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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The axis of the tropical wave in the western Caribbean has now passed Grand Cayman and is near the eastern coast of Nicaragua. As expected, this wave is drawing low- mid-level energy WNW from the area north of Panama that has been festering for a couple of days. The system will continue to look more impressive as it approaches central America, but will not have time to develop significantly before land interaction disrupts its organization.

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hahahahahahaha! yeah, I've heard that before....

:)
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294. beell
no, Amy. i don't think so. not in the ocean. i'm pretty sure you float real good...
Member Since: September 11, 2007 Posts: 141 Comments: 16211
Good Evening all.

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beel, does that mean I may be living in the ocean soon?
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291. beell
PDO Flip May Accelerate US West Coast Sea Level Rise - scientificamerican.com/May 3, 2011
Member Since: September 11, 2007 Posts: 141 Comments: 16211
It beggars belief - from 1940 to 1964 they built a system of dams based on an estimate from 1881 when meteorology was in its infancy and so few people lived in the region that it would have been a stretch to say there was any real familiarity with it???
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Quoting Grothar:


Could you be a little more specific, please?
There was supposed to be a weather picture with that... lol ... then I couldn't get back online to repost the imagery... suffice it to say it hasn't rained where I've been, and I've been around the island, except for the extreme western and southern bits.

Bummer.

Did it rain in FLL?
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Quoting Grothar:


Could you be a little more specific, please?
Don't we all hope for this? :)
Member Since: July 5, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 1348
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION LEADS TO AN UPGRADE OF DEKALB COUNTY
TORNADO FROM APRIL 27TH TO AN EF-5...

AN ADDITIONAL GROUND SURVEY BASED ON NEW INFORMATION WAS CONDUCTED
ON JUNE 15TH ALONG A NARROW CORRIDOR OF DEKALB COUNTY EAST AND
NORTHEAST OF DOWNTOWN RAINSVILLE. THIS STORM SURVEY WAS UTILIZED
ALONG WITH AERIAL IMAGERY FROM A NOAA OVERFLIGHT ON MAY 4TH,
INTERVIEWS WITH RESIDENCES IN THE AREA, AND ADDITIONAL PRE-EVENT
IMAGERY TO UPDATE THE PREVIOUS RATING FOR THE LONG TRACK TORNADO THAT
IMPACTED DEKALB COUNTY ON APRIL 27TH.


FINDINGS INCLUDING THE UPDATED SURVEY INFORMATION ARE AS FOLLOWS:

* EVENT TYPE: TORNADO
* EVENT DATE: 04/27/11
* EVENT TIME: 6:19 PM TO 6:56 PM

* ESTIMATED PEAK WIND:> 205.0 MPH
* PRELIMINARY RATING: EF-5

* PATH LENGTH: 33.8 MILES
* MAXIMUM PATH WIDTH: 0.75 MILES

* BEGINNING POINT: 34.90708 / -85.978378
* MID POINT:34.507738/ -85.790106
* ENDING POINT: 34.733306 / -85.557820

* UPDATED SURVEY INFORMATION GATHERED ON JUNE 15TH:

FOR THE PURPOSES OF FURTHER STUDY, THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE
FOCUSED PRIMARILY ON A NARROW CORRIDOR OF INTENSE DAMAGE EXTENDING
FROM SKAGGS ROAD TO LINGERFELDT ROAD (ALSO KNOWN AS COUNTY ROAD 180)
EXTENDING TOWARD COUNTY ROAD 514. ALONG SKAGGS ROAD, A STONE HOUSE
WAS COMPLETELY OBLITERATED WITH MUCH OF THE INTERIOR DEBRIS STREWN
WELL AWAY FROM THE STRUCTURE. A SUPPORTING LARGE CEMENT AND STONE
PILLAR WAS RIPPED COMPLETELY OUT OF THE GROUND. ANOTHER HOME ALONG
SKAGGS ROAD WAS ALSO LEVELED COMPLETELY TO THE GROUND. THE NOAA
OVERFLIGHT SHOWED SIGNIFICANT GROUND SCARRING IN THIS AREA AND A WALK
THROUGH THE NEARBY FIELDS SHOWED LARGE POT MARKS AND OTHER SECTIONS
OF DISTURBED GROUND.

