Dangerous Tropical Storm Irene headed for the Dominican Republic

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:38 PM GMT on August 21, 2011

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Tropical Storm Irene roared into life last night, transitioning from a tropical wave to a 50 mph tropical storm in just a few short hours. Irene is getting organized quickly, and has the potential to become a hurricane by Monday morning. All interests in the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Cuba, the Bahamas, and South Florida should prepare for the arrival of this dangerous storm. An Air Force hurricane hunter aircraft in the storm found the strongest winds near 18°N latitude to the north of Irene's center at 8am this morning. After passing through the center, the plane returned to the area of strongest winds two hours later, and found that flight level winds at 5,000 feet had increased by about 5 - 8 mph. However, the pressure in the latest center fix taken at 10am EDT remained the same as two hours previously, 1007 mb, and the plane noted that Irene's center was not circular, signs that the storm still has some work to do before serious intensification can begin. Visible satellite loops and radar out of Martinique show the storm has rapidly organized this morning, with well-developed spiral bands forming and a large area of intense thunderstorms to the north of the center. Irene has shrugged off the dry air that was bothering it yesterday, and wind shear has fallen to the low range, 5 - 10 knots, as analyzed by the University of Wisconsin CIMSS group. Torrential rains and strong gusty winds are affecting the northern Lesser Antilles this morning. A wind gust of 41 mph was recorded at St. Eustatius at 8am local time.


Figure 1. Morning satellite image of Irene.

Track forecast for Irene
The computer models are in agreement that Irene will pass just south of Puerto Rico tonight, then hit the south coast of Hispaniola in the Dominican Republic or Haiti on Monday afternoon. Irene should then emerge into the channel between Haiti and Cuba on Tuesday afternoon, when the storm will have 12 or so hours over water before having to contend with Cuba. A trough of low pressure is expected to move across the Eastern U.S. on Wednesday and Thursday, turning Irene to the northwest and north by Thursday. The timing and strength of this trough varies considerably from model to model, and will be critical in determining where and when Irene will turn to the north. Irene's strength will also matter--a stronger Irene is more likely to turn northward earlier. The most likely path for Irene is a track just east of the Florida Peninsula and into Georgia, South Carolina, or North Carolina by next weekend, but a landfall near Miami then directly up the Florida Peninsula is also a reasonable solution--like Tropical Storm Fay of 2008 did. Fay formed just off the coast of Puerto Rico, and was never quite able to get organized enough to become a hurricane, due to passage over Hispaniola and Cuba. Fay topped out as a strong tropical storm with 70 mph winds, and did over $500 million in damage in the U.S., mostly due to flooding rains in Florida that accumulated to over 25 inches in a few areas. Fay also dumped heavy rains on Hispaniola, triggering flooding that claimed eight lives.


Figure 2. Track of Tropical Storm Fay of 2008.

Intensity forecast for Irene
Irene is embedded in a large envelope of moisture now, and wind shear will remain low, 5 - 10 knots, for the next five days. With water temperatures very warm, 28 - 30°C, these conditions should allow for intensification except when land is interfering. Irene's current appearance on satellite loops gives me the impression of a storm that is not fooling around, and I expect Irene will be a hurricane before hitting Hispaniola on Monday. Passage over Hispaniola will not destroy Irene, since it is a fairly large storm. Once the storm finishes with Hispaniola, it will have to deal with Cuba, which will keep Irene from intensifying significantly. Once Irene pops off the coast of Cuba Wednesday or Thursday into the Florida Straits, Irene will likely be a tropical storm. If the storm then has at least a day over water before hitting land, it will likely become a hurricane again, and could become a major hurricane if it ends up missing South Florida and moving over the warm waters on either side of the Florida Peninsula.

Harvey hits Belize
Tropical Storm Harvey made landfall at 2pm EDT on Saturday near Dangriga Town, Belize, as a tropical storm with 60 mph winds. Harvey continues to dump very heavy rains on southern Mexico, but dissipation is expected tonight as the storm pushes inland. Harvey was a small storm, and the strongest winds were confined to a short stretch of coast near where the center came ashore. Winds at Belize City, Belize on Saturday topped out at 15 mph.


