1-in-100 year rains cause extreme flooding in NY, PA; Nate, Maria, and Katia

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:37 PM GMT on September 08, 2011

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An extreme rainfall event unprecedented in recorded history has hit the Binghamton, New York area, where 7.49" fell yesterday. This is the second year in a row Binghamton has recorded a 1-in-100 year rain event; their previous all-time record was set last September, when 4.68" fell on Sep 30 - Oct. 1, 2010. Records go back to 1890 in the city. The skies have now cleared in Binghamton, with this morning's rain bringing the city's total rainfall for the 40-hour event to 9.02". However, another large region of rain lies just to the south in Pennsylvania, and all of the rivers in the surrounding region are in major or record flood. The Susquehanna River at Binghamton is at 25.18', its highest level since records began in 1847, and is expected to overtop the flood walls protecting the city this afternoon. In Hershey, Pennsylvania, Swatara Creek is 18' over flood stage, and more than 8' above its record flood crest. Widespread flash flooding is occurring across the entire area, and over 125,000 people have been evacuated from their homes.


Figure 1. Radar-observed rainfall from the Binghamton, NY radar.


Figure 2. The Susquehanna River at Binghamton is at its highest flood height on record this morning (25 feet.) Records at this gauge go back to 1847. Image credit: NOAA/AHPS.


Figure 3. In Hershey, Pennsylvania, Swatara Creek is 18' over flood stage, and more than 8' above its record flood crest. Records at this gage go back to 1930. Image credit: NOAA/AHPS.

The extreme rains are due the the remains of Tropical Storm Lee interacting with a stationary front draped along the Eastern U.S. Adding to the potent moisture mix last night was a stream of tropical moisture associated with Hurricane Katia that collided with the stationary front. You don't often see a major city break its all-time 24-hour precipitation record by a 60% margin, according to wunderground's weather historian, Christopher C. Burt, and he can't recall ever seeing it happen before. It's worth noting that the Susquehanna River Binghamton stream gage, which has been in operation since 1847, is due to be shut off in 3 weeks due to budget cuts. Here's the note at the USGS web site:

NOTICE (03/23/2011)--Data collection at this streamgage may be discontinued after October 1, 2011 due to funding reductions from partner agencies. Although historic data will remain accessible, no new data will be collected unless one or more new funding partners are found. Users who are willing to contribute funding to continue operation of this streamgage should contact Rob Breault or Ward Freeman of the USGS New York Water Science Center at 518-285-5658 or dc_ny@usgs.gov.

Tropical Storm Nate
Tropical Storm Nate formed in the southern Gulf of Mexico yesterday afternoon after the Hurricane Hunters found a well-defined surface circulation and 45 mph surface winds. Nate is the 14th named storm this year, and comes three days before the climatological half-way point of the Atlantic hurricane season, September 10. A typical hurricane season has just 10 - 11 named storms, so we've already had 35% more than a whole season's worth of storms before reaching the season's half-way point. At this rate, 2011 will see 28 named storms, equaling the all-time record set in 2005. Nate's formation date of September 7 puts 2011 in 2nd place for earliest date of arrival of the season's 14th storm. Only 2005 had an earlier formation date of the season's 14th named storm (September 6, when Hurricane Nate got named.) Third place is now held jointly by 1936 and 1933, which got their 14th storm of the season on September 10.

Latest visible satellite loops show that Nate's low-level center is exposed to view, due to northeasterly upper-level winds that are creating a moderate 10 knots of wind shear. This shear is keeping all of Nate's heavy thunderstorms pushed to the south side of the center. Sustained winds at Buoy 42055, about 100 miles to the northwest of the suspected center of Nate, were north at 31 mph at 6:50 am CDT this morning. We haven't had a hurricane hunter aircraft in the storm since yesterday afternoon, and the next plane is due to arrive near 2 pm this afternoon. Water vapor satellite loops show that here is a large area of very dry air from Texas to the north of Nate, and this dry air is probably interfering with the storm's development.

