Favorable winds over Japan carrying radioactivity out to sea

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:16 PM GMT on March 16, 2011

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If there is going to be a major nuclear disaster with massive release of radioactivity into the atmosphere from Japan's stricken Fukushima nuclear plant, today would be the best day meteorologically for this to occur. The low pressure system that brought rain and several inches of snow to Japan yesterday has moved northeastwards out to sea, and high pressure is building in. The clockwise flow of air around the high pressure system approaching Japan from the southwest is driving strong northwesterly winds of 10 - 20 mph over the region. These winds will continue through Thursday, and will take radiation particles emitted by the stricken reactors immediately out to sea, without lingering over Japan. Since high pressure systems are regions of sinking air, the radiation will stay close to the ocean surface as the air spirals clockwise over the Pacific. The contaminated air will remain over the ocean for at least five days, which is plenty of time for the radiation to settle out to the surface.


Figure 1. Surface weather map for 8am EDT today, taken from the 6-hour forecast from this morning's 6 UTC run of the GFS model. A high pressure system to the southwest of Japan, in combination with a low pressure system to the northeast are driving strong northwesterly surface winds over the country. Image is from our wundermap with the "Model" layer turned on. The lines are sea-level pressure (blue contours, 4 mb interval) and 1000 to 500 mb thickness (yellow contours, 60 m interval). Thickness is a measure of the temperature of the lower atmosphere, and a thickness of 5400 meters is usually close to where the dividing line between rain and snow occurs.

Thursday night and Friday morning (U.S. time), the high pressure system moves over Japan, allowing winds to weaken and potentially grow calm, increasing the danger of radioactivity building up over regions near and to the north of the nuclear plant. On Friday, the high departs and a moist southwesterly flow of air will affect Japan. These southwesterly winds will blow most of the radiation out to sea, away from Tokyo. Southwesterly winds will continue through Sunday, when the next major low pressure system is expected to bring heavy precipitation to the country. Beginning Thursday night, the sinking airmass over Japan will be replaced a large-scale area of rising air, and any radiation emitted late Thursday through Friday will be carried aloft towards Alaska and eastern Russia by this southwesterly flow of rising air.

Ground-level releases of radioactivity are typically not able to be transported long distances in significant quantities, since most of the material settles to the ground a few kilometers from the source. If there is a major explosion with hot gases that shoots radioactivity several hundred meters high, that would increase the chances for long range transport, since now the ground is farther away, and the particles that start settling out will stay in the air longer before encountering the ground. Additionally, winds are stronger away from ground, due to reduced friction and presence of the jet stream aloft. These stronger winds will transport radioactivity greater distances. I've made trajectory plots for the next three days assuming two possible release altitudes--a surface-based release near 10 meters, which should be the predominant altitude in the current situation, and a higher release altitude of 300 meters, which might occur from an explosion and fire from a Chernobyl-style incident. Given that the radioactivity has to travel 3000 miles to reach Anchorage, Alaska, and 5000 miles to reach California, a very large amount of dilution will occur, along with potential loss due to rain-out. Any radiation at current levels of emission that might reach these places may not even be detectable, much less be a threat to human health. A Chernobyl-level disaster in Japan would certainly be able to produce detectable levels of radiation over North America, but I strongly doubt it would be a significant concern for human health. The Chernobyl disaster only caused dangerous human health impacts within a few hundred miles of the disaster site, and the distance from Japan to North America is ten times farther than that.


Figure 2. Five-day forecast movement of plumes of radioactive air emitted at 10 meters altitude (red line) and 300 meters (blue line) at 18 UTC (2pm EDT) Wednesday, March 16, 2011 from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. The plumes spiral clockwise around the high pressure system to the southwest of Japan and stay near the surface. Images created using NOAA's HYSPLIT trajectory model.


Figure 3. Five-day forecast movement of plumes of radioactive air emitted at 10 meters altitude (red line) and 300 meters (blue line) at 18 UTC (2pm EDT) Thursday, March 17, 2011 from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. The plumes initially spiral clockwise around the high pressure system to the southwest of Japan and stay near the surface. By Saturday, though, the plumes get caught in a southwesterly flow of air in advance of an approaching low pressure system. Ascending air lifts the plumes to high altitudes, where winds are stronger and rapid long-range transport occurs. Images created using NOAA's HYSPLIT trajectory model.


