Karl hits the Yucatan; two simultaneous Cat 4s in the Atlantic for 2nd time in history

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:37 PM GMT on September 15, 2010

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The Atlantic hurricane season of 2010 kicked into high gear this morning, with the landfall of Tropical Storm Karl in Mexico, and the simultaneous presence of two Category 4 hurricanes in the Atlantic, Igor and Julia. Tropical Storm Karl's formation yesterday marked the fifth earliest date that an eleventh named storm of the season has formed. The only years more active this early in the season were 2005, 1995, 1936 and 1933. This morning's unexpected intensification of Hurricane Julia into a Category 4 storm with 135 mph winds has set a new record--Julia is now the strongest hurricane on record so far east. When one considers that earlier this year, Hurricane Earl became the fourth strongest hurricane so far north, it appears that this year's record SSTs have significantly expanded the area over which major hurricanes can exist over the Atlantic. This morning is just the second time in recorded history that two simultaneous Category 4 or stronger storms have occurred in the Atlantic. The only other occurrence was on 06 UTC September 16, 1926, when the Great Miami Hurricane and Hurricane Four were both Category 4 storms for a six-hour period. The were also two years, 1999 and 1958, when we missed having two simultaneous Category 4 hurricanes by six hours. Julia's ascension to Category 4 status makes it the 4th Category 4 storm of the year. Only two other seasons have had as many as five Category 4 or stronger storms (2005 and 1999), so 2010 ranks in 3rd place in this statistic. This year is also the earliest a fourth Category 4 or stronger storm has formed (though the fourth Category 4 of 1999, Hurricane Gert, formed just 3 hours later on today's date in 1999.) We've also had four Cat 4+ storms in just twenty days, which beats the previous record for shortest time span for four Cat 4+ storms to appear. The previous record was 1999, 24 days (thanks to Phil Klozbach of CSU for this stat.)


Figure 1. A rare double feature: two simultaneous Category 4 hurricanes in the Atlantic, for only the second time in recorded history.

Karl
Tropical Storm Karl made landfall as a strong tropical storm with 65 mph winds and a central pressure of 991 mb at 8:45am EDT this morning on Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, just north of the Belize border. Karl took advantage of nearly ideal conditions for intensification, and in just fifteen hours intensified from a tropical disturbance to a strong tropical storm with 65 mph winds. Had Karl managed to get its act together just one day earlier, it could have been a major hurricane at landfall this morning. Fortunately, Karl has a relatively small area of strong winds--tropical storm force winds extend out just 45 miles from the center of the storm, and wind damage is not the main concern. Heavy rains are the main concern, and Belize radar shows heavy rain bands from Karl spreading ashore over northern Belize near the border with Mexico. Cancun radar shows that heavy rains are relatively limited, though, near the tourist havens of Cancun and Cozumel.


Figure 2. Radar image of Karl at landfall this morning near the northern Belize/Mexican border. Image credit: Belize National Meteorological Service.

Forecast for Karl
Karl will traverse the Yucatan Peninsula today and emerge into the Gulf of Mexico's Bay of Campeche Thursday morning as a much weakened tropical storm, with perhaps 40 - 45 mph top winds. Once in the Gulf, conditions for intensification are ideal, with wind shear is expected to be low, 5 - 10 knots, SSTs will be warm, 29°C - 30°C, and the atmosphere very moist. These conditions, combined with the topography of the surrounding coast which tends to enhance counter-clockwise flow, should allow Karl to intensify into a strong tropical storm or a Category 1 hurricane before making landfall between Tampico and Vercruz, Mexico on Saturday morning. However, since Karl is a small storm, it is possible that passage over the Yucatan will disrupt the storm enough so that it will be much weaker. The ridge of high pressure steering Karl westwards is quite strong, and it is very unlikely that the storm will turn northwest and hit Texas. NHC is giving Brownsville, Texas, an 10% chance of receiving tropical storm force winds of 39+ mph.

