Irene sends 4.5 foot storm surge up Chesapeake Bay

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 12:45 AM GMT on August 28, 2011

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The eye of Hurricane Irene is back over water, after the hurricane completed a 11-hour crossing of eastern North Carolina. Irene came ashore over Cape Lookout, North Carolina at 7:30 am EDT this morning as a Category 1 hurricane with 85 mph winds. The Cedar Island Ferry Terminal measured sustained winds of 90 mph, gusting to 115 mph at 7:19am, as measured by a Department of Transportation official. I suspect this measurement came when a thunderstorm near Irene's center collapsed, sending a powerful downburst to the surface. A trained spotter on Atlantic Beach, NC 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. However, no regular weather station or buoy has measured sustained hurricane force winds in Irene, with the highest winds being 67 mph at the Cape Lookout, North Carolina buoy as Irene made landfall. Winds have peaked along the coast of Virginia, where sustained winds of 61 mph were observed at 6 pm EDT at Chesapeake Bay Light. Irene's passage over land weakened the storm slightly, and satellite loops show more dry air has wrapped into the storm. The radar presentation of Irene visible on the Norfolk, VA radar is still very impressive--Irene is dropping torrential rains over a huge area--but there is much less rain over the storm's southeastern quadrant, over water. Radar-estimated rainfall shows a 50 mile-wide band of 8+ inches of rain has fallen from where Irene made landfall at Cape Lookout, North Carolina, northwards to Dover, Delaware. Some isolated amounts of 15+ inches may have fallen, according to the radar estimates. Bunyan, NC has received 14.00" so far, and the towns of Washington, New Bern, Grifton, Newport-Croatan, Wonona, NC, all received more than ten inches. Norfolk, Virginia had received 7.73" as of 7pm EDT, and Suffolk, Virginia, 8.00".


Figure 1. True-color MODIS image of Hurricane Irene over North Carolina taken at 11:35 am EDT August 27, 2011. At the time, Irene was a Category 1 hurricane with 85 mph. Image credit: NASA.

Storm surge damage from Irene
The storm surge and wave action from Irene is likely to cause the storm's greatest damage. High tide is near 7 - 8 pm EDT tonight, meaning that the storm surges occurring now will be some of Irene's most damaging. The highest surges measured at any of NOAA's regular tide gauges at 8 pm were 4.5 feet at Sewells Point in Norfolk Virginia and Oregon Inlet, NC. Higher surges are occurring father inland where narrow inlets funnel the storm surge to higher elevations. It remains unclear if the ocean will overtop Manhattan's sea wall at The Battery Sunday morning during the 8 am high tide. Latest storm surge forecasts from SUNY Stony Brook predict a peak water level of 2.4 meters above Mean Lower Low Water (MLLW) at 7:15 am Sunday, which would put the ocean right at the top of the sea wall. Presumably, waves from the hurricane's winds would then push some water over the top of the wall, but it is uncertain whether or not this would cause significant flooding. The storm surge was already 1 foot at 8 pm tonight. Storm surge flooding continues to be a major concern all along the coast of Long Island Sound; I recommend the SUNY Stony Brook storm surge page for those interested in looking at observed and predicted storm surge levels along coast New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut.


Figure 2. Storm surge at Sewell's Point in Norfolk, Virginia as of 8 pm EDT Saturday August 27, 2011. The green line is the storm surge, which is the difference between the observed water level (red line) and what the water level should have been without the hurricane (blue line). At 8 pm, the storm surge was 4.5 feet. Image credit: NOAA Tides and Currents.


Figure 3. Distribution of Irene's wind field at 6:30 pm 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 shrinking hurricane-force winds (yellow and orange colors.) Tropical storm-force winds (heavy black like bounding the light blue area) extended out 290 miles from the center of Irene over water, but very few areas of land were receiving tropical storm force winds. Image credit: NOAA/AOML/HRD.

