Mississippi River flood of 2011 sets all-time flow record, but has crested

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:43 PM GMT on May 20, 2011

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The great Mississippi River flood of 2011 crested yesterday and today, and the volume of water being pushed toward the Gulf of Mexico is the largest ever recorded on the Mississippi, said Bob Anderson, a spokesman for the Army Corps of Engineers for the Mississippi Valley Division. "It's never been this high; it's never had this much water," he said. "There's just a tremendous amount of strain on these levees." The Mississippi crested yesterday at Vicksburg, Mississippi, reaching 57.06'. This exceeded the previous all-time record of 56.2', set during the great flood of 1927. The river crested at Natchez, Mississippi early this morning, and is now falling. The flood height at Natchez was also the greatest on record--61.91', nearly three feet higher than the previous record height of 58', set in 1937. The opening of the Morganza Spillway on Saturday helped to reduce the flood heights from Vicksburg to New Orleans by 1 - 3 feet, greatly reducing the pressure on the levees and on the critical Old River Control Structure (which, as I discussed last Friday, is America's Achilles' heel, and must be protected.) According the National Weather Service, the Mississippi River is no longer rising anywhere along its length, and the great flood of 2011 has likely seen its peak. Rainfall over the next five days will not be enough to raise the Mississippi River water levels above the crests recorded yesterday and today. While it is great news that the flood has peaked, and the Old River Control Structure and all of the mainline levees on the Mississippi River have held, the fight is not over yet. Water levels will stay high for many weeks, and these structures will take a sustained pounding that could still cause failures. If another incredible heavy rain event like we experienced in mid-April occurs in June, the levee system and Old River Control Structure will threatened. Let's hope we don't have an early season Gulf of Mexico tropical storm that makes landfall over Louisiana. The latest 2-week forecast from the GFS model is not hinting at anything like this, fortunately. It's a good thing (for the sake of the levees) that Louisiana experienced severe drought over the winter and spring--had the water levels been high throughout winter and spring, like occurred in the run-up to the great 1927 flood, the levees would have been soggy and much more vulnerable to failure once the big flood crest hit.


Figure 1. The flow of the Mississippi River past the Old River Control Structure near Simmesport, Louisiana reached its all-time highest volume on record Thursday, when the flow rate hit 2.3 million cubic feet per second (cfs). The flow of Niagara Falls at normal water levels is 100,000 cfs, so the Mississippi's flow was 23 times that of Niagara Falls. Image credit: Army Corps of Engineers.

Recommended reading
My post on the Old River Control Structure, America's Achilles' heel: the Mississippi River Old River Control Structure, is well worth reading, if you haven't done so. I plan on making a follow-up post next week discussing the economic cost of the failure of this critical flood-control structure.

Our weather historian, Christopher C. Burt, has made a very interesting post on the greatest floods to affect each continent.


Figure 2. Track forecast for Tropical Storm Four.

First typhoon of 2011 coming?
In the Northwest Pacific, Tropical Storm Four has formed, and appears poised to become the first typhoon of 2011 by early next week. The storm is expected to head west-northwest or northwest towards the Philippines. While the GFS model predicts Tropical Storm Four will miss the Philippines and recurve northwards towards Japan late next week, it is too early to be confident of this forecast.

Have a great weekend everyone, and I'll be back Monday with a new post.

Jeff Masters

In Bound (minou)
Chances of over-topping Baton Rouge or Port Allen levees are slim to none. Problems with this volume continuing for 2 weeks or longer is the question of whether the levees will stand the test of pressure. Thank goodness we've been in a drought or else the levees would be mushy inside and out! The Hwy. 190 Bridge in the distance was closed the day before this photo due to a run-away barge that struck the base.
In Bound
High Water at Baton Rouge (cmrbg06)
High Water at Baton Rouge
High Water at Baton Rouge

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1207. emcf30
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1206. pottery
Quoting Ameister12:
89 dead?! Unbelievable.

So far....
This is really very bad news.
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1205. emcf30
Quoting islander101010:
waterrising folks been saying for a couple yrs "i dont see nothing" well i see it 3 to 6 inches above normal for this time of yr e cen fl.


Where are you getting that info from. Tampa is the only one well above the YTD average. This chart only goes thru April. May has been below aver.


This is not taking in account for the below average rain fall in 2010 in most areas.