Igor
Hurricane Igor put on a burst of intensification last night to put it at its strongest yet, a top-end Category 4 hurricane with 155 mph winds. Igor has weakened slightly this morning, but remains a formidable presence in the Central Atlantic with its 145 mph winds. Igor continues to show the classic appearance of a major hurricane on satellite imagery, with a well-formed eye, symmetrical cloud pattern, plenty of low-level spiral bands, and solid upper-level outflow on all sides.


Figure 3. Hurricane Igor as captured at 18 UTC Tuesday September 14, 2010, from the International Space Station. Image credit: Douglas Wheelock, NASA.

Intensity forecast for Igor
Wind shear is low, 5 - 10 knots, and is expected to remain low for the next 2 - 3 days. Waters are warm, 29°C, and will remain 29°C for the next 2 - 3 days. Igor is well armored against any intrusions of dry air for at least the next three days. These conditions should allow Igor to remain at major hurricane status for the next three days. The hurricane will probably undergo one of the usual eyewall replacement cycles intense hurricanes commonly have, where the eyewall collapses and a new eyewall forms from an outer spiral band. This will weaken the hurricane by 10 - 20 mph when it occurs, and may be responsible for the 10 mph weakening Igor experienced early this morning. Igor may regain its lost intensity over the next 36 hours. By Saturday morning, 36 hours before the core of Igor is expected to pass Bermuda's latitude, the trough of low pressure steering Igor northwestwards should bring moderate wind shear of 10 - 20 knots to the storm, weakening it. The SHIPS models predicts shear will rise to the high range, 20 - 30 knots, during the final 24 hours of the storm's approach to Bermuda. Igor will also be tracking over cooler 28°C waters during this period, and substantial weakening by perhaps 20 - 30 mph can be expected. Igor will still probably be at least a Category 2 hurricane on its closest pass by Bermuda on Sunday. NHC is giving Bermuda a 13% chance of experiencing hurricane force winds from Igor, but this probability is likely too low. The Bermuda Weather Service is calling for Category 1 or 2 hurricane conditions for the island on Sunday, with 20 - 25 foot waves in the offshore waters.

Track forecast for Igor
The track forecast for Igor remains unchanged. Igor has made its long-anticipated turn to the west-northwest, in response to the steering influence of a broad trough of low pressure moving across the Western Atlantic. This trough will steer Igor several hundred miles to the northeast of the Lesser Antilles, and high waves should be the only impact of Igor on the islands. Igor appears likely to be a threat to Bermuda, and that island can expect tropical storm force winds as early as Saturday. Igor will be moving at about 12 - 15 mph as it approaches Bermuda. Tropical storm force winds of 39+ mph will probably extend out about 250 miles to the north of Igor on Saturday, so Bermuda can expect 18 hours of tropical storm force winds before the core of Igor makes its closest pass. In all, Bermuda is likely to experience a very long pounding of 24 - 36 hours with winds in excess of tropical storm force.

The models have been in substantial agreement over multiple runs that Igor will miss the U.S. East Coast, and the danger to the U.S. will probably only come in the form of high waves. Large swells from Igor have arrived in the Northern Lesser Antilles Islands, and will spread westwards over the next few days, reaching the U.S. East Coast on Friday. By Saturday, much of the East Coast from northern Florida to Cape Cod Massachusetts can expect waves of 3 - 4 meters (10 - 13 feet), causing dangerous rip currents and significant beach erosion. These waves will continue through Sunday then gradually die down. The latest NOAA marine forecast for Cape Hatteras, North Carolina calls for 8 - 10 foot waves on Saturday, and 9 - 12 foot waves on Sunday.

Igor may pass very close to Newfoundland, Canada, but it is too early too assess the likelihood of this happening.

