Florida.


Haha, we shall see.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Brb.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26699
Quoting StormW:
Good afternoon!


Hey Storm :)
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26699
Quoting StormChaser81:


I see your point, but the air over the SAL can have high levels of moisture or low levels of moisture and that could aid or inhibit Tropical formation.

Right. But if it is hitting a layer that is effectively devoid of moisture and acting as a "cap" on convection, tropical formation can't get off the ground.
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This diagram illustrates the deficit in the northwest Sahel region that you pointed out Levi:

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Also, Drak, I can't find the page where you got those maps, but the ones I'm looking at, also from the CPC, don't show any anomalies one way or the other over the winter desert north of 10N, which is expected. The 90-day anomalies aren't really that dry, especially in the west.



Climatological for the same period:

Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26699
Oil rigs are not that noticable in the Gulf folks, they are well offshore and not an eye sore, nor do they leak all the time making the Gulf a giant oil slick. If you don't live near the beach dont worry about it, and if you do, get over it, it's more drama and hype about environmental crap that is nowhere near as bad as it looks or creates.
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Hmmm... I somehow goofed up the quote, hope this turns out:

Levi32 7:24 PM GMT on March 31, 2010 Hide this comment.

Quoting Drakoen:
Africa has been receiving below average rainfall as confirmed by positive OLR anomalies and % of normal rainfall precipitation estimates.




Drak, the Sahel doesn't get rainfall during the northern hemisphere winter. That map is a little misleading. Climatologically there is never any significant precipitation north of 9N over Africa between December and March. The average northern extent of any rainfall whatsoever in March is 10N. The Sahel region of western Africa that we care about for the Atlantic hurricane season is all north of 10N. At this time of year so little falls north of 10N that it's hard to even have an anomaly.




Absolutely correct. Beginning in December the ITCZ has shifted far enough south that rains begin falling in southern Africa (ie. Zambia, Mozambique, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Botswana, and Namibia) I lived in Zambia for several years and have experienced this first-hand. In mid-April the rain begins tapering off as the ITCZ begins to shift northwards across DR Congo, Tanzania, and Kenya.

For half of the year in the Sahel, they expect it to *not* rain. Likewise, from May through November it simply does not rain in southern Africa. I can't even describe how dry it becomes by November, in the depth of hot/dry season. Every square in of Zambia is burned by then, the landscape begins to look like a foreign planet - grey and charred and dirt brown.

The country of South Africa (including Lesotho and Swaziland) is the exception - it is far enough south that their weather is less dependent upon tropical convergence and more upon temperate latitude systems.
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Quoting Levi32:


True, so, let's take a look at the moisture content of the atmosphere during this winter.

1000mb(near-surface) Specific Humidity for December-February 2009-10:



and here's up in the mid-troposphere, at 700mb:



You can see it was generally moist near the surface and a little drier aloft.

But, again, this does not matter much this early. May-August is when we really need to watch these things.


I agree with you 100%

I hope you plain on attending a school that offers a Meteorology degree.

I would hate to see you waste your weather knowledge.

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Quoting Drakoen:


Regardless, Africa has been relatively dry and has had more exposure to the sun as confirmed by the OLR than they normally do. Here's the mean rainfall that Africa gets according to climatology from 1983-2009:



Here is what was observed for this month:



Well that may not be a good thing actually. A dry western Africa in the winter usually means the eastern Atlantic is dry as well, and that allows SSTs to warm.

Notice that lower-than-normal humidities over the tropical eastern Atlantic and west Africa have resulted in higher OLR, meaning less low-level clouds, which has contributed to allowing SSTs to warm so much in that area.

Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26699
Quoting Levi32:


Drak, the Sahel doesn't get rainfall during the northern hemisphere winter. That map is a little misleading. Climatologically there is never any significant precipitation north of 9N over Africa between December and March. The average northern extent of any rainfall whatsoever in March is 10N. The Sahel region of western Africa that we care about for the Atlantic hurricane season is all north of 10N. At this time of year so little falls north of 10N that it's hard to even have an anomaly.

Using the Sahel Rainfall Index, I can't even find an anomaly during January, February, or March that is greater than 9 millimeters, positive or negative. The largest departure from normal was 8.4 millimeters in January, 2004. The average anomalies are under a couple of millimeters during the winter months. Things don't pick up until May, when precipitation from the ITCZ starts working its way up north of the 10N line. It is during the months of May through August that we monitor Sahel rainfall closely to see what impact it has on the wave train. We can't derive much from data this early, as again, there can't even really be an anomaly when there's nearly no rainfall to begin with climatologically. Even if there is an anomaly, it doesn't mean much.



