Early 2011 Atlantic Hurricane Season Forecasts

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 6:22 AM GMT on April 07, 2011

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Hi everybody, this is Dr. Rob Carver filling in for Dr. Masters. 

A continuation of the pattern of much above-average Atlantic hurricane activity we've seen since 1995 is on tap for 2011, according to the latest seasonal forecast issued April 6 by Dr. Phil Klotzbach and Dr. Bill Gray of Colorado State University (CSU). They are calling for 16 named storms, 9 hurricanes, and 5 intense hurricanes. An average season has 10 named storms, 6 hurricanes, and 2 intense hurricanes. The new forecast is nearly identical to their forecast made in December, which called for 17 named storms, 9 hurricanes, and 5 intense hurricanes. Only six seasons since 1851 have had as many as 17 named storms; 19 seasons have had 9 or more hurricanes. The 2011 forecast calls for a much above-average chance of a major hurricane hitting the U.S., both along the East Coast (48% chance, 31% chance is average) and the Gulf Coast (47% chance, 30% chance is average). The Caribbean is forecast to have a 61% chance of seeing at least one major hurricane (42% is average.) Five years with similar pre-season November atmospheric and oceanic conditions were selected as "analogue" years that the 2011 hurricane season may resemble: 2008, 1999, 1996, 1955, and 2006.  The first four years listed all had neutral to La Niña SST's during hurricane season, while 2006 had El Niño SST's.  The average activity for these years was 12.6 named storms, 7.8 hurricanes, and 4.8 major hurricanes.

This year, the forecasters have introduced a new statistical model for their  April forecasts.  There are four components in this model:

1. Average sea-level pressure in March around the Azores in the subtropical Atlantic.

2. The average of January through March sea-surface temperatures (SST's) in the tropical Atlantic off the coast of Africa.

3. Average sea-level pressure in February and March for the southern tropical Pacific ocean west of South America.

4. Forecasts of September's SST in the tropical Pacific using a dynamical model from the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) 

The first two components are loosely linked together.  Statistical studies have shown that a weaker subtropical high near the Azores, combined with warmer SST's off the coast of Africa in March are associated with weak winds near the surface and aloft from August to October.  This decrease in wind speeds reduces wind shear which can disrupt forming storms.  These March conditions also are associated with warmer SST's in August to October, which is also favorable for more tropical storms.   For this forecast, the first component is strongly favorable for increased hurricane activity, while the second component is weakly negative.

The last two components represent the changes in sea-surface temperature and sea-level pressure that are the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO).  Briefly speaking,  El Niño conditions (warm sea-surface temperatures) are not favorable for Atlantic hurricanes.  For more info on ENSO and hurricanes, Jeff has this article.

Using the ECMWF model as guidance (see Figure 1), the CSU group believes that SST's in the tropical Pacific will be neutral (less than 0.5°C from normal).  This would have a small negative effect on hurricane activity.  However, the tropical Pacific sea-level pressure shows that the atmosphere looks like a La Niña event is still going on.  This is strongly favorable for Atlantic hurricane activity in the CSU group's model.

Figure 1. Forecasts of El Niño conditions by 20 computer models, made in March 2011. The ECMWF forecast used by the CSU group is represented by the dark orange square.  The forecasts for August-September-October (ASO) show that 5 models predict El Niño conditions, 7 predict neutral conditions, and 5 predict a weak to moderate La Niña. El Niño conditions are defined as occurring when sea surface temperatures in the Equatorial Pacific off the coast of South America ( the "Niño 3.4 region) rise to 0.5°C above average (top red line). La Niña conditions occur when SSTs in this region fall to 0.5°C below average. Image credit: Columbia University.

How accurate are the April forecasts? While the formulas used by CSU do well in making hindcasts--correctly modeling the behavior of past hurricane seasons--their April hurricane season forecasts have had no skill in predicting the future. This year's April forecast is using a new system and has not yet produced a verified forecast.  The scheme used in the past three years successfully predicted active hurricane seasons for 2008 and 2010, but failed to properly predict the relatively quiet 2009 hurricane season. A different formula was used prior to 2008, and the April forecasts using that formula showed no skill over a simple forecast using climatology. CSU maintains an Excel spreadsheet of their forecast errors ( expressed as a mathematical correlation coefficient, where positive means a skilled forecast, and negative means they did worse than climatology) for their their April forecasts. For now, these April forecasts should simply be viewed as an interesting research effort that has the potential to make skillful forecasts. The next CSU forecast, due by June 1, is the one worth paying attention to. Their early June forecasts have shown considerable skill over the years.


