Tropical Storm Alex bears down on the Yucatan; extreme heat for Africa and Russia

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:12 PM GMT on June 26, 2010

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The first named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season of 2010 is here. Tropical Storm Alex formed last might from an African tropical wave that plowed through the Caribbean this week. Alex's formation location is a typical one for June tropical storms, and the formation date of June 25 is also a fairly typical date for the first storm of the season to form (we average about one June named storm every two years in the Atlantic.) Heavy rainfall will ramp up through the day in Honduras, Belize, and Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, as Alex continues to intensify, and flooding from these heavy rains will be the main concern from Alex today and Sunday. Satellite loops show that Alex's heavy thunderstorm are growing in intensity and areal coverage at a respectable pace. There is an upper-level high pressure system a few hundred miles west of Alex, and the clockwise flow air around this high is bringing upper-level winds out of the northwest of about 10 knots over the storm, contributing to the 10 knots of wind shear observed in this morning's wind shear analysis from the University of Wisconsin's CIMSS group. Sea Surface Temperatures are very warm, 29 - 30°C, and dry air is not a problem for Alex. We currently don't have a Hurricane Hunter aircraft in the storm, so we will have to wait until 2pm this afternoon to get an updated estimate of Alex's surface winds. The latest satellite estimates of Alex's winds at 8am EDT put the storm's strongest winds at 40 mph.


Figure 1. Satellite image of the tropics at 9am EDT Saturday 6/26/10. Image credit: GOES Science Project.

Forecast for Alex
As I discussed in last night's post, an examination of the nineteen tropical cyclones that have formed in the Western Caribbean and hit the Yucatan Peninsula over the past twenty years reveals that 8 went on to make a second Gulf Coast landfall in Mexico, 5 hit the U.S. Gulf Coast, and 6 died after hitting the Yucatan. The ones that died all took a more southerly path across the Yucatan, spending more time over land than Alex will. Alex is large enough and moving far enough north across the Yucatan that passage over the peninsula will not kill it. So, will Alex follow the path climatology says is more likely, and make a second landfall along the Mexican Gulf Coast?


Figure 2. Forecast swath of tropical storm force winds (34 - 63 knots, green colors) and hurricane force winds (yellow and orange colors) as predicted by this morning's 2am EDT run of the HWRF model. Image credit: Morris Bender, NOAA GFDL team.

The key question remains how Alex will react to the trough of low pressure expected to swing down over the Eastern U.S. on Monday. Some of yesterday's model runs predicted that this trough would be strong enough to pull Alex northwards through the oil slick region into the northern Gulf of Mexico coast. However, the models that were predicting this (the GFS, GFDL, and HWRF models) are all backing off on that prediction. It now appears likely that Alex will cross the Yucatan, emerge into the Gulf of Mexico, then slow down as the trough to its north weakens the steering currents in the Gulf of Mexico on Monday. By Tuesday, the influence of the trough will wane, high pressure will build in, and Alex will resume a west-northwest, or possibly a due west or west-southwest motion, towards the Texas/Mexico border region. Based on the current trends in the models, Alex's tropical storm force winds are likely to stay well south of the oil slick region (Figure 2.) I put the odds of Alex bringing tropical storm-force winds to the oil slick region at 10%. The most significant impact Alex will likely have on the oil slick region is to bring 2 - 4 foot swells that may wash oil over some of the containment booms. These swells will reach the oil slick region on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Continued intensification of Alex is likely today, up until landfall. It is a good thing the storm waited until last night to get organized; had it formed a day earlier, it could have easily been a hurricane in the Western Caribbean today. Once Alex emerges back into the Gulf of Mexico on Monday, it will likely take the storm at least 24 hours to get re-organized, particularly since the total ocean heat content is low for the 100-mile-wide stretch of water on the west side of the Yucatan Peninsula. Once Alex moves more than 100 miles from the Yucatan, total heat content of the ocean increases substantially, and Alex will have the opportunity to intensify significantly. Steering currents will be weak in the Gulf next week, and it appears that Alex will have time to intensify into a hurricane before making its second landfall along the South Texas/northern Mexico coast. Wind shear is expected to be light, and dry air not a significant impediment. Most of the models are calling for landfall on Wednesday, but I wouldn't be surprised to see this delayed until Thursday. I give Alex a 60% chance of becoming a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico next week.

