TD 13 intensifying; Katia may pass uncomfortably close to U.S.

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:28 PM GMT on September 02, 2011

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Tropical Depression Thirteen formed last night over the Northern Gulf of Mexico and is slowly intensifying, but isn't in a hurry to go anywhere. What TD 13 will do is dump torrential rains along the northern Gulf Coast over the next three or more days. So far, rain amounts along the coast have mostly been below one inch. At New Orleans Lakefront Airport, just 0.32" inches of rain had fallen from TD 13 as of 10 am CDT. Some coastal regions have received up to two inches, according to radar rainfall estimates. TD 13 is generating a large area of 30 - 35 mph winds over the Gulf of Mexico. At 7:20 am CDT, winds at the Mississippi Canyon 711 oil rig were southeast at 47 mph. This is above tropical storm force, but the wind instrument was 348 feet (106 m) above the ocean surface, and winds near the surface were probably considerably lower, near 35 mph. Latest surface wind observations from an Air Force hurricane hunter aircraft support leaving TD 13 as a tropical depression. Long range radar out of Mobile, Alabama shows heavy rain showers building along the northern Gulf Coast, but these rain showers are not well-organized into spiral bands. Strong upper-level winds out of the west-northwest are creating a moderate 10 - 20 knots of wind shear over TD 13, keeping the storm's heavy thunderstorms disorganized and pushed to the east side of the storm. However, latest satelllite loops show TD 13 is becoming increasingly organized, with a respectable spiral band forming on the southeast side, and an increase and areal coverage of heavy thunderstorm activity. This is very likely to be a tropical storm later today.


Figure 1. Radar-estimated rainfall from TD 13 from the New Orleans radar.


Figure 2. U.S. drought conditions on August 30. The rains from TD 13 have the potential to bring major drought relief to drought-stricken portions of the coast. Note how Eastern North Carolina is no longer in drought, thanks to the rains from Hurricane Irene. These rains also came close to putting out a persistent fire that had been burning in the Great Dismal Swamp near the Virginia/North Carolina border. Image Credit: U.S. Drought Monitor.

Forecast for TD 13
TD 13's large size, ill-formed circulation center, and the presence of dry air on its west side due to an upper-level trough of low pressure argue against rapid intensification of the storm for the next three days. Also tending to slow intensification will be the slow movement of the storm, which will allow cold water from the depths to rise to the surface, thanks to wind and wave action. Tropical cyclones strongly cool the water's surface when they pass over it, as seen in the time vs. depth chart of sea surface temperatures during Hurricane Irene's passage along the New Jersey coast (Figure 3.) However, the Gulf of Mexico has some very warm waters near TD 13 that extend to great depth (Figure 4), so the surface cooling imparted by TD 13 will be less than that seen for Hurricane Irene. As TD 13 moves closer to the coast, more and more of its circulation will be over land, which will also slow intensification. NHC's 11 am EDT wind probability forecast for TD 13 gave the storm a 23% chance of intensifying into a hurricane by Sunday. Assuming TD 13 does not attain hurricane strength, wind damage and storm surge damage will likely not be the main concern--fresh water flooding from heavy rains will be the most dangerous impact. Also of concern is the possibility of tornadoes. NOAA's Storm Prediction Center is currently not highlighting the Gulf Coast in their "slight risk" area for severe weather, due to the lack of enough solar heating to create instability. However, there will be plenty of wind shear in the lower part of the atmosphere that can potentially create spin in the coastal thunderstorms, and it is possible that as TD 13 intensifies, it may be able to generate several dozen tornadoes.

Coastal Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and the extreme western Panhandle of Florida will likely receive very heavy flooding rains that will intensify Saturday and peak on Sunday. These rains should be able to put out the stubborn marsh fire east of New Orleans that has brought several days of air quality alerts to the city, but may cause moderate to severe flooding problems in other areas. The latest rainfall forecast from NOAA Hydrological Prediction Center shows that a large area of 15+ inches of rain is expected over Southeast Louisiana and coastal Mississippi. The region is under moderate drought, so flooding problems will be delayed compared to what we'd normally expect from heavy rains of over a foot. Flash flood watches are posted for New Orleans and surrounding areas, and rainfall amounts of 1 - 3 inches per hour are possible in some of the heavier rain squalls. Ocean temperatures are near record warmth, 88°F (31°C), which will provide plenty of moisture for heavy rains, and plenty of energy to help TD 13 strengthen into a strong tropical storm. Steering currents will be weak in the Gulf this weekend and early next week, which will likely make the motion of TD 13 erratic at times.