Figure 4. Five-day forecast movement of plumes of radioactive air emitted at 10 meters altitude (red line) and 300 meters (blue line) at 18 UTC (2pm EDT) Friday, March 18, 2011 from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. The plumes get caught in a southwesterly flow of air in advance of an approaching low pressure system. The plume emitted near the surface (red line) stays trapped near the surface, but the plume emitted at 300 meters is lifted to 3.5 km altitude by the rising air associated with the approaching low pressure system. Images created using NOAA's HYSPLIT trajectory model.

Resources
Seven-day weather forecast for Sendai near the Fukushima nuclear plant

The Austrian Weather Service is running trajectory models for Japan.

Current radar loops from the Japan Meteorological Agency

Rare subtropical cyclone forms near Brazil
An unusual low pressure system that came close to becoming a tropical storm is in the South Atlantic, a few hundred miles east of the coast of Brazil. The Brazilian Navy Hydrographic Center has officially named the system Subtropical Storm "Arani", but I'm not sure the low would have been named by NHC, since Arani has somewhat of a loose circulation and limited heavy thunderstorm activity. The storm is expected to move slowly eastward out to sea, and does not pose a threat to South America. The latest run of the GFDL model shows little development of Arani, and the storm is now encountering a frontal system, which is bringing 20 - 30 knots of wind shear. It is unlikely that Arani will become a tropical storm. Some runs of the GFDL last weekend were predicting Arani would intensify into a Category 3 hurricane; that's the first time I've even seen such a prediction for a South Atlantic storm. The metsul.com blog has more info on Arani, for those of you who read Portugese.


Figure 5. During the daytime on Tuesday 15 March 2011 at 1820 UTC the TRMM satellite flew over a rare cyclone labeled Arani in the South Atlantic. Arani had the appearance of a tropical cyclone but has been classified as a subtropical cyclone. NOAA's Satellite and Information Service classified Arani as a T1 on the Dvorak intensity scale which would indicate an estimated wind speed of about 29 kt (~33 mph). TRMM's Microwave Imager (TMI) and Precipitation Radar (PR) data were used in the image above to show rainfall near Arani. Image credit: NASA.

Jeff Masters

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Quoting hydrus:
Took a while.


I wonder if they're going to start running out of 'I' names.
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Aparrently, there is a 10km evacuation being conducted at the Fukushima Daini Power Plant which is about 10 mi south of the Daiichi plant. Unknown the reason at this time ( According to CNN ). Attempting to get further confirmation.
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Quoting Xyrus2000:


Saltwater isn't used in reactors. It is corrosive and can quickly lead to massive deposits of minerals. Hence why injecting these reactors with salt water is a last resort. After doing so, the reactors are essentially destroyed.


I have been trying to read all i can about the intrusion of Saltwater on Radiation. I can't find much about it, corrosion for sure makes sense. Salt tho can react to do other things as i remember in Chemistry. I do know that salt lowers the boiling point and should and is being used as the last result as they had no choice.
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 179 Comments: 20448
I wonder how much radiation there is in one spent fuel rod...
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1:13 p.m. ET Wednesday, 2:13 a.m. Thursday in Tokyo] South Korea has offered more than 50 tons of boric acid to help Japan stabilize its troubled nuclear reactors, South Korea's official Yonhap News Agency reports. Boric acid can be mixed with water to slow or halt fission in nuclear reactors. Japan has nearly exhausted its supply while trying to cool down the quake-damaged reactors at its Fukushima power plant. The state-run Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Co. said it has 309 tons of the powder and could transfer 52.6 tons in the next few days. "Seoul has decided to provide whatever reserves it can spare without jeopardizing local nuclear operations," a South Korean official said. "Depleted reserves will be restocked once the emergency situation has passed."
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Quoting twhcracker:


as i said earlier, nucler power plants are a water dependent industry. they have to be there.


Saltwater isn't used in reactors. It is corrosive and can quickly lead to massive deposits of minerals. Hence why injecting these reactors with salt water is a last resort. After doing so, the reactors are essentially destroyed.
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Quoting Skyepony:
These spent fuel rods... Fukushima Daiichi plant contains over 600,000 spent fuel rods, stored in 7 pools located on the top of six reactor buildings~ well til the explosions. In a report this morning 70% of the spent fuel rods damaged.


Aussie~ 1973-74 are about the closest in ENSO pattern. We had a cool neutral ENSO for 'cane season that year & 2 Tropical Storms here in East central FL.


