Alex, strongest June hurricane in 44 years, is now a tropical storm

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:20 PM GMT on July 01, 2010

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Hurricane Alex, the strongest June hurricane in 44 years, is Tropical Storm Alex, thanks to passage over the rugged terrain of Mexico. Alex made landfall at 9pm CDT last night, 110 miles south of Brownsville, Texas, as a Category 2 hurricane with 105 mph winds. Alex was the strongest June hurricane since Hurricane Alma of 1966, which had 125 mph winds as it skirted the west coast of Florida. Brownsville long-range radar shows that Alex's heavy rains continue to pound the Texas/Mexico border region, and satellite estimates of rainfall (Figure 1) show that some of Alex's spiral bands dumped rains in excess of five inches today, in addition to the 5+ inches that fell yesterday. The Brownsville airport received 6.46" of rain as of 8am CDT today from Alex. Alex is being blamed for at least thirteen deaths in Central America and Mexico due to flooding, though none of these deaths occurred in the region where the storm made landfall. Alex spawned two tornadoes that hit South Texas, and there were at least four other reports of tornado funnel clouds that did not touch ground. Alex may continue to spawn isolated tornadoes today over South Texas and northern Mexico.


Figure 1. Radar-estimated rainfall so far today for Alex.


Figure 2. Snapshot of the Brownsville long-range radar showing Hurricane Alex at landfall at 8pm CDT Wednesday June 30, 2010.


Figure 3. Alex nearing landfall in northeastern Mexico at 12:10 CDT June 30, 2010, as seen by the MODIS instrument on NASA's Terra satellite. Image credit: NASA.

Storm Surge
Alex's maximum storm surge occurred along a 50-mile stretch of the Mexican coast centered about 75 miles south of Brownsville, Texas. The National Hurricane Center Sea, Lake, and Overland Surge from Hurricanes (SLOSH) model predicted that the maximum water depth at the coast reached about 5 - 6 feet above ground level (Figure 3.) A storm surge of 1 - 2 feet was predicted by SLOSH for the Brownsville, Texas region. A storm surge of about 2 feet was observed in South Texas at the South Padre Island Coast Guard Station and Port Isabel.


Figure 4. Hurricane Alex's Maximum Water Depth (storm tide minus the elevation of the land it is passing over) computed using the primary computer model used by the National Hurricane Center (NHC) to forecast storm surge--the Sea, Lake, and Overland Surge from Hurricanes (SLOSH) model. The accuracy of the SLOSH model is advertised as plus or minus 20%. The maximum surge occurred to the right of where Alex's core made landfall, over a sparsely populated marshy area. This "Maximum Water Depth" image shows the water depth at each grid cell of the SLOSH domain. Thus, if you are inland at an elevation of five feet above mean sea level, and the combined storm surge and tide (the "storm tide") is ten feet at your location, the water depth image will show five feet of inundation. For more information on storm surge, consult our detailed storm surge pages.

Alex in historical context
Alex is the first June hurricane since Hurricane Allison of 1995. There have been only eleven hurricanes in May or June since 1945; only four of these were major Category 3 or higher storms.

Alex's bizarre behavior
Alex had several rather remarkable features I've never seen in a hurricane. Firstly, it underwent an eyewall replacement cycle as a Category 1 hurricane with 80 mph winds. Usually, we don't see the inner eyewall collapse and an eyewall replacement cycle occur until a hurricane reaches Category 3 strength. I've seen it happen on occasion to a Category 2 storm, but never a Category 1. Secondly, after Alex's inner 9-mile diameter eyewall collapsed at 10am EDT yesterday morning, an outer spiral band began to become the new eyewall. Winds in this outer spiral band/new eywall increased as the day progressed, as typically happens in an eyewall replacement cycle. However, part way through that process, Alex suddenly reversed course, and was able to build a small inner eyewall with a 12-mile diameter that was completed by landfall. I've never seen a hurricane change its mind in the middle of an eyewall replacement cycle and build an inner eyewall so fast. Finally, Alex had an unusually weak winds, considering how low the pressure was. The pressure was more typical of a hurricane one Saffir-Simpson category stronger than what the surface winds suggested.

Elsewhere in the tropics
The latest run of the NOGAPS model predicts the formation of a tropical depression the Western Caribbean on Tuesday. None of the other models is showing tropical development worthy of concern over the coming seven days.