Up until last night's 8 pm EDT runs of the computer models, the models were in general agreement that Nate would meander in the Bay of Campeche for several days, until a ridge of high pressure built in to the north of the storm, forcing it westwards to a landfall in Mexico. However, the latest 2 am EDT run by the GFS model predicts that Nate may gain enough latitude to escape being forced westwards by the ridge, and instead move northwards to make a landfall along the U.S. Gulf Coast. The GFDL, which uses the GFS for its initial conditions, is also on board with this idea, as is the HWRF model, to a lesser degree. The 2 am EDT run of the NOGAPS model did not go along with this idea, though. We will have to wait until the NOAA jet makes its first mission to sample the steering currents in the Gulf of Mexico to get a better idea on how probable this northern path might be; their first flight will be tonight, and the data will make it into the 8 pm models runs that will be available first thing Friday morning. As far as intensity goes, the very dry air to Nate's north should begin being less of a problem for it by Friday, when the upper level winds shift more to blow from the southeast, and the shear drops to the low range, 5 - 10 knots. Since the storm is moving very slowly, it will upwell cooler waters from the depths that will slow intensification, though. The earliest Nate would become a hurricane is probably on Saturday.


Figure 2. GOES-13 image of Hurricane Katia, Tropical Storm Maria, and Tropical Storm Nate taken at 8 am EDT September 8, 2011. Image credit: NASA/GSFC.

Tropical Storm Maria
Tropical Storm Maria is midway between the Northern Lesser Antilles Islands the coast of Africa, and due to arrive in the Northern Lesser Antilles late Friday night or Saturday morning. Satellite loops show that Maria has been ripped up pretty badly by the 10 - 20 knots of wind shear affecting it, with the low-level center exposed to view, and a few disorganized clumps of heavy thunderstorms lying to the west and northeast of the center. Water vapor satellite images show that Maria is embedded in a very moist environment. Ocean temperatures are near 28.5°C, which is 2°C above the 26.5°C threshold usually needed to sustain a tropical storm. Maria passed just south of Buoy 41041 this morning, and top sustained winds during passage were 42 mph, gusting to 56 mph. Maria will pass close to buoy 41040 near 8pm EDT tonight.

With wind shear predicted to continue in the moderate range for the next five days, and the storm struggling to maintain its circulation, strengthening of Maria to a hurricane before it reaches the Lesser Antilles seems unlikely at this time. None of the intensity models are calling for Maria to reach hurricane strength until well after the storm passes Puerto Rico. However, Mike Ventrice, a meteorology Ph.D. student at the University of Albany, pointed out to me yesterday that a atmospheric disturbance known as a Convectively-Coupled Kelvin Wave (CCKW) is passing through the Lesser Antilles Islands today, and is headed eastwards towards Maria at 25 mph. Maria will encounter this CCKW Thursday night or Friday morning. There is a great deal of upward-moving air in the vicinity of a CCKW, and will help strengthen the updrafts in Maria's thunderstorms, potentially intensifying the storm. None of our models are detailed enough to "see" CCKWs", so we may see more intensification of the storm than the models are calling for. Given the disorganized state Maria is currently in, though, the extra boost in upward motion provided by the CCKW may not make of a difference to the storm.

The track forecasts for Maria from the various models agree that the storm will affect the Northern Lesser Antilles Islands, Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. After it passes the Lesser Antilles, Maria has the usual amount of high uncertainty in its 5 - 7 day track forecast. The models are split on how strong the steering influence a trough of low pressure along the U.S. East Coast will have. The UKMET model prefers a more southerly track for Maria through the Turk and Caicos Islands and the Bahamas towards the U.S. East Coast, while the other models predict a more northwesterly track, with a potential threat to Bermuda. Climatology favors a track that would miss the U.S., with Dr. Bob Hart's track history pages suggesting that Maria has a 14% chance of hitting Canada, 5% chance of hitting Bermuda, and an 18% chance of hitting North Carolina.

