Irene hits North Carolina

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 4:37 PM GMT on August 27, 2011

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Hurricane Irene roared ashore over Cape Lookout, North Carolina at 7:30 am this morning. The Cedar Island Ferry Terminal measured sustained winds of 90 mph, gusting to 110 mph at 7:19am, and a trained spotter on Atlantic Beach measured sustained winds of 85 mph, gusting to 101 mph at 10:35 am. The Hurricane Hunters measured 80 mph winds over water at the time of landfall. Winds at the Cape Lookout, North Carolina buoy, which the eye passed directly over, peaked at 67 mph as Irene made landfall. At 10am EDT, top winds observed at Cape Hatteras on the Outer Banks of North Carolina were 53 mph, gusting to 73 mph. Winds are rising now along the coast of Virginia, with sustained winds of 56 mph, gusting to 62 mph observed at 10 am EDT at Chesapeake Bay Light. Satellite loops show a large but deteriorating storm with dry air intruding to the southwest. The radar presentation of Irene visible on the Norfolk, VA radar is very impressive--Irene is dropping torrential rains over a huge area.


Figure 1. Radar-estimated precipitation from Irene as of 12:18 pm EDT August 27, 2011. An expanding region of rains in excess of ten inches (pick colors) was observed north of where the center made landfall.

Storm surge damage from Irene
The storm surge and wave action from Irene is likely to cause the greatest damage, and this will be a historic coastal flooding event for many regions of the mid-Atlantic and Northeast. A storm surge of 8.5 feet was reported this morning in North Harlow, NC, and three feet in New Bern, NC. Significant wave heights (the average height of the largest 1/3 of the waves) reached 27 feet at Onslow Bay, NC this morning, and wave heights along the New Jersey shore Sunday morning during the time of high tide are expected to be 15 - 20 feet, according to the NOAA Wavewatch III model (Figure 2.) A storm surge of 3 - 6 feet is expected near Atlantic City, NJ Sunday morning, during the time of high tide. With 15 - 20 foot waves expected on top of this storm surge, there will be tremendous damage to the coast and low-lying structures. Storm surge is also a major concern for New York City. The latest NWS forecast is calling for a 5 - 8 foot storm surge in New York Harbor, which would easily top the flood walls protecting the south end of Manhattan if the storm surge occurs at high tide. High tide is near 8 am Sunday morning. A research storm surge model run by SUNY Stonybrook predicts that water levels at The Battery at the south end of Manhattan will peak at 2.2 meters above Mean Lower Low Water (MLLW) at high tide Sunday morning, which would be about six inches below the top of the flood wall (which is 5 feet above mean sea level.) Waves on top of the surge would likely spill over the top of the floodwall in this scenario, and cause some flooding in southern Manhattan. Andy Revkin's Dot Earth blog has links to a storm surge animation for New York City done by the SUNY Stonybrook group. Climate Central has a nice satellite image showing which parts of New York Harbor are below five feet in elevation. Storm surge heights of up to eight feet are predicted in Western Long Island Sound, and 3 - 6 feet along much of the New England coast from New York to Massachusetts. This is going to be a damaging coastal flooding event for this stretch of coast, though perhaps not as damaging as the one New Jersey will experience.


Figure 2. Predicted wave heights along the U.S. coast from NOAA's Wavewatch III model for 8am EDT Sunday, August 28, 2011. This is the time of high tide, and this model is suggesting that the coast of New Jersey will be subject to battering waves 15 - 20 feet high at the time of high tide.

Inland flooding damage from Irene
Inland flash flooding and river flooding from torrential rains are a major concern. Latest radar-estimated rainfall amounts in North Carolina already exceed ten inches in some locations. Cedar Island, NC has reported 7.21" as of 11am EDT, and a 100 mile-wide swath of 8+ inches of rain will likely fall from Eastern North Carolina northwards along the coast, through New York City, and into Vermont and New Hampshire during the next two days. Destructive river flooding will be a significant danger from New Jersey northwards to Southeast New York, where soils are saturated and run-off will be the greatest.


Figure 3. Distribution of Irene's wind field at 9:30 am EDT Saturday August 27, 2011, as observed by the Hurricane Hunters, land stations, and buoys. The right front quadrant of the hurricane had all of the storm's hurricane-force winds (yellow and warmer colors, bounded by the heavy black line between the "50" and "60" knot thin black lines.) Tropical storm-force winds (heavy black like bounding the light blue area) extended out 260 miles from the center of Irene. Irene's storm surge damage potential has dropped to 4.3 on a scale of 0 to 6, down from a high of 5.1 yesterday. Image credit: NOAA/AOML/HRD.