Elsewhere in the tropics
A tropical wave (Invest 94L) is a few hundred miles northeast of the northernmost Lesser Antilles Islands. This wave is producing a modest amount of heavy thunderstorm activity, and is passing beneath a trough of low pressure that is generating 30 - 40 knots of wind shear, and is not a threat to develop today. However, by Monday, the storm will be in a region of much lower wind shear, and NHC is giving the storm a 10% chance of developing into a tropical depression by Monday morning. None of the models currently develop 94L, but Bermuda should keep and eye on this system, as it will pass very close to the island on Tuesday.

Extreme heat wave in Africa and Asia continues to set all-time high temperature records
A withering heat wave of unprecedented intensity and areal covered continues to smash all-time high temperatures Asia and Africa. As I reported earlier this week, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Chad, Niger, Pakistan, and Myanmar have all set new records for their hottest temperatures of all time over the past six weeks. The remarkable heat continued over Africa and Asia late this week. The Asian portion of Russia recorded its highest temperate in history yesterday, when the mercury hit 42.3°C (108.1°F) at Belogorsk, near the Amur River border with China. The previous record was 41.7°C (107.1°F) at nearby Aksha on July 21, 2004. (The record for European Russia is 43.8°C--110.8°F--set on August 6, 1940, at Alexandrov Gaj near the border with Kazakhstan.) Also, on Thursday, Sudan recorded its hottest temperature in its history when the mercury rose to 49.6°C (121.3°F) at Dongola. The previous record was 49.5°C (121.1°F) set in July 1987 in Aba Hamed.

We've now had eight countries in Asia and Africa, plus the Asian portion of Russia, that have beaten their all-time hottest temperature record during the past two months. This includes Asia's hottest temperature of all-time, the astonishing 53.5°C (128.3°F) mark set on May 26 in Pakistan. All of these records are unofficial, and will need to be certified by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). According to Chris Burt, author of Extreme Weather, the only year which can compare is 2003, when six countries (the UK, France, Portugal, Germany, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein) all broke their all-time heat records during that year's notorious summer heat wave. Fortunately, the residents of the countries affected by this summer's heat wave in Asia and Africa are more adapted to extreme high temperatures, and we are not seeing the kind of death tolls experienced during the 2003 European heat wave (30,000 killed.) This week's heat wave in Africa and the Middle East is partially a consequence of the fact that Earth has now seen three straight months with its warmest temperatures on record, according to NOAA's National Climatic Data Center. It will be interesting to see if the demise of El Niño in May will keep June from becoming the globe's fourth straight warmest month on record.

Wind and ocean current forecast for the BP oil disaster
East to southeast winds of 5 - 15 knots will blow in the northern Gulf of Mexico today through Wednesday, according to the latest marine forecast from NOAA. The resulting weak ocean currents should push the oil to the west and northwest onto portions of the Louisiana and Alabama coasts, according to the latest trajectory forecasts from NOAA and the State of Louisiana. I would expect Mississippi to have its most serious threat of oil yet early next week as these winds continue. The long range outlook shows a continuation of east to southeast winds along the northern Gulf of Mexico coast.

Resources for the BP oil disaster
Map of oil spill location from the NOAA Satellite Services Division
My post, What a hurricane would do the Deepwater Horizon oil spill
My post on the Southwest Florida "Forbidden Zone" where surface oil will rarely go
My post on what oil might do to a hurricane
NOAA's interactive mapping tool to overlay wind and ocean current forecasts, oil locations, etc.
Gulf Oil Blog from the UGA Department of Marine Sciences
Oil Spill Academic Task Force
University of South Florida Ocean Circulation Group oil spill forecasts
ROFFS Deepwater Horizon page
Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) imagery from the University of Miami

Wunderground's severe weather expert Dr. Rob Carver will likely be posting at least one update on Alex this weekend. My next update will be Sunday morning.

Jeff Masters

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1199. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Quoting ElConando:


It can reorganize again sir.
its not going were you think it is some will stay and cross cen america and a piece will go north up and out over the yuc
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 178 Comments: 56140
Quoting homelesswanderer:


Next Saturday. But who knows. And it didn't look developed. But this is quite a wave train.


hmmmm,ok.
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Quoting tropicfreak:


Its only a TS, there's no need to evacuate. Unless its a Cat 2 they don't have to evacuate.


