Tornadoes rip Massachusetts, killing 4

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 1:30 PM GMT on June 02, 2011

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The governor declared a state of emergency in Massachusetts last night after two rare and powerful tornadoes ripped through the state's third largest city, Springfield (population 150,000.) Separate tornadoes hit the city near 4:30 pm and 6:20pm EDT, killing four people, injuring 40, and causing extensive damage. The four deaths ties 2011 with 1973 as Massachusetts' deadliest tornado year since 1953, when 90 people died in an F-4 tornado that hit Worcester. NOAA's Storm Prediction Center logged seven preliminary reports of tornadoes in Massachusetts yesterday. The region was in their "Slight Risk" area for severe weather. The tornadoes were spawned by a large low pressure system centered over Canada that trailed a cold front southwards over New England. Record heat pushed northwards ahead of the cold front, with Newark, Washington D.C., Burlington, and Montpelier all recording record highs for the date. The contrast between the cold, dry air flowing south from Canada and the record warm, moist air ahead of the cold front created an extremely unstable atmosphere, helping fire off unusually intense thunderstorms over New England. And as we've seen so often this year, the jet stream over the thunderstorm region was unusually strong and had plenty of wind shear--a sharp change in wind speed and direction with height. This wind shear created shearing forces on the air over New England that helped get it spinning, creating rotating supercell thunderstorms capable of producing strong tornadoes.


Figure 1. Yesterday's tornadoes caused damage characteristic of at least an EF-2 tornado with 110 - 137 mph winds in Springfield, Massachusetts. Image credit: Springfield Falcons hockey team, via the cbslocal.com Boston website.


Video 1. Incredible tower cam view from wfsb.com of the June 1, 2011 Springfield, Massachusetts tornado crossing the Connecticut River. Another amateur video posted here on Youtube shows the tornado crossing I-91 in Springfield during rush hour (many swear words on this one!)

Springfield damage characteristic of an EF-2 tornado
Damage photos I've seen of the Springfield tornadoes show destruction characteristic of at least an EF-2 tornado with 111 - 135 mph winds. The damage photo above (Figure 1) shows the collapse of the top story walls of a brick building. According to the Storm Prediction Center's Description of Damage for this type of structure, the winds needed to do this type of damage typically range between 103 and 143 mph, or EF-2 speeds. I wouldn't be surprised if some of the damage gets rated EF-3, since there is a report of a 3-story building that collapsed (EF-3 winds are 136 - 165 mph.)


Figure 2. Satellite image taken at 6:01pm EDT June 1, 2011, showing the line of tornadic thunderstorms over Massachusetts, and Invest 93L near Tampa, Florida. Image credit: NASA/GSFC.

Massachusetts tornado history
One of yesterday's Springfield tornadoes pulled debris from Springfield and deposited it 45 miles to the east-northeast in Millbury, according to an NWS storm report. Powerful, long-track tornadoes like this are rare in New England. Most tornadoes in the region are small, weak, EF-0 and EF-1 twisters that touch down briefly and do minor damage. Only once every eight years, on average, does a strong or violent EF-3 or EF-4 tornado hit Massachusetts. According to the tornadohistoryproject.com, since 1951, there have been only eight strong to violent EF-3 or stronger tornadoes in Massachusetts:

May 29, 1995: An F4 tornado killed 3 and injured 24 in Great Barrington. The tornado tracked for 11 miles, and damage was estimated at more than $5 million.
Jun 22, 1981: An F3 tornado injured 3 people in Worcester County.
Sep 29, 1974: An F3 tornado injured one person as it hit Middlesex and Essex Counties.
Aug 28, 1973: An F4 tornado killed 4 and injured 36 in West Stockbridge as it tracked 9 miles from New York into Berkshire County.
Sep 13, 1971: An F3 tornado killed one person in Worcester County.
Oct 3, 1970: An F3 tornado killed one person in Worcester County. This tornado was on the ground for 35 miles.
Jun 9, 1953: The great 1953 Worcester tornado killed 90 and injured 1228 when it hit Worcester. The tornado had a path 40 miles long and up to 900 yards wide.
Jun 9, 1953: A separate F3 tornado hit Franklin in southern Massachusetts on the same day as the great Worcester tornado, injuring 17 people. The Franklin tornado had a path length of 28 miles.

