Groundhog's Day blizzard pounds U.S.; Category 4 Yasi hits Australia

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:50 PM GMT on February 02, 2011

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The great Groundhog's Day Blizzard of 2011 continues to pound a huge swath of the U.S. with heavy snows, destructive freezing rain, and dangerously cold and windy conditions. Over 1/2” of ice has caused power outages in Indianapolis, and up to .9” of ice has hit Columbus, Ohio. Ice amounts in excess of 1/2” have also affected Illinois, Connecticut, New Jersey New York, and Pennsylvania. Blizzard conditions continue in Chicago, where heavy snows of up to two inches per hour in high winds have crippled the city's transportation system. As of 9am CST this morning, Chicago's O'Hare Airport had received 19.5” of snow, making it city's third greatest snowstorm on record. Only the January 2 - 4 1999 blizzard (21.6") and January 2 – 4, 1967 blizzard (23”) have dumped more snow on Chicago. Today's blizzard had stronger winds than Chicago's other two record snowstorms, and thus this storm is probably the worst snowstorm ever to affect the city, as far as impacts on travel go. Huge drifts in excess of 6 feet are common in the city, and residents are finding it difficult to leave their houses, much less travel on area roads. Winds last night at Chicago's Calumet Harbor were sustained at tropical storm force, 39 mph, with gusts to 51 mph, and high winds tore off part of a fiberboard roof panel behind home plate at Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs. The Chicago buoy, 10 miles offshore in Lake Michigan, had sustained winds of 54 mph, gusting to 66 mph, last night. Winds are slowly decreasing across Chicago, and the blizzard will be over by early afternoon.


Figure 1. Lake Shore Drive in downtown Chicago on the night of February 1, 2011. Image credit: Viewer uploaded photo from WGN.

According to the National Weather Service, since snow records began in 1886 in Chicago, there have been 43 winter storms that produced 10 inches or more of snow. A 10 inch snow occurs about once every 3 years. A 15 inch snow occurs only once about every 20 years. The closest back to back 10 inch
snows were March 25-26 and April 1-2, 1970 (6 days apart). The longest period of time without a 10 inch snow or greater was February 12, 1981 to January 1, 1999 (almost 18 years). The earliest 10 inch snow was November 25-26, 1895 and the latest 10 inch snow was April 1-2, 1970. The most recent 10 inch snow was January 9-10, 2009.

Chicago's 10 biggest Snowstorms:

1. 23.0 inches Jan 26-27, 1967
2. 21.6 inches Jan 1-3, 1999
3. 19.5 inches Feb 1-2, 2011
4. 19.2 inches Mar 25-26, 1930
5. 18.8 inches Jan 13-14, 1979
6. 16.2 inches Mar 7-8, 1931
7. 15.0 inches Dec 17-20, 1929
8. 14.9 inches Jan 30, 1939
9. 14.9 inches Jan 6-7, 1918
10. 14.3 inches Mar 25-26, 1970

The great storm's fury now turns to New England. Boston received 9.7” of snow as of 7am from the storm, and another 4 – 8” is on the way today. Heavy snows in excess of 6 inches are expected in a swath extending from central New York through Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine today. Up to 1/4” of ice is expected through New England along the southern edge of the heavy snow belt. Cities near the coast such as New York City and Philadelphia will receive mostly rain from the storm, though.

Some selected snowfall totals from the Groundhog's Day Blizzard of 2011, as of 9am EST:

Spring Grove, IL 20.8”
Miami, OK 20”
Jefferson City, MO 18.3”
S. Fort Scott, KS 18”
Tulsa, OK 15”
Schenectady, NY 9.6”
Boston, MA 9.7”
Detroit, MI 7.5”
Oklahoma City, OK 7”
West Hartford, CT 6.5”
Abilene, TX 6”
Cedar Rapids, IA 4.5”


Figure 2. Satellite image of the Groundhog's Day Blizzard of 2011, taken at 10am EST February 2. Image credit: NASA/GSFC.

Category 4 Tropical Cyclone Yasi hits Queensland, Australia
Tropical Cyclone Yasi roared inland over Queensland, Australia at 12:30am local time this morning as a strengthening Category 4 storm with 155 mph winds and a 930 mb central pressure. Yasi is incredibly strong, its winds falling just 5 mph short of Category 5 status. This makes the storm one of the top-ten strongest cyclones to hit Australia since accurate records began in 1970.

