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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Woah on a sst chart I was looking at on another website it had a water tempeture reading of 88 degress in the gulf.Does anybody have a TCHP chart?
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Quoting cchsweatherman:
Very unstable atmosphere established over Southeast Florida this afternoon. Have CAPE values widespread at at least 4000 J/kg and some over 5000 J/kg as well as impressive lift indexes at -10. Both these indicators would suggest a good chance for thunderstorms to turn severe over Southeast Florida through the afternoon and evening hours. Biggest threats in storms would be hurricane force wind gusts and hail, and given the undefined steering pattern across the area, heavy rainfall.


Just got about a half-hour worth of torrential rain here in Central PBC, and a bit of thunder as well.

That calls for watching the US Open and watching Rory McIlory seal the deal.
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1144. 7544
Quoting cchsweatherman:
Very unstable atmosphere established over Southeast Florida this afternoon. Have CAPE values widespread at at least 4000 J/kg and some over 5000 J/kg as well as impressive lift indexes at -10. Both these indicators would suggest a good chance for thunderstorms to turn severe over Southeast Florida through the afternoon and evening hours.


thanks waiting for them lol
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1143. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Quoting Grothar:
Ribs are ready, got to go. Some little rugrats just took all the sliced hard-boiled eggs off the potato salad. Somebody is going to pay. You all have a good one and try and stay cool. See you!
enjoy gro i have a BBQ planned for 430 some T bones baked spuds fresh corn on the cob and a nice garden salad with my other half and my 11 year old son
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 178 Comments: 56059
Quoting Grothar:


Yes, but boring crowd. Nobody wants to talk about the weather. I told that about the new depression and they all told me to take a pill and it will go away.


lol, now that's funny.

Have a good rest of your Father's Day Gro!
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1141. pottery
Quoting Grothar:
Ribs are ready, got to go. Some little rugrats just took all the sliced hard-boiled eggs off the potato salad. Somebody is going to pay. You all have a good one and try and stay cool. See you!

LOL, Come ON Grampa !!. The Little Ones are Starving.
Give them a piece of bread or something....
Have a Great Afternoon.
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Very unstable atmosphere established over Southeast Florida this afternoon. Have CAPE values widespread at at least 4000 J/kg and some over 5000 J/kg as well as impressive lift indexes at -10. Both these indicators would suggest a good chance for thunderstorms to turn severe over Southeast Florida through the afternoon and evening hours. Biggest threats in storms would be hurricane force wind gusts and hail, and given the undefined steering pattern across the area, heavy rainfall.
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Just like I had predicted this ridge would soon break down and woukldn't stay there all summer like we saw last year.This leaves the south "opened" to tropical cyclones.But hey they do need the rain.
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Quoting DeerfieldBeachGuy:
It looks like Pompano west of 95 is getting a nice storm right now. Coral Springs is getting in on the action as well. I hope some of these storms starting popping a litte further east.



Got some rain here going on right now east of I-95 Pompano , I think we got 23 drops !!!!!!!!
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1137. Grothar
Ribs are ready, got to go. Some little rugrats just took all the sliced hard-boiled eggs off the potato salad. Somebody is going to pay. You all have a good one and try and stay cool. See you!
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1136. Grothar
Quoting DeerfieldBeachGuy:


I currently reside in Deerfield Beach. I live on the coast, about a mile from the ocean.

I'm originally from southwest Georgia, a small town called Moultrie.

I moved down here in 2005 and started my college education at FAU. Just graduated with a BBA and going back in the fall to start on my MBA.


Just joshing on the Deerfield Beach thing, but good to know the rest. Congrats, keep it up.
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The kids and I took my husband out to brunch today.Of course he didn't have to pay....
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1134. pottery
Greetings and Salutations all.
And particularly to the Daddy's out there.

A nice day here with pretty clouds whooshing by. Occasional brisk showers.
Just Right!
Looking at the SatMaps there is a Blob coming from the East again. Should be here tonight.
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1133. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Quoting Skyepony:
Ended up with .90" of rain yesterday. Most was in 10mins or so. Everything looks washed clean.

Seabreeze clouds forming along the east coast..looks promising.
its building

Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 178 Comments: 56059
Quoting Grothar:


Hey, DeerfieldBeachGuy. What part of Florida are you from?


I currently reside in Deerfield Beach. I live on the coast, about a mile from the ocean.

I'm originally from southwest Georgia, a small town called Moultrie.

I moved down here in 2005 and started my college education at FAU. Just graduated with a BBA and going back in the fall to start on my MBA.
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1130. Skyepony (Mod)
Ended up with .90" of rain yesterday. Most was in 10mins or so. Everything looks washed clean.

