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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2736. JRRP
yesterday run xcool :)
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 5784
2735. JLPR2
Quoting CalTex:
To 2704. JLPR2 6:05 AM GMT on September 16, 2010

If you're still on here, take a look at the latest loop on the Wunderground Igor update page. He's still moving west, and is much closer to the islands, even though the satellite photo doesn't record the latest position, just gives the position at last update.


Seems to be spinning in place for me.
Link
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Thats it! Let's just stir the pot again!Bang head on desk again.
Quoting Krycek1984:


Was there some sort of drama? Let me guess it involved StormW, or a troll that went crazy.
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2733. JRRP

see you tomorrow
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 5784
Quoting PrivateIdaho:
I didn't go crazy, there was a BEE in my shorts! Made me type crazy stuff.


Actually, it was sort of like the whole place was drinking the cool aid... including me... had to crawl under the palmetto leaves to get away! OUCH!!
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Quoting PrivateIdaho:
Yes, we rock! But that is Sport Center in the background (Dereck Jeter is a punk) and the smell of tuna casserole wafting into the room ( need to put that away!)
Twins fan here. Hope they wrest home field from the East. I wish you all a nice night. I (for real), have to get up at 5:04 am EDT. Crikey, I have less than 3 hours. No joke. Look forward to renewing the conversation on the morrow. Sleep well.
Member Since: July 23, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 12414
2730. CalTex
2722. 1900hurricane 6:22 AM GMT on September 16, 2010

(My computer is stopping me from quoting, I guess my security settings don't like Java.)

Anyway, I'm in Victoria, TX. Any more Texans on here tonight? Lurkers? Last night we had a bunch, and Karl bears watching (at least with one eye).
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2729. xcool
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15669
Quoting flasooner:


And, per the 11 p.m. NHC discussion, and I quote: SINCE THE TROUGH IS NOT THAT SHARP...IGOR IS EXPECTED TO MAINTAIN ITS CURRENT MOTION FOR THE NEXT 36 HOURS OR SO., I don't see how the NHC's own 36-hour forecast points verify. Storm was right.
Storms right a lot. He reminds me of my grandfather...a little on the crusty side but likeable when you get to know him.
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Igor is likely out to sea with the trough, but he's shown little inclination to want to move into that direction, moving more westwards than northwards. The eConus high is strong, 1022mb and briding towards the cAtl high (also strong) 1029mb.

If the trough becomes less amplified or not as deep, then the briding highs may have more of an effect. My thinking is if Igor is gonna turn, he'd better start turning a bit. Otherwise, he may have to catch the next flight out, but he may have to make a brief landing first! ;)
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2726. CalTex
To 2704. JLPR2 6:05 AM GMT on September 16, 2010

If you're still on here, take a look at the latest loop on the Wunderground Igor update page. He's still moving west, and is much closer to the islands, even though the satellite photo doesn't record the latest position, just gives the position at last update.
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2725. xcool
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15669
Quoting Krycek1984:


Was there some sort of drama? Let me guess it involved StormW, or a troll that went crazy.
I didn't go crazy, there was a BEE in my shorts! Made me type crazy stuff.
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Quoting Krycek1984:


a troll that went crazy.


Multiply
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Quoting CalTex:
1900Hurricane are you from Galveston? I had distant cousins who died in that.

My hometown is Klein, a NW suburb of Houston, but I am currently in College Station, enrolled in my sophomore year at Texas A&M to study Meteorology.
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Quoting StormW:


What do you think kept pushing Igor west for 2 days after he was "supposed" to begin his "turn" at around 45-47W? Why do you think he got further west than originally forecast?


And, per the 11 p.m. NHC discussion, and I quote: SINCE THE TROUGH IS NOT THAT SHARP...IGOR IS EXPECTED TO MAINTAIN ITS CURRENT MOTION FOR THE NEXT 36 HOURS OR SO., I don't see how the NHC's own 36-hour forecast points verify. Storm was right.
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Quoting PrivateIdaho:
the smell of tuna casserole wafting into the room


Whatever spins your gears, P.I.!! :D
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Quoting fatlady99:
Well, I'm back and all appears sensible and sane once more on the blog. There's weather talk, a touch of humor, the blues is playing softly in the background as the scent of Turkish coffee floats out over the room, and only one or two childish insults are still flying around....

