No new tornado deaths yesterday; Super Typhoon Songda hits Category 5

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:04 PM GMT on May 26, 2011

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The tornado onslaught of 2011 continued over the Midwest yesterday, as dozens of tornadoes touched down, primarily in Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, and Arkansas. NOAA's Storm Prediction Center logged 81 preliminary reports of tornadoes in eleven states. Even California got into the action, with a tornado near Chico causing minor damage. Mercifully, no deaths were reported from yesterday's tornadoes. Too many thunderstorms formed too close to each other to allow strong or violent tornadoes to grow, as the many thunderstorms interfered with each others' organization. The preliminary tornado count for the 5-day outbreak that began Saturday is 243. Preliminary tornado reports are an overestimate, since some storms get counted multiple times. These over-counts were 35% - 40% in the case of the April 14 - 16 tornado outbreak and April 25 - 28 Super outbreak, so we can expect that the May 21 - 25, 2011 outbreak will end up with close to 150 tornadoes. This would rank as the third largest tornado outbreak in history, giving 2011 the three largest tornado outbreaks of all-time. Prior to 2011, NOAA rated the April 3 - 4, 1974 Super Outbreak as the largest tornado outbreak of all-time, with 148 tornadoes. According to a list of tornado outbreaks maintained by Wikipedia, only two other tornado outbreaks have had as many as 150 twisters prior to 2011--the May 2004 outbreak (385), and the May 2003 outbreak (401). However, these outbreaks occurred over an eight-day and eleven-day period, respectively, and were not due to a single storm system.


Figure 1. Satellite image taken at 23:32 UTC (7:32pm EDT) May 25, 2011, showing a line of tornadic thunderstorms over the Midwest. Image credit: NASA/GSFC.


Figure 2. Tornado near Fariview, Oklahoma, on May 24, 2011. Image credit: Mike Theiss, www.ExtremeNature.com.


Video 1. "We are in the tornado!" is all this poor guy caught in a car during a tornado can say, while buildings fly apart around him. He is very lucky to have survived. Video shot in Navarro County, Texas on May 24, 2011.

The death toll from Tuesday's tornadoes over Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Kansas is now 16, which would bring the death toll from this year's tornadoes to 506, according to yesterday's NOAA tornado statistic update. This makes 2011 the deadliest year for tornadoes in the U.S. since 1953, when 519 people died. That year, three heavily populated cities received direct hits by violent tornadoes. Waco, Texas (114 killed), Flint, Michigan (115 killed), and Worcester, Massachusetts (90 killed) all were hit by violent F-4 or F-5 tornadoes. A similar bad tornado year occurred in 1936, when violent tornadoes hit Tupelo Mississippi (216 killed), and Gainesville, Georgia (203 killed.)

Only a "Slight Risk" day for severe weather today
The Storm Prediction Center has placed portions of twenty states, from Alabama to Vermont, in their "Slight Risk" region for severe weather potential. The slow-moving low pressure system responsible for all the tornado activity this week is weakening, and the primary severe weather threat today is from large hail and damaging straight-line thunderstorm winds. However, there are still likely to be tornadoes today, and I expect we'll see a dozen or so twisters touch down from some of the stronger thunderstorms that develop.


Figure 3. Severe weather threat for Wednesday, May 25, 2011.

Links
Here is an interactive hi-res satellite image showing Joplin before and after the tornado. Some non-interactive images are here.

The New York Times has an interactive tornado fatality map showing how this year's killer tornadoes have mostly clustered over the Southeast U.S., with the glaring exception of the Joplin, Missouri tornado.

NOAA's Visualization Laboratory has an impressive animation of the satellite imagery during the month of April, showing the locations of all the tornadoes as they happened.


Figure 4. Satellite image of Super Typhoon Songda.

Super Typhoon Songda the first Category 5 tropical cyclone of 2011
The first typhoon of 2011 is also the globe's first Category 5 tropical cyclone of the year. Super Typhoon Songda intensified dramatically over the past 24 hours in an environment of light wind shear and warm sea surface temperatures of 30°C, to reach Category 5 status with top sustained winds of 160 mph. Tropical Cyclone Yasi, which devastated Queensland, Australia in early February, was the globe's previous strongest tropical cyclone of 2011, with 155 mph winds.