Figure 3. Radar image of Harvey taken at 11:30am EDT on Saturday, August 20, 2011, a few hours before landfall in Belize. A small closed eye is visible just south of the offshore islands of Belize. Image credit: Belize National Meteorological Service.

Invest 98L northwest of the Cape Verde Islands
A tropical wave few hundred miles northwest of the Cape Verde Islands off the coast of Africa, Invest 98L, has become disorganized and lost most of its heavy thunderstorms. The disturbance is moving over colder waters and encountering drier air, and NHC is giving 98L only a 10% chance of developing into a tropical depression by Tuesday. The latest set of model runs keep 98L well out to sea away from any land areas over the next five days.

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Long-range radar out of Puerto Rico

Jeff Masters

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2523. ncstorm
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting HurricaneDean07:
LOL,
Harvey still alive... 30 Mph 1007 MB And still not final advisory on him...
He said he wants to make his tropical cyclone days last.
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WTNT34 KNHC 212044
TCPAT4

BULLETIN
TROPICAL STORM IRENE ADVISORY NUMBER 5
NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL AL092011
500 PM AST SUN AUG 21 2011

...CENTER OF IRENE NEAR ST. CROIX...


SUMMARY OF 500 PM AST...2100 UTC...INFORMATION
----------------------------------------------
LOCATION...17.7N 64.4W
ABOUT 25 MI...40 KM E OF ST. CROIX
ABOUT 120 MI...195 KM ESE OF SAN JUAN PUERTO RICO
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS...50 MPH...85 KM/H
PRESENT MOVEMENT...WNW OR 285 DEGREES AT 17 MPH...28 KM/H
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE...999 MB...29.50 INCHES


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

THE GOVERNMENT OF THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC HAS CHANGED THE TROPICAL
STORM WARNING TO A HURRICANE WARNING FOR THE NORTHERN COAST OF THE
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC FROM CABO FRANCES VIEJO TO THE BORDER WITH
HAITI.

THE GOVERNMENT OF CURACAO HAS DISCONTINUED THE TROPICAL STORM
WARNING FOR ST. MAARTIN...SABA...AND ST. EUSTATIUS.


SUMMARY OF WATCHES AND WARNINGS IN EFFECT...

A HURRICANE WARNING IS IN EFFECT FOR...
* PUERTO RICO...VIEQUES...AND CULEBRA
* THE ENTIRE COASTLINE OF THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

A HURRICANE WATCH IS IN EFFECT FOR...
* U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS

A TROPICAL STORM WARNING IS IN EFFECT FOR...
* U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS
* BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS
* HAITI

A TROPICAL STORM WATCH IS IN EFFECT FOR...
* SOUTHEASTERN BAHAMAS AND THE TURKS AND CAICOS ISLANDS

FOR STORM INFORMATION SPECIFIC TO YOUR AREA IN THE UNITED
STATES...INCLUDING POSSIBLE INLAND WATCHES AND WARNINGS...PLEASE
MONITOR PRODUCTS ISSUED BY YOUR LOCAL NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE
FORECAST OFFICE. FOR STORM INFORMATION SPECIFIC TO YOUR AREA OUTSIDE
THE UNITED STATES...PLEASE MONITOR PRODUCTS ISSUED BY YOUR NATIONAL
METEOROLOGICAL SERVICE.


DISCUSSION AND 48-HOUR OUTLOOK
------------------------------
AT 500 PM AST...2100 UTC...THE CENTER OF TROPICAL STORM IRENE WAS
LOCATED NEAR LATITUDE 17.7 NORTH...LONGITUDE 64.4 WEST. IRENE IS
MOVING TOWARD THE WEST-NORTHWEST NEAR 17 MPH...28 KM/H...AND THIS
MOTION IS EXPECTED TO CONTINUE FOR THE NEXT COUPLE OF DAYS WITH A
FURTHER SLOWING IN FORWARD SPEED. ON THE FORECAST TRACK THE CENTER
OF IRENE WILL BE MOVING NEAR OR OVER PUERTO RICO TONIGHT AND NEAR
OR OVER THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC ON MONDAY.

MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS ARE NEAR 50 MPH...85 KM/H...WITH HIGHER
GUSTS. STRENGTHENING IS FORECAST AND IRENE IS EXPECTED TO BE NEAR
HURRICANE INTENSITY ON MONDAY. WEAKENING IS LIKELY LATER ON MONDAY
AS THE CENTER MOVES NEAR OR OVER THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC.

TROPICAL STORM FORCE WINDS EXTEND OUTWARD UP TO 150 MILES...240 KM
FROM THE CENTER.

ESTIMATED MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE IS 999 MB...29.50 INCHES.


HAZARDS AFFECTING LAND
----------------------
WIND...TROPICAL STORM CONDITIONS ARE EXPECTED IN THE VIRGIN ISLANDS
AND PUERTO RICO INCLUDING CULEBRA AND VIEQUES THIS EVENING...AND IN
THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC EARLY MONDAY. HURRICANE CONDITIONS ARE
EXPECTED OVER PUERTO RICO INCLUDING VIEQUES AND CULEBRA
TONIGHT...AND OVER THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC ON MONDAY. THE HIGHEST
WINDS ARE LIKELY TO OCCUR OVER AREAS OF ELEVATED TERRAIN.

RAINFALL...IRENE IS EXPECTED TO PRODUCE TOTAL RAINFALL ACCUMULATIONS
OF 5 TO 10 INCHES ACROSS PUERTO RICO...THE VIRGIN ISLANDS...THE
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC...HAITI...THE SOUTHEASTERN BAHAMAS AND THE TURKS
AND CAICOS ISLANDS. ISOLATED MAXIMUM AMOUNTS OF UP TO 20 INCHES
ARE POSSIBLE. THESE RAINS COULD CAUSE LIFE-THREATENING FLASH
FLOODS AND MUD SLIDES IN AREAS OF STEEP TERRAIN. ADDITIONAL
RAINFALL OF 2 TO 4 INCHES IS POSSIBLE OVER THE LEEWARD ISLANDS.

STORM SURGE...A STORM SURGE WILL RAISE WATER LEVELS BY AS MUCH AS 3
TO 5 FEET ABOVE NORMAL TIDE LEVELS ALONG THE COAST OF THE DOMINICAN
REPUBLIC IN THE HURRICANE WARNING AREA. A STORM SURGE OF 1 TO 3
FEET ABOVE NORMAL TIDE LEVELS IS EXPECTED ALONG THE COAST OF PUERTO
RICO...AS WELL AS IN THE TROPICAL STORM WARNING AREA. NEAR THE
COAST...THE SURGE WILL BE ACCOMPANIED BY LARGE AND DANGEROUS WAVES.


NEXT ADVISORY
-------------
NEXT INTERMEDIATE ADVISORY...800 PM AST.
NEXT COMPLETE ADVISORY...1100 PM AST.

$$
FORECASTER PASCH

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Sfloridacat5:


Longer loops show an overall WNW movement.


she's heading west now and in fact a bit of southwest wobble took place. at this rate she will either pass just south or skirt the south coast of PR
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Tropical Storm Irene seems to be steadily improving now as the beginnings of an eye wall possibly forming are evident in Puerto Rico radar.

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Quoting WeatherNerdPR:



Ugh...Harvey is so annoying...for some reason its getting on my nerves...LOL
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...CENTER OF IRENE NEAR ST. CROIX...
------------------------------------------------- -------------------------------

5:00 PM AST Sun Aug 21
Location: 17.7°N 64.4°W
Max sustained: 50 mph
Moving: WNW at 17 mph
Min pressure: 999 mb

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
HARVEY's remnant's getting dragged Northward to feed EMILY... She's hungry!!!
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2514. Levi32
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:


Levi! Radar! COC?


Based on echo drifts and surface obs, I believe it is somewhere here:

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Quoting WeatherCaneFF1331:



i have to agree with you there on PR radar it looks ike its moveing DUE WEST


West
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WNW..

