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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An interesting side note about BP and liability. BP and US Fish and Wildlife are overseeing the wildlife response. BP is requiring ALL responders/volunteers to take their hazmat/safety training. So even professional rehabbers, etc who have had oiled bird training and eperience, as well as hazmat training, now are scrambling to sign up for BP's own training, which it looks like they'll be offering in various locations.
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Best of luck containing that nasty oil spill.

Last month it was a bit of fun posting a few pictures of spring here and advising that we still had plently of cold available to generate some wet and potentially very severe weather on your side of the 49th.

Now this is just getting stupid. It was snowing heavily at 7 am this morning. It now after noon and it has just about stopped. ENOUGH ALREADY!!

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Quoting presslord:



...yea...that's a pretty big word for a Georgia grad...
Fiduciary? Press has just been watching "Mary Poppins." It's in a song there about the "Fidelity Fiduciary Bank."
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I found a couple of good estimate articles:

Drop in BP stock prices = a loss of 25 Billion for the company.

They can only be sued for 75 million before the Oil Spill Liability Trust fund kicks in and up to a max of 2.7 Billion.
But if they are penalized a years worth of profits in punitive damages that is 20 billion right there.
(conservative est. with lost production, 1.46, clean-up 8, penalties 2, legal fees 3, Lawsuits and settlements 20 =
34.5 billion (-1.6 drain the oil spill liability trust fund)
http://beforeitsnews.com/story/39459/BPs_oil_spill_costs_will_likely_exceed_30_billion.html
Total Cost:$33 billion
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Economic damages have already exceeded $75 Million. We reached that point within the first week of the spill being announced.

If the law states that BP's liability beyond cleanup costs cannot exceed $75 Million... then the law is the law. They won't voluntarily pay more than required.

However, the federal government is not helpless in this... they have a nice bit of leverage over BP to pay for the financial damages.

First of all, who is to say How Clean is Clean? The EPA... that's who. If BP is responsible for cleanup, you could make them spend $10 Billion on cleanup until every grain of sand is hand buffed & polished... unless they'd rather pay the financial damage claims and then do reasonable cleanup costs instead.

Secondly, the federal government has responsibility to inspect all of BP's offshore platforms and shut-off valves for safety. Those inspections can take months, or even years if you want to be really, really picky... meanwhile they can't operate those rigs until declared safe... unless they'd like to contribute to the Gulf Coast Fund to repay damages.

Thirdly, the government can ammend the law so that future incidents may have a financial cap of $10 Billion dollars per incident. The day the well is capped, the initial incident ends. Then, all lingering oil issues or left over residue opens up a new incident. Since the new incident started after the law was changed... then the new liability amounts come into play.

The federal government shouldn't overplay their hand, but they do have one HUGE stick to make BP repay reasonable financial damages to the communities affected.
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Quoting tomas5tex:


You have head the nail on the head. There are groups in this country that will raise a stink about drilling for oil and our government lets them rant and rave and give into them. The government does not care if it drive companies to buy from foreign sources. They spend billions and billons buying oil when they could use that money to put people to work in our country by building drilling rigs and exploring for oil. The extra jobs that it would create if the restriction were lifted is endless. When we open up those jobs then lots of other industries will also benefits from it. From the drilling companies to the hamburger joint would benefit. Our government need to take quit thinking about how to line their pockets and start thinking of how to put money in the peoples pockets.


So let me get this straight: despite the fact that we have what is potentially the worst oil spill in history going on in the Gulf of Mexico, one that will certainly cause environmental damage for generations to come, an oil spill that will at the very least cripple a 10 billion dollar a year industry (fishing) and cripple another (tourism) 10 billion dollar a year industry you want to expand drilling?