Breathe of fresh air! LOL!! I LOVE the night shift!!!


Was there some sort of drama? Let me guess it involved StormW, or a troll that went crazy.
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2718. CalTex
1900Hurricane are you from Galveston? I had distant cousins who died in that.
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Quoting fatlady99:
Well, I'm back and all appears sensible and sane once more on the blog. There's weather talk, a touch of humor, the blues is playing softly in the background as the scent of Turkish coffee floats out over the room, and only one or two childish insults are still flying around....

Breathe of fresh air! LOL!! I LOVE the night shift!!!
Yes, we rock! But that is Sport Center in the background (Dereck Jeter is a punk) and the smell of tuna casserole wafting into the room ( need to put that away!)
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2716. JLPR2
Quoting fatlady99:
Well, I'm back and all appears sensible and sane once more on the blog. There's weather talk, a touch of humor, the blues is playing softly in the background as the scent of Turkish coffee floats out over the room, and only one or two childish insults are still flying around....

Breathe of fresh air! LOL!! I LOVE the night shift!!!


It's the best one! :D
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Quoting fatlady99:
Well, I'm back and all appears sensible and sane once more on the blog. There's weather talk, a touch of humor, the blues is playing softly in the background as the scent of Turkish coffee floats out over the room, and only one or two childish insults are still flying around....

Breathe of fresh air! LOL!! I LOVE the night shift!!!
Seconded.
Member Since: July 23, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 12414
Well, I'm back and all appears sensible and sane once more on the blog. There's weather talk, a touch of humor, the blues is playing softly in the background as the scent of Turkish coffee floats out over the room, and only one or two childish insults are still flying around....

Breathe of fresh air! LOL!! I LOVE the night shift!!!
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Quoting PrivateIdaho:
How funny! I've been married for a little over 23 years but my kids are all still in elementary school. When I go to parent teacher conferences I am 20 years older than the other parents...kinda weird!
I'll bet. Glad to hear you still are together. It's sadly, a rare thing to have marriage's last that long anymore. Kudos.
Member Since: July 23, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 12414
Quoting osuwxguynew:


There certainly is strong cirrus outflow to the northwest of Igor. But this outflow is at the 200mb level and higher in the atmosphere only (above 30k feet).

The trough extends from 200mb or higher all the way to the surface of the ocean (more or less given tilting of a baroclinic trough).

So Igor may be pushing as you say, but it's like a little school girl trying to push on an NFL lineman. The lineman will win every time and twice on Sunday...




A "pushing" Igor is not a good sign for the east coast - though I've not had time to study anything these past few days. If the trough is there, Igor doesn't have to "push" at all - he simply falls into the hole and goes out to sea.
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Quoting PSLFLCaneVet:
LOL. No, I've been happily married for almost 24 years. Those thoughts are not an issue for me. Both sons grown and out on their own. Now, it's Mom and Dad's time.
How funny! I've been married for a little over 23 years but my kids are all still in elementary school. When I go to parent teacher conferences I am 20 years older than the other parents...kinda weird!
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Quoting OracleDeAtlantis:

The setup is very similar to what happened with Earl, except the trough was deeper, and more vigorous. The other big difference is that both Igor and Julia are helping to strengthen the ridge over the central Atlantic, and which is now guiding Igor. I still believe that a handoff will occur, but looking at the recent steering layers, it would appear that for tonight at least, the winner is the right ridge of high pressure. If that ridge continues to strengthen, it's a game changer.



Is a game changer in what way? Does Igor go furthur west? I have no clue about this stuff, just a lot of questions.
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2709. JLPR2
Quoting 1900hurricane:
The eye should probably be clearing by morning:



Dang! I can't get over about how big its eye is going to be. :\
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2708. texcane
Quoting gatorojo:

Yep, have been lurking here for years. Between StormW, Dr. Masters, Levi and the NHC one can't go wrong. Everybody else is entertainment, which isn't saying there aren't other good forecasters here.


