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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This quake was a lot south of the Mega quake zone, I would say its a separate event and not an aftershock, I just hope it's not a fore-shock to another mega quake.
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983. Skyepony (Mod)
Quoting Tropicsweatherpr:


Hi Sky.Yes,the subsurface is warm,but the 30 day SOI is well positive,indicating La Nina holding on.What do you make of this?





The tropical invests/storms & around Darwin have played a roll in the positive SOI. I've also noticed, atleast with the 90day SOI (which smooths some of that) that it's 50/50 on which moves first out of ENSO or SOI when we're coming out of a mod La Niña. ESPI on the other hand always goes Neg before ENSO moves positive. Which makes sense as the K-waves that begin to propagate causing the switch is picked up first by the rain anomalies before we see the results in the sea temps anomalies.
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Quoting Gearsts:
lol

What do you see then? I also see low pressure moving in from Canada, a pretty strong one too.
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Quoting hurricane23:
It still doesn't seem like El Niño is really gaining a foothold, that last burst of westerly winds never got into the core ENSO regions. Seems like the -PDO configuration is holding strong and reinforcing that Baja cold pool...


That cold pool is very big.

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Member Since: August 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1933
TEST is anyone there?
Member Since: August 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1933
Quoting AussieStorm:

I see the high pressure is moving east.
lol
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Quoting hurricane23:
It still doesn't seem like El Niño is really gaining a foothold, that last burst of westerly winds never got into the core ENSO regions. Seems like the -PDO configuration is holding strong and reinforcing that Baja cold pool...


I agree, and the 30 Day SOI is still holding strong in the plus ranges.
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Quoting Gearsts:
What do you see here?Link

I see the high pressure is moving east.
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It still doesn't seem like El Niño is really gaining a foothold, that last burst of westerly winds never got into the core ENSO regions. Seems like the -PDO configuration is holding strong and reinforcing that Baja cold pool...
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Be careful with those Florida companies.I had Florida Fire and Casualty in "92", they bankrupted 3 days after Andrew. Now I use out of state companies.
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Taal Volcano Bulletin 09 April 2011 07:00PHT

This is a notice for the raising of the alert status of Taal Volcano (14°00.1’N, 120°59.6’E) from Alert Level 1 to Alert Level 2.

Following the issuance of the volcano advisory on 31 March 2011, the monitored parameters have shown significant changes as indicated by the following observations:

Seismic activity at Taal Volcano continued to worsen. The number of volcanic earthquakes detected gradually rose and the depths of the plotted quakes are becoming shallow (1.0-4.0 km). There is also an increase in the number of perceptible quakes. During the past 24 hours, two (2) quakes were felt at the Volcano Island with Intensities ranging from 2-3 and one of them was accompanied by rumbling sounds. Twenty-one (21) volcanic quakes were detected by the seismic network for the past 24 hours.
Gas measurements conducted at Taal Main Crater Lake yielded CO2 emission flux of 1,875 tonnes per day (t/d) in February 2011 and 4,670 t/d during the last week of March 2011. The remarkable increase in C02concentration indicates its release from the magma at depth.
Result of the ground deformation survey (precise leveling) conducted around the Volcano Island this week showed that volcano edifice is still inflated as compared with February 2011 survey.
Steaming activities at the northern and northeast sides of the Main Crater occasionally intensified. Sometimes, intensification of steaming activity is accompanied by audible hissing sounds.

In view of the above observations at Taal Volcano and the interpretation that magma has been intruding towards the surface, as manifested by CO2 being released in Main Crater Lake and increase in seismic activity, Taal Volcano’s status is now raised to Alert Level 2. With this alert status, the present activities could eventually lead to an eruption. Hence, PHIVOLCS advises the public that the Main Crater, Daang Kastila Trail and Mt. Tabaro (1965 Eruption Site) are strictly off-limits because sudden hazardous steam-driven explosions may occur and high concentrations of toxic gases may accumulate. Breathing air with high concentration of gases can be lethal to human, animals and even cause damage to vegetation. In addition, it is reminded that entire Volcano Island is a Permanent Danger Zone (PDZ), and permanent settlement in the island is strictly not recommended. DOST-PHIVOLCS is closely monitoring Taal Volcano’s activity and any new significant development will be immediately relayed to all concerned

PHIVOLCS-DOS
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What do you see here?Link
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Quoting CybrTeddy:
FWIW, CFS is no longer predicting La Nina to cross into the warm side of the ENSO.


However, your going to see the La Nina dissipated by the end of this month or early May. Neutral conditions into June, July.


However "new" CFS does still show cross over. Since the "new" CFS does not have PDF corrected yet, comparision of "old" and "new" CFS:





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Quoting aquak9:
G'morning, dayshift...errr, weekend shift.

Swoon'o'the'Day to ya, Nea.

Allstate treats me well, even with a 20-year old driver. They are fair, always there when I need them, and the people I deal with on a face-to-face basis treat me better than family.

When Geico dropped me in '05 - no more homeowner's- Allstate was glad to take me as a customer.