Florida's surprise tropical disturbance 93L weakens
Invest 93L sped over Florida yesterday afternoon, bringing welcome rains of 1 - 3 inches over the center part of the state. Winds gusted as high as 29 mph at Daytona Beach as the storm came ashore. The storm has a rather unusual origin for a tropical disturbance--it began as a cluster of thunderstorms called a Mesoscale Convective System (MCS) that pushed across southern New England on May 30. On May 31, the MCS 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 on Tuesday. By Wednesday morning, 93L had grown organized enough to earn the designation 93L from NHC. However, passage over Florida disrupted 93L, and the storm is moving with such a fast forward speed--about 25 mph--that it has struggled to regroup. Wind shear is a low 5 - 10 knots, and SSTs in the Gulf are about 27°C (81°F), 0.5 - 1.0°C above average, so it is possible that 93L could make a comeback. NHC is currently giving 93L a 0% chance of developing into a tropical depression by Saturday. I think these odds should be higher, at least 10%, given the recent increase in heavy thunderstorm activity near the center of 93L, as seen on satellite imagery. Steering currents will keep 93L moving quickly to the west-southwest today and Friday, and 93L should make landfall in Mexico just south of Brownsville, Texas, on Saturday afternoon.


Figure 3. Radar-estimated precipitation from 93L's passage over Florida yesterday.

Central Caribbean disturbance
Disorganized heavy thunderstorm activity continues in the region between Central America and Jamaica. Wind shear has fallen to the moderate range, 10 - 20 knots, and is predicted to continue to fall over the next two days. This should allow the disturbance to increase in organization, though it will take many days for it to approach tropical depression status, since it is so large and poorly organized. The computer models are generally showing only very slow development of the disturbance over the coming week. NHC is giving the disturbance a 20% of developing into a tropical depression by Saturday. A surge of moisture accompanying a tropical wave may aid development when the wave arrives in the Western Caribbean on Sunday. 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 today through Sunday. Heavy rains have already hit Jamaica, where a flash flood watch is posted.


Figure 4. Morning 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, today (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. We'll also discuss the Massachusetts tornadoes.

Jeff Masters

Tornado Over My House (stoneygirl)
Oh, what a crazy day. I live in Massachusetts and we had 5 tornadoes today and so far 4 people have been killed. I still can't believe it. I have never seen anything like this. Just so hard to believe.
Tornado Over My House
Double Trouble (shenandoah)
Two huge clouds forming just beyond the hill. The Civil War battle of New Market (May 15, 1864) lies just beyond the tree line.
Double Trouble
Devestating Storm (02066steve)
Last night's storm as it moves out to sea. South of Boston we were extremely fortunate with only strong winds & lightening. The same storm produced tornadoes, significant damage and loss of life in central MA.
Devestating Storm
6/1/11 Plainfield MA (jashearer3)
6/1/11 Plainfield MA

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Quoting DestinJeff:
baby got Breck.
you need to blink more
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 173 Comments: 54272
Quoting HurricaneDean07:

Actually that vorticity is dissipating, the Circulation is strenthening in the dominant low, and is becoming more impressive, the only thing keeping it from being a 30 to 50% chance of formation in the next 48 hours is lack of convection in the near the low and circulation and the shear still somewhat present.
Quoting HurricaneSwirl:


This was the 850mb Vorticity map 9 hours ago:



Vorticity in that blob to the NE is going away, that's just the leftovers of it.
That's what I get for not looking back the timeline. LOL, yup, you guys are right. The low off the Nicaraguan coast continues to become better defined.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Ha!

;)
Member Since: January 24, 2007 Posts: 317 Comments: 31946
Quoting NRAamy:
Who is Breck?.

Breck. Breck Michaels. He won Celebrity Apprentice.


Ok, you can have a '+1' too.
Member Since: August 10, 2010 Posts: 2 Comments: 1971
Who is Breck?.

Breck. Breck Michaels. He won Celebrity Apprentice.
Member Since: January 24, 2007 Posts: 317 Comments: 31946
Quoting NRAamy:
PurpleDrank got a +1


OMG.....


Well, it made me laugh....
Member Since: August 10, 2010 Posts: 2 Comments: 1971
Quoting VAbeachhurricanes:


well were those all in the gulf? he did say gulf. Maybe he meant formed in?


Formed in is still well above 9 storms.

Anyway, I'm gonna try to stop giving off about Bob Breck now :P
Member Since: August 10, 2010 Posts: 2 Comments: 1971
PurpleDrank got a +1


OMG.....
Member Since: January 24, 2007 Posts: 317 Comments: 31946
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:


just another

"look at me iam over here look how important i am, everyone look at me i know everything, the rest of ya are full of ..."!
So I take it his a know it all.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 17071
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Some 850mb vorticity beginning to develop in the larger cluster of convective activity to the northeast of our dominate low pressure area.



