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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Quoting atmoaggie:

Wisconsin.
Lots of other tornado watches, but Wisconsin is clearly busy today.



Reading some of the details...
Dang. Softball hail!
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End to Japan nuke crisis is years, a fortune away
By CHARLES HUTZLER and MARI YAMAGUCHI, Associated Press Sat Apr 9, 10:24 am ET

TOKYO – Once Japan's leaky nuclear complex stops spewing radiation and its reactors cool down, making the site safe and removing the ruined equipment is going to be a messy ordeal that could take decades and cost hundreds of millions of dollars.

Radiation has covered the area around the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant and blanketed parts of the complex, making the job of "decommissioning" the plant — rendering it safe so it doesn't threaten public health and the environment — a bigger task than usual.

Toshiba Corp., which supplied four of Fukushima's six reactors, including two on which General Electric Co. collaborated, submitted a roadmap this past week to the plant's operator for decommissioning the crippled reactors. The study, done with three other companies, projects that it would take about 10 years to remove the fuel rods and the reactors and contain other radioactivity at the site, said Keisuke Omori of Toshiba.

That timeline is far faster than those for other nuclear accidents and contains a big caveat: The reactors must first be stabilized and cooled, goals that have eluded emergency teams struggling with cascading problems in the month since the devastating tsunami damaged their cooling systems. Omori said the extent of damage to the reactors and other problems still need to be assessed.

Link
Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9814
Wisconsin.

Lots of other tornado watches, but Wisconsin is clearly busy today.
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If it isn't weather (or directly related) ...
Period.
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Magnitude
5.2
Date-Time
Monday, April 11, 2011 at 02:01:20 UTC
Monday, April 11, 2011 at 02:01:20 PM at epicente
Depth
538.8 km (334.8 miles)
Region
FIJI REGION
Distances
490 km (305 miles) W (281°) from Neiafu, Tonga
511 km (317 miles) NW (317°) from NUKU'ALOFA, Tonga
3066 km (1905 miles) W (265°) from PAPEETE, Tahiti, French Polynesi




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1579. Ossqss
Oh my, we have some sensitivity here tonight :)

Just to cut my doll strings, here are some first person, recently tested, apps for smart phones that some may be interested in.

TIKL - great touch to talk with lots of other goodies (nextelish)

Redlaser - bar code scanner that pulls various feeds for info/pricing

Phantom alert - see for yourself as I did in testing last week. It worked well during my 1200 mile commutes.(congress wants to ban it sooooooooo?)

Motospeak - for those who can use it. No touch texting responses. You can fool it to work without a blue tooth connection also, but I am not telling :)

Pinout - for you geeks

CNET TV, and also CNET news. Good techy stuff with a layman approach.

Edit- to be weather related

WUSA Radar, optimized for WiFi and 3G

At least I did not post puppet master, LOL





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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
we now have tornado watches for south central ontario just to my west


KOTG,
At that Severe Weather Workshop I went to in March, I chatted with a met from Ontario. She told me most storms up there are low-topped supercells. Maybe not tonight's, though.
:)
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Tomorrow will be by far the warmest day of the year so far across the snow-covered upper Plains; temperatures of 60 (and higher) will be prevalent in the Dakotas, eastern Montana, and upper Minnesota.

IOW: the rivers will be rising...
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Quoting SeALWx:
The BS is getting WAY too deep in here and its too late to be putting on mud boots.


Later WUBAs,

PS-Here's to the good old days...*clink*


You got mail........sorry!
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1575. SeALWx
The BS is getting WAY too deep in here and its too late to be putting on mud boots.


Later WUBAs,

PS-Here's to the good old days...*clink*
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You can the the Tornado above.
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1573. SeALWx
astrology is not even semi-astronomy
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BULLETIN - EAS ACTIVATION REQUESTED
TORNADO WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE GREEN BAY WI
916 PM CDT SUN APR 10 2011


THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN GREEN BAY HAS ISSUED A

* TORNADO WARNING FOR...
MANITOWOC COUNTY IN EAST CENTRAL WISCONSIN...