SLIGHTLY NORTHEAST ALONG LINGERFELDT ROAD, NUMEROUS HOMES WERE LEVELED
COMPLETELY TO THEIR FOUNDATION WITH VEHICLES AND DEBRIS STREWN FOR
HUNDREDS OF FEET. OVERHEAD PHOTOS AND FOLLOW-UP VISUAL CONFIRMATION
REVEALED A MANGLED VEHICLE TOSSED WELL INTO A RAVINE AND RESTING UP
IN THE REMAINDER OF TREES. AT 1608 LINGERFELDT ROAD/CR 180 A LARGE
TWO STORY BRICK HOME WAS COMPLETELY OBLITERATED WITH SEVERAL OF THE
SUPPORTING ANCHORS RIPPED OUT OF THE GROUND. A CONCRETE PORCH WAS
RIPPED OFF WITH PIECES STREWN UP TO 150 YARDS. A SECTION OF THE
ASPHALT DRIVEWAY WAS PULLED UP. IN ADDITION, AN ANCHORED LIBERTY SAFE
WEIGHING 800 POUNDS WAS PULLED OFF ITS ANCHORAGE AND THROWN INTO A
WOODED AREA 600 FEET AWAY. WHEN FOUND, THE SAFE'S DOOR HAD BEEN RIPPED
OPEN AND COMPLETELY OFF. A LARGE PICK-UP TRUCK AT THIS RESIDENCE WAS
FOUND MANGLED IN PIECES OVER 250 YARDS AWAY IN THE SAME WOODED AREA.
THE RESIDENTS OF THE HOME SURVIVED IN A NEARBY STORM PIT. OF NOTE THE
STORM PIT WAS PARTIALLY EXPOSED BY THE TORNADO WITH DIRT BEING SUCKED
UP AND PULLED AWAY AROUND THE OPENING. NEXT DOOR A MOBILE HOME WAS
COMPLETELY DISINTEGRATED. THE RESIDENTS OF THE MOBILE THERE ALSO
SURVIVED IN A STORM PIT.

THIS SECTION OF DAMAGE FROM SKAGGS ROAD TO LINGERFELT ROAD NEAR THE
INTERSECTION WITH CROW LANE WAS DEEMED TO BE EF-5 IN INTENSITY.

IT SHOULD ALSO BE NOTED THAT SEVERE DAMAGE, NEAR EF-5 IN INTENSITY WAS
NOTED IN A CORRIDOR FROM CR 515 THROUGH A NEIGHBORHOOD ALONG COUNTY
ROAD 441. IN THE EAST AND SOUTH ENDS OF THE NEIGHBORHOOD, MANY ONE
AND TWO STORY HOMES WERE LEVELED TO THEIR FOUNDATION WITH DEBRIS
SCATTERED SOME DISTANCE. SEVERAL CARS WERE THROWN A LARGE DISTANCE IN
THIS AREA. THERE WAS EVIDENCE OF GROUND SCARRING AS WELL AS SOME
SIDEWALK PAVEMENT PULLED UP IN THIS LOCATION. HOWEVER, SOME OF THE
HOMES IN THIS AREA APPEARED TO BE PUSHED OFF THEIR FOUNDATION
INITIALLY WITH LIMITED ANCHORAGE. THUS, THE DAMAGE WAS DEEMED HIGH
END EF-4 IN THIS AREA.

THESE FINDINGS ARE STILL PRELIMINARY AND ARE SUBJECT TO ADJUSTMENT
BEFORE A FINAL REPORT IS COMPLETED. ALSO NOTE THAT THE FINAL REPORT
MAY INCLUDE A SLIGHT ADJUSTMENT TO THE BEGINNING POINT OF THE TRACK.
PICTURES AND SUMMARY MATERIALS WILL BE MADE AVAILABLE ON OUR WEB PAGE
AT WEATHER.GOV/HUNTSVILLE /ALL LOWER CASE/.
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Quoting stormpetrol:


Did EE get any rain today ? I was at Costuless this morning and got a soaking putting groceries in my car, that was the hardest rain I seen here in quite sometime, I think I wrote last night that moisture was migrating N into the NW Caribbean, Looks like I was partially right on that one. Anyway I think alot more is on the way. Much needed!
We did have a decent rain this morning and it is overcast now and I am hearing thunder off and on. I am pretty sure we will get more later on.
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Gramps! You have mail!!!
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Quoting BahaHurican:
Afternoon all. I'm hoping to get lucky here...



Could you be a little more specific, please?
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 69 Comments: 25345
Quoting stormwatcherCI:
Check the following post #'s for discussion about this area. 143, 190, 198, 206, 216 and 228. It seems to be holding up much better this afternoon than it has the past few days.


