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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122. MahFL
It's going to travel over a lot of hostile terrain....
Member Since: June 9, 2004 Posts: 0 Comments: 2906
Oh goody, SFL could get Irene really close to Andrew's landfall date...

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.INTENSIFICATION SEEMS LIKELY AND IRENE IS
FORECAST TO BECOME A HURRICANE BY THE TIME IT REACHES HISPANIOLA.

Haiti dont need this at all
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119. 900MB
Thanks, Doc!

IMHO:
Irene is just one blow up from hurricane status and that could come at any time with very strong odds that it will happen in next 24 hours.

It would take a lot to keep Irene south of Puerto Rico at this point, and a hurricane warning should be posted.
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I am really hoping to at least get some rain from Irene. I live in southeast VA and have been dealing with the smoke from a 6000 acre fire in the Dismal Swamp. A tropical storm is about the only hope of putting the thing out. Smoke is so bad right now you can't half breathe.
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
You guys! Stop spelling doom for my state!!!
not trying to spells doom for my own state (also lives in Carolinas), but it just possible if it shaves Florida. If it landfalls in Miami, it'll be slightly weaker when it comes to Carolinas. East Coast, it's time...
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I think if Irene continues her WNW movement, it's very possible that her center moves over Puerto Rico.

Sorry Puerto Ricans.
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Quoting Walshy:
What does this mean?

B. POSSIBLE G-IV SURVEILANCE MISSION FOR THE
SAME SYSTEM AT 22/0000Z.


I wasn't aware that they postpone the mission to tomorrow.
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FORECAST POSITIONS AND MAX WINDS

INIT 21/1500Z 17.0N 63.2W 45 KT 50 MPH
12H 22/0000Z 17.5N 65.5W 55 KT 65 MPH
24H 22/1200Z 18.2N 68.2W 65 KT 75 MPH
36H 23/0000Z 18.9N 70.9W 50 KT 60 MPH...INLAND
48H 23/1200Z 19.6N 73.3W 45 KT 50 MPH...INLAND
72H 24/1200Z 21.5N 76.5W 50 KT 60 MPH...OVER WATER
96H 25/1200Z 24.0N 79.0W 65 KT 75 MPH
120H 26/1200Z 27.0N 81.5W 50 KT 60 MPH...INLAND

$$
FORECASTER PASCH
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one of the great things about this blog is its self correcting nature
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Quoting scott39:
No! The risks to the SE Coast has gone up, but has not put that side out of risk yet. Follow the NHC for official Info. Always the best source of Information on tropical weather.


good rule to follow...
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17 63.2
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Quoting Walshy:
What does this mean?

B. POSSIBLE G-IV SURVEILANCE MISSION FOR THE
SAME SYSTEM AT 22/0000Z.
They will go sample the surrounding air and conditions which would help the models have a better handle on where Irene should go.
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11:00 AM AST Sun Aug 21
Location: 17.0°N 63.2°W
Max sustained: 50 mph
Moving: WNW at 20 mph
Min pressure: 1005 mb
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Quoting P451:
What's this?







LOL your name is IRENE not Emily.



looks like yet another center wants to show up
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It's three to 11 a.m. and the NHC hasn't issued a thing. This means they are changing their minds. I just feel it. P.S. on the Jersey Coast, I'm about to be hit with some rain, as if we didn't already have enough last Sunday! Bless all those in Irene's path.
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TROPICAL STORM IRENE DISCUSSION NUMBER 4
NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL AL092011
1100 AM AST SUN AUG 21 2011

