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 Levi32:
I really wish you guys would quit downplaying Irene and talking about how much she was overhyped and overforecasted. She's likely to be a multi-billion dollar disaster.....what did you want? She's going down on the list of great storms to move up the eastern seaboard. She counts, and people there will tell you that. My goodness.


ABC live just said that we may have a 20-40 billion disaster...

As always, if authorities do take extra precautions or not, either way they will be criticized... Happens anywhere ...
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Quoting Levi32:
I really wish you guys would quit downplaying Irene and talking about how much she was overhyped and overforecasted. She's likely to be a multi-billion dollar disaster.....what did you want? She's going down on the list of great storms to move up the eastern seaboard. She counts, and people there will tell you that. My goodness.

(Plus) 100

That's the first rant I've seen from you since I've been here Levi.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32335
Dominion Electric Outage Summary - Virginia
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1884. 996tt
Quoting donna1960ruled:
Bad forecasting has cost the metro nyc area more than 30 million dollars in unnecessary evacs, mobilizations, etc. The price is that 95 percent of the population will never take them seriously again. Next cut will be NOAA...NHC....bye bye. Dont bother studying meteorology in school....we have 80000, we will be needing 1200.
I do feel bad for the man in Brooklyn this morning that lost a cigarette in a 34 mph gust. It was his last one, and his first of the day.


Thank the weather channel. They have the loudest voice and reach the most people. Puts politicians in a bind when millions of people hear the weather channel keep reporting massive destruction and million of people in peril for life and limb. So politicians pretty much act consistently or look horrible for doing nothing when TWC was warning their entire constituency for days and days.
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1883. ncstorm
and people are seem to forgetting that rivers will be cresting in a few days..just like floyd..Irene's impact hasnt even touched the surface yet..
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In all fairness..all of the forecasts I heard leading up to the landfall spoke of this being a flooding event more than a wind event. This has turned out to be correct. Also it is flooding that kills the most people and flooding that causes the major financial costs.
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Sorry for repost...
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1877. bappit
Quoting 996tt:


Thank the weather channel. They have the loudest voice and reach the most people. Puts politicians in a bind when millions of people hear the weather channel keep reporting massive destruction and million of people in peril for life and limb. So politicians pretty much act consistently or look horrible for doing nothing when TWC was warning their entire constituency for days and days.

Of course TWC has a conflict of interest to deal with. If they don't hype a storm then they lose viewers which is $$$$$$.
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http://www.wunderground.com/cgi-bin/wxStationGraphA ll?day=28&year=2011&month=8&ID=KNYBABYL1&type=3&wi dth=500&showtemp=1&showpressure=1&showwind=1&showw inddir=1&showrain=1
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Quoting dukeuncluver:
I am sitting here watching WTVD (Durham, NC) showing films of their fly over of the damage and flooding to just New Burn NC and I would say New Burn alone has 200 Million in damage from storm surge alone. And who knows how much it's going to cost to repair the damage to ECU's buildings and dorms.

The sound side flooding was bad to both the islands and the mainland and we have no clue about the actual damage.

In other words, IMHO, any news network who claims they know the amount of damage to NC this morning is lying.

My second issue: The NHC did not "hype" the storm. They gave the facts and stated what would happened if a storm of that power hit the northeast. While every time I turned on The Weather Channel, or CNN, all I heard was: The northeast is "under the gun" or "the devastating storm" or "killer storm."

I never once heard or read the NHC use any of that kind of bombastic language. My friend in the northeast was so terrified by the TWC on Thursday that I was frightened she was going to have a stroke.

So please, let's not do revisionist history on this storm. I am so glad that we have the NHC and do not have to depend on "for profit" or "privately owned" corporate media outlets.