The big companies always leave a bad taste in my mouth, whether through personal experience or the experiences of those I know. Two very small anecdotes to help illustrate my point:

1) My ex in-laws own a handful of properties in South Florida. One old rental in Hollywood had been covered by Allstate for 33 years with nary a claim until Andrew hit. That storm dropped a ficus branch on the front porch, doing less than $2,000 damage. They filed a claim--again, their first ever on that property--and Allstate sent them a check in the mail...followed two weeks later by a letter of policy cancellation telling them they were considered "too large a risk". For months after Andrew, the same story was heard from all over: good folks who'd paid premiums for decades were suddenly told to go away for having the temerity to actually use the service for which they'd been paying.

2) I was a loyal GEICO car insurance customer for many years in South Florida, and never filed a claim, got no tickets, was never involved in an accident, and all that. I sold the rights to a software product in 1999 to a company in Santa Barbara, California, so moved out there as part of the deal. GEICO raised my rates a little over 30%, explaining that I was moving to a much more risky area, so they needed to compensate. I didn't like it, but I understood. A year later, however, I had to move back to Miami for a year to fulfill a contractual obligation. I notified GEICO--who proceeded to raise my rates a little over 30%, explaining that I was moving to a much more risky area, so they needed to compensate. Say what? I explained--patiently at first, then more angrily--that I though they were full of bovine egesta, but they refused to capitulate. So I dumped them.

My point being, big insurers spend millions on catchy jingles and touchy-feely commercials and CGI geckos with British accents. But when the rubber meets the road--or when the ficus meets the front porch--you, the customer, suddenly go from being a long-term asset to a short-term liability...and all that feel-good stuff they so loudly trumpet means absolutely nothing.
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SVR T-STORM WARNING PADUCAH KY - KPAH 705 AM CDT SAT APR 9 2011
SVR T-STORM WARNING PADUCAH KY - KPAH 703 AM CDT SAT APR 9 2011
SVR T-STORM WARNING INDIANAPOLIS IN - KIND 800 AM EDT SAT APR 9 2011
SVR T-STORM WARNING ST LOUIS MO - KLSX 643 AM CDT SAT APR 9 2011
SVR T-STORM WARNING PADUCAH KY - KPAH 642 AM CDT SAT APR 9 2011
SVR T-STORM WARNING SPRINGFIELD MO - KSGF 631 AM CDT SAT APR 9 2011
SVR T-STORM WARNING PADUCAH KY - KPAH 625 AM CDT SAT APR 9 2011
SVR T-STORM WARNING PADUCAH KY - KPAH 609 AM CDT SAT APR 9 2011
SVR T-STORM WARNING PADUCAH KY - KPAH 552 AM CDT SAT APR 9 2011
SVR T-STORM WARNING ST LOUIS MO - KLSX 541 AM CDT SAT APR 9 2011
SVR T-STORM WARNING LINCOLN IL - KILX 540 AM CDT SAT APR 9 2011
Member Since: August 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1933
Quoting aquak9:
G'morning Ike

when I bought my house in, uhm, 1998? it was about $250. I got dropped, passed around a few times, now it's a rental and I got dropped and passed around a few more times. Now it's $703. But it's an old, small house.

My personal homeowner's insurance consists of a few tarps, some rope, and a Huskevarna chainsaw.


I could use some tape and glue if you have any. My deck of cards house looks pretty but, a puff of wind blows them dam cards around pretty easy it seems!
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967. IKE
5 day QPF....


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964. IKE

Quoting aquak9:
G'morning Ike

when I bought my house in, uhm, 1998? it was about $250. I got dropped, passed around a few times, now it's a rental and I got dropped and passed around a few more times. Now it's $703. But it's an old, small house.

My personal homeowner's insurance consists of a few tarps, some rope, and a Huskevarna chainsaw.
lol.
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G'morning Ike

when I bought my house in, uhm, 1998? it was about $250. I got dropped, passed around a few times, now it's a rental and I got dropped and passed around a few more times. Now it's $703. But it's an old, small house.

My personal homeowner's insurance consists of a few tarps, some rope, and a Huskevarna chainsaw.
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 163 Comments: 25732
Quoting Skyepony:
JRRP~ I think we'll see warmer. That Kelvin Wave, first in a long time was impressive. Not much cool water left in the T-depth anomaly & summer isn't even here yet. The ENSO Precipitation Index (ESPI) for the last 30 days is -1.93. That makes me expect El Nino conditions late spring, early summer. Maybe back to neutral conditions by late fall.


Hi Sky.Yes,the subsurface is warm,but the 30 day SOI is well positive,indicating La Nina holding on.What do you make of this?



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961. IKE
My homeowners insurance is with Castle Key....formerly Allstate Floridian. It went from $1,193.32 a year to $1,471.63. An increase of $278.31...or a 23.3% increase.
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FWIW, CFS is no longer predicting La Nina to cross into the warm side of the ENSO.


However, your going to see the La Nina dissipated by the end of this month or early May. Neutral conditions into June, July.
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livehailmap.comLink

Link to live hail tracking. Last night they had a few H=5.0 events. Alot of big hail
Member Since: August 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1933
G'morning, dayshift...errr, weekend shift.