Figure 2.
Accuracy of long-range forecasts of Atlantic hurricane season activity performed by Phil Klotzbach and Bill Gray of Colorado State University (colored squares) and Tropical Storm Risk, Inc. (colored lines). The CSU team's April forecast skill is not plotted, but is less than zero. The skill is measured by the Mean Square Skill Score (MSSS), which looks at the error and squares it, then compares the percent improvement the forecast has over a climatological forecast of 10 named storms, 6 hurricanes, and 2 intense hurricanes. TS=Tropical Storms, H= Hurricanes, IH=Intense Hurricanes, ACE=Accumulated Cyclone Energy, NTC=Net Tropical Cyclone Activity. Image credit: TSR.

2011 Atlantic hurricane season forecast from Tropical Storm Risk, Inc.

The  British  private  forecasting  firm  Tropical Storm Risk, Inc.  (TSR),   issued  their  2011  Atlantic hurricane season forecast on April 5. They are also calling for  a  very  active  year: 14. 2 named storms, 7.5 hurricanes, and 3.6 intense hurricanes. We would round that to 14 named storms, 8 hurricanes, and 4 intense hurricanes.   This  compares to their forecast issued in December of 15.6 named storms, 8.4 hurricanes,   and intense hurricanes. TSR predicts a 55%  chance  of  an  above-average  hurricane season, 28% chance of a near-normal season, and only a 17%  chance  of  a  below normal season. TSR bases their April forecast on predictions  that  sea  surface temperatures this fall in the tropical  Atlantic  will  be  above  about  0.08°C above average, and trade  wind  speeds  will  be  about 0.2  m/s  slower  than average.  The decrease in the trade wind speeds is favorable for enhanced hurricane activity, while the forecast SST's are expected to be neutral for hurricane activity.

TSR puts their skill level right next to the forecast numbers: 13% skill above chance at forecasting the number of named storms, 11% skill for hurricanes, and 10% skill for intense hurricanes. That's not much skill, and really, we have to wait until the June 1 forecasts by CSU, NOAA, and TSR to get a forecast with reasonable skill.

Rob's critiques of the April forecasts
I have to note that Jeff and I wrote this article together.  He wrote the general framework before the forecasts were issued, while I wrote the details based on the actual forecasts.  So the preceding text is a joint production.  However, I have a few observations to make that are my responsibility alone.

First, I am disappointed that the CSU group has changed forecast models only after three seasonal forecasts.  This makes it very difficult to assess the skill of the current forecast using past performance.  This is very important for forecast users, and they do it everyday.  For example, I tend to discount a forecast of rain if it comes from a source that over-forecasts rain (The boy who cried wolf problem).

In the documentation that came with the April forecast, the CSU group argue that the hindcasts show the new forecast model has skill.  However, I think hindcasts are a poor substitute for real forecasts in understanding the skill of a statistical forecast model, like that of the CSU's group.  As Jeff noted, the previous forecast model did well with the hindcasts and yet had mixed results with the actual forecasts.  This does not give me confidence that the new forecast model will be superior to the previous model.

From a philosophical viewpoint, I am inherently cautious about statistical forecast models like the one used by the CSU group.  Essentially, they look at what happened in the past and use that to predict the future.  However, for making forecasts, we assume that the relationships in space and time between the predictors (such as the average March sea-level pressure around the Azores) and the predictands (Atlantic hurricane activity) does not change as we move forward in time.  In a world with climate change, that's a tricky assumption to make.

In any event, it is customary in the meteorological community to continue running older forecast guidance models after the introduction of newer models.  This allows forecasters and forecast users to leverage their knowledge of the forecast skill of the older model and gain insight into the forecast skill of the new model.  The CSU group really should have included the forecast from the previous statistical forecast system in this forecast.     