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology had this to say about Yasi in their advisory last night:

YASI IS A LARGE AND VERY POWERFUL TROPICAL CYCLONE AND POSES AN
EXTREMELY SERIOUS THREAT TO LIFE AND PROPERTY WITHIN THE WARNING AREA,
ESPECIALLY BETWEEN CAIRNS AND TOWNSVILLE.

THIS IMPACT IS LIKELY TO BE MORE LIFE THREATENING THAN ANY EXPERIENCED DURING RECENT GENERATIONS.


Figure 3. Tropical Cyclone Yasi at 03:35 UTC February 2, 2011, as seen by NASA's Aqua satellite.

On Wednesday morning at 9:30am local time, Yasi hit tiny Willis Island, where a minimum pressure of 938 mb and a peak wind gust of 115 mph was observed before Yasi cut communications and damaged the radar.

Queensland faces three major threats from Yasi. The cyclone will bring torrential rainfall to a region with saturated soils that saw record flooding earlier this month. The latest rainfall forecast from NOAA using satellite-based rainfall estimates shows 4 – 6” of rain falling along Yasi's track over the next 24 hours. The GFS model is predicting that a wide swath of Queensland will receive 5 - 10 inches of rain over the next week, due to the combined effects of Yasi and a moist flow of tropical air over the region. Fortunately, Yasi is moving with a rapid forward speed, about 21 mph, and is not expected to linger over Queensland after landfall. The heaviest rainfall will miss Queensland's most populated regions to the south that had the worst flooding problems earlier this month, including the Australia's third largest city, Brisbane.

Yasi brought highly destructive winds to a region of coast between the cities of Cairns (population 150,000) and Townsville (population 200,000). Strong building codes have been in place in Queensland since the 1960s, which will help reduce the damage amounts. The fact that Yasi's eyewall missed these two major cities is lucky, since the coast is less populous between the cities.

A dangerous storm surge in excess of ten feet likely occurred along the left front quadrant of the storm where it came ashore. The tidal was going out when the storm struck, and the inundation from the storm surge will be about 1 meter (3 feet) less than it would have been had the storm hit at high tide.

Yasi is larger and more dangerous than Cyclone Larry of 2006, which hit Queensland as a Category 4 storm with 135 mph winds. Larry killed one person and caused $872 million in damage (2011 U.S. dollars.) Yasi will bring heavy rains to a region with soils already saturated from record rains, and may become a billion-dollar cyclone.


Figure 4. Radar image of Tropical Cyclone Yasi at landfall in Queensland, Australia. Image credit: Australian Bureau of Meteorology.

Links to follow:

Live streaming video from Channel 9 in Cairns, Australia

A new look for wunderground
The Weather Underground was the first commercial weather company to set up an Internet web site, way back in 1995. In the sixteen years since, we've steadily expanded our content, but today—in honor of Groundhog's Day—we've launched our first major site re-design. The WunderPress blog has a introduction to the new site, including a slide show that explains the new layout. You can click through the demo by hitting the “>” button. The launch of the redesigned wunderground.com also features our unique forecasting technology, BestForecast. Utilizing Weather Underground's network of personal weather stations (the largest in the world), BestForecast provides the industry's most localized weather forecasts by producing a forecast for every place in the world that has an airport or personal weather station—over 19,000 locations worldwide. We also provide the latest National Weather Service forecast for each county in the U.S., so users can choose which forecast works best for them. Coming soon: verification statistics, so you can see exactly how well the forecasts are doing for your location. We realize that not everyone will be happy with the newly redesigned site, so we still offer the old design at classic.wunderground.com.

Jeff Masters

BLIZZARD! (farmerjen)
Blizzard in SE Kansas. The bird bath will be swallowed by nightfall for sure...
BLIZZARD!
Windswept (jadnash)
A desolate stretch of highway 32 in NE Nebraska
Windswept
School's Out! (jadnash)
A wild bus ride home today! High winds and heavy snow in NE Nebraska. Can't believe I'm actually out here driving, much less snapping pictures...
School's Out!
2011 Chicago Blizzard (weatherzoid1)
2011 Chicago Blizzard

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Looking at GOES WV ...a lot of moisture moving up...
Member Since: September 16, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1492
Pat, any reports based on Skype or such. Anything you are able to post?
Member Since: November 15, 2005 Posts: 16 Comments: 4189
239. IKE
02/02/2011 0310 PM

University of sout, Mobile County.

Sleet u0.00 inch, reported by public.