Hurricane Katia
Hurricane Katia has brought a few rain showers and some gusty winds of 20 - 30 mph to Bermuda last night and this morning, but is not going to bring hazardous weather to the island as the storm makes it swing around Bermuda today and tomorrow. Latest satellite loops show that Katia is a shadow of its former Category 4 self, as dry air has eaten into the southwest side of the storm into the eye. Katia's outer rainbands should remain just offshore from North Carolina, New England, and the Canadian Maritime provinces at the point of closest approach. The main impact of Katia will be a multi-day period of high surf leading to beach erosion and dangerous rip currents.

I'll have an update this afternoon.

Jeff Masters

Bryn Athyn, PA (HighRdGeo)
Fetters Mill 9-8-11 morning
Bryn Athyn, PA

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The Wyoming Valley is now safe...Jim Cantore is coming!

Link
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting CaribBoy:


Tornados in the UK? I didn't know they were getting tornados.. and even severe t-storms


Found this info:

The United Kingdom has around 33 tornadoes per year, which is the second highest amount per land area in the world.

Occasionally, thunderstorms can be severe and produce large hailstones as seen in Ottery St Mary, Devon in October 2008, where drifts reached 1.8 metres (5 ft 11 in). (link)
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Quoting skook:



I used to go to psu sch., ive been to the berks campus a few times.





Thanks, I was trying to figure out the name of the river that goes through the town of Reading. To be exactly, I lived in the Sinking Springs area.
Member Since: August 31, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 5628
NAM is interesting..Link
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382. Marou
Quoting Patrap:
Maria has lost her skirt seems

Storm Relative 1km Geostationary Visible Imagery

it's appear that she is still at least a depression
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
If Nate moves North, does that somehow affect the trough that is supposed to come down? Can a Tropical system "push" a trough further North, or does a trough usually win out and "pick up" the tropical system. I know when a trough comes off the coast, they "pick up" the storms, just wondering if storms moving North from the Gulf can affect the movement of a trough. TIA
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Quoting CaribBoy:


Tornados in the UK? I didn't know they were getting tornados.. and even severe t-storms


The UK has the highest rate of tornadoes per sq km in the world.

Allo Gov'na

I wonder if they still sound like freight trains over there.
Member Since: August 19, 2008 Posts: 42 Comments: 6269
Quoting angiest:


We dont need a repeat of what Lee just did to us, especially with the fires already burning. We soon won't have to worry about trees getting blown down in a storm if that happens again, all the trees will go up in smoke.

The best chances I think for Texas to get some decent rains from Nate is if it comes in as a hurricane. After all, we all saw what happened with Don...
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Quoting wxobsvps:
What is Joe B's take today on Nate?



im surprised you asked the that lol...JOE B forcasts everything to hit the us...
Member Since: September 5, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 213
Quoting SarahFromFLA:
I am certainly no expert. I'm just a Floridian whose earliest memory was Hurricane Donna. Living on a barrier island I must pay attention to tropical cyclones, and have long found the topic very interesting.

I have often observed that when the intensity models are wrong it appears to be because they do not consider the affect of dry air. The NHC discussion I just read about Nate said absolutely nothing about the extremely dry air northwest of Nate. But I will be astonished if the dry air does not interfere with storm development.

I don't understand why the models do not take into account this factor that seems so obvious. In fact, to the best of my memory every single time that the experts showed surprise that a storm did not develop as they expected, the reason was dry air wrapping into the storm.


Irene entrained dry air as it passed Florida, but its eye wall also collapsed as it left the Bahamas and it never got it back.
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Live webcam on the Delware River, at Easton PA Link
Member Since: August 31, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 5628
375. skook
183 near PSU Berks is experiencing flooding

Link
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N Nate
A Attempting
T Texas
E Event ????
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Quoting SarahFromFLA:
I am certainly no expert. I'm just a Floridian whose earliest memory was Hurricane Donna. Living on a barrier island I must pay attention to tropical cyclones, and have long found the topic very interesting.

I have often observed that when the intensity models are wrong it appears to be because they do not consider the affect of dry air. The NHC discussion I just read about Nate said absolutely nothing about the extremely dry air northwest of Nate. But I will be astonished if the dry air does not interfere with storm development.