Seabreeze clouds forming along the east coast..looks promising.
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1129. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
T.C.F.W.
02E/TS/B/CX
MARK
13.23N/101.17W


HURRICANE STATUS BY 11PM CST TONIGHT
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 178 Comments: 56059
Quoting Grothar:


Yeah, like 101 said. But is was a pretty slow end in the EPAC



ok
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Quoting Hurricanes101:


2nd storm of the season last year formed on June 17th; they are actually behind last years pace.

The 3rd storm formed on June 18th and was a CAT 5
The 4th storm formed on June 23rd.

The EPAC had a very quick start, but a very slow finish



oh ok thanks
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1126. Torgen
Quoting Grothar:


You poor thing, on both counts. Still not a drop here in Lauderale. Hot there on the west coast?


APRSWXNET Brandon says 93F heat index 103F, so the scattered clouds we have are making about a 5 degree difference today. Been reading the Florida gardening forum on Gardenweb and some folks have just had to let their plants die due to water restrictions.
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1125. Grothar
Quoting Tazmanian:
the E PAC seems too be doing a little better this year then last


Yeah, like 101 said. But is was a pretty slow end in the EPAC

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1124. Grothar
Quoting DeerfieldBeachGuy:
It looks like Pompano west of 95 is getting a nice storm right now. Coral Springs is getting in on the action as well. I hope some of these storms starting popping a litte further east.


Hey, DeerfieldBeachGuy. What part of Florida are you from?
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Quoting Tazmanian:
the E PAC seems too be doing a little better this year then last


2nd storm of the season last year formed on June 17th; they are actually behind last years pace.

The 3rd storm formed on June 18th and was a CAT 5
The 4th storm formed on June 23rd.

The EPAC had a very quick start, but a very slow finish
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Quoting Grothar:


Thanks, Taz. Now write to KEEPEROFGATE and tell him I was right all the time! LOL



lol
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1121. Grothar
Quoting Torgen:


SOME of us have wives that force us to clean the kitchen after grilling supper last night! Too darned hot to cook inside.

Looks like W Florida is going to get overlooked again today. I'm going to dig out the seed starter and set it up on the covered lanai. I *think* okra can live through this, but I bought a roll of burlap to make an awning for the crowder peas once I have the seedlings started.

I gotta get a new hobby other than screaming at the color radar every afternoon as the rain passes 5 miles to the east of me. every. single. day.


You poor thing, on both counts. Still not a drop here in Lauderale. Hot there on the west coast?
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
i can sent ya all the snow you want but we got to wait till dec for that to happen that boat has shipped out
I drove through alot of snow in Northern New Mexico and Colo in the middle of may, got back here and it was 98. From 30 to 98 is a trip. I would settle for one day of less than 100 but according to future forecasts i may have to wait until Sept or Oct for it to drop below 100?
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Woke up to the sky rumbling and a little bit of rain falling here in central west palm beach, the sky looks pretty unstable right now, theirs a thunderstorm cell growing near the turnpike/ western west palm beach
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the E PAC seems too be doing a little better this year then last
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1117. Torgen
Quoting Grothar:


Well, We have Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Pompano, Deerfield Beach and Royal Palm Beach covered on here now. Looks like only SE Floridians are interested in the weather.


SOME of us have wives that force us to clean the kitchen after grilling supper last night! Too darned hot to cook inside.

Looks like W Florida is going to get overlooked again today. I'm going to dig out the seed starter and set it up on the covered lanai. I *think* okra can live through this, but I bought a roll of burlap to make an awning for the crowder peas once I have the seedlings started.

I gotta get a new hobby other than screaming at the color radar every afternoon as the rain passes 5 miles to the east of me. every. single. day.
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1116. Grothar
Quoting Tazmanian:
nhc say we now ave are 2nd E PAC name storm of the season now name BEATRIZ from TD 2E


Thanks, Taz. Now write to KEEPEROFGATE and tell him I was right all the time! LOL
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SUMMARY OF 1100 AM PDT...1800 UTC...INFORMATION
-----------------------------------------------
LOCATION...14.1N 100.6W
ABOUT 205 MI...330 KM SW OF PUNTO MALDONADO MEXICO
ABOUT 285 MI...460 KM SSE OF LAZARO CARDENAS MEXICO
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS...40 MPH...65 KM/H
PRESENT MOVEMENT...WNW OR 300 DEGREES AT 10 MPH...17 KM/H
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE...1005 MB...29.67 INCHES
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Quoting Grothar:


Aw, thanks for making me feel better, Dan. I was getting worried there. (From now on just initials YT) Happy Father's Day, Dan.


