CSU predicts a very active hurricane season: 16 storms, 9 hurricanes

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 4:30 PM GMT on June 01, 2011

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A very active Atlantic hurricane season is on tap for 2011, according to the seasonal hurricane forecast issued June 1 by Dr. Phil Klotzbach and Dr. Bill Gray of Colorado State University (CSU). The CSU team is calling for 16 named storms, 9 hurricanes, and 5 intense hurricanes, and an Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) 166% of average. Between 1950 - 2000, the average season had 10 named storms, 6 hurricanes, and 2 intense hurricanes. But since 1995, the beginning of an active hurricane period in the Atlantic, we've averaged 14 named storms, 8 hurricanes, and 4 intense hurricanes per year. The new forecast is identical to their April forecast. The 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 risk of a major hurricane in the Caribbean is also high, at 61% (42% is average.)

The forecasters cited four main reasons for an active season:

1) Neutral to weak La Niña conditions are expected during the most active portion of this year's hurricane season (August-October). This should lead to average to below average levels of vertical wind shear.

2) Above average May sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic.

3) Below average surface pressures during May in the tropical Atlantic.

4) We are in the midst of a multi-decadal era of major hurricane activity, which began in 1995. Major hurricanes cause 80-85 percent of normalized hurricane damage.

Analogue years
The CSU team picked five previous years when atmospheric and oceanic conditions were similar to what we are seeing this year: neutral to weak La Niña conditions in the equatorial Eastern Pacific, and above-average tropical Atlantic and far north Atlantic SSTs during April - May. Those five years were 2008, which featured Hurricane Ike and Hurricane Gustav; 1996, which had two hurricanes that hit North Carolina, Fran and Bertha; 1989, which featured Category 5 Hurricane Hugo; 1981, a very average year with 12 named storms, 7 hurricanes, and 3 intense hurricanes; and 1951, a year that featured 6 major hurricanes. The mean activity for these five years was 12 named storms, 8 hurricanes, and 4 intense hurricanes.

How accurate are the June forecasts?
The June forecasts by the CSU team between 1998 and 2009 had a skill 19% - 30% higher than a "no-skill" climatology forecast for number of named storms, number of hurricanes, and the ACE index (Figure 1). This is a decent amount of skill for a seasonal forecast, and these June forecasts can be useful to businesses such as the insurance industry and oil and gas industry that need to make bets on how active the coming hurricane season will be. Unfortunately, the CSU June 1 forecasts do poorly at forecasting the number of major hurricanes (only 3% skill), and major hurricanes cause 80% - 85% of all hurricane damage (normalized to current population and wealth levels.) This year's June forecast uses a brand new formula never tried before, so there is no way to evaluate its performance. An Excel spreadsheet of their forecast skill (expressed as a mathematical correlation coefficient) show values from 0.41 to 0.62 for their June forecasts made between 1984 and 2010, which is respectable.


Figure 1. Comparison of the percent improvement over climatology for May and August seasonal hurricane forecasts for the Atlantic from NOAA, CSU and TSR from 1999-2009 (May) and 1998-2009 (August), using the Mean Squared Error. Image credit: Verification of 12 years of NOAA seasonal hurricane forecasts, National Hurricane Center.


Figure 2. Comparison of the percent improvement in mean square error over climatology for seasonal hurricane forecasts for the Atlantic from NOAA, CSU and TSR from 2001-2010, using the Mean Square Skill Score (MSSS). The figure shows the results using two different climatologies: a fixed 50-year (1950 - 1999) climatology, and a 2001 - 2010 climatology. Skill is poor for forecasts issued in December and April, moderate for June forecasts, and good for August forecasts. Image credit: Tropical Storm Risk, Inc.

TSR predicts 25% more activity than normal
Expect the Atlantic hurricane season to be about 25% more active than usual, the British private forecasting firm Tropical Storm Risk, Inc. (TSR) said in their pre-season forecast issued on May 24. TSR calls for 14.2 named storms, 7.6 hurricanes, 3.6 intense hurricanes, and an Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) of 124, which is 22% above average. Their May 24 forecast numbers are very close to their previous forecast issued in April. TSR predicts a moderate 55% chance that activity will rank in the top 1/3 of years historically, and a 59% chance that U.S. landfalling activity will be above average. TSR rates their skill level as 16-25% higher than a "no-skill" forecast made using climatology, though an independent assessment by the National Hurricane Center (Figure 1) gives them somewhat lower skill numbers.

