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 presslord:


she seems to be making the rounds


So she's a lady of the night type of troll? Makes sense. :-)
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Irene doesn't look extratropical... she looks like one persistent, plump lady. She's been pounded by moderate shear pumping her with dry air for days now... and the fact that she's only just now starting to show it means she's far from done. The further away from the equater hurricanes get, they tend to get a broader circulation... we saw it a few times last year: as was the case with Igor, whom Irene looks a lot like.

Besides, the satellite image was worse just an hour ago - she looks as if she's trying to re-establish some convection to the south and southwest... whereas she looked to have virtually none nary an hour ago.

She has a couple/few hours left to try and close herself off again. If she manages, well, bad news would have just gotten worse.

I'm from Ottawa, Canada, and we're just supposed to get the outer bands from this - with some fairly strong gusts as well - but I am worried that one more westward wobble could change that drastically. Virtually all of southern and eastern Quebec is under a warning for heavy winds and rainfall... which is terrible news for the infamous infrastructure in Montreal (it seems there's an overpass collapse every other week there, lately).

Good luck to all of you in its path, an be safe.
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Quoting P451:
Can I get a WOW!! ?





Uh, it's quite obvious why she's not weakening. However, my power is weakening and it looks like I don't have much time left before losing it. Next rain band will do me in it's twice as strong if not more.

Stay safe my friend, I have no idea what you're going through right now. If it is worst than the December Nor'easter than I agree with your Wow!! assessment.
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Quoting Clearwater1:
Not on this run, but each run seems a little farther west. Another wait and see
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Quoting presslord:


+!


So did you + or ! that comment??
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Quoting MississippiWx:


Oh, watch out now. You'll get a dirty dirty e-mail from some troll named BethanyWooWoo for making that statement.

I was called a racist, amongst other things for making the statement you quoted. Was also told that Mississippians deserved to die. It was ridiculous, but quite humorous at the same time.


she seems to be making the rounds
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10492
Quoting ncstorm:


The 18Z NOGAPS forms two storms off the SE coast as well..

Link



That is just weird!
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92L is pretty far south, a recurvature early in the game isn't too likely, unless it were to intensify at a pace similar to what is being depicted by the global models, which also isn't too likely lol.
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Quoting reedzone:
What's really awkward is that Katrina hit New Orleans 6 years ago today.. Now the Northeast is getting hit with another historic storm.


Katrina hit on Monday August 29th..not the 28th, and it wasn't just New Orleans that got hit..The Mississippi Coast and Southern Alabama was hit as well and harder. Nola was on the west side and there problems were man made..Mississippi was on the east side and got the full force of the hurricane with 25'+ storm surge.
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Quoting j2008:

Definatly agree with that. I dont think it will take all the way to the Carrebean though.
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Imagine if this storm could hold on to its rear end for more than a day.
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Quoting Krycek1984:


I would say that the ones you mentioned last would be the "historic" storms and "storms of a lifetime".

It seems some of you skipped over Dr. Master's astute observation:
"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."

The surge that goes along with it is still an open book...I haven't seen any measurements from NC yet and it could still be devastating for NYC...but it also might be non-devastating.

It's way too early to say this is historic.


+!
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10492
Quoting ShenValleyFlyFish:
And NOLA was not an "act of God" weather event. It was a logical outcome of human behavior.


Oh, watch out now. You'll get a dirty dirty e-mail from some troll named BethanyWooWoo for making that statement.

I was called a racist, amongst other things for making the statement you quoted. Was also told that Mississippians deserved to die. It was ridiculous, but quite humorous at the same time.
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Quoting j2008:

Believe it or not its showing Jose as a CV storm (from 92L) It would be a Fish storm Hurricane, It shows Katia as a storm off the coast of the US moving toward bermuda, and Lee as a Hurricane in the GOM hitting Lousiana. Interesting run.


The 18Z NOGAPS forms two storms off the SE coast as well..

