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 louisianaweatherguy:
discussion for New Orleans from NWS...

FRI AND INTO NEXT WEEKEND...THE MDLS ARE STRUGGLING IN HOW THEY
HANDLE THE RIDGE AND A POSSIBLE WEAK UPPER LOW OVER TX/WRN GULF. THE
ECMWF AND CANADIAN ARE A LITTLE FURTHER NORTH WITH THE RIDGE AND
STRONGER WITH THE UPPER LOW AND THEN PUSH IT EAST INTO THE GULF.
THIS COULD LEAD TO A WEAK SFC LOW TO DEVELOP IN THE GULF AND COULD
BARE WATCHING.


Houston said they might, possibly get some rain out of that before it goes bye bye, maybe.
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EXTRAP looks like an Exit around Kill Devil Hills.
Member Since: August 1, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 679
Quoting louisianaweatherguy:
discussion for New Orleans from NWS...

FRI AND INTO NEXT WEEKEND...THE MDLS ARE STRUGGLING IN HOW THEY
HANDLE THE RIDGE AND A POSSIBLE WEAK UPPER LOW OVER TX/WRN GULF. THE
ECMWF AND CANADIAN ARE A LITTLE FURTHER NORTH WITH THE RIDGE AND
STRONGER WITH THE UPPER LOW AND THEN PUSH IT EAST INTO THE GULF.
THIS COULD LEAD TO A WEAK SFC LOW TO DEVELOP IN THE GULF AND COULD
BARE WATCHING.


so it could develop in the western gulf and go to the eastern gulf? weird
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Several solar flares about to hit the planet.

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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:

yep
but you know there are those among us
that have eyes but refuse to see
and ears but do not hear


She won't be extra tropical until Canada approach.

Kinda ironic. ;)
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Quoting weatherbro:
Looks like La Nina might make a comeback by late Autumn.

God, don't say that. I know it's likely, but it means the Texas drought won't die until March at the soonest.
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Cocoa Beach / Patrick Air Force Base
Lat: 28.23 Lon: -80.6 Elev: 10
Last Update on Aug 27, 1:55 pm EDT

Fair

97 °F
(36 °C)
Humidity: 54 %
Wind Speed: W 13 MPH
Barometer: 29.74" (1007.3 mb)
Dewpoint: 78 °F (26 °C)
Heat Index: 114 °F (46 °C)
Visibility: 10.00 mi.
More Local Wx: 3 Day History:
Radar and Satellite (Click for larger image)

Tis a wee bit steamy at Cocoa Beach
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Gov O'Malley of Maryland just said they asked those not following the mandatory evacuation to give them their next of kin information for notifications.
Member Since: August 22, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 3115
Hatteras, Mitchell Field ( Cape Hatteras,NC)
Lat: 35.23 Lon: -75.62 Elev: 10
Last Update on Aug 27, 1:51 pm EDT

Fog/Mist and Windy

79 °F
(26 °C)
Humidity: 88 %
Wind Speed: S 43 G 74 MPH
Barometer: 28.67" (970.9 mb)
Dewpoint: 75 °F (24 °C)
Heat Index: 83 °F (28 °C)
Visibility: 1.00 mi.
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this made me the of some of the characters her:

"Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit...wisdom is not putting one in a fruit salad."
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Quoting CybrTeddy:


Ask and yee shall receive.



I prefer seeing Press in a dress then this chart. Both are creepy but at least one of them is funny at the same time.
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discussion for New Orleans from NWS...

FRI AND INTO NEXT WEEKEND...THE MDLS ARE STRUGGLING IN HOW THEY
HANDLE THE RIDGE AND A POSSIBLE WEAK UPPER LOW OVER TX/WRN GULF. THE
ECMWF AND CANADIAN ARE A LITTLE FURTHER NORTH WITH THE RIDGE AND
STRONGER WITH THE UPPER LOW AND THEN PUSH IT EAST INTO THE GULF.
THIS COULD LEAD TO A WEAK SFC LOW TO DEVELOP IN THE GULF AND COULD
BARE WATCHING.
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Quoting sunlinepr:
Link please?

TIA
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Quoting Levi32:


Well if her central pressure doesn't start rising soon she will certainly not be normal lol.

She's not really a normal storm in general, because how often do you see a 950mb Cat 1 hurricane making a beeline for NYC? That entire sentence doesn't make much sense does it. She's a mean one and a rare one, and will be remembered.

Certainly an oddity...

Have a long loop.

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Quoting presslord:


chart, please


Ask and yee shall receive.