THE CLOUD PATTERN OF IRENE IS CHARACTERIZED BY WELL-DEFINED DEEP
CONVECTIVE BANDING FEATURES OVER THE NORTHERN SEMICIRCLE. THE STORM
STILL LACKS MUCH DEEP CONVECTION...OR STRONG WINDS...OVER THE
SOUTHERN PORTION OF THE CIRCULATION. AN AIR FORCE HURRICANE HUNTER
AIRCRAFT INVESTIGATING IRENE MEASURED PEAK 850 MB FLIGHT-LEVEL
WINDS OF 53 KT SO FAR...WHICH SUPPORTS KEEPING THE INTENSITY AT 45
KT FOR THIS ADVISORY. SINCE AN UPPER-LEVEL ANTICYCLONE IS
ESTABLISHED OVER THE TROPICAL CYCLONE AND THE SYSTEM WILL BE MOVING
OVER WARM WATERS...INTENSIFICATION SEEMS LIKELY AND IRENE IS
FORECAST TO BECOME A HURRICANE BY THE TIME IT REACHES HISPANIOLA.
AFTER THAT...THE INTENSITY FORECAST IS SUBJECT TO MORE THAN THE
USUAL LEVEL OF UNCERTAINTY...AS IT DEPENDS VERY MUCH ON HOW IRENE
WILL INTERACT WITH THE MOUNTAINOUS LAND MASSES OF HISPANIOLA AND
EASTERN CUBA OVER THE NEXT FEW DAYS. IF THE CENTER MOVES MORE OVER
THE WATER THAN INDICATED IN THE CURRENT FORECAST...IRENE WILL
LIKELY BECOME STRONGER THAN SHOWN HERE.

THE STORM IS BEING STEERED WEST-NORTHWESTWARD...285/17...BY THE FLOW
ON THE SOUTH SIDE OF A MID-LEVEL SUBTROPICAL RIDGE OVER THE WESTERN
ATLANTIC. OVER THE NEXT FEW DAYS...A COUPLE OF TROUGHS ARE FORECAST
TO CREATE A WEAKNESS IN THE RIDGE NEAR THE SOUTHEAST U.S.
COAST...WHICH SHOULD INDUCE A TURN TOWARD THE NORTHWEST. THERE IS A
FAIR AMOUNT OF SPREAD IN THE TRACK GUIDANCE MODELS...ESPECIALLY AT
DAYS 4 TO 5. FOR EXAMPLE...THE GFDL MODEL TAKES IRENE TO THE WEST
OF THE FLORIDA PENINSULA WHILE THE HWRF MODEL TAKES IT THROUGH THE
NORTHWESTERN BAHAMAS. INTERESTS IN FLORIDA ARE ADVISED NOT TO FOCUS
ON THE EXACT FORECAST TRACK BECAUSE OF THE INHERENT UNCERTAINTIES
IN LONGER-RANGE FORECASTS.

FORECAST POSITIONS AND MAX WINDS

INIT 21/1500Z 17.0N 63.2W 45 KT 50 MPH
12H 22/0000Z 17.5N 65.5W 55 KT 65 MPH
24H 22/1200Z 18.2N 68.2W 65 KT 75 MPH
36H 23/0000Z 18.9N 70.9W 50 KT 60 MPH...INLAND
48H 23/1200Z 19.6N 73.3W 45 KT 50 MPH...INLAND
72H 24/1200Z 21.5N 76.5W 50 KT 60 MPH...OVER WATER
96H 25/1200Z 24.0N 79.0W 65 KT 75 MPH
120H 26/1200Z 27.0N 81.5W 50 KT 60 MPH...INLAND

$$
FORECASTER PASCH

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Quoting sullivanweather:
Looks like the wind shear of 10-20kts from the southwest continues to keep Irene a lopsided storm. It should also keep Irene on a 280-285° heading.

If she makes it north of Hispaniola all bets are off and somewhere along the East Coast will get socked. That weakness to the north is just strong enough to pull her in that direction but just weak enough so that it doesn't grab her up and send her off.