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89 dead?! Unbelievable.
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1203. IKE

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New AP story with eyewitness accounts of tornado:

Link

"Sunday's storm in Joplin hit a hospital packed with patients and a commercial area including a Home Depot construction store, numerous smaller businesses and restaurants and a grocery store. Jasper County emergency management director Keith Stammer said an estimated 2,000 buildings were damaged."

Member Since: September 10, 2010 Posts: 2 Comments: 409
1201. beell


MESOSCALE DISCUSSION 0882
NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER NORMAN OK
0507 AM CDT MON MAY 23 2011

AREAS AFFECTED...SOUTHERN KS/MUCH OF OK AND SOUTHERN MO/NORTHERN AR

CONCERNING...OUTLOOK UPGRADE
VALID 231007Z - 231200Z

AN UPGRADE TO A CATEGORICAL MODERATE RISK IS LIKELY WITH THE UPDATED
DAY 1 CONVECTIVE OUTLOOK AT 13Z
. THIS WILL LIKELY INCLUDE PORTIONS
OF SOUTHERN KS/MUCH OF OK AND SOUTHERN MO/NORTHERN AR. FOR
ADDITIONAL METEOROLOGICAL DISCUSSION...SEE THE FORTHCOMING DAY 1
OUTLOOK THAT WILL BE ISSUED BY AROUND 13Z.

..GUYER.. 05/23/2011
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waterrising folks been saying for a couple yrs "i dont see nothing" well i see it 3 to 6 inches above normal for this time of yr e cen fl.
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TS SONGDA

Is about to ease into Typhoon Status.The Projected course now in ALL models takes this potentially dangerous Typhoon away from land and makes it a Fish.

This is encouraging news for those recovering in Japan from the tsunami and earthquake, but the the nxt 48-72 hrs will see TS SONGDA develop fast into a major Typhoon as outflow is good, WS drops to almost zero,and very warm SSTS.
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.
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2011...The year of the twister for sure.
God bless all the victims.
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1196. aquak9
dear God
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 163 Comments: 25489
1195. IKE
Florida panhandle...long-term.....

LONG TERM...(WEDNESDAY NIGHT THROUGH MONDAY)...THE EXTENDED
FORECAST PERIOD WILL SEE A MEAN UPPER LEVEL RIDGE OVER THE WEST
CENTRAL PORTION OF THE CONUS AND A MEAN TROF OVER THE EAST. AN
ENERGETIC SHORT WAVE WILL PROGRESS THROUGH THE MEAN TROF POSITION
AND REINFORCE IT BEGINNING THURSDAY AND CONTINUING INTO THE WEEKEND.
THE GFS IS SOMEWHAT MORE AGGRESSIVE WITH THIS SURGE OF ENERGY...
BRINGING IT FURTHER SOUTH INTO THE SOUTHEAST AND MOVING IT EASTWARD
FASTER THAN THE EURO. WILL GO WITH A BLEND OF THE MODELS...AND
INDICATE A WEAKENING COLD FRONT PUSHING SLOWLY INTO THE TRI-STATE
AREA ACCOMPANIED BY AN INCREASE IN CLOUDS AND SHOWERS...BRINGING
POPS UP TO NEAR CLIMO BY FRIDAY THROUGH THE WEEKEND. TEMPERATURES
WILL COME DOWN A FEW DEGREES...BUT REMAIN NEAR OR A LITTLE ABOVE
CLIMO IN MOST AREAS THROUGH THE PERIOD.
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1194. emcf30
Holy crap, just woke and 89 confirmed in Joplin.
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Quoting IKE:
89 dead...omg.
Yeah I just listened to the news conference, that is what they said.. and many missing, door to door search and rescue today. they know that there are folks still trapped.


Add: this is a local radio station that broadcasted the conference, they are running a live stream with call ins, lots of local information: EMERGENCY RADIO FEED

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1192. IKE
89 dead...omg.
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TWCBreaking TWC Breaking
89 now confirmed dead in Joplin, MO #tornado. Watch live stream of coverage: http://wxch.nl/mGofeP #mowx
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1190. IKE
At least 30 dead in Joplin,Missouri. Terrible.
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Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9648
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Hmm.. In the Atlantic.
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Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9648
1185. aquak9
(lifts coffee cup quietly to all)
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1184. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Japan Meteorological Agency
Tropical Cyclone Advisory #23
SEVERE TROPICAL STORM SONGDA (T1102)
15:00 PM JST May 23 2011
==================================

SUBJECT: Category Two Typhoon In Sea East Of Philippines

At 6:00 AM UTC, Severe Tropical Storm Songda (985 hPa) located at 11.4N 133.1E has 10 minute sustained winds of 50 knots with gusts of 70 knots. The cyclone is reported as moving west northwest at 11 knots.