Fortunately, Songda is expected to miss making a direct hit on the Philippines, though evacuations have been ordered in low-lying areas. Satellite-estimated rainfall for the coming 24-hour period is predicted to be less than 4 inches along the northeast coast of the Philippines' Luzon Island, which should not cause major flooding problems. Songda is expected to turn northwards and threaten the island of Okinawa on Saturday. Sea surface temperatures decline rapidly north of the Philippines, and Songda is expected to weaken significantly before reaching Okinawa, where sea surface temperatures are approximately 26°C. Wind shear will also increase to high levels by Saturday, and Songda should be at most a Category 2 typhoon by the time it reaches Okinawa.

Jeff Masters

Tornado! (CalicoBass)
Tornado Warning for us. It went just past us, was beautiful to watch.
Tornado!
Large Hail! (aderocher78)
First round of large hail.
Large Hail!
Possible Tornado (Griff3488)
I was west bound I 74 when I drove into this storm. They said On the radio it was a tornado on the ground.
Possible Tornado
Joplin 5/22/11 EF5 aftermath (N0RCO)
I went to joplin to look at the destruction this EF5 tornado did. Absolutely devastating in my opinion!
Joplin 5/22/11 EF5 aftermath
Lightning Strike (weatherfanatic2010)
I caught this totally by accident. I was trying to take a picture of the cloud formation and this flashed right as I took the picture. Unbelievable luck!!
Lightning Strike
Mammatus over Indy (jay1hawker)
View of sky before storm, May 25, 2011 Indianapolis
Mammatus over Indy

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Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 21414
Whew! 93 out and that's down from 98 two days ago. We are lying here panting... Looks like we'll get the front edge of the this storm tonight.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting alfabob:
#129, even if everything did stop (all energy production, transportation, ECT) it would have almost 0 effect on the current situation. Only way out of this one is with very advanced technology which we currently do not have. So either we could make everyone suffer for no real reason, or we can start using our remaining resources to create such technology and mitigate the problem.
A real, honest answer, regardless of anyone's opinion about the veracity of the evidence in opposition to or in support of that subject-that-need-not-be-named.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting aspectre:
hurricanejunky "Hey everyone! Care to Make your 2011 Predictions?
60 DookiePBC "8-14-9: OK...maybe random number generator isn't the way to go."

Sounds good to me:
The 8 go through the normal disturbance-low-TropicalDepression-TropicalStorm-( maybe)Hurricane evolution for the mandatory-by-definition 6hours for each state.
Then 3 of the normally developed systems go on to become major hurricanes.
6 become Cat.6 majors immediately after the asteroid impacts.
For a total of 14hurricanes and 9majors.

Ain't much point in throwing an Apocalypse without having a few asteroids drop in.


Sounds like the re-making of 1970s ASTEROID game- with a few add-ons, lol.
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Quoting Floodman:


Make sure you're seated before you read this, atmo, as I'm about to play devil's advocate...but the tornado outbreaks of this year could be nothing more than a statistical anomaly; a perfect storm (lord how I hate that phrase, but in this case apropos) causing a huge spike in tornadic activity. I grew up in the misdwest and have lived through a number of tornado outbreaks and incredibly severe thunderstorms. These things happen regardless. It's late spring/early summer and cow-killers move across the midwest from SW to NE. Some years are worse than others but it is possible (however unlikely) that this is a 500 year type outbreak.

Then again, next year could be worse...the point is, climate change could have very little do with it...

Disclaimer: those of you who know me understand that the above does not reflect my views on climate change btu rather the my opinion of the sheer perversity of weather systems in general and tornados in particular
Oh, certainly. Simple, unabashed luck and weather variability and having nothing to do with ENSO, PDO, climate, CO2, nor GoM SST anomalies is the control group. Chaotic results from a chaotic system are always possible.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
hurricanejunky "Hey everyone! Care to Make your 2011 Predictions?
60 DookiePBC "8-14-9: OK...maybe random number generator isn't the way to go."

Sounds good to me:
The 8 go through the normal disturbance-low-TropicalDepression-TropicalStorm-( maybe)Hurricane evolution, staying within the TS or Hurricane parameters for the mandatory-by-definition 6hours to be named.
Then 3 of the normally developed systems go on to become major hurricanes.
6 become Cat.6 majors immediately after the asteroid impacts.
For a total of 8 named storms, 14hurricanes, and 9majors.

