Drought continues; Yellowstone fires could become more frequent; 90L set to develop

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:58 PM GMT on July 27, 2011

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Southern Drought Continues

Temperatures continue to soar into triple digits in the Southern Plains this week, and are expected to remain well above average for at least the next month. High air temperatures and low humidity (because of the low soil moisture) will continue to maintain drought conditions in the South unless we see some Gulf-landfalling tropical cyclones—a good remedy for a such an extreme drought.

This year's drought in the South is unprecedented by many definitions. Last year at this time, 0% of the contiguous U.S. was in exceptional drought. Last week, the exceptional drought region covered 11.96%. The area of contiguous U.S. in exceptional drought conditions has never been this high since the Drought Monitor record started in 2000. The highest it had been before June of this year was 7.85% in August of 2002.


Figure 1. Temperature anomaly (difference from average) in degrees Celsius for the period July 1 through July 25 (top) and soil moisture anomaly in millimeters (bottom) on July 25 (from the Climate Prediction Center).

In late June, the U.S. Department of Agriculture designated 213 counties in Texas (84% of the state) as primary natural disaster areas. As I mentioned yesterday, the Texas drought and wildfires are one of the nine billion-dollar disasters of 2011 so far. The National Climatic Data Center estimated that this event had cost up to $3 billion as of June 16. This number is surely rising every day that the South doesn't see rain.

New study concludes Yellowstone wildfires could become more frequent

In a study published this week by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers have concluded that global warming could have a serious impact on the severity and frequency of wildfires in the Yellowstone region (an area where the states of Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming come together). Historically in this region, fewer than 5% of wildfire occurrences account for 95% of the total area burned. But in a global warming scenario, they found that fire activity could become more severe and more frequent, causing the ecosystem to change dramatically.

Using climate conditions and historical fire data from 1972 to 1999, it was possible to link certain environmental thresholds (temperature, humidity, etc) to past wildfire events. Then by employing the output of various climate models, fire frequency can be forecast well into the future. Figure 2 illustrates the result from one of the climate models they used in the study, and the upward trend of fire activity over the next 100 years. In 1988, a particularly hot and dry year, 36% of the park burned. The study uses this year as a baseline to compare future events.


Figure 2. Figure 2B from the manuscript. Observed burn area (blue line) median of predicted area burned (black dotted line), and ranges (light and dark orange) aggregated over the Yellowstone area defined by the study by Westerling et al. (Source).

What was once a low-probability event could become a high-probability event by mid-century. Fires that have only happened every 100 to 300 years in the past could now be occurring every 30 years in the future. The results of this research has implications for sub-alpine forests across the globe. Warming temperatures and decreasing humidity will lead to more wildfires, and will cost billions of dollars to fight them, if we choose to do so.

Invest 90L

90L has moved west overnight and looks ripe to develop today. While the upper level circulation (500 mb) is very much displaced, the lower level circulation looks strong and coherent through the system's mid-levels (850 and 700 mb). Thunderstorm activity continues to organize, and it appears that a surface circulation is developing. Moisture remains high in the system (around 4.5 g/kg specific humidity) and wind shear should be somewhat favorable as it crosses through the Gulf of Mexico. In terms of track, the statistical models have generally been favoring a Brownsville landfall scenario, but the dynamical models have been inching north over the past day or so. The HWRF is in line with the ECMWF deterministic today, with landfall near Corpus Christi.



The Hurricane Hunters have a mission scheduled for 18Z today (2pm EDT) to investigate whether or not 90L has a closed surface circulation. If it does, given the amount of organized convection and moderate wind speeds (around 34 mph in the latest invest update), the Hurricane Center will probably call this system at least Tropical Depression Four.

If 90L develops this afternoon, I will have another update to look at track and intensity forecasts.