Regardless, Africa has been relatively dry and has had more exposure to the sun as confirmed by the OLR than they normally do. Here's the mean rainfall that Africa gets according to climatology from 1983-2009:



Here is what was observed for this month:

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Darwin Tropical Cyclone Warning Center
Tropical Cyclone Advice
TROPICAL LOW, FORMER PAUL (11U)
5:00 AM CST April 1 2010
=================================

At 3:30 am CST, Tropical Low, Former Paul (998 hPa) located at 14.5S 136.1E or 50 kms east southeast of Numbulwar and 75 kms south southwest of Alyangula has 10 minutes sustained winds of 30 knots with gusts of 50 knots. The cyclone is reported as moving east southeast at 3 knots.

Ex-Tropical Cyclone Paul is currently over the southwestern Gulf of Carpentaria and is expected to continue moving east southeast towards the coast. The system is not expected to develop into a tropical cyclone during Thursday but there is a possibility that it could redevelop into a tropical cyclone during Friday.

GALES are not expected in coastal areas within the next 24 hours, however gales could develop around the southwestern Gulf of Carpentaria coast on Friday if a tropical cyclone redevelops. Heavy rainfall and strong, squally winds are expected to continue in the Roper-McArthur District during Thursday.

Cyclone Watches/Warnings
=========================
A Cyclone WATCH continues for coastal and island communities from Cape Shield to the NT/Qld border, including Groote Eylandt.
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Quoting StormChaser81:


I see your point, but the air over the SAL can have high levels of moisture or low levels of moisture and that could aid or inhibit Tropical formation.


True, so, let's take a look at the moisture content of the atmosphere during this winter.

1000mb(near-surface) Specific Humidity for December-February 2009-10:



and here's up in the mid-troposphere, at 700mb:



You can see it was generally moist near the surface and a little drier aloft.

But, again, this does not matter much this early. May-August is when we really need to watch these things.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26699
Quoting Levi32:


It doesn't really matter. There is more than enough data to prove that there is nearly no rainfall north of 10N over Africa during the northern hemisphere winter. That index is just an illustration of how no rainfall means the anomalies will either be small or non-existent.


I see your point, but the air over the SAL can have high levels of moisture or low levels of moisture and that could aid or inhibit Tropical formation.
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This is the region of the Sahel we really care about, north of 15N according to Dr. Masters own illustration.



Link
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Quoting StormChaser81:


The SAL rain index is not the great, considering there are barely any doppler radars in that area. Most of the data probably was derived from satellite and that can be way off sometimes.


It doesn't really matter. There is more than enough data to prove that there is nearly no rainfall north of 10N over Africa during the northern hemisphere winter. That index is just an illustration of how no rainfall means the anomalies will either be small or non-existent.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26699
Quoting Levi32:


Drak, the Sahel doesn't get rainfall during the northern hemisphere winter. That map is a little misleading. Climatologically there is never any significant precipitation north of 9N over Africa between December and March. The average northern extent of any rainfall whatsoever in March is 10N. The Sahel region of western Africa that we care about for the Atlantic hurricane season is all north of 12N. At this time of year so little falls north of 10N that it's hard to even have an anomaly.

Using the Sahel Rainfall Index, I can't even find an anomaly during January, February, or March that is greater than 9 millimeters, positive or negative. The largest departure from normal was 8.4 millimeters in January, 2004. The average anomalies are under a couple of millimeters during the winter months. Things don't pick up until May, when precipitation from the ITCZ starts working its way up north of the 10N line. It is during the months of May through August that we monitor Sahel rainfall closely to see what impact it has on the wave train. We can't derive much from data this early, as again, there can't even really be an anomaly when there's nearly no rainfall to begin with climatologically. Even if there is an anomaly, it doesn't mean much.



The SAL rain index is not that great, considering there are barely any doppler radars in that area. Most of the data probably was derived from satellite and that can be way off sometimes.
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Quoting Drakoen:
2005 had major SAL outbreaks and, subsequently, more storms formed in the central an western Tropical Atlantic.


That also explains the amount of land falling hurricanes that year.

You can really see how the SAL affected the formation in the Central & Eastern Atlantic and when the storms got out of the SAL and into the Caribbean they exploded.

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Quoting Drakoen:
Africa has been receiving below average rainfall as confirmed by positive OLR anomalies and % of normal rainfall precipitation estimates.




Drak, the Sahel doesn't get rainfall during the northern hemisphere winter. That map is a little misleading. Climatologically there is never any significant precipitation north of 9N over Africa between December and March. The average northern extent of any rainfall whatsoever in March is 10N. The Sahel region of western Africa that we care about for the Atlantic hurricane season is all north of 10N. At this time of year so little falls north of 10N that it's hard to even have an anomaly.

Using the Sahel Rainfall Index, I can't even find an anomaly during January, February, or March that is greater than 9 millimeters, positive or negative. The largest departure from normal was 8.4 millimeters in January, 2004. The average anomalies are under a couple of millimeters during the winter months. Things don't pick up until May, when precipitation from the ITCZ starts working its way up north of the 10N line. It is during the months of May through August that we monitor Sahel rainfall closely to see what impact it has on the wave train. We can't derive much from data this early, as again, there can't even really be an anomaly when there's nearly no rainfall to begin with climatologically. Even if there is an anomaly, it doesn't mean much.

Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26699
2005 had major SAL outbreaks and, subsequently, more storms formed in the central an western Tropical Atlantic.
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Quoting wunderkidcayman:
LOL!!! GUYS WE JUST GOT RAIN AND I AM HAPPY LOL !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Lucky you. Still none in East End.
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Quoting StormChaser81:


If it doesn't moisten up, how do the monsoons react when there is less moisture.

Do they still happen with not much thunderstorm activity or do they not get as far west as usually?


Both, as you mentioned, are possible.
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Quoting Drakoen:


Yes, unless West Africa moistens up as some of the climate models suggest.


The Positive IOD should help increase precipitation over Africa.
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Quoting StormChaser81:


If it doesn't moisten up, how do the monsoons react when there is less moisture.

Do they still happen with not much thunderstorm activity or do they not get as far west as usually?

They get choked by SAL once over the Atlantic.
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Quoting Drakoen:


Yes, unless West Africa moistens up as some of the climate models suggest.


If it doesn't moisten up, how do the monsoons react when there is less moisture.

Do they still happen with not much thunderstorm activity or do they not get as far west as usually?
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Quoting StormChaser81:


That could put a damper of tropical waves coming off Africa.


Yes, unless West Africa moistens up as some of the climate models suggest.
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Quoting Drakoen:
Africa has been receiving below average rainfall as confirmed by positive OLR anomalies and % of normal rainfall precipitation estimates.




That could put a damper of tropical waves coming off Africa.
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From the old blog:

Quoting CycloneOz:


Well let's see!

Here is the answer to your question:

House of Representatives:
Democrats for: 152
Democrats against: 96
Republicans for: 138
Republicans against: 34

63% of Democrats in the house voted against
25% of Republicans in the house voted against


Senate:
Democrats for: 46
Democrats against: 21
Republicans for: 27
Republicans against: 6

46% of Democrats in the senate voted against.
22% of Republicans in the senate voted against.

YOUR ANSWER: THE REPUBLICANS PASSED THE CIVIL RIGHTS LEGISLATION! If the Dems had the super majority they have today in both houses, with these ratios, the civil rights bill would have failed.

Listen man, take you own advice about stepping into time without a hat. Dems were all about segregation. And when it was time to pony up and finally realize that all men were equal and had equal rights under the law, the Dems passed the Welfare Act, literally taking these poor people who had been oppressed for centuries by Dems, and removing whatever motivation they would have to achieve the American dream. They suck on the teet...and Dems remind them that its Dems they have to thank for that teet. Stay lazy. Pop as many kids as you want...the government will take care of you now.

Geez...


Check your math.

House of reps:
152 D for, 96 D against, 248 D total.
38% against, 62% for
138 R for, 34 R against, 168 R total.
20% against, 80% for

(290 for overall, 130 against overall, 69% for overall)

Senate:
46 D for, 21 D against, 67 D total.
31% against, 69% for
27 R for, 6 R against, 33 R total.
18% against, 82% for

(73 for overall, 27 against overall)

So, regardless of who has the majority, or when, the bill passes.

Please check your math before using it in an argument.
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Africa has been receiving below average rainfall as confirmed by positive OLR anomalies and % of normal rainfall precipitation estimates.


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I got almost 19 inches for the month of March,and most of that in the last half of the month.
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Hello all! Decided to log on at work, anyone else on? Looks like the kids had early release today ^^.
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Oil drilling off Florida's coast

Link
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Quoting Jeff9641:


LOL!!!!!This guy and his warm rain!

YES ME AND MY "WARM RAIN"
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Quoting Jeff9641:


Did you get alot?


ENOUGH TO MAKE PUDDLES

Quoting StormChaser81:



Was it WARM Rain...lol


WELL IT FEEL WARMER THAN YESTERDAY lol
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Quoting StormChaser81:
This really shows you why we shouldn't allow the Government to start drilling the rest of the Gulf of Mexico.

Blue Dots = Oil Platforms
Orange lines = Pipelines
Green = Land
Yellow polygon = FL Federal Waters



Most the pipelines you see are old and leak oil.

Surprised the whole Gulf isn't one big oil slick.

Wow, that is sickening....
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Quoting wunderkidcayman:
LOL!!! GUYS WE JUST GOT RAIN AND I AM HAPPY LOL !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



Was it WARM Rain...lol
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LOL!!! GUYS WE JUST GOT RAIN AND I AM HAPPY LOL !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Thanks,Dr. Masters,it really has been a month like no other March I can remember.To me March is more famous for huge snowstorms.The East coast all winter,and now early spring have been plagued by these stalled storms.Wonder what this kind of pattern will mean for hurricane season if things don't change.
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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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