Figure 3. EPA, in conjunction with Rutgers University and the NJ Department of Environmental Protection, has an Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV, aka the Glider) deployed off the coast of NJ (since early August) continuously monitoring ocean temperature, density, salinity, sound velocity and dissolved oxygen at different depths. The AUV's path and data are displayed at the following website: http://marine.rutgers.edu/cool/auvs/index.php?did =221&view=imagery. The plot of temperature versus time above shows that in the weeks prior to the arrival of Irene, the ocean was heavily stratified, with warm waters of 24 - 26°C (75 - 79°F, red colors) extending from the surface to a depth of 10 - 15 meters. A sharp thermocline existed at a depth of about 15 meters, and ocean temperatures were colder than 14°C (57°F, dark blue colors) below the thermocline. The strong winds and high wave action of Hurricane Irene on August 28 - 29 stirred up cold water from the depths to the surface, cooling the surface waters to 17 - 19°C (63 - 67°F). In the days since the hurricane, surface waters have begun to warm again. Thanks go to Kevin Kubik, Deputy Director of the Division of Environmental Science and Assessment for EPA Region 2, for making me aware of this data.


Figure 4. The total amount of heat energy in the ocean available to fuel a tropical cyclone, in kilojoules per square centimeter of surface area. Tropical cyclones that move over ocean areas with TCHP values in excess of 70 - 90 kJ/cm^2 commonly undergo rapid intensification. Waters that are warm to a great depth have the highest TCHP, and the Loop Current that brings warm water northwards from the Caribbean to the Gulf of Mexico usually has the highest TCHP values in the Atlantic. Currently, we have an eddy that broke off from the Loop Current earlier this summer, now located a few hundred miles south of the Louisiana coast, that also has high TCHP values. Image Credit: NOAA/AOML.

Hurricane Katia
Hurricane Katia is continuing its long trek across the Atlantic Ocean today, and will not pose a danger to any land areas over the next five days. Katia is still struggling with dry air and moderate wind shear of 10 - 20 knots. Latest satellite loops show surface-based arc-shaped clouds racing to the southwest away from Katia's core, a sign that dry air is penetrating into Katia's thunderstorms and creating strong downdrafts that are robbing the storm of heat and moisture. Katia is over warm ocean waters of 28.5°C, and these waters will increase in temperature to 29°C over the next five days. Katia will pass well north of the region of cooler waters stirred up by the passage of Hurricane Irene last week.

The models are split on when the upper-level trough of low pressure bringing the wind shear to Katia will move away, and the storm may spend two more days battling wind shear and dry air before the upper-level trough pulls away to the north and allows Katia to intensify more readily. It is still unclear how much of a threat Katia may pose to the U.S., but it is becoming increasingly clear that Katia will pass uncomfortably close to the U.S. East Coast. The trough of low pressure currently steering Katia to the northwest will lift out early next week, and a ridge of high pressure is expected to build in, forcing Katia more to the west. This decreases the danger to Bermuda, but increases the danger to the U.S. A second trough of low pressure is expected to begin affecting Katia by the middle of next week, and will potentially recurve the storm out to sea before it hits the U.S. However, the models differ widely on the strength and timing of this trough. Meteorologist Grant Elliot of Australia's Bureau of Meteorology in Perth pointed out to me yesterday that the long-range forecast for Katia has more than the usual amount of uncertainty, due to the inability of the computer models to agree on what will happen to Tropical Storm Talas in the Western Pacific. Talas is expected to hit Japan early on Saturday as a strong tropical storm, then race northwestwards into the Bering Sea off the coast of Alaska. Talas is then expected to transition into a powerful extratropical storm in the waters south of Alaska. This storm will create a ripple effect downstream in the jet stream, all the way to North America, by early next week. The timing and amplitude of the trough of low pressure off the U.S. East Coast expected to potentially recurve Katia out to sea next week is highly dependent upon the strength of Tropical Storm Talas during its transition to an extratropical storm. The computer models are not very good at handling these sorts of transitions, leading to more than the usual amount of uncertainty in the long-range outlook for Katia. It will probably be another 2 - 3 days before the models will begin to converge on a solution for the long-term fate of Katia. Dr. Bob Hart's Historical Tropical Cyclone Probability web page suggests shows that tropical storms in Katia's current position have a 17% chance of hitting North Carolina, a 21% chance of hitting Canada, a 13% chance of hitting New England, and a 55% chance of never hitting land. One almost certain impact of Katia on the U.S. will be large waves. Long period swells from Katia will begin affecting the Bahamas on Sunday night, then reach the Southeast U.S. by Monday morning. By Tuesday morning, the entire U.S. East Coast will see high surf from Katia, and these waves will increase in size and power as the storm grows closer. Given the slow movement of Katia as it approaches the coast, plus its expected Category 1 to 3 strength as it approaches, the storm will probably cause extensive beach erosion and dangerous rip tides for many days.