Julia
Hurricane Julia put on a remarkable and unexpected burst of intensification this morning to become the season's fourth Category 4 storm. Julia's 135 mph winds make it the strongest hurricane on record so far east; the previous record was held by the eighth storm of 1926 which was only a 120 mph Category 3 hurricane at Julia's current longitude. Julia's intensification was a surprise, since SSTs in the region are about 27.5°C, which is just 1°C above the threshold needed to sustain a Category 1 hurricane. Julia is headed northwest, out to sea, and it is unlikely that this storm will trouble any land areas. SSTs will steadily cool to 26.5°C today, and further intensification today is unlikely. Shear will be moderate, 10 - 20 knots, over Julia during the next two days, then rise sharply to 30 knots 3 - 5 days from now, as Julia moves within 1000 miles of Igor and begins to experience strong northwesterly winds from her big brother's upper level outflow. This should substantially weaken Julia.

Elsewhere in the tropics
The GFS and ECMWF models develop a new tropical depression a few hundred miles off the coast of Africa 3 - 6 days from now. The GFS also develops a tropical depression in the eastern Caribbean 6 - 7 days from now.

Portlight's 2-year anniversary
On September 14, 2008, the devastation wrought by Hurricane Ike on Texas and Louisiana moved members of the wunderground community to put into action their own impromptu relief effort. From this humble beginning has grown a disaster-relief charity I have been proud to support--Portlight.org. We've been blessed this hurricane season with relatively few landfalling storms, so Portlight's new disaster relief trailer (Figure 4), financed with a $21,500 grant from the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, has yet to be deployed. With five weeks of peak hurricane season still to come, the new trailer may yet get a call to action. The mobile kitchen in the trailer will be able to feed several hundred people per day, and the trailer is equipped with portable ramps to help with shelter accessibility, as well as durable medical equipment to facilitate mobility and independence for survivors. The trailer is mobile, and Portlight is willing to load it up and fly it to Bermuda, if Igor ends up making a mess there!

The lack of landfalling storms has allowed Portlight to continue to concentrate their efforts on Haiti, where their assistance has been a tremendous boost for those most in need, the disabled. Portlight is working on constructing steel shelters out of shipping containers for homeless Haitians, as detailed in the Haitian Relief Recap blog post. Please visit the Portlight.org web site or the Portlight blog to learn more and donate. A few other items of note:

Portlight has been able to facilitate providing assistance to people with disabilities in Pakistan, where the worst natural disaster in their history has left 4 million homeless. While not directly involved in delivering relief, Portlight has been able to connect local Disabled People's Organizations with important sources of food, water, filtration systems, and medical equipment.

ABC News4 in Charleston broadcast a story about the Portlight relief trailer, and Portlight has also been featured on the Pacifica Radio Network.

Portlight launched a quarterly newsletter, The Portlight View, which can be seen on the newly redesigned website.


Figure 4. The new Portlight disaster relief trailer, funded by their $21,500 grant from the Christopher and Dana Reeve foundation.

I'll have an update Thursday morning.

Jeff Masters

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3286. OracleDeAtlantis
3:02 PM GMT on September 20, 2010
Quoting angiest:
Steering just updated:


Looks like the Gulf high may have strengthened and backed to the west.

Note that this steering layer is not appropriate for Igor!

What is Julia doing, is she going to make another round of it?
Member Since: August 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 489
3285. hcubed
2:41 AM GMT on September 17, 2010
Question for the blog police:

If we're only posting "tropical" entries, does that include the multiple "thanks Dr M" posts that can take up the first page?

Just want to know where to start the flagging...
Member Since: May 18, 2007 Posts: 289 Comments: 1639
3284. CaribBoy
6:10 PM GMT on September 16, 2010
Hurricane Igor makes the weather so dry and hot in the E caribbean. Seas are very rough... and unlike the rain, this is totally unuseful.. but I know we cant decide what to get from mother nature.
Member Since: October 6, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 5600
3283. Neapolitan
3:27 PM GMT on September 16, 2010
Is this one working?
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13275
3282. hurricane23
2:35 PM GMT on September 16, 2010
Storm don't blame you for leaving wu this place is not what it was 4-5 years ago. I've been a fan of masters work for a very long time and will continue to read his blog. Over the past few years or so its become rather difficult to express ones views/ideas without running into problems. Heading of to DPO now.
Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13597
3281. CaneHunter031472
2:22 PM GMT on September 16, 2010
Quoting CalTex:
3247. JamminNJ 1:53 PM GMT on September 16, 2010

You and I have both asked what the colors mean on a steering chart, but I'm guessing that we're being hidden as "below average." Log in at night and then ask the question again, as I will do. Someone will likely answer as the blog isn't busy.