* UNTIL 945 PM CDT

* AT 910 PM CDT...NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DOPPLER RADAR INDICATED A
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM CAPABLE OF PRODUCING A TORNADO. THIS DANGEROUS
STORM WAS LOCATED NEAR CHILTON...OR 18 MILES SOUTHEAST OF
APPLETON...AND MOVING NORTHEAST AT 50 MPH.

* THIS DANGEROUS STORM WILL AFFECT MAINLY RURAL AREAS OF MANITOWOC
COUNTY...INCLUDING THE FOLLOWING LOCATIONS CATO...TAUS...
MENCHALVILLE...GRIMMS...WHITELAW...KELLNERSVILLE.. .ROSECRANS...
MARIBEL...FRANCIS CREEK AND LARRABEE.
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1571. Patrap
Indeed BFOTR's,,

We all have our passion,,but a place for it is usually a good blog entry.

Which I dont see many of from the Doll String Crowd.

If any,,

ever
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1570. Patrap
I believe we have had Invests in May the last 3 outta 4 years.

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Interesting fact. Marx and Engels wrote the Communist Manifesto the last time Neptune was in Pisces, which it entered last week and where it will remain for 14 years---except for a brief retrograde this August. (semi-astronomy related)

Storms on the Plains may cause some tornadoes later. I saw a cloudtop.. to the south. (credit CosmicEvents)

Lawdy, Pat.
We should have known that conversation was going south when Comanche typed "I love you but..." and she addressed him as "dear." LMAO

I second your plea.

Add: And raise you fifty cents.
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Anyone remember 97L?

The first red circle of the 2010 hurricane season.

Sometimes, noticable disturbances occur early in the year, like 97L. However, sometimes, it take many weeks for anything noticable to come.



See that, that is 93L. Like 97L, It didn't form.

The first named storm in 2010 was Alex, a sure beast for June.However, the first named storm in 2009 was Anna, which didn't form until mid August.

My point is, sometimes, you have to wait awhile before you can start to see the season unfold, and sometimes, you don't have to wait at all...

Now lets see what 2011 has in store for us.
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Quoting Patrap:

Quoting InconceivableF6:


Ty Daddy-o

I like to rattle the hanging chad masses once in a while to keep um interested




LoL




SORE LOSER!!!!......LOL
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Sunday, April 10, 2011
The Rasmussen Reports
daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Sunday shows that 21% of the nation's voters Strongly Approve of the way that Barack Obama is performing his role as president. Thirty-nine percent (39%) Strongly Disapprove, giving Obama a Presidential Approval Index rating of -18 (see trends).
These results are based upon nightly interviews and reported on a three-day rolling average basis. As a result, two-thirds of the interviews for today’s update were conducted before a deal was formally announced to avoid a partial shutdown of the federal government



ONE POPULAR President....
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1563. Patrap

Quoting InconceivableF6:


Ty Daddy-o

I like to rattle the hanging chad masses once in a while to keep um interested




LoL
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1562. SeALWx
Quoting TampaSpin:


Yep, Levi is one sharp young man.....one of the best if not the best on this blog! :)


Oh I know that's the truth. I've been here since '05, but I no longer post under my original handle. (Not 'cause of the ban-hammer, I just got tired of getting my 'nole trolled. If you catch my drift...)
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1561. Patrap

Shhhhhhhhhhhhh..


Dont say a word,

Your welcome.



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Bunch of idiots from both sides on here that never bother looking in the mirror. Can't make remarks without disparaging those with which they disagree. (and yes I just did the same) There is no longer a middle ground, only a DMZ.

No wonder so many of the good regulars have left.
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Quoting Patrap:
Fla,,the gift that keeps on giving here.

lets Play HardBLOG


Who knew Skeletor could be a Guvna?

