Favorable winds over Japan continue; all-time record heat in Mumbai, India

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 1:23 PM GMT on March 17, 2011

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Favorable winds blowing at 10 - 20 mph out of the northwest continue over Tokyo, Japan today, and these winds will take radiation particles emitted by the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant immediately out to sea, without lingering over Japan. The northwesterly winds are blowing in response to the clockwise flow of air around a high pressure system approaching Japan from the southwest. Since high pressure systems are regions of sinking air, the radiation will stay close to the ocean surface over the next day or two as the air spirals clockwise over the Pacific.


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.

As the high pressure system moves northeastwards and passes just east of Japan on Saturday, winds will gradually shift to the west and then southwest, keeping the radiation from the Fukushima plant blowing out to sea. As the winds shift to southwesterly, the sinking air over Japan will be replaced by rising air, and radioactive emissions will begin being lifted high in the atmosphere. Since there is less friction aloft, and the high speed winds of jet stream increase as the air moves higher in the atmosphere, this radiation will undergo long-range transport. Latest trajectory runs using NOAA's HYSPLIT model (Figures 2 - 4) show that radioactivity emitted today and Friday could wind up over Alaska and eastern Siberia after five days, and radioactive particles emitted on Saturday could make it to Hawaii and California by late next week. 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 if there is an explosion and major fire. However, the 5-day trek to Hawaii and California is 4000 - 5000 miles, and a tremendous amount of dispersion and dilution of the radioactive plume will occur. Given the current levels of radiation being emitted, any radioactivity reaching Hawaii or the U.S. may be difficult to detect, and will not be a threat to human health. Keep in mind also that the most dangerous radionuclide to human health in the radioactive plume--Iodine-131--has a half life of eight days, so will be reduced by at least 30% after 5 days of travel time.

The next period of onshore winds that will blow radioactivity inland over Japan will occur beginning on Saturday night (U.S. time), continuing through Sunday morning, according to the latest run of the GFS model. The latest HYSPLIT trajectories show that regions of Japan north of the disaster site would be most at risk of receiving radioactive fallout on Saturday night. On Sunday and Monday, an approaching low pressure system is expected to bring considerable rain to Japan, and it is uncertain at this time what direction the wind might blow during this rain storm.


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) 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 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) 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 for 4 days then lifted to 2 km, but the plume emitted at 300 meters is lifted to 5 km altitude after 2 1/2 days by the rising air associated with the approaching low pressure system. 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) Saturday, 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 and lifted to 4 - 5 km altitude. The plume emitted at 10 meters (red line) ends up getting caught in the clockwise circulation of air around a high pressure system situated north of Hawaii, and spirals down towards the surface in the high's sinking air. The plume emitted at higher altitudes (blue line) ends up escaping this high and making it over California at high altitude, getting caught in the southwesterly flow around a low pressure system predicted to affect California next week. 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

Mumbai hits its hottest temperature of all-time
The temperature in Mumbai (formerly Bombay), India skyrocketed to an all-time high of 107°F (41.6°C) yesterday, March 16, at the downtown Colaba observatory. Records at the observatory go back to 1847, which may be the longest time series of temperature observations at any location in Asia. Mumbai's previous all-time record temperature was 105°F (40.6°C) recorded on April 19, 1955. Mumbai's Santacruz Airport, located in the suburbs several miles inland, did not set an all-time high yesterday, hitting 41.3°C (all-time record: 42.2°C on April 14, 1952.) The record heat yesterday was due to an unusually hot and dry northeasterly flow of air from the center of India that kept the usual cooling sea breeze from establishing itself along the coast. Hot weather continued in Mumbai today, with the mercury hitting 102°F (39°C.) Thanks go to weather records researcher Maximiliano Herrera for supplying these statistics for me.

Jeff Masters

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Quoting RecordSeason:
313:

Oh hell yeah...

I hadn't seen this photo...

The third reactor building is practically obliterated. The entire upper floor is destroyed. There isn't even a spent fuel pond to speak of. Some of the spent rods are probably scattered over the complex or even vaporized...

Anyone want to take bets on whether the cooling pipes and pumps are in tact at all?

Cosmetic damage.