I don't understand why the models do not take into account this factor that seems so obvious. In fact, to the best of my memory every single time that the experts showed surprise that a storm did not develop as they expected, the reason was dry air wrapping into the storm.
Hello Sarah..What island do you live on?
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Quoting TampaSpin:


NOPE and a further South and West it should be trending.

I'm thinking that especially if it degenerates (temporarily) into an open wave, Maria will find itself in the middle of the Caribbean, then potentially in the GOMEX as a hurricane...we've seen it happen before...
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370. skook
Quoting GTcooliebai:
Whoa! Hey do you know how bad the flooding is in Reading, PA? I use to go to the Penn State Berks Campus, very hilly in that area.



I used to go to psu sch., ive been to the berks campus a few times.





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Quoting Caner:
Convection in the NE quadrant of Nate is still building.

The chance for the COC to become convection wrapped by this afternoon is increasing, if this trend continues.

Anyone got a link to current mid-level steering patterns?


MARIA should better do the same!
Member Since: October 6, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6453
Quoting CaneHunter031472:


I'll pray for that. I love Texas and Texas really needs the rain. I just whish it wasn't in the form of a hurricane, but beggers can't be choosers right?


We dont need a repeat of what Lee just did to us, especially with the fires already burning. We soon won't have to worry about trees getting blown down in a storm if that happens again, all the trees will go up in smoke.
Member Since: August 26, 2006 Posts: 16 Comments: 4766
Quoting Allyson00:
Please forgive my ignorance....but if Nate were to move further north would it just cause us more wind and fire or could we get a chance of rain.


Unlikely to bring rain to Texas, very likely to bring wind. Not a good scenario.
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Quoting CaribBoy:


St Maarten. And what about you?
in the island of grenada it is very hot down here and i could certainly do with the rain
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Quoting bel1234:
KATIA remnants are now targeting Europe:

http://weatheredge.blogspot.com/2011/09/katia-rem nants-targeting-europe.html

And I heard is going to be especially hard in the UK, rains, tornadoes...Could this be true?


Tornados in the UK? I didn't know they were getting tornados.. and even severe t-storms
Member Since: October 6, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6453
TS NATE

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 427 Comments: 129419
363. HCW
Quoting Patrap:


JB took a tanning and shaving day for a competition.

He will be back in da futcha maybe


Hopefully nobody post pics of him
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Quoting wxobsvps:
What is Joe B's take today on Nate?


The inverse of what the NHC is saying. (What Reed is saying)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
I am certainly no expert. I'm just a Floridian whose earliest memory was Hurricane Donna. Living on a barrier island I must pay attention to tropical cyclones, and have long found the topic very interesting.

I have often observed that when the intensity models are wrong it appears to be because they do not consider the affect of dry air. The NHC discussion I just read about Nate said absolutely nothing about the extremely dry air northwest of Nate. But I will be astonished if the dry air does not interfere with storm development.

I don't understand why the models do not take into account this factor that seems so obvious. In fact, to the best of my memory every single time that the experts showed surprise that a storm did not develop as they expected, the reason was dry air wrapping into the storm.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting wxobsvps:
What is Joe B's take today on Nate?


JB took a tanning and shaving day for a competition.

He will be back in da futcha maybe
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 427 Comments: 129419
Quoting TampaSpin:


Maria is actually NOW starting the scare me some......I don't like to see anything weak track into the Caribbean this time of year.....it makes things VERY DANGEROUS!
true well i know the models always depict the senario lets hope they are right with wat they are showing now and dont show something else completely different that will happen! such as a felix or dean however there is a storm similar to maria her name is chantal in 2000 and 1 or 2 i think
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358. Caner
Convection in the NE quadrant of Nate is still building.

The chance for the COC to become convection wrapped by this afternoon is increasing, if this trend continues.

Anyone got a link to current mid-level steering patterns?
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Quoting skook:



Agnes devastated many parts of eastern pa, and I guess they are using it as a reference and to show the severity of the current flooding.


