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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Tornado Watch #516:



Tornadoes: Moderate (40%)
EF2+ Tornadoes: Moderate (30%)
Severe Wind: Moderate (30%)
65 kt+ Wind: Moderate (30%)
Severe Hail: High (70%)
2"+ Hail: Moderate (50%)
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Quoting KoritheMan:

You harp on this enough that I'm beginning to think you aren't joking. It's only a coincidence, you know. :)
Well it has happened serval times that I have gotten on.Even in active parts of the hurricane season.It's like everyone can be having a conversation and then all of a sudden I come in people start dissapearing.
Quoting wunderkidcayman:

WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT
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SUMMARY OF WATCHES AND WARNINGS IN EFFECT...

A HURRICANE WARNING IS IN EFFECT FOR...
* THE COAST OF MEXICO FROM ZIHUATANEJO WESTWARD TO MANZANILLO


A HURRICANE WATCH IS IN EFFECT FOR...
* THE COAST OF MEXICO FROM WEST OF MANZANILLO WESTWARD TO LA FORTUNA

A TROPICAL STORM WARNING IS IN EFFECT FOR...
* THE COAST OF MEXICO FROM TECPAN DE GALEANA WESTWARD TO EAST OF
ZIHUATANEJO

PREPARATIONS TO PROTECT LIFE AND PROPERTY SHOULD BE RUSHED TO
COMPLETION WITHIN THE HURRICANE WARNING AREA.

FOR STORM INFORMATION SPECIFIC TO YOUR AREA...PLEASE MONITOR
PRODUCTS ISSUED BY YOUR NATIONAL METEOROLOGICAL SERVICE.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Current Severe Weather watches:

* 511
* 513
* 514
* 515
* 516

Current Mesoscale Discussions:

* 1303
* 1305

Reports


Hail reports: 43/3
Wind reports: 18/0
Tornado reports: 8


Severe Weather risk:

Current day 1 risk: MODERATE
Current day 2 risk: MODERATE
Current day 3 risk: SLIGHT
Current day 4 %: 30%
Member Since: Posts: Comments:

Quoting washingtonian115:
AGAIN SHOW YOURSELFS.I'MNOONE TO BE SCARED OF!.What do you people have against D.C.
You harp on this enough that I'm beginning to think you aren't joking. It's only a coincidence, you know. :)
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BULLETIN
TROPICAL STORM BEATRIZ INTERMEDIATE ADVISORY NUMBER 2A
NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL EP022011
500 PM PDT SUN JUN 19 2011

...RAIN BANDS AFFECTING THE COAST OF MEXICO...BEATRIZ LIKELY TO BE
NEAR HURRICANE STRENGTH BY LATE TOMORROW...


SUMMARY OF 500 PM PDT...0000 UTC...INFORMATION
----------------------------------------------
LOCATION...14.7N 101.7W
ABOUT 205 MI...335 KM S OF ZIHUATANEJO MEXICO
ABOUT 345 MI...550 KM SSE OF MANZANILLO MEXICO
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS...40 MPH...65 KM/H
PRESENT MOVEMENT...NW OR 305 DEGREES AT 12 MPH...19 KM/H
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE...1004 MB...29.65 INCHES


WATCHES AND WARNINGS
--------------------
CHANGES WITH THIS ADVISORY...

NONE.

SUMMARY OF WATCHES AND WARNINGS IN EFFECT...

A HURRICANE WARNING IS IN EFFECT FOR...
* THE COAST OF MEXICO FROM ZIHUATANEJO WESTWARD TO MANZANILLO

A HURRICANE WATCH IS IN EFFECT FOR...
* THE COAST OF MEXICO FROM WEST OF MANZANILLO WESTWARD TO LA FORTUNA

A TROPICAL STORM WARNING IS IN EFFECT FOR...
* THE COAST OF MEXICO FROM TECPAN DE GALEANA WESTWARD TO EAST OF
ZIHUATANEJO

PREPARATIONS TO PROTECT LIFE AND PROPERTY SHOULD BE RUSHED TO
COMPLETION WITHIN THE HURRICANE WARNING AREA.

FOR STORM INFORMATION SPECIFIC TO YOUR AREA...PLEASE MONITOR
PRODUCTS ISSUED BY YOUR NATIONAL METEOROLOGICAL SERVICE.


DISCUSSION AND 48-HOUR OUTLOOK
------------------------------
AT 500 PM PDT...0000 UTC...THE CENTER OF TROPICAL STORM BEATRIZ WAS
LOCATED NEAR LATITUDE 14.7 NORTH...LONGITUDE 101.7 WEST. BEATRIZ IS
MOVING TOWARD THE NORTHWEST NEAR 12 MPH...19 KM/H. A TURN TOWARD
THE NORTH-NORTHWEST IS EXPECTED OVER THE NEXT DAY OR TWO. ON THE
FORECAST TRACK...THE CENTER OF BEATRIZ IS EXPECTED TO APPROACH THE
COAST WITHIN THE HURRICANE WARNING AREA LATE MONDAY OR EARLY
TUESDAY.

MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS ARE NEAR 40 MPH...65 KM/H...WITH HIGHER
GUSTS. SOME STRENGTHENING IS FORECAST DURING THE NEXT 48 HOURS
...AND BEATRIZ IS EXPECTED TO BE NEAR HURRICANE STRENGTH BY LATE
MONDAY.

TROPICAL STORM FORCE WINDS EXTEND OUTWARD UP TO 35 MILES...55 KM
FROM THE CENTER.

ESTIMATED MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE IS 1004 MB...29.65 INCHES.


HAZARDS AFFECTING LAND
----------------------
WIND...HURRICANE CONDITIONS ARE EXPECTED TO REACH THE COAST WITHIN
THE HURRICANE WARNING AREA BY LATE MONDAY OR EARLY TUESDAY.
TROPICAL STORM CONDITIONS ARE EXPECTED TO FIRST REACH THE
COAST WITHIN THE HURRICANE WARNING AREA ON MONDAY...MAKING
OUTSIDE PREPARATIONS DIFFICULT OR DANGEROUS.

RAINFALL...BEATRIZ IS EXPECTED TO PRODUCE TOTAL RAIN ACCUMULATIONS
OF 6 TO 8 INCHES ALONG THE SOUTHWESTERN COAST OF MEXICO...WITH
POSSIBLE ISOLATED MAXIMUM AMOUNTS OF 12 INCHES OVER MOUNTAINOUS
TERRAIN. THESE RAINS COULD CAUSE LIFE-THREATENING FLASH FLOODS AND
MUDSLIDES.

STORM SURGE...A STORM SURGE IS EXPECTED TO PRODUCE COASTAL FLOODING
IN AREAS OF ONSHORE WINDS WITHIN THE HURRICANE WARNING AREA. NEAR
THE COAST...THE SURGE WILL BE ACCOMPANIED BY LARGE AND DESTRUCTIVE
WAVES.


NEXT ADVISORY
-------------
NEXT COMPLETE ADVISORY...800 PM PDT.

$$
FORECASTER PASCH/FRANKLIN


Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting washingtonian115:
Okay how about everyone share Beatriz.AGAIN SHOW YOURSELFS.I'MNOONE TO BE SCARED OF!.What do you people have against D.C.

WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT
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Quoting alfabob:
Beatriz is going to be at least a cat 1, cat 2 and 3 are more possible than NHC is currently saying because conditions are almost perfect.


It only has about 48-hours to strengthen and become what it can. After that, the combination of a more stable environment and cooler Sea Surface Temperatures should rapidly weaken it. This is different from Adrian, since it is not expected to become strong enough to fight the combination like a Category 4 hurricane is.
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1338. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Quoting alfabob:
Beatriz is going to be at least a cat 1, cat 2 and 3 are more possible than NHC is currently saying because conditions are almost perfect.
a strong cat 2 but no major not this time around
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PROBABILITY TABLE:
PROB OF 2 OR MORE TORNADOES : 70%
PROB OF 1 OR MORE STRONG /F2-F5/ TORNADOES : 30%
PROB OF 10 OR MORE SEVERE WIND EVENTS : >95%
PROB OF 1 OR MORE WIND EVENTS >= 65 KNOTS : 40%
PROB OF 10 OR MORE SEVERE HAIL EVENTS : >95%
PROB OF 1 OR MORE HAIL EVENTS >= 2 INCHES : 50%
PROB OF 6 OR MORE COMBINED SEVERE HAIL/WIND EVENTS : >95%
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ASCAT caught Beatriz earlier today (When it was either 92E or TD #2). I was surprised it caught the circulation, considering over half the time, ASCAT doesn't catch much of anything. I wish we had QuikSCAT still.

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Very strong TVS in Southwest Nebraska and there are more forming.
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Quoting wunderkidcayman:

first I would like Beatriz over us in the NW Carib then it goes to Florida then Texas
Okay how about everyone share Beatriz.AGAIN SHOW YOURSELFS.I'MNOONE TO BE SCARED OF!.What do you people have against D.C.
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Quoting PlazaRed:
Here's an interesting update from the other earthquake site! About the African volcano eruption.
UPDATE 19/06 – 21:36 UTC : According to NASA, the volcano spewed ash and large amounts of sulfur dioxide gas—the highest levels ever detected from space, according to preliminary estimates from researchers at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

They are Earthquake Report .com and the above if its correct must be the cause for at least some concern!

Sorry I'm a bit off the blog on things tonight but we have had these things on here recently as blog subjects.


It was a pretty big explosion, I dont recall hearing of anybody on the ground in that area yet unless i missed it?
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Quoting washingtonian115:
We need to put Beatriz over Texas or Florida.

first I would like Beatriz over us in the NW Carib then it goes to Florida then Texas
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
T.C.F.W.
02E/TS/B/CX
MARK
14.23N/101.88W
We need to put Beatriz over Texas or Florida.
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Here's an interesting update from the other earthquake site! About the African volcano eruption.
UPDATE 19/06 – 21:36 UTC : According to NASA, the volcano spewed ash and large amounts of sulfur dioxide gas—the highest levels ever detected from space, according to preliminary estimates from researchers at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

They are Earthquake Report .com and the above if its correct must be the cause for at least some concern!

