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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Quoting houstongator:

Isn't that a CAT 3?. 110 knots is approx 125 mph and with Houston in the NW quadrant,it would get the brunt of the storm - this is a bad scenario for Houston. I'm not predicting it, but it is an ugly picture for my home.
NW quad would be like Ike or Rita (further from center) for Houston, not the dirtiest side...
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Quoting bappit:

Only if the audience is uninformed or misinformed as a matter of policy.


Oh there are so many ways to respond to that one, with some of the people on here :)

I will keep my Halo shiny.
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26516
Quoting xcool:
Link

NEW NGP


Takes it south.. Which is a good bet because the NHC has it in that general direction. We'll see what the other models show.
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Quoting CaneAddict:
I'm sure the NHC will mention a northward movement..or northward jog at the least at 2AM. I've analyzed it's movement on several different satellite imagerys and I am POSITIVE I see a jog at the least.


The friction of Land and the counterclockwise spin will always make a surface Low move North some unless a High is directly overhead....and that is not the case here!
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Quoting BaltOCane:
Link

South of Galveston, Cat 2...??

Yes? No? Anyone?

Isn't that a CAT 3?. 110 knots is approx 125 mph and with Houston in the NW quadrant,it would get the brunt of the storm - this is a bad scenario for Houston. I'm not predicting it, but it is an ugly picture for my home.
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Quoting SCwannabe:
NHC is right on the money!!


Yeah, that's no surprise.
They've gotten so good with these storms it's like landing a darned aircraft.
Stay informed, be prepared, and you'll be in a good position to help your neighbors.

Goodnight, I think I've made enough trouble for one night.
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Quoting SunnyDaysFla:
In his update this afternoon, StormW refused to speculate on the track of Alex until he was in the GOMEX. Too Many Variables. I suggest anyone lurking here who wants fact based info rather than speculation follow the NHC track until more time has passsed.


awww boo you just killed our buzz lol
Member Since: March 10, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 7874
Quoting jpritch:


For now, you'll have to speak with the Pentagon about that. Perhaps we'll eventually start subsidizing commercial production of fuel from algae instead of subsidizing commercial production of petroleum, and then you'll actually start to find some at the local gas station.

Huh?!? Why would we subsidize the most cost-effective method? That would be like subsidizing the use of untreated pine 2x4s in home construction...

Get some investors. Do it. If cheaper and as effective as petro, like I said, no legislation needed. It will sell.
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Quoting LouisianaWoman:
I've answered you unless you missed it. The point is tracks change this far out, as clearly shown with Rita. It was suppose to be a south Texas/Mexico hit and we all know how that went. Too many things are playing big factors in where Alex will land. At 5 days out the cone of uncertainty is huge. As a person who thought they were "safe" during Rita, I kindly found my yard covered in 7 feet of water. Point is, nothing is set in stone until Alex is making his move onto land for good.
you are so right about that. i can't tell you how many times we were gonna get it and it never happened. forecasters need to show whats really happening instead of just reporting what they are told to report. they went to school for this and should be able to express their opinion as experts. an example of that is tonight on wdsu the forecaster stated how Alex could be shifted north some, as the weather channel said its not gonna hit the u.s. its going to Mexico. no mention of some factors that could change the course of this storm in a moment. they play it down so much. if they would just explain some factors and say don't panic anything could happen we just have to wait and see i think the public would respond better. we used to watch the weather channel before we went to the beach. if they said it was raining we would go. if they said it would be sunny we stayed home. lol! i know my family don't trust forecasters. nothing is ever out of the question as far as weather goes. even the experts are just guessing. s.w. la. landfall is totally possible. shoot, a fl. landfall is not out of the question. it may be unlikely, but not impossible.
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Quoting SunnyDaysFla:
In his update this afternoon, StormW refused to speculate on the track of Alex until he was in the GOMEX. Too Many Variables. I suggest anyone lurking here who wants fact based info rather than speculation follow the NHC track until more time has passsed.


That's the approach I'm taking too.
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3388. augfan
I'm taking this year seriously. Putting in the hurricane windows and patio door shutters is really expensive but so is a lost home. Although I expect most damage to come from parts of neighbor's homes.
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3387. bappit
Quoting Orcasystems:
Boy if you cherry pick the models... you can really sway opinions.