Wind damage
The emergence of Irene's eye over water will slow the storm's rate of weakening, but the storm is under too much wind shear to allow it to intensify. 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, and also the large majority of the tropical storm-force winds. 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 50 - 60 mph. Coastal areas of Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, and the New York CIty area will mostly see top winds in the 40 - 55 mph range, since they will be on the weaker left side of the storm. Winds on the upper floors of skyscrapers will be up to 30% higher, but I expect there will be only isolated problems with New York City skyscrapers suffering blown out windows. The winds from Irene in New York City will be no worse than those experienced during some of the city's major Nor'easter winter storms of the past twenty years.

Tornadoes
Four tornadoes have been spawned by Irene, two in coastal North Carolina last night, and two in coastal Virginia today. At least two homes have been destroyed, and ten others damaged by the tornadoes. NOAA's Storm Prediction Center has issued a tornado watch for all of coastal Delaware, New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut.

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

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

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Quoting LillyMyrrh:
Does anyone have an idea of what the conditions are like around the area of McGuire AFB, NJ? I have family there.

Mesonet Obs show as of 2:31AM EST McGuire AFB, NJ is reporting East winds of 24mph and 39mph gusts. SLP of 982.3mb
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Quoting LillyMyrrh:
Does anyone have an idea of what the conditions are like around the area of McGuire AFB, NJ? I have family there.


Statement as of 1:31 AM EDT on August 28, 2011
... Hurricane Warning remains in effect...

... New information...
updated storm information.

... Probability of tropical storm/hurricane conditions...
the chance for hurricane conditions at this time is less than or equal to 48 percent. Also... the chance for tropical storm conditions at this time is up to 100 percent.

... Winds...
sustained tropical storm force winds will occur overnight into Sunday. Maximum sustained winds are forecast to be in the 50 to 60 mph range with gusts to 75 mph.

Damaging winds are expected. Poorly anchored Mobile homes may be destroyed... along with those of old or poor construction. Some well anchored Mobile homes will have substantial damage to roofs... walls and windows... and could become uninhabitable. Some homes of frame construction will sustain partial wall and roof failure... and possibly blown out windows. Loose outdoor items will be blown about... causing additional damage and possible injury.
Many areas will experience power outages with some downed power poles. Numerous large branches of healthy trees will snap. Some trees will be uprooted... especially where the ground is saturated.

... Storm surge and storm tide...
a storm surge of 3 to 6 feet above astronomical predicted tides is possible along the Atlantic coastline and the Delaware Bay shore. Locations on the tidal portion of the Raritan River and Raritan Bay may see surges as high as 8 feet.

For Atlantic County New Jersey... at 7.5 feet MLLW... or 5.5 feet above ground level... flooding occurs on the Margate bridge causeway. For reference... should the water level reach 9.4 feet MLLW... or 7.4 feet above ground level... this is comparable to the flooding that occurred with the 1944 hurricane.

In Middlesex County New Jersey along the Raritan Bay and Raritan River... at 7.7 feet MLLW... or 5.1 feet above ground level... flooding occurs along New Jersey Route 35 and 36 in Keyport and Hazlet. Should the water level reach 9.4 feet MLLW... or 5.8 feet above ground level... this is comparable to the flooding that occurred with the 1944 hurricane.

In Cape May County New Jersey... at 8 feet MLLW... or 5.4 feet above ground level... flooding occurs along New Jersey Route 47 in Dennis township and on Avalon Boulevard near the garden state Parkway Interchange 13. Should the water level reach 8.8 feet MLLW... or 6.2 feet above ground level... this is comparable to the flooding that occurred with the hurricane Gloria in 1985.

In Ocean County New Jersey... at 7 feet MLLW... or 4.8 feet above ground level... flooding occurs on local roads in Ocean Gate and in Mystic Islands. Should the water level reach 8.6 feet MLLW...or 6.4 feet above ground level... this is comparable to the flooding that occurred with the hurricane Gloria in 1985.