            Light to moderate sleet reported on the USA Campus




02/02/2011 0230 PM

Mobile Airport, Mobile County.

Sleet u0.00 inch, reported by official NWS obs.


            Light sleet at Mobile regional Airport




02/02/2011 0300 PM

Airport and univerla, Mobile County.

Sleet u0.00 inch, reported by NWS employee.


            Sleet reported in west Mobile on Airport Blvd
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Patrap:
The NOLA Local TWC Radar went PinK in a Big way last few frames.

Is any of that actually reaching the ground, there, Pat?
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Quoting Grothar:


I don't think they are sliding off. I think they are just hidden. LOL Just go to "Tools" and the top of your brower and click on "Compatability View" it should reset itself. Don't like this new revised blog at all.


I've had a few comments as well that are getting cut off, so I tried your compatibility view suggestion and it didn't change anything for me. Ah well, I am pretty sure I can figure out what it's cutting off. I don't think I'm missing enough to bother changing to the "classic" view. (And before anyone asks, I'm using IE and not gonna change to Chrome or Firefox. Why? Because.)
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Getting some HAM reports in E-mail of cell Phone Video.

Bad,Super Impact..
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 420 Comments: 127512
It seems that the only places not feeling the weather, Pat, are South Florida and California. Beyond that, everyone is hating this winter.
Member Since: November 15, 2005 Posts: 16 Comments: 4189
234. IKE
Statement as of 2:40 PM CST on February 02, 2011


... Winter Weather Advisory in effect from 6 PM this evening to
6 PM CST Thursday...

The National Weather Service in Mobile has issued a Winter
Weather Advisory for portions of interior southeast
Mississippi and southwestern and south central Alabama and is in
effect from 6 PM this evening to 6 PM CST Thursday.

Very cold surface based Arctic air and strong wind energy in the jet
stream aloft will work in concert to produce a period of freezing
rain developing later tonight and enduring through late Thursday
afternoon.

Currently this afternoon... there have already been some reports of
sleet around the region. This same area of precipitation will further expand
over our region tonight. The precipitation will likely begin as a
period of sleet late tonight over interior southeastern Mississippi
and interior southwest Alabama and develop northeastward as the
night progresses to be approximately north of a line from Perkinston
Mississippi to Citronelle... Appleton... Andalusia and Brantley
in Alabama.

We must emphasize the NWS expects the wintry precipitation to begin
as sleet and then change over to freezing rain as the night
progresses. The most intense precipitation rates are still expected
around sunrise and will endure through tomorrow afternoon. Up to
roughly fifteen hundredths of an inch of liquid equivalent rainfall
could occur... and this will create a light to moderate glaze accrual
especially on bridges and overpasses. Less than a half inch of sleet
is expected at the onset of the precipitation and before it changes
to freezing rain.

Precautionary/preparedness actions...

A Winter Weather Advisory for freezing rain means that less than a
quarter of an inch of freezing rain will occur in a twelve hour
period and this will act to create a light to moderate frozen glaze
on exposed objects... particularly metal objects... bridges and
overpasses. This may bring down limbs on trees.
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Damage extensive in Mission Beach

Petrina Berry
February 3, 2011 - 8:29AM


Damage extensive in Mission Beach
Petrina Berry
February 3, 2011 - 8:29AM



AAP

The scene at Cyclone Yasi's ground zero is one of devastation, but even police who bunkered down at Mission Beach don't know just how bad it is.

Police who endured Yasi's fury in the town that took a direct hit say trees had been reduced to sticks, streets were littered with debris, and some buildings had been damaged.

But conditions are still too dangerous in the wake of the category five monster to allow even a cursory assessment of the damage.
Advertisement: Story continues below

"Around 10pm (AEST) there was this massive roar and we could hear vegetation being shredded to pieces," officer in charge Sergeant Dan Gallagher told AAP about 6am (AEST).

But he said the police station had protected all the officers and a handful of locals who also sought refuge there, including a couple and their 18-month-old baby girl.

"We've been in lockdown since 7pm (on Wednesday). It's still roaring out there but nothing what it was like last night," he said.

"The station is pretty solid and its held up really well.

"I have never been through anything as severe as this but we were all positive and supportive and got each other through this.

"We're happy. We all have a smile on our faces and can say 'we got through this'."

When the eye of the cyclone passed over Mission Beach, bringing almost an hour's reprieve from its winds, put at up to 290km/h, the officers did a quick scout of the station grounds.

