Missouri River flood hits unprecedented flow rates

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:18 PM GMT on June 17, 2011

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The most expensive tornado/severe weather disaster in American history is the great May 21 - 26, 2011 storm that spawned the Joplin, Missouri EF-5 tornado. According to catastrophe modeling firm AIR Worldwide, insured damages from that storm will amount to $4 - $7 billion, the greatest damages ever for a spring severe weather outbreak. However, the damages from the huge, slow-moving low pressure system that spawned the Joplin tornado have not yet been fully realized. The powerful storm pumped huge quantities of warm, moisture-laden air from the Gulf of Mexico northwestwards into Montana, where the moisture condensed into record-breaking heavy rain and snow. In portions of eastern Montana, the storm brought a year's worth of precipitation in a week, swelling the tributaries of the Missouri River to unprecedented heights. Billings, Montana recorded 9.54" of precipitation in May, its single wettest month on record, and not far from its annual average precipitation of 14.5". 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 30' today (June 17), two feet above the record crest set in 1912. Tributaries to the Missouri, such as the North Platte River in Nebraska, are also flooding at all-time record heights. With warm summer temperatures and 2 - 5" of rainfall expected over much of the area during the coming week, snow melt and rain runoff will swell area rivers even further, creating an even more dangerous flood.

Flooding along the Missouri River has already broken two levees and closed two portions of I-29, a key trucking route that extends from Kansas City through Iowa, South Dakota and North Dakota to the Canadian border. A 20-mile stretch between Council Bluffs and the Missouri Valley area is closed, as well as a 22-mile section in southwest Iowa and northwest Missouri, causing significant disruptions to the trucking industry.


Figure 1. Satellite image taken at 5:45pm CDT May 22, 2011, when the Joplin, Missouri tornado was occurring. The counter-clockwise flow of air around the spiraling low pressure system that caused the Joplin tornado drew large quantities of Gulf of Mexico air into Montana, creating record-breaking rains. Image credit: NASA/GSFC.



Figure 2. Levee breach along the Missouri River levee L-575 near Hamburg, Iowa, on June 14, 2011. The town of Hamburg is being protected by a new temporary levee. So far, only farmland has flooded. Image credit: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Army Corps cranks up water releases on Missouri River dams to double the previous record
Six flood control dams lie on the Missouri River between eastern Montana and Sioux City, Iowa; these dams were built between 1940 and 1964. As water from this spring's record precipitation have flowed into the Missouri River basin, the reservoirs behind these dams have risen to record levels. On May 31, the Army Corps of Engineers was forced to open the the spillway gates on the massive Garrison Dam, 50 miles northwest of Bismark, North Dakota. It was the first time since the dam was built in 1955 that the spillway gates were opened. (Remarkably, during 2007 and early 2008, Lake Sakakawea water levels behind Garrison Dam were the lowest since the dam was built--46 feet below the current level--thanks to a decade-long drought.) On June 3, as the record flood progressed downstream, the spillway gates on the Big Bend Dam opened for the first time since that dam was completed in 1964. This week, the Army Corps of Engineers increased water flowing through all six dams to more than double the previous highs set during the floods of 1975 and 1997. The flow rates are now a massive 150,000 cubic feet per second, 1.5 times greater than the typical flow of Niagara Falls. These extreme flow rates will need to be maintained into at least mid-August, and are expected to severely strain levees on the Missouri River as it flows through North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri, and Kansas. According to a press conference put on by NWS and the Army Corps last week, the Missouri River flood control system is based on an 1881 estimate of the maximum amount of water an extreme flood season could generate--40 million acre-feet of water during the spring and summer flood season. However, this year's flood is expected to pump 42 - 43 million acre feet of water into the system, stressing it beyond its designed limits. In May alone, the Missouri River basin just upstream from Sioux City, Iowa, received 10.2 million acre feet of water, more than 25% above the previous May record of 7.2 million acre feet set in 1995. Additional levee failures along the Missouri are likely this summer, particularly if widespread heavy summer rains occur.


Figure 3. The Oahe Reservoir Stilling Basin north of Pierre, S.D., on June 5, 2011. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers increased the water releases from the Oahe Dam into the stilling basin to a record 147,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) of water release on June 8. The previous record was 59,000 cfs in 1997. Image credit: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers/ Carlos J. Lazo

Four-day period of critical fire conditions expected in the Southwest
Powerful southwest winds of 20 - 30 mph, gusting to 40 mph will continue through Saturday in Eastern Arizona and western New Mexico, making progress containing the region's severe fires difficult. Even worse conditions are begin predicted for Sunday, when NOAA's Storm Prediction Center forecasts forecasts that wind gusts up to 50 mph will occur. With hot conditions and humidity values below 10%, these are likely to be among the worst fire conditions the region has seen this year.