Alfabob~ All I see is this on Youtube & plans underway to get more radiation measuring happening in Alaska. The FLEXPART model calls for low levels of extra radiation in Alaska today from the initial blasts.

Radiation from the Fukishima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster has reached Alaska, according to the state commissioner of health and social services in that state. He said the state has detected a "very small increase in radiation levels -- well below levels that would be a health concern."

"Right now, we don't expect any radiation to affect Alaska," Chris Laborde, the state's emergency program manager, told KTVA in Alaska.

State bureaucrats failed to note that the amount of radiation that has reached Alaska is from the smaller magnitude release from the stricken plant last week. Since then, the plant has released considerably more radiation after explosions and fires ravaged the site in Fukushima. It takes several days for prevailing winds to deliver the radiation across the Pacific Ocean.


I wonder where the US stores its spent Rods for cool down if they remain on site in a non contained area. Seems like a very bad error in judgement! Just my opinion.
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 179 Comments: 20448
i will be back lunch is over see ya all around 3 30
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 178 Comments: 56059
Quoting Neapolitan:
TROPICAL WEATHER NEWS:

The results are in: the names Igor and Tomas have been retired, to be replaced by Ian and Tobias for 2016.
Took a while.
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
its a he and he's name is joshua he is my only son



My sons name is Joshua as well. Very Biblical name!
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 179 Comments: 20448
154. Skyepony (Mod)
These spent fuel rods... Fukushima Daiichi plant contains over 600,000 spent fuel rods, stored in 7 pools located on the top of six reactor buildings~ well til the explosions. In a report this morning 70% of the spent fuel rods damaged.


Aussie~ 1973-74 are about the closest in ENSO pattern. We had a cool neutral ENSO for 'cane season that year & 2 Tropical Storms here in East central FL.


Alfabob~ All I see is this on Youtube & plans underway to get more radiation measuring happening in Alaska. The FLEXPART model calls for low levels of extra radiation in Alaska today from the initial blasts.

Radiation from the Fukishima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster has reached Alaska, according to the state commissioner of health and social services in that state. He said the state has detected a "very small increase in radiation levels -- well below levels that would be a health concern."

"Right now, we don't expect any radiation to affect Alaska," Chris Laborde, the state's emergency program manager, told KTVA in Alaska.

State bureaucrats failed to note that the amount of radiation that has reached Alaska is from the smaller magnitude release from the stricken plant last week. Since then, the plant has released considerably more radiation after explosions and fires ravaged the site in Fukushima. It takes several days for prevailing winds to deliver the radiation across the Pacific Ocean.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 225 Comments: 39380
Quoting jwh250:

'We're not afraid to die': Extraordinary courage of the Fukushima Fifty as they return to stricken power plant to fight nuclear disaster


Kudos to them.
Unfortunately, people in the "west" have generally lost the sense of Responsibility in the face of Crisis and become soft, and have a hard time understanding the "eastern" mind. (generalizations are odious, but the point is valid, I think)
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Quoting jwh250:

'We're not afraid to die': Extraordinary courage of the Fukushima Fifty as they return to stricken power plant to fight nuclear disaster



if i was there and it was my job
then i would do the same
they are not doing it for themselves
but for those that they care about
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 178 Comments: 56059
TROPICAL WEATHER NEWS:

The results are in: the names Igor and Tomas have been retired, to be replaced by Ian and Tobias for 2016.
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Quoting NRAamy:
Keeper... that is one smart 11 year old....

she gets an A for effort...

:)
Have to agree with Amy here....
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Quoting NRAamy:
Keeper... that is one smart 11 year old....

she gets an A for effort...

:)
its a he and he's name is joshua he is my only son
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 178 Comments: 56059

Emergency crews were forced to retreat from Japan's stricken Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant Wednesday after a spike in radiation. The pullback cost precious time in the fight to prevent a nuclear meltdown. (March 16)


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Keeper... that is one smart 11 year old....

she gets an A for effort...

:)
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Quoting Xyrus2000:


You could read up on radiation and it's effects instead of wildly speculating.

That planet is constantly being irradiated from space, as well as natural decay of radioactive elements in the environment. Radiation is not healthy at high levels for some forms of life. For other forms (cockroaches, various bacteria, etc.) they have adaptations which greatly increase their ability to withstand radiation.