This was the 850mb Vorticity map 9 hours ago:



Vorticity in that blob to the NE is going away, that's just the leftovers of it.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting alfabob:

That's what people were saying yesterday, but now it has a COC with low level structure building up.


I believe it's had a COC for quite sometime now. We just haven't been able to see it because it's been hidden under convection and the dark of night.

Even before it crossed Florida, a COC was evidently trying to form


Member Since: August 24, 2010 Posts: 19 Comments: 4358
Quoting washingtonian115:
Who is Breck?.I've been seeing his name all day on the blog.A known meteorologist?.


just another

"look at me iam over here look how important i am, everyone look at me i know everything, the rest of ya are full of ..."!
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 173 Comments: 54272
Quoting seflagamma:
and we had some named storms in the 90's also.

1991 Ana, June 29
1993 Arlene, June 18
1994 Alberto, June 30
1995 Allison, June 3
1996 Arthur, June 17
1997 Ana, June 30
1999, Arlene, June 11


Me thinks someone should have done a little more research before saying we have no named storms in June... add these to the ones from 2000's... and that just coveres 20 years.



well were those all in the gulf? he did say gulf. Maybe he meant formed in?
Member Since: September 6, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6590
Quoting PrivateIdaho:
...you forgot trolls :^)


dang! I did, I was trying to remember all the players!

Member Since: August 29, 2005 Posts: 299 Comments: 40916
Quoting VAbeachhurricanes:


I live here to (note the name) lol. They forecast it every year, but I think for reasons besides hoping peoples lives are ruined. I remember Isabel from 8 years ago, so we are long overdue, statistically speaking. I think everyone that lives here could live without one for many more years.
I'll never forget about Isabel.She came through D.C with 70-80mph winds.Knocked out power in my neighborhood for 2 weeks.Trees were torn down everywhere.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 17071
Quoting seflagamma:
Hi everyone,
I see the "gangs" all here today.
The clowns, the comedy teams, the wishcasters and down casters, rain wishers, the experts, the wanna be experts and the silliness that makes this place unique!

I love it all!

Happy June 2nd!

Gamma/Gams
...you forgot trolls :^)
Member Since: August 29, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 5236
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Some 850mb vorticity beginning to develop in the larger cluster of convective activity to the northeast of our dominate low pressure area.


Actually that vorticity is dissipating, the Circulation is strenthening in the dominant low, and is becoming more impressive, the only thing keeping it from being a 30 to 50% chance of formation in the next 48 hours is lack of convection in the near the low and circulation and the shear still somewhat present.
Member Since: October 3, 2010 Posts: 40 Comments: 4129
and we had some named storms in the 90's also.

1991 Ana, June 29
1993 Arlene, June 18
1994 Alberto, June 30
1995 Allison, June 3
1996 Arthur, June 17
1997 Ana, June 30
1999, Arlene, June 11


Me thinks someone should have done a little more research before saying we have no named storms in June... add these to the ones from 2000's... and that just coveres 20 years.

Member Since: August 29, 2005 Posts: 299 Comments: 40916
Quoting washingtonian115:
Who is Breck?.I've been seeing his name all day on the blog.A known meteorologist?.


climatologist, whom a lot on here seem to disagree with at the moment.
Member Since: September 6, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6590
Quoting NICycloneChaser:


He said 'Historically the first 6-8 weeks of the season are quiet over the Gulf with only 9 named storms recorded in June during the past 100+ years.'

Not exactly accurate.


Hurricanes? maybe? no? ouch thats a stupid thing to say. If you knew nothing about tropical weather I think most people could look at that and see it doesn't pass the common sense test.
Member Since: September 6, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6590
Quoting VAbeachhurricanes:


What did breck say?
Who is Breck?.I've been seeing his name all day on the blog.A known meteorologist?.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 17071
Quoting PurpleDrank:
Where did the meteorologist stop for a drink on the way home from a long day in the studio?





















The nearest ISOBAR!!


+1
Member Since: August 10, 2010 Posts: 2 Comments: 1971
Some 850mb vorticity beginning to develop in the larger cluster of convective activity to the northeast of our dominate low pressure area.

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting VAbeachhurricanes:


What did breck say?


He said 'Historically the first 6-8 weeks of the season are quiet over the Gulf with only 9 named storms recorded in June during the past 100+ years.'

Not exactly accurate.
Member Since: August 10, 2010 Posts: 2 Comments: 1971
Where did the meteorologist stop for a drink on the way home from a long day in the studio?





