This is going to be a huge rain-maker for the Eastern States. Stacked low over Hudson Bay next weekend will force a strong jet stream response over New England and the Canadian Maritimes which will further aid in lift over the Mid-Atlantic/Northeast. Combined with a front dropping in the stage will be set for training pre activity before the storm and the rain from the storm itself. Not looking good.


exactly what I said last night, she's getting north of the islands, gang way east coast!!
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blockquote class='blogquote'>Quoting scott39:
No! The risks to the SE Coast has gone up, but has not put that side out of risk yet. Follow the NHC for official Info. Always the best source of Information on tropical weather.
+1 90% of people on this chat i would not trust only person I trust is Dr. Masters.
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Amazingly, Harvey is still a tropical depression!
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Quoting divdog:
wow i wish peeps would stop asking that question over and over and over and over

pardon me ...first time I asked...just woke up. SHeesh
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PUERTO RICO IS UNDER A HURRICANE WARNING.
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Quoting P451:


St. Kitts land based obs 1. (1002mb)
Hurricane Hunters 0. (1006, 1007mb)

What gives?



Good question....maybe surf center is over St. Kitts and recon has it wrong.
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Quoting ncstorm:


the gulf stream will be a catalyst for Irene..
You aren't kidding... Hugo got stronger because of that. And it's going to be on Gulf Stream when it shaves Florida, thus making it even stronger.
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Wake Up Levi!! lol
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The blog slows down as F5 gets a workout
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TROPICAL STORM IRENE FORECAST/ADVISORY NUMBER 4
NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL AL092011
1500 UTC SUN AUG 21 2011

CHANGES IN WATCHES AND WARNINGS WITH THIS ADVISORY...

THE TROPICAL STORM WARNING FOR PUERTO RICO...VIEQUES...AND CULEBRA
IS CHANGED TO A HURRICANE WARNING.

A HURRICANE WATCH HAS BEEN ISSUED FOR THE U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS.

THE GOVERNMENT OF THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC HAS CHANGED THE TROPICAL
STORM WARNING TO A HURRICANE WARNING FOR THE NORTH COAST OF THE
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC FROM CABO ENGANO TO CABO FRANCES VIEJO.

THE TROPICAL STORM WATCH FOR HAITI IS CHANGED TO A TROPICAL STORM
WARNING.

THE GOVERNMENT OF THE BAHAMAS HAS ISSUED A TROPICAL STORM WATCH FOR
THE SOUTHEASTERN BAHAMAS AND THE TURKS AND CAICOS ISLANDS.

SUMMARY OF WATCHES AND WARNINGS IN EFFECT...

A HURRICANE WARNING IS IN EFFECT FOR...
* PUERTO RICO...VIEQUES...AND CULEBRA
* THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC FROM THE SOUTHERN BORDER WITH HAITI TO CABO
FRANCES VIEJO ON THE NORTH COAST

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

A TROPICAL STORM WARNING IS IN EFFECT FOR...
* U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS
* SABA...ST. EUSTATIUS...ST. MAARTEN...ST. MARTIN...AND ST.
BARTHELEMY
* ANTIGUA...BARBUDA...ST. KITTS...NEVIS...ANGUILLA...MONTSERRAT
* BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS
* NORTHERN COAST OF THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC FROM THE HAITI BORDER
EASTWARD TO CABO FRANCES VIEJO
* HAITI

A TROPICAL STORM WATCH IS IN EFFECT FOR...
* SOUTHEASTERN BAHAMAS AND THE TURKS AND CAICOS ISLANDS
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Quoting P451:


St. Kitts land based obs 1. (1002mb)
Hurricane Hunters 0. (1006, 1007mb)

What gives?



The hurricane hunters are looking in the wrong place? (shrugs)
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ZCZC MIATCMAT4 ALL
TTAA00 KNHC DDHHMM

TROPICAL STORM IRENE FORECAST/ADVISORY NUMBER 4
NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL AL092011
1500 UTC SUN AUG 21 2011

CHANGES IN WATCHES AND WARNINGS WITH THIS ADVISORY...

THE TROPICAL STORM WARNING FOR PUERTO RICO...VIEQUES...AND CULEBRA
IS CHANGED TO A HURRICANE WARNING.

A HURRICANE WATCH HAS BEEN ISSUED FOR THE U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS.