TSR projects that 4.4 named storms will hit the U.S., with 1.9 of these being hurricanes. The averages from the 1950-2010 climatology are 3.1 named storms and 1.5 hurricanes. They rate their skill at making these June forecasts for U.S. landfalls at 7 - 11% higher than a "no-skill" forecast made using climatology. In the Lesser Antilles Islands of the Caribbean, TSR projects 1.3 named storms, 0.6 of these being hurricanes. Climatology is 1.1 named storms and 0.5 hurricanes.

TSR cites two main factors for their forecast of an active season:

1) Their model predicts that sea surface temperatures will be 0.11°C warmer than average in August and September over the Main Development Region (MDR) for Atlantic hurricanes. They define this as the area between 10°N and 20°N, between the coast of Africa and Lesser Antilles Islands (20°W and 60°W). It is called the Main Development Region because virtually all African waves originate in this region. These African waves account for 85% of all Atlantic major hurricanes and 60% of all named storms. When SSTs in the MDR are much above average during hurricane season, a very active season typically results (if there is no El Niño event present.)

2) Their model predicts slower than normal trade winds in August and September over the Main Development Region (MDR). Trade winds are forecast to be 0.19 meters per second (about 0.4 mph) slower than average. This would create more spin for developing storms, and allow the oceans to warm up, due to reduced mixing of cold water from the depths and lower evaporational cooling.

FSU predicts a very active hurricane season: 17 named storms
The Florida State University (FSU) Center for Ocean-Atmospheric Prediction Studies (COAPS) issued their third annual Atlantic hurricane season forecast today. This year's forecast calls for a 70% probability of 14-20 named storms and 8-10 hurricanes. The mean forecast is for 17 named storms, 9 hurricanes, and an accumulated cyclone energy (ACE) of 163. They cite warm tropical North Atlantic sea surface temperatures, a weakening of La Niña conditions, and the ongoing positive phase of the Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillation as the major factors influencing their forecast.

Other seasonal forecasts
The UK Met Office's Glosea4 model is predicting a moderately more active season than normal, with 13 named storms and a ACE index of 151. The Cuba Institute of Meteorology is calling for 13 named storms and 7 hurricanes. NOAA predicts 15 named storms, 8 hurricanes, and 4.5 intense hurricanes. Pennsylvania State University predicts 16 named storms.

A surprise tropical disturbance for Florida
The Atlantic hurricane season is officially underway, and Mother Nature appears to be taking her cue from the calendar, as we have a surprise storm off the coast of Florida that is a threat to develop into a tropical depression later this week, after it crosses Florida into the Gulf of Mexico. An cluster of thunderstorms called a Mesoscale Convective System (MCS) pushed across southern New England early yesterday, emerged over the ocean, and rotated clockwise towards Florida, steered by a large high pressure system centered over Kentucky. The center of the disturbance stayed over the warm waters of the Gulf Stream, a region of low pressure developed, and intense thunderstorms began to build yesterday afternoon. Early this morning, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) designated the disturbance Invest 93L, and gave it a 10% chance of developing into a tropical depression. At 8am EDT, they upped those chances to 30%. Invest 93L is becoming increasingly organized, with Melbourne, Florida radar showing the beginnings of some rotation, with a solid band of heavy rain on the southwest side of the disturbance. The pressure and winds have leveled out at Buoy 41012, 40 nm ENE of St. Augustine, Florida. Winds peaked at 19 mph, gusting to 22 mph, at 10:50am EDT. Satellite imagery shows a small but intensifying region of thunderstorms. Sea surface temperatures (SSTs) are about 26°C (79°F) off the east coast of Florida, which is just warm enough to support formation of a tropical depression, and about 0.5°C above average. Wind shear is a low 5 - 10 knots, and it is likely that 93L will continue intensifying until it makes landfall over Central Florida this afternoon. A 50-mile wide swath of Florida from Daytona Beach to just north of Tampa can expect 1 - 3 inches of rain from 93L as it tracks over the state this afternoon and tonight. A Windsat pass this morning did not show a closed circulation, and I doubt 93L has enough time to develop into a tropical depression before landfall in Florida. The coast between Daytona Beach and Cocoa Beach could see wind gusts of 25 - 35 mph this afternoon, though.


Figure 3. Afternoon radar image of 93L from the Melbourne, Florida radar.

