Ice storm cripples Houston; Yasi the 2nd costliest Australian storm on record

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 4:13 PM GMT on February 04, 2011

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A significant ice storm is in progress across southeast Texas, much of Louisiana, northern Mississippi, and southern Arkansas this morning, as the latest onslaught from the memorable winter of 2010 - 2011 continues. Houston, Texas recorded 1/10" - 1/4" inch of ice so far from the storm, resulting in a crippling of that city's transportation system. Numerous crashes have closed many area roads, and flights at local airports have been largely halted. Snowfalls of 1 - 3 inches will occur today along the northern edge of the ice storm region, in a swath from northeast Texas to western Kentucky. The storm will move into New England on Saturday, but will not bring heavy snow. The next chance for heavy snow occurs next Wednesday and Thursday, when the GFS model is predicting the formation of a winter storm capable of dropping a foot of snow in the Appalachians and inland areas of New England. However, it is too early to put much faith in this forecast.


Figure 1. Trees snapped off along the Chicago lakefront by winds from the Blizzard of 2011. Image credit: viewer uploaded photo from WGN.

Revisiting the Chicago blizzard
This week's blizzard in Chicago dropped 20.2" of snow on the city, Chicago's third-greatest snowstorm on record. But the tremendous winds that accompanied the blizzard--gusting to 61 mph at O'Hare Airport, and 70 mph at the Lakefront--made the storm Chicago's worst-ever blizzard as far as impacts on travel. Another remarkable feature of the storm were the intense thunderstorms that developed. According to an excellent write-up on the storm posted by the Chicago National Weather Service office, the Blizzard of 2011 had 63 lightning strikes, and several reports of hail. The most extraordinary hourly observation I've ever seen in a U.S. winter storm came at 9:51pm on February 1 at Chicago's Midway Field: A heavy thunderstorm with lightning, heavy snow, small hail or ice pellets, freezing fog, blowing snow, visibility 300 feet, a wind gust of 56 mph, and a temperature of 21°F. Welcome to the Midwest! Thanks go to meteorologist Steve Gregory for pointing this observation out to me.


Figure 2. Snow amounts from the February 1 - 3 blizzard of 2011 peaked at over 2 feet along the shore of Lake Michigan between Chicago and Milwaukee. Strong northeasterly winds pulled moist air off of the Lake in this region, allowing the "lake effect" to enhance the blizzard's snows in this region. Image credit: Chicago National Weather Service office.

Tropical Cyclone Yasi the second most damaging storm in Australia's history
Tropical Cyclone Yasi has dissipated, but the damage totals from the storm make it Australia's second most expensive tropical cyclone of all-time, according to Tropical Storm Risk, Inc. The storm's $3.5 billion price tag is second only to Cyclone Tracy, which hit Darwin on Christmas Day 1974, doing $3.6 billion in damage (2011 dollars.) Yasi roared inland over Queensland, Australia at 12:30am local time on Thursday as a strengthening Category 4 storm with 155 mph winds and a 930 mb central pressure. The cyclone missed the most populous cities on the coast, Cairns and Townsville, but damaged up to 90% of the buildings in the small towns near where the eye passed--Tully, Mission Beach, and Cardwell. A storm surge of 5.4 meters (17.7 feet) was observed at Cardwell, and there was substantial surge damage at the coast. Fortunately, the storm surge hit near low tide, resulting in a storm tide--the height of the water above land--of about 4.5 meters, more than 2 meters below what would have occurred had Yasi hit at high tide. Yasi moved quickly enough across Queensland after landfall so that major flooding was limited to just three locations near the coast. Yasi's central pressure of 930 mb at landfall made the storm the most intense recorded in Queensland since at least 1918, and possibly since 1899. In 1918, there were two cyclones (at Mackay and Innisfail) with measured pressures in the upper 920s/low 930s, but it is quite plausible that the minimum central pressures were lower than that. The 1899 (Mahina/Bathurst Bay) cyclone had a measured pressure (ship near shore) of 914 mb.