In Sussex County Delaware... at 7 feet MLLW... or 4.8 feet above ground level... flooding occurs in Milford... Rehoboth Beach... and Millsboro. Should the water level reach 9.2 feet MLLW... or 7 feet above ground level... this is comparable to the flooding that occurred with the northeaster of March 1962.

... Coastal hazards...
severe beach erosion along with battering waves... around 20 feet high... are expected along the Delaware and New Jersey coastline into Sunday afternoon.

... Rip currents...
dangerous rip currents are expected along the Atlantic coast. Do not enter the surf.

P.S. A 55-yr old surfer died in high waves in my town Saturday around noon (New Smyrna Beach, FL)


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over 18,000 outages in CT, up 5,000 in the last 20 minutes. Getting some incredible downpours with TS force gusts in Naugatuck CT. Sustained wind is variable between 15MPH and 30MPH.
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Whats up night crew?

Viper Interactive Radar.

Link
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Quoting IFuSAYso:


If you catch
Got no idea how. Whole point, get someone who lives in a place and knows how and the hot spots to take you along. Rich guys hire a guide. Hey I forgot, I'm gonna be rich. Who do you recommend?
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There shouldn't be a storm shelter in Hoboken, period.

I think the area by Stevens is the only part that was somewhat certain to be safe. But it would be isolated. Yet, behind and north of Hoboken are... BIG CLIFFS, which would probably survive a small asteroid's surge. It's the kind of stupidity you can't make up.
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932. JLPR2
AL, 09, 2011082806, , BEST, 0, 381N, 750W, 65, 958, HU

AL, 91, 2011082806, , BEST, 0, 297N, 654W, 30, 1010, LO

AL, 92, 2011082806, , BEST, 0, 103N, 205W, 20, 1012, DB
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Quoting ShenValleyFlyFish:
I just copied and pasted McGuire AFB, NJ in the location spot at top of the blog and came up with a hit on a WU page. Don't know if that's what you want or not but give it a try. Seems like all the heavy hitters have gone to bed and will be back around come landfall. I'm just a bat boy, they let me hang around the park and think I'm part of the show but no one pays admission to see me.


Thanks, Shen.
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Strange. You see it in preview but it won't post. Guess you're right; WU apparently won't allow png files. That makes it complicated! But at least the link still works.
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Quoting ShenValleyFlyFish:
Nop, doesn't work. Tried last night and again just now. There's a middle step of turning it into a jpg and posting to another site and then linking from that site that I don't know how to do when it comes to graphics on the government sites. Don't work the same as photo based immages.


Save the image to your computer, then change the .png to .jpg. Then go to imgur.com and upload it there. Take the URL they give you under "Direct Link" and put it in the box back here. That should work.
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Quoting LillyMyrrh:
Does anyone have an idea of what the conditions are like around the area of McGuire AFB, NJ? I have family there.
I just copied and pasted McGuire AFB, NJ in the location spot at top of the blog and came up with a hit on a WU page. Don't know if that's what you want or not but give it a try. Seems like all the heavy hitters have gone to bed and will be back around come landfall. I'm just a bat boy, they let me hang around the park and think I'm part of the show but no one pays admission to see me.
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Quoting CapeCoralStorm:
Maybe someone can help me out with this one.. philly news is saying the center will reach Atlantic City around 4am. they then say the center is like 140 miles away. with the storm moving 16mph, how is this possible. On top of that, it looks like the center is already to cape may nj.


what am i missing here?


It's not 140 miles away. It's north of Ocean City now, or maybe by Fenwick or something. 60-70 miles maybe?
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NBC New York
by twc_hurricane
3 feet of water flood Jackie Robinson Parkway, all lanes blocked

http://twitter.com/#!/twc_hurricane

Map of New York City with the Jackie Robinson Parkway highlighted in red

Maybe it's a low area.



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Nvm, the NHC notes that hurricane force winds are based on a small area actually 100 mi east of the center, and that the hurricane force radii is unrealistically large. That explains why they still have it as a hurricane.