BULLETIN
TROPICAL STORM IRENE ADVISORY NUMBER 5
NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL AL092011
500 PM AST SUN AUG 21 2011

...CENTER OF IRENE NEAR ST. CROIX...


SUMMARY OF 500 PM AST...2100 UTC...INFORMATION
----------------------------------------------
LOCATION...17.7N 64.4W
ABOUT 25 MI...40 KM E OF ST. CROIX
ABOUT 120 MI...195 KM ESE OF SAN JUAN PUERTO RICO
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS...50 MPH...85 KM/H
PRESENT MOVEMENT...WNW OR 285 DEGREES AT 17 MPH...28 KM/H
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE...999 MB...29.50 INCHES
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
2510. scott39
Quoting mynameispaul:


Yes, it can be frustrating if you really need information but I always take my local authorities advice first and foremost. I've been thru probably a dozen TS's and Hurricanes in my life and your locals are the best to listen to.
Same here, i just got a call from my Dad,and he said, "I looked at the WU site you told me about, and some of those people seem excited about its coming to them". I said no Dad...they just love tracking hurricanes. LOL
Member Since: June 13, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 6890
...CENTER OF IRENE NEAR ST. CROIX...
5:00 PM AST Sun Aug 21
Location: 17.7°N 64.4°W
Max sustained: 50 mph
Moving: WNW at 17 mph
Min pressure: 999 mb
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting MississippiWx:


What you're seeing on RGB is more mid-level. Radar is the best tool we have right now to figure out where a center is located. It's much better than any visible or infrared at this point.


Yep...when the storm gets closer to the radar...the radar sees what's going on at the storm base better than anything else....

...on the other hand...if radar far from the storm...it tends to see what is going on higher up than at the surface...but now since Irene closing in on radar position...this is not the case...
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Quoting Levi32:
Virgin Islands are reporting a 1003mb pressure as Irene's center nears, with 30-40kt winds out of the northeast.
Levi is that St. Croix?
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LOL,
Harvey still alive... 30 Mph 1007 MB And still not final advisory on him...
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serialtag looks like the worst of the cyclone will be going right over you hunker down and let us know whats happening
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Quoting cycleranger:



Looks like most of the heaviest rainfall is North and East of Puerto Rico.

Irene is censored.Is she running around in her birthday suit?
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Quoting wolftribe2009:
5 PM ADVISORY

...HARVEY EMERGES OVER THE SOUTHERN BAY OF CAMPECHE...TROPICAL STORM WARNING ISSUED FOR A PORTION OF THE SOUTHERN COAST OF MEXICO...

well just what I thought he would do

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Quoting cat6band:
I know nothing about weather or the tropics...I find it absolutely amazing though....To my untrained eye...this storm is moving west...that's all I can go by, and looking at the radar you guys have posted...there is no northern component to that movement..JMO..Thanks!



i have to agree with you there on PR radar it looks ike its moveing DUE WEST
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
HARVEY EMERGES OVER THE SOUTHERN BAY OF CAMPECHE...TROPICAL STORM WARNING ISSUED FOR A PORTION OF THE SOUTHERN COAST OF MEXICO...
4:00 PM CDT Sun Aug 21
Location: 18.6°N 93.8°W
Max sustained: 30 mph
Moving: WNW at 14 mph
Min pressure: 1007 mb


Wonder if he will reorganize and head for Texas.
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Quoting USAFwxguy:


Well it won't be a large distance... but the RADAR feature I think is tricking a bunch of people anxious to see an eye. It is close, but I think the storm CoC is a bit further south along 17.5, just beyond 64.

As seen on RGB.
and if and when that center cleans out it will become even more evident that it was a tick further South the people are thinking/saying/wishing...
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Quoting DoubleAction:


Definately going to be someones disaster.