Wind and ocean current forecast for the BP oil disaster
Alex is continuing to generate very rough conditions over the Deepwater Horizon blowout location, with 5 - 9 foot waves and 3 - 4 foot swells. The wind and seas will gradually subside today, according to the latest marine forecast from NOAA. The resulting currents induced by Alex's strong winds will push oil to many protected bays and estuaries that haven't seen oil yet. The latest trajectory forecasts from NOAA and the State of Louisiana show oil will also move westward along the central Louisiana coast towards the Texas border. Winds will decrease to 5 - 15 knots Friday through Tuesday but remain mostly out of the southeast, keeping the pressure on the regions of coast in Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi that are seeing oil hit their shores this week.

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

Next post
I'll have an update Friday morning. Dr. Rob Carver plans on summarizing Alex in his blog later today.

Jeff Masters

Hurricane Alex (LRandyB)
Weather inbound to Hurricane Alex.
Hurricane Alex

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"LMAO! WTH???????"


Well that's interesting....LOL
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You guys are making it tough to spot teh real JFV.
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Wow! the blog has slowed to a crawl with no storms...

Today has been the biggest rain totals here in SeTx...
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Quoting IKE:


LOL...thanks, but I'm just a novice.


WHAT!! You've been here longer than me and been through as many canes.....you're no novice! You're experinced indeed...
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588. IKE
LMAO! WTH???????

AREA FORECAST DISCUSSION
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE TALLAHASSEE FL
342 PM EDT THU JUL 1 2010

.SHORT TERM (TONIGHT THROUGH SATURDAY NIGHT)...DEEP TROPICAL
AIRMASS IS IN PLACE ACROSS THE TRI-STATE AREA THIS AFTERNOON. WARM
RAIN PROCESSES ARE DEFINITELY IN PLAY AS THE DROP SIZE
IS VERY SMALL AND THERE HAS BEEN VERY LITTLE LIGHTNING OBSERVED.
FORTUNATELY...THE STRONGEST CONVECTION HAS REMAINED
OFFSHORE...ALONG WITH ANY POTENTIAL FLOODING IMPACTS. ANY HEAVIER
CELLS WHICH DO DEVELOP OVER LAND WILL NEED TO BE MONITORED CLOSELY
THIS EVENING FOR FLOODING CONCERNS.

THE CONVECTION IS BEING TRIGGERED BY A COMBINATION OF A COLD FRONT
ACROSS CENTRAL GEORGIA/ALABAMA AND A WEAK LOW TO MID-LEVEL VORT
MAX CENTERED OVER THE BIG BEND AND APALACHEE BAY. 18Z OBS INDICATE
A 1018MB SFC LOW CENTERED OVER APALACHEE BAY.


THE EVOLUTION OF THIS VORT MAX AND SFC REFLECTION PROVIDE THE
FORECAST CHALLENGE FOR THE NEXT SEVERAL DAYS. THE 12Z OPERATIONAL
GFS AND CANADIAN MODELS GRADUALLY ALLOW A SFC LOW TO ORGANIZE AND
DEEPEN ALONG THE NORTHEASTERN GULF COAST. THE GFS LOW TRACKS
SLOWLY WEST AND MEANDERS FOR SEVERAL DAYS ALONG THE PANHANDLE
COAST. THE CANADIAN TRACKS THE LOW TOWARDS THE NATURE COAST AND
ACROSS THE FLORIDA PENINSULA. THE 12Z NAM AND 00Z ECMWF ARE MUCH
LESS BULLISH...PREFERRING TO KEEP THE DISTURBANCE AS AN INVERTED
TROUGH (NAM) OR A VERY WEAK SFC LOW (ECMWF) AND TRACKING IT SLOWLY
WEST. A CLOSER LOOK AT THE PRECIP FIELDS IN THE GFS SHOWS VERY
HIGH QPF OVER THE BIG BEND THIS AFTERNOON AND TONIGHT FROM STABLE
PRECIPITATION PROCESSES WITH LOWER AMOUNTS FROM THE CONVECTIVE
PARAMETERIZATION. THIS IS OFTEN A SIGN OF GRID-SCALE CONVECTIVE
FEEDBACK WHICH WE BELIEVE IS HELPING THE GFS TO SPURIOUSLY SPIN-UP
THE SFC LOW. A SIMILAR FEEDBACK MAY BE SPINNING THE LOW UP IN THE
CANADIAN SOLUTION. IN CONTRAST...THE PARALLEL RUN OF THE
GFS...WITH UPDATED CONVECTIVE SCHEMES...DOES NOT SHOW ANY SPIN-UP
OF A SFC LOW IN THE NORTHEASTERN GULF.