I am uneasy with some of the methodology choices made in implementing the forecast model.  Data for the first three predictors was obtained from the Climate Forecast System Reanalysis (CFSR), NOAA's newest and most advanced reanalysis product.  However, CFSR data for 2010 and 2011 has not been released yet, so the CSU group used NCEP/NCAR Reanalysis (NNR), NOAA's first-generation reanalysis, to fill in the gaps.  Due to differences in design, resolution, etc., CFSR and NNR can have different depictions of the state of the atmosphere.  So using NNR's March 2011 average SLP instead of CFSR's could alter the forecast in unexpected ways.  It would be interesting to see how CFSR's 2010-2011 data changes the results. 

In any event, we will have to wait and see what the Atlantic hurricane season of 2011 brings.

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Hey, how about hurricane season? Anyone thinks this will be a bad year for Florida?
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1183. flsky
Fire could be worst in Texas history
Link
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For some Chernobyl will end:

"I'm not afraid of death anymore. Of death itself. But I don't know how I'm going to die. My friend died. He got huge, fat, like a barrel. And my neighbor - he was also there, he worked a crane. He got black, like coal, and shrunk so that he was wearing kids clothes. I don't know how I'm going to die. I do know this: you don't last long with my diagnosis. But I'd like to feel it when it happens. Like if I got a bullet in the head. I was in Afghanistan too. It was easier there. They just shot you"

From 'Voices from Chernobyl' by Svetlana Alexievich.
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1181. aquak9
g'morning my sweet swoon-meister

many people still live, right outside the exclusion zone, and small neighboring farm communities, near Pripyat. Many of the war refugees, from Khazak, (sp?), etc, went to that area to live, after the Afghan war as well. They live, to be safe mentally. Many folks describe Chernobyl as another war, but these are folks with no media access, with a peasant's mentality.

Growing up in the seventies. eighties, I always had this horrid fear of the earth being destroyed by nuclear bombs, that some fool would push the wrong buttons in anger.

In a way, I was right, it just wasn't bombs.
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 163 Comments: 25493
Quoting European58:
I know it's off topic.
I know Fukushima has lost attention in the media, because nothing new happens.
And I know it's hard on the stomach this early,
but I think you have to see this, especially those who close their eyes to Fukushima's future.
Be careful, it might hurt.

http://inmotion.magnumphotos.com/essay/chernobyl

Someone sent me the link to that Chernobyl photojournal several days ago. Very, very moving and disturbing. Yes, even though the media have moved on in large part from Fukushima--doubtlessly making Big Nuclear very happy--the situation is being watched very closely by some.

There was an interesting article from Reuters a few days ago. (A month on, Japan nuclear crisis still scarring)

"Scariest is what cannot be seen in the images of vast destruction from March 11 natural disasters that led to the nuclear crisis -- namely radiation. It could take months or years to learn how damaging the release of dangerous isotopes has been to human health, food supplies, marine life and the surrounding countryside.

"The inability of Japanese authorities to regain full control of the plant will make villages nearby uninhabitable for a long time, drive people further away and risk damaging relations with neighboring countries.

Nuclear experts say Fukushima will go down in history as the second-worst nuclear accident ever. Not as bad as Chernobyl in the Ukraine but definitely much worse than Three Mile Island in the United States. "Fukushima is not the worst nuclear accident ever but it is the most complicated and the most dramatic," said James Acton, Associate of the Nuclear Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

"People will look back when they see that there were not many plants built this decade and will blame Fukushima, but the truth is the economics had already changed the situation," said Joseph Romm, a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress who oversees the Climate Progress blog. "There is simply no other power source that can go from being a multibillion dollar asset to a multibillion liability in a matter of hours."


And then there is talk today of the Japanese government changing what's currently a 20-kilometer evacuation zone into an exclusion area. What that means is that, if imposed, no longer will the government simply strongly urge residents to stay out of the 600 square kilometer contaminated area around the plant should they wish to return home; it will now be able to forcefully remove them under penalty of law. From what I can gather, that's yet another step toward a Pripyat-like buyout and shutdown of the entire area.

On the plus side, nearly 20,000 gathered in Tokyo today to protest against nuke plants. Of course, tens of thousands of angry voices are easily overhwhelmed by a tsunami of billions in Big Nuke cash, but it's a step in the right direction, anyway.