Angela

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1976. Titoxd
10:15 PM GMT on July 27, 2011
NEW BLOG
Member Since: June 28, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 243
1975. FrankZapper
9:50 PM GMT on July 27, 2011
This Don sleeps with the fishes.
Member Since: May 26, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 1193
1974. cycleranger
9:48 PM GMT on July 27, 2011

Quoting AtHomeInTX:
According to Lake Charles this won't affect us at all.

Sigh. They could be perfectly right. The NHC may have the track down pat. But I've never seen that cone not move. We'll see I guess.

THIS RIDGE...BY THE WAY...IS EXPECTED TO HELP STEER TS DON TOWARD THE
LOWER TX COAST...AND BLOCK ANY FURTHER GAINS IN LATITUDE THAT WOULD
BRING GREATER IMPACTS TO OUR REGION. ON THE CURRENT FORECAST
TRACK...EFFECTS OVER THE NORTHWEST GULF COAST REGION WILL BE
MINIMAL...AND AT THIS TIME LIMITED GENERALLY TO INCREASING WINDS
AND SEAS OVER THE COASTAL WATERS LATE THURSDAY THROUGH FRIDAY.

As good an educated guess as any right now. I would like to see much more consensus from the model runs overnight. Now that we have a LLC that can be tracked properly.
Member Since: July 1, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 116
1973. jpsb
9:44 PM GMT on July 27, 2011
Quoting IceCoast:

Remind me why you want a 150 mph traversing the GOM?

I don't! My house after Ike and I was one of the lucky ones I still had a house!
Member Since: June 30, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 1197
1972. OracleDeAtlantis
9:42 PM GMT on July 27, 2011
Looking at the precip. map, again, I'll repeat what I said earlier. This thing is about to double in size. Look how it's folding in on itself, right to left. The resulting larger spinning body will be two to three times as large as it is now, by morning.

Member Since: August 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 525
1971. Patrap
9:42 PM GMT on July 27, 2011
.."I dont always blog, but when I do, I prefer Don Te jas' and this blog to do it in..

Stay Thirsty wunderblogger's"


Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129093
1970. cycleranger
9:42 PM GMT on July 27, 2011
For those of us who need this. A handy chart to use whilst we watch the pressures drop.

CI        MWS         ; MWS         ; MSLP       &nbs p;   MSLP       &nbs p;  Saffir-Simpson  
Number    (Knots)      (MPH)     (Atlantic)    (NW Pacific)          Category    
 1          25 KTS      29 MPH         ;        & nbsp;       &nb sp;         ;    (Approximate)
 1.5       25 KTS      29 MPH     
 2          30 KTS      35 MPH      1009 mb        1000 mb
 2.5       35 KTS      40 MPH      1005 mb         997 mb
 3          45 KTS      52 MPH      1000 mb         991 mb
 3.5       55 KTS      63 MPH       994 mb         984 mb
 4          65 KTS      75 MPH       987 mb         976 mb        1  (64-83 KTS)
 4.5       77 KTS      89 MPH       979 mb         966 mb        1  (64-83 KTS); 2  (84-96 KTS)
 5          90 KTS     104 MPH       970 mb         954 mb        2  (84-96 KTS); 3  (97-113 KTS)
 5.5      102 KTS     117 MPH       960 mb         941 mb        3  (97-113 KTS)
 6        115 KTS     132 MPH       948 mb         927 mb        4  (114-135 KTS)
 6.5      127 KTS     146 MPH       935 mb         914 mb        4  (114-135 KTS)
 7        140 KTS     161 MPH       921 mb         898 mb        5  (136+  KTS)
 7.5      155 KTS     178 MPH       906 mb         879 mb        5  (136+  KTS)
 8        170 KTS     196 MPH       890 mb         858 mb        5  (136+  KTS)