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Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9736
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Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9736
Quoting E46Pilot:


I thought it was live coverage? How were they able to blur it out?

it wasnt blured out
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Quoting CybrTeddy:
Latest GFS, NOGAPS, and GGEM all continue to show that a potentially powerful hurricane will develop starting on Tuesday with the wave currently emerging off Africa. The ECMWF and NOGAPS takes this quite far west before going WNW, nearly hitting the islands. Even the latest often conservative UKMET shows a system beginning to develop. The hurricane train has only just begun. Irene was only the first.


chart, please
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Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9736
Latest GFS, NOGAPS, ECMWF, and GGEM all continue to show that a potentially powerful hurricane will develop starting on Tuesday with the wave currently emerging off Africa. The ECMWF and NOGAPS takes this quite far west before going WNW, nearly hitting the islands. Even the latest often conservative UKMET shows a system beginning to develop. The hurricane train has only just begun. Irene was only the first.
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Quoting WeatherNerdPR:

My eyes have been burned!


I thought it was live coverage? How were they able to blur it out?
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Quoting stormhunter23:


lol its already on youtube
Link


This Link has it in much better quality! Enjoy!
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Thanks, Doc.

From previous:
Quoting txag91met:
Kudos to Bill Reed (Texas A&M) and NHC for doing a great job on Irene. Gig'em!
And awesome job as always Dr. Masters!
Yup, they even named the basketball arena after him...
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Lol I saw that weather channel naked dude. Hilarious, poor WC people just cannot get a single thing right. They are getting more hilarious than Comedy Central.
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Quoting STLweatherjunkie:

warming cloud tops also


That's true too. Thunderstorm tops have fallen a bit in the past 2 hours.
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Quoting CybrTeddy:


September 13th, 2008. Hurricane Ike was 'all hype' too.
Bill O'Reilly, September 2008 claimed this.
Link

Of course, its just O'Reilly but people do actually listen - and believe - him.

Also, I'd like to point out a lot of people called Ike hype too on this very same blog. 30 billion in damages Ike caused in the end.

For all we know, it might be 'all hype' but Irene has more places in target than just NC.

NYC is on an island, very prone to storm surge. Irene is generating a healthy amount of storm surge, and packs quite a punch.

Better to be safe than sorry.


+++++
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EPAC falling behind, Two storms ahead in the Atlantic and Atlantic's ACE is catching up... ATL is definetly getting cranked up, Euro and Nogaps forecast 2 storms in the next 10 days, which would keep us close to in check with 2005, Will be interesting to see if the ATL basin keeps this up in the next two and a half months
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...IRENE MOVING ACROSS EASTERN NORTH CAROLINA...
2:00 PM EDT Sat Aug 27
Location: 35.5°N 76.3°W
Max sustained: 85 mph
Moving: NNE at 15 mph
Min pressure: 950 mb
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Quoting Levi32:
The eye is filling in with precipitation on radar now. That's just about the only sign of weakening visible with Irene right now.

warming cloud tops also
Member Since: September 9, 2001 Posts: 0 Comments: 1038
Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9736
Quoting cheetaking:
This is just about the worst possible thing that could happen for the east coast for future storms... the media has been hyping this as a catastrophic threat all week, and then right before landfall it weakens, people don't leave, and now they have it in their heads that a hurricane isn't that bad.

Then, when an even stronger hurricane comes up the east coast like this next time, there are going to be a LOT of people who don't leave because they remember how Irene wasn't so bad, and then suddenly we have a ton of unnecessary fatalities.



Natural selection.
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looks to bee-line the bay
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Quoting nrtiwlnvragn:
NCEP COUPLED HWRF HURRICANE MODEL FORECAST MADE FOR

HURRICANE IRENE 09L

INITIAL TIME 12Z AUG 27

FORECAST POSITIONS (FROM STATS.SHORT FILE...)

HOUR LATITUDE LONGITUDE MIN PRESS (hPa) MAX SFC WIND (KTS)