Figure 3. The tide gauge at Carwell, Australia during passage of Tropical Cyclone Yasi recorded a 5.4 meter (17.7') storm surge (red line). Since the surge came near low tide, the storm tide--the height of the surge above mean water--was only 4.5 meters (blue line). The storm tide would have been more than 2 meters higher had Yasi hit at high tide, and the damage from coastal flooding would have been huge. The green line shows the expected water levels at Cardwell due to the tide. Image credit: Queensland government.


Figure 4. Tropical Cyclone Yasi at 04:15 UTC February 3, 2011, as seen by NASA's Aqua satellite.

Jeff Masters

Yasi Damage Tully Nth Qld (AliHirst62)
Butler St Tully Nth Qld
Yasi Damage Tully Nth Qld
Chicago Blizzard 2011 (ChicagoMike)
Digging out....over 20 inches of snow and drifts in the 3 to 5 foot range.
Chicago Blizzard 2011
()
Snow Drifts in Central Missouri (tucktan)
Looking outside our front door in Columbia, MO.
Snow Drifts in Central Missouri
RoofShovel (luvne32)
Ice dams are forming, not good for water infiltrating walls
RoofShovel

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Is this correct?

Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 68 Comments: 25065
Quoting washingtonian115:
Wasn't last year the NAO negative all winter?,but we still had record sst?.


A negative NAO results in weaker trade winds because the Azores High is weaker, and thus SSTs generally get warmer, which is what we had last winter.. A positive NAO/AO (which we have right now) strengthens the high and thus the trade winds, cooling SSTs by evaporation and upwelling.
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Quoting Levi32:


It's a strong possibility as long as the AO is positive. Stronger trade winds almost always result.
Wasn't last year the NAO negative all winter?,but we still had record sst?.
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Humor is always good for everything....love it ! Thanks...and weather wise..come on sunshine..:)
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127. Skyepony (Mod)
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 161 Comments: 37165
Quoting Grothar:


Not necessarily.


It's a strong possibility as long as the AO is positive. Stronger trade winds almost always result.
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Quoting Skyepony:
Aussie~ The way Ex-Anthony held together, was amazing. It had hardly organized into a storm before landfall. Like it still had all that potential on reserve, paced across all that land, to dump rain on the far side. EX-Yasi looks hot on Ex-Anthony's path.

Yasi is going to dump 400mm+ on the border area of Northern territory and South Australia, she will then move through S.A and then cross into SW Western Australia then combine with a cold front and all that moisture will then be pushed towards Victoria and Southern New South Wales.

Some areas of Victoria, includig Melborne had almost 100mm in less that 30mins, hence the flash flooding you reported earlier.
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Quoting Levi32:
The stronger Azores High means SSTs west of Africa are likely to cool over the next month.



Not necessarily.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 68 Comments: 25065
Quoting AussieStorm:

A kid gave his teacher a blank piece of paper.
Teacher: What is this?
Kid: It's a drawing of a cow eating grass.
Teacher: (looked at the paper) Where's the grass?
Kid: The cow ate all of it.
...Teacher: (looked at the paper again)Then, where's the cow?
Kid: It left because there was no more grass.


LMAO.


Ps. Love the duck joke, Amy. How's the weather in So. California?
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122. Skyepony (Mod)
Aussie~ The way Ex-Anthony held together, was amazing. It had hardly organized into a storm before landfall. Like it still had all that potential on reserve, paced across all that land, to dump rain on the far side. EX-Yasi looks hot on Ex-Anthony's path.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 161 Comments: 37165
Quoting NRAamy:
a duck walks into a pharmacy to buy some chapstick...at the checkout counter, he says, "Just put it on my bill"....

Ha ha.Where'ed you find that one from??.
Quoting Levi32:
The stronger Azores High means SSTs west of Africa are likely to cool over the next month.