Link
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 15664
Quoting P451:
Can I get a WOW!! ?





Uh, it's quite obvious why she's not weakening. However, my power is weakening and it looks like I don't have much time left before losing it. Next rain band will do me in it's twice as strong if not more.



WOW!!! Now if I may ask...where are you at? LOL...and stay safe...
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1893 New York Hurricane:

The storm is estimated to have maintained winds of approximately 100 mph (155 km/h) for several days as it passed well to the north of the Lesser Antilles. As the hurricane turned more northerly still, approaching the United States, it strengthened to major hurricane intensity, Category 3, on August 22. At this point, it peaked in intensity with winds of 115 mph (185 km/h). The lowest known barometric pressure in relation to the storm was 952 mbar (hPa; 28.11 inHg).[1]

Less than a day later, the storm deteriorated to Category 2 strength.[1] Cape Hatteras, North Carolina experienced the hurricane on the morning of August 23 while its center passed less than 100 mi (160 km) offshore. Heading nearly due northward, the cyclone skimmed the New Jersey coastline, passing just east of Atlantic City,[3] and weakened further to Category 1 status.[1] On August 23 the storm was one of four hurricanes occurring simultaneously within the Atlantic Ocean.[4] On August 24 the storm moved ashore on western Long Island, in the New York City area.

Winds from the storm exceeded 50 mph (80 km/h) at Atlantic City and New York, initially blowing from the northeast before shifting southwesterly.[3] The hurricane wrought severe destruction,[5] described by The New York Times on August 25 as "a mighty war of winds and a great tumbling of chimneys".[6] A 30 ft (9.1 m) storm surge impacted the shore, demolishing structures...

Link



Hurricane Irene:

After crossing the Turks and Caicos Islands, the hurricane quickly strengthened into a Category 3 major hurricane with 120mph winds and a pressure as low as 942 mbar while passing through The Bahamas, leaving behind a trail of extensive structural damage in its wake. Curving toward the north, Irene skirted past Florida with its outer bands producing tropical-storm-force winds. It made landfall over Eastern North Carolina's Outer Banks on the morning of August 27.[1] Throughout its path, Irene caused widespread destruction and at least eleven deaths; monetary losses could be as high as US$3.1 billion according to preliminary estimates.

As of 11 p.m. EDT August 27 (0300 UTC August 28), Hurricane Irene is located within 15 nautical miles of 37°18′N 75°24′W / 37.3°N 75.4°W / 37.3; -75.4 (Irene), about 70 mi (115 km) SSW of Ocean City, MD and about 255 mi (415 km) SSW of New York City. Maximum sustained winds are at 70 knots (80 mph, 130 km/h), with stronger gusts. Minimum central pressure is 954 mbar (hPa; 28.17 inHg), and the system is moving north-northeast at 14 kt (16 mph, 26 km/h).

Irene is an extremely large storm; hurricane force winds extend up to 125 miles (205 km) from the center of Irene, and tropical storm force winds extend 240 miles (390 km) on either side from the center, making the storm system an unusual 480 miles (770 km) across, amplifying its effects on storm surge, rainfall and sustained high wind duration. (Especially if the storm comes in around the astronomical high tide)

Link

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771. j2008
Quoting MississippiWx:
Jose is looking like a recurve again on the 00z GFS. Still believe the models are strengthening the wave too quickly, as they have with nearly every African wave this season.


Definatly agree with that. I dont think it will take all the way to the Carrebean though.
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Quoting MississippiWx:
Jose is looking like a recurve again on the 00z GFS. Still believe the models are strengthening the wave too quickly, as they have with nearly every African wave this season.



Right! 92L doesn't even have a well formed center...it can't develop as fast as the GFS has it....BOGUS....
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Quoting reedzone:


It may not be Katrina.. but this is (according to the experts) a historic storm, storm of a lifetime. It's not every Hurricane Season you see a Hurricane head straight for NYC. Pressure at Category 3 strength = very intense system. Don't focus on the winds, focus on the size and power of Irene. Likely to be retired and go into the record books along with Gloria, Bob, and the Great Atlantic Hurricane.