Ain't much point in throwing an Apocalypse without having a few asteroids drop in.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting GiovannaDatoli:

Ah, the notorious denialist, Dr. Roy Spencer. Yippee. Gee, if you really believe AGW is made up, well then I'm assuming you're one of those who understands climate change and the anthropogenic effects of CO2 from the likes of WUWT? ;-)

The truth is--and has been documented by NASA and thousands of climate scientists is that the globe is warming, and rapidly. And the global extremes that are occurring will only become that of, more extreme. More extreme flooding, violent tornadoes, and large destructive hurricanes. Sure, we can buy into the never-ending propaganda of what Big Oil, the GOP, and the fossil fuel industry wants you to believe. If you don't believe science, the rest is simply banter from denialists like yourself.
Umm, the discussion was about contributors to the tornadoes of the last 2 months, not AGW-faith, nor Dr. Specner.

BTW: I don't do WUWT. And come up with a new line for the spam. This one has hit monomania status to go along with the name calling and flagged as such.
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Quoting help4u:
If all driving and heating of the planet would stop now!, all these Tornadoes,hurricanes,and earthquakes would be a thing of the past.We have to stop all oil and gas usage or we will all end up dead by 2014!I would hope Al Gore and Prince Charles are still sounding the alarm bell!Bush had alot to do with this recent weather with all the gas usage during the last 8 years.If Obama can get prices high enough to choke of usage of gas and oil he will of saved the world!




You're kidding right?
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Quoting pottery:

Looks so.
But the other one is better at it than this one.


hahaha, but they both have the signature wink down.
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I may be regretting this, but #129, the world is going to end in 2012, so don't worry about 2014:)
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I'm thinking 16-8-5 this year. With at least 3 of the 5 being at least Cat 9 strength, you know Cat 9 on the HSS (Homer Simpson Scale)
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Quoting VAbeachhurricanes:


Are there two Neapolitans?

Looks so.
But the other one is better at it than this one.
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24382
137. PTXer
Quoting GiovannaDatoli:

Ah, the notorious denialist, Dr. Roy Spencer. Yippee. Gee, if you really believe AGW is made up, well then I'm assuming you're one of those who understands climate change and the anthropogenic effects of CO2 from the likes of WUWT? ;-)

The truth is--and has been documented by NASA and thousands of climate scientists is that the globe is warming, and rapidly. And the global extremes that are occurring will only become that of, more extreme. More extreme flooding, violent tornadoes, and large destructive hurricanes. Sure, we can buy into the never-ending propaganda of what Big Oil, the GOP, and the fossil fuel industry wants you to believe. If you don't believe science, the rest is simply banter from denialists like yourself.

You used this exact same comment on me yesterday when I was simply trying to say that using monikers like "deadliest" or "costliest" tornado or flood is not a sound way to make a case for CC. You seem to generously assign the denialist label; or do you deny that? :)
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And some very welcome news for the midsection


Member Since: January 30, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 3259


I've heard that for years - wondered how accurate this is?

Quoting Floodman:


Isn't there a semi-scientific correlation betyween May rainfall in Florida and hurricane landfall in the state? Less rain=greater risk of landfall?
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Quoting Tabby:
#121 You can see the floodwaters cooling the Gulf. That's just an amazing image!

Not really.
That image is the Sahara Air Layer.
It shows airborne dust and aerosol particles (not nessesarily from the Sahara), and not water temps.
Good spotting though.
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24382
Should see some big changes next week in the tropics with the jet lifting that far north.
Member Since: January 30, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 3259
Quoting wbr2ff:
I really think Dr. Masters should have a disclaimer whenever he talks about a tornado event having the greatest number of all time in "history", that that "history" is maybe the last 10-20 years. I know most everyone understands that, but it still surprises me that he doesn't.

Also the May 2003 and May 2004 events each had "outbreaks" of greater than 150 storms when broken down into three/four day periods (i.e. one storm system), so the statement that the three largest outbreaks being in 2011 is also incorrect.


"History" in this sense usually refers to records since either A) the early 1970s when the NWS started officially making F/EF scale ratings or B) the early 1950s when the NWS started keeping track of fatalities/injuries. Unofficial records go back further, obviously getting less reliable the further back they are. Why did you pick 10-20 years? I'm not sure of any of these records that only started 10-20 years ago.

Also, I believe that outbreaks that occur on subsequent days are referred to as outbreak sequences instead of outbreaks. The high numbers of tornadoes over several days in both 2003 and 2004 are generally considered tornado outbreak sequences.
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130. srada
Quoting CyclonicVoyage:


144hr GFS



Thank you my friend!!
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Quoting Hurrykane:

MAY 26, 2011


MAY 26, 2008


Not many similarities.
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5883
127. Tabby
#121 You can see the floodwaters cooling the Gulf. That's just an amazing image!
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Quoting pottery:

Heavy stuff, Man.


