Flooding death toll in Southeast U.S. floods rises to 24; oil slick moving little

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:11 PM GMT on May 04, 2010

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The death toll from last weekend's record flooding in Tennessee, Kentucky, and Mississippi has risen to 24, making it the deadliest non-tropical storm or hurricane flood disaster in the U.S. since the October 1998 Central Texas floods that killed 31 when a cold front stalled over Texas. As flood waters recede today, the toll from last weekend's floods is expected to grow higher. Particularly hard-hit was the Nashville, Tennessee area, where ten fatalities were reported. The city had its heaviest 1-day and 2-day rainfall amounts in its history over the weekend. A remarkable 7.25" of rain fell on the city Sunday, breaking the record for most rain in a single day (6.60", set September 13, 1979.) Nashville's third greatest day of rainfall on record occurred Saturday, when 6.32" fell. Nashville also eclipsed its greatest 6-hour and 12-hour rainfall events on record, with 5.57" and 7.20", respectively, falling on Sunday. And, only two days into the month, the weekend rains made it the rainiest May in Nashville's history.

Rainfall records were smashed all across Tennessee, Kentucky, and northern Mississippi over the weekend, with amounts as high as 17.73" recorded at Camden, TN, and 17.02" at Brownsville, TN. According to Chris Burt, the author of the excellent book Extreme Weather, the 13.30" that fell on Camden in 24 hours just missed eclipsing the state's all-time 24-hour precipitation record, the 13.60" inches that fell on Milan on September 13, 1982. Jackson, Tennessee had its rainiest day in its 63-year weather history on Sunday, 7.93". Bowling Green Kentucky had its heaviest 2-day precipitation event on record, 9.67". Records in Bowling Green go back to 1870.


Figure 1. Satellite-estimated precipitable water at 23 UTC (7 pm EDT) Sunday, May 2, 2010. Precipitable water is a measure of how much rain would be produced if all the water vapor and cloud moisture through the depth of the atmosphere were to fall as rain. Values above 50 mm (about 2 inches) are frequently associated with flooding. Sunday's precipitable water image showed a tropical disturbance crossed Mexico into the Gulf of Mexico, dragging a plume of very moist air northwards over the Southeast U.S. Image credit: University of Wisconsin GOES Satellite Blog.


Figure 2. Flood forecast for the Cumberland River in Nashville, Tennessee. Image credit: NOAA.

The record rains were accompanied by a surge of very warm air that set record high temperature marks at 21 major airports across the Eastern U.S. on Saturday. This is not surprising, since more moisture can evaporate into warmer air, making record-setting rainfall events more likely when record high temperatures are present. Accompanying this warm air was moisture from a tropical disturbance that crossed over Mexico from the tropical East Pacific over the weekend (Figure 1.)

The record rains sent the Cumberland River in downtown Nashville surging to 51.86' this morning, 12' over flood height, and the highest level the river has reached since a flood control project was completed in the early 1960s. The previous post-flood control project record level was 47.6', set on March 15, 1975 (the river hit 56.2' in 1929, before the flood control project was built.) The river has now crested (Figure 2) and is expected to recede below flood stage by Wednesday morning. There are no further rains in the forecast this week for Tennessee. At least four rivers in Tennessee reached their greatest flood heights on record this week. Most remarkable was the Duck River at Centreville, which crested at 47', a full 25 feet above flood stage, and ten feet higher than the previous record crest, achieved in 1948 (to check out the flood heights, use our wundermap for Nashville with the "USGS River" layer turned on.)

Funding issues to take 17 Tennessee streamgages offline
According to the USGS web site, seventeen Tennessee streamflow gages with records going back up to 85 years will stop collecting data on July 1 because of budget cuts. With up to eighteen people in Tennessee dying from flooding this weekend, now hardly seems to be the time to be skimping on monitoring river flow levels by taking 17 of Tennessee's 94 streamflow gages out of service. These gages are critical for proper issuance of flood warnings to people in harm's way. Furthermore, Tennessee and most of the northern 2/3 of the U.S. can expect a much higher incidence of record flooding in coming decades. This will be driven by two factors: increased urban development causing faster run-off, and an increase in very heavy precipitation events due to global warming. Both factors have already contributed to significant increases in flooding events in recent decades over much of the U.S. The USGS web site advertises that users who can contribute funding for the non-Federal share of costs to continue operation of these streamgages should contact Shannon Williams of the USGS Tennessee Water Science Center at 615-837-4755 or swilliam@usgs.gov. Tennessee is not the only state with streamgages at risk of closing down; fully 276 gages in 37 states have been shut down or will be shut down later this year. If you have questions about specific streamgages, click on the state of concern on the USGS web page of threatened stream gages.