A fuel rod apart from its companions will cool off quickly. It will still contain radioactive material. Vaporized in a hydrogen explosion. I don't think so.

One advantage to cleaning up radioactive material is that it is easy to find unlike some chemical pollutants.
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Nothing goes boom save for the remaining units if the fuel rod pools go dry and the Water separates under temp to H2 And O2 and then the units go Boom as we saw with 2 of them.

When the Zirconium Clads around the dry rods burn they will slump,,and the Uranium ones will sizzle a Deadly Plume somewhere vertically then downwind.The Cesium 137 dosent do a body good neither

Thus the problemo Jesus.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 419 Comments: 127374

NOTE TO NEWCOMERS: The person who posted the bigoted and inhumanely idiotic comment #300 is representative of only a very small fraction of this online community. So is the third-rate comedian masquerading as a teenage simpleton with a supermarket job so he can clutter the blog with his "humor". The majority of the people you will meet here are intelligent, open-minded, thoughtful, knowledgeable, and helpful; we ask that you please ignore those who aren't. Also, please don't judge all of us based on the ignorant words and actions of those few.

Thank you.
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13442
Quoting kellnerp:


Based on what? This kind of uniformed speculation is ridiculous and irresponsible. You are in more danger to your person if you live within a mile of a bar at 2 am.


Based on thousands of tons of spent fuel rods with no coolant...the cores aren't so much the issue, it's the racked spent fuel assemblies that are patiently boiling away their water (if they haven't already). So what happens when the water is gone and the rods heat sufficiently?

Please tell me that there is no downside to this and there isn't any real danger to anyone (be convincing now)!
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Quoting surfmom:
post 300 - ???? you just drew your fear card


+1000

When I read articles like that I can imagine a nation of people crawling on their bellies back into their bomb shelters. When we alter our belief in how we should "protect" our society then we have surrendered to the enemy. We have become slaves of our own fears.
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You are in more danger to your person if you live within a mile of a bar at 2 am.

Uh-oh,,then my butt is "doomed" easily here.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 419 Comments: 127374
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Well we've been jaw-jacking this around for 23 hours now so we can post it again.

Note where the Spent Fuel Pools are located and remember the Hydrogen Explosions and the damage incurred from them.



Damaged Units Images
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 419 Comments: 127374
Quoting kellnerp:


Alpha emitters don't travel far. Dead skin will stop alphas. Plastic and glass will stop betas. Alpha emitters can be dealt with by good hygiene similar to what would be used when, say, pumping a septic tank.

Detection is problematic for most hand held devices, but it is a simple matter to scan the food supply.

This is no Chenobyl.


I really don't mean to sound alarmist, but it is no Chernobyl YET
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Quoting Floodman:


Your optimism is encouraging...I hope you're right, but it doesn't look particularly good for the west coast about now


Based on what? This kind of uniformed speculation is ridiculous and irresponsible. You are in more danger to your person if you live within a mile of a bar at 2 am.
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Quoting kellnerp:


I don't think so. I got my information here.

Test location

The device was a very large cylinder weighing 23,500 pounds (10.7 tonnes) and measuring 179.5 inches (4.56 m) in length and 53.9 inches (1.37 m) in width.[citation needed] It was mounted in a "shot cab" on an artificial island built on a reef off Namu Island, in the Bikini Atoll. A sizable array of diagnostic instruments was trained on it, including a number of high-speed cameras which were trained through an arc of mirror towers around the shot cab.



Castle Bravo
Test: Bravo
Time: 18:45:00.0 28 February 1954 (GMT)
06:45:00.0 1 March 1954 (local)
Location: Artificial island on reef 2950 ft off Nam ("Charlie") Island, Bikini Atoll
Test Height and Type: Surface burst (7 feet above surface)
Yield: 15 Mt
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Quoting alfabob:
They are not measuring the most deadly type of radiation; also most Geiger counters are not capable of detecting or differentiating alpha radiation.


Alpha emitters don't travel far. Dead skin will stop alphas. Plastic and glass will stop betas. Alpha emitters can be dealt with by good hygiene similar to what would be used when, say, pumping a septic tank.

Detection is problematic for most hand held devices, but it is a simple matter to scan the food supply.