While the exceptional drought gripping Arizona is largely to blame for terrible fire conditions this year, unusually windy and dry weather has also been a significant factor. These windy and dry conditions have been caused, in part, by a stronger-than-average jet stream over the region. According to the National Weather Service in Phoenix, the period April-May 2011 was the 11th windiest and had the 6th lowest average relative humidity value on record in Phoenix. Combined, it was the 3rd windiest-driest April-May on record.

Our weather historian, Christopher C. Burt, has an interesting post on The Worst Wild Fires in World History. Arizona's Wallow Fire, at 750 square miles, has a long way to go before matching the largest fire in U.S. history, the great Peshtigo Fire of 1871. That fire burned 5,938 square miles of Wisconsin and Michigan.

Tallahassee hits 105°, their hottest day on record
On Wednesday June 15 at 307 PM EDT, the Tallahassee Regional Airport in Florida recorded a high temperature of 105 degrees. This temperature breaks the previous all time high temperature record for Tallahassee of 104 degrees, set most recently on June 20th 1933. The period of record for Tallahassee dates back to 1892.

The Atlantic is quiet
The Atlantic is quiet, with no tropical cyclones predicted over the next seven days by the reliable computer models. However, the GFS model predicts that moisture will begin increasing early next week in the western Gulf of Mexico, and a tropical disturbance could form next week in the Gulf, bringing much-needed rains to the coast of Texas. Droughts of the magnitude of the current Texas drought are hard to break, though, so I'd like to see more support from the models before believing in this forecast.

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

Jeff Masters

ABANDONED For Wetland Project in Flood (BEME)
Another old farmstead,within the wetlands 'project'..near Highway 2 [to Nebraska City,Nebraska]..Water's getting higher. [photo taken Wednesday afternoon]
ABANDONED For Wetland Project in Flood
Won't be Open Much Longer (Nikongranny)
Highway 2 east of Nebraska City will be closing very soon.
Won't be Open Much Longer
Trying to Keep Ahead (Nikongranny)
of the approaching water. Crews working frantically building this earth berm to keep the advancing Missouri River out of Hamburg.
Trying to Keep Ahead

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Quoting donna1960ruled:


Florida was not meant to be inhabited by humans.

Are there 'humans' there?

sorry, could,nt resist. hehehehe.
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Quoting stormwatcherCI:

Whoa, look at all of that orange O_o

Good Afternoon everyone.
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Quoting LemieT:


Here in Barbados, 13.1N, 59.3W, the rain has recently started falling, about 30 mins or so, light to moderate. The wind has been out of the NE about 15-20mph, gusting to 35mph at times. Looks as though the TW to the east has held on to some mid to low level cyclonic turning for the last 2 days. Now some convection is firing and shear is the lowest its been in days... Could be interesting to see what happens here.

Hi, Bajan!
We have had an inch since around midnight.
No wind at all.
Some constant drizzle with occasional CrashBooms in the sky this morning.
Clearing up now, with the sunshine turning everything into steam...

Mildew Weather!
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Quoting Skyepony:
Seabreeze clouds are starting to form along the ECFL coast. I-4 corridor & the SE side has the best chance for storems.


Just had a short, but hard burst of rain in Port St. Lucie. Hoping that is the start of something more later today and this evening.
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Quoting Skyepony:
Situation Update No. 1
On 17.06.2011 at 11:38 GMT+2

A province in Argentina declared an economic emergency on Thursday to aid towns where falling ash from Chile's erupting volcano is endangering livestock and keeping tourists away. The emergency in Neuquen province follows a similar measure by the national government in other parts of Patagonia where agriculture has been hit by accumulating volcanic ash. The decree by Gov. Jorge Sapag will mean that those affected can receive tax benefits, among other measures. Chile's Cordon Caulle volcano began erupting June 4, spewing ash that has disrupted flights in countries ranging from Uruguay to Australia. The ash has also blanketed towns across the border in Argentina. In the area of Villa La Angostura, located 38 kilometres from the volcano, up to 30 centimetres of ash has accumulated on the ground. The ash has made it difficult to drive safely on roads, and the eruption came just as resorts in the mountain towns were preparing for ski season. "Today we can't anticipate the season's final results, but we can say that this has ruined the start of the winter season in the coming days," said Roberto Alonso, mayor of Villa La Angostura. Residents in the town have been working to clean up the ash, said Alejandro Curiluck, a business owner in Villa La Angostura. "In 15 days we should be operating. The big problem is that the volcano keeps sending up ashes," he said.