The nearest ISOBAR!!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Tazmanian:



93L was at 30% when it was at it peak we this would be the 2nd time


I think you're the third person to respond to that :P
Member Since: August 10, 2010 Posts: 2 Comments: 1971
Quoting washingtonian115:
Well I live on the east coast so that kinda does worry me a bit about a hurricane slamming some where along the coast.But accuweather every year seems to talk about some east coast dooms day scenario.


I live here to (note the name) lol. They forecast it every year, but I think for reasons besides hoping peoples lives are ruined. I remember Isabel from 8 years ago, so we are long overdue, statistically speaking. I think everyone that lives here could live without one for many more years.
Member Since: September 6, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6590
601. AtHomeInTX
10:35 PM GMT on June 02, 2011
Quoting seflagamma:
Hi everyone,
I see the "gangs" all here today.
The clowns, the comedy teams, the wishcasters and down casters, rain wishers, the experts, the wanna be experts and the silliness that makes this place unique!

I love it all!

Happy June 2nd!

Gamma/Gams


:) +1
Member Since: August 24, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 245
600. VAbeachhurricanes
10:34 PM GMT on June 02, 2011
Quoting Neapolitan:

Well, he did say named storms--but even then there have been eight of those just since 2000 (Allison 01, Bill 03, Arlene 05, Bret 05, Alberto 06, Barry, 07, Arthur, 08, Alex 10). Perhaps he meant something different...


What did breck say?
Member Since: September 6, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6590
599. seflagamma
10:34 PM GMT on June 02, 2011
And Mrs Claus has come out of her "Halloween" mode!
She has a hard time keeping her man at home! LOL
Member Since: August 29, 2005 Posts: 299 Comments: 40916
598. HurricaneDean07
10:33 PM GMT on June 02, 2011
Quoting alfabob:

That's what people were saying yesterday, but now it has a COC with low level structure building up.
Still has many problems alfabob, needs much more convection, and winds in excess of 30 MPH, and theres not much of a reason for the NHC to call it a TD, or name it for that matter, theres now real reason for them too, its just a low that will give Mexico some rain, an inch or two, maybe...
Member Since: October 3, 2010 Posts: 40 Comments: 4129
597. washingtonian115
10:33 PM GMT on June 02, 2011
Quoting VAbeachhurricanes:


I don't think they want people to die, i just think they want to make a prediction that people will say. Look they are the only ones who nailed it. Don't talk about people like that without knowing them.
Well I live on the east coast so that kinda does worry me a bit about a hurricane slamming some where along the coast.But accuweather every year seems to talk about some east coast dooms day scenario.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 17071
596. Tazmanian
10:33 PM GMT on June 02, 2011
Quoting tropicfreak:
Surprised this thing hasn't been tagged 94L yet. Probably next advisory we may see orange for the first time in 2011.



93L was at 30% when it was at it peak we this would be the 2nd time
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115248
595. seflagamma
10:30 PM GMT on June 02, 2011
Hi everyone,
I see the "gangs" all here today.
The clowns, the comedy teams, the wishcasters and down casters, rain wishers, the experts, the wanna be experts and the silliness that makes this place unique!

I love it all!

Happy June 2nd!

Gamma/Gams
Member Since: August 29, 2005 Posts: 299 Comments: 40916
594. NICycloneChaser
10:30 PM GMT on June 02, 2011
Quoting Neapolitan:

Well, he did say named storms--but even then there have been eight of those just since 2000 (Allison 01, Bill 03, Arlene 05, Bret 05, Alberto 06, Barry, 07, Arthur, 08, Alex 10). Perhaps he meant something different...


He did, but he said '100+ years', and storms weren't named at all until 1950. I think 'named storms' has just become the term used for a tropical storm.
Member Since: August 10, 2010 Posts: 2 Comments: 1971
593. VAbeachhurricanes
10:29 PM GMT on June 02, 2011
Quoting washingtonian115:
Just like Tampa has their hurricane sheild,we have our tornado sheild up here in D.C.Hehe.Anyway It looks like TWC won't be satisfied until Tampa is hit by a Major hurricane.They've been talking about for years.Another gloom and doom thing going on with accuweather.They want a dooms day east coast storm so bad.But it's not gonna happen.Sorry buds.Earl was a close call.I could judt imagine them cheering for it in the office behind the scences...Those sick bastards...


