Caribbean disturbance slow to develop; 5 EF-5 tornadoes this year confirmed

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:33 PM GMT on June 03, 2011

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The tropical disturbance (Invest 93L) that crossed over Florida on Wednesday, bringing welcome rains of 1 - 3 inches, is now a naked swirl of low clouds over the central Gulf of Mexico. The disturbance is embedded in a large area of dry air associated with an upper level low pressure system, and this dry air is discouraging development. 93L is also moving into a region of moderate wind shear of 10 - 20 knots, and NHC is giving 93L a 0% chance of developing into a tropical depression before the storm makes landfall in Mexico south of Brownsville on Saturday. There are a few heavy thunderstorms trying to fire up near the center of 93L's fairly well-formed circulation, but I don't think this storm is going to bring more than 1 - 2 inches of rain to the coast on Saturday.


Figure 1. Morning satellite image of the Central Caribbean disturbance.

Central Caribbean disturbance 94L
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, dubbed Invest 94L by NHC on Friday afternoon, 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 last two runs of the NOGAPS model have developed the disturbance into a tropical depression or storm by early next week, with the system moving northwards into Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, and eastern Cuba. The other major models do not show the disturbance developing during the coming week. NHC is giving the disturbance a 10% of developing into a tropical depression by Sunday. 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, eastern Cuba, the Cayman Islands, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic should anticipate the possibility that heavy rains of 2 - 4 inches may affect them today through Sunday.

Five EF-5 tornadoes confirmed in 2011
The National Weather Service in Oklahoma City announced Wednesday that the violent tornado that hit Binger, El Reno, Peidmont, and Guthrie, Oklahoma on May 24, killing nine people, was an EF-5 with winds greater than 210 mph. The rating was given based on measurements made by a University of Oklahoma portable "Doppler on wheels" radar. The long track, large wedge tornado caused extensive damage, with well built houses cleanly swept from their foundation and trees debarked. This tornado brings the total number of EF-5 tornadoes this year to five, tying 2011 with 1953 for 2nd place for greatest number of these top-end tornadoes in one year. Only 1974 (six) had more. The EF-5 tornadoes of 2011:

1) The April 27, 2011 Neshoba/Kemper/Winston/Noxubee Counties, Mississippi tornado (3 killed, 29 mile path length.)

2) The April 27, 2011 Smithville, Mississippi tornado (22 killed, 15 mile path length.)

3) The April 27, 2011 Hackleburg, Alabama tornado (71 killed, 25 mile path length.)

4) The May 22, 2011 Joplin Missouri tornado (138 killed, 14 mile path length.)

5) The May 24, 2011 Binger-El Reno-Peidmont-Guthrie, Oklahoma tornado. (9 killed, 75 mile path length.)


Figure 2. Aerial view of damage from the May 22, 2011 Joplin, Missouri tornado. Image credit: Wikipedia.

A few other remarkable statistics on the tornado season of 2011, compiled from NOAA's official press release and Wikipedia's excellent tornado pages:

- The April 25 - 28 tornado outbreak, with 330 tornadoes, was the largest tornado outbreak of three days or less duration on record. The previous record was 148 tornadoes, set during the April 3 - 4, 1974 Super Outbreak.

- For April 27, 186 tornadoes have been confirmed. This is the largest 1-day tornado total on record, beating the 148 recorded in 24 hours on April 3 - 4, 1974.

- The April 14 - 16 tornado outbreak, with 162 confirmed tornadoes, ranks as the fourth largest tornado outbreak of three days or less duration on record.

- The May 21 - 26 tornado outbreak, with 158 confirmed tornadoes, ranks as the 5th largest 6-day or shorter tornado outbreak on record. A May 2003 6-day outbreak had 289 tornadoes, and a May 2004 6-day outbreak had 229 tornadoes. The year 2011 now has three of the top five tornado outbreaks on record.

- April confirmed tornado total was 683, making it the busiest tornado month on record. The previous record was 542 tornadoes, set in May 2003. The previous April record was 267 tornadoes, which occurred in April 1974. The 30-year average for April tornadoes is 135.