Thankgodness this isn't hurricane season.and I want to remind people that on may 15th officially starts of invest season.Or in that matter It can start off earlier.
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Quoting EnergyMoron:


Gro, it's just like my daughters tell me... if you try to ban hair dryers for environmental reasons only criminals will have them.


My, we've gone from weather experts to 2nd class Las Vegas Lounge acts with one liners. LOL I knew I liked you people for a reason.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 68 Comments: 25065
Quoting Grothar:


Gro, it's just like my daughters tell me... if you try to ban hair dryers for environmental reasons only criminals will have them.
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Quoting Barefootontherocks:


lol.

What do you get if you cross a parrot and a centipede?



A walkie talkie.

A kid gave his teacher a blank piece of paper.
Teacher: What is this?
Kid: It's a drawing of a cow eating grass.
Teacher: (looked at the paper) Where's the grass?
Kid: The cow ate all of it.
...Teacher: (looked at the paper again)Then, where's the cow?
Kid: It left because there was no more grass.
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a duck walks into a pharmacy to buy some chapstick...at the checkout counter, he says, "Just put it on my bill"....

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Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 68 Comments: 25065
The stronger Azores High means SSTs west of Africa are likely to cool over the next month.

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Quoting beell:
What did one snowman say to the other snowman?

I smell carrots!


lol.

What do you get if you cross a parrot and a centipede?



A walkie talkie.
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Quoting beell:
What did one snowman say to the other snowman?

I smell carrots!


I'm sorry to admit it, but that is funny!
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 68 Comments: 25065
Quoting Skyepony:
Australia, no where near Yasi...

Dozens of people have had to be rescued as a super-cell thunderstorm lashes Victoria, causing widespread flash flooding. The State Emergency Service (SES) has rescued 49 people from raging floodwaters and more than 1,600 people have called for help. Crews helped a woman and her two young children when their car became trapped in a flash flood at Mildura. Firefighters have rescued a girl who was clinging to a tree branch after being swept away at Ashwood, in Melbourne's east. And At Mulgrave, the fire brigade was called to assist a disabled man in a wheelchair who got stuck in water up to his hips. Deb Mitchell from the Commercial Hotel in Werribee, in Melbourne's outer-west, says the pub is flooded. "The drains overflowed, they just couldn't cope with the amount of water and all the water flooded right in through our sports bar area, flooded all the carpet and also in our kitchen the bistro had not long opened but we had to close because it was raining in our bistro," she said. SES spokesman Lachlan Quick says the situation is set to worsen. "Certainly across Mildura and other parts of north-western victoria we've had significant flash flooding due to these thunderstorms," he said. "We expect that situation to worsen before it improves. There will be significant rainfall occurring from midnight tonight and that will got through till midnight tomorrow night. more here...

All from Ex-TC Anthony that hit Bowen(just south of Townsville) on Sunday night.
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Quoting bappit:

I thought if you want change then you are not a conservative.


My parents always tell me about WW II and the conservation measures that occurred :).

I suppose it is a change from our societal ethos of waste, consumption, and out-of-control debt (the conservative version known as "borrow and spend").
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Quoting HopquickSteve:
Basically we're screwed. 20" during blizzard. 4" more today. Snow chance as far as the eye can see...

HAZARDOUS WEATHER OUTLOOK
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE TULSA OK
451 PM CST FRI FEB 4 2011

ARZ001-002-010-011-019-020-029-OKZ049-053>076-051100-
ADAIR OK-BENTON AR-CARROLL AR-CHEROKEE OK-CHOCTAW OK-CRAIG OK-CRAWFORD AR-CREEK OK-DELAWARE OK-FRANKLIN AR-HASKELL OK-LATIMER OK-LE FLORE OK-MADISON AR-MAYES OK-MCINTOSH OK-MUSKOGEE OK-NOWATA OK-OKFUSKEE OK-OKMULGEE OK-OSAGE OK-OTTAWA OK-PAWNEE OK-PITTSBURG OK-PUSHMATAHA OK-ROGERS OK-SEBASTIAN AR-SEQUOYAH OK-TULSA OK-WAGONER OK-WASHINGTON OK-WASHINGTON AR-
451 PM CST FRI FEB 4 2011


...SNOW ENDING THIS EVENING AND OVERNIGHT...