Wow...that's an interesting point of view, to say the least...you do realize, of course, that the more oil they find, the less they want to drill, right? That there's a make/break cost per barrel, so that if oil goes below say, $85 a barrel they start to lay people off and slow down exploration, right? Or were you not aware of that?
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I have a silly question.....If LA blocks the oil from entering the marshes and MS, AL & FL do the same thing, where will the oil go??? Are we going to have to keep doing this everytime the wind changes direction???
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Quoting SAINTHURRIFAN:
good day" i do not mean to start a fuss just want to state a couple facts. i live on the ms.coast so my concern over the oil spill is very serious, but a simple fact that no one has bothered to bring up really suprises me. i am well aware that most people on this sight including Masters are liberal which is thier choice, fir if you tune into fox you get a right wing view and most of the rest a liberal view. now the fact is if NOAA is right, and thier is a chance this could leak millions of gallons of oil a day: then we have many rigs in the gulf. we have the potential to build many more rigs in our federal waters, so in conclusion if these rigs can pump this much oil here is the million dollar question no body has asked why should we depend on foriegn oil? we need to make sure its safe first and foremost but the jobs and economic impact for the country would be astounding. the awnser all these years is simple its politics and a lot of brave men in our military have died fighting for it, as far back as North africa in ww2 was over the control of the oil fields.may we all get through this with the best and turn to GOD almighty for his help. have a blessed day.


You have head the nail on the head. There are groups in this country that will raise a stink about drilling for oil and our government lets them rant and rave and give into them. The government does not care if it drive companies to buy from foreign sources. They spend billions and billons buying oil when they could use that money to put people to work in our country by building drilling rigs and exploring for oil. The extra jobs that it would create if the restriction were lifted is endless. When we open up those jobs then lots of other industries will also benefits from it. From the drilling companies to the hamburger joint would benefit. Our government need to take quit thinking about how to line their pockets and start thinking of how to put money in the peoples pockets.
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113. xcool
pat nice image...
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112. RM706
Quoting Patrap:
To be sur.e..Im not a conspiracy typr atall.
But Imagery has been,er..had to come by,since ESL hasnt updated their grids in awhile.

Unless someone else has a key to MODIS stuff...?

I lost mine,well..they kinda,well..thats not really important now,..

LOL




HAHAHAHAHA! This is a consipiracy website after all /duck
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Okay, here you go, in regards to liability for the spill; it seems that BP is completely on the hook ofr the clean up; there is no limit to liability there, but:

"WASHINGTON – A federal law may limit how much BP has to pay for damages such as lost wages and economic suffering in the Gulf Coast oil spill, despite President Barack Obama's assurances that taxpayers will not be on the hook.

A law passed in response to the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska makes BP responsible for cleanup costs. But the law sets a $75 million limit on other kinds of damages.

Economic losses to the Gulf Coast are likely to exceed that. In response, several Democratic senators introduced legislation Monday to raise the liability limit to $10 billion, though it was not clear that it could be made to apply retroactively."


I vaguely remember when that law was passed because there was a fairly large hue and cry about limiting any company for this sort of thing...
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I'll never use BP gas again. If a lot of people do this it will teach them a lesson about treaty the little people Badly.
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Quoting presslord:


I believe there's a statutory limit to their financial exposure in this...others more adept at research can confirm this...or deny it...but if there is, you can bet your hat they'll exhaust every means available to avoid exceeding that...


I'm looking ont that...I heard something along those lines recently...
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Quoting RM706:
Pat, do you have any current satelite shots of the spill?


I'm still awaiting word, but it looks to me that the area was to cloudy for a good pass.
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105. xcool
MJO- OH BEHAVE!

The collapsing nino means the 40-day wave... or as it is more commonly known, the MJO... is looking like it is getting better behaved. The warmth of the nino waters really distorts the "movement" of this wave as the very warm waters act like a magnet to keep its upward motion from advancing east. Conversely, the very cold waters of a La Nina can have the effect of "stalling" it also, but instead of over the Pacific, it's back more toward the Indian Ocean. In any case, it is in its octants know where the wildest U.S. weather usually occurs. Its forecast
by joe..
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Quoting DestinJeff:


woah, Press! "fiduciary"? you better take a breather after using that kind of language! we need you around during the season!