On a satellite picture it means difference between the temperature of the warm eye and the surrounding cold cloud tops can be used to determine its intensity (colder cloud tops generally indicate a more intense storm).

On a steering chart it means the intensity or category the storm will have at that specific point.
Member Since: August 1, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 163
3280. PensacolaDoug
2:16 PM GMT on September 16, 2010
Quoting Futuremet
Wunderground receives a lot of traffic and has a solid Google Page Rank status. I am sure that most, if not all forecasters visit Wunderground. NHC professional forecasters probably visit the Wunderblog, but they do not post here. Why? It would ruin their credibility and reputation. Wasting time in futile blabber and debates with dogmatic individuals and trolls really reduces your productivity and credibility.

Quoting: CTSkywatcher

Excellent point as usual Futuremet. It is getting difficult to sift out decent data here for the hobbyist(as SJ correctly called what most of us are in here). I just want to read about debates on track and intensity, not this bickering and BS. This comment is not directed at the regulars who have somehow kept a good focus this week....Newbies, Kids, Trolls....Shut up and read for a bit, maybe you will learn something. Maybe. There are 3 major storms right now, plenty to focus on. If you can't focus on that, you should not be posting. Yes we are hobbyists, but for most of us, this is not a game when a storm could possibly affect you/family/friends life and property.

My apologies to all respected bloggers for the rant. This is my favorite site on the web. My wife has to yell at me to get a way from here, yet I only have 40 or less posts, and have read here for over 4 years. Think before you speak! IF you can't ADD valuable knowledge (or timely GOODNATURED Humor) to the mix, don't post it....you are wasting space.

NOW I'm done wasting space.

Over and Out.






I agree strongly with both posts. 100
Member Since: July 25, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 519
3279. TDogg
2:16 PM GMT on September 16, 2010
Normally, I'm here for comic relief. Wouldn't dare try to actually predict storms, but I do enjoy observing other posts and speculate on what's going to happen. Unfortunately, this IS a public forum and you're going to see immature posts and behavior...and we have seen the results. Will miss StormW's insight if he departs the blog. If I had the time, I'd step up and volunteer to moderate the blog, as my ban hammer would fall swiftly and harshly!
Member Since: December 10, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 29
3278. watercayman
2:13 PM GMT on September 16, 2010
Quoting CaneHunter031472:


I was hoping for that, but unfortunately that is not the case. the GFS is consistently predicting a large system in the GOMEX. At first it was predicted for it to hit between the Lousiana TX border, now it is predicted to hit between the AL FL border. What bothers me is not the landfall points which have a great margin of error, but the consistency. GFS predicted Danielle and basically every other storm after that about two weeks before they even where in the map, so that trend cannot be ignored. The GFDL consistently predicted Karl and the GFS was predicting it 2 weeks prior to today as well then dropped it and a few days ago picked up on it again. But the one that surprised me the most was Gaston which the NHC insited was going to develop, but the GFS consistently did not even pick it up and Gaston when poof as predicted by the GFS. We cannot ignore that and based on trends only I would suggest that we need to be very alert about a possible system impacting the Gulf Coast from Texas to Florida two weeks from now.


Very helpful post. Thank you.
Member Since: September 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 81
3277. CloudGatherer
2:10 PM GMT on September 16, 2010
Quoting Thundercloud01221991:
recon just took off to fly into Igor

I'm really looking forward to seeing some direct observational data from that storm. CIMSS is nice, and the Sat pictures are pretty, but there's no substitute for actual observations.

In other news, the Hunter inside Karl is making another run at the center.
Member Since: August 18, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 454
3276. CaneHunter031472
2:10 PM GMT on September 16, 2010
Quoting watercayman:
Looks like 00 & 06Z GFS have dropped that Carib storm for end of next week. Is that what I'm seeing? (or is that wishful thinking on my part?)