Correct and Agree about news services hyping up Irene, Not the NHC's fault.
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1871. Walnut
Quoting donna1960ruled:
Im in NJ, there have been 2 severe t-storm outbreaks in the last 2 weeks that made this look like a joke. It was a minor n-easter, no more. Another reminder that its virtually impossible to get a real hurricane in the nyc area for more reasons than we can keep track of, and that we apparently even know.
I'm not sure NYC and the surrounding environs had much to do with Irene not living up to all the hype. It never really got consistently going once it left Puerto Rico. Blinking eyes, wide wind field, and low pressure. Kind of a strange storm that just happened to go up to NYC. She seemed to completely ignore the Gulf Stream and steering was inconsistent with lots of wobbles. Still, all that said, tracking guidance was pretty spot-on. Intensity on this one was just so difficult to predict. Every time she started looking good, in a few hours, that all went away. I think the NOAA scientists will be studying this one for some time.
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Just announced thirteen dead now. My thoughts and prayers to all these families.
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Quoting donna1960ruled:
Bad forecasting has cost the metro nyc area more than 30 million dollars in unnecessary evacs, mobilizations, etc. The price is that 95 percent of the population will never take them seriously again. Next cut will be NOAA...NHC....bye bye. Dont bother studying meteorology in school....we have 80000, we will be needing 1200.
I do feel bad for the man in Brooklyn this morning that lost a cigarette in a 34 mph gust. It was his last one, and his first of the day.


that's strange, because at last check quite a few of the areas evacuated did get flooded out. I didn't see any bad forecasting.
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Quoting Levi32:
I really wish you guys would quit downplaying Irene and talking about how much she was overhyped and overforecasted. She's likely to be a multi-billion dollar disaster.....what did you want? She's going down on the list of great storms to move up the eastern seaboard. She counts, and people there will tell you that. My goodness.


+1000
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1867. 996tt
Quoting donna1960ruled:
Bad forecasting has cost the metro nyc area more than 30 million dollars in unnecessary evacs, mobilizations, etc. The price is that 95 percent of the population will never take them seriously again. Next cut will be NOAA...NHC....bye bye. Dont bother studying meteorology in school....we have 80000, we will be needing 1200.
I do feel bad for the man in Brooklyn this morning that lost a cigarette in a 34 mph gust. It was his last one, and his first of the day.


Thank the weather channel. They have the loudest voice and reach the most people. Puts politicians in a bind when millions of people hear the weather channel keep reporting massive destruction and million of people in peril for life and limb. So politicians pretty much act consistently or look horrible for doing nothing when TWC was warning their entire constituency for days and days.
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1866. bappit
Quoting ncstorm:
Tweet from BigJoe..he aint giving up, thats for sure..

BigJoeBastardi Joe Bastardi
Ups ante for next threat given skeptics. We had double hits in 54 and 99 within 2 weeks, two of my preseason analog years



I guess his analog years are locks to win. Imagine weather forecasts sold via premium-rate phone numbers.
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1865. Skyepony (Mod)
There is confusion between NAVY & NOAA this morning..Navy is not following 10L, the blow up of convection NW off Africa that NOAA has as a reprise on Floater 1.. & NOAA doesn't have 92L on a floater cause it's just off Africa where the GOES sat can't see.

28/1145 UTC 40.4N 74.0W T3.0/4.0 IRENE -- Atlantic
28/1145 UTC 30.8N 65.6W T1.0/1.5 JOSE -- Atlantic
28/1145 UTC 8.8N 22.2W T1.0/1.0 92L -- Atlantic
28/1145 UTC 19.7N 35.7W TOO WEAK 10L -- Atlantic

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1864. Levi32
I really wish you guys would quit downplaying Irene and talking about how much she was overhyped and overforecasted. She's likely to be a multi-billion dollar disaster.....what did you want? She's going down on the list of great storms to move up the eastern seaboard. She counts, and people there will tell you that. My goodness.
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Quoting BrockBerlin:


However a positive NAO does not necessarily mean an impregnable A/B high a shortwave can still occur.


I always it was a negative NAO that caused storms to track further west
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Authorities say a man has been found dead in his Pitt County home after winds from Hurricane Irene toppled a tree onto the house.