WITH THAT IN MIND...MUCH PREFER THE WEAKER SOLUTION OF THE
NAM/ECMWF FOR THIS FORECAST PACKAGE. HOWEVER...THE CURRENT VORT
MAX WILL CONTINUE TO BE MONITORED...ESPECIALLY IF DEEP CONVECTION
OVER APALACHEE BAY PERSISTS AND DEEPENS OVERNIGHT.

BACK TO THE ECMWF SOLUTION...WITH THE WEAK SFC LOW TRACKING SLOWLY
WEST OVER THE NEXT TWO DAYS...SHOULD SEE THE DRIER AIRMASS
ASSOCIATED WITH THE STATIONARY FRONT FILTER INTO THE
REGION...ESPECIALLY THE NORTHERN ZONES. BEGINNING FRIDAY...WILL
TRIM POPS BACK THROUGH SATURDAY WITH THE HIGHEST VALUES ALONG THE
COAST AND OFFSHORE AND LOWER VALUES WELL INLAND. LIKEWISE...WILL
GO ABOVE THE MAV GUIDANCE FOR TEMPS FOR INLAND AREAS WHERE SOME
SUNSHINE IS EXPECTED TO BREAK THROUGH FOR FRIDAY AFTERNOON AND
SATURDAY.

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Quoting Hurricanes101:


please excuse anyone on this site for not being able to tell the difference, since 95% of all "debates" on here are actually "argument" and cannot be done without insults

we are not familiar with the pleasant debates on here like you and Drak have


I was once told that like violence, cursing is the result of a small mind running out of options...

By the way, speak for yourself, you $^%&$#!

LOL

When did that happen, by the way? That debates are actually verbal free for alls devolving into name calling fests, I mean?
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585. xcool
HurricaneSwirl LMAO.
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15684
The word of the day is Spurious!

The water is very warm out here in the NE Gulf so anything that has the ingredients could possibly cook up pretty fast. Looks like Shear is on the low side as well.......
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Quoting BermudaHigh:



Hmmmmmmmmm, I already know of someone who will, he knows who he is.


Hmmmmmmm, I already know of someone who will ask a thousand times if it could loop around and hit SW florida, he knows who he is.
Member Since: July 7, 2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 3237
Maybe I should go to the vet and ask for tranq's!?!?!? P.S. I don't have a dog
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Wunder Weather Tech Starts today at 4 p.m. ET, 1 p.m. PT

We have always been asked by the Weather Underground community about various technical issues regarding weather and our website. Thus, we have created a show called Wunder Weather Tech where Weather Underground developers go to explain weather technology for all of those interested. So, please join developers John Celenza and Yaniv Zimet for the inaugural show. It will air directly after The Daily Downpour at 4 p.m. ET, 1 p.m. PT Listen here to find out.

Radar will be the Topic today

Both shows will be taking call-ins at 415-983-2634.
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580. xcool
BermudaHigh BETTER NOT TALK ABOUT ME JFV
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15684
571. HurricaneNewbi

Dramamine also works well. Vet actually recommended it. Knocks my dog out during bad storms.
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Just looking at forward speed, direction and on-going convection, does Alex stand a chance of making it into the Pacific?
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Extended Forecast Discussion

Excerpt:

REGARDING THE DAY-TO-DAY DETAILS...THE 00/06Z GFS LIE NEAR THE
FAST SIDE OF THE FULL ENVELOPE OF GUIDANCE WITH THE LEADING EDGE
OF THE MID-UPPER TROUGH OVER THE ROCKIES REACHING THE UPPER
MIDWEST SUN/MON AND SUFFERS FROM A WORSE CASE OF CONVECTIVE
GRID-SCALE FEEDBACK ALONG THE CENTRAL GULF COAST FOR MOST OF THE
PERIOD COMPARED WITH THE 00Z ECMWF/GFS PARALLEL RENDERING ITS
SOLUTION LESS THAN DESIRABLE. THE 12Z GFS HAS BACKED OFF FROM AT
LEAST THE SPEED OF ROCKIES ENERGY MOVING OUT INTO THE N-CENTRAL US
BY EARLY NEXT WEEK.