Radiation affects life forms, and those with higher reproduction/adaptation rates survive quite well. For example, Chernobyl is not a wasteland. There's plenty of life there.

Radiation is not some all powerful globe destroying boogeyman.


I saw a special on the discovery channel about research at chernoble and all the plants have chromosome damage or something like that for fifty miles around. i revel in wild speculation. in fact wild speculation is my middle name.
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Quoting Chicklit:
Has the IAEA raised the alert from Level 4 yet?
we are at level 6 NUCLEAR EMERGENCY
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
my 11 year old just said why can they not use liquid nitrogen to super cool down the reactors


Its too big, and while it would cool it down short-term, it would increase pressure inside the vessel. Also, Nitrogen's ability to absorb heat is less than that of water.
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IAEA

Link
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NEW YORK | Wed Mar 16, 2011 12:25pm EDT

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The dollar fell to a fresh 16-year low below 80 yen on Wednesday amid ongoing concerns about the Japanese nuclear reactor damaged by the recent earthquake and tsunami.

The U.S. dollar was last down 0.8 percent against the yen on electronic trading platform EBS at 80.10 after going as low as 79.972 yen.

The record low on the dollar against the yen is 79.75 yen, an intraday low hit on April 19, 1995.

Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 179 Comments: 20448
Quoting twhcracker:
i am not so worried that radiation is gonna come here to florida but that it is gonna somehow cause something to go even more haywire with the planet which just seems really haywire and getting worse


You could read up on radiation and it's effects instead of wildly speculating.

That planet is constantly being irradiated from space, as well as natural decay of radioactive elements in the environment. Radiation is not healthy at high levels for some forms of life. For other forms (cockroaches, various bacteria, etc.) they have adaptations which greatly increase their ability to withstand radiation.

Radiation affects life forms, and those with higher reproduction/adaptation rates survive quite well. For example, Chernobyl is not a wasteland. There's plenty of life there.

Radiation is not some all powerful globe destroying boogeyman.
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Has the IAEA raised the alert from Level 4 yet?
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my 11 year old just said why can they not use liquid nitrogen to super cool down the reactors

Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 178 Comments: 56059
TORONTO — There has been a leak of demineralized water at the Pickering nuclear power plant.


At 11:33 p.m. Tuesday night, Ontario Power Generation notified Canada's nuclear regulator that there was a release of 73,000 litres of demineralized water at the Pickering "A" Nuclear Generating Station earlier in the day.

The leak is being blamed on a pump seal failure.

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission says the radiological risk to the environment and people's heath "is negligible."

Environment Canada and the CNSC are monitoring the situation
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 178 Comments: 56059

Saltwater is a solution of sodium chloride (NaCl) or salt dissolved in water. Salt has a high melting point and does not evaporate readily except at extremely high temperatures. When the water evaporates, the salt is left behind.

Function
Salt is an ionic compound, meaning the sodium has lost an electron to the chlorine, so it has a positive charge and the chlorine has a negative charge. The two ions are strongly attracted to each other, and this force holds them together tightly. When the salt dissolves in water, the interactions between the ions are replaced by interactions between ions and water molecules. As the temperature of the water rises, the water molecules move more rapidly, and some of them move quickly enough they escape, so the water starts to evaporate.
Effects
While the water evaporates as the temperature rises, the salt does not; it remains behind. The attraction between the sodium and chloride ions is strong enough that an extremely high temperature would be required to vaporize the salt. The boiling point for sodium chloride is 2,575 degrees Fahrenheit--so unless the temperature of your saltwater pool is approaching that value, evaporation of the salt crystals shouldn't be a problem.
Considerations
While the salt itself doesn't evaporate, it does have an effect on how quickly the water evaporates. The interactions between water molecules and salt ions make it more difficult for the water molecules to break free and escape. Water evaporates a little more slowly, and its boiling point rises as the concentration of dissolved salt increases.

Read more: Would High Heat Cause Salt to Evaporate From a Saltwater Pool? | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/facts_6808940_would-salt-evapo rate-saltwater-pool_.html#ixzz1GmWT3cPF
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Quoting aquak9:
great, now there's two of them

C F L W X and C F L V V X

(the mutations have already begun here in Florida)
lol
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U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Vontez Morrow preps U-2 pilot U.S. Air Force Capt. Beau Block for a humanitarian mission to Japan from Osan Air Base, South Korea, March 13, 2011. U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Master Sgt. Paul Holcomb

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Quoting Floodman:


The water (most of it) is going into the slosh system for the coolant. A good deal of it is turning into steam and either collecting inside the enclosure and precipitating or, in the even of the reactors whose enclosures have been damaged or destroyed, the steam is moving into the atmosphere and going wherever the prevailing winds carry it.