- If the three deaths in Massachusetts from Wednesday's tornadoes are confirmed, this year's tornado death toll will be 522, beating 1953 as the deadliest tornado year since modern tornado records began. That year, 519 people died, and 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.) During that time period, the tornado death rate per million people was 60 - 70 times as great as in the year 2000 (Figure 4), implying that this year's tornadoes would have killed many thousands of people had we not had our modern tornado modern warning system.

- The May 22, 2011 Joplin, Missouri tornado killed 138 people and injured 1150, making it the deadliest U.S. tornado since 1947, and 8th deadliest in history. The $1 - $3 billion estimate of insured damage makes it the most expensive tornado in history.

- Damage from the April 25 - 28 super tornado outbreak was estimated at $3.5 - $6 billion, making it the most expensive tornado outbreak of all-time.

- The tornado that hit Springfield, Massachusetts on June 1 was at least an EF-3 with 136 - 165 mph winds. It was only the 9th EF-3 or stronger tornado to hit Massachusetts since 1950, and the third deadliest, with three deaths.

- The year 2011 now ranks in 3rd place behind 1974 and 1965 for highest number of strong to violent EF-3, EF-4, and EF-5 tornadoes (Figure 3.)


Figure 3. Number of strong to violent EF-3, EF-4 and EF-5 tornadoes from 1950 to 2011. The year 2011 now ranks in 3rd place behind 1974 and 1965. There is not a decades-long increasing trend in the numbers of these most dangerous of tornadoes. Image credit: NOAA/National Climatic Data Center (updated using stats for 2008 - 2011 from Wikipedia.)


Figure 4. Death rate per million people per year in U.S., 1875-2000. Thin line with dots is raw rate, curved thick line is death rate, filtered by 3-point median and 5-point running mean filter, and straight solid lines are least squares fit to filtered death rate for 1875-1925 and 1925-2000. Dashed lines are estimates of 10th and 90th percentile death rates from 1925-2000. The death rate fell from 8 per million to .12 per million between 1940 and 2000. Image credit: A Brief History of Deaths from Tornadoes in the United States, Harold Brooks and Charles Doswell III.

Joplin tornado the 7th U.S. billion-dollar weather disaster of 2011
The Joplin tornado is the 7th U.S. weather disaster of 2011 costing more than a billion dollars. With a major flooding disaster coming on the Missouri River, and hurricane season still to come, 2011 has an excellent chance of beating 2008's record of nine billion-dollar weather disasters. The billion dollar weather disasters of 2011 so far:

1) 2011 Groundhog Day's blizzard ($1- $4 billion)
2) April 3 -5 Southeast U.S. severe weather outbreak ($2 billion)
3) April 8 - 11 severe weather outbreak ($2.25 billion)
4) April 25 - 28 super tornado outbreak ($3.5 - $6 billion)
5) Mississippi River flood of 2011 ($9 billion)
6) Texas drought ($1.2 billion)
7) Joplin tornado ($1 - $3 billion)


Figure 5. River flood outlook for the U.S. Image credit: NOAA.

The next U.S. billion-dollar weather disaster: a Missouri River flood?
A great 100-year flood has arrived along the Missouri River and its tributaries from Montana to Nebraska. Record spring rains, combined with snow melt from record or near-record winter and spring snows, brought the Missouri River at Williston, North Dakota to 27.9' yesterday, just an inch short of the highest crest on record (28.0' on 4/01/1912.) Tributaries to the Missouri, such as the Souris River in North Dakota and the North Platte River in Nebraska, are already flooding at all-time record heights. With warm summer temperatures and additional rainfall expected over much of the area during the coming week, snow melt and rain runoff will swell area rivers even further, creating a damaging 100-year flood. Wunderground weather historian Christopher C. Burt has the details in his latest post, and I will be writing more on this latest epic flood next week.

I'll have a new post on Monday, or earlier if the Caribbean disturbance shows significant development.

Jeff Masters

Joplin Tornado Damage (thebige)
Joplin Tornado Damage
And Bigger.... (weatherfanatic2010)
Here it is turning into a monster.
And Bigger....

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3174. IKE
5 day QPF....





72 hour 6Z GFS....


Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37860
3173. Walshy
Convection blowing up with 94L this morning.