Satellite images on Thursday showed the main ash cloud from the erupting volcano stretching about 1,400 kilometres toward the east-southeast, Chile's National Geology and Mines Service said in a statement. "The eruption process continues and it's possible that an increase in activity could occur again, with episodes similar or greater in intensity than those that have occurred so far," the agency said. The ashes are causing problems for Argentine farmers whose sheep herds are now roaming in pastures covered with ash. According to official figures, there are more than two million sheep in Patagonia, of which more than half are affected by the ash. In response, Argentina's Agriculture Ministry declared an emergency on Wednesday in the provinces of Chubut, Rio Negro y Neuquen. Regional airports in Patagonia have also been shut down for more than a week due to the cloud of fine grit, which can damage airplane engines. Buenos Aires's main airports reopened on Wednesday and international flights were operating again.

This is really sad.
I was in the Chubut valley, and Villa Angostura area in November.
Cannot imagine the pristine areas around Bariloche covered with ash!
The area is virtually un-touched, beautiful Snow capped Mountains, Lakes, Rivers and conifer forest.
30 cm. of ash is about 12"....

Bad stuff.
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Quoting Skyepony:
Situation Update No. 1
On 17.06.2011 at 11:38 GMT+2

A province in Argentina declared an economic emergency on Thursday to aid towns where falling ash from Chile's erupting volcano is endangering livestock and keeping tourists away.

The ashes are causing problems for Argentine farmers whose sheep herds are now roaming in pastures covered with ash. According to official figures, there are more than two million sheep in Patagonia, of which more than half are affected by the ash. In response, Argentina's Agriculture Ministry declared an emergency on Wednesday in the provinces of Chubut, Rio Negro y Neuquen.


Somehow this affected me more than anything else. You got to feel for the critters and the folks that care for them.
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Quoting 19N81W:
To me it looks like the second wave coming across the eastern carib is starting to fire and some circulation to it...any thoughts?


Here in Barbados, 13.1N, 59.3W, the rain has recently started falling, about 30 mins or so, light to moderate. The wind has been out of the NE about 15-20mph, gusting to 35mph at times. Looks as though the TW to the east has held on to some mid to low level cyclonic turning for the last 2 days. Now some convection is firing and shear is the lowest its been in days... Could be interesting to see what happens here.
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@beell: a link to what? The 1881 business is from the article text itself. That meteorology was in its infancy in 1881, compared to nowadays or even the 1950s, seems blindingly obvious. After all, Cleveland Abbe, AKA Old Probabilities, had only issued his first forecast in 1869, just 12 years before.
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Many pictures of the MO river flood from 6-12-11

https://picasaweb.google.com/10459253907547279843 1/TheGreatMissouriRiverFloodOf2011?authkey=Gv1sRgC LLaoO7rm_qp1AE#



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Caribbean - Rainbow Loop
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Quoting cchsweatherman:
... this has favored the western areas of Florida for rainfall.


Not from the evidence of MY yard!

Afternoon folks, let myself get dehydrated a bit running errands and grilling out yesterday, so being lazy today. Another huge lightning storm and a brief light rain late last night.

We'll take what we can get.

I imagine those AZ fires are so large and have been going on for so long, that they've built a convective "shield" around themselves to ward off any rain that might get crazy ideas. :(
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Many pictures of the MO river flood from 6-12-11

https://picasaweb.google.com/10459253907547279843 1/TheGreatMissouriRiverFloodOf2011?authkey=Gv1sRgC LLaoO7rm_qp1AE#slideshow/5618511849477311794

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Quoting cchsweatherman:


Shows well defined and gusty southerly winds wrapping around the backside of the disturbed weather in the NW Caribbean. Would be indicative of something going on there.
Thank you.
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Quoting stormwatcherCI:
What do you see ?


Shows well defined and gusty southerly winds wrapping around the backside of the disturbed weather in the NW Caribbean. Would be indicative of something going on there.
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Quoting Jedkins01:
Apparently, computer models are now wanting to develop yet another strong ridge of high pressure over Florida, this time completely suppressing rainfall and bringing more extra heat...

Seriously, Florida is in serious trouble...


Something is wrong in the atmosphere, things are not working the way they should, at all. People who have lived here all their life have said the last couple years have them worried that the future of Florida is in trouble, it just isn't raining nearly as much as it used to... The weather is more like that of subtropical deserts. Well, not that dry, but relatively speaking, in comparison to normal Florida.