Did EE get any rain today ? I was at Costuless this morning and got a soaking putting groceries in my car, that was the hardest rain I seen here in quite sometime, I think I wrote last night that moisture was migrating N into the NW Caribbean, Looks like I was partially right on that one. Anyway I think alot more is on the way. Much needed!
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Quoting GeoffreyWPB:
This new low over south Georgia has a nice line moving SE. Could it do something when it moves out to sea?
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Current.



120 hr Forecast.

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Evening all.

264. Geoff....

First time in a while I've seen what look like popup showers over the FL peninsula... gotta say even though only about 6 large drops of rain have fallen on my car so far today, it's a whole lot better to have the clouds passing through... though I'm still not comfortable with the severe weather warnings we've been having the last couple of days...
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#263 - Thanks for responding on behalf of critical thinkers everywhere, Skye. I considered trying to explain isostatic rebound and how there are no actual scientists complaining about this non-story, but I figured my response would fall on deaf ears.

Unfortunately, the folks at the Heartland Institute know that "you can fool some of the people all of the time..."
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Quoting jasonweatherman2010:
do you think 92E still be at 50% at 8pm.
It is already at 50%.
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Area in Caribbean increasing in size.
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106 today in Austin, old record 101. Not bad in the shade, out in the sun it is brutal.
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263. Skyepony (Mod)
Quoting ezcColony:
Planet Earth -Changing Tides:

Research Center Under Fire for 'Adjusted' Sea-Level Data (meaning they falsified data!)

You climate change / AGW fanatics take notice. You've been lied to, LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :D




I don't think so.. the claim~ (my thoughts are in ())

"Gatekeepers of our sea level data are manufacturing a fictitious sea level rise that is not occurring," said James M. Taylor, a lawyer who focuses on environmental issues for the Heartland Institute. (These are the same people that said smoking was healthy & this is being disputed by a lawyer..)


Steve Nerem, the director of the widely relied-upon research center, told FoxNews.com that his group added the 0.3 millimeters per year to the actual sea level measurements because land masses, still rebounding from the ice age, are rising and increasing the amount of water that oceans can hold.

"We have to account for the fact that the ocean basins are actually getting slightly bigger... water volume is expanding," he said, a phenomenon they call glacial isostatic adjustment(GIA).
(This is really occurring, Grace satellites give us exact measurements. Land is rebounding more at the poles than in the tropics...seasonal high tides are already regularly flooding lower lat places. They will feel the rise more harsh than areas that are lifting, but the lifting off sets the rise you would see in those areas but GRACE saw it..Just like GPS & various sat data measured exactly how much Japan moved after the massive earthquake.)

Taylor calls it tomfoolery. (Really this is the opening of his scientific argument..sounds like he's taken the approach of convincing fools...)


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Quoting seflagamma:


thanks for saving me the trouble of going to get that map! LOL


Hey, gamma!!! Long time no talk. I just save that in case the question comes up on the drought. On coastal Broward, we had under 2" of rain all year. Unheard of. I know the interior got more.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 69 Comments: 25345


SEL3

URGENT - IMMEDIATE BROADCAST REQUESTED
TORNADO WATCH NUMBER 493
NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER NORMAN OK
535 PM CDT FRI JUN 17 2011

THE NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER HAS ISSUED A
TORNADO WATCH FOR PORTIONS OF

WESTERN MINNESOTA
EASTERN NORTH DAKOTA
NORTHEAST SOUTH DAKOTA

EFFECTIVE THIS FRIDAY AFTERNOON AND SATURDAY MORNING FROM 535 PM
UNTIL 100 AM CDT.

TORNADOES...HAIL TO 1.5 INCHES IN DIAMETER...THUNDERSTORM WIND
GUSTS TO 70 MPH...AND DANGEROUS LIGHTNING ARE POSSIBLE IN THESE
AREAS.

THE TORNADO WATCH AREA IS APPROXIMATELY ALONG AND 40 STATUTE
MILES EAST AND WEST OF A LINE FROM 25 MILES SOUTHEAST OF
WATERTOWN SOUTH DAKOTA TO 70 MILES NORTHWEST OF FARGO NORTH
DAKOTA. FOR A COMPLETE DEPICTION OF THE WATCH SEE THE ASSOCIATED
WATCH OUTLINE UPDATE (WOUS64 KWNS WOU3).