THIS OUTLOOK IS FOR NORTHWEST AND WEST CENTRAL ARKANSAS AS WELL AS
MUCH OF EASTERN OKLAHOMA.

.DAY ONE...REST OF TONIGHT.

WINTER WEATHER.
SNOW ACCUMULATION.
RISK...LIMITED.
AREA...EASTERN OKLAHOMA AND WESTERN ARKANSAS.
ONSET...ONGOING.

DISCUSSION...
AN ADDITIONAL 1 TO 2 INCHES OF SNOW ACCUMULATION IS POSSIBLE
ACROSS THE REGION THIS EVENING. THE UPPER LOW RESPONSIBLE FOR THE
CURRENT SNOWFALL WILL CONTINUE MOVING OUT OF THE REGION
OVERNIGHT... WITH SNOW ENDING GENERALLY FROM SOUTH TO NORTH. A WINTER
STORM WARNING AND A WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY ARE IN EFFECT THROUGH
THIS EVENING FOR MUCH OF THE AREA.

SPOTTER AND EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT ACTION STATEMENT...
SPOTTER ACTIVATION NOT EXPECTED.

.DAYS TWO THROUGH SEVEN...SATURDAY THROUGH THURSDAY.
SATURDAY...WINTER WEATHER POTENTIAL.
SUNDAY...WINTER WEATHER POTENTIAL.
MONDAY...WINTER WEATHER POTENTIAL.
TUESDAY...WINTER WEATHER POTENTIAL...DANGEROUS WIND CHILL POTENTIAL.
WEDNESDAY...WINTER WEATHER POTENTIAL...DANGEROUS WIND CHILL POTENTIAL.

THURSDAY...DANGEROUS WIND CHILL POTENTIAL.


Seems this brush with winter is turning into a longer-lasting event in the Norman Forecast Area as well. In the first go round, you got a lot more snow than I did. Your 20" was record-setting!
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Quoting beell:
What did one snowman say to the other snowman?

I smell carrots!

Thank you. I will pass the pain along.
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104. beell 4:39 PM PST on February 04, 2011
What did one snowman say to the other snowman?

I smell carrots!



:)
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Odd how those trees at the Chicago waterfront blew down in all different directions.
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And this, is most definitely a negative PDO pattern, finally:

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Quoting JFLORIDA:

Why we subsidize oil and gas at all is beyond me.



Thanks for the link; here it is again

Subsidies

I had been wondering what the correct figure for oil and gas subsidies is in the US and that number is believable.

Much of that is royalty relief

Royalty relief

Exxon and Kerr McGee (successfully) sued to keep their royalty relief, others surrendered it, since, as the article says, "Under the current environment, we don't need royalty relief."

Now, you are correct; we need to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies NOW (the IEA, International Energy Agency, also agrees).

0.5% of oil and gas is subsidized (get rid of it, I agree, and am in the business)

6.7% of coal is subsidized. Coal is the most polluting fossil fuel. Please stop this.

A quarter of ethanol (nearly 5 billion dollars a year) is subsidized and even Al Gore has seen the light and repented of this nonsense that he helped to bring about.

But now let's get to the bottom of this.

We also need to get rid of the LIHEAP program.

True to form, Congressional Republicans are targetting the 2 billion or so low income weatherization program and are not targeting LIHEAP...

But if you want to address AGW and stop subsidizing wasteful fossil fuel use...

Put 5 billion into low income weatherization and end LIHEAP (and still save 2 billion bucks).