This has been a change in the making since our last major tropical cyclone landfall, Wilma, back in 2005. Our entire year's rainfall depends largely on tropical systems and with us not receiving any except for weak Tropical Storm Bonnie last season, this has left us at mounting deficits. The sea breeze engine still works as has been evident for the past several days, but with high pressure becoming more frequent and dominant over the Southeast US and Southwest Atlantic, this has favored the western areas of Florida for rainfall.
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578. Skyepony (Mod)
Fresh ASCAT
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Quoting cchsweatherman:


Very interesting WINDSAT pass there.
What do you see ?
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Quoting stormpetrol:


Very interesting WINDSAT pass there.
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TROPICAL WEATHER OUTLOOK
NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
1100 AM PDT SAT JUN 18 2011

FOR THE EASTERN NORTH PACIFIC...EAST OF 140 DEGREES WEST LONGITUDE..

THERE HAS BEEN NO SIGNIFICANT CHANGE IN ORGANIZATION OF THE AREA OF
DISTURBED WEATHER EXTENDING FROM THE GULF OF TEHUANTEPEC
SOUTH-SOUTHWESTWARD FOR SEVERAL HUNDRED MILES. THE DISTURBANCE IS
EXPECTED TO MOVE SLOWLY WESTWARD AND STILL HAS THE POTENTIAL TO
BECOME A TROPICAL DEPRESSION TONIGHT OR SUNDAY. THERE IS A HIGH
CHANCE...60 PERCENT...OF THIS SYSTEM BECOMING A TROPICAL CYCLONE
DURING THE NEXT 48 HOURS. INTERESTS ALONG THE SOUTHWEST COAST OF
MEXICO SHOULD MONITOR THE PROGRESS OF THIS DISTURBANCE OVER THE
NEXT FEW DAYS.

ELSEWHERE...TROPICAL CYCLONE FORMATION IS NOT EXPECTED DURING THE
NEXT 48 HOURS.

$$
FORECASTER CANGIALOSI/AVILA
Member Since: April 29, 2009 Posts: 75 Comments: 14887
572. DDR
Quoting pottery:

Hi DDR,
It was thundering and flashing here last night.
But so far, not a lot of rain.
Quoting pottery:

Hi DDR,
It was thundering and flashing here last night.
But so far, not a lot of rain.

Hey man,yea it only started around 6am here,2 inches fell between 6am-10am,nice!
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To me it looks like the second wave coming across the eastern carib is starting to fire and some circulation to it...any thoughts?
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Blog update!
The tropics are dead quiet 6/18/11
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 24574
Quoting Skyepony:
Situation Update No. 1
On 17.06.2011 at 11:38 GMT+2


Google "federico grosso volcano" for some good photos of the ash effects.
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565. Skyepony (Mod)
Seabreeze clouds are starting to form along the ECFL coast. I-4 corridor & the SE side has the best chance for storems.
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564. 7544
Quoting Grothar:
Looks like it want to move north




tell the blob gtg keep going north a bit more then turn ne and make fla happy with rain
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563. Skyepony (Mod)
Situation Update No. 1
On 17.06.2011 at 11:38 GMT+2

A province in Argentina declared an economic emergency on Thursday to aid towns where falling ash from Chile's erupting volcano is endangering livestock and keeping tourists away. The emergency in Neuquen province follows a similar measure by the national government in other parts of Patagonia where agriculture has been hit by accumulating volcanic ash. The decree by Gov. Jorge Sapag will mean that those affected can receive tax benefits, among other measures. Chile's Cordon Caulle volcano began erupting June 4, spewing ash that has disrupted flights in countries ranging from Uruguay to Australia. The ash has also blanketed towns across the border in Argentina. In the area of Villa La Angostura, located 38 kilometres from the volcano, up to 30 centimetres of ash has accumulated on the ground. The ash has made it difficult to drive safely on roads, and the eruption came just as resorts in the mountain towns were preparing for ski season. "Today we can't anticipate the season's final results, but we can say that this has ruined the start of the winter season in the coming days," said Roberto Alonso, mayor of Villa La Angostura. Residents in the town have been working to clean up the ash, said Alejandro Curiluck, a business owner in Villa La Angostura. "In 15 days we should be operating. The big problem is that the volcano keeps sending up ashes," he said.