Quoting F4PHANTOM:
Storm, I think there are many people who frequent this blog that don't comment alot. Those are the ones who pay attention to what you and a few others have to say. If you leave we will have a Very important and knowledgeable person gone. You don't want to leave us with some of the BOZO'S that are here , DO YOU? You have taught many of us about the tropics and I know there is still plenty to learn. If you must go, go in peace and harmony and please don't go because of some of the zoo animals here.

++1

That's a 1 for each and F4 nailed it. I emailed you something similar several weeks ago.
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The eye should probably be clearing by morning:

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Quoting PrivateIdaho:
I thought it was just to pick up chicks.;^)
LOL. No, I've been happily married for almost 24 years. Those thoughts are not an issue for me. Both sons grown and out on their own. Now, it's Mom and Dad's time.
Member Since: July 23, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 12414
2704. JLPR2
I believe Igor has stalled, hasnt moved from 20.1N, 56.1W for awhile now, but its EWRC is almost done, the inner eyewall has collapsed and the big eye is starting to clear up.

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Here we go!

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2701. CalTex
To 2695. Kowaliga 5:59 AM GMT on September 16, 2010

Thanks!
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2699. CalTex
I just looked at a couple of different water vapor and satellite images for Igor that were taken within the last hour or two.

His eye is now south of 20N again on both! The heading also looks like WSW to me in the last few frames, not just a jog.

EDIT: On second thought, maybe it hasn't gone south again as image isn't that clear, but I don't see a northward component.
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2696. xcool
HMM
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15669
Quoting CalTex:
To 2687. OracleDeAtlantis 5:50 AM GMT on September 16, 2010

Where do you get those steering maps? Are they posted somewhere or do you create them yourself with software?


HERE
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Off to bed, but before I go, I pose the question Karl, KanKunKid, Koinsidence?...I think not!
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This steering pattern should force Karl on a general
west-northwest to west track with a decrease in forward speed. The
forecast keeps Karl over the extreme southern Gulf of Mexico for
the next day or so...and brings Karl to the coast of Mexico as a
hurricane within the watch area in about 48 hours. I put in bold the "weasel words" that indicate uncertainty in how long Karl will have to strengthen in the BOC.
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2691. JLPR2
This is almost ridiculous, I never expected tiny Igor to grow so much. :\

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2690. CalTex
To 2687. OracleDeAtlantis 5:50 AM GMT on September 16, 2010

Where do you get those steering maps? Are they posted somewhere or do you create them yourself with software?
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Quoting mcmurray02:
When was the last time we had 3 active hurricanes in the Atlantic at once?

September 9th at 00Z with Maria, Nate, and Ophelia.
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Quoting PSLFLCaneVet:
Are you teeing me up? LOL. Because I could. That, and I have some latent childhood dreams. Seriously, I build and sell golf cars. I don't try to hot rod them all , but once in a while, something comes along that just works.
I thought it was just to pick up chicks.;^)
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Quoting sunlinepr:
Notice the angle of attack of the trough now ready to affect Igor.... if he doesn't turns NW with it, he never will


The setup is very similar to what happened with Earl, except the trough was deeper, and more vigorous. The other big difference is that both Igor and Julia are helping to strengthen the ridge over the central Atlantic, and which is now guiding Igor. I still believe that a handoff will occur, but looking at the recent steering layers, it would appear that for tonight at least, the winner is the right ridge of high pressure. If that ridge continues to strengthen, it's a game changer.

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Quoting PrivateIdaho:
Thanks, I will probably be taking you up on that offer. Another question, besides the obvious reasons....why build a hotrod golf cart?
Are you teeing me up? LOL. Because I could. That, and I have some latent childhood dreams. Seriously, I build and sell golf cars. I don't try to hot rod them all , but once in a while, something comes along that just works.
Member Since: July 23, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 12414

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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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