Fate of 93L once in the Gulf of Mexico
Since 93L is expected to continue its rapid west-southwest motion at 15 - 20 mph through Thursday, it will cross the Florida Peninsula in about 12 hours and emerge over the Gulf of Mexico early Thursday morning. It is possible that the passage over Florida will greatly disrupt 93L, since it is such a small system. I give a 40% chance that the storm will see its peak strength this afternoon, and not significantly regenerate over the Gulf of Mexico. However, the latest SHIPS model forecast predicts that wind shear will remain low to moderate, 5 - 15 knots, as 93L moves westwards over the Gulf of Mexico Thursday and Friday. SSTs in the Gulf are about 27°C (81°F), 0.5 - 1.0°C above average, and it is possible that 93L could gain enough strength to become Tropical Depression One as it crosses the Gulf. Since 93L will be moving parallel to the coast a short distance offshore, it is difficult to predict where the storm might make a second landfall, since a slight change in heading will make a large difference in landfall location. I don't expect widespread heavy rains from 93L along the Gulf Coast, since the storm is so small, but some locations close to the coast could receive 2 - 4 inches as 93L brushes by. Heavier rains are possible at the eventual landfall location. Since 93L is so small, the computer models are having trouble seeing the system, and are not very helpful forecasting the behavior of the storm over the Gulf of Mexico. The Hurricane Hunters are on call to fly into 93L Thursday afternoon at 2pm EDT, if necessary.

Central Caribbean disturbance
Moisture and heavy thunderstorm activity continues to slowly increase in the region between Central America and Jamaica, and wind shear is falling. With wind shear now 20 - 30 knots, we can expect this disturbance to show increased organization today, and recent satellite images show the beginnings of a surface circulation trying to get going about 100 miles off the coast of Northeast Nicaragua. All of the computer models predict that an area of low pressure will form in this region by Thursday, and this low will have the potential to develop into a tropical depression late this week or early next week. A surge of moisture accompanying a tropical wave currently south of Hispaniola may aid development when the wave arrives in the Western Caribbean on Thursday. Water temperatures in the Central Caribbean are about 1°C above average, 29°C, which is plenty warm enough to support development of a tropical storm. Residents of Jamaica, Cuba, the Cayman Islands, Haiti, Honduras, and Nicaragua should anticipate the possibility that heavy rains of 2 - 4 inches may affect them Thursday through Saturday this week.


Figure 4. Satellite image of the Central Caribbean disturbance.

Catch my intro to the 2011 hurricane season on Internet radio
I'll be discussing the coming hurricane season on our Internet radio show, the Daily Downpour, tomorrow (Thursday) at 4:30pm EDT. Fellow wunderground meteorologists Shaun Tanner and Tim Roche will be hosting the show. We'll talk about the latest model runs, hurricane research, modeling accuracy, and hurricane climatology, and answer any questions listeners email in or call in. The email address to ask questions is broadcast@wunderground.com. Welcome to the hurricane season of 2011!

Jeff Masters

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Quoting afj3:
I see the system off Nicaragua is getting NHC attention. Does it have Invest status?


Not yet. Watch for it at 0z.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26700
Quoting Grothar:
Just got an E-mail from Allan Huffman. A number of us were having trouble posting images from his blog, which is very popular. It would not allow Remote linking. He said that the problem has been fixed and apologized. So, we shouldn't have too many of those little red X and black screens. His site is used quite often during the season since it contains all the best maps for tracking and all the models. No need to thank me.


I will thank you anyway. That's a great inconvenience to be rid of.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26700
I think this will hold together quite well.

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189. afj3
I see the system off Nicaragua is getting NHC attention. Does it have Invest status?
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Quoting HurricaneSwirl:


It's likely too small and fragile. Also, Fay was already developed before it moved over Florida. This isn't. We'll see how it fares though.


Still firing some decent convection, but the circulation has just made "landfall" a few hours back, but we will see.
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12z UKMET strengthens it and eventually takes it ENE towards Haiti:

Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26700
Quoting Grothar:
Just got an E-mail from Allan Huffman. A number of us were having trouble posting images from his blog, which is very popular. It would not allow Remote linking. He said that the problem has been fixed and apologized. So, we shouldn't have too many of those little red X and black screens. His site is used quite often during the season since it contains all the best maps for tracking and all the models. No need to thank me.