Oil spill update
The oil slick from the April 20 explosion and blowout of the offshore oil rig Deepwater Horizon has retreated from the coast, thanks to a slackening of the persistent onshore winds that have affected the northern Gulf of Mexico over the past week. According to the latest NWS marine forecast, winds will be light and variable through Wednesday, resulting in little transport of the oil slick. Winds will then resume a weak onshore flow at 5 - 10 knots, Thursday through Friday, then reverse to blow offshore at 5 - 10 knots over the weekend. The net result of this wind pattern will be little transport of the oil slick. The only areas at risk of landfalling oil over the next five days will be the mouth of the Mississippi River in Louisiana, and the Chandeleur Islands. The latest forecast of Gulf currents from the NOAA HYCOM model (see also this alternative view of the HYCOM ocean current forecast) show weak ocean currents affecting the region during the remainder of the week. These currents will not be strong enough to push any oil southwards into the Loop Current over the next five days, so the Keys and South Florida are safe from oil for now. I'll have a post on the long-range prospects for oil to enter the Loop Current later this week, and a discussion of how a hurricane might affect and be affected by the oil spill.


Figure 3. Forecast location at 6pm CDT Tuesday, May 4, 2010, of the oil slick from the Deepwater Horizon blowout. Image credit: NOAA Office of Response and Restoration. See also the trajectory maps available at State of Louisiana web site.

Jeff Masters

Alice Aycock sculpture (laughingjester)
If you saw my other pics of this sculpture you cam get an idea how high the Cumberland river has risen. when I left it was still getting higher.
Alice Aycock sculpture
Harpeth River Flooding (XMLP)
Harpeth River Flooding
Removing the flood damaged cars and trucks. (laughingjester)
I am a wrecker driver for Martin's wrecker service. We were called to remove the vehicles that got caught in the flooding on interstate I 24 westbound near the Bell Road exit in Nashville Tennessee. Of course this is after the waters had subsided. It was roughly 200, 250 cars and trucks that got caught up in the flood..
Removing the flood damaged cars and trucks.
Nashville Flooding (jadnash)
This is looking east - the Cumberland River is just on the other side of the buildings.
Nashville Flooding
Parking via Mother Nature (jadnash)
This car drove into the swiftly moving water at the Belle Meade Kroger and was thrown up against a parking deck. Luckily someone got a ladder and dropped it down to break the rear window and the driver climbed out safely!
Parking via Mother Nature

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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
compare maps 2010/2005

African coast reaching 88˚F! Wow!
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
compare maps 2010/2005

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Quoting bappit:
Excellent radar time lapse of Katrina. I think it helps show how Waveland got such a huge surge. Water funneled into Lake Borgne the whole time with not much where to go (except New Orleans) and then got pushed north with the eyewall. Good example of how surge height is not directly connected to wind speed, too.


Yes indeed bappitt..

Twas a long passing Storm anywhere well inside the Eyewall.

Mine went from O5:15am to 3:15pm that afternoon the 29th.

And in Bay ST. Louis,,off of Hwy 90 Past Waveland Ave,,the House my Grandfather built had 7 feet of water go thru it..3 miles well inland.

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Check out my blog and feel welcome to post comments on your opinions.

Link
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
I dont think that we'll get into a moderate La Nina, but it looks like we could see a weak Nina which would make an interesting Bermuda high.

I still like 14-17 storms for now. Ill tweak it when NOAA releases theirs.
Member Since: June 9, 2007 Posts: 4 Comments: 15921
The Houston evacuation for Rita killed over 100 people. It was a fiasco.
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Quoting Stormchaser2007:
Looks to be about .4 or so.

Seems right, should be at 0.0 by late May.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
Excellent radar time lapse of Katrina. I think it helps show how Waveland got such a huge surge. Water funneled into Lake Borgne the whole time with not much where to go (except New Orleans) and then got pushed north with the eyewall. Good example of how surge height is not directly connected to wind speed, too.
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Quoting bappit:
For most of Houston I think it is relax and stay home. The expert advice today on local radio was if you want to leave to avoid a post-storm blackout then leave after the storm.

http://app1.kuhf.org/houston_public_radio-news-display.php?articles_id=1273006013

"There is one new piece of advice officials want people to keep in mind as they make their own preparations. Sanchez says those who want to evacuate not because of flood concerns, but because they expect to lose power, should plan to ride out the storm.