Gale Force Winds
===============
150 NM from the center in northeastern quadrant
110 NM from the center in southwestern quadrant

Dvorak Intensity: T3.0

Forecast And Intensity
=======================
24 HRS: 12.2N 131.1E - 70 knots (CAT 3/Strong Typhoon)
48 HRS: 13.5N 129.6E - 80 knots (CAT 3/Strong Typhoon)
72 HRS: 15.5N 127.2E - 85 knots (CAT 4/Very Strong Typhoon)

Additional Information
====================
Position forecast is mainly based on numerical weather prediction and persistency

Severe Tropical Storm will be upgraded to typhoon within 24 hours

Severe Tropical Storm will develop because of cloud top temperature near cyclone center has become colder and will stay in high sea surface temperature area

Final Dvorak T-Number will be 4.5 after 24 hours
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1181. mbjjm
75% of the city of Joplin destroyed.



KANSAS CITY (Reuters) – At least 30 people are known to have been killed by a powerful tornado that plowed through the southwestern Missouri town of Joplin on Sunday, Newton County Coroner Mark Bridges told Reuters by telephone.


Relief and rescue operations continue through the night listen live Jasper County Law Enforcement Agencies
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EYEStoSEA..I like the way you think!..lol

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Quoting AllyBama:


unfortunately tomorrow I have to work and can't follow...maybe I should just call out..lol..praying for a peaceful night..thanks


I say, just call out and take the day off..lol...sounds like a plan :)
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Quoting EYEStoSEA:


Seem to be less intense, no tornado warnings at this
moment... try to get some rest :) Tomorrow they are to return..


unfortunately tomorrow I have to work and can't follow...maybe I should just call out..lol..praying for a peaceful night..thanks
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I'm just utterly stunned tonight seeing the damage pictures and video and reading all the reports coming out of Joplin, Missouri tonight. God bless them tonight.
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Quoting AllyBama:
I wish that these storms would just DIE. Get it a rest! I got more friends in the path of these storms and I need to go to bed shortly..


Seem to be less intense, no tornado warnings at this
moment... try to get some rest :) Tomorrow they are to return..
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Thanks for the info Nea... looking from the reference you gave found this.

Terrain doesn't factor into the path a tornado will take. That MYTH was dispelled many years ago, by Dr. Ted Fujita. That myth is discussed in a FAQ from the Storm Prediction Center:

There is an old legend that my town is protected from tornadoes by the (hill, river, spirit, etc.). Is there any truth to this? No. Many towns which have not suffered a tornado strike contain well-meaning people who perpetuate these myths; but there is no basis for them besides the happenstance lack of a tornado.
Almost every major river east of the Rockies has been crossed by a significant tornado, as have high elevations in the Appalachians, Rockies and Sierra Nevada. The Salt Lake City tornado of 11 August 1999 crossed a canyon -- descending one side and rising up the other about halfway along its path. In 1987, a violent tornado (rated F4 by Fujita) crossed the Continental Divide in Yellowstone National Park.
BACK UP TO THE TOP

What is the highest-elevation tornado? Do they happen in the mountain West? The highest elevation a tornado has ever occurred is unknown; but it is at least 10,000 feet above sea level. On 7 July 2004, a hiker observed and photographed a tornado at 12,000 feet in Sequoia National Park, California. That probably was the highest elevation tornado observed in the U.S. On 21 July 1987, there was a violent (F4 damage) tornado in Wyoming between 8,500 and 10,000 feet in elevation, the highest altitude ever recorded for a violent tornado. There was F3 damage from a tornado at up to 10,800 ft elevation in the Uinta Mountains of Utah on 11 August 1993. While not so lofty in elevation, the Salt Lake City tornado of 11 August 1999 produced F2 damage. On August 31, 2000, a supercell spawned a photogenic tornado in Nevada. Tornadoes are generally a lot less frequent west of the Rockies per unit area with a couple of exceptions. One exception is the Los Angeles Basin, where weak-tornado frequency over tens of square miles is on par with that in the Great Plains. Elsewhere, there are probably more high-elevation Western tornadoes occurring than we have known about, just because many areas are so sparsely populated, and they lack the density of spotters and storm chasers as in the Plains.
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1173. mbjjm
Joplin background information

Joplin is located in southwest Missouri in the "four states" region encompassing Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri and Arkansas. At the edge of the Ozark Mountain region, Joplin has a current population of 49,024. The daytime population swells to 270,000 while the population within a 40-mile radius of Joplin is 400,000, making it Missouri’s fourth largest metropolitan area. Joplin combines the beauty and hospitality of country living with the convenience and commerce of city vitality.