Only if the audience is uninformed or misinformed as a matter of policy.
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Yep, about a half mile away from the Delcambre Canal (Bayou Carlin) which connects to Vermilion bay and Lake Peigneur.
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Quoting btwntx08:
i see a nw movement as well
I too see a NW movement
mmmmmmm I also see it not slowing down much either. I think it could stay at 50 MPH winds when it gets to the GOM....

Taco :o)
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NHC is right on the money!!
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Quoting LouisianaWoman:
Goodnight dear. No hard feelings.

Thanks Sweets, backatcha.

From Wiki:
Before Rita, the mayor of New Orleans, Ray Nagin, had planned to begin reopening the city on September 19 after the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina.[6] However, as Rita developed in the Gulf of Mexico, the reopening was cancelled and a re-evacuation of the city was initiated on September 21 as the storm was initially forecast to make landfall much closer to the city. Although Rita remained well to the south and west of New Orleans, a pre-landfall storm surge overwhelmed a levee of the Industrial Canal protecting the Lower Ninth Ward[7], a part of a fragile and already compromised levee system as repairs continued. At landfall, more parts of the levee wall were breached causing major reflooding in New Orleans. The original breaches had occurred a month earlier as a result of Hurricane Katrina.[8]

In addition, residents of Cameron Parish, Calcasieu Parish, and parts of Jefferson Davis Parish, Acadia Parish, Iberia Parish, Beauregard Parish, and Vermillion Parish were told to evacuate ahead of the storm. Cameron Parish was hit the hardest with the towns of Creole, Cameron, Grand Chenier, Johnson's Bayou, and Holly Beach being totally demolished. Records around the Hackberry area show that wind gusts reach over 180 mph from a boat tied up to a dock. The people were told to evacuate by Thursday, September 22, 2005 by 6:00 pm. Two days later, parish officials returned to the Gibbstown Bridge that crosses the Intracoastal Canal into Lower Cameron Parish. Nobody was known to be left in the parish as of that time on Thursday, September 22, 2005. Almost 5 years later, the parish is nowhere near its prior population.
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Quoting TampaSpin:
The trough is all the way down to the Baha of Calif. now......Alex will feel this trough


AGREED!
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3380. xcool
Link

NEW NGP
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Quoting Hurricanes101:


1 am CDT, 2 am EDT

not out yet


that would explain that, yes.

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Quoting bappit:


About that DARPA wonder fuel ... where can I buy some?


Someone sells it. Otherwise Argus wouldn't have a biodiesel quote that seems to change daily. I have no idea where it goes honestly or how much volume is transacted. Probably pretty small.
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Quoting muddertracker:
Link
good model link for gfs nogaps and cmc


Holy smokies!!! Right over Louisiana!!
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Quoting BaltOCane:
pardon moi, but where is my 1am intermediate advisory? it hasn't been posted 1500 times and I'm starting to get ferklempted.


1 am CDT, 2 am EDT

not out yet
Member Since: March 10, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 7874
Anybody have the latest NOGAPS? I know the GFDL and HWRF don't come out for another few minutes.
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The trough is all the way down to the Baha of Calif. now......Alex will feel this trough
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pardon moi, but where is my 1am intermediate advisory? it hasn't been posted 1500 times and I'm starting to get ferklempted.
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Reed....please quit making almost every post about yourself. Just post your predictions and leave it at that. You may be right...or you may be wrong. All of us do it at one time or another. It's nothing personal.
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3371. Seastep
Man, I am way behind. And, yes, in a mood. ;)
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Quoting jlp09550:


Looks more northerly to me.


Looks to me like Alex is slowing down some. Could be a sign of direction change due to the fact that the ridge is weakening. On a good note, Alex slowing down over land means he will weaken further.
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I'm sure the NHC will mention a northward movement..or northward jog at the least at 2AM. I've analyzed it's movement on several different satellite imagerys and I am POSITIVE I see a jog at the least.
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Quoting jpritch:


The DOE and DARPA estimate that it would take 15,000 square miles of algal ponds to replace all the petroleum fuel used in the US. (Just for comparison, the area of farmland used to grow corn in the US is well over 100,000 square miles.) Fuel from algae is much more efficient to produce than any other biofuel.