I guess HPC didn't get the memo, grid-scale feedback = spurious low.
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Quoting Drakoen:


No mention of a low pressure center


There's definitely no surface low...just some weak turning and that's most likely the southern-most inverted trough. It'll be at least 36 hours before any surface feature comes to fruition and that's only if anything cuts off the base of that front.
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Quoting Levi32:
12z ECMWF 240 hours develops the wave currently at 40W and brings it into the Gulf of Mexico in 10 days.



Want to take bets on how many times someone is going to post that it hits Louisiana! lol
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572. IKE
Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:


Naw you're an early adopter [comment 33] :)


I was pretty close with that!
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Quoting nrtiwlnvragn:


Wet 4th of July for you most likely. I wish it was over me, my dog flips out over the fireworks, which have already started sporatically in the neighborhood.


Your local vet can prescribe tranqs for your dog. They work wonders for my beagle
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Quoting StormSurgeon:
Little going out there except the CMC and GFS models that suggest a low on the N. Gulf Coast. Yeah, right! Raining heavily in Mobile at the moment, nothing to do with Alex though, just typical S. Alabama rain. BBQ is probably screwed this weekend.


Baldwin County here. Yes, I already scrapped the BBQ plans and will be starting the Roux in the morning instead.
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Tropical disturbance in the oil spill area will make my oil recon mission with the national guard very interesting to say the least. It might turn into a storm chasing mission, if I can talk the pilots into flying into it.
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Levi32 so what you are saying is that the low near Tallahassee is going to become a hurricane soon according to you're forecasting?

:)
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Quoting caribbeantracker01:
really neeed to monitor that area just east of the lesser antilies hey weather 456 r u man i need some in or levi drak ike storm w and the others

Hows your dust? In St Thomas it's bad..
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Little going out there except the CMC and GFS models that suggest a low on the N. Gulf Coast. Yeah, right! Raining heavily in Mobile at the moment, nothing to do with Alex though, just typical S. Alabama rain. BBQ is probably screwed this weekend.
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563. IKE
Quoting nrtiwlnvragn:


Wet 4th of July for you most likely. I wish it was over me, my dog flips out over the fireworks, which have already started sporatically in the neighborhood.


It's raining moderately right now. 76.5 outside and rain.....make that heavy rain now.
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Quoting DaytonaBeachWatcher:


Lmao

Who is JFV?
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Quoting Hurricanes101:


dont you mean teh Caribbean? lol


I'm gone for 4 days and something else might develop? Where is this?
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really neeed to monitor that area just east of the lesser antilies hey weather 456 r u man i need some in or levi drak ike storm w and the others
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Well don't look at the Tropical Atlantic to produce anything much for a week or two or..
The Azores high has been interacting with the Sahara Low and and the Tropical Atlantic is covered in dust.. it made it here to the islands today. The high is supposed to stick around in some form for the next 180 hours so it will keep the MDR and me suffocated
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Quoting IKE:


Well....maybe it will amount to something.


Wet 4th of July for you most likely. I wish it was over me, my dog flips out over the fireworks, which have already started sporatically in the neighborhood.
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556. IKE
Quoting StormSurgeon:


You're one of the best, and don't ever forget it.........SS


LOL...thanks, but I'm just a novice.
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Quoting Drakoen:


Not a threat to develop until it gets into the Caribbean


dont you mean teh Caribbean? lol
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Quoting FLWeatherFreak91:
AREA FORECAST DISCUSSION
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE JACKSONVILLE FL
255 PM EDT THU JUL 1 2010

SYNOPSIS...MSAS SFC ANALYSIS SHOWING A SLOW MOVING COLD FRONT ACROSS
FAR NW ALABAMA. THERE WAS ALSO 2 INVERTED TROUGHS...ONE STRETCHING
FROM SW ALABAMA INTO NW GA AND THE OTHER FROM EXTREME S GA INTO THE
NE GULF. THE TROUGH IN THE GULF WAS PRODUCING A BAND OF
SHOWERS/EMBEDDED STORMS ALONG THE GULF COAST. ANOTHER BAND OF
SHOWERS/EMBEDDED STORMS WERE ALONG THE W FL PANHANDLE WITH
ASSOCIATED WITH ANOTHER SFC TROUGH. ALOFT...FORECAST AREA WAS IN A
DIVERGENT FLOW BETWEEN A LARGE ANTICYCLONE ALONG THE GULF COAST AND
A TROUGH FROM EASTERN CANADA TO SC. A SHORT WAVE WAS MOVING IN
ACROSS N FL HELPING TO ENHANCE THE SHOWER/TSTM ACTIVITY ACROSS THE
NE GULF.