BTW, wrt to the debt, the Texas Comptroller, whose office wrote that report, did run for governor in 2006 warning the state that it sat on a ticking time bomb... she was correct.
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104. beell
What did one snowman say to the other snowman?

I smell carrots!
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Of short-term interest is the GFS forecasting a 0.5C drop in global temperature during the next 8 days. It will be interesting to see if a global model can successfully predict a short-term trend in global temperature.

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Quoting EnergyMoron:
This conservative says that conservation should be a conservative value and I am totally disgusted by the rhetoric surrounding this incident.

So, how much do you pay in a month in electricity anyway? For me (without taking into account the panels), 30$ last month... Conservatives should also conserve money... over 1/2 of the electricity in Texas is wasted anyway which would be an excellent way of abating this problem!


I thought if you want change then you are not a conservative--unless you want to change things back to the way they were.
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come up with better insults than that.

I'm biting my tongue and sitting on my typing fingers.....
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Quoting caneswatch:


It's true though LOL


Double shhhhhhhh! Why is the blog so quiet? Poker night? Come on, even the arguments aren't decent tonight. You can all come up with better insults than that.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 68 Comments: 25065
WU Redesign Update Blog
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
The MEI went down a bit for February:

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Basically we're screwed. 20" during blizzard. 4" more today. Snow chance as far as the eye can see...

HAZARDOUS WEATHER OUTLOOK
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE TULSA OK
451 PM CST FRI FEB 4 2011

ARZ001-002-010-011-019-020-029-OKZ049-053>076-051100-
ADAIR OK-BENTON AR-CARROLL AR-CHEROKEE OK-CHOCTAW OK-CRAIG OK-CRAWFORD AR-CREEK OK-DELAWARE OK-FRANKLIN AR-HASKELL OK-LATIMER OK-LE FLORE OK-MADISON AR-MAYES OK-MCINTOSH OK-MUSKOGEE OK-NOWATA OK-OKFUSKEE OK-OKMULGEE OK-OSAGE OK-OTTAWA OK-PAWNEE OK-PITTSBURG OK-PUSHMATAHA OK-ROGERS OK-SEBASTIAN AR-SEQUOYAH OK-TULSA OK-WAGONER OK-WASHINGTON OK-WASHINGTON AR-
451 PM CST FRI FEB 4 2011


...SNOW ENDING THIS EVENING AND OVERNIGHT...


THIS OUTLOOK IS FOR NORTHWEST AND WEST CENTRAL ARKANSAS AS WELL AS
MUCH OF EASTERN OKLAHOMA.

.DAY ONE...REST OF TONIGHT.

WINTER WEATHER.
SNOW ACCUMULATION.
RISK...LIMITED.
AREA...EASTERN OKLAHOMA AND WESTERN ARKANSAS.
ONSET...ONGOING.

DISCUSSION...
AN ADDITIONAL 1 TO 2 INCHES OF SNOW ACCUMULATION IS POSSIBLE
ACROSS THE REGION THIS EVENING. THE UPPER LOW RESPONSIBLE FOR THE
CURRENT SNOWFALL WILL CONTINUE MOVING OUT OF THE REGION
OVERNIGHT... WITH SNOW ENDING GENERALLY FROM SOUTH TO NORTH. A WINTER
STORM WARNING AND A WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY ARE IN EFFECT THROUGH
THIS EVENING FOR MUCH OF THE AREA.

SPOTTER AND EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT ACTION STATEMENT...
SPOTTER ACTIVATION NOT EXPECTED.

.DAYS TWO THROUGH SEVEN...SATURDAY THROUGH THURSDAY.
SATURDAY...WINTER WEATHER POTENTIAL.
SUNDAY...WINTER WEATHER POTENTIAL.
MONDAY...WINTER WEATHER POTENTIAL.
TUESDAY...WINTER WEATHER POTENTIAL...DANGEROUS WIND CHILL POTENTIAL.
WEDNESDAY...WINTER WEATHER POTENTIAL...DANGEROUS WIND CHILL POTENTIAL.