Right now, they are only producing amounts to use in testing aimed at making all military vehicles, aircraft, etc. fuel agnostic, and in developing systems to produce fuel in the field. But the growing of algae is simple and scalable, and can be done with seawater, wastewater, brackish water, etc., just about anywhere.


Scale up to the real world is a whole new ball of wax. You know that.

We are putting in an algae pond in an old wastewater treatment pond at one of our TX refineries. We'll see how it works - see how it blends in with the indigenous clean products (biodiesel is the goal).

Regardless - I'm not sold on the econs. Biodiesel trades at over 75 cpg MORE than ultra low sulfur diesel (ULSD). The RINS are way more expensive than EtOH also.

It's not drag and drop, in my opinion. But I'll let the operations tell me.
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3367. jpritch
Quoting bappit:


About that DARPA wonder fuel ... where can I buy some?


For now, you'll have to speak with the Pentagon about that. Perhaps we'll eventually start subsidizing commercial production of fuel from algae instead of subsidizing commercial production of petroleum, and then you'll actually start to find some at the local gas station.
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Quoting xcool:
reedzone /NOT ME


Thanks, I'll have a new track after church tomorrow, around 1-2 p.m. Gotta see what the new runs do with Alex and where it will be by tomorrow.
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I dont really see Alex moving any further north that it was forecasted at this point

now in terms of when he gets into the Gulf, that's a different story
Member Since: March 10, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 7874
Quoting reedzone:


It's good to see some people don't have me on ignore.. I appreciate the encouragement. :)


Don't have you on ignore. Haha I read all the posts for learning, well the ones that have things to do with the tropical systems that are out there.

Anyways back to lurking, keep up the good work.
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Quoting LouisianaWoman:
Delcambre

Aha. Is that the Vermillion river right there?

Our older settlements are always by a body of water, which just carries surge inland further than it would have gotten, otherwise...
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In his update this afternoon, StormW refused to speculate on the track of Alex until he was in the GOMEX. Too Many Variables. I suggest anyone lurking here who wants fact based info rather than speculation follow the NHC track until more time has passsed.
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3361. xcool
NW HMMM
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3360. Seastep
Quoting GNDcanewatcher:
every university can build a car to cross north america on solar power using only students but we still need gas because the car and oil companies tell us!!


Sorry, can't help it.. you are a fool.
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3359. xcool
reedzone /NOT ME
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Quoting GeoffreyWPB:
I guess my eyes are getting old! I still see west.

Link


Looks more northerly to me.
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Quoting thegoldenstrand:




Reedzone, I have enjoyed your contribution to this board. Keep up the good work, you are getting better at what you post imo, don't take the remarks of others so seriously, some are actually light hearted jabs and some are from those that see you are letting your buttons be pushed, just keep postin and let those that read do what they want with it.


It's good to see some people don't have me on ignore.. I appreciate the encouragement. :)
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Quoting txsweetpea:


I live 14 miles from the La border(sabine river) in Texas. So I really want to keep an eye on this one. Thanks for the info, and yes, I realize it's not written in stone.
No problem, that's what im here for.
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Quoting reedzone:
I feel all those who bashed me on the forecast of Alex owes me an apology IF it really does end up going north of the NHC track.


Dude, stop being a kid. Just move on.
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http://www.atmos.washington.edu/~ovens/loops/wxloop.cgi?wv_east_enhanced+12

Really good loop to watch!
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I guess my eyes are getting old! I still see west.

Link
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Quoting xcool:
Link

NEW CMC

You do know that this solution would probably put oil in the Pearl, Lake Borgne, Lake P, right? Big enough system close enough, 20 knot winds over water coming in from the SE...that would be bad.

These are places with little wave action, usually, little flushing through tidal movements. And, because of that, haven't had an oil problem, so far.
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3350. bappit
Quoting atmoaggie:

Cool. We don't need any legislation whatsoever, then. Economics wins. Always.


About that DARPA wonder fuel ... where can I buy some?
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Quoting CaneAddict:


Well that makes 2 of us :]. By the way I live in North Saint petersburg..not too far from you.


I live 14 miles from the La border(sabine river) in Texas. So I really want to keep an eye on this one. Thanks for the info, and yes, I realize it's not written in stone.
Member Since: June 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 546

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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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