Aquak, sorry about your spinach. RIP, amaranthaceae...
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13256
1179. aquak9
Euro- Thanks for the response. Yes, some of the video shooter games are based on Pripyat- I asked my dau, "do you ever see a ferris wheel in these shooter video games?" She says yes...it is in Pripyat, the "FunPark" was due to open in the two weeks after Chernobyl blew. It never opened.

I could go on and on, I kinda became obsessed with Chernobyl after recent events. And we are watching it all happen again- different time-line, different characters, different plot- and the end chapter will never be written, as this story will never end...as Chernobyl has never really ended, either.
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 163 Comments: 25493
Quoting aquak9:


Those who don't know history, are condemned to repeat it. Or something like that.
I work with a young lady born in 1984- she has never heard of Chernobyl. Hasn't got a clue.

Reading "Voices of Chernobyl" - - in another decade, there will be part two: Voices of Northern Japan.

I don't think the world's general populace wants to face reality.

All my spinach died last week. I buried it.


My son was born in 1989.
His first knowledge of Chernobyl was in some 'first person shooter' game, it looked like a quite enjoyable place. I've told him about the real Chernobyl.
I did send him this link too.
Of course, for us Europeans it's not a 'far away tale'.
I'm afraid the same will go for Japan on Fukushima.
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1176. aquak9
Quoting European58:
I know it's off topic.
I know Fukushima has lost attention in the media, because nothing new happens.
And I know it's hard on the stomach this early,
but I think you have to see this, especially those who close their eyes for Fukushima's future.
Be careful, it might hurt.

http://inmotion.magnumphotos.com/essay/chernobyl


Those who don't know history, are condemned to repeat it. Or something like that.
I work with a young lady born in 1984- she has never heard of Chernobyl. Hasn't got a clue.

Reading "Voices of Chernobyl" - - in another decade, there will be part two: Voices of Northern Japan.

I don't think the world's general populace wants to face reality.

All my spinach died last week. I buried it.
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 163 Comments: 25493
1175. rod2635
Quoting TomTaylor:
You're asking for something impossible.

To predict, with accuracy, the exact number of named storms, hurricanes, majors, and cat 5, or as you want it, to predict the exact location of storms, is literally impossible this far out.

Top forecasters even have trouble telling you where a hurricane will go 5 days out, how are they supposed to do that 2 months out when there isn't even a storm to track?


Precisely. Much to ask when the overall accuracy of April forecasts on a macro basis is iffy to say the least. June and later estimates of total storm 'production' are better as we are closer to the commencement of the season. No surprise there. I'm sure the October seasonal estimates are near perfect. I question the practical use of such forecasts....like predicting the value of the S&P500 6 months hence...flip a coin. Of more benefit would be better emphasis on preparedness and evacuation planning. 1954 and 1955 were high US landfall years. What can we learn from available global air and water observations prior to and during those years that could help us?
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I know it's off topic.
I know Fukushima has lost attention in the media, because nothing new happens.
And I know it's hard on the stomach this early,
but I think you have to see this, especially those who close their eyes to Fukushima's future.
Be careful, it might hurt.

http://inmotion.magnumphotos.com/essay/chernobyl
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Race ended,Vettel won.It was one of the most interesting races i've ever saw.Fights,overtakings and unpredictable things like Petrov's crash.This is F1 in 2011,amazing sport.Very near the golden era in the 70's.
Next race in next week in China.I'm proud of F1.Now i'm going to listen to Mel C.
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Vettel the winner on 99,9%
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Probably no rain to the end,but we still don't know one thing:who will win?
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The clouds over Sepang are very dark,but there's no rain...but they have 28 laps to go and everything can happen.One note:there's a lot of fights on circuit!
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I'm watching it live on polish TV and i'm asking myself-when more rain?
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F1 race live:

Sportshunter.tv
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The F1 race in Malaysia starting in 6 minutes with rain predicted....it will be amazing!!!(sorry for off-top)
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1166. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)


InterTropical Convergence Zone is along 5N in that area of the Eastern Pacific.
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Is this the ITCZ?
Nice convection

Link
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1164. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Fiji Meteorological Services
Tropical Disturbance Summary
TROPICAL DISTURBANCE 14F
9:00 AM FST April 10 2011
=======================================

At 21:00 PM UTC, Tropical Disturbance 14F (1007 hPa) located at 19.0S 171.0E is reported as slowly moving. Organization has slightly improved in the past 24 hours.