This is no Chenobyl.
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Tsunami Debris Field



Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 419 Comments: 127374
post 300 - ???? you just drew your fear card
here's mine:
I'd actually be more concerned STUXNET infiltrated the Japanese reactors prior to the current situation and the information was never made public - might explain all the MUM
or
that dirty little word - HARRP

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Castle Bravo "Shrimp Device",,

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 419 Comments: 127374
The 7th Seal, when found, the earth will shake like never before
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Americans see the Fukushima Daiichi meltdown as a nuclear power issue. I see it as a zoning issue. Placing several uranium fuel cores less than 2000 feet from the shore, next to a trench/active fault zone, in are area that gets Tsunami, Typhoons, and Major Monster attacks, seems less than wise. Mothera can only do so much!

There are 5 plants on the trench facing coast. Cant we agree to at least put them up river and up slope a hundred feet?

Japan and Russia should be the two countries most careful with nuclear fuel and radiation protection.
2000 ft!

As for the Tsunami victims, my heart is crushed for them. I lived in Kyoto for several years in traditional houses. They handle the shaking fine, They handled a NINE.Oh!!! and were still standing!
but nothing can handle a wall of water like that, let alone bamboo and mud stucco.

I wish we could help more. Global Hawk imagery is helping, but I wish some of our nifty ground surveillance robots that we have for combat, could get eyes inside the buildings for them.
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319. beell
Quoting Orcasystems:
Japan steps up cooling operation

Good article, and as up to date as can be.


Regarding reconnection to the grid and the arrival of Aux generators...that's a pile of ifs!

That should allow technicians to re-start the main pumps - provided that the site's internal electrical circuitry is intact, and that pumps have not been damaged by the earthquake, the tsunami or the explosions.
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Well,,one spent fuel pool that's most likely "slumping" at the moment
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 419 Comments: 127374
Quoting cat5hurricane:

Nuclear science and engineering is a bit more reliable upon ground observations than an aerial photo. The pumps in reference were not necessarily affected to the point where they would not be able to effectively cool the reactors and spend fuel ponds. Furthermore, reactor 4 was not online during this incident. Only reactors 1, 2, and 3 are in question. I was unaware of a 7th reactor core...


There isn't a 7th core...there is a 7th spent fuel pool
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Quoting Floodman:


Castle Bravo was a 300 foot tower shot, wasn't it?


I don't think so. I got my information here.

Test location

The device was a very large cylinder weighing 23,500 pounds (10.7 tonnes) and measuring 179.5 inches (4.56 m) in length and 53.9 inches (1.37 m) in width.[citation needed] It was mounted in a "shot cab" on an artificial island built on a reef off Namu Island, in the Bikini Atoll. A sizable array of diagnostic instruments was trained on it, including a number of high-speed cameras which were trained through an arc of mirror towers around the shot cab.

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Japan Earthquake Update (17 March 2011 11:05 UTC)

Based on a press release from the Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary dated 17 March 2011 04:00 UTC, the IAEA can confirm that the Japanese military carried out four helicopter water droppings over the building of reactor unit 3 of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

According to the press release, the droppings took place between 00:48 UTC and 01:00 UTC.

Japanese Earthquake Update (17 March 01:15 UTC)

Injuries or Contamination at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant

Based on a press release from the Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary dated 16 March 2011, the IAEA can confirm the following information about human injuries or contamination at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

Please note that this list provides a snapshot of the latest information made available to the IAEA by Japanese authorities. Given the fluid situation at the plant, this information is subject to change.

Injuries

* 2 TEPCO employees have minor injuries
* 2 subcontractor employees are injured, one person suffered broken legs and one person whose condition is unknown was transported to the hospital
* 2 people are missing
* 2 people were 'suddenly taken ill'
* 2 TEPCO employees were transported to hospital during the time of donning respiratory protection in the control centre
* 4 people (2 TEPCO employees, 2 subcontractor employees) sustained minor injuries due to the explosion at unit 1 on 11 March and were transported to the hospital
* 11 people (4 TEPCO employees, 3 subcontractor employees and 4 Japanese civil defense workers) were injured due to the explosion at unit 3 on 14 March

Radiological Contamination

* 17 people (9 TEPCO employees, 8 subcontractor employees) suffered from deposition of radioactive material to their faces, but were not taken to the hospital because of low levels of exposure
* One worker suffered from significant exposure during 'vent work,' and was transported to an offsite center
* 2 policemen who were exposed to radiation were decontaminated
* Firemen who were exposed to radiation are under investigation

The IAEA continues to seek information from Japanese authorities about all aspects of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 419 Comments: 127374
Quoting zoomiami:
nice to see the information here. I knew there would be some intelligent conversation.