Republicans Gather to Vent Their Disgust With Gov. Scott


LoL



He's about as popular as your boy in the white house!....ROFLMAO.......what a joke he is!
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1557. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Watches


Warnings
Severe thunderstorm warning for
Hanover - Dundalk - Southern Grey County issued

Tornado watch for
Barrie - Collingwood - Hillsdale

Orangeville - Grand Valley - Southern Dufferin County

Tornado watch for
Mount Forest - Arthur - Northern Wellington County continued

This is an alert to the potential development of severe thunderstorms capable of producing tornadoes..Monitor weather conditions and listen for updated bulletins.

A pronounced warm front across the Central Great Lakes is a focus for intense thunderstorms tonight. A severe thunderstorm over Central Lake Huron has had reports of large hail and damaging winds. Conditions are favourable for isolated tornadoes with this storm late this evening just east of Lake Huron.
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 171 Comments: 53809
Quoting SeALWx:
I would like to say thanks to Levi for for the interesting scientific and fact based discussions seen tonight. It reminds me a lot of the old blog atmosphere; people bringing information related to tropical weather in and asking questions of each other. Now this place seems overrun with people wanting their own personal soapbox to stand upon and spout opinions of varying degrees of coherency and scientific backing.
We used to be nuts about weather, now we're just NUTS.



Yep, Levi is one sharp young man.....one of the best if not the best on this blog! :)
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1555. Patrap
Fla,,the gift that keeps on giving here.

lets Play HardBLOG


Who knew Skeletor could be a Guvna?

Republicans Gather to Vent Their Disgust With Gov. Scott


LoL
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1554. SeALWx
I would like to say thanks to Levi for for the interesting scientific and fact based discussions seen tonight. It reminds me a lot of the old blog atmosphere; people bringing information related to tropical weather in and asking questions of each other. Now this place seems overrun with people wanting their own personal soapbox to stand upon and spout opinions of varying degrees of coherency and scientific backing.
We used to be nuts about weather, now we're just NUTS.

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Funny the very Liberal non-sense on this blog....you all must be Sean Penn's children......GEESH!
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1552. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
we now have tornado watches for south central ontario just to my west
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 171 Comments: 53809
Quoting Chicklit:



And, please never forget that the top 50% pay 96.3% of the taxes. I'm curious, you probably thought "Rainbow Fish" to be a beautiful story, didn't you. The problem though, at the end, there were no truly beautiful fish left were there? Oh they all had one beautiful scale apiece, but that was it. Sounds pretty mediocre to me, and very sad.
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1550. Levi32
Quoting altesticstorm011:

Another point on that issue: if both basins had strong hurricane seasons, then where was the shear?


The answer to that lies in the fact that there is a big difference between westerly shear and easterly shear (upper level winds) regarding their treatment of tropical entities. With the Atlantic being the dominant area of upward motion in 2005, the net wind direction in the EPAC at the 200mb level was anomalously from the east. While the Atlantic was the most favored for activity, easterly winds aloft, if not too strong, can enhance tropical wave development and allow a decent amount of activity in the eastern Pacific if SSTs are warm. That said, due to the monsoonal nature of almost all EPAC storms, easterly shear does more damage there than in the Atlantic where the trade winds are from the east.

It is worth pointing out as well that although the EPAC was slightly above normal in 2005 in terms of the total number of named storms (17; normal is 15) it had quite low ACE, with a below-average number of hurricanes (only 5; average is 8)

Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26647
Quoting Chicklit:

Have you ever wondered why we're all so squeezed and our government is in deep debt, but the stock market is now over 12,000?
There is your answer. The money is all going in one direction: to the top. And very little is coming out of there. Anyway, listening to the public service workers on this line:
PublicSafetyClarkCountyWI


So your saying you have no investments in the Stock Market. Thats too bad! But, don't blame those of us that have invested the ones you refer. Nothing wrong at all from investing in Companies especially those American companies that give them the ability to prosper. Let me remind you the companies companies they you are calling out are some of whom that does help pay for the salaries of a teachers by them paying taxes and giving jobs to others that pay taxes. Heck i am very surprised a teacher does not have a 401K! Very poor money management i would suggest.
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Haven't been on the comments since December...