Organization has not increased or deepened much. System lies to the south of an upper level ridge in a moderately sheared environment. Sea surface temperature is around 29C. global models are slowly developing the system and moving it southeast.

Potential for this tropical disturbance to form into a tropical cyclone in the next 24-48 hours is LOW.
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Quoting Ameister12:
Video of the very large tornado near Mapleton, IA.
Link


Thanks. Excellent vid.

Click for text reports.

(mod: updated image 4/10/2011)
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1162. MZT
Wow, what a crazy day! Lots of states were clobbered by storms.

Check out these hail stones from the Gastonia NC and Lake Wylie area



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1161. angiest
Quoting aquak9:
Reed Timmer in the mess of it, hope he's wearing running shoes.


Reed wears flip-flops on the chase.
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Quoting Ameister12:

Watching it right now. The lightning is constant. Truly amazing.


Ive never seen a storm like this, lots of electrical energy
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.
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.
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Video of the very large tornado near Mapleton, IA.
Link

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1155. Ossqss
Quoting TomTaylor:
No one ever said co2 was the only factor regulating global temps, did they?


Not from me, but from many others who post prolifically on this blog. Here is just on small example for you. No heat island or daming impact or farming impact etc. We impact the planet, globally, everyday 24-7. The forcings are many and we have no idea the cumulative impact from all of them aside from what we see from space. We do however wish to tax some, with no full understanding of such. Just sayin, learning as we go is all good :) ....Out.>>>>>

http://pielkeclimatesci.wordpress.com/2011/03/31/ news-article-aircraft-condensation-trails-criss-cr ossing-the-sky-may-be-warming-the-planet-on-a-norm al-day-more-than-the-carbon-dioxide-emitted-by-all -planes-since-the-wright-brothers-first-flight/
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Quoting Ossqss:
Just poppin in, live and learn eh?

Learn, if you can ~~`

Gnight :)



BTW, on the AGW subject, a warming world, directly impacted by CO2 does not go below average for 3 months in a row does it? Just shows how much we don't know bro's!
No one ever said co2 was the only factor regulating global temps, did they?
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Quoting PcolaDan:


Watching Scott Bennett and the lightning is tremendous.

Watching it right now. The lightning is constant. Truly amazing.
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1152. Ossqss
Just poppin in, live and learn eh?

Learn, if you can ~~`

Gnight :)



BTW, on the AGW subject, a warming world, directly impacted by CO2 does not go below average for 3 months in a row does it? Just shows how much we don't know bro's!
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Statement as of 10:05 PM CDT on April 09, 2011
... A Tornado Warning remains in effect for southeastern Palo Alto and
Pocahontas counties until 1030 PM CDT...

At 1004 PM CDT... local law enforcement reported a tornado. This tornado was located near Pocahontas... or 24 miles east of Storm Lake... moving northeast at 25 mph.

This storm has a history of tornado damage... and multiple reports of a confirmed tornado.

Locations impacted include... Pocahontas... Havelock... Mallard... Plover... Rolfe... West Bend and Rodman.

Precautionary/preparedness actions...

This is a dangerous storm. Immediately seek shelter in a basement... or in an interior room of a reinforced building. Stay away from windows.

If you are outside... in a Mobile home... or in a vehicle... seek shelter in a nearby reinforced building. As a last resort... find the
lowest spot available and cover your head.


Lat... Lon 4306 9445 4280 9444 4275 9445 4257 9492
4286 9492
time... Mot... loc 0305z 237deg 22kt 4276 9475




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Quoting Ameister12:
I've noticed that a lot of storm chasers have stopped at Sac City. Any reports of damage there?


Watching Scott Bennett and the lightning is tremendous.
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I've noticed that a lot of storm chasers have stopped at Sac City. Any reports of damage there?
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1147. pottery
Quoting RMuller:


Are you laughing at the deliberate manipulations or are you laughing at yourself because you have been fooled?