...yea...that's a pretty big word for a Georgia grad...
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10492
...thus...I'd be in favor of giving a good hard look at nationalizing the oil industry...
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10492
in fact...to belabor the point...their corporate Board and officers have a fiduciary responsibility to limit their liability...
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10492
100. MahFL
Well they tried to get fishermen to sign waivers, they are greedy uncaring "bar stewards" really. Also the less they have to pay means their stock value will go up, which is what it's all about.
Member Since: June 9, 2004 Posts: 0 Comments: 4028
Quoting SAINTHURRIFAN:
why should we depend on foriegn oil? .. the awnser all these years is simple its politics

Gulf of Mexico estimated reserves: 21 billion barrels [2006]
Annual US oil consumption: 21 million barrels/day [2007]

That's less than 3 years' worth of oil.
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Quoting Floodman:


There's the courts...how much property does BP have in the US? Guess we could freeze their assets...how does that grab ya, BP? How about we hold on to 40 or 50 billion in your property and banking assets? Now about that plan you refuse to fund...


I believe there's a statutory limit to their financial exposure in this...others more adept at research can confirm this...or deny it...but if there is, you can bet your hat they'll exhaust every means available to avoid exceeding that...
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10492
Stormchaser2007 i doo
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Quoting MahFL:
What if BP says NO WE WON'T FUND THAT PLAN...?

BTW, why would they say no to funding the clean up?
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hi guys whats up with tropical waves
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good day" i do not mean to start a fuss just want to state a couple facts. i live on the ms.coast so my concern over the oil spill is very serious, but a simple fact that no one has bothered to bring up really suprises me. i am well aware that most people on this sight including Masters are liberal which is thier choice, fir if you tune into fox you get a right wing view and most of the rest a liberal view. now the fact is if NOAA is right, and thier is a chance this could leak millions of gallons of oil a day: then we have many rigs in the gulf. we have the potential to build many more rigs in our federal waters, so in conclusion if these rigs can pump this much oil here is the million dollar question no body has asked why should we depend on foriegn oil? we need to make sure its safe first and foremost but the jobs and economic impact for the country would be astounding. the awnser all these years is simple its politics and a lot of brave men in our military have died fighting for it, as far back as North africa in ww2 was over the control of the oil fields.may we all get through this with the best and turn to GOD almighty for his help. have a blessed day.
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Pat, do you have any current satelite shots of the spill?
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Quoting Floodman:


There's the courts...how much property does BP have in the US? Guess we could freeze their assets...how does that grab ya, BP? How about we hold on to 40 or 50 billion in your property and banking assets? Now about that plan you refuse to fund...


They caused to much damage, too many people are watching for them to get away with this. Watch how the public will react.

I think they should have to pay for there mistakes and they will.
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Quoting MahFL:
What if BP says NO WE WON'T FUND THAT PLAN...?


There's the courts...how much property does BP have in the US? Guess we could freeze their assets...how does that grab ya, BP? How about we hold on to 40 or 50 billion in your property and banking assets? Now about that plan you refuse to fund...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
What if BP says NO WE WON'T FUND THAT PLAN...?
Member Since: June 9, 2004 Posts: 0 Comments: 4028
This line continues to move across the entire state of NY along the thruway...

SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS WILL BE NEAR... ST. JOHNSVILLE BY 145 PM EDT... CAROGA LAKE BY 150 PM EDT... CAROGA LAKE PUBLIC CAMPGROUND AND FORT PLAIN BY 155 PM EDT... AMES... EPHRATAH AND CANAJOHARIE BY 200 PM EDT... MAYFIELD... JOHNSTOWN AND GLOVERSVILLE BY 210 PM EDT...

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Quoting NoNamePub:
Hey All -
Guess who else is back -
Watching a whole new point in the topics -
I will be saying ALOHA in July!