Wind damage
Irene is slowly deteriorating, but the storm is too large to weaken quickly. The latest wind distribution map from NOAA's Hurricane Research Division (Figure 3) shows that all of Irene's hurricane-force winds are on the storm's east side, so only North Carolina's Outer Banks will get winds of 75 - 80 mph. The coast from Virginia northwards through New Jersey will see tropical storm-force winds of 50 - 70 mph from Irene. These strong winds, when combined with the torrential rains that are falling, will cause widespread tree damage and power failures that will affect millions of people. When Irene makes its 2nd landfall on Long Island, NY on Sunday, coastal locations to the right of the eye will likely experience top sustained winds of 60 -70 mph.

Lady Liberty not in danger from Irene
The Statue of Liberty is not vulnerable to a storm surge, since the good lady stands atop a 65-foot high foundation and 89-foot high granite pedestal. However, the 305' height of the lady's torch above the foundation means the statue will experience winds a full Saffir-Simpson category higher than winds at the surface. The statue is rated to survive a wind load of 58 psf, which is roughly equivalent to 120 mph winds (Category 3 hurricane). However, a mid-strength Category 2 hurricane with 105 mph winds will be able to generate 120 mph winds at a height of 300 feet, and would theoretically be capable of toppling the Statue of Liberty. Winds from Irene should stay below 80 mph at 300 feet, and not pose a threat to the Statue of Liberty.

Tornadoes
Two tornadoes were reported in coastal North Carolina last night. One tornado destroyed 2 homes and damaged 6 others in Columbia, with several minor injuries, and the other hit Belhaven, damaging multiple trailers. NOAA's Storm Prediction Center is calling for a slight risk of severe weather along coast Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware today. We might see five or ten tornadoes from Irene over the next two days, but the atmosphere is not unstable enough for Irene to generate as many tornadoes as we're used to seeing from a landfalling hurricane. A tornado watch is posted for coastal areas from Eastern North Carolina northwards to Southern New Jersey.

Insurance company AIR-Worldwide is estimating that insured damages from Irene in the U.S. will be $1.5 - $6 billion. They estimate losses in the Caribbean at $0.5 - $1.1 billion from Irene, 60% in the Bahamas.

Typhoon Nanmadol
Over in the Western Pacific, Typhoon Nanmadol has weakened to a Category 3 storm after battering the Philippines as a Category 4 super typhoon with 155 mph winds. At least two people have been killed in the heavy flooding there. Nanmadol is a threat to Taiwan, and Wunderground meteorologist Elaine Yang (who hails from Taiwan), has the details in her blog.

Links
Our Weather Historian, Christopher C. Burt, has an excellent post on Historic Hurricanes from New Jersey to New England.

Joe Romm at climateprogress.org has a thoughtful piece called, How Does Global Warming Make Hurricanes Like Irene More Destructive?

For those of you wanting to know your odds of receiving hurricane force or tropical storm force winds, I recommend the NHC wind probability product.

Wunderground has detailed storm surge maps for the U.S. coast.

The National Hurricane Center's Interactive Storm Surge RIsk Map, which allows one to pick a particular Category hurricane and zoom in, is a good source of storm surge risk information.

Jeff Masters

Aftremath of Hurricane Irene in Nassau, Bahamas (ktbahamas)
Downed street light broken by strong gusts of Irene.
Aftremath of Hurricane Irene in Nassau, Bahamas
Battery Park, the night before Irene... (line)
Battery Park, the night before Irene...

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Quoting LoveObama:
Aurora, NC has people swimming to the fire department. PCS Phosphate is underwater and is the major employer in the area. My uncle was working there and we have not heard from him yet.


Hope he's alright.
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You don't want people in a flooding subway of this possible proportion. Yay for intelligent life.
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Quoting KEHCharleston:
Thank you, Grothar. I am from S.C and I got it. Personally, I am impressed with Blomberg's response. Not only did it take guts to make this call, (I would never have expected to see the transportation system shot down), the logistics of it are amazing, everything from getting patients out of hospitals and nursing home (another gutsy call), securing garbage recepticals, protecting the power grid, thinking to mandate the lockdown of elevators when needed, etc., etc., etc.