LOL

And Happy Father's Day to you to Gro.
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From NWS

THUNDERSTORMS: THUNDERSTORMS WILL DEVELOP ACROSS SOUTH FLORIDA THIS
AFTERNOON AND EVENING. THE THUNDERSTORMS WILL BE MOST CONCENTRATED
OVER THE INTERIOR AND ATLANTIC COAST...WHERE NUMEROUS THUNDERSTORMS
ARE FORECAST. HIGH INSTABILITY...ALONG WITH AN INFLUENCE OF AN UPPER
LEVEL TROUGH...COULD LEAD TO THE DEVELOPMENT OF A FEW SEVERE
THUNDERSTORMS OVER THE INTERIOR AND ATLANTIC COAST THIS AFTERNOON
AND EVENING. THE PRIMARY THREAT FROM THE STORMS WILL BE DAMAGING
WINDS...THOUGH LARGE HAIL IS POSSIBLE AS WELL. FREQUENT LIGHTNING
STRIKES AND TORRENTIAL RAINS WILL ACCOMPANY THE STRONGEST STORMS.
ALONG THE GULF COAST...THERE IS JUST A SLIGHT CHANCE OF
THUNDERSTORMS.

Lets hope this pans out!
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1112. Grothar
Quoting caneswatch:


Enjoying your Father's Day lol?


Doing anything with your Father today?
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nhc say we now ave are 2nd E PAC name storm of the season now name BEATRIZ from TD 2E
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1110. Grothar
Quoting PcolaDan:


Don't worry, nobody takes anything you say seriously.
;>)


Aw, thanks for making me feel better, Dan. I was getting worried there. (From now on just initials YT) Happy Father's Day, Dan.
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1109. Grothar
Quoting PRZEDCASTER:


Just heard some thunder a few minutes ago !Pompano.


Well, We have Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Pompano, Deerfield Beach and Royal Palm Beach covered on here now. Looks like only SE Floridians are interested in the weather.
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It looks like Pompano west of 95 is getting a nice storm right now. Coral Springs is getting in on the action as well. I hope some of these storms starting popping a litte further east.
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Quoting Grothar:



Who do I sound like when I post those? LOL (Hope the others know I'm kidding) I didn't think of that when I wrote it?


Don't worry, nobody takes anything you say seriously.
;>)
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1106. Grothar
Quoting caneswatch:


Enjoying your Father's Day lol?


Yes, but boring crowd. Nobody wants to talk about the weather. I told that about the new depression and they all told me to take a pill and it will go away.
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Quoting DeerfieldBeachGuy:
Sea Breeze action starting early today, although still no rain here in Deerfield Beach. Forecasters are calling for strong to severe storms later today along the Atlantic coastal areas and interiors in South Florida as instability is on the rise in the area.

I really, really hope we get in on some of the action today in Deerfield Beach. We desperately need it!!


Just heard some thunder a few minutes ago !Pompano.
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1104. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Quoting Grothar:



Who do I sound like when I post those? LOL (Hope the others know I'm kidding) I didn't think of that when I wrote it?
its ok i was just a teasing a bit i know you don't have a cane you have been upgraded to a walker now soon to be a scooter
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 178 Comments: 56059
1103. Grothar
Quoting aquak9:
hi gro, hi keep, etc etc...just not much going on, and all us southerners are too weak from the heat and dehydration to blog.


Hot! We were all in the pool, but it is just too hot. Had to come in for a while. Too many people.
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Quoting Grothar:


Enjoying my What???


Enjoying your Father's Day lol?
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1101. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Quoting bohonkweatherman:
Bring some rain to South Central Texas, we did not get any snow or ice this past winter like North Texas got and we have received little to No rain then move the rain out to West Texas, New Mexico and Arizona then let it end in Florida so they dont complain :)
i can sent ya all the snow you want but we got to wait till dec for that to happen that boat has shipped out
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 178 Comments: 56059
Sea Breeze action starting early today, although still no rain here in Deerfield Beach. Forecasters are calling for strong to severe storms later today along the Atlantic coastal areas and interiors in South Florida as instability is on the rise in the area.

I really, really hope we get in on some of the action today in Deerfield Beach. We desperately need it!!
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1099. Grothar
Quoting caneswatch:


Oh yes, Happy Father's Day everyone!

Enjoying yours, Gro?


Enjoying my What???
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Quoting aquak9:
hi gro, hi keep, etc etc...just not much going on, and all us southerners are too weak from the heat and dehydration to blog.


Tell me about it. It's too hot to do anything LOL
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1097. Grothar
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
ok ok calm down its ok you can have perks on the call put down the cane no one needs to get hurt here



Who do I sound like when I post those? LOL (Hope the others know I'm kidding) I didn't think of that when I wrote it?
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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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