THE GOVERNMENT OF THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC HAS CHANGED THE TROPICAL
STORM WARNING TO A HURRICANE WARNING FOR THE NORTH COAST OF THE
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC FROM CABO ENGANO TO CABO FRANCES VIEJO.

THE TROPICAL STORM WATCH FOR HAITI IS CHANGED TO A TROPICAL STORM
WARNING.

THE GOVERNMENT OF THE BAHAMAS HAS ISSUED A TROPICAL STORM WATCH FOR
THE SOUTHEASTERN BAHAMAS AND THE TURKS AND CAICOS ISLANDS.


SUMMARY OF WATCHES AND WARNINGS IN EFFECT...

A HURRICANE WARNING IS IN EFFECT FOR...
* PUERTO RICO...VIEQUES...AND CULEBRA
* THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC FROM THE SOUTHERN BORDER WITH HAITI TO CABO
FRANCES VIEJO ON THE NORTH COAST

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

A TROPICAL STORM WARNING IS IN EFFECT FOR...
* U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS
* SABA...ST. EUSTATIUS...ST. MAARTEN...ST. MARTIN...AND ST.
BARTHELEMY
* ANTIGUA...BARBUDA...ST. KITTS...NEVIS...ANGUILLA...MONTSERRAT
* BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS
* NORTHERN COAST OF THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC FROM THE HAITI BORDER
EASTWARD TO CABO FRANCES VIEJO
* HAITI

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


yea...I feel terrible about it....nobody needs to be posting erroneous info on here...especially me....shoulda looked at the darned calendar....was inexcusable...
lol...no need to be that hard on yourself...It's summer time!!
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What does this mean?

B. POSSIBLE G-IV SURVEILANCE MISSION FOR THE
SAME SYSTEM AT 22/0000Z.
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
This system really isn't organized, lol.


the story of 2011 continues lol
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Quoting hurricanehanna:
so at this point, the GOM, other than FL looks safe, right?
No! The risks to the SE Coast has gone up, but has not put that side out of risk yet. Follow the NHC for official Info. Always the best source of Information on tropical weather.
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You guys! Stop spelling doom for my state!!!
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84. wpb
Quoting WxLogic:
12Z NAM 500MB:

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Quoting Bluestorm5:
man, my spelling and grammar are awful... anyway, when's the next major model runs?



12z gfs at 11:30 am
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Quoting P451:
What's this?







LOL your name is IRENE not Emily.

This system really isn't organized, lol.
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Quoting Relix:
Puerto Rico Wugggers... post your conditions and how are things around! As said before... lines in gas statios and super markets slowly getting packed here in Levittown. Cloudy and just now sightly windy


partly cloudy and light winds from the E here in Sabana Grande.
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Quoting Abacosurf:
ehh. you had me fooled.


yea...I feel terrible about it....nobody needs to be posting erroneous info on here...especially me....shoulda looked at the darned calendar....was inexcusable...
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Irene just needs a burst of convection over the center and it should be back on track.
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Quoting Bluestorm5:
Bottemline for NC: If it miss Florida, expects a low end major hurricane... wow.


the gulf stream will be a catalyst for Irene..
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It looks to me as if Irene is trying to make an eye a few hundred miles to the immediate west and south of Puerto Rico, and on this more northern path could miss the DR & Haiti entirely. I could be wrong, but it appears such to me at this minute.
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Quoting Relix:
Puerto Rico Wugggers... post your conditions and how are things around! As said before... lines in gas statios and super markets slowly getting packed here in Levittown. Cloudy and just now sightly windy
Reporting from Ocean Park, P,R:.Link
Very windy since last night, mostly cloud, but very hot, the humidity must be over 100%. No body is in the beach, the streets are unusual empty to be Sunday on a touristic zone. I am ready, i took water. My mom in the eastern central of the Island is ready too.
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Quoting hurricanehanna:
so at this point, the GOM, other than FL looks safe, right?
wow i wish peeps would stop asking that question over and over and over and over
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Quoting wpb:
did not see that writing in any nhc product....


Dr. Masters' entry.
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About JeffMasters

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.