Satellite images on Thursday showed the main ash cloud from the erupting volcano stretching about 1,400 kilometres toward the east-southeast, Chile's National Geology and Mines Service said in a statement. "The eruption process continues and it's possible that an increase in activity could occur again, with episodes similar or greater in intensity than those that have occurred so far," the agency said. The ashes are causing problems for Argentine farmers whose sheep herds are now roaming in pastures covered with ash. According to official figures, there are more than two million sheep in Patagonia, of which more than half are affected by the ash. In response, Argentina's Agriculture Ministry declared an emergency on Wednesday in the provinces of Chubut, Rio Negro y Neuquen. Regional airports in Patagonia have also been shut down for more than a week due to the cloud of fine grit, which can damage airplane engines. Buenos Aires's main airports reopened on Wednesday and international flights were operating again.
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Quoting PrivateIdaho:
Hard to argue that....can I put some rum in mine to kill the after-taste?


Not unless your planning to share..
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 24574

Heat Advisory

Statement as of 3:28 AM CDT on June 18, 2011


... Heat advisory remains in effect until 7 PM CDT this evening...

Afternoon temperatures will reach the mid to upper 90s this afternoon.
Heat index readings will range 105 to 110.

Precautionary/preparedness actions...

A heat advisory means that a period of hot temperatures is
expected. The combination of hot temperatures and high humidity
will create a situation in which heat illnesses are possible.
Drink plenty of fluids... stay in an air-conditioned room... stay
out of the sun... and check up on relatives and neighbors.
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560. Skyepony (Mod)
Situation Update No. 19
On 18.06.2011 at 03:30 GMT+2

Governor Brewer has declared a state of emergency due to the fires burning in Southern Arizona. $100,000 of the Governor's Emergency Funds will be released to help pay for emergency responses and recovery expenses for damage resulting from the fires. The governor's office states that state emergency dollars will not be available to reimburse homeowners for damage from the fires. The emergency declaration also authorized the mobilization of the Arizona National Guard as necessary to protect life and property, according to a release form the governor's office. The following is a complete list of actions authorized by the declaration: a. Declare that a State of Emergency exists in Cochise County due to the Horseshoe II and Monument fires, effective June 12, 2011 and continuing; and b. Direct that the sum of $100,000 from the general fund be made available to the Director of the Arizona Division of Emergency Management to be expended in accordance with A.R.S. §35-192, A.A.C. R8-2-301 to 321, and Executive Order 79-4; and c. Direct that the State of Arizona Emergency Response and Recovery Plan be used to direct and control state and other assets and authorize the Director of the Arizona Division of Emergency Management to coordinate state assets; and d. Authorize the Adjutant General to mobilize and call to activate all or such part of the Arizona National Guard as is determined necessary to assist in the protection of life and property throughout the State. In addition, because of the federal fire management assistance grant, 75 percent of the state's response and fire-suppresion costs associated with the Monument and Horseshoe 2 fires will be paid by the federal government.
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558. Skyepony (Mod)
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Nice dust in the central Atlantic MDR!
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Quoting PrivateIdaho:
Don't make me break out the "Idle Banner"...looks like you have the blobs under control so we'll work on the WU menu. Crow is definitely a popular dish.


I've have seen many eat it that dish over the years. I like to serve it, too.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 27208
Indeeed,

...ahhhhhhhhhh
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Quoting CybrTeddy:


This is the official WU drink sir..
Hard to argue that....can I put some rum in mine to kill the after-taste?
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Quoting PrivateIdaho:
My nominee for official WU drink...I'm sure Pat will second it.



Pat O'brien "Hurricane"


This is the official WU drink sir..
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 24574
My nominee for official WU drink...I'm sure Pat will second it.



Pat O'brien "Hurricane"
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Looks like it want to move north


Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 27208
Ugh OH !! GFS done changed it's mind....

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Quoting PrivateIdaho:
Don't make me break out the "Idle Banner"...looks like you have the blobs under control so we'll work on the WU menu. Crow is definitely a popular dish.



LOL You got it Idaho!
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 27208
Quoting Grothar:
Geez, I'm posting all this good weather stuff and you all are talking about food. Come on, get serious, we have two systems out there to watch. Drop your meatloaf and berries and let's get on this weather. Idle banter drives me crazy.
Don't make me break out the "Idle Banner"...looks like you have the blobs under control so we'll work on the WU menu. Crow is definitely a popular dish.
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Apparently, computer models are now wanting to develop yet another strong ridge of high pressure over Florida, this time completely suppressing rainfall and bringing more extra heat...

Seriously, Florida is in serious trouble...


Something is wrong in the atmosphere, things are not working the way they should, at all. People who have lived here all their life have said the last couple years have them worried that the future of Florida is in trouble, it just isn't raining nearly as much as it used to... The weather is more like that of subtropical deserts. Well, not that dry, but relatively speaking, in comparison to normal Florida.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:

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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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