""Then, if they lose power, and they really need to leave, then do a secondary evacuation after the storm. It'll be smoother. They'll know what happened to their property, and have a better understanding with what will be going on with their own circumstance to make a better decision.""


I don't know if anyone from Houston ever saw what Rita did to the areas she passed through. But those who did stay home weren't going anywhere fast. So be ready to stay home a long time. I know I'm the most unpopular one for saying this. But I'll live with that. The evacuation for Rita worked. 100% If Rita had hit the area that she did without the evac thousands of people would've died. I have no doubt. If she had gone over a populated Houston area I don't even want to think about that. If you want to leave leave. If you want to stay stay. That's your business. Just be smart about it. Open roads and restored power after 2 weeks is a pipe dream. I guess that would depend on what town your in. How bad the damag was etc. Just be aware sometimes help NEVER shows up. I suggest investing in a big chainsaw. And keep A LOT of water handy.
Member Since: August 15, 2008 Posts: 10 Comments: 3665
Looks to be about .4 or so.

Member Since: June 9, 2007 Posts: 4 Comments: 15921
.."Impact..as always..is the Measure of any Landfalling System.

Never the SSS Cat Size Number"..


NHC RECON Cdr.








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Rita was category three.
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That's why they call category 3 a major hurricane.
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"The central pressure gradually rose to 920 mb by the time of the initial Louisiana landfall near Buras at about 1110 UTC 29 August. Maximum 700 mb flight-level winds were still 130-135 kt east of the eye around that time and were the basis for the operationally assessed intensity of 120 kt at the Buras landfall and at 1200 UTC. NWS Slidell WSR-88D radar data confirmed the strength of these flight-level winds, but the center of the hurricane was much too distant for the radar to provide concurrent near-surface wind estimates close to the eye. Post-storm analysis of numerous dropwindsonde profiles indicates that the structure of Katrina had changed since the previous day when it was at its peak intensity, such that the usual 90% adjustment of flight-level winds would likely provide overestimates of the surface winds on 29 August. Comparison of flight-level winds collocated with dropwindsondes and SFMR data suggest the flight-level to surface reduction factor that morning was closer to 80% or perhaps even less."

same paper
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askwestley October 03, 2006 Video taken by Guerra Family after Hurricane Katrina. Chalmette, LA.





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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Interesting wave around 35˚W to 40˚W. On the un-bright side it is showing persistent convection and good 850MB vorticity. On the bright side it is highly associated with the ITCZ and it is under 50 to 60 knots of shear. I don't expect any development of this system but it is a cool little feature to point out.

I noticed that earlier today and seems to be holding it's own for now.
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Hurricane Katrina Coverage
for Central Alabama




Here are some peak wind gusts and storm total rainfall amounts associated with Hurricane Katrina.

*** DISCLAIMER *** The information contained below has been quality controlled only for consistency. The accuracy of the equipment used has not been measured. The observations were taken from ASOS, AWOS, AWS, EMA wind equipment and personal wind equipment. Data is sparse across parts of Western Alabama and some areas could have sustained higher winds. This data is preliminary. Additional information will added when received.
Peak Wind Gusts



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"The new eyewall that formed late on 27 August and contracted early on 28 August began to erode on its southern side very late on 28 August, while another outer ring of convection consolidated. These structural changes likely contributed to the rapid weakening that was observed prior to final landfall. Katrina turned northward, toward the northern Gulf coast, around the ridge over Florida early on 29 August. The hurricane then made landfall, at the upper end of Category 3 intensity with estimated maximum sustained winds of 110 kt, near Buras, Louisiana at 1110 UTC 29 August."

same paper
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"After reaching Category 5 intensity over the central Gulf of Mexico, Katrina weakened to Category 3 before making landfall on the northern Gulf coast. Even so, the damage and loss of life inflicted by this massive hurricane in Louisiana and Mississippi were staggering, with significant effects extending into the Florida panhandle, Georgia, and Alabama. Considering the scope of its impacts, Katrina was one of the most devastating natural disasters in United States history."

http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/pdf/TCR-AL122005_Katrina.pdf
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Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
For most of Houston I think it is relax and stay home. The expert advice today on local radio was if you want to leave to avoid a post-storm blackout then leave after the storm.

http://app1.kuhf.org/houston_public_radio-news-display.php?articles_id=1273006013

"There is one new piece of advice officials want people to keep in mind as they make their own preparations. Sanchez says those who want to evacuate not because of flood concerns, but because they expect to lose power, should plan to ride out the storm.