CI   -- Current Intensity
MWS  -- Mean Wind Speed
MSLP -- Mean Sea Level Atmospheric Pressure in Millibars
Member Since: July 1, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 116
1969. CeliaCurvivor
9:42 PM GMT on July 27, 2011
Yep. This is looking exactly like Hurricane Celia that I survived at about the same time of the year back in 1970 (Aug.3). Formed in about the same location and made a straight NW line to Corpus Christi and tore up our town. And to read about Celia, it started out about this way and was small and predicted to stay small and minimal. Boy....was it just the opposite. Gusts in the area were estimated at over 180mph. What an unforgetable experience. I was 14 at the time.
Member Since: July 24, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1
1968. Progster
9:42 PM GMT on July 27, 2011
Quoting nrtiwlnvragn:
Additional upper air obs starting tomorrow afternoon


Is there a G-IV mission planned as well? Dropsondes in the upstream eviromment would likely be pretty useful for refining the trac.
Member Since: September 4, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 490
1967. cctxshirl
9:37 PM GMT on July 27, 2011
Quoting weatherboyfsu:
Wish I had time off..... I would be heading to Corpus Christi like tomorrow.... Good storm to get video....

I'll post pics!
Member Since: July 15, 2005 Posts: 25 Comments: 341
1966. Mclem1
9:37 PM GMT on July 27, 2011
Hey Folks! Just want to say hey and thanks for all the posts! I am pretty educated in Meteorology (studied it all through college, finished with a minor) but it's fun to read all of your posts. I have always loved hurricanes and I enjoy that when the NHC puts out invests or a new storm I can always get my fix of further information here!

I can see Don forming into a weak Cat 1 storm pretty easily before landfall (Not much more than that however). Personally I hope Don gets larger without strengthening too much. Would be a gift to those thirsty Texans!

">
Member Since: August 12, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 73
1965. HurricaneHunterJoe
9:37 PM GMT on July 27, 2011
Looks like recon on their way home, they scheduled another yet?
Member Since: September 18, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 5237
1963. jdb777
9:35 PM GMT on July 27, 2011
Product: Air Force Vortex Message (URNT12 KNHC)
Transmitted: 27th day of the month at 20:32Z
Aircraft: Air Force Aircraft (Last 3 digits of the tail number are 300)
Mission Purpose: Investigate third suspect area (flight in the North Atlantic basin)
Mission Number: 1
Observation Number: 09
A. Time of Center Fix: 27th day of the month at 20:01:40Z
B. Center Fix Coordinates: 22°08'N 86°49'W (22.1333N 86.8167W)
B. Center Fix Location: 68 miles (110 km) to the N (1°) from Cancún, Quintana Roo, México.
C. Minimum Height at Standard Level: Not Available
D. Estimated (by SFMR or visually) Maximum Surface Wind: 29kts (~ 33.4mph)
E. Location of the Estimated Maximum Surface Wind: 26 nautical miles (30 statute miles) to the NNW (336°) of center fix
F. Maximum Flight Level Wind Inbound: From 101° at 34kts (From between the E and ESE at ~ 39.1mph)
G. Location of Maximum Flight Level Wind Inbound: 25 nautical miles (29 statute miles) to the NNW (329°) of center fix
H. Minimum Sea Level Pressure: 1001mb (29.56 inHg) - Extrapolated
I. Maximum Flight Level Temp & Pressure Altitude Outside Eye: 22°C (72°F) at a pressure alt. of 313m (1,027ft)
J. Maximum Flight Level Temp & Pressure Altitude Inside Eye: 26°C (79°F) at a pressure alt. of 348m (1,142ft)
K. Dewpoint Temp (collected at same location as temp inside eye): 16°C (61°F)
K. Sea Surface Temp (collected at same location as temp inside eye): Not Available
L. Eye Character: Not Available
M. Eye Shape: Not Available
N. Fix Determined By: Penetration, Radar, Wind, Pressure and Temperature
N. Fix Levels (sfc and flt lvl centers are within 5nm of each other): Surface and 1,500 feet
O. Navigation Fix Accuracy: 0.02 nautical miles
O. Meteorological Accuracy: 3 nautical miles
Remarks Section:
Maximum Flight Level Wind: 34kts (~ 39.1mph) in the northwest quadrant at 19:49:40Z
Sea Level Pressure Extrapolation From: Below 1,500 feet
Member Since: November 18, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 6
1962. AtHomeInTX
9:35 PM GMT on July 27, 2011
According to Lake Charles this won't affect us at all.