Essentially, Irene has a wind field like an extra-tropical low now, yet is still tropical.
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923. JLPR2
Irene after the blackout.
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922. JLPR2
10L wants to live... Live! XD
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Looks like floaters are down.
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Does anyone have an idea of what the conditions are like around the area of McGuire AFB, NJ? I have family there.
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Quoting DontAnnoyMe:


- r. click on the image and choose Copy Image Location
- come back to the blog comment box and click the image button
- paste the URL, click OK
- preview
- submit
Nop, doesn't work. Tried last night and again just now. There's a middle step of turning it into a jpg and posting to another site and then linking from that site that I don't know how to do when it comes to graphics on the government sites. Don't work the same as photo based immages.
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918. JLPR2
91L just doesn't give up.
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Quoting Krycek1984:


Wow ! How far from the ocean is that? Is that from rain or surge?

Must be surge.
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Ironically, some of the stronger wind reports re coming form areas like D.C. now, Irene is becoming very extra-tropical almost, yet its still warm cored, so its not there yet. Also, convective processes in Irene are still very tropical as well.
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Quoting ShenValleyFlyFish:
881. iahishome 1:49 AM EDT on August 28, 2011

881. iahishome 1:49 AM EDT on August 28, 2011

The link he just put up is great. If I know how to post graphics those are the ones I would be posting.


- r. click on the image and choose Copy Image Location
- come back to the blog comment box and click the image button
- paste the URL, click OK
- preview
- submit
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Quoting iahishome:


OK, so 1.5 feet above where it was last time? It's good to know...

I think they should have marks on those flood gages for outsiders reading it...

8.0 feet = BAD
9.0 feet = REALLY BAD
10.0 feet = HISTORIC FLOOD!
If I am understanding the tide chart one adds the green to the blue. That means given current conditions the high tide would be close to 3 ft higher than predicted which is about 1.5 ft higher than last high tide. Conditions are predicted to deteriorate so the trend is Not Good.

Please correct me anyone who knows better.
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Maybe someone can help me out with this one.. philly news is saying the center will reach Atlantic City around 4am. they then say the center is like 140 miles away. with the storm moving 16mph, how is this possible. On top of that, it looks like the center is already to cape may nj.


what am i missing here?
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The NHC 2am said that New York harbor is up 3.5 feet and rising from surge.
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Quoting iahishome:


OK, so 1.5 feet above where it was last time? It's good to know...

I think they should have marks on those flood gages for outsiders reading it...

8.0 feet = BAD
9.0 feet = REALLY BAD
10.0 feet = HISTORIC FLOOD!
I think historic high is 8.93? Not sure, don't quote me on that, but I remember seeing that somewhere. I think once it passes 8, subway flooding is imminent
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Quoting jamesrainier:
via http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-1469408 7

Hurricane Central tweets Pepco (utility) reporting 164,211 customers without power in the DC metro area.

A storm shelter in Hoboken, New Jersey, has had to be evacuated because of flooding, says the city's Mayor Dawn Zimmer. Not a good situation when even storm shelters aren't safe.

sad planning.
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via http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-1469408 7

Hurricane Central tweets Pepco (utility) reporting 164,211 customers without power in the DC metro area.

A storm shelter in Hoboken, New Jersey, has had to be evacuated because of flooding, says the city's Mayor Dawn Zimmer. Not a good situation when even storm shelters aren't safe.
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Quoting PCBBum:
Leave it to FOX news to be so concerned about how much money the casinos have lost!!!!!!!


Do you have an issue with economics, the blog is rambling as well.
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Quoting ShenValleyFlyFish:
I get to go along to get it?


If you catch
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Leave it to FOX news to be so concerned about how much money the casinos have lost!!!!!!!
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Weather lady on CNN just located Irene as due east of Virginia beach at 2:10 AM Sunday morning... they have been really struggling with coverage sometimes.
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Storm total's from the Taunton MA radar.
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Yeah, observations closest to the "eye wall" on the coast are reporting gusts maxing in the 50 mph range with sustained winds in the 30 to 40 mph range, I would downgrade Irene to a tropical storm if I was at the NHC. Although that seems weird with such low pressure still, we just are not seeing anything that supports sustained winds anywhere close to hurricane force, either land or over water. In fact I think hurricane force gusts are mostly gone too.