""Then, if they lose power, and they really need to leave, then do a secondary evacuation after the storm. It'll be smoother. They'll know what happened to their property, and have a better understanding with what will be going on with their own circumstance to make a better decision.""
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Quoting KoritheMan:


Yeah.


Buras Landfall..Cat-4

2nd Landfall Cat 3 Slidell.

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Quoting CybrTeddy:


Doubt this season will be on pair with 2005, however all the ingredients are there this season, even more so than 2005 (Dust was a significant CV problem that year, this year not so much)

16/7/4, I might raise those numbers to 17/8/5 if necessary.
I think we will reach 20 tropical depressions this year. But that worries me, this year is very similar to 2004, is history going to repeat itself? Is next year going to be more intense than this year? Guess we'll have to wait to find out. Can someone post the El Niño model, how is it going to be in Jan. 2011?
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
I'll guess those maps for Houston were created when they linked surge and Saffir-Simpson.
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Quoting FloridaTigers:
Wasn't Katrina downgraded to Cat. 3 landfall by the NHC?


Yeah.
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Watches & Warnings

* TROPICAL STORM WATCH
An announcement that tropical storm conditions (sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph) are possible within the specified coastal area within 48 hours.
*

TROPICAL STORM WARNING
An announcement that tropical storm conditions (sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph) are expected somewhere within the specified coastal area within 36 hours.

* HURRICANE WATCH
An announcement that hurricane conditions (sustained winds of 74 mph or higher) are possible within the specified coastal area. Because hurricane preparedness activities become difficult once winds reach tropical storm force, the hurricane watch is issued 48 hours in advance of the anticipated onset of tropical-storm-force winds.
*

HURRICANE WARNING
An announcement that hurricane conditions (sustained winds of 74 mph or higher) are expected somewhere within the specified coastal area. Because hurricane preparedness activities become difficult once winds reach tropical storm force, the hurricane warning is issued 36 hours in advance of the anticipated onset of tropical-storm-force winds.

* INLAND TROPICAL STORM WATCH
An announcement that tropical storm conditions (sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph) are possible within the specified interior area within 48 hours.
*

INLAND TROPICAL STORM WARNING
An announcement that tropical storm conditions (sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph) are expected somewhere within the specified interior area within 36 hours.

* INLAND HURRICANE WATCH
An announcement that hurricane conditions (sustained winds of 74 mph or higher) are possible within the specified interior area. Because hurricane preparedness activities become difficult once winds reach tropical storm force, the hurricane watch is issued 48 hours in advance of the anticipated onset of tropical-storm-force winds.
*

INLAND HURRICANE WARNING
An announcement that hurricane conditions (sustained winds of 74 mph or higher) are expected somewhere within the specified interior area. Because hurricane preparedness activities become difficult once winds reach tropical storm force, the hurricane warning is issued 36 hours in advance of the anticipated onset of tropical-storm-force winds.


* TORNADO WATCH
Issued to alert the public that conditions are favorable for the development of tornadoes in and close to the watch area. These watches are issued with information concerning the watch area and the length of time they are in effect.
*

TORNADO WARNING
Issued by local NWS offices to warn the public that a tornado has been sighted by storm spotters, law enforcement or has been indicated by radar. These warnings are issued with information concerning where the tornado is presently located and which communities are in the anticipated path of the tornado.

* FLASH FLOOD WATCH
A flash flood watch means a flash flood is possible in the area; stay alert.

* FLASH FLOOD WARNING
A flash flood warning means a flash flood is imminent and everyone in the area should take immediate action.
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Quoting plywoodstatenative:
Pat, this high we have off the coast right now, Could that be the location for the Bermuda high and if so when are we forecast to have any substantial rain down here.

Seasonally we had a very wet March and April, and May normally is wet, yet its been in the 90s the past few days and is not forecasted to get any better until middle of next week.


Im not a Met..but Dr. M states I believe it takes a few weeks into June proper or longer to see that establish..
I think.
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According to models the La Niña should reach its strongest point in Mid-September. Boy, isn't that great, the La Niña is going to be the strongest in the middle of the peak of the season.

Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
Quoting Snowlover123:

Do you think it will be more active than 2005, in your opinion? I think it will probably be slightly less active than 2005. 2005 was a year for the record books. It was "special."


Doubt this season will be on pair with 2005, however all the ingredients are there this season, even more so than 2005 (Dust was a significant CV problem that year, this year not so much)

16/7/4, I might raise those numbers to 17/8/5 if necessary.
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 24164
Quoting TexasGulf:


Patrap:

They issue evacuation warnings and mandatory evac's based on category. I last looked at the evac maps for Houston area 5-months ago.