Have you been to Belize City ?. I have and when you drive along the coast your eyes are level with the sea. There will be low lying flooding for sure with this and the offshore water is very shallow for a mile or two out which will result in surge even from this storm.

I wouldn't be surprised to see this push 5 feet of surge with it.
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1196. Levi32
Down to 996mb. Core is starting to warm....they found 5C warmer temperatures at the center than outside the center.

000
URNT12 KNHC 261919
VORTEX DATA MESSAGE AL012010
A. 26/19:08:30Z
B. 17 deg 19 min N
087 deg 28 min W
C. 925 mb 655 m
D. 56 kt
E. 182 deg 29 nm
F. 237 deg 52 kt
G. 181 deg 26 nm
H. EXTRAP 996 mb
I. 19 C / 755 m
J. 24 C / 764 m

K. 22 C / NA
L. NA
M. NA
N. 1345 / 9
O. 0.02 / 4 nm
P. AF302 0301A ALEX OB 09
MAX FL WIND 52 KT S QUAD 18:59:50Z
SLP EXTRAP FROM 925 MB
;
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26700
Quoting tropicfreak:


Its only a TS, there's no need to evacuate. Unless its a Cat 2 they don't have to evacuate.

Incorrect, they have to evacuate low-lying and flood prone areas and even tropical storm winds can be damaging.
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Quoting TexasHurricane:


When is this supposedly?


Next Saturday. But who knows. And it didn't look developed. But this is quite a wave train.
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Quoting Levi32:


There is no reason to doubt those readings. It very much looks it on satellite. This is a 50-55kt TS.


nope it can't NEVER be a 55kt ts remember ;)
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Alex is getting stronger with every pass.
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 24576
1189. RJT185
Hey Storm, would the treck oveer the Yucatan cause it to shed some of its diameter and become a more compact system?
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Quoting Levi32:


There is no reason to doubt those readings. It very much looks it on satellite. This is a 50-55kt TS.
Might even be a 60 knot system.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
1187. WxLogic
Good afternoon...

T.S. Alex should stay in a general WNW track:



I expect it to have a more N component to its motion as it traverses through the Yucatan Peninsula an emerges into the southern portions of BOC.

It still currently has 2 weak ULLs to its north which have started to weaken considerably from this morning. The trough digging through the W CONUS ATTM should assist on that little thug to the N later (more specifically by tomorrow).
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Quoting MrstormX:


If we don't RIP it then it will die, if we do then it will live. We choose


Oh yeah, I never thought about that!
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the W STORM by the end of july then the OMG word by the end of SEP
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115454
Quoting ElConando:


Is that confirmed?
It doesn't seem contaminated since there are a lot of 995mb-997mb readings. Hopefully they dropped a dropsonsde or something.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
1182. Levi32
Quoting ElConando:


Is that confirmed?


There is no reason to doubt those readings. It very much looks it on satellite. This is a 50-55kt TS.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26700
Quoting Baltimorebirds:
Guys while we're all excited for a storm their could be great loss of life in the poor areas of mexico if the people arn't evacuated.


Its only a TS, there's no need to evacuate. Unless its a Cat 2 they don't have to evacuate.
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Copy then paste 28.7n88.4w, TAM, MOB, PBI, SAL, 16.5N83.5W, 16.6N83.7W, 16.7N84.4W, 16.5N84.5W, 16.9N84.9W, 17.0N85.3W, 17.3N86.1W-17.5N87.2W, BZE into the GreatCircleMapper.
The red line shows the heading based on the last two positions. Below the map shows:
TSAlex's center had a heading of 280.9degrees (west of WestNorthWest),
and traveled a distance of ~74miles* (~119kilometres) over three 3hours.

Though TSAlex's mass may have moved at 9mph, its center relocated at ~25mph (~40kph). At which speed&heading, TSAlex should make landfall on Belize before NHC's next scheduled 3hour-advisory.