Are there two Neapolitans?
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125. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Philippines Atmospheric Geophysical Astrological Service and Administration
Tropical Cyclone Bulletin #15
TYPHOON CHEDENG (SONGDA)
11:00 PM PhST May 26 2011
====================================

Typhoon "CHEDENG" continuously moves northwestward as it further intensified.

At 10:00 PM PhST, Typhoon Chedeng (SONGDA) located at 16.4°N 124.9°E or 250 km east of Casiguran, Aurora has 10 minute sustained winds of 105 knots with gusts up to 120 knots. The cyclone is reported as moving northwest at 9 knots.

Warning Signals
=============

Signal #1
---------

Luzon Region
------------
1. Batanes Group
2. Cagayan
3. Calayan Group
4. Babuyan Group
5. Isabela
6. Quirino
7. Aurora
8. Quezon Prov.
9. Polillo Is.
10. Camarines Norte
11. Camarines Sur
12. Catanduanes
13. Albay

Additional Information
======================
Residents in low lying and mountainous areas under signals #1 are alerted against possible flash floods and landslides. Likewise, those living in coastal areas are alerted against big waves or storm surges generated by this tropical cyclone.

Typhoon "Chedeng" is expected to enhance the southwest monsoon and will bring rains over Visayas and Mindanao.

The public and the disaster coordinating councils concerned are advised to take appropriate actions and watch for the next bulletin to be issued at 5 a.m. tomorrow.
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Quoting srada:


I had asked about the TUTT earlier that will be sitting off the East Coast on the previous blog but can anyone answer how LONG it will be sitting there? The run above shows this storm out there June 3..


144hr GFS

Member Since: January 30, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 3259
123. srada
Quoting Tropicsweatherpr:
GFS continues to show the Western Caribbean development for early June.



I had asked about the TUTT earlier that will be sitting off the East Coast on the previous blog but can anyone answer how LONG it will be sitting there? The run above shows this storm out there June 3..
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:

Dust is in retreat Keep!
Usually, this time of year there is plenty around.
Gives the T-Waves a better chance of holding together, IMO.
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24382
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 173 Comments: 54338
Quoting GiovannaDatoli:

Ah, the notorious denialist, Dr. Roy Spencer. Yippee. Gee, if you really believe AGW is made up, well then I'm assuming you're one of those who understands climate change and the anthropogenic effects of CO2 from the likes of WUWT? ;-)

The truth is--and has been documented by NASA and thousands of climate scientists is that the globe is warming, and rapidly. And the global extremes that are occurring will only become that of, more extreme. More extreme flooding, violent tornadoes, and large destructive hurricanes. Sure, we can buy into the never-ending propaganda of what Big Oil, the GOP, and the fossil fuel industry wants you to believe. If you don't believe science, the rest is simply banter from denialists like yourself.

Heavy stuff, Man.
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24382
Quoting wbr2ff:
I really think Dr. Masters should have a disclaimer whenever he talks about a tornado event having the greatest number of all time in "history", that that "history" is maybe the last 10-20 years. I know most everyone understands that, but it still surprises me that he doesn't.

The modern NOAA/NWS tornado record began in 1950, so it's 61 years, not "10-20". But even with that, it's not necessary to constantly add a disclaimer when speaking of weather records, and for the exact reason you mentioned: most everyone understands that. Look at it like this: if tonight's temperature in Miami reaches freezing, a simple "Miami reached a record low for May 27 of 32 degrees" is sufficient; there's no need to say, "Miami reached a record low for May 27 of 32 degrees, though the National Weather Service concedes that it's possible that the May 27 temperature in Miami may have dropped to 32 degrees or lower at one more points prior to the time official temperature records started being kept there in 1914". ;-)

Quoting wbr2ff:
>Also the May 2003 and May 2004 events each had "outbreaks" of greater than 150 storms when broken down into three/four day periods (i.e. one storm system), so the statement that the three largest outbreaks being in 2011 is also incorrect.

The May '03 and '04 were outbreak sequences, as opposed to this year's single outbreak events, so Dr. Masters' statement--which is also NOAA's statement--is entirely correct.
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13549
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 173 Comments: 54338
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 173 Comments: 54338
Quoting Tropicsweatherpr:
GFS continues to show the Western Caribbean development for early June.


With the Huge rotation shown on those wind-barbs, I would hope that does not come to pass.
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24382
Quoting atmoaggie:
Or a switch in climate regime. See: http://www.drroyspencer.com/2011/05/the-tornado-p acific-decadal-oscillation-connection/
I'd like to see some corroboration, but he appears to have some valid points about it.