Or they are stuck in a time-warp. ;) I'm familiar with Agnes (one of my favorites for strange storms, she became a tropical storm whilst moving west to east across the Yucatan), and I know that PA was one of the places her remnants hit hard. If showing the severity of the flooding today was what they meant, there was a better way to say it.
Member Since: August 26, 2006 Posts: 16 Comments: 4766
KATIA remnants are now targeting Europe:

http://weatheredge.blogspot.com/2011/09/katia-rem nants-targeting-europe.html

And I heard is going to be especially hard in the UK, rains, tornadoes...Could this be true?
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Quoting caribbeantracker01:
lol where are you located?


St Maarten. And what about you?
Member Since: October 6, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6453
Quoting wxobsvps:
Landfall @ 204...just east of TX/LA border
Rita flashback!
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What is Joe B's take today on Nate?
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.
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Quoting surfsidesindy:


What would support that kind of movement?


An open Wave or very weak system.
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Maria

Storm Relative 1km Geostationary Visible Imagery

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 427 Comments: 129419
I'm getting concerned here on the East Coast (28.1N 80.4W). Looks like Maria isn't strong enough to be pulled poleward. It's acting more like an open wave. Should see some more Westward trending in the modeling.
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Quoting basti11:



no quite the opposite the ridge will build in and get stronger as time goes along pushing anything away from texas into MEXICO..


Check your water vapor loops, the Texas High has been pushed down into Mexico with the remains of Lee moving West into the middle of the U.S. Should be a big gap in the ridge for Nate to move North or NE as long as old Lee is still spinning in the middle of the country!
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Quoting TampaSpin:


NOPE and a further South and West it should be trending.


What would support that kind of movement?
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@JimCantore
Jim Cantore
The forecast crest in Wilkes-Barre is inches from Agnes in '72 and the Levee Protection. Hence the evacuation of 100K people in the valley.

@JimCantore
Jim Cantore
The forecast crest at Hershey is now 11 FEET above the Old Record!! #flooding #pawx

@JimCantore
Jim Cantore
Montoursville, PA trained spotter reports FLOOD at 11:53 AM EDT slabtown bridge has collapsed & a nearby railroad bridge is heavily damaged
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Quoting RitaEvac:
Models are out to lunch, ignoring all of em


Seems my Son of Lee prediction was correcto ol Rita.

LoL
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 427 Comments: 129419
Quoting CaribBoy:
Come on MARIA, I know you can fire a BIG cluster of convection.
lol where are you located?
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Quoting caribbeantracker01:
tampa do you see convection increasing in its south quadrant soon Maria?


Maria is actually NOW starting the scare me some......I don't like to see anything weak track into the Caribbean this time of year.....it makes things VERY DANGEROUS!
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342. skook
Quoting angiest:


Whaaaa?



Agnes devastated many parts of eastern pa, and I guess they are using it as a reference and to show the severity of the current flooding.

Agnes was barely a hurricane at landfall in Florida, and the effects of winds and storm surges were relatively minor. The major impact was over the Mid-Atlantic region, where Agnes combined with a non-tropical low to produce widespread rains of 6 to 12 inches (300 mm) with local amounts up to 19 inches (480 mm) in western Schuylkill County in Pennsylvania.[2] These rains produced widespread severe flooding from Virginia northward to New York, with other flooding occurring over the western portions of the Carolinas. (from Hurricane Agnes Rainfall and Floods, June–July 1972)
Death Tolls by Area Area Deaths
Canada 2
Cuba 9
Florida 9
North Carolina 2
Virginia 13
Delaware 1
Maryland 19
New Jersey 1
New York 24
Pennsylvania 50
Total 130

Some of the worst flooding was along the Genesee River, the Canisteo River, and the Chemung River in southwestern and south central New York. The latter two flow into the Susquehanna River, and most of the severe flooding took place throughout the Chesapeake/Susquehanna watershed. Flooding set a flood record at, and threatened to overtop, the Conowingo Dam near the mouth of the Susquehanna in Maryland. The worst urban damage occurred in Elmira, New York