Yep, looks like someone will be taking one for the team.
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Another Irene from time gone by, Hurricane Irene of 1999. Although it formed further South, it's track, is similar to today's Irene forecast track, with respect to Florida.
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Quoting MississippiWx:


Lol...It has been me vs. you most of the day. Of course, I've won the argument each time. :-D


I wouldn't say all day, just the "eye"/dry air feature.
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2495. WxLogic
Quoting WeatherNerdPR:

694HRS?!


lol fixed
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Quoting 7544:
back to fl again Link

lol.

that is the 6Z run of the GFS.

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
5 PM ADVISORY

...HARVEY EMERGES OVER THE SOUTHERN BAY OF CAMPECHE...TROPICAL STORM WARNING ISSUED FOR A PORTION OF THE SOUTHERN COAST OF MEXICO...

well just what I thought he would do
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting NCHurricane2009:


IRENE IS NOT EMILY....

Did Emily ever look this impressive on radar/satellite, or track WNW toward PR like Emily....?


If you read my comment, I wasn't comparing Irene to Emily at all. I was saying Irene is completely different from Emily. The statement I responded to was about model runs not doing well this year. Irene is a large system, and the models will have a better idea on her vs. Emily.
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2490. Grothar
You all have your F5 keys on stand-by alert?
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Sigh... WNW was always a possibility w/ Irene, and actually almost a necessity for it to have reached Hispaniola. Also this track over PR is in the forecast cone and was hinted at in the discussion either earlier today or late last night.

It's not as big a change as some people are making it out to be... the greater concern is with intensity, but this was the part NHC never had a good handle on to begin with.
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 22583
2488. Seastep
Quoting USAFwxguy:
Guys the thing you see like directly east of St Croix isn't the "eye"... the CoC is located ese of St Croix along 17.5N, and headed west (map west) set to pass to the south of St Croix


Winds on St. Croix are out of the N right now.

Doesn't jibe with what you say.
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Quoting hunkerdown:
now there is scientific accuracy at it's finest...


LOL.
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Quoting Tropicalanalystswx13:
lol...

MississippiWx and TropicalAnalystwx13 vs. stormpetrol and USAFwxguy.

j/k


Don't count me out! lol
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Now that the eye has closed off it appears ST.Croix is dead center of the eye, but I still think it basically moving due west , 275 degrees at most, jmo.
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I know nothing about weather or the tropics...I find it absolutely amazing though....To my untrained eye...this storm is moving west...that's all I can go by, and looking at the radar you guys have posted...there is no northern component to that movement..JMO..Thanks!
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Bird on Cam. Wait, shouldn't he be evacuating?
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If it interacts with Puerto Rico or Easter Dominican loss of strength will be mild as mountains are no higher than 2000-3000 feet. Western Dominican and Haiti a much different story with 10000 foot ranges
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Quoting Levi32:
Virgin Islands are reporting a 1003mb pressure as Irene's center nears, with 30-40kt winds out of the northeast.


Levi! Radar! COC?
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2480. Gorty
Quoting washingtonian115:
Nice blog.


Thanks.
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2479. luigi18
Quoting mcmurray02:
http://www.comoestaeso.com/forums/content/inches- li ve-surf-cams-22/

Puerto Rican web cam... on the SE coast.


Nice PIGEON POSING at the caera LOL
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
lol...

MississippiWx and TropicalAnalystwx13 vs. stormpetrol and USAFwxguy.

j/k


Lol...It has been me vs. you most of the day. Of course, I've won the argument each time. :-D
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 17 Comments: 10284
2477. 7544
back to fl again Link
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
We'll see the eye appear soon I believe...Now that it has likely closed off/is closing off, its eyewall.


You can kinda see where the eye will be. At least i can.
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
Don't want to say this, but if it misses Hispaniola...

There is your next weather disaster for 2011.


Definately going to be someones disaster.
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Quoting USAFwxguy:
Guys the thing you see like directly east of St Croix isn't the "eye"... the CoC is located ese of St Croix along 17.5N, and headed west (map west) set to pass to the south of St Croix

Exceptionally False
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:


Take your finger and put it on the screen where the loop starts. Take another finger and put it where it ends. At that current projection, it would only clip the NE part of Puerto Rico. Right??
now there is scientific accuracy at it's finest...
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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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