By the way -- long time -- hello


Zoooooo my favourite :)
Where you been :)
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An aerial view from a helicopter shows steam rising from the No. 3 reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi plant. Photo taken yesterday and released today. REUTERS/TEPCO




This one shows damage to the No. 4 reactor. Photo taken yesterday and released today. REUTERS/TEPCO
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Go fig' ya ?

U.S. nuclear advocates try to limit political impact of Japan reactor crisis

By Dan Eggen, Thursday, March 17, 12:37 PM



Nuclear power advocates are waging an intense lobbying campaign on Capitol Hill this week in an attempt to limit the political fallout from the reactor crisis in Japan, which threatens to undermine already shaky plans for expanded nuclear capacity in the United States.



Lobbyists with the Nuclear Energy Institute and some of the United States’ largest energy firms, including Exelon Corp. of Chicago, are holding meetings with key lawmakers and standing-room-only briefings for staffers in an attempt to tamp down talk of restrictions in response to the Japanese disaster.

The efforts come as lawmakers held hearings Wednesday focused on the impact of the worsening catastrophe at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant, where at least three reactor cores are believed to be imperiled following a major earthquake and tsunami last week.

The disaster has renewed calls from U.S. environmental groups and some lawmakers for a more cautious approach to nuclear power projects, which are central to the Obama administration’s plans for an energy strategy less dependent on high-polluting fossil fuels.

Nuclear industry lobbyists are telling lawmakers of both parties that the severity of the calamities facing the Japanese plant are virtually impossible to replicate in the United States. They also say that two plants located in quake-prone areas of California are built to higher standards than the decades-old Fukushima facility.

“To the extent we can learn lessons about what happened in Japan, we will import those lessons,” said Alex Flint, chief lobbyist for the nuclear institute, which has briefed about 50 members of Congress so far. “If changes need to be made, we will make those changes. The most important thing for us to get out as much information as we can.”

President Obama and some other Democrats have warmed to nuclear power in recent years because it does not produce high levels of greenhouse gases believed by most scientists to worsen global warming.

But environmental groups say the Fukushima crisis underscores the lethal dangers of relying on nuclear power plants, where a single disaster can imperil the health and lives of millions. Activists note that about a quarter of the United States’ 104 nuclear plants share the basic features of the endangered Japanese “boiling water” reactors, which were designed by General Electric.

“The American public has gotten a primer course, or for some of us a refresher course, on the hazards of radiation and nuclear power,” said Dave Hamilton, director of global warming and energy programs at the Sierra Club. “You only think nuclear is a good idea if you really don’t think about the risks.”

Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) has called for a moratorium on additional reactors in quake-prone areas and new safety measures at existing plants. Markey has also asked Obama to enforce a law passed in 2002 to provide potassium iodide pills to residents within 20 miles of nuclear plants for use in case of radiation exposure.

Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.), a nuclear power advocate, also grabbed headlines earlier this week when he appeared to call for a moratorium on new reactor construction; Lieberman backed down from that position Tuesday.

Most Republicans, meanwhile, remain enthusiastic boosters for nuclear power, even as they push to curtail spending at the Office of Nuclear Energy and elsewhere. The House budget bill passed earlier this year included more than $330 million in cuts for nuclear waste disposal, safety oversight and other programs, according to advocacy groups.

One bill, proposed by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) and co-sponsored by more than 50 others, calls for 200 new nuclear power plants by 2040.

That measure is far more optimistic than industry estimates, which suggest that only about a half dozen new reactors are likely to be constructed by 2020. A package of nuclear plant subsidies and loan guarantees passed in 2005 has had little impact because of low natural gas prices and the massive costs associated with nuclear projects, experts said.