Make sure you're seated before you read this, atmo, as I'm about to play devil's advocate...but the tornado outbreaks of this year could be nothing more than a statistical anomaly; a perfect storm (lord how I hate that phrase, but in this case apropos) causing a huge spike in tornadic activity. I grew up in the misdwest and have lived through a number of tornado outbreaks and incredibly severe thunderstorms. These things happen regardless. It's late spring/early summer and cow-killers move across the midwest from SW to NE. Some years are worse than others but it is possible (however unlikely) that this is a 500 year type outbreak.

Then again, next year could be worse...the point is, climate change could have very little do with it...

Disclaimer: those of you who know me understand that the above does not reflect my views on climate change btu rather the my opinion of the sheer perversity of weather systems in general and tornados in particular
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Quoting CyclonicVoyage:
You can see in this loop the AB high consistently nosing 1020mb into FL and the SE. This is typical for Neutral years and why it poses and increased threat to the peninsula and less for the upper east coast.



Also you can see the core pressure rather high, sometimes 1032 + which is also typical of a neutral year. This typically focuses the development farther west with the increased trade winds and more dust further increasing the chances of a strike.
Member Since: January 30, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 3259
Quoting Floodman:
By the way, pottery, friend opf mine these many years, it has come to my attention that your mind never strays far from the ridiculous...or the gutter; it is one of the things that endears you to the more perverse of us...keep up the good work!

I been out in the Sun too much.
Cant help it.

91f at the Airport, and 93F here at my house.
A little breeze is working to keep things bearable.
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24382
You can see in this loop the AB high consistently nosing 1020mb into FL and the SE. This is typical for Neutral years and why it poses and increased threat to the peninsula and less for the upper east coast.
Member Since: January 30, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 3259
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
I really think Dr. Masters should have a disclaimer whenever he talks about a tornado event having the greatest number of all time in "history", that that "history" is maybe the last 10-20 years. I know most everyone understands that, but it still surprises me that he doesn't.

Also the May 2003 and May 2004 events each had "outbreaks" of greater than 150 storms when broken down into three/four day periods (i.e. one storm system), so the statement that the three largest outbreaks being in 2011 is also incorrect.
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GFS continues to show the Western Caribbean development for early June.

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By the way, pottery, friend opf mine these many years, it has come to my attention that your mind never strays far from the ridiculous...or the gutter; it is one of the things that endears you to the more perverse of us...keep up the good work!
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Quoting alfabob:
#35, I am almost certain that these outbreaks are directly due to two aspects; deep cold air and very warm moist air. If you think about it, the arctic is suppose to be a large air mass; which is usually stuck at the polar region because it is so difficult to move. When it begins to wear down more, and there is a lot of heat/moisture being transported to the polar regions; it allows a weaker air-mass to be displaced. After watching the arctic in comparison with these tornado outbreaks, it is clear that large amounts of moisture are coming from the pacific and gulf regions. At the same time, the arctic air-mass is being pushed violently over CONUS. So not only is there a difference in temperature (the jet-stream), but there is also a large amount of kinetic energy involved. Even though some people wish to deny it, both of these aspects are directly influenced by climate change.

This doesn't go to say that other certain factors didn't also help in creating these conditions, but cold air and hot moisture are the main ingredients in formation.
Or a switch in climate regime. See: http://www.drroyspencer.com/2011/05/the-tornado-p acific-decadal-oscillation-connection/
I'd like to see some corroboration, but he appears to have some valid points about it.
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Quoting pottery:

Sorry for the toy poodle, whether it's a male or female dog in that set-up...


Um, yeah...scaffolding pretty much a necessity for either scenario...oh, hell, where'd I put that eye bleach?
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Quoting Floodman:


Ummm..."wooble"? How would you use that in a sentence? "I had to call Orkin; damned woobles in the house!" Or maybe "Yeah, I bought an import...it's a 2011 Wooble. 5 on the floor and it's a hatchback!" OR even "The newest must have gift for Christmas: woobles! Kids love 'em!" OR a new hybrid dog: "It's a wooble: part wolfhound, part toy poodle and part beagle."

Sorry for the toy poodle, whether it's a male or female dog in that set-up...
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24382
im thinking a wx pattern simular to 74,96,08',atleast 2 TC landfall for the contus....
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Link

hurricane contest blog

it's a waste of your time to post your choices here
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 166 Comments: 26045

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