Member Since: May 17, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 907
Quoting JLPR2:
Well off to bed to since it seems I'm alone here. XD
Also this is the most interesting map yep. Apparently we lost our low.

Probably why 94L is down to 20%.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
3171. JLPR2
Well off to bed to since it seems I'm alone here. XD
Also this is the most interesting map yet. Apparently we lost our low.
Member Since: September 4, 2007 Posts: 7 Comments: 8747
3170. JLPR2
A stronger surface vort has now appeared with 94L, but check out the stronger vort to the NE of the NE Caribbean.

It also has great reflection at the 850mb level, with plenty of surface convergence and some divergence, but wind shear is too high in that area.
Member Since: September 4, 2007 Posts: 7 Comments: 8747
3169. xcool


ukm
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15684
Nite everyone, going to sleep, be back at 8. MAYBE... Lol, tired
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Quoting SouthBeach:


It will, man, you sure do know your tropical meteorology, I'm blown. Anyhow, sir, have a good night, we'll see what happens to it tomorrow, rest well, CCH.


I wouldn't say I know my tropical meteorology. I still have much to learn, but admittedly do have a good foundation now. Have a good night as well and I'll be back again late morning to early afternoon. Hopefully the NHC will keep the scheduled recon mission on plan and send out the Hurricane Hunters. If so, I'll break down data as it comes in.
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3166. JLPR2
Quoting cchsweatherman:


I wouldn't say with a vengeance, but relocating under building convection, higher convergence, more moist air, and a slightly better upper level wind pattern will give Invest 94L a better fighting chance than it had yesterday.


LOL I agree its fighting, but with no vengeance, now Felix in 07 that one came back with a vengeance. XD
Member Since: September 4, 2007 Posts: 7 Comments: 8747
Quoting SouthBeach:


Imagine that, the little critter is coming back with a vengeance, it would seem, unbelievable, :0.


I wouldn't say with a vengeance, but relocating under building convection, higher convergence, more moist air, and a slightly better upper level wind pattern will give Invest 94L a better fighting chance than it had yesterday.
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Quoting HurricaneDean07:
Looks like 94L has a dirty little secret. A new surface low with lowering pressures, winds piling up create a more unstable atmosphere, vorticity increasing, convection firing over the new surface low and circulation. Talk about a secret, 94L is has been waiting to do this for a while... Catching everyone off guard(for the most part) lol


Definitely not catching me off guard. Been watching for this since 10PM EST. Such erratic systems are known to pull off these circulation relocations and it appears to be the case here.

Quoting Yamil1989:
Good Morning everyone, I just want to thank-you all ( ccsweatherman,Levi,xcool) and others for all the weather analysis you guys provide to the blog, I read this blog almost every day, and is amazing all the thing I've learned from reading this blog. Back to 94L, It appears that is forming a new center and I think is trying to wrap some convention from the south too, Back to orange at 8:00 I guess.


Thanks for the credit and gratitude. I love weather and love to help others learn if I can and learn myself in the process.
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3161. JRRP
see you later
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Good Morning everyone, I just want to thank-you all ( ccsweatherman,Levi,xcool) and others for all the weather analysis you guys provide to the blog, I read this blog almost every day, and is amazing all the thing I've learned from reading this blog. Back to 94L, It appears that is forming a new center and I think is trying to wrap some convention from the south too, Back to orange at 8:00 I guess.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Looks like 94L has a dirty little secret. A new surface low with lowering pressures, winds piling up create a more unstable atmosphere, vorticity increasing, convection firing over the new surface low and circulation. Talk about a secret, 94L is has been waiting to do this for a while... Catching everyone off guard(for the most part) lol
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Quoting KoritheMan:
For those still awake to care, I just finished a blog on Invest 94L. I'm tired though, so I'm logging off for the night.

See you guys later.
thanks. Gonna read it while I'm on the toilet LOL

Quoting HurricaneDean07:
Correction didn't mean to say well defined circulation meant to say increasing near surface vorticity, soooooooooooooooooo tired, been Up till 2 am for four days now and have got 4 hours of sleep, so been making mistakes that I usually don't. Guess that's what happens when your not quite paying attention to what your saying( cuz of being tired)
go to bed, mate
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For those still awake to care, I just finished a blog on Invest 94L. I'm tired though, so I'm logging off for the night.