THANKS
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I am in South Central Florida right now and we are getting a bunch of lightning... nothing out of the ordinary and not much rain
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93L Floater - Rainbow Color Infrared Loop
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Wow at the 12z Canadian. Cat 2 hurricane over Palm Beach at 180 hours:

Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26700
Just got an E-mail from Allan Huffman. A number of us were having trouble posting images from his blog, which is very popular. It would not allow Remote linking. He said that the problem has been fixed and apologized. So, we shouldn't have too many of those little red X and black screens. His site is used quite often during the season since it contains all the best maps for tracking and all the models. No need to thank me.
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Quoting tropicfreak:


Who knows, maybe it can pull off a Fay, and have consistent intensity as it treks over.


It's likely too small and fragile. Also, Fay was already developed before it moved over Florida. This isn't. We'll see how it fares though.
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Quoting Jedkins01:
The forecasters really blew around here for today's forecast. Last night they had a 20% chance of storms for my area. Here in Pinellas County we had a very strong line of thunderstorms blow through with more on the way today...

I'm surprised they didn't see it coming, that low was obviously diving right down towards Central Florida, and has plenty of lift and high PW close to 2 inches. The line of storms did remind me very much of rain bands around a tropical system!

Either way, very thankful for this rain today amidst this very weird and dry pattern for early June. I got to watch the storm at work because it was such a slow and easy day as the first of the month always is at the warehouse.


said the same thing earlier. This morning at 7:20, Bay News 9 still said 30% and they said that would be due to added moisture firing off afternoon tstorms. Never mentioned 93L at all.
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Quoting jeffs713:
I do too!

Hard to get an analog when 93L isn't even a closed low yet.

apparently you're not geeky enough to handle the assignment.:^)
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GFS 12Z Shear Forecast
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Quoting reedzone:
93L had good vorticity when I believed it was a TD late last night. Shallow waters are the reason for the weakening. Happens with every storm that nears the Florida coastline.


Except for Faye of course. It strengthened...
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Quoting reedzone:
Conditions are favorable for development, it's just a matter of how bad Florida destroys the structure. If the structure holds, wind shear will not be a problem.




93L is under an anticyclone, this is why shear has been favorable and also why convection has sustained itself for over 12 hours. Another reason why this got going was because the Gulf Stream warmed past 80 degrees over the last month. This allowed the MSC to transition into a tropical low/disturbance. I firmly believe strongly, as the satellite indicated, 93L was a Tropical Depression. The banding was evident and there was a closed LLC. The system weakened due to it going over the cooler, shallow waters. Almost every system that makes landfall on the East Coast of Florida weakens a tad due to the shallow water.


Who knows, maybe it can pull off a Fay, and have consistent intensity as it treks over.
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Quoting reedzone:
93L had good vorticity when I believed it was a TD late last night. Shallow waters are the reason for the weakening. Happens with every storm that nears the Florida coastline.


No. This system is nowhere strong enough to deplete the heat content of shallow water.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26700
Quoting FLdewey:
It's like last year never ended...

Well Dewey, cough syrup tends to make the days blend together like that...
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Quoting RitaEvac:
I see a dinosaur where the loop current is

I do too!

Quoting PrivateIdaho:
I want to see an analog storm with the track of 93L....How 'bout it weather geeks?
Hard to get an analog when 93L isn't even a closed low yet.
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Remember Ivan and Ghost of Ivan 04...?




Spookie stuff again.


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170. xcool
UPDATE BY:Jim Williams.....Please join me tonight for my annual Hurricane Season Kickoff Show. As usual I will release my top 20 cities and islands that I think will be hit by named storms. Last year I picked the only cities to be affected in the U.S as Miami & Ft Lauderdale were affected by T-Storm Bonnie.There will also be some giveaways for callers that stump the panel courtesy of Early Alert Inc. The call in number will be scrolling across the top of the screen and starting around 8:30PM we will start taking calls. You ask us a question about hurricanes that you think we cannot answer and if we don't get it right,you win the prize. We will give away Siberian Ice as well as hurricane playing cards which have historical hurricanes on the back of each card with statistics. The show will begin at 8:00PM ET on hurricane TV
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15684
Quoting RitaEvac:
I see a dinosaur where the loop current is




and he's holding a beer.
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Quoting Jax82:
**Attention** There have been reports coming in of 'Rain' and 'Light winds' causing wet roadways and sidewalks. Please exercise caution, turn on your windshield wipers and leave a safe distance between you and the person in front of you.


Thanks for that Breaking News!!!
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The forecasters really blew around here for today's forecast. Last night they had a 20% chance of storms for my area. Here in Pinellas County we had a very strong line of thunderstorms blow through with more on the way today...