I was hoping for that, but unfortunately that is not the case. the GFS is consistently predicting a large system in the GOMEX. At first it was predicted for it to hit between the Lousiana TX border, now it is predicted to hit between the AL FL border. What bothers me is not the landfall points which have a great margin of error, but the consistency. GFS predicted Danielle and basically every other storm after that about two weeks before they even where in the map, so that trend cannot be ignored. The GFDL consistently predicted Karl and the GFS was predicting it 2 weeks prior to today as well then dropped it and a few days ago picked up on it again. But the one that surprised me the most was Gaston which the NHC insited was going to develop, but the GFS consistently did not even pick it up and Gaston when poof as predicted by the GFS. We cannot ignore that and based on trends only I would suggest that we need to be very alert about a possible system impacting the Gulf Coast from Texas to Florida two weeks from now.
Member Since: August 1, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 163
3275. bassis
2:10 PM GMT on September 16, 2010
I for one think that the information gleaned from WU is invaluable and have learned a lot from many here because different people have their eyes on different pieces of info. Last night Pat posted links that I might not have found if I was not here. Sj has great info and great jokes. DJ has great info and great sarcasm.

I will follow the chief to continue to learn but I will still come here for the diversity of knowledge available. This site is like no other and as others have mentioned, the void will be filled by those who come after.

I may increase my ignore list a little more liberal than before but to not come and learn would be MY MISTAKE
Member Since: September 8, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 423
3274. weatherportricheyfl
2:09 PM GMT on September 16, 2010
sorry everyone about the link its my computer
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3273. CalTex
2:08 PM GMT on September 16, 2010
3247. JamminNJ 1:53 PM GMT on September 16, 2010

You and I have both asked what the colors mean on a steering chart, but I'm guessing that we're being hidden as "below average." Log in at night and then ask the question again, as I will do. Someone will likely answer as the blog isn't busy.
Member Since: September 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 138
3271. hydrus
2:06 PM GMT on September 16, 2010
Quoting weatherportricheyfl:
has anyone seen the new gfs model as it shows its a devestating forecast for tampa Link,
Your link is not working.
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 19537
3270. wxwatcherMSGC
2:06 PM GMT on September 16, 2010
I agree with Pottery and CTSkywatcher. I have lurked here for several years and have never posted. Thanks to all who have and will post valid info for good open discussions and knowledge.
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3269. Neapolitan
2:05 PM GMT on September 16, 2010
NEW BLOG
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3268. Thundercloud01221991
2:04 PM GMT on September 16, 2010
recon just took off to fly into Igor
Member Since: August 1, 2006 Posts: 28 Comments: 3716
3267. weatherportricheyfl
2:03 PM GMT on September 16, 2010
has anyone seen the new gfs model as it shows its a devestating forecast for tampa Link,
Member Since: July 10, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 21
3266. CybrTeddy
2:03 PM GMT on September 16, 2010
Karl's eye.
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 23012
3265. Cotillion
2:02 PM GMT on September 16, 2010
Quoting Orcasystems:


Umm that comment doesn't make any sense to me?
They are showing extrapolated surface winds.





Most of the stronger ones bordering the 62-64 mph


I mean, in comparison to DT.

The DT is making this from a 85mph hurricane up to Category Two.

The recon is showing winds from 65 to possibly just on the brink of hurricane status.

The convection looks really intense, making the satellite estimate higher than what the winds actually are underneath. Or so it has seemed.

(More intense than normal; seeing the greys on AVN was usually a rarity, it's happened a few times this year, particularly with the monsoonal-esque systems).
Member Since: August 23, 2008 Posts: 7 Comments: 5300
3264. NASA101
2:01 PM GMT on September 16, 2010
PGI46L (CIMSS Predict site) - the entity at 8N - 38W now has model support from GFS, Euro, UKMET and NOGAPS!!
This is the one that GFS consistently develops slowly and puts in the GULF in 10 days time!
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 276
3261. Orcasystems
1:59 PM GMT on September 16, 2010
Quoting Cotillion:
So far, the recon doesn't quite show underneath what Karl is giving on the surface.