See you guys later.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Correction didn't mean to say well defined circulation meant to say increasing near surface vorticity, soooooooooooooooooo tired, been Up till 2 am for four days now and have got 4 hours of sleep, so been making mistakes that I usually don't. Guess that's what happens when your not quite paying attention to what your saying( cuz of being tired)
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Quoting cchsweatherman:


I'm believing very much that we may be having a new surface low forming within the southern end of this new thunderstorm complex just southeast of Jamaica at around 16.5N and 76.5W.


Also supporting this observation is the fact that low level convergence is now increasing right with this thunderstorm complex as well.


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3153. xcool
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15684
Quoting Levi32:
Looking directly at 15N, 76W, the dissipating cirrus clouds reveal a brisk southerly surface inflow into the Jamaican thunderstorm complex, indicating that it is healthy and lowering pressures at the surface.


I'm believing very much that we may be having a new surface low forming within the southern end of this new thunderstorm complex just southeast of Jamaica at around 16.5N and 76.5W.
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3151. Levi32
Looking directly at 15N, 76W, the dissipating cirrus clouds reveal a brisk southerly surface inflow into the Jamaican thunderstorm complex, indicating that it is healthy and lowering pressures at the surface.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
If the 00Z ECMWF at 144 hours out comes true, then this would be a beautiful sight for South Floridians to see:
Lower Level Winds:

Low Level Vorticity:

Sea Level Pressure and Mid Level Heights:


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3149. Levi32
Quoting cchsweatherman:


I'll be interested to see later this morning whether the recent convective buildup over Jamaica and increasing vorticity over there could lead to a new focal point for this system. Not saying it will happen, but its been interesting to note the sudden increase in convection and the slight rotation I'm now noticing within the thunderstorm complex developing at this time.


If the future motion of the system is to be northward, you can bet on it. Additionally, the broad low as a whole is so weak that the apparent WSW motion may just be a shedding of an old low center that is being sacrificed to the low-level steering flow. We have seen that before. I would expect the overall motion of the system to have at least some northerly component to it.
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Quoting Levi32:
0z CMC has a bit more step to it.


The CMC has come much further west on this run than the previous runs today.
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Levi it appears that the air is piling up over 94L. 25 knots on ascot and very well defined llc with a nice burst of convection over it. Could see 30 or 40% at 8.
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Quoting Levi32:
0z CMC has a bit more step to it.


As always it seems. lol
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3145. Levi32
0z CMC has a bit more step to it.
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3144. xcool


cmc 00z
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15684
Quoting KoritheMan:

Agreed, which is why I'm still siding with the western side of the guidance suite, ala the GFDL and ECMWF.


Same here. Just looking at the incoming ECMWF thus far and it continues to maintain consistency in not really developing the system, but sending the vort max and disturbed weather across Western Cuba and eventually into South Florida late this week.
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3142. xcool
ECMWF.
come soon
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15684

Quoting cchsweatherman:


We shall see. So far, the trough has overall been weaker across the NW Atlantic than the models have been forecasting in the past couple days.
Agreed, which is why I'm still siding with the western side of the guidance suite, ala the GFDL and ECMWF.
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Quoting KoritheMan:

One would think. However, the set of global models predicting recurvature do not significantly deepen this system from its current state (besides the NOGAPS, which always overdoes things in this portion of the Caribbean), yet it still recurves. This leads me to believe that the purported weakness in the western Atlantic ridge my extend as far south as at least 700 mb, possibly even below.


We shall see. So far, the trough has overall been weaker across the NW Atlantic than the models have been forecasting in the past couple days.
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Quoting cchsweatherman:

In regards to recurvature, it will entirely depend on whether this develops even further.
One would think. However, the set of global models predicting recurvature do not significantly deepen this system from its current state (besides the NOGAPS, which always overdoes things in this portion of the Caribbean), yet it still recurves. This leads me to believe that the purported weakness in the western Atlantic ridge my extend as far south as at least 700 mb, possibly even below.
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3138. xcool


shear maps
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15684
Quoting KoritheMan:


I've been noticing it too. The upper flow also appears to be lighter across that region as well, and the environment is also relatively moist there, which may ultimately allow a secondary surface low to develop amidst that convection, with the current one ultimately dying off.