Sorry I'm a bit off the blog on things tonight but we have had these things on here recently as blog subjects.
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1326. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
T.C.F.W.
02E/TS/B/CX
MARK
14.23N/101.88W
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1325. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Quoting Makaveli:


Cool update bro, you deserve a pat on the back for that gem.
i got a forecast for you do u want it now or later
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It's only make belive!

Link
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Everytime I get on people dissapear.SHOW YOURSELFS!!!!!!!!!.Don't be scared!!!
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Quoting KoritheMan:

I hope they get the rain, for sure. I'd just rather it be in the early season, where there is a lesser likelihood of a major hurricane.
Hopefully our hurricane sheild will be up and running this year.
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Quoting aquak9:
yeah, the ridge oughtta be breaking down and moving...for now..

but who's to say it won't rebuild back in? The heat and dry here in the SE has gotten ridiculous and if it's been this strong, I don't see things just changing back to enhanced precip/low pressure/tropical activity in a blink of an eye.
Hopefully it won't be that strong so that moisture from the gulf can stream in,and give you people your rain.
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Quoting washingtonian115:
I'm more interested in that pattern change that's coming up.That ridge should be breaking down and moving.There for leaving the south east U.S prone to tropical activity.They need the rain.
I hope they get the rain, for sure. I'd just rather it be in the early season, where there is a lesser likelihood of a major hurricane.
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1317. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
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1316. aquak9
yeah, the ridge oughtta be breaking down and moving...for now..

but who's to say it won't rebuild back in? The heat and dry here in the SE has gotten ridiculous and if it's been this strong, I don't see things just changing back to enhanced precip/low pressure/tropical activity in a blink of an eye.
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 165 Comments: 25927
Quoting KoritheMan:

It's cool.
I'm more interested in that pattern change that's coming up.That ridge should be breaking down and moving.There for leaving the south east U.S prone to tropical activity.They need the rain.
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Quoting aquak9:
I'm gonna pick D just to be ornery. Who knows, we might go a third year with no landfalls. It could still be UGLY, remember Dean and Felix?

Yep, no rain, no landfalls, gonna close out November 1st at 0-0-0.
Well I'll be getting rain 4 days out of this weak.We should be getting some rain tomorrow morning to start off the week.
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Quoting PlazaRed:


Sorry about that problem
It's cool.
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Quoting alfabob:
All this really needs to do is move north back over water and something could begin to develop.



I was looking at that possiability this morning whats else is missing in the environment around that area besides it being just a wave and over land?
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Quoting aquak9:
Who knows, we might go a third year with no landfalls.
Records exist to be broken, as I always say.
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1308. aquak9
Plaza- thank you for bringing that to the table
- I got the link at 1297

Press- ain't nothing we can do, complaining don't work.
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 165 Comments: 25927
1307. aquak9
I'm gonna pick D just to be ornery. Who knows, we might go a third year with no landfalls. It could still be UGLY, remember Dean and Felix?

Yep, no rain, no landfalls, gonna close out November 1st at 0-0-0.
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 165 Comments: 25927
Mmmm I came up with a new slogan for a storm this year it's.....WHAT WILL IRENE BRING.I also have one for Gert..but that's for later...
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Quoting KoritheMan:


Copy/pasting the link doesn't seem to work. It just brings me to the home page.


Sorry about that problem, I just copied and pasted it into the top browser line not the Google type line and it worked for me here, I am in the UK and I know that some of the links and copies and pastes that come from the States don't work here and it is Al Jezzera as well,so that might influence it but it is interesting about how far this thing is possibly out of order.
One of the main points of interest, [there are many,] is that vehicle air filters are becoming radioactive as a result of catching solid particles suspended in the air that are radioactive from the emissions.
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1303. Grothar
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:


Oh, by no means am I confident, considering that things can change in the blink of an eye. It is just my guess.


Just joking because you are all picking A and A or B & B. Lol Anyway, like I have been saying since last week, with that wave due into the Caribbean to bring moisture in the area, it looks like it could combine with some lows that would be in that area. The SST's are plenty warm and the atmosphere looks to be ok for around the 26th and thereafter. You can copy this and post if I am wrong.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26131
Gonna get hot this weak up here.But luckily we'll be having serval chances of rain in the forecast to cool us down.
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we had your smoke up here yesterday Aqua...it was awful....for just one day....I can't imagine how bad it's been for y'all...
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Quoting Grothar:


Really sure on that one, eh. You guys sound confident.


Oh, by no means am I confident, considering that things can change in the blink of an eye. It is just my guess.
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1298. Grothar
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:


I picked B and B.


Really sure on that one, eh. You guys sound confident.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26131
1297. aquak9
here's the link- just had to tweak the code a little

Link
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 165 Comments: 25927

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About

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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