THURSDAY...DANGEROUS WIND CHILL POTENTIAL.
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Gosh, JFLORIDA,
Your ability to take several totally unrelated topics and craft them into a meaningful cohesive statement that exposes the root of all evil would make any mother proud.

Slow night?
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Redesign Update Blog
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Its been movin up, near 6 now. We don't need any other issues in Dallas with the power !



From here ~~~

http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/

L8R ~~~~
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Quoting SouthDadeFish:
Those maps are nearly a month apart.

As DontAnnoyMe pointed out more than that. Okay, mea culpa. ;-) Here you go, with the difference between this year and last still quite evident:

Last year:
Appropriate tropical weather-related image.

This year:
Appropriate tropical weather-related image.
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Quoting Cochise111:
Did you hear that Texas is having to have rolling energy blackouts because they spent billions on wind energy instead of nuclear power? There's one problem with wind power: when the wind doesn't blow, you have no power. Wonder if they are going to revisit their investment.


Uh....

Wind performed as planned. From

Texas Wind Performance

“Wind energy played a major role in keeping the blackouts from becoming more severe. Between 5 and 7 A.M. this morning (the peak of the electricity shortage) wind was providing between 3,500 and 4,000 MW, roughly the amount it had been forecast and scheduled to provide. That is about 7% of the state’s total electricity demand at that time, or enough for about 3 million average homes.”

Since there is not enough transmission capability they were not producing at full capacity.

My solar panels outdid expectations for a cloudy day and generated about 20 kWH for the day.

There are already articles out there in the extreme right blogosphere blaming this on Obama. This conservative says that conservation should be a conservative value and I am totally disgusted by the rhetoric surrounding this incident.

So, how much do you pay in a month in electricity anyway? For me (without taking into account the panels), 30$ last month... Conservatives should also conserve money... over 1/2 of the electricity in Texas is wasted anyway which would be an excellent way of abating this problem!

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Quoting Grothar:
Got to watch the very end of this video.

Link

Real life mayhem on the highway. Jack knifed 18 wheeler takes out a mini-van/suv and both come across a sunken median (not a straight shot) into oncoming lanes of traffic. Quite scary.
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Quoting DontAnnoyMe:


1/1/10 - 1/31/11 = I year, 1 month.
Of course they're a year apart, but it was an analog of two years, so I just assumed we all knew that ;) I was referring to the date of the month.
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Quoting Grothar:


shhhh!


It's true though LOL
Member Since: October 8, 2008 Posts: 14 Comments: 4553
Quoting bayoubug:
Is the next cold push colder then the last one...

I want to know if it will be as persistent.
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Did you hear that Texas is having to have rolling energy blackouts because they spent billions on wind energy instead of nuclear power? There's one problem with wind power: when the wind doesn't blow, you have no power. Wonder if they are going to revisit their investment.
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Quoting islander101010:
notice how quiet florida has been


shhhh!
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 68 Comments: 25065
QUOTE: Famous last words? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Friday, the 4th of February, 2011

Sydney is in the middle of a record heatwave at the moment, with five consecutive days so far where the temperature exceeded 30 degress C in the city. It's substantially hotter out West where I live, ranging from 37 to 42. The hot days are bad enough, but the hot nights are the worst part. Last night it was 28 degrees when I woke to leave for work at 6am. The forecast is for a cool change to come through next week, but in the meantime the city is slowly filling with zombies as more and more Sydney-siders endure hot, sweaty, sleepless nights.

Mind you, our homes have not been flooded by heavy rains, nor smashed by cyclonic winds, nor gutted by raging bushfires, so all things considered we really have nothing to complain about. That's not going to stop us complaining though.

-- David C. Simon
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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.