Actually I never thought I would see it in my lifetime, which of course covers a lot of years.
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Quoting TexasHurricane:
channel 12 Beaumont,TX

A trough will move through Southeast Texas Saturday Afternoon. This will bring much drier air into the area. The result will be cooler lows and hotter afternoon highs. Temperatures will be extremely hot.

By next Tuesday and Wednesday, we will "cool" to near 100 both days.

Next Thursday and Friday, afternoon highs will continue the cooling trend and only reach the mid-nineties.

Rain chances will continue to be zero through next Wednesday. Rain chances return to the forecast next Thursday and Friday.

Around the 5th of September, the reliable European Model shows a Tropical Storm moving into Mexico south of Brownsville.
A "cold front" kicking off a heat wave...

That's what I've been telling folks about the next few days.
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Quoting SPLbeater:
Irene looking good...what are the chances she intensifies to atleast a high-end Cat 1 once more?

She's goin out over water again, but they are pretty cold waters. I'd say it has a small chance of gaining 90mph.
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The young boy who died in Newport News was in an apartment that a tree came down on.

Such a shame, the mom tried to keep them safe, but had no control over this.
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Quoting yonzabam:


Can't believe that's a record for somewhere so far south. Even the UK's record is above 100F.


Galveston and other Texas coastal towns almost never get above 100 deg F due to being right on the ocean. There is almost allways a cooling onshore flow in the summer.
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Can anyone post a storm surge map for New Jersey? My grandfather lives in Keansburg. thanks guys
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Quoting nymore:
How big is his sailboat I used to live next to a guy in florida his sailboat or yacht was about 100 to 110 feet and 20 to 25 wide I don't think it would have much trouble in a tropical storm. With a displacement of more than 80 tons and a keel of probably 13 feet you could sail around the world
Hmmm....all it takes is another boat to break loose and get slammed into his "prized yacht" and punch a hole in it at the water level. What then?
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Quoting KEHCharleston:
Thank you, Grothar. I am from S.C and I got it. Personally, I am impressed with Blomberg's response. Not only did it take guts to make this call, (I would never have expected to see the transportation system shot down), the logistics of it are amazing, everything from getting patients out of hospitals and nursing home (another gutsy call), securing garbage recepticals, protecting the power grid, thinking to mandate the lockdown of elevators when needed, etc., etc., etc.


I'd bet he called Jindal and the one from Florida and listened to what they told him.
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Quoting nymore:
How big is his sailboat I used to live next to a guy in florida his sailboat or yacht was about 100 to 110 feet and 20 to 25 wide I don't think it would have much trouble in a tropical storm. With a displacement of more than 80 tons and a keel of probably 13 feet you could sail around the world


ya can sail around the world in a 25 ft boat...I just think it's bad symbolism for this particular guy to do it
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Moron…
Quoting presslord:
the Commodore of the NY Yacht Club is gonna ride out the storm aboard his sailboat playing poker with his buddies...
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The NWS Taunton may be dumb, the flash flood warning in effect for the 128 belt, Inner core of Boston, has Southern Middlesex County (North of Boston) as SE Mass, while Norfolk county (south of boston) as Eastern Massachusetts, lol
Here in Lowell little wind 10-15mph winds.
Member Since: August 1, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 701
Patuxent River, Naval Air Station, MD
(KNHK) 38.29N 76.4W
2 Day History

Last Updated: Aug 27 2011, 3:52 pm EDT
Sat, 27 Aug 2011 15:52:00 -0400
Weather: Heavy Rain Fog/Mist and Windy
Temperature: 76.0 °F (24.4 °C)
Dewpoint: 73.0 °F (22.8 °C)
Relative Humidity: 91 %
Wind: from the North at 32.2 gusting to 49.5 MPH (28 gusting to 43 KT)
Visibility: 1.00 miles
MSL Pressure: 994.0 mb
Altimeter: 29.35 in Hg
Latest Raw Observation
___________________________________________

power grid is getting smoked. You folks up north better get ready. Go get some ice, if you want cold beer tomorrow.
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Irene looking good...what are the chances she intensifies to atleast a high-end Cat 1 once more?
Member Since: August 4, 2011 Posts: 46 Comments: 4488
The wave emerging off Africa means business.
Link

Last ASCAT pass missed it, but it did reveal signs of a closed circulation already.
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Quoting PcolaDan:

Yea, that 90+ degree water sure cools us off. ;>)


Galveston rarely reaches 100 degrees as you know Dan due to the seabreeze BUT it is bath water as you and I know. I certainly have spent 49 years in it and have only seen ice in it as a result of the wx once. :>)
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Quoting stormwatcherCI:
Hi Dewey. I said that to my husband earlier today. They order evacuations but many people in New York don't even drive so with the public transport shut down how are people supposed to leave. Walk ? IMO that should have been the last thing they shut down.