Well, what I did, was to look at a lot of the available information MYSELF.
Stuff like Ice Loss, Glacier melt, Sea Surface Temps, and the Climate generally over the past couple of years.
And I looked at how much Pollutant we have been putting into our atmosphere.
And I came to the conclusion that there is certainly a trend toward increased temps Globally, and that the Pollutants have a role in that.

Interestingly, I have not been able to find anything to suggest that the opposite is happening.
Although there is an awful lot of negative stuff about the Credibility of some individuals who are doing the research, the vast percentage of the research is irrefutable as far as I can make out.
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1146. flsky
It's so interesting in here when the discussion doesn't lean toward "climategate subversion." Let's move on - please....
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1145. Skyepony (Mod)
Alot of 2inch hail across Western NC & Piedmont.

0606 PM LIGHTNING MORGANTON 35.74N 81.70W
04/09/2011 BURKE NC COUNTY OFFICIAL

*** 9 INJ *** NINE PEOPLE STRUCK BY LIGHTNING AT COUNTY
FAIRGROUNDS. VICTIMS TRANSPORTED TO HOSPITAL.

Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 156 Comments: 36062
Quoting RMuller:


Are you laughing at the deliberate manipulations or are you laughing at yourself because you have been fooled?
Proved my point. Idk why you believe you are being fooled. Don't really care either, I guess its your problem.

Quoting pottery:

Except that some people say it's not warming.
And even if it is, we are not responsible because it's a natural thing.
And that the Evidence is all lies anyway.
Dont worry. Be happy.
Somebody else will probably fix it.....
Youtube Link
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Statement as of 9:23 PM CDT on April 09, 2011

Tornado Watch 116 remains valid until 1 am CDT Sunday for the following areas

In Iowa this watch includes 16 counties

In central Iowa

Hamilton Hardin Webster

In north central Iowa

Cerro Gordo Franklin Hancock
Humboldt Kossuth Winnebago
Worth Wright

In northwest Iowa

Emmet Palo Alto Pocahontas

In west central Iowa

Calhoun SAC

This includes the cities of... Algona... Eagle Grove... Emmetsburg...Estherville... Forest City... Fort Dodge... Garner... Hampton...Humboldt... Iowa Falls... Mason City... Northwood... Pocahontas...
Rockwell City... SAC City and Webster City.

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1141. pottery
Quoting TomTaylor:
Yea because all science is bs.

LOL climategate is a joke. idk what's so hard about accepting the fact that our planet is warming and we are partially responsible. It's like its too much to take in for some people.

Except that some people say it's not warming.
And even if it is, we are not responsible because it's a natural thing.
And that the Evidence is all lies anyway.
Dont worry. Be happy.
Somebody else will probably fix it.....
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Quoting TaylorSelseth:
The Red River of the North is flooding for the 3rd year in a row. It looks like it's cresting at 38.7ft today and will stay high for a while. This is the 3rd "500-year flood" here in a row, WTF is going on???

The GW deniers can kiss my rear end.


Local news head line, follow the link for more.
Published April 09, 2011, 08:49 PM
Floodwaters unprecedented in Cass and Clay counties
While most Fargo-Moorhead residents felt relief Saturday as the Red River leveled off just below 39 feet, rural homeowners in Cass and Clay counties dealt with floodwaters at unprecedented levels.

Link

I took some panoramic pictures yesterday. IF I can figure out how to upload them (they are large) I will put them in my photo album
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1139. pottery
Quoting RMuller:
The climategate subversion just keeps getting more interesting. The IPCC and anyone associated with that organization should lose all credibility.

Link

There be a Rule, somewhere, that says that you are not allowed to post links like that, on this blog, on a Saturday night.
If there isnt, there should be.

Waiting on the responses....

heheheheh
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Quoting RMuller:
The climategate subversion just keeps getting more interesting. The IPCC and anyone associated with that organization should lose all credibility.

Link
Yea because all science is bs.

LOL climategate is a joke. idk what's so hard about accepting the fact that our planet is warming and we are partially responsible. It's like its too much to take in for some people.
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1136. flsky
Perfect illustration of a high over FL. Love this map.
Quoting sunlinepr:
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Hawaii..

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About JeffMasters

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.