Hey, man, wazzup?
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just went through the first severe thunderstorm of the year. No hail but I had to turn the lights on because it got so dark. 60mph winds, heavy rain with big drops, lots of lightning. To think we had snow showers a week ago at this exact time!!

Issued by The National Weather Service
Binghamton, NY
1:08 pm EDT, Tue., May. 4, 2010

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN BINGHAMTON HAS ISSUED A

* SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING FOR... CENTRAL MADISON COUNTY IN CENTRAL NEW YORK... SOUTHEASTERN ONEIDA COUNTY IN CENTRAL NEW YORK... NORTH CENTRAL OTSEGO COUNTY IN CENTRAL NEW YORK...

* UNTIL 215 PM EDT

* AT 103 PM EDT... NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DOPPLER RADAR INDICATED A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM CAPABLE OF PRODUCING QUARTER SIZE HAIL... AND DAMAGING WINDS IN EXCESS OF 60 MPH. THIS STORM WAS LOCATED NEAR CLINTON... AND MOVING EAST AT 60 MPH.

* THE SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WILL BE NEAR... 9 MILES NORTH OF RICHFIELD SPRINGS BY 126 PM EDT...

WHEN YOU CAN DO SO SAFELY... PLEASE REPORT HAIL... OR DAMAGING WINDS TO THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE BY CALLING TOLL FREE AT 1-877-633-6772... OR BY EMAIL AT BGM.STORMREPORT@NOAA.GOV.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

IF YOU ARE IN THE PATH OF THIS STORM... SEEK SHELTER INDOORS AND STAY AWAY FROM WINDOWS!

&&
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I'm glad Louisiana officials are being proactive, sharing resources and information. By mobilizing their resources now, they may prevent some of the worst effects of the oil spill on the environment.

This is a stressful time for all involved. It's more stressful still if you don't have a clear plan of action. I'm glad Louisiana's governer and parish leaders are stepping up to the task and working together so closely.
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Detecting the spill.

They use satellite measured surface roughness to estimate surface wind speeds over the ocean.
The oil slick changes surface tension and smoothes surface roughness. Can the wind speed detector be used to find the edge of the oil slick?
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Blog went quiet zzzzzzzzz
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Hey All -
Guess who else is back -
Watching a whole new point in the topics -
I will be saying ALOHA in July!
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LoopEATL

From the 8 AM NHC Discussion
ATLANTIC OCEAN...
STRONG UPPER LEVEL RIDGE OF HIGH PRESSURE IS OVER THE WESTERN ATLANTIC SUPPORTING A NEAR STATIONARY SURFACE HIGH NEAR 28N65W. A COLD FRONT IS OVER THE CENTRAL ATLANTIC ENTERING THE DISCUSSION AREA THROUGH 32N30W CONTINUING WEST-SOUTHWEST ALONG 25N37W 24N47W. WEAK SCATTERED SHOWERS ARE WITHIN 30 NM OF THE
FRONT...BUT NO EVIDENT CONVECTION IS SEEN WEST OF 40W. THIS FRONT IS SUPPORTED BY AN UPPER LEVEL TROUGH OVER THE NORTH CENTRAL ATLANTIC NORTH OF 30N BETWEEN 25W AND 55W. TO THE EAST
OF THIS FRONT...A REMNANT CLOUD/SHEAR LINE IS ALONG 30N31W 21N40W 18N51W. WEAK ISOLATED SHOWERS ARE WITHIN 30 NM ON EITHER SIDE OF THE LINE. THIS LINE WILL CONTINUE TO SLOWLY DISSIPATE OVER THE NEXT 24 HOURS. ALSO...LOOK FOR THE COLD FRONT TO MOVE SLOWLY EASTWARD OVER THE NEXT 24 HOURS WITH SHOWERS.
Member Since: July 11, 2006 Posts: 14 Comments: 11447

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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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