Sigh. They could be perfectly right. The NHC may have the track down pat. But I've never seen that cone not move. We'll see I guess.

THIS RIDGE...BY THE WAY...IS EXPECTED TO HELP STEER TS DON TOWARD THE
LOWER TX COAST...AND BLOCK ANY FURTHER GAINS IN LATITUDE THAT WOULD
BRING GREATER IMPACTS TO OUR REGION. ON THE CURRENT FORECAST
TRACK...EFFECTS OVER THE NORTHWEST GULF COAST REGION WILL BE
MINIMAL...AND AT THIS TIME LIMITED GENERALLY TO INCREASING WINDS
AND SEAS OVER THE COASTAL WATERS LATE THURSDAY THROUGH FRIDAY.
Member Since: August 24, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 253
1961. Slamguitar
9:34 PM GMT on July 27, 2011
Recon heading back?
Member Since: July 2, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 1183
1960. PcolaDan
9:33 PM GMT on July 27, 2011
NEEEEEEW BLOOOOOOG
Member Since: August 22, 2008 Posts: 12 Comments: 6010
1958. ShenValleyFlyFish
9:32 PM GMT on July 27, 2011
Quoting NOVArules:


Remember those times when gas was below $1?
Remember when lunch counters were segregated and Weather Forecasts were totally unreliable? "The Good Old Days where when everybody said "Times have got to get better". ;)
Member Since: September 9, 2007 Posts: 36 Comments: 4687
1957. atmoaggie
9:32 PM GMT on July 27, 2011
Quoting DocNDswamp:


Hmmm, if I'm reading last sentence correctly, might have to disagree with you on that, Atmo... seen plenty instances of mid level dry air entrainment into full-blown hurricanes... ala, Gustav most notably as made landfall over Cuba, continued to plague it as trekked into SE LA.

But JMHO...
*sigh*
You're right.

Revision: No well organized hurricane takes in mid level air while over open water.
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12463
1956. JLPR2
9:32 PM GMT on July 27, 2011
Quoting DocNDswamp:


Hmmm, if I'm reading last sentence correctly, might have to disagree with you on that, Atmo... seen plenty instances of mid level dry air entrainment into full-blown hurricanes... ala, Gustav most notably as made landfall over Cuba, continued to plague it as trekked into SE LA.

But JMHO...


If I'm not mistaken mid-level dry air caused (2009)Erika's demise.
Member Since: September 4, 2007 Posts: 7 Comments: 8747
1955. skook
9:31 PM GMT on July 27, 2011
New blog up.
Member Since: August 10, 2009 Posts: 13 Comments: 368
1954. DFWjc
9:31 PM GMT on July 27, 2011
Thank you Orca!!
Member Since: July 19, 2011 Posts: 1 Comments: 1006
1953. RitaEvac
9:30 PM GMT on July 27, 2011
Don spitting out that dry air as he is cooking up his core on the inside. Wont be long and should be protected from any intrusion
Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 1 Comments: 9648
1952. taco2me61
9:30 PM GMT on July 27, 2011
Quoting stormpetrol:
Well I went out on a limb and said 90L would develop, now I say it will be the first hurricane of the 2011 Season, possibly the first major ( cat 3) imo.


I'm not really sure it will make a Cat 3 but for sure a low end cat 2.... and I said that yesterday.....

Taco :o)
Member Since: July 7, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 3261
1951. Orcasystems
9:30 PM GMT on July 27, 2011
Complete Update

TS BUSTED FORECAST ALIBI






Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26511
1950. weatherboyfsu
9:30 PM GMT on July 27, 2011
Wish I had time off..... I would be heading to Corpus Christi like tomorrow.... Good storm to get video....
Member Since: July 17, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 1025
1949. DocNDswamp
9:29 PM GMT on July 27, 2011
Quoting atmoaggie:
Given it's size, it's environment, and it's improvement over the last 36 hours, I am going to be bold and say it hits 60 mph in the next 36 hours.