Swoon'o'the'Day to ya, Nea.

Allstate treats me well, even with a 20-year old driver. They are fair, always there when I need them, and the people I deal with on a face-to-face basis treat me better than family.

When Geico dropped me in '05 - no more homeowner's- Allstate was glad to take me as a customer.
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 163 Comments: 25732
Just in time for hurricane season:

Florida approves rate hikes for State Farm

Regulators have approved an average rate hike of 18.8 percent for Florida homeowners covered by State Farm, according to state documents filed Friday.

The higher rates, which are less than the 28 percent boost State Farm sought, will take effect July 1 for new business and beginning July 15 for renewals. Separately, Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty approved a 62 percent increase for State Farm’s commercial residential policies, which cover homes that are owned by a person or business entity and rented to others. Rate changes will range from a 9.8 percent decrease to a 64.3 percent increase, depending on the type of policy and exact area, Office of Insurance Regulation’s data show.

Florida has been spared a major hurricane for more than five years. But State Farm, the largest private insurer in Florida, maintains that it needs to boost premiums for its 632,000 policyholders because of rising costs unrelated to hurricanes.

Three years ago, State Farm threatened to pull out of Florida’s property insurance market. Under a deal struck with regulators in late 2009, it was allowed to drop some 125,000 homeowners across Florida to limit its exposure and raise rates an average 15 percent for those it kept.

During the February hearing, Belinda Miller, general counsel for the Office of Insurance Regulation, questioned if some customers would be surprised to see their premiums increase 40 to 50 percent if the rate passes. She asked Swope if State Farm considered capping rates to "prevent the shock in the marketplace." The carrier did, he said, but decided against it.

Article...

To summarize:
  • When there were a string of hurricanes in 2004 and 2005, rate increases were based on that. But in the absence of hurricanes, the exorbitant rate increases are now being blamed on "sinkhole claims."
  • Insurers--especially the huge money mills such as State Farm--only want to insure you so long as you'll never file a claim.
  • Premiums are important; people aren't.

If you're shopping for insurance, buyer beware:
Don't fall for commercials; they're full of hot air.
The insurers sell you on how much they care,
But any who do are incredibly rare.
It's better by far to research and compare,
And rely on your smarts to find which ones are fair.
"Just like a good neighbor, State Farm is there!"
(Unless you're in need; then that neighbor's nowhere.)
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955. Skyepony (Mod)
Chaser was driving south to intercept. Getting in the thick. Lightning flash..is that a tornado or the choppy, crappy feed making the windshield wipers look like one? Live feed freezes..
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954. Skyepony (Mod)
JRRP~ I think we'll see warmer. That Kelvin Wave, first in a long time was impressive. Not much cool water left in the T-depth anomaly & summer isn't even here yet. The ENSO Precipitation Index (ESPI) for the last 30 days is -1.93. That makes me expect El Nino conditions late spring, early summer. Maybe back to neutral conditions by late fall.
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952. Skyepony (Mod)
Hominy may have gotten hit bad.

That chaser might be too far north.
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Supercell heading towards the Tulsa area with a pronounced hook echo. Link
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950. JRRP
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949. Skyepony (Mod)
gordy~ If your talking about me..been a fun evening. This tornado chaser tracker thing could do me in though. Another one has set up infront of that storm & is streaming live..I should be sleeping.
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Looks like there is a "outlaw supercell" in northern OK, or that's what I call them anyway!

The plains are known for those isolated monsters, that is a classic one. You better believe we'll be hearing more about damage from that sucker.

Member Since: August 21, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 7272
Quoting emcf30:


This is some tennis ball size hail that came out of a collapsing updraft from a storm reed was chasing tonight in OK



Good Lord those are huge, you don't get them that big here in Central Florida Florida, too much warm air in the column! They always melt on their way down here usually.
Member Since: August 21, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 7272
Quoting jasonweatherman2010:
she is a weather womAn my god she is pretty.


Jason, I would have to agree with you very much so.

We have some pretty ones here locally too, and they usually come from FSU :)
Member Since: August 21, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 7272
Skyepony don't take this personally but how is one of the smartest people I have ever not meet doing.
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940. Skyepony (Mod)
Eye~ Doesn't look like he's driving after that long tracking tornado about to go south of Newkirk.
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That's okay I know if I told you I'd have to kill yea.
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938. Skyepony (Mod)
Quoting EYEStoSEA:


Hey Skye, been watching that, is there no sound or I'm not doing something right?


I didn't find any sound.
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Quoting gordydunnot:
How did they build those pyramids anyway?


I know they have always been given the credit, but if the truth be told, they hired private contractors.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 69 Comments: 25345
How did they build those pyramids anyway?
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Quoting gordydunnot:
Forgot to admit not quite as old as Grothar but I liked it better when we didn't have street lights.


It was nice. It started with those darn torches, those Egyptians started carrying around. After that it was all down hill.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 69 Comments: 25345
Quoting Skyepony:
Crazy chasin this cell in the dark..


Hey Skye, been watching that, is there no sound or I'm not doing something right?
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About

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