The SSTs in the Atlantic Ocean seem to be about 1 degree C above average. (About 1.5 degrees F above average.)
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BR>V^ "Table F-1. Income Limits for Each Fifth and Top 5 Percent of Families (All Races): 1947 to 2007". Current Population Survey, Annual Social and Economic Supplements. United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on 2009-04-12. http://www.webcitation.org/query?url=http%3A%2F%2F www.census.gov%2Fhhes%2Fwww%2Fincome%2Fhistinc%2Ff 01AR.html&date=2009-04-12. Retrieved 2009-04-12.

We're basically flatlining.
This is only based on income, not on jobs lost.
That picture is much worse.


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1545. Levi32
Quoting TomTaylor:

Levi (or anyone else who can help),

where do you get these maps?


NOAA ESRL Monthly/Seasonal Composite Maps of NCEP Reanalysis Data
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26647
1544. Patrap
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1543. Patrap
Lawdy,...





Please take your op-ed's to the wu mail system.

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1542. Levi32
Quoting altesticstorm011:

Isn't it true that in most second-year La Nina years that SSTs in the Atlantic cool to near normal? Take 2008 as an example.

The "weird" winter in the CONUS was signified by a cold January featuring more snowstorms than usual and an abrupt end to the winter for a large area of the country in early-mid February.


Well let's take a look:



The answer is that they are definitely cooler than the previous year, which makes sense, but not necessarily all the way to neutral, especially during warm AMO years when they usually remain warmer than normal.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26647


V^ "Table F-1. Income Limits for Each Fifth and Top 5 Percent of Families (All Races): 1947 to 2007". Current Population Survey, Annual Social and Economic Supplements. United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on 2009-04-12. http://www.webcitation.org/query?url=http%3A%2F%2F www.census.gov%2Fhhes%2Fwww%2Fincome%2Fhistinc%2Ff 01AR.html&date=2009-04-12. Retrieved 2009-04-12.

We're basically flatlining.
This is only based on income, not on jobs lost.
That picture is much worse.

Anyway, my son has a conservative social world view.
Just because he sees things differently than I do doesn't mean I do not still love him.
I remembr when he cried over stepping on a frog, so I know he has a heart.
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1539. Ossqss
Quoting cat5hurricane:

How about answering the question to how many states there are as you have so dodged? How's that.

Just another disgruntled government employee Neo that had to come to realize that there are younger, more technologically savvy people out there than you. So sure, let's blame the coorporations with our left-wing agenda by taking your grief out on a weather blog with your political nonsense. Your colors show straight thru, bud.

You may have some on here who buys the story, but not all my friend. It's quite humorous, really. But at the same time, very sad.


Not to pile on, but he owes me a crisp $5 bill too
! :)

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Quoting Chicklit:

Have you ever wondered why we're all so squeezed and our government is in deep debt, but the stock market is now over 12,000?
There is your answer. The money is all going in one direction: to the top. And very little is coming out of there. Anyway, listening to the public service workers on this line:
PublicSafetyClarkCountyWI



Would you rather those of us vested in the market cash in our stocks(and pay capital gains taxes that do nothing but support government fat and those who do not produce)and bury the money in our back yards? Chicklit, not once in my life have I ever been employed by a person on welfare. Where else should the money go but up?

Keep advocating sticking it to big business and they will move offshore, taking their money with them. Speaking of big business, what of Jeffery Imelt and General Electric, how much have they been paying in taxes lately? Ask his Golf buddy at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.




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Quoting altesticstorm011:

If so, I suggest a tattoo for him:

Member for less than a month + shower curtain + stellar logic (not) = humm??
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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.