They only say Cat-2, Cat-3 evac zone, etc... Not storm surge Cat-3 zone. No differentiation between storm intensity rating and surge rating.

In that case, if I live in a Cat-4 mandatory evac zone and one is coming in, but surge is only a Cat-3... should I bother to evacuate?

If it's only a Cat-2, but the surge is Cat-4... then should I evacuate? Or is it best just to take an average. Avg. 2 & 4 = 3.0
Avg. 3 & 4 = 3.5

In both cases, average is less than a 4.0, so I would probably just relax and stay home?




Always Listen to your Local Emg mgt Action Statements.

They will be the first to say get.

Always.


And they issue a Hurricane Inland Warning as of Last Season as well..for a good reason.


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Quoting Prolefeed:
Link

Speaking of the sending of SWAT teams to the rigs, Mark Levin thinks it is a precursor to gov't takeover of the oil industry.


do you understand "what" swat team they sent to the scene? It's not the cops.

Here's a picture of it fully involved;

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Quoting Patrap:
The Key wording is,..

Hurricane forecasters said today they are tweaking the Saffir-Simpson Scale and will no longer tie specific storm surge and flooding impacts to categories.

They announced that pre Seasonally some time back..

Thanks for the reminder.


Surge is relative to the Specific Storm Size and many other values as well.

A Big Cat 3 =4 can have a greater Value in Surge than a Small,Cat-5.

AKA Katrina vs Camille.

Katrina was a Large ,wide,,large circumference Cat=4 at Landfall,where as Camille was a Small Cat=5 with a Tight wind field.

Camille had the smaller surge and did the damage in mostly one area,as Katrina affected 3 States.


Patrap:

They issue evacuation warnings and mandatory evac's based on category. I last looked at the evac maps for Houston area 5-months ago.

They only say Cat-2, Cat-3 evac zone, etc... Not storm surge Cat-3 zone. No differentiation between storm intensity rating and surge rating.

In that case, if I live in a Cat-4 mandatory evac zone and one is coming in, but surge is only a Cat-3... should I bother to evacuate?

If it's only a Cat-2, but the surge is Cat-4... then should I evacuate? Or is it best just to take an average. Avg. 2 & 4 = 3.0
Avg. 3 & 4 = 3.5

In both cases, average is less than a 4.0, so I would probably just relax and stay home?
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Contrary to what some of our experts at WU have said about rainfall in Africa causing less dust,NHC specialist Stacy Stewart says that there is no evidence of that. His comments are part of an articule that came out today about the different forecasters predicting an active season. Excerpt from articule below.

Stacy Stewart, senior specialist at the National Hurricane Center, confirmed the high water temperatures and the fading El Nino both of which have been heavily reported in recent months. But he said he hasn't seen evidence of rain affecting dust in Africa.

Link
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Quoting Snowlover123:

Where do you get those charts?


Link
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
Prole, that appears to be a sear type mark on the pad. If something happened on the pad itself, then there would be more damage to the helipad itself. There were some reports coming out that at one point or another, methane bubbles were seen coming from the water in and around the platform. Whatever caused this event, may have been from underwater. Remember there is a 3hour window between the two events.
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Quoting noshoes:
5 p.m. update - Pensacola Coastal preparation:
91,000+ ft containment boom placed;
30,000 ft on order


Where? I sure didn't see hardly any.
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Niño 3.4 - May 2, 2010


Where do you get those charts?
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Pat, this high we have off the coast right now, Could that be the location for the Bermuda high and if so when are we forecast to have any substantial rain down here.

Seasonally we had a very wet March and April, and May normally is wet, yet its been in the 90s the past few days and is not forecasted to get any better until middle of next week.
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Quoting Prolefeed:
214- It may not be conclusive proof, but explain how that hole got in the helipad when the fire was not near there?



because it was "in" the fire at one point ...
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Quoting Patrap:
Beck should know..or one of the SWAT teams

About WAT? GLENN BECK IS THE MOST AWESOME PERSON ON THIS EARTH! (JK) ;)
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Beck should know..or one of the SWAT teams
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Quoting CybrTeddy:
TCHP in the Caribbean continues to grow.. now at the 120 kj mark.


Do you think it will be more active than 2005, in your opinion? I think it will probably be slightly less active than 2005. 2005 was a year for the record books. It was "special."
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SOI up:

20100404,20100503,13.2
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Niño 3.4 - May 2, 2010


Cool- Crash in Global Temps will come... eventually
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Niño 3.4 - May 2, 2010

Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
Those are the Guys who are gonna get er done..

Good luck.

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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.