Pitt County spokeswoman Kiara Jones said Ayden police found the victim as they checked on residents after the storm passed. She did not release his name or age.

His is the fifth death authorities directly attribute to Irene. A Sampson County mother and a man in Nash County also were killed by falling trees and limbs. A teen in Goldsboro and a man in Pitt County were killed in traffic wrecks.

Also, rescuers in New Hanover County are still looking for a man who fell or jumped Friday night into the Cape Fear River.
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I am sitting here watching WTVD (Durham, NC) showing films of their fly over of the damage and flooding to just New Burn NC and I would say New Burn alone has 200 Million in damage from storm surge alone. And who knows how much it's going to cost to repair the damage to ECU's buildings and dorms.

The sound side flooding was bad to both the islands and the mainland and we have no clue about the actual damage.

In other words, IMHO, any news network who claims they know the amount of damage to NC this morning is lying.

My second issue: The NHC did not "hype" the storm. They gave the facts and stated what would happened if a storm of that power hit the northeast. While every time I turned on The Weather Channel, or CNN, all I heard was: The northeast is "under the gun" or "the devastating storm" or "killer storm."

I never once heard or read the NHC use any of that kind of bombastic language. My friend in the northeast was so terrified by the TWC on Thursday that I was frightened she was going to have a stroke.

So please, let's not do revisionist history on this storm. I am so glad that we have the NHC and do not have to depend on "for profit" or "privately owned" corporate media outlets.
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Quoting donna1960ruled:
Im in NJ, there have been 2 severe t-storm outbreaks in the last 2 weeks that made this look like a joke. It was a minor n-easter, no more. Another reminder that its virtually impossible to get a real hurricane in the nyc area for more reasons than we can keep track of, and that we apparently even know.

CT has 500,000 without power, NJ has 364,000 without power. Estimates Irene has caused $40-45Billion in damage. So I guess Irene was nothing, right.
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Two stations reporting very high winds still:




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Quoting BrockBerlin:


Who knows it is very far south and the Euro predicts a positive NAO pretty soon, but then again the dynamical models seem to point to a weakness in the Central Atlantic developing which could turn it out to sea.


Sorry, didn't mean to be JFV'ish with that question. It's just that time of year and the steering looks conducive for the CONUS to be in the mix down the line. Of course that can all change very quickly...

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1857. MZT
Quoting nofailsafe:


Speaking of long-range models: wasn't Irene the apocalyptocane in the gulf everyone freaked out about early last week?
Yes, but people were saying that with the very first "spider web" model runs while Irene was still beyond PR. We did not even really have a good center fix and people were speculating whether it'd go south of PR and hit Haiti.

I will wait for 92L to get a name and have at least a day of data fed into the models before making any hay over it. It will be wayyyyy out there in the Atlantic, after all.
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This blog is ridiculous at times. Wait a few days when damage estimates come in then we can see how bad Irene really is. On abc7 "Irene could cost the U.S. up to 40 billion dollars". It's a nothing storm though according to some on the blog. Wonder who's going to be right? We shall see. I'm out.
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check out the pic at www.witn.com of the boat balanced on the pier!
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A real storm report:

Here in northern mass, 120 miles east northeast of the current center, just got a rain band which created a stream in the back yard. It looked like 2-3 inches in about 30 minutes. I can guess the amt of rain because one downspout overflowed a 275 gallon rain barrel that I emptied just four hours ago. Usually it takes 2 full days of rain to fill it.

Guess I have to get a lot more crushed rock and do some additional drainage work in the yard.

While I was outside adjusting the downspout we got a gust that sounded like it cracked a large tree (maybe 40-45mph?). Sustained winds are light, around 10mph from the south. No trees down, just branches, and two out of about 20 sunflower plants. Even some asparagus was snapped off.
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1851. Levi32
Good morning.