It may have been partly to force them to make a decision. The longer they left it open, the longer people may delay leaving.
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During the big transit strike in the 80's, that is exactly what they did, and calmly.



And in 2005 with smiles'

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Quoting Grothar:


New Yorkers are like that. If you go to the theater and describe the waiting line, it is required you tell your friends, "There were at least 20,000 people in front of me" It is just their way. We of course know that means 20 people. A cultural thing. They knew what he meant.
Thank you, Grothar. I am from S.C and I got it. Personally, I am impressed with Blomberg's response. Not only did it take guts to make this call, (I would never have expected to see the transportation system shut down), the logistics of it are amazing, everything from getting patients out of hospitals and nursing home (another gutsy call), securing garbage recepticals, protecting the power grid, thinking to mandate the lockdown of elevators when needed, etc., etc., etc.
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How big is his sailboat I used to live next to a guy in florida his sailboat or yacht was about 100 to 110 feet and 20 to 25 wide I don't think it would have much trouble in a tropical storm. With a displacement of more than 80 tons and a keel of probably 13 feet you could sail around the world
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Positive attitudes in the storm:
Mike Sidel:(Talking to a man who is having his poncho ripped off in shreds) Sir how much did you pay for that?
"Rag man": Not enough. Thats for sure. :)
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Quoting Dennis8:


Galveston is an island off the coast of Texas and subject to the cooling of the Gulf of Mexico.

Yea, that 90+ degree water sure cools us off. ;>)
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1000.7mb pressure now in DC - Winds are now sustained between 20/25mph with a gust to 39mph - rain bands getting stronger.

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Quoting Dennis8:
RECORD EVENT REPORT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE HOUSTON/GALVESTON TX
300 PM CDT SAT AUG 27 2011

...ALL TIME RECORD HIGH TEMPERATURE TIED AT HOUSTON
INTERCONTINENTAL...


..NEW RECORD HIGH FOR THE MONTH OF AUGUST AT INTERCONTINENTAL


..NEW RECORD HIGH FOR THE DAY

THE AFTERNOON TEMPERATURE HAS REACHED 109 DEGREES AT 244 PM AT
HOUSTON INTERCONTINENTAL AIRPORT. THIS EASILY BREAKS THE PREVIOUS
RECORD HIGH FOR THE DAY OF 104 DEGREES SET IN 1990.

THIS 109 DEGREES ALSO BREAKS THE ENTIRE MONTH OF AUGUST RECORD HIGH
TEMPERATURE OF 108 DEGREES...SET ON AUGUST 18TH OF 1909...102 YEARS
AGO.

AND...THIS 109 DEGREES TIES THE ALL TIME RECORD HIGH TEMPERATURE OF
109 DEGREES...LAST SET ON SEPTEMBER 4TH OF 2000.
I think that refers to a HEAT INDEX not the temperature. IAH is reporting a temp. of 105 right now.
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LinkNorfolkRadarLoopPrecip
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Quoting BostonWench:


You don't need mountains for landslides...

Regardless, CT does sit on the edge of the Appalacians, and has plenty of hills and cliffs. The shore is flat, but that changes relatively quickly as you head north and west.
Quoting ConnecticutWXGuy:


we here in CT have many large hills and small mountains. If you ever drive around here, you will notice that the highways are just about the only roads that ever involve little or no elevation change. We don't see landslides often from a historical standpoint, however over the past decade there have been several significant late winter - spring flood events. It is no longer uncommon for several rainstorms to bring 3 to 7 inches of rain at the end of winter (1 to 2 inches used to be what was common). This has loosened up the soil over time and the last couple years landslides have been growing. Certainly with 5 to 15 inches of rain predicted, landslide will be an elevated risk.