Incorporated in 1873, the City of Joplin is a full-service municipality. It operates under the Council-Manager form of government and has approximately 400 employees delivering a variety of services to the regional community.

Joplin is readily accessible to eight major lakes, numerous clear-water streams, and a number of entertainment and vacation attractions. Located at the crossroads of Interstate Highway 44 and U.S. Highway 71, Joplin serves as the commercial, cultural, financial, educational, medical, recreational and transportation center of a 5,000 square-mile area. Joplin’s regional airport provides ready access to major transportation centers and is served by American Airlines/American Eagle with daily service to Dallas/Fort Worth.

Joplin’s lively interest in cultural activities includes history, arts, concerts, theater and dance. George A. Spiva Center for the Arts features a continuous rotation of famous exhibits, a regional focus gallery, and art instruction for both children and adults. Joplin Little Theater, the oldest continuous community theater west of the Mississippi, allows a creative outlet for local residents. In addition, local colleges and universities offer various cultural opportunities, including the Missouri Southern International Piano Competition. Joplin's Memorial Hall is also a popular venue for concerts and other entertainment events.

A diverse and brisk economy supports the needs of industry in this rapidly growing region. The local economy realizes $220 million direct income each year from tourism which is supported by more than 2,000 hotel rooms and 150 restaurants. In addition to excellent schools, churches, and community activities, Joplin offers a cost of living that is among the most desirable of any city of its size in the country. ACCRA (American Chamber of Commerce Researchers’ Association) currently computes cost of living in Joplin to be 81.6% of the national average for metropolitan areas (Q1-2007). For residential housing, Joplin offers one of best values in the United States. The average value of existing homes in the area is $72,540. New three-bedroom homes typically range from $70,000 to $105,000.

There are several institutions of higher education located in Joplin including Missouri Southern State University, which had a Spring 2004 enrollment of 6,500 plus full-time and part-time students. Other institutions include Ozark Christian College, Messenger College, Vatterott College and the Franklin Technology Center.

Health care providers and related businesses are among the major employers in the area. There are more than 300 physicians and surgeons and over 100 dentists located in Joplin. Providing emergency medical services to residents of the area are St. John’s Regional Medical Center and Freeman Health System. Combined, the hospitals have nearly 750 beds. St. John’s and Freeman hospitals both operate Level II Trauma Centers.
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Two good links on FB:

Joplin, Mo Tornado Recovery Link

Joplin Tornado Info Link

and gotta love those people at Toomer's for Tuscaloosa! They already got trucks rolling with supplies and help for Joplin!
Link
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1171. mbjjm
24 people killed as tornado strikes Missouri(AFP)

CHICAGO A tornado killed 24 people in the Missouri town of Joplin, local media reported, less than a month after twisters carved a swathe of destruction through the US southeast.

The Springfield News-Leader newspaper reported that Ryan Nicholls of the Springfield-Greene County office of emergency management confirmed that 24 people were killed.

Joplin, located just miles from the borders of Kansas and Oklahoma, took a "direct hit" from a tornado, the newspaper reported.

"The Home Depot is leveled. The Walmart is destroyed. Gas stations, buildings. Everywhere I could see was either heavily damaged or completely destroyed," said John Miller, a freelance photographer for the News-Leader.

"I saw firefighters and paramedics pull a young girl out of a car at the Home Depot," Miller said. "Part of the building had fallen on the car."

The tornado struck less than a month after a tornado outbreak left 354 dead across seven US states.

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency and activated National Guard troops in response to what he described as "significant destruction in multiple areas, including Joplin, where a tornado struck St. John's Regional Medical Center."

The badly damaged medical center was evacuated Sunday.

"These storms have caused extensive damage across Missouri, and they continue to pose significant risk to lives and property" Nixon said in a statement late Sunday.

"As a state, we are deploying every agency and resource available to keep Missouri families safe, search for the missing, provide emergency medical care, and begin to recover." he added.

Nixon warned that the storms are not finished.

"I urge Missourians to keep a close eye on the latest weather information and to follow the instructions and warnings of emergency personnel as these deadly storms continue to move through our state," he said.