94L
A well-organized low pressure system with a surface circulation but limited heavy thunderstorm activity due to high wind shear is 450 miles south of Halifax, Canada. This disturbance, (94L), is headed northeast out to sea, and is being given a 60% chance of developing into a tropical depression by NHC. 94L is under a high 25 - 30 knots of wind shear, but this shear is expected to fall to the moderate range, 10 - 20 knots, by Saturday morning. However, sea surface temperature will fall from 27°C today to 25°C Saturday morning underneath 94L, and the storm will have a very short window of time to get organized enough to get a name. At this point, it's really a subjective judgement call on whether or not 94L is already a tropical storm.


Figure 5. A Portlight volunteer works to clear storm debris from Hurricane Irene in Hollywood, Maryland.

Portlight disaster relief effort in Maryland
Hurricane Irene heavily damaged the town of Hollywood, Maryland, when a tornado cut off electric power, water, and phone service. Portlight and Team Rubicon volunteers arrived before emergency personnel, after following up on a local tip. What they found was an isolated area whose plight was unknown to the larger community. Most residents were trapped at their homes by heavy debris. Portlight and Team Rubicon worked for two days to clear paths to each address, extract vehicles from debris, and cut down trees that constituted safety hazards. Portlight also instructed local residents how to operate and maintain chainsaws and safely clear debris. No other volunteer organizations or emergency personnel arrived at any time, and Portlight succeeded in meeting the specific needs of the underserved, unserved, and forgotten. Visit the Portlight blog to learn more; donations are always welcome.

I'll have a new post each morning over the coming holiday weekend; wunderground meteorologists Angela Fritz, Rob Carver, and Shaun Tanner will be handling the afternoon and evening posts. Have a great holiday weekend, everyone!

Jeff Masters

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Quoting Walshy:


please don't go there. see my name. tia.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Some folks are just so touchy.
Member Since: September 18, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 1073
Quoting P451:


My post is backed up with facts, images, and graphs.

What's yours?

Just an attack...
I respect your posts but for two days now you have been doing nothing but bash the highly accredited experts at the NHC. With all due respect, I think you can give it a rest now.

Sorry to seem like I am attacking you but just sayin'...rant over
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Quoting hunkerdown:
untill the 40 year old Rolo ran out of gas...he will be even older this season and expected to carry the load in Tampa the entire year. Sorry, StevieY put all his eggs in one basket, enjoy Stammer and fighting against Bryzgalov in Ilyadelphia and Vokoun in Washington.

Now, what do you think the little Miss Ruskie in the Atlantic will do in the long run...


I'm no met, but my guess would be that it stay off shore and come closer to bermuda than the east coast
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2782. ncstorm
okay..this is unsettling-Bryan Norcross

Now Hurricane Katia: The forecast is VERY tricky. Bottom line, the threat to the East Coast, especially NC and New England continues. For the next 5 days, Katia will head directly toward the SE US. Then...not sure. How the jet stream and Lee's remnants interact, and the inland position of ex-Lee, will turn Katia out to sea or bring it over or near the East Coast. Forecast has not been good on strength either, so high uncertainty. Threat days: Thu/Fri.
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 14652
2781. Patrap
The Anal retentive Chef SNL Skit comes to mind for some reason.

Huh, go fig'ya ?
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127702
2779. DFWjc
Quoting HoustonTxGal:


NICE!!!!


Yeah TWC couldn't say the word "West" all they could say is that Katia was going "Left", i was like WTF?!?!
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2778. scott39
Quoting P451:


And are also from anemometers 100 meters above the water's surface.

Something just doesn't add up here, you gotta admit atmo, there's an awful large discrepancy between the NHC wording and graphics - and what we can see.

When the discrepancy is small the benefit of the doubt lies with the NHC.

When the discrepancy is large I think it's to be questioned.
Are you a lawyer?
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2777. BDADUDE
Quoting HoustonTxGal:
Just remove all other directions off the compass and be done with it already.