I will stresss though, that doesn't make the storm not dangerous, still life threatening coastal storm surge and probably almost epic inland flooding form heavy rain still likely to occur along the path, regardless of wind intensity at the center.

Really though, I don't question the NHC much, but I would seriously challenge them on there being 80 mph sustained winds with gusts to 95 mph left anywhere in Irene... At least not at the surface anyway lol
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Quoting jamesrainier:
California Ave in Atlantic City http://yfrog.com/j2jtlsj



Wow ! How far from the ocean is that? Is that from rain or surge?
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Really haven't seen anything huge in OC checking now and then.

I think alot of the bigger winds in the system are actually out in front of it.

remember early this morning the weird readings from the platform off the chesapeake bay mouth?

and then there was alot of weird stuff going on around Rehoboth. almost like you should extrapolate out that line and look for more weird stuff in far southeast jersey and then maybe on LI...
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.
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Quoting ShenValleyFlyFish:
881. iahishome 1:49 AM EDT on August 28, 2011

881. iahishome 1:49 AM EDT on August 28, 2011

The link he just put up is great. If I know how to post graphics those are the ones I would be posting.


Thanks!
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California Ave in Atlantic City http://yfrog.com/j2jtlsj

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Quoting DerOrkanWachter:
I have been monitoring what some members from the Bronx and Brooklyn have been saying on the accu weather forums. They are saying that they are getting 40 to 60 mile per hour winds and trees are snapping everywhere around them. Not to mention one of them said he could smell the ocean water and he lives 2 miles from the Ocean.


Based on a recent experience of mine, having trees snapping and falling around one is terrifying. Thanks for the update - appreciated. Many of us from up North are very interested in this stage of Irene.
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Quoting Beremat:
Yep. The earlier high tide was only 1.5 feet below the moderate line, which is when the water would start going over the wall, and there were no winds yet. Not goooood.


OK, so 1.5 feet above where it was last time? It's good to know...

I think they should have marks on those flood gages for outsiders reading it...

8.0 feet = BAD
9.0 feet = REALLY BAD
10.0 feet = HISTORIC FLOOD!
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Quoting Krycek1984:


Agreed! I keep hoping to see posts of surge heights, wind gusts, sustained winds, etc. I don't have those websites and I usually depend on others for that info...maybe I should be more self-sufficient...

Then again, laying here cuddling with the dogs is nice too.
881. iahishome 1:49 AM EDT on August 28, 2011

881. iahishome 1:49 AM EDT on August 28, 2011

The link he just put up is great. If I know how to post graphics those are the ones I would be posting.
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2am NHC update keeps Irene at 80mph w/ gusts to 95 mph, moving NNE @ 17mph, 958mb. So, officially stil Cat 1.
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893. JLPR2
SHIPS's location of 92L in 120hrs is the opposite of the GFS's.

9.8N
37.6W
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Quoting NOVArules:
Link

The windfield of Hurricane force winds got bigger...


NHC discussion.

IT SHOULD BE NOTED THAT THE
WIND FIELD GRAPHICS BASED ON THE FOUR-QUADRANT RADII WILL DEPICT AN
UNREALISTICALLY LARGE AREA OF HURRICANE-FORCE WINDS.
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I have been monitoring what some members from the Bronx and Brooklyn have been saying on the accu weather forums. They are saying that they are getting 40 to 60 mile per hour winds and trees are snapping everywhere around them. Not to mention one of them said he could smell the ocean water and he lives 2 miles from the Ocean.
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Link

The windfield of Hurricane force winds got bigger...
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Quoting IFuSAYso:

Shrimp?
I get to go along to get it?
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This image says it all, we"re in for a rough September.
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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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