Learn something new every day. I really had no idea. Was just looking at Google Earth and see the rise rather quickly as you go west toward the Appalachian Mountains. Still find it a little odd though. As far as I know landslides aren't even that common in the Appalachians, but I'm guessing the soil is different.
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Quoting presslord:
the Commodore of the NY Yacht Club is gonna ride out the storm aboard his sailboat playing poker with his buddies...


Kinda like Major Kong riding the bomb down, in Dr. Strangelove.
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Oh man, TWC just name-dropped Nor'Ida (November 2009).


I think the impacts for the mid-atlantic will be similar. Such as in Virginia:


I'll be back around 1am. Unfortunately I have to work :(
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Quoting FLdewey:


Haha... when the game is over the game is over.


and the game is not over until the fat lady sings
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RECORD EVENT REPORT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE HOUSTON/GALVESTON TX
300 PM CDT SAT AUG 27 2011

...ALL TIME RECORD HIGH TEMPERATURE TIED AT HOUSTON
INTERCONTINENTAL...


..NEW RECORD HIGH FOR THE MONTH OF AUGUST AT INTERCONTINENTAL


..NEW RECORD HIGH FOR THE DAY

THE AFTERNOON TEMPERATURE HAS REACHED 109 DEGREES AT 244 PM AT
HOUSTON INTERCONTINENTAL AIRPORT. THIS EASILY BREAKS THE PREVIOUS
RECORD HIGH FOR THE DAY OF 104 DEGREES SET IN 1990.

THIS 109 DEGREES ALSO BREAKS THE ENTIRE MONTH OF AUGUST RECORD HIGH
TEMPERATURE OF 108 DEGREES...SET ON AUGUST 18TH OF 1909...102 YEARS
AGO.

AND...THIS 109 DEGREES TIES THE ALL TIME RECORD HIGH TEMPERATURE OF
109 DEGREES...LAST SET ON SEPTEMBER 4TH OF 2000.
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Just talked to my sister who said she had 90% of the supplies I told her to get, she'll pick up the other ten on her way home from work. She's a realtor, who, yes, is at work. Her boss told her tomorrow would be extremely busy as all the city people would be up. She told him he was crazy and she wouldn't be there.
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Quoting FLdewey:


I wasn't cracking a joke, I was saying it may have been a tad premature. it was reported that it takes 6 hours for a full shutdown. In a city where public transit is the only option for many people I just think they pulled the plug at an arbitrary time.

You may not agree and I respect that.

People should be able to disagree in a civil manner right?
Hi Dewey. I said that to my husband earlier today. They order evacuations but many people in New York don't even drive so with the public transport shut down how are people supposed to leave. Walk ? IMO that should have been the last thing they shut down.
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Enough of the idiot Commodore and his buddies. It just hit 105 at IAH at 15:05 and we usually hit our highest at 1800. Like an oven outside.
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Quoting Vlad959810:

Less than 72 hours.


Waves moving off of Africa usually lose a lot of convection while making the transition from land to sea. Slow development/72 hour time frame seems reasonable.
Member Since: July 30, 2007 Posts: 76 Comments: 4063
Next to watch?
eumetsat
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946.8 mb
(~ 27.96 inHg)
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as a matter of fact...that is a highly visible position in some circles...and I personally think it's highly irresponsible of him...
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Has VA Beach gotten the memo that a hurricane is going their way? Lol. I'm watching a live report and there is what looks like normal traffic and groups of people walking and running around having fun.
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Quoting FLdewey:


Haha... when the game is over the game is over.
Maybe when the drinks get spilled on the gaming table he will then, and only then, realize it was a bad idea.
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Quoting ElConando:


Guess he doesn't know when to fold 'em.


I'll just let that line go and not finish.
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537. Vero1
Current Vero Beach, FL

Currently
96.8 °F
Scattered Clouds

Heat Index: 114 °F
Humidity: 55%
Wind: W 17 mph
Wind Gust: 23 mph
Visibility: 10.0 miles
Dew Point: 78 °F
Precipitation: 22% chance of precipitation
Pressure: 29.72 in (Falling)
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3pm IAH Houston 107 degrees..2 shy of the ALL TIME record of 109. It is 106 at my home 3 miles north of downtown Houston.
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Quoting MsBlanch:


Your are joking right?

Glad to see you back online



no...and Thanks!!
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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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