I smell a Westcaster.
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I see that some are again unfamiliar with the Surface Wind Field graphic, and are using that unfamiliarity to bash the good folks at the NHC.

Allow me: "This graphic shows the areas potentially being affected by the sustained winds of tropical storm force (in orange) and hurricane force (in red). The display is based on the wind radii contained in the latest Forecast/Advisory (indicated at the top of the figure). Users are reminded that the Forecast/Advisory wind radii represent the maximum possible extent of a given wind speed within particular quadrants around the tropical cyclone. As a result, not all locations falling within the orange or red shaded areas will be experiencing sustained tropical storm or hurricane force winds, respectively."

IOW, simply put, the graphic isn't depicting what some seem to believe it is.

The folks at the NHC are, again, professionals, and the top experts in the field of tropical cyclones. I don't believe they're infallible, but I certainly believe they should be given the benefit of the doubt, as any single worker there likely knows more about hurricanes and tropical storms than every member of this forum combined.

[EDIT: I see that ChristopherH beat me to this a ways back. But I'll leave it anyway; it appears some need to be reminded.]
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Everyone should know that I am not an NHC basher by now, if people are freaking out about Katia, well its just an allusion to your eyes, Katia is moving NW, so they aren't losing it.

However, you don't need expertise in meteorology science, to figure out that the wind field map is flat out wrong. All you need is a little common sense.

Like I said, I don't condone bashing them, they should be respected. But they are human beings so, you can't go around saying "well they can't be wrong just because they are experts".

If that was my college project to draw a wind field map, and that was the map I drew with current available data, I would get a C if I'm lucky, only for putting in the effort. Why shouldn't the same standard be held out side of school too if that's what it takes to get there?

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Quoting Patrap:

That hot, dry belt of air is lifting north out of TX and we're starting to see moisture creeping in... you can't imagine what a welcome sight that is.

If we can't have rain, at least clouds... being outside feels like one is under a magnifying glass, pure burn.
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2773. Walshy
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Quoting DFWjc:


i did last week



NICE!!!!
Member Since: September 18, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 1073
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2769. Drakoen
Quoting HoustonTxGal:
Just remove all other directions off the compass and be done with it already.



lol
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2768. DFWjc
Quoting HoustonTxGal:
Just remove all other directions off the compass and be done with it already.



i did last week

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2766. scott39
Looks like Lee has decided to park himself again.
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2765. Seastep
In looking at microwave imagery, NHC movement doesn't seem so off. Too bad the SSMIS pass missed.

18.4 N and 53.5 W at 5 pm

~18.7 N and ~53.8 W at ~9pm based on this image:

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Oh boy, well you all have a nice evening. Will return tomorrow.
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Quoting MississippiWx:


I never questioned what you said...I've been referring to Lee.

However, kman, you should know very well that the NHC takes the average heading over a near 12 hour time frame. They don't like to bite on short term movements and six hours is relatively short in comparison to the life of Katia.
12 hours? Hasn't it always been an extrapolation between the previous complete advisory and the new one (6 hours)?
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Quoting bingcrosby:
The GFS is starting to show it's cards with Katia and the influence from Lee. This could get very ugly with Katia. 00z suite coming west with UKMET trying to put her towards the Gulf. Ruh roh.

Better hope Lee's remnants don't hang around too long across the Miss. Valley and scoots out to the NE on the coming trough. Otherwise, the ridge in the east pumps up and pushes Katia south towards the US east coast.


That is not a happy thought at all. She has yet to turn as predicted.
Member Since: September 18, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 1073
Just remove all other directions off the compass and be done with it already.

Member Since: September 18, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 1073
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The GFS is starting to show it's cards with Katia and the influence from Lee. This could get very ugly with Katia. 00z suite coming west with UKMET trying to put her towards the Gulf. Ruh roh.

Better hope Lee's remnants don't hang around too long across the Miss. Valley and scoots out to the NE on the coming trough. Otherwise, the ridge in the east pumps up and pushes Katia south towards the US east coast.
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2754. rv1pop
Quoting truecajun:


Nah. We're staying home. I'm not fond of the 190 drive rain or shine. It seems soooo slow
For us, any trip over 75 miles one way deserves a motor home. and that many people, absolutely and the pregnant one is the designated driver???? NO - no brainer. Wise decision.
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Quoting MississippiWx:


I never questioned what you said...I've been referring to Lee.

However, kman, you should know very well that the NHC takes the average heading over a near 12 hour time frame. They don't like to bite on short term movements and six hours is relatively short in comparison to the life of Katia.