* A bit different than the calculation for a "spherical Earth". But the Earth is a slightly oblate spheroid -- a "squashed ball" -- and the site uses the official navigational geometry before rounding.
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Quoting Levi32:
995.2mb

000
URNT15 KNHC 261916
AF302 0301A ALEX HDOB 28 20100626
190700 1715N 08730W 9243 00676 9982 +212 +212 303013 015 033 006 01
190730 1717N 08730W 9248 00667 9976 +233 +220 323016 017 027 000 03
190800 1718N 08729W 9236 00673 9970 +229 +224 317016 018 027 000 03
190830 1719N 08727W 9247 00657 9960 +230 +228 028007 011 026 000 00
190900 1720N 08726W 9248 00647 9952 +236 +226 096016 020 021 000 00
190930 1721N 08725W 9242 00657 9954 +240 +224 114027 029 030 000 00
191000 1723N 08724W 9248 00657 9960 +240 +222 115033 036 032 000 00
191030 1724N 08724W 9248 00661 9964 +238 +218 111035 036 031 000 00
191100 1725N 08723W 9244 00666 9969 +239 +211 115035 037 029 000 00
191130 1727N 08722W 9251 00663 9974 +231 +208 123036 038 031 000 00
191200 1728N 08721W 9247 00670 9978 +229 +204 126037 038 032 000 00
191230 1729N 08720W 9245 00674 9981 +229 +205 131036 036 032 000 00
191300 1730N 08719W 9248 00675 9986 +225 +204 131037 037 033 000 00
191330 1732N 08718W 9247 00678 9988 +226 +201 133038 038 035 000 00
191400 1733N 08717W 9248 00681 9990 +230 +200 136037 038 037 000 00
191430 1734N 08716W 9245 00685 9993 +231 +204 141038 038 035 000 00
191500 1736N 08715W 9246 00687 9997 +227 +204 140039 041 035 000 03
191530 1737N 08714W 9250 00684 9998 +235 +204 139043 043 035 000 00
191600 1739N 08713W 9242 00696 0004 +221 +215 142041 043 030 000 00
191630 1740N 08712W 9254 00687 0008 +215 +215 145040 041 030 000 03
$$


Is that confirmed?
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Quoting WinterAnalystwx13:


Yeah...Remember a couple of days ago? Everyone said it was RIP and they made Alex mad...Now look!, is almost a hurricane! Lets hope Alex doesn't get mad this time, because it will have days over hot SST's...


If we don't RIP it then it will die, if we do then it will live. We choose
Member Since: May 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4438
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
Alex will miss the hilly areas of Belize
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1174. Levi32
995.2mb

000
URNT15 KNHC 261916
AF302 0301A ALEX HDOB 28 20100626
190700 1715N 08730W 9243 00676 9982 +212 +212 303013 015 033 006 01
190730 1717N 08730W 9248 00667 9976 +233 +220 323016 017 027 000 03
190800 1718N 08729W 9236 00673 9970 +229 +224 317016 018 027 000 03
190830 1719N 08727W 9247 00657 9960 +230 +228 028007 011 026 000 00
190900 1720N 08726W 9248 00647 9952 +236 +226 096016 020 021 000 00
190930 1721N 08725W 9242 00657 9954 +240 +224 114027 029 030 000 00
191000 1723N 08724W 9248 00657 9960 +240 +222 115033 036 032 000 00
191030 1724N 08724W 9248 00661 9964 +238 +218 111035 036 031 000 00
191100 1725N 08723W 9244 00666 9969 +239 +211 115035 037 029 000 00
191130 1727N 08722W 9251 00663 9974 +231 +208 123036 038 031 000 00
191200 1728N 08721W 9247 00670 9978 +229 +204 126037 038 032 000 00
191230 1729N 08720W 9245 00674 9981 +229 +205 131036 036 032 000 00
191300 1730N 08719W 9248 00675 9986 +225 +204 131037 037 033 000 00
191330 1732N 08718W 9247 00678 9988 +226 +201 133038 038 035 000 00
191400 1733N 08717W 9248 00681 9990 +230 +200 136037 038 037 000 00
191430 1734N 08716W 9245 00685 9993 +231 +204 141038 038 035 000 00
191500 1736N 08715W 9246 00687 9997 +227 +204 140039 041 035 000 03
191530 1737N 08714W 9250 00684 9998 +235 +204 139043 043 035 000 00
191600 1739N 08713W 9242 00696 0004 +221 +215 142041 043 030 000 00
191630 1740N 08712W 9254 00687 0008 +215 +215 145040 041 030 000 03
$$
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26700
Quoting FMTXWMAN:
Last few frames show Alex main cluster of storms moving W WSW, I think he's done.


He we go with the ripping.
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Just got a 995 reading!