I would say that the ones you mentioned last would be the "historic" storms and "storms of a lifetime".

It seems some of you skipped over Dr. Master's astute observation:
"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."

The surge that goes along with it is still an open book...I haven't seen any measurements from NC yet and it could still be devastating for NYC...but it also might be non-devastating.

It's way too early to say this is historic.
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Quoting MississippiWx:


Katrina didn't hit until the 29th.

And for the last time...Katrina did NOT hit New Orleans. New Orleans was affected for sure, but she went well east of New Orleans. Came ashore in Buras, LA and made final landfall in MS where she wiped the MS Coastal area off the map.
And NOLA was not an "act of God" weather event. It was a logical outcome of human behavior.
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Judging by the location of the main core of convection and the number of people walking and driving around, the webcam at 46th and Broadway will probably get interesting very soon.

Link
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Quoting NCHurricane2009:


Well...now I am interested...but I take ALL model runs with a grain of salt with where they take the storms because no distrubance out there has an exact center yet...and without an exact center you don't know exactly where they are headed long-range...

...but still..what do the long range GFS and Euro show if I may ask?


The ECMWF show a hurricane coming right back in the SE..a Cat 4..the 18Z GFS shows a hurricane forming in the GOM and heads to LA..the 00Z is running now and it looks like its showing the ECMWF storm as well now..good grief
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 15664
Jose is looking like a recurve again on the 00z GFS. Still believe the models are strengthening the wave too quickly, as they have with nearly every African wave this season.

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762. j2008
Quoting ncstorm:


The GFS..going into LA..

Believe it or not its showing Jose as a CV storm (from 92L) It would be a Fish storm Hurricane, It shows Katia as a storm off the coast of the US moving toward bermuda, and Lee as a Hurricane in the GOM hitting Lousiana. Interesting run.
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Everyone in the path of Irene..stay safe..goodnight everyone and good riddance Irene!
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 15664
Quoting reedzone:
Sadly, another life has been lost from Irene in Maryland.. Death toll up to 9.. I think..


:(
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Quoting ncstorm:


Yes..which kinda makes me worry about the next systems they are predicting..


Well...now I am interested...but I take ALL model runs with a grain of salt with where they take the storms because no distrubance out there has an exact center yet...and without an exact center you don't know exactly where they are headed long-range...

...but still..what do the long range GFS and Euro show if I may ask?
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Won't be long before we know the extent of Irene's surge in New York. Hopefully it won't be too bad.

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Sadly, another life has been lost from Irene in Maryland.. Death toll up to 9.. I think..
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Quoting NCHurricane2009:


National Weather Service reports show heavy rain and gusty winds across the entire state of Delaware right now...
I was thinking more of flooding/ power outages/ wind damage, in this case it is probably lots of downed trees and some flooding but i just haven't heard anything specific.
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Well, I am off to bed. All those still on who are in the path of Irene, stay safe and let us know afterward that you're all right. Night all.
Member Since: August 22, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 3141
753. JLPR2
Quoting Clearwater1:


Not only did the GFS show it first, it constantly brought it west into the islands with with each run.


Yep, the GFS did wonderfully until the islands.
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Quoting TexasHurricane:


are either one suggesting anything in the GOM?


The GFS..going into LA..
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 15664
Quoting atmoaggie:
I can say it works well on children, but they aren't as quiet as with duct tape.