I'm no wishcaster, but this one just says quick spinup, to me.

And if it gets organized enough, it will shield itself from that mid-level dry air. (No hurricane takes in mid-level air...only low level.)


Hmmm, if I'm reading last sentence correctly, might have to disagree with you on that, Atmo... seen plenty instances of mid level dry air entrainment into full-blown hurricanes... ala, Gustav most notably as made landfall over Cuba, continued to plague it as trekked into SE LA.

But JMHO...
Member Since: September 21, 2005 Posts: 94 Comments: 4794
1948. SeaMule
9:29 PM GMT on July 27, 2011
tropical systems in the GOM in late July and August have a lot of heat to work with. Don't be suprised if this suprises us, suprisingly...
Member Since: October 29, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 113
1947. stormpetrol
9:29 PM GMT on July 27, 2011
Time: 21:11:00Z
Coordinates: 22.2167N 86.9167W
Acft. Static Air Press: 977.3 mb (~ 28.86 inHg)
Acft. Geopotential Hgt: 203 meters (~ 666 feet)
Extrap. Sfc. Press: 1000.3 mb (~ 29.54 inHg)
D-value: -
Flt. Lvl. Wind (30s): From 236° at 4 knots (From the SW/WSW at ~ 4.6 mph)
Air Temp: 23.8°C (~ 74.8°F)
Dew Pt: 18.3°C (~ 64.9°F)
Peak (10s) Flt. Lvl. Wind: 11 knots (~ 12.6 mph)
SFMR Peak (10s) Sfc. Wind: 2 knots* (~ 2.3 mph*)
SFMR Rain Rate: 2 mm/hr* (~ 0.08 in/hr*)

This is probably the center, pressure dropping all the time now!
Member Since: April 29, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 8024
1946. smmcdavid
9:28 PM GMT on July 27, 2011
Well hello there. Doing just fine... staying busy. Thought I'd drop in and see who was going bonkers over our new system.
Member Since: September 20, 2005 Posts: 31 Comments: 2309
1945. jpsb
9:28 PM GMT on July 27, 2011
Quoting Patrap:
Consensus on the Storm Runs are in good agreement out 36

Esp the Dynamic.

We will see later how they compare to the 00Z output

18z Early Cycle NHC model tracks
Invest90
Statistical/Simple Models (CLIPER,BAMs,LBAR,other Statistical Models)


Dynamic Models (More sophisticated models)







Hope that forecast holds, lots of rain and NOT a hurricane. I like it, nice work, lol.
Member Since: June 30, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 1197
1944. charlottefl
9:28 PM GMT on July 27, 2011
Quoting atmoaggie:
Not impossible that it blocks off the ingestion of any the mid-level dry air. And soon, from it's structure.


Yeah I'm thinkin this is gonna surprise some folks here in the next 24-36 hrs.
Member Since: December 18, 2006 Posts: 7 Comments: 2687
1943. tiggeriffic
9:27 PM GMT on July 27, 2011
ok...bbl...gotta go get the work van from the shop... later taters
Member Since: September 16, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 3650
1941. atmoaggie
9:27 PM GMT on July 27, 2011
Quoting nrtiwlnvragn:
Additional recon rorschach test for atmo....







HRD Tail Doppler flight tomorrow
Eeek. They're expecting Don to be nuclear?!?
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12463
1940. IceCoast
9:27 PM GMT on July 27, 2011
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Now they hit the circulation. .6mb lower.

211400 2215N 08656W 9772 00206 0003 +248 +186 089017 019 005 005 03

There it is, must of looped back around and found that center!
Member Since: October 17, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1267
1939. OracleDeAtlantis
9:27 PM GMT on July 27, 2011
Don coughing up dry air ...

Member Since: August 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 525
1938. washingtonian115
9:27 PM GMT on July 27, 2011
Quoting atmoaggie:
Really, if it's in red below, it's warm enough for anything, relative to Don.