000
URNT15 KNHC 261916
AF302 0301A ALEX HDOB 28 20100626
190700 1715N 08730W 9243 00676 9982 212 212 303013 015 033 006 01
190730 1717N 08730W 9248 00667 9976 233 220 323016 017 027 000 03
190800 1718N 08729W 9236 00673 9970 229 224 317016 018 027 000 03
190830 1719N 08727W 9247 00657 9960 230 228 028007 011 026 000 00
190900 1720N 08726W 9248 00647 9952 236 226 096016 020 021 000 00
190930 1721N 08725W 9242 00657 9954 240 224 114027 029 030 000 00
191000 1723N 08724W 9248 00657 9960 240 222 115033 036 032 000 00
191030 1724N 08724W 9248 00661 9964 238 218 111035 036 031 000 00
191100 1725N 08723W 9244 00666 9969 239 211 115035 037 029 000 00
191130 1727N 08722W 9251 00663 9974 231 208 123036 038 031 000 00
191200 1728N 08721W 9247 00670 9978 229 204 126037 038 032 000 00
191230 1729N 08720W 9245 00674 9981 229 205 131036 036 032 000 00
191300 1730N 08719W 9248 00675 9986 225 204 131037 037 033 000 00
191330 1732N 08718W 9247 00678 9988 226 201 133038 038 035 000 00
191400 1733N 08717W 9248 00681 9990 230 200 136037 038 037 000 00
191430 1734N 08716W 9245 00685 9993 231 204 141038 038 035 000 00
191500 1736N 08715W 9246 00687 9997 227 204 140039 041 035 000 03
191530 1737N 08714W 9250 00684 9998 235 204 139043 043 035 000 00
191600 1739N 08713W 9242 00696 0004 221 215 142041 043 030 000 00
191630 1740N 08712W 9254 00687 0008 215 215 145040 041 030 000 03
$$
;


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Looking like a straight shot to Belize City itself.
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Quoting GlobalWarming:


so it begins, ike. are you all ready up there, for what july, august, and sept might bring us?


You'll be fine; just clean up your "Fish" shower curtain and you should be protected
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Quoting homelesswanderer:


Wow! Sends one of em to me. Still 3 more in the waiting!


When is this supposedly?
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Quoting MrstormX:
I expect a lot of RIPing when it goes over land, but it very well will strengthen again.


Oh don't get me started! LOL

If it takes a more northerly jog, that means somewhat less time over land, which means less weakening.
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we may have the W storm by the end of july lol
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115454
This may be the last run by the HH before landfall. With less than 4 hours remaining at sea for the storm another mission would have to fly virtually on the coast and that they will not do.
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Quoting Stormchaser2007:


They use 65.
Thanks.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
half the convection is already inland. The center should be making landfall within 2 hours
Member Since: July 12, 2008 Posts: 11 Comments: 422
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
1159. jpsb
Quoting WPBHurricane05:


Yikes. Don't look at 240 hours.
Wonder why none of this links are working for me :(
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1158. Levi32
Nasty SW quad.

Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26700
They better fix those instruments...

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Last few frames show Alex main cluster of storms moving W WSW, I think he's done.
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Quoting Tazmanian:
94L is looking a little better


Yep. Convection looking very persistent, as long as it can move away from the Upper level trough, i has a chance.
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1154. Levi32
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Do they use 65mph or do they just round to 70mph?


They use 65.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26700
I expect a lot of RIPing when it goes over land, but it very well will strengthen again.
Member Since: May 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4438
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Do they use 65mph or do they just round to 70mph?


They use 65.
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Quoting tropicaltank:
Perhaps interaction with land will cause a more northerly jog.


Agreed.
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Quoting IKE:


It's got to get to near 19N to make it into the GOM. It probably will, but it's been moving almost due west for close to a day now.

It left the end of the ridge behind this morning.
So nothing pushing it and nothing keeping it from going north but it's a gyroscope now and will keep going the way it's going unless something else affects it. Only thing I can see right now that would move it north is friction with land and the slight pressure differential in the atmosphere...
The trough has not dug down into the GOM very far and Alex has not gone north to meet it.

Someone talked about a piece of Alex breaking of and heading to FL in some models..that would probably be the wave that was behind Alex not being fully absorbed and then following the retreating ridge which I don't have time to check for right now.
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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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