Thomas B. Cochran, senior nuclear scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said the Fukushima disaster further dims the prospects for a “nuclear renaissance” in the United States.

“You can try to put lipstick on this pig, but it’s just not going to look good,” Cochran said. “You’re already seeing proponents on the Hill and in the Obama administration saying that we aren’t changing our course, but there’s just not going to be a lot of commitments in this environment.”

Spurred on by federal subsidies and potential climate-change legislation, the nuclear industry has dramatically stepped up its federal lobbying and campaign contributions in recent years, records show.

The Nuclear Energy Institute, for example, has spent more than $6 million on lobbying since 2008, employing more than 20 internal and external lobbyists including former Rep. Bob Walker (R-Pa.), according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The institute’s political-action committee also spent more than $470,000 during the 2010 cycle, primarily favoring Democrats then in control of Congress, the records show.

Although focused on the United States, the nuclear institute also has foreign members including Tokyo Electric Power Co., the firm that owns the Fukushima plant.

Flint said the institute has been working “24 hours a day nonstop” since the Fukushima crisis began to brief lawmakers and aides as well as state officials around the country.

“There’s been an evolution and a growth in support for nuclear energy in Congress, particularly among members trying to address climate-change issues,” Flint said. “There may be members who change their minds about nuclear energy, but for the time being all we’re focused on is getting information out.”

Another active player in this week’s lobbying push is Exelon, the Chicago-based utility that ranks as the largest owner of nuclear power plants in the nation, with 17 reactors in three states. Exelon, which helped run briefings on Monday for House and Senate staffers, spent $3.7 million on lobbying and $1.7 million through its PAC in 2010, with nearly 60 percent of contributions going to Democrats.

The company said in a statement this week that its plants “are equipped with numerous and redundant safety systems designed to protect them against earthquakes, flooding” and other disasters. “Our plants are operating safely, and our plant neighbors are safe,” said chief executive John Rowe.

Another major player in the nuclear industry is Duke Energy Corp., whose chief executive, Jim Rogers, is leading fundraising efforts for the Democratic National convention to be held in Charlotte, N.C. The firm has agreed to guarantee a $10 million line of credit for the convention from a local bank.

eggend@washpost.com
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 419 Comments: 127374
nice to see the information here. I knew there would be some intelligent conversation.

By the way -- long time -- hello
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I do NOT want to be the sock puppet of Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Ew.
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Quoting nrtiwlnvragn:


Other way, #1 on right.


And therein lies the source of my confusion
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Quoting bappit:
When I grow up I want to be Joe Bastardi's sock puppet.


See comment #290

LOL
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Quoting Floodman:


Given the level of destruction at units 1 & 2 it stands to reason:



Though 3 7 4 may not be damaged, based on the image


Other way, #1 on right.
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Japan steps up cooling operation

Good article, and as up to date as can be.
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Quoting Patrap:
.."Hey floodman,,U seen the #3 Pump Impeller for Unit 4"..?




Umm, yeah...it's in the breakroom for unit 6...well, at least part of it is
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Quoting cat5hurricane:

I was not aware that the pumps were destroyed. How do you know this?


Given the level of destruction at units 1 & 2 it stands to reason:



Though 3 & 4 may not be damaged, based on the image
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Mr. Flood you have mail.
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297. JRRP
...
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Quoting alfabob:
Any reason why my comment #'s were reset?


just yours were hahaha
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When I grow up I want to be Joe Bastardi's sock puppet.
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.."Hey floodman,,U seen the #3 Pump Impeller for Unit 4"..?


Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 419 Comments: 127374
Quoting Floodman:


Unfortunately, son, you ARE a sock puppet


You just gave me a great idea for Halloween. Thank you!
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Quoting FloridaHeat:


I love sock puppets! As a small child I made one that looked like my grandma. I put a cotton ball on top for the hair, and used a blue marker to draw eyes, and I topped it off with real lipstick for the mouth. Needless to say, my mother was not happy that I used her lipstick on some of my dad's sweaty socks, but it was fun while it lasted.


Unfortunately, son, you ARE a sock puppet
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Quoting bappit:

Who would've thought there were sock puppets among WUBA's?????????????


LOL...I read the article and thought of a great number of people here...
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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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