I'm surprised they didn't see it coming, that low was obviously diving right down towards Central Florida, and has plenty of lift and high PW close to 2 inches. The line of storms did remind me very much of rain bands around a tropical system!

Either way, very thankful for this rain today amidst this very weird and dry pattern for early June. I got to watch the storm at work because it was such a slow and easy day as the first of the month always is at the warehouse.
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Quoting nrtiwlnvragn:
12Z HWRF for 93L develops the system in the Carribean

94L being up looks more imminent now.
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Quoting Skyepony:
AF309 flew out in the gulf today & chucked a dropsonde.



Interesting System Skye,,the Dvorak shows the stretching,but the envelope will be intact post GOM entry..



High SSt's..lowering shear, the angle to the West will make a Huge difference what some feel downstream seems

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GFS showing an arctic blast diving from Yukon all the way to the gulf, sweeping the gulf clean..........that's it it's over, see ya next year!
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Quoting FLdewey:
It's like last year never ended...


Yes,looks that way because of how the season has started.
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Quoting RitaEvac:
I see a dinosaur where the loop current is



And it looks like it's drinking a cup of coffee LOL.
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12Z HWRF for 93L develops the system in the Carribean





Link
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157. xcool
JRRP -hehe i know why you lol
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15684
156. xcool
EYEStoSEA -roflmao :)
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15684
93L had good vorticity when I believed it was a TD late last night. Shallow waters are the reason for the weakening. Happens with every storm that nears the Florida coastline.
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..SPECIAL FEATURE...

AN ATLANTIC OCEAN 1013 MB LOW PRESSURE CENTER IS JUST TO THE
EAST OF DAYTONA BEACH FLORIDA...MOVING WEST-SOUTHWESTWARD
ABOUT 20 MPH. SCATTERED MODERATE TO STRONG RAINSHOWERS AND
THUNDERSTORMS ACCOMPANY THIS LOW CENTER WITHIN 60 NM OF THE
CENTER IN THE SOUTHWESTERN SEMICIRCLE. THAT BASICALLY MEANS
THAT THE PRECIPITATION IS ARRIVING FIRST IN ADVANCE OF WHERE
THE ACTUAL CENTER OF CIRCULATION IS. OTHER RAINSHOWERS AND
POSSIBLE THUNDERSTORMS COVER FLORIDA FROM 28N TO 29N FROM THE
ATLANTIC OCEAN COAST TO THE GULF OF MEXICO COAST. SIGNIFICANT
DEVELOPMENT OF THIS SYSTEM IS NOT ANTICIPATED WHILE IT MOVES
OVER LAND TODAY AND TONIGHT. ENVIRONMENTAL CONDITIONS ARE ONLY
MARGINALLY FAVORABLE FOR DEVELOPMENT IN THE NORTHERN GULF OF
MEXICO ON THURSDAY. LOCALLY HEAVY RAINFALL AND GUSTY WINDS ARE
POSSIBLE IN NORTH-CENTRAL FLORIDA THROUGH TONIGHT. PLEASE READ
BULLETINS AND FORECASTS FROM YOUR LOCAL NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE
OFFICE FOR MORE INFORMATION.
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153. JRRP
Quoting xcool:


12z cmc

lol
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152. Skyepony (Mod)
AF309 flew out in the gulf today & chucked a dropsonde.
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150. xcool
HurricaneSwirl -bulls on cmc
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15684
Quoting Patrap:
RITA wins the Rorschach Test Lagniappe prize


Congrats u win a antique Paper 7-Eleven Hurricane Tracking Map...with SSS Glossary.




no, no, I want the generator
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93L Floater - Water Vapor Loop
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So what's the story on 93L and our Carribean AOI?
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Quoting xcool:
EYEStoSEA .you sure about that..hmmm lol


well, some of us anyway...lol..and keep those great visuals coming...TY
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Quoting reedzone:
TWC has lost it.. There is no high wind shear that will tear 93L apart.. Wow.. please point out where the so called high wind shear is? Seriously, the shear map shows favorable conditions.. It's a matter of how much of the system is left when it enters the GOM. Please.. point out the shear.


Reed it is the "TWC", they would rather talk about Spice Gardens then 93L. There is a reason they removed the "contact us" feature on their website, because they received to many complaints from people who legitimately know whats up. That being said Forbes and Norcross deserve alot of respect.
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Quoting xcool:


12z cmc


Holy crap. Significant hurricane into south Florida. Silly CMC..
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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.

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