As for "water fallout" the radioactive particles are carried on the current and dispersed. In the event of heavy particulates, they will precipitate and sink to the bottom. The rest will slowly disperse along the current and drop out over time.


Thanks Floodman...
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Quoting NRAamy:
From Rob, our Navy WU-member

60. Spetrm 9:14 AM PDT on March 16, 2011
Good evening all, another busy night going on for me now.

At least now were getting in to a rythm as far as forecasting the weather around the HA/DR area. As far as the radiation, winds are out of the NW and looks like it is going to stay that way for the next 72hrs.

I know a lot of stuff as far as supplies and non-such is getting transported ashore from all the varios ships in the regions. Thus the U.S is having a decent hand in the recovery efforts. But Japan is a first world country and they really are taking the lead on the relief efforts.

With that said, I am pulling my wife and son out of the country, told the wife to catch a flight down to manilla, she has some family and friends there, thus will have her stay there until the situation gets better back home.

From her reports, gas is running out repeatedly, food is in short supply and rolling black outs are not helping on top of that. So would be better just to get the family out of that.

As for me, some rough seas made life a little miserable the last two days, another cold surge really kicked it up out here. Infidoll I'm around your region there so I'm sure you can confirm the cold northerly winds.

I know that will be a big concern for the people up north as well, we have snow in the fcst today and through out the week the cold northwesterlys. Hopefully they can get some heat turned on up there for the people with out it.

Any how stay safe out there everyone, thanks for the support and please if there is anything you can do to help the people out in Japan, I strongly suggest doing it.

Rob


Now this is the kind of report I can believe,first hand from someone that is there. Unlike the news people, most of whom are just trying to win an award or something. Thanks for posting. Hope he checks in often as he can.
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#56: Apply to forehead!

The workers are still there and they're upped allowable rads so more added according to this article from msn.

TEPCO Workers Still On The JOB
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Lance Cpl. Brandon McCormick, left, and Sgt. Tony Hinds set up a satellite system here March 14 as part of Operation Tomodachi.
Personnel with III Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward) established a humanitarian assistance center here to assist Government of Japan-led relief efforts following the devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck mainland Japan March 11.
Date Photo Taken: 3/14/2011 5:41:00 PM


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Just a little perspective:

US Nuclear Test History (mostly above ground in CONUS.)

No doubt Russia, China, Britain and France have all done similar programs. That's a lot of nukes. The Japanese reactors have to be put in this perspective.

So far the tsunami has been far more deadly and disease and lack of essentials is a far greater threat.
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3/14/2011 By Gunnery Sgt. Leo A. Salinas

Marine Corps Bases Japan

Col. Craig Q. Timberlake, left, acting commanding general of III Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward) command element, Col. Christopher Coke, middle, chief of staff for III MEF (Fwd) command element, and Lt. Col. Karl Rohr, operations officer for III MEF (Fwd) command element, discuss plans for the humanitarian assistance center March 14 here during Operation Tomodachi. Personnel with III MEF (Fwd) established a humanitarian assistance center here to assist the Government of Japan-led relief efforts following the devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck mainland Japan March 11.

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Quoting TampaSpin:



Most is being evaporated....,but i wonder if a strong magnetic field is also developing when salt water is mixed in as well.....the Salt deposits gotta be reacting somehow.......


Actually i might have it just the opposite as Salt reduces Magnetic field i believe.....dang its been a long time since Chemistry.........LOL
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3/16/2011 By Cpl. Justin R. Wheeler

III MEF

Marines with Marine Aircraft Group 36, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force, board a KC-130J Super Hercules aircraft here March 16 to provide assistance in wake of the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan, March 11. The proximity of Marine aviation assets at MCAS Futenma has allowed Marines from III MEF to rapidly deploy critically-needed supplies and aid to areas that need it most. (U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Cpl. Justin R. Wheeler)

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115. DDR
A weak moisture surge continues to pass through Trinidad/north eastern Venezuela,had some heavy rain a while ago amounting to half inch from around 6 am to now.
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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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