REMEMBER...A TORNADO WATCH MEANS CONDITIONS ARE FAVORABLE FOR
TORNADOES AND SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS IN AND CLOSE TO THE WATCH
AREA. PERSONS IN THESE AREAS SHOULD BE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR
THREATENING WEATHER CONDITIONS AND LISTEN FOR LATER STATEMENTS
AND POSSIBLE WARNINGS.

OTHER WATCH INFORMATION...CONTINUE...WW 490...WW 491...WW 492...

DISCUSSION...TSTMS FORMING ALONG/JUST AHEAD OF WEAK COLD FRONT IN
ERN PORTIONS OF THE DAKOTAS EXPECTED TO CONTINUE MOVING NEWD AS
REGION COMES UNDER INCREASING ASCENT ASSOCIATED WITH SHORTWAVE
IMPULSE ROTATING NE INTO WRN ND. COMBINATION OF LOW LVL VEERING
WIND PROFILES /WITH MODERATE SHEAR MAGNITUDES/...RELATIVELY MOIST
LOW TO MID LVL ENVIRONMENT...AND THE PROSPECT FOR ADDITIONAL SFC
HEATING/SEMI DISCRETE STORM DEVELOPMENT SUGGEST THE POTENTIAL FOR
TORNADOES... IN ADDITION TO HAIL AND PERHAPS LOCALLY DMG WIND.

AVIATION...TORNADOES AND A FEW SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS WITH HAIL
SURFACE AND ALOFT TO 1.5 INCHES. EXTREME TURBULENCE AND SURFACE
WIND GUSTS TO 60 KNOTS. A FEW CUMULONIMBI WITH MAXIMUM TOPS TO
500. MEAN STORM MOTION VECTOR 22025.


...CORFIDI
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Quoting Neapolitan:
Ran across this short video of a microburst in Norman, Okalahoma, on Tuesday. It's not the greatest quality, but I think most will find it interesting from a meteorological perspective--and, if you have kids, you might even think it's entertaining. ;-)



We had a micro burst here Wednesday night, no waring with the storm, but it was the classic 60 mph micro burst slam here.

Cool video!
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258. beell
Suburban Houston wildfire evacuates 200 homes - The Associated Press Published: 5:26 p.m. Friday, June 17, 2011


SPRING, Texas — Houston-area authorities have evacuated 200 homes in a north Houston suburb as a precaution...

...Harris County Fire Marshal Mike Montgomery said the fire was about 75 percent contained as of 4 p.m. Friday.

No injuries or damage to homes or businesses have been reported.
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#241 - neat video, Nea. Conditions changed FAST for them. I remember getting hit with a microburst or two when I lived in Ohio and they do seem to come out of nowhere. It sure got the cameraman's son wound up... :)
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Quoting Grothar:



Sure try and get out of that one. LOL How you doing, Jed?


LOL, very good! Just spending my summer working 2 jobs, my normal year round part time job. And now I have a full time job at huge warehouse for a huge pool company. I'm a forklift operator there. I'm so glad to busy working hard this summer instead of wasting my money and getting into trouble like most people my age in college do!

Speaking of that, I gotta head back out to work again tonight.
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255. txjac
Great video Neo, amazing how quick that happened.
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Quoting StAugustineFL:


Waiting for round 2 of the day to move through. Been awhile since that happened.



Nice! We didn't get any rain today, the storms aren't favoring the Tampa Bay area. However, we had a strong thunderstorms Wednesday night, permanently knocked out the phone connection at work, lost power here, and somones carport down the street blew up into the air from a micro burst with some tree branches down around here too.

Yet no severe thunderstorm warning, go figure.
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Quoting stormpetrol:
I suspect the SW caribbean will probably be mentioned by NHC at 8pm.IMO the area is increasingly becoming more suspect
Check the following post #'s for discussion about this area. 143, 190, 198, 206, 216 and 228. It seems to be holding up much better this afternoon than it has the past few days.
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Quoting Jedkins01:

I said in the future :)



Sure try and get out of that one. LOL How you doing, Jed?
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 69 Comments: 25345
Relief starting middle of next week for Texas? NWS being conservative so far with persistent exceptional drought. Also seems some early indications the GOM may get some tropical action. Too good to believe?

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249. Skyepony (Mod)
2 months to the day since we stopped getting data from cloudsat..

Cloudsat Fan Club is anxiously awaiting any news. Last was it may be a few weeks to a month.
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Quoting Grothar:


Maybe by you? Have you seen the map lately? The Southeast and Northern Border are getting worse.


I said in the future :)
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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.