No mention of a low pressure center
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Quoting DestinJeff:
Hey, JFV, when your current handle gets banned you should come back as "SpuriousLow"


Lmao
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WINDSAT from this morning.

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NOLA NWS

Short term...
the surface boundary over the region will also be associated with
a similar convergence boundary up to 850 and 700 mb. These
boundaries and the high precipitable water near 2.5 inches will linger over the
forecast area today. Other surface boundaries from weak sea and
lake breezes and outflow boundaries will also help to focus
convection...some possibly setting up in stationary or slow moving
bands resulting in a train echo effect of heavy rainfall.
Given the high rainfall efficiency...have opted to extend the
Flood Watch in area and time...now including all parishes in
southeast Louisiana into coastal Mississippi through 7 PM today.


Showers and thunderstorms should weaken and gradually dissipate
over land this evening...with renewed activity expected again
overnight near the coast and offshore.


The GFS continues to show a fairly stacked low pressure system
from the surface to 500 mb forming tonight and Friday. This model
has been the most consistent showing development...but the
location has shifted from model run to model run. The 00z run
today shows the low forming along a surface boundary over the
central Florida Panhandle this evening...then the low deepens and
moves west-southwest over the northeast Gulf of Mexico on Friday.
The 06z NAM and 00z European model (ecmwf) show a weaker low forming over the
northeast Gulf of Mexico during this time frame...while the 00z
Canadian Gem is similar in strength as the GFS but slower. Am
favoring the weaker NAM/European model (ecmwf) solutions at this time. This means
there should not be as much dry air pulled south into southeast
Mississippi on Friday as indicated by the GFS and mav guidance.
There will be drier/hotter air and subsidence close to our
northern border due to the proximity of a building middle level
high/ridge over the middle Mississippi Valley/lower Ohio Valley and
middle south area.

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Quoting stoormfury:
Drak the area at 10N 40W looks like a suspect area. there is good convergence and divergence. shear is about 5 knots good 850mb vorticity and there is anticyclone over the area what are your immediate thoughts


Not a threat to develop until it gets into the Caribbean
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Quoting IKE:


Teh blog makes me laugh. A lot of smart people on here makes it worth the time. You find out things a lot sooner then anywhere else.


You're one of the best, and don't ever forget it.........SS
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Last blog:
#609 - BermudaHigh : ebcause
#615 - BermudaHigh : TIA, sir

This blog:
#305 - BermudaHigh : ^_^
#391 - BermudaHigh : teh
#485 - BermudaHigh : anotehr
#511 - BermudaHigh : excpetionally

Hmmm, curious, looks familiar somehow. :)
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AREA FORECAST DISCUSSION
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE JACKSONVILLE FL
255 PM EDT THU JUL 1 2010

SYNOPSIS...MSAS SFC ANALYSIS SHOWING A SLOW MOVING COLD FRONT ACROSS
FAR NW ALABAMA. THERE WAS ALSO 2 INVERTED TROUGHS...ONE STRETCHING
FROM SW ALABAMA INTO NW GA AND THE OTHER FROM EXTREME S GA INTO THE
NE GULF. THE TROUGH IN THE GULF WAS PRODUCING A BAND OF
SHOWERS/EMBEDDED STORMS ALONG THE GULF COAST. ANOTHER BAND OF
SHOWERS/EMBEDDED STORMS WERE ALONG THE W FL PANHANDLE WITH
ASSOCIATED WITH ANOTHER SFC TROUGH. ALOFT...FORECAST AREA WAS IN A
DIVERGENT FLOW BETWEEN A LARGE ANTICYCLONE ALONG THE GULF COAST AND
A TROUGH FROM EASTERN CANADA TO SC. A SHORT WAVE WAS MOVING IN
ACROSS N FL HELPING TO ENHANCE THE SHOWER/TSTM ACTIVITY ACROSS THE
NE GULF.
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Debate is a more pleasant way to say argue. Of course debate gives each side a chance to present their views without being hostile. I will settle on the debate side unless the petty bickering starts.
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Drak the area at 10N 40W looks like a suspect area. there is good convergence and divergence. shear is about 5 knots good 850mb vorticity and there is anticyclone over the area what are your immediate thoughts
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Quoting IKE:


Well....maybe it will amount to something.


Not with teh frontal boundary attached to teh low lol
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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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