That also happened with Hermine. Not sure about Earl.

The (A)DT might be overdoing it a bit. There's been a bit of a thing with that this year - the monsoonal development seems to have made the convection more intense than usual.


Umm that comment doesn't make any sense to me?
They are showing extrapolated surface winds.





Most of the stronger ones bordering the 62-64 mph
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26493
3260. Cotillion
1:59 PM GMT on September 16, 2010
AL, 12, 2010091612, , BEST, 0, 219N, 376W, 85, 971, HU, 64, NEQ, 30, 20, 15, 30, 1009, 225, 30, 0, 0, L, 0, , 0, 0, JULIA, D,

Clinging onto Cat 2 status.. barely.
Member Since: August 23, 2008 Posts: 7 Comments: 5300
3259. osuwxguynew
1:58 PM GMT on September 16, 2010
Morning Everyone! Busy tropical day, with the south-central Mexican coastline and Bermuda staring trouble in the face.

Fortunately for Bermuda, Igor should start to feel the effects of an increase in shear and some dryer continental air before reaching there. This should likely keep her intensity in the Cat 1/2 range when it reaches close/over the island.
Member Since: June 15, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 291
3256. CaicosRetiredSailor
1:57 PM GMT on September 16, 2010
Member Since: July 12, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 5984
3255. Cotillion
1:57 PM GMT on September 16, 2010
So far, the recon doesn't quite show underneath what Karl is giving on the surface.

That also happened with Hermine. Not sure about Earl.

The (A)DT might be overdoing it a bit. There's been a bit of a thing with that this year - the monsoonal development seems to have made the convection more intense than usual.
Member Since: August 23, 2008 Posts: 7 Comments: 5300
3248. watercayman
1:53 PM GMT on September 16, 2010
Quoting Orcasystems:


Wishful thinking

gfs 2010091606 Forecast slp Java Animation

Still shows it starting over Pottery's house... 3rd one this year.


Shoot. Yep. I see it. Thanks Orca.
Member Since: September 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 81
3247. JamminNJ
1:53 PM GMT on September 16, 2010
Quoting angiest:
Steering just updated:


Looks like the Gulf high may have strengthened and backed to the west.

Note that this steering layer is not appropriate for Igor!


Newbie question: How do I read a steering chart? Anybody has a quick primer?
Member Since: September 12, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 10
3243. dmh1026
1:52 PM GMT on September 16, 2010
Anybody notice how far off the floater is on Karl from the NHC site?
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3242. CTSkywatcher
1:52 PM GMT on September 16, 2010
Igor ingested some dry air during the EWRC. His CDO appears to be overcoming that and rebuilding.
Member Since: March 31, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 52
3241. watercayman
1:52 PM GMT on September 16, 2010
Quoting OctoberToRemember:


Wishful thinking, what the HECK are you looking at? Look at the right model next time, why don't you, -___-


Yes, I said this wrong. Dropped isn't the right word. It moves it into the following week and doesn't have it storming across the Carib any more, but rather more a GOM storm... I think.
Member Since: September 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 81
3240. Thundercloud01221991
1:51 PM GMT on September 16, 2010
Quoting CybrTeddy:
16/1145 UTC 19.8N 92.3W T4.5/4.5 KARL -- Atlantic


on its way to major hurricane
Member Since: August 1, 2006 Posts: 28 Comments: 3716
3238. CybrTeddy
1:51 PM GMT on September 16, 2010
16/1145 UTC 19.8N 92.3W T4.5/4.5 KARL -- Atlantic
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 23012
3237. Orcasystems
1:49 PM GMT on September 16, 2010
Quoting watercayman:
Looks like 00 & 06Z GFS have dropped that Carib storm for end of next week. Is that what I'm seeing? (or is that wishful thinking on my part?)


Wishful thinking

gfs 2010091606 Forecast slp Java Animation

Still shows it starting over Pottery's house... 3rd one this year.
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26493

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About JeffMasters

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.