But they do refer to a 6 hour motion in the context of the past few hours of motion with an expected resumption of the forecasted motion. The discussion simply glossed over the 6 hour motion as if it never happened and that is my point.

In any event, it is what it is and it doesn't really matter to me but when I see something like that I consider it fair to comment on it.
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Quoting P451:


I love how there isn't a single surface observation confirming TS winds. Let along some giant broad region of TS Winds.


I do believe that the winds are meant to represent areas in the open. Not many areas are unobstructed in southeast Louisiana (on land) as it is mostly dense forest. That might make it a little less comparable.
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My personal favorite
Member Since: September 18, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 1073
Quoting MoltenIce:
I could imagine.

WUNDERGROUND HURRICANE CENTRE

TROPICAL STORM LEE IS HEADING WEST BASED ON MODEL CONSENSUS.

HURRICANE KATIA IS HEADING WEST BASED ON MODEL CONSENSUS AND WILL CONTINUE A GENERAL WESTWARD MOTION THROUGHOUT ITS LIFETIME.


Yeah, then a day later...Ah, we missed that one as it ended up NNW, but today we are sure it is going to go west.
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Quoting MississippiWx:


I never questioned what you said...I've been referring to Lee.

However, kman, you should know very well that the NHC takes the average heading over a near 12 hour time frame. They don't like to bite on short term movements and six hours is relatively short in comparison to the life of Katia.


true, but 12 hour movement for katia is clearly wnw:

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Quoting kmanislander:
Why is it that questioning a heading that is obviously due West and not NW when you look at the change in the coordinates over the past 6 hours is such a cardinal sin. If the NHC said tomorrow morning that the sky was green would that be taken at face value too ?

I am no basher of the NHC, far from it I have a very high regard for them as they do an excellent job on the whole but if I lived my life accepting everything told to me by an expert and never questioning anything I dare say I might live to regret some of that.
Well said.
I'm the last person to question the NHC but I think you're right here. It has been 6 hours. By our own eyes and by their own coordinates the storm has headed NWWWW at 8, yet they tell us it's NW at 12. Some explanation for the 6 hour long wobble would have been appropriate.
Member Since: August 3, 2005 Posts: 10 Comments: 5540
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2746. scott39
Quoting Patrap:



#2724
Thats Cindy from 2005 in that post
Missed that date. Very similar in expected land fall.
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2745. JGreco
Quoting MississippiWx:


I never questioned what you said...I've been referring to Lee.

However, kman, you should know very well that the NHC takes the average heading over a near 12 hour time frame. They don't like to bite on short term movements and six hours is relatively short in comparison to the life of Katia.



Agreed....I'm not even looking at Katia at the moment. He definitely was not bothering me.
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2742. twooks
The ULL that has been irritating Lee seems to be hanging around more than expected. Any guesses how much longer that will last?
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2741. Patrap
Quoting scott39:
I do believe im starting to see a very slow bend to the right?



#2724
Thats Cindy from 2005 in that post
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127702
Quoting kmanislander:
Why is it that questioning a heading that is obviously due West and not NW when you look at the change in the coordinates over the past 6 hours is such a cardinal sin. If the NHC said tomorrow morning that the sky was green would that be taken at face value too ?

I am no basher of the NHC, far from it I have a very high regard for them as they do an excellent job on the whole but if I lived my life accepting everything told to me by an expert and never questioning anything I dare say I might live to regret some of that.


I never questioned what you said...I've been referring to Lee.

However, kman, you should know very well that the NHC takes the average heading over a near 12 hour time frame. They don't like to bite on short term movements and six hours is relatively short in comparison to the life of Katia.
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Quoting ChristopherH:
I don't post much, but for those complaining about the NHC wind swath map, the following is taken from the NHC web-site, pertaining to this map.

"This graphic shows how the size of the storm has changed, and the areas potentially affected so far by sustained winds of tropical storm force (in orange) and hurricane force (in red). The display is based on the wind radii contained in the set of Forecast/Advisories indicated at the top of the figure. Users are reminded that the Forecast/Advisory wind radii represent the maximum possible extent of a given wind speed within particular quadrants around the tropical cyclone. As a result, not all locations falling within the orange or red swaths will have experienced sustained tropical storm or hurricane force winds, respectively."
Thanks, was about to go find that.
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Really NHC?! You call a 10th of a degree movement in the past 6 hours NW? What are you looking at?
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Member Since: July 14, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 1144

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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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