It is definitely a possibility.

EDIT: Although, in this particular scenario, I would imagine the odds of recurvature are higher, since the system would be in closer proximity to the trough, even if it does indeed come off farther north than what the models that are gung-ho over recurvature are postulating.


Given the erratic nature of such systems, I'm gonna keep an eye out for this to possibly happen.

In regards to recurvature, it will entirely depend on whether this develops even further.
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Quoting cchsweatherman:


I'll be interested to see later this morning whether the recent convective buildup over Jamaica and increasing vorticity over there could lead to a new focal point for this system. Not saying it will happen, but its been interesting to note the sudden increase in convection and the slight rotation I'm now noticing within the thunderstorm complex developing at this time.


I've been noticing it too. The upper flow also appears to be lighter across that region as well, and the environment is also relatively moist there, which may ultimately allow a secondary surface low to develop amidst that convection, with the current one ultimately dying off.

It is definitely a possibility.

EDIT: Although, in this particular scenario, I would imagine the odds of recurvature are higher, since the system would be in closer proximity to the trough, even if it does indeed come off farther north than what the models that are gung-ho over recurvature are postulating.
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Quoting cchsweatherman:


Agreed, but not willing to write it completely off yet. I've become less optimistic for development than I was this time last night but given the history of this region, can't let my guard down.


Well, nearly all early season systems that originate in this area are notorious for taking their time in developing. This one is no different.
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Quoting DARPAsockpuppet:
Could anything become of that blob south of Mobile moving WSW?


No.
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Quoting KoritheMan:


It never was that well-defined. It was better yesterday, yes, but it was never overly impressive.

One thing is for sure, based on what I'm seeing on satellite imagery as well as the global model forecast fields, this system appears to have less of a chance at reaching Arlene than it did.


I'll be interested to see later this morning whether the recent convective buildup over Jamaica and increasing vorticity over there could lead to a new focal point for this system. Not saying it will happen, but its been interesting to note the sudden increase in convection and the slight rotation I'm now noticing within the thunderstorm complex developing at this time.
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RGB still looks good, I'd guess the surface circulation is still very much intact. Broad indeed and still being sheared lightly. Id guess the monsoonal nature of the system is what is throwing most people off. So long as this thing is stationary, it isnt going to die imo. It's a sturdy monsoonal gyre right now.
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Quoting KoritheMan:


It never was that well-defined. It was better yesterday, yes, but it was never overly impressive.

One thing is for sure, based on what I'm seeing on satellite imagery as well as the global model forecast fields, this system appears to have less of a chance at reaching Arlene than it did.


Agreed, but not willing to write it completely off yet. I've become less optimistic for development than I was this time last night but given the history of this region, can't let my guard down.
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Quoting cchsweatherman:


Not a defined circulation anymore it would appear.


It never was that well-defined. It was better yesterday, yes, but it was never overly impressive.

One thing is for sure, based on what I'm seeing on satellite imagery as well as the global model forecast fields, this system appears to have less of a chance at reaching Arlene than it did.
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Quoting KoritheMan:


Based on these surface observations, the surface circulation appears to be located about 100 miles southwest of Jamaica. Satellite animations clearly depict at least moderate southeasterly upper flow in that vicinity.


Not a defined circulation anymore it would appear.
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Quoting SouthBeach:


Uh oh, they're back to saying that, ''IF ANY'', of their, as you now know what that means? LOL. Oh boy, ^_^. Anyhow, good to see you on at this time of morning, CCH. Is she finally on life-support, it would appear so, =).


Wouldn't say the disturbance is on life support yet. With it still having a broad surface circulation continuing, its still got a chance. Still has many obstacles to overcome though to develop into something further though.
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Quoting cchsweatherman:


If you overlay the upper level winds on the floater imagery, you will see only light variable upper level winds over the system right now.


Based on these surface observations, the surface circulation appears to be located about 100 miles southwest of Jamaica. Satellite animations clearly depict at least moderate southeasterly upper flow in that vicinity.
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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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