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Quoting Neapolitan:

There was a verified (by Ted Fujita) F-4 in northwest Wyoming in 1987 that knocked down 15,000 acres of timber; that was around 9,000 feet or so. There was also n F-3 at 10,800 feet in Utah in 1993. In 2004, a hiker photographed a funnel cloud at 12,000 feet in California, but it wasn't anything you'd call big (picture):

Click for larger image:

Appropriate tropical weather-related image.

Thanks for that info... very interesting...
Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9648
1169. mbjjm
from reuters

"Missouri State Highway Patrol dispatcher Charles Bradley said the extent of the damage is still unknown as a variety of state and local agencies send help to the area. He said it appears the devastation could rival that seen in Tuscaloosa, Alabama last month, where more than 30 people died when tornadoes struck on April 27. Across Alabama, more than 230 people died in the tornadoes that swept the state that night"
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I wish that these storms would just DIE. Get it a rest! I got more friends in the path of these storms and I need to go to bed shortly..
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Quoting sunlinepr:

Excuse my ignorance, Just my curiosity, don't know if can be backed up by data....
Are there big tornadoes in high elevated areas in the US?

There was a verified (by Ted Fujita) F-4 in northwest Wyoming in 1987 that knocked down 15,000 acres of timber; that was around 9,000 feet or so. There was also n F-3 at 10,800 feet in Utah in 1993. In 2004, a hiker photographed a funnel cloud at 12,000 feet in California, but it wasn't anything you'd call big (picture):

Click for larger image:

Appropriate tropical weather-related image.
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Quoting cycleranger:


Found this one. Medium intensity twister. I would imagine they could become stronger than 130-150 MPH. This one was a massive cyclone at that.






Thanks for the video... Hmm..
Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9648
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Quoting sunlinepr:

Excuse my ignorance, Just my curiosity, don't know if can be backed up by data....
Are there big tornadoes in high elevated areas in the US?


Found this one. Medium intensity twister. I would imagine they could become stronger than 130-150 MPH. This one was a massive cyclone at that.

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Quoting MississippiBoy:
how many fatalities do we know of?

News outlets are reporting 24, but that number is several hours old, and just listening to emergency radio, bodies are still being discovered. I'll keep my own guesses to myself, but based on the damage photos I've seen, the length and width of the path, and anecdotal stories, I'd say it will end up substantially higher than where it is now.
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1161. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Japan Meteorological Agency
Tropical Cyclone Advisory #22
SEVERE TROPICAL STORM SONGDA (T1102)
12:00 PM JST May 23 2011
==================================

SUBJECT: Category Two Typhoon In Sea East Of Philippines

At 3:00 AM UTC, Severe Tropical Storm Songda (985 hPa) located at 11.3N 133.7E has 10 minute sustained winds of 50 knots with gusts of 70 knots. The cyclone is reported as moving west northwest at 12 knots.

Gale Force Winds
===============
150 NM from the center in northeastern quadrant
110 NM from the center in southwestern quadrant

Dvorak Intensity:

Forecast And Intensity
=======================
24 HRS: 12.1N 131.3E - 70 knots (CAT 3/Strong Typhoon)
45 HRS: 12.8N 130.1E - 80 knots (CAT 3/Strong Typhoon)
69 HRS: 14.9N 128.0E - 85 knots (CAT 4/Very Strong Typhoon)
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Quoting KoritheMan:

I was referring mainly to the fact that the formation and dissipation of tornadoes are immensely hard to predict.

Excuse my ignorance, Just my curiosity, don't know if can be backed up by data....
Are there big tornadoes in high elevated areas in the US?
Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9648
Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9648
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1157. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Philippines Atmospheric Geophysical Astrological Service and Administration
Tropical Cyclone Bulletin #2
TROPICAL STORM CHEDENG (SONGDA)
11:00 AM PhST May 23 2011
====================================

Tropical Storm "CHEDENG" has accelerated slightly as it continues to move in a West Northwest direction.

At 10:00 AM PhST, Tropical Storm Chedeng (SONGDA) located at 11.2°N 133.8°E or 795 kms east of Guiuan, Eastern Samar has 10 minute sustained winds of 50 knots with gusts up to 65 knots. The cyclone is reported as moving west northeast at 7 knots.

Additional Information
======================
This weather disturbance is expected not to directly affect any part of the country within the next 24 hrs.

The public and the disaster coordinating councils concerned are advised to take appropriate actions and watch for the next bulletin to be issued at 11 PM today.
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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.