"Vegetation has been reduced to sticks. A lot of trees are down and one police house was damaged," Sgt Gallagher said.

"But we haven't been able to go further. It's too dangerous.

"Powerlines are down but I'm expecting extensive damage."

In total the station provided a safe haven for the seven officers, a paramedic, seven adults, 10 children, 10 dogs, a bird and two fish.

The children seemed to relish in what they saw as an unusual slumber party, playing games of cricket and eating loads of food.

"It's still very windy out there but as soon as it's safe to do so we will be on the streets assessing the damage," Sgt Gallagher, 39, said.

He said there'd been no reports of local fatalities or injuries.

A further 70 locals spent the night at Elandra Resort which has been built to withstand cyclones.

Resort general manager David Brook said the area now looked like "Vietnam (in the war movie) Apocalypse Now".

Trees are down, cars have been swept away, roofs have been torn away and the sand on the beach has disappeared, Mr Brook said.

"Nothing's been spared," he told ABC Radio/

"The devastation is phenomenal, like nothing I've ever experienced," he said, noting that he's seen at least five cyclones hit the area over the past 20 years.

© 2011 AAP
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 420 Comments: 127512
Mission beach and Tully apparently got the worst of it, there is power out everywhere as can be taken with a storm this size. Most weather stations were wiped out and because of that were sending out false readings, the tv stations that are able to broadcast are doing so via skype. So that gives you an idea of how bad it is, this is all from a friend who lives in Northern Queensland and I am able to talk to using another app.
Member Since: November 15, 2005 Posts: 16 Comments: 4189
The NOLA Local TWC Radar went PinK in a Big way last few frames.

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 420 Comments: 127512
walked by tv and Sheppard Smith on FOX was talking about total anarchy in Egypt, that the government has been overthrown...
Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 1 Comments: 9628
Quoting Neapolitan:

You mean the tally that shows that, despite Blow Jastardi's breathless predictions that the month would be the coldest out of the last 300, and in spite of a few cold blasts--Jan. 8-14, Jan. 21-25--there were still more record daily highs than record daily lows in January? Yeah, that's me. ;-)

It's true that, yes, record lows outnumbered record highs yesterday--for the first time in a week. (In fact, even factoring in yesterday, over the past seven days, record daily highs and high minimums have outnumbered record daily lows and low minimums 325 to 80.) Of course, there will likely be many more record cold temps today--but that's usually how it is in the dead of winter, no?

Bastardi has started to measuring global temperatures in a new way. He now use the GFS model instead of Roy Spencer's site! ;) Link
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Apparently there is going to be some sort of news statement made by Premier Bligh in an hour or so depending on what information she is able to obtain from mayors across the continent.
Member Since: November 15, 2005 Posts: 16 Comments: 4189
Quoting BahaHurican:
Hmmmm....

Anybody else noticing some of the comments just sliding off the right side of the blog page? A video that is only 3/4 on the page?

Afternoon all, BTW... :o)


I don't think they are sliding off. I think they are just hidden. LOL Just go to "Tools" and the top of your brower and click on "Compatability View" it should reset itself. Don't like this new revised blog at all.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 68 Comments: 25287
Quoting BahaHurican:
Hmmmm....

Anybody else noticing some of the comments just sliding off the right side of the blog page? A video that is only 3/4 on the page?

Afternoon all, BTW... :o)


Time to stop sipping on grandpa's cough medicine. ;)

Apparently some browsers are having issues rendering everything 100% correctly.
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Quoting Tazmanian:




not march whats up with the new blog look loooks like we got a oh new site


Well someone young like you will probably not have any trouble navigating, but some of us are sticking to the original ,classic version...for now anyway. It's a touchy subject, if you know what I mean....:)
Member Since: September 16, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1492
Hmmmm....

Anybody else noticing some of the comments just sliding off the right side of the blog page? A video that is only 3/4 on the page?

Afternoon all, BTW... :o)
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Quoting EYEStoSEA:


Hi Taz...what's the weather in CA ?




not march whats up with the new blog look loooks like we got a oh new site
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Winter Storm Watch posted for Houston
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 420 Comments: 127512
Quoting Tazmanian:
my eyes


Hi Taz...what's the weather in CA ?
Member Since: September 16, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1492
YAY a new blog look
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my eyes
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:


1.5+" of Ice is what I was talking about. Only got like 3-4 inches of Snow here.
I see. Sry, I misunderstood.
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See were already freezing during the day so I think were in big trouble down here once the preicip falls, might be a skating rink out here
Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 1 Comments: 9628
Slain,or Snizzle Now with some small flakes..
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 420 Comments: 127512
Quoting plywoodstatenative:
Whats the deal with the second blast supposedly coming out of the Canadian region next week, are models still hitting on that forming and if so, will it be as bad or worse than what we are seeing across the Midwest to East coast?