Blog update:

Tropical Tidbit for Sunday, August 28th, with Video
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Quoting Unfriendly:
THIS IS A WEATHER BLOG.
THIS IS A WEATHER BLOG.
THIS IS A WEATHER BLOG.
THIS IS A WEATHER BLOG.
THIS IS A WEATHER BLOG.
THIS IS A WEATHER BLOG.
THIS IS A WEATHER BLOG.
THIS IS A WEATHER BLOG.
THIS IS A WEATHER BLOG.
THIS IS A WEATHER BLOG.
THIS IS A WEATHER BLOG.
THIS IS A WEATHER BLOG.
THIS IS A WEATHER BLOG.
THIS IS A WEATHER BLOG.
THIS IS A WEATHER BLOG.
THIS IS A WEATHER BLOG.
THIS IS A WEATHER BLOG.
THIS IS A WEATHER BLOG.
THIS IS A WEATHER BLOG.
THIS IS A WEATHER BLOG.
THIS IS A WEATHER BLOG.
THIS IS A WEATHER BLOG.
THIS IS A WEATHER BLOG.
THIS IS A WEATHER BLOG.
THIS IS A WEATHER BLOG.
THIS IS A WEATHER BLOG.
THIS IS A WEATHER BLOG.
THIS IS A WEATHER BLOG.
THIS IS A WEATHER BLOG.
THIS IS A WEATHER BLOG.

PS Pretty sure weather is still happening.


Not in this post it's not
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1848. ncstorm
Tweet from BigJoe..he aint giving up, thats for sure..

BigJoeBastardi Joe Bastardi
Ups ante for next threat given skeptics. We had double hits in 54 and 99 within 2 weeks, two of my preseason analog years


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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
Very favorable wind shear for 92L..Invest 92L is almost certainly going to become our next hurricane and major hurricane, as it has unanimous model support for being such.



Speaking of long-range models: wasn't Irene the apocalyptocane in the gulf everyone freaked out about early last week?
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Quoting Presslord:

I dunno....Micorsoft has done pretty well....


Maybe from a profits standpoint but from a quality of product standpoint, considering we're 26 years into Windows' life cycle I think it's a pretty sad state of affairs...
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1845. bappit
.
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Quoting presslord:
at any rate...I have determined through information gleaned from Weather Undergound ( a private weather info source) at no cost to me...that today will be a good day to go flying...so I'm off to drill some holes in the sky with my son...y'all play nice...
Going out to create low pressure? (right behind your plane)
That's desperate. Think the winds will be representative of the pressure this time?

;-)
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12463
Who is this Joe Bastardi that everyone vilifies?

Can you imagine what school must have been like for him with a name like that?

Hardly surprising if he turned out a bit 'dodgy'.

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Quoting donna1960ruled:
Bad forecasting has cost the metro nyc area more than 30 million dollars in unnecessary evacs, mobilizations, etc. The price is that 95 percent of the population will never take them seriously again. Next cut will be NOAA...NHC....bye bye. Dont bother studying meteorology in school....we have 80000, we will be needing 1200.
I do feel bad for the man in Brooklyn this morning that lost a cigarette in a 34 mph gust. It was his last one, and his first of the day.

Maybe you need to watch this, ABC7 is showing damage caused by Irene around NJ, NY.
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1840. bappit
Quoting donna1960ruled:
Bad forecasting has cost the metro nyc area more than 30 million dollars in unnecessary evacs, mobilizations, etc. The price is that 95 percent of the population will never take them seriously again. Next cut will be NOAA...NHC....bye bye. Dont bother studying meteorology in school....we have 80000, we will be needing 1200.
I do feel bad for the man in Brooklyn this morning that lost a cigarette in a 34 mph gust. It was his last one, and his first of the day.

At least there was no panic like occurred in Houston when Rita was two days away. A lot of people died in the so-called evacuation.
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Quoting odinslightning:
kk back to weather. do you all think that Irene will have long lasting effects on the ULL's with the moisture she has created.....The season was slow to start due to dryness so has this event changed that?


I would say so, yes.

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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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