(j/k, of course)
Strapping tape works the best. True story. A long time ago I worked in a factory which made the mounting for skyscraper curtain wall (all glass windows). Had a guy worked in the shipping dpt was short some of the face cards in his mental deck. Thought he was the bosses "best boy" and was always trying to order everybody around. Guy was mostly comic relief, little scrawny older fellow, missing majority of his teeth, wore a railroad style cap and smoked a corncob pipe. Nickname (only name I ever knew) was Pop-Eye - go figure. One morning he finally managed to dance on the last nerve of everyone in packaging. They jumped him, strapped him to a 2 wheel "bag" cart with fiberglass reinforced shipping tape, rolled it out on to the loading dock and propped it up against a cement pillar. Somehow, between the time of the incident and the arrival of the boss - a good hr. - Pop-Eye developed a severe case of amnesia and was unable to report exactly who had participated in the prank. Now what this has to do with a weather blog (besides the previous posts) is this. If the guys in NYC installed the glass the way they were supposed to I am not too concerned with the hype about it blowing out or breaking at least in the buildings we did the work for.
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750. MrJef
Here is the StormCenter Outage map for Southern NJ's Atlantic City Electric

It's at about 105,000 with power issues, down from 107,000 earlier so that is good.

Atlantic City Electric Storm Center


My brother is still there, and unfortunately he's still without power.
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Quoting ncstorm:


Yes..which kinda makes me worry about the next systems they are predicting..


are either one suggesting anything in the GOM?
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Quoting JLPR2:


If I remember correctly the GFS was the first one to show Irene.


Not only did the GFS show it first, it constantly brought it west into the islands with with each run.
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Quoting Clearwater1:
the GFS and the euro did really well


Yes..which kinda makes me worry about the next systems they are predicting..
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 15664
Quoting NCHurricane2009:


In order for Irene to be extratropical...she would need to have a surface temperature contrast across her circulation (and right now there isn't with temps in the mid-70s everywhere in Irene)...moreover the upper wind field still shows a warm core upper anticyclone over the storm still...

However...she is not as tropical as she used to be...the warm core anticyclone has gotten deformed ahead of the upper trough...and it is on its way to becoming extratropical...but it isn't extratropical now...



ok
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Quoting ncstorm:


the GFDL did horribly..
the GFS and the euro did really well
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Quoting Tazmanian:
Irene really looks like its EXTRATROP now am not sure what the nhc is seeing


In order for Irene to be extratropical...she would need to have a surface temperature contrast across her circulation (and right now there isn't with temps in the mid-70s everywhere in Irene)...moreover the upper wind field still shows a warm core upper anticyclone over the storm still...

However...she is not as tropical as she used to be...the warm core anticyclone has gotten deformed ahead of the upper trough...and it is on its way to becoming extratropical...but it isn't extratropical now...
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Quoting jitterboy:
Which model was the best with Irene? I am guessing the Euro??


the GFDL did horribly..
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 15664
Quoting NOVArules:


The models predict that the "K" storm of this year will hit Louisiana as a major! And this is the K storm that is replacing Katrina, nature is a troll.


And what model would that be? the one that predicts that the "k" storm will hit Louisiana. I'd like to see it. Link if you have one, or even the model name.
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Quoting JohninRal:


Can you tell us newbies how to find those models?
Link
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Quoting MississippiWx:


Katrina didn't hit until the 29th.

And for the last time...Katrina did NOT hit New Orleans. New Orleans was affected for sure, but she went well east of New Orleans. Came ashore in Buras, LA and made final landfall in MS where she wiped the MS Coastal area off the map.
The western eye of Katrina passed over The Rigolets which is part of (New) Orleans Parish.
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Quoting chsstormgirl:


Google hurricane models... There is a page from FSU, but I don't have it memorized. WUnderground will also have them as the system gets initialized. There's also a raliegh wx page, but again, have it bookmarked and can't remember it. Been here 5 years and STILL learning :)


http://moe.met.fsu.edu/tcgengifs/
http://www.americanwx.com/raleighwx/index.php
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Quoting reedzone:
What's really awkward is that Katrina hit New Orleans 6 years ago today.. Now the Northeast is getting hit with another historic storm.
not today, Monday. She came ashore on the 29th.
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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.