Models still show an arctic blast coming down with Snow, Sleet, and Ice. This time, they should it reaching all the down to the Gulf Coast. The storm wouldn't be as the one we just/are experiencing.
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Quoting RitaEvac:
repost those pics again, they're on last page now tropicalanaylsis




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aquak9: and I'm not driving to Macon to see rain mixed with snow...yuck! A friend of mine remembers several inches of snow in 1989 west of Jacksonville. Just be glad you don't live in Jacksonville IL!
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Quoting RitaEvac:
They're talking a bout 1/4 to 1/2 inch of ice with heavy rain at times and sleet and snow accumalations of 1-3" what the hell does that look like anybody?


1/4-1/2" Ice is enough to cover sidewalks and cars, not likely the roads, but its possible...1 inch of snow will cover your grass and car, 3 inches will cover the grass, car, and roads.
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repost those pics again, they're on last page now tropicalanaylsis
Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 1 Comments: 9628
Quoting atmoaggie:
1.5 feet or 1.5 inches?

~1.5 feet in Tulsa:


1.5+" of Ice is what I was talking about. Only got like 3-4 inches of Snow here.
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We have sleet here in Saraland,Alabama. I didn't know we where expecting anything like this, it's just here and there. Very surprising.
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Whats the deal with the second blast supposedly coming out of the Canadian region next week, are models still hitting on that forming and if so, will it be as bad or worse than what we are seeing across the Midwest to East coast?
Member Since: November 15, 2005 Posts: 16 Comments: 4189
Why is the blog cutting off some of the right side of the post?
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They're talking a bout 1/4 to 1/2 inch of ice with heavy rain at times and sleet and snow accumalations of 1-3" what the hell does that look like anybody?
Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 1 Comments: 9628
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:



1.5 feet or 1.5 inches?

~1.5 feet in Tulsa:
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Quoting EYEStoSEA:


Oh my,my,my.....I'll trade ya some ice pellets for some of that :)


No thanks, you really don't want it anyways...Trust me, you don't ;)
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Information from a friend who lives in North Queensland that basically the Banana industry from what she can see is gone. Thats all the information I am getting.
Member Since: November 15, 2005 Posts: 16 Comments: 4189
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:





Oh my,my,my.....I'll trade ya some ice pellets for some of that :)
Member Since: September 16, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1492
Hey Pat and Atmo,

Indeed it is... As y'all know, can't let the green colors fool ya, and those yellows are concentrated bursts of sleet, sending your way for your enjoyment!

I can confirm, had light sleet mixed with stray flurry or two drifting slantwise in the dance at 2 PM for about 15 minutes... Wheeee, I like the "tink, tink" on a tin roof, lol...

Rest coming behind this might be da cold rain ugliness... LOL, was fun while lasted... ;)
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Quoting aquak9:
unfortunately, surfside, I am only three miles from the atlantic....there's not an iceberg's chance in hell of it snowing here


LOLOL
Member Since: September 16, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1492
Quoting Patrap:
No rain,,no thing but sleet,

Dog is Like,,Yo?

Plus all these Slate Roofs and all make a Wicked noise as well.

Just got a call from a friend in Metairie. They said its sneauxing...
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:


Wanna see what 1.5+" looks like?



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unfortunately, surfside, I am only three miles from the atlantic....there's not an iceberg's chance in hell of it snowing here
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We just had sleet in Biloxi! Could be interesting come tomorrow.
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Quoting aquak9:
surfside- bring your bathing suit and we can dance together


yippeee!
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Quoting RitaEvac:
Ice Storm for coastal counties of TX, possible downed power lines and tree limbs, ice could be thick as 1/2" which is plenty to cause damage.


Wanna see what 1.5+" looks like?
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Taco bell sprinklers had been on at one time at lunch, there was ice all over the plants and grass, the concrete and metal hand rails
Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 1 Comments: 9628
No rain,,no thing but sleet,

Dog is Like,,Yo?

Plus all these Slate Roofs and all make a Wicked noise as well.

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 420 Comments: 127512
surfside- bring your bathing suit and we can dance together
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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.