HOUR: 0.0 LONG: -76.50 LAT: 34.70 MIN PRESS (hPa): 953.00 MAX SURF WIND (KNOTS): 72.00
HOUR: 6.0 LONG: -76.30 LAT: 35.40 MIN PRESS (hPa): 958.00 MAX SURF WIND (KNOTS): 73.00
HOUR: 12.0 LONG: -75.90 LAT: 36.10 MIN PRESS (hPa): 961.00 MAX SURF WIND (KNOTS): 66.00
HOUR: 18.0 LONG: -75.20 LAT: 37.30 MIN PRESS (hPa): 959.00 MAX SURF WIND (KNOTS): 65.00
HOUR: 24.0 LONG: -74.10 LAT: 38.90 MIN PRESS (hPa): 959.00 MAX SURF WIND (KNOTS): 67.00
HOUR: 30.0 LONG: -73.10 LAT: 41.30 MIN PRESS (hPa): 958.00 MAX SURF WIND (KNOTS): 65.00
HOUR: 36.0 LONG: -71.70 LAT: 43.60 MIN PRESS (hPa): 964.00 MAX SURF WIND (KNOTS): 56.00
HOUR: 42.0 LONG: -70.70 LAT: 46.40 MIN PRESS (hPa): 966.00 MAX SURF WIND (KNOTS): 44.00
HOUR: 48.0 LONG: -68.70 LAT: 48.70 MIN PRESS (hPa): 974.00 MAX SURF WIND (KNOTS): 29.00
HOUR: 54.0 LONG: -66.80 LAT: 51.10 MIN PRESS (hPa): 980.00 MAX SURF WIND (KNOTS): 48.00
HOUR: 60.0 LONG: -64.00 LAT: 53.50 MIN PRESS (hPa): 984.00 MAX SURF WIND (KNOTS): 24.00
HOUR: 66.0 LONG: -60.30 LAT: 55.40 MIN PRESS (hPa): 984.00 MAX SURF WIND (KNOTS): 35.00
HOUR: 72.0 LONG: -57.50 LAT: 56.40 MIN PRESS (hPa): 983.00 MAX SURF WIND (KNOTS): 39.00
HOUR: 78.0 LONG: -53.80 LAT: 57.30 MIN PRESS (hPa): 982.00 MAX SURF WIND (KNOTS): 45.00


Recent Recon has pressure 8 mb lower than the 12Z forecast.


I think her pressure will stay lower than the models predict for quite some time. The trough pulling her north is rapidly deepening and as she transitions to an extratropical storm the amount of upper level divergence will truly be insane, helping her maintain her low pressure.
Member Since: September 9, 2001 Posts: 0 Comments: 1038
Quoting Grothar:
As has been mentioned many times, the Category does not matter much at this point. Of course if the category were higher, there would be greater structural damage which would be disasterous. The flooding potential and storm surge with this system has been the focus all along. Storms behave much diffently in the North than in the Caribbean. Even our most devastingly killer hurricanes have brought terrible destruction to smaller areas. This is going to affect a region of the country with the highest population in the US. The structure of the coastline has been discussed a number of times. It forms almost a right angle from New England & NYC down the coast. When surges of this magnitude hit is could affect millions of people. Do not concentrate on the Category. It is moot at his point.


Amen...amen...and amen...
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Quoting MysteryMeat:


TWC: The Wiener Channel
How bout the
(an)Tony Wiener Channel, TWC. btw, no typo.
Member Since: August 1, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 679
I think it is way too early to judge whether Irene is a "bad" hurricane or not. It is far from over.
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Quoting cat5hurricane:

Big time.


September 13th, 2008. Hurricane Ike was 'all hype' too.
Bill O'Reilly, September 2008 claimed this.
Link

Of course, its just O'Reilly but people do actually listen - and believe - him.

Also, I'd like to point out a lot of people called Ike hype too on this very same blog. 30 billion in damages Ike caused in the end.

For all we know, it might be 'all hype' but Irene has more places in target than just NC.

NYC is on an island, very prone to storm surge. Irene is generating a healthy amount of storm surge, and packs quite a punch.

Better to be safe than sorry.
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09L/TS/I
MARK
37.13n/76.98w forecast point





ALWAYS FOLLOW NHC/TPC FORECASTS FOR ALL WARNINGS REGARDING THIS STORM
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Conditions will be going downhill in NYC shortly here.

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Quoting WeatherNerdPR:

My eyes have been burned!


Hey they were some pretty good lookin guys...no harm no foul.
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Quoting stormhunter23:


lol its already on youtube
Link


Anyone who's visited VA beach shouldn't be surprised. They have some interesting folks there ;-)
Member Since: August 25, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 20
ESL by LSU GOES 13 Atmospheric Animator
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Quoting Levi32:
The eye is filling in with precipitation on radar now. That's just about the only sign of weakening visible with Irene right now.


She's moving over more land than water right now - another hour or so she will be back over water and it may clear out again. we'll see. still looks like Elizabeth City or a little north of there (Virginia/NC boarder) is where the center will exit. Jog west/east changes this.
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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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