I don't think they want people to die, i just think they want to make a prediction that people will say. Look they are the only ones who nailed it. Don't talk about people like that without knowing them.
Member Since: September 6, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6590
592. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
10:29 PM GMT on June 02, 2011
Quoting pottery:

Not looking all that good, to me.
Not seeing anything to suggest that there is a TS anywhere for a while yet.
Some things are coming together, but overall it looks like Rainy Season stuff.
its all coming to yer house pottery the whole dam mess
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 173 Comments: 54272
591. washingtonian115
10:27 PM GMT on June 02, 2011
Just like Tampa has their hurricane sheild,we have our tornado sheild up here in D.C.Hehe.Anyway It looks like TWC won't be satisfied until Tampa is hit by a Major hurricane.They've been talking about for years.Another gloom and doom thing going on with accuweather.They want a dooms day east coast storm so bad.But it's not gonna happen.Sorry buds.Earl was a close call.I could judt imagine them cheering for it in the office behind the scences...Those sick bastards...
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 17071
590. VAbeachhurricanes
10:27 PM GMT on June 02, 2011
Quoting beell:


So did Santa.


LMAO!
Member Since: September 6, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6590
589. NRAamy
10:25 PM GMT on June 02, 2011
585. beell 10:22 PM GMT on June 02, 2011
Quoting NRAamy:
the last credit card bill had a dinner charge from JuiciPatties


I had to look at that twice....

So did Santa.



HAHAHA!!!!!

;)
Member Since: January 24, 2007 Posts: 317 Comments: 31946
588. HurricaneDean07
10:25 PM GMT on June 02, 2011
Quoting tropicfreak:


Look south of Haiti, is that what everyone's talking about? Or is it the COC near central america.
Its near central america, nicaragua to be exact, and thats not our low south of haiti thats a tropical wave that should consolidate with 94L soon, everyone thinks that its a seperate system but its just a tropical wave coming into the low.
Member Since: October 3, 2010 Posts: 40 Comments: 4129
587. Neapolitan
10:24 PM GMT on June 02, 2011
Quoting NICycloneChaser:
I can't quite believe I bothered to count, but there have been 45 tropical/subtropical storms in June in the Gulf of Mexico in the last 100 years. That's 5 times more than Bob Breck claimed.

Well, he did say named storms--but even then there have been eight of those just since 2000 (Allison 01, Bill 03, Arlene 05, Bret 05, Alberto 06, Barry, 07, Arthur, 08, Alex 10). Perhaps he meant something different...
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13549
585. beell
10:22 PM GMT on June 02, 2011
Quoting NRAamy:
the last credit card bill had a dinner charge from JuiciPatties


I had to look at that twice....


So did Santa.
Member Since: September 11, 2007 Posts: 143 Comments: 16718
584. HurricaneDean07
10:21 PM GMT on June 02, 2011
Quoting tropicfreak:
Surprised this thing hasn't been tagged 94L yet. Probably next advisory we may see orange for the first time in 2011.
weve already seen an orange circle for 2011, 93L yesturday morning before it went over florida
Member Since: October 3, 2010 Posts: 40 Comments: 4129
583. VAbeachhurricanes
10:20 PM GMT on June 02, 2011
Member Since: September 6, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6590
582. AtHomeInTX
10:20 PM GMT on June 02, 2011
Quoting MrsClaus:
AtHome- I wish he was At Home! no, the last credit card bill had a dinner charge from JuiciPatties in the Clarendon province of Jamaica, so I know that's where he was a week ago.
I can not repair the barn and keep up with the reindeer at the same time. The tractor's transmission or something went out, while pulling out Prancer, and the elves are of no help at this time of year.


Hmph.MEN!
Member Since: August 24, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 245
581. hamla
10:20 PM GMT on June 02, 2011
the 64 cent ? is with all the things going on in the world ie:floods,droughts,torndos,record heat,record cold,things happening that are unusal as we know it ,high reports of earthquakes around the world ,volcanos erupting etc IS THE CLIMATE CHANGING BEFORE OUR EYES OR IS THIS JUST THE NORM?????
Member Since: August 29, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 167
580. Neapolitan
10:19 PM GMT on June 02, 2011
Quoting Barefootontherocks:
Might be good for some bloggers here (including Neo) to think a little more about how their posts might sound to a reader, especially one who could be threatened by a tropical cyclone

Thanks for the advice, but I think I'll pass. I've been listening to Breck for years, and I'm very well aware of his MO. He may have gone to the same school as Dr. Masters, but his writings are usually critical simply because Dr. Masters supports AGWT and Breck doesn't. And Breck's latest comment wasn't aimed at WU members; he has long called DR. Masters an "alarmist". Here, knock yourself out.

Jeff certainly doesn't need me defending him, and that's not what I was doing; I merely wanted to express my opinion that I find Breck to be an ignoramus where climate science is concerned. Breck's entitled to his opinion, and I to mine. Ya know?

And that's all I have to say about that. ;-)
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13549

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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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