I'm afraid that if shear relaxes then Don could take huge advantage of that water and intensify all the way to landfall.Like Dolly,and even Alex from last year.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 17486
1937. tiggeriffic
9:26 PM GMT on July 27, 2011
Quoting cycleranger:
Check out the wave heights in the Gulf for the next few days. Possible 8-12 ft. as Don approaches. This isn't storm surge per say. Interesting though.









84 Hour Wave Forecast


Action: Quote | Ignore User
Member Since: July 1, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 47


if the waves are already doing that...wow...this little thing is gonna have some power quick like
Member Since: September 16, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 3650
1936. OUSHAWN
9:26 PM GMT on July 27, 2011
Quoting smmcdavid:
Hey party people... how goes it?


Hey stranger...how are you?
Member Since: September 20, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 44
1935. nrtiwlnvragn
9:26 PM GMT on July 27, 2011
Additional recon rorschach test for atmo....







HRD Tail Doppler flight tomorrow
Member Since: September 23, 2005 Posts: 14 Comments: 11274
1934. stormpetrol
9:25 PM GMT on July 27, 2011
Time: 21:10:30Z
Coordinates: 22.2333N 86.95W
Acft. Static Air Press: 977.2 mb (~ 28.86 inHg)
Acft. Geopotential Hgt: 205 meters (~ 673 feet)
Extrap. Sfc. Press: 1000.4 mb (~ 29.54 inHg)
D-value: -
Flt. Lvl. Wind (30s): From 40° at 5 knots (From the NE at ~ 5.8 mph)
Air Temp: 24.9°C (~ 76.8°F)
Dew Pt: 18.1°C (~ 64.6°F)
Peak (10s) Flt. Lvl. Wind: 6 knots (~ 6.9 mph)
SFMR Peak (10s) Sfc. Wind: -

Pressure dropping!
Member Since: April 29, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 8024
1933. cycleranger
9:25 PM GMT on July 27, 2011
Check out the wave heights in the Gulf for the next few days. Possible 8-12 ft. as Don approaches. This isn't storm surge per say. Interesting though.



Member Since: July 1, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 116
1932. DFWjc
9:25 PM GMT on July 27, 2011
Quoting smmcdavid:
Hey party people... how goes it?

pretty good, cooking up some burgers now...
Member Since: July 19, 2011 Posts: 1 Comments: 1006
1931. 7544
9:25 PM GMT on July 27, 2011
Quoting jasonweatherman2011:



91L soon ?
Member Since: May 6, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6874
1930. washingtonian115
9:25 PM GMT on July 27, 2011
Quoting NOVArules:


I thought only very strong hurricanes can do that?
I've seen some infamous hurricanes in their minimal stages create their own "sheilds" per say.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 17486
1929. RitaEvac
9:24 PM GMT on July 27, 2011
Quoting NOVArules:


I thought only very strong hurricanes can do that?


Yes, also small vortlike systems such as Don
Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 1 Comments: 9648
1928. atmoaggie
9:24 PM GMT on July 27, 2011
Quoting RitaEvac:
I'm afraid Don is gonna to create a force field around himself and block out anything trying to intrude into it's core. Create its own environment
Not impossible that it blocks off the ingestion of any the mid-level dry air. And soon, from it's structure.
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12463
1927. Patrap
9:24 PM GMT on July 27, 2011
Quoting Seawall:


+1000
Rita taught me a valuable lesson. I've never worked so hard in my life trying to clear away limbs and trees. Even with some help from other kind people, it was still such a mess. And the heat was something else. No electricity for fifteen days was enough to make a believer out of me.


Indeed the thrill goes away as soon as the Winds and Rains/surge subside, then misery kicks in to reality. The Heat can take as many after the storm as well.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129093
1926. smmcdavid
9:24 PM GMT on July 27, 2011
Hey party people... how goes it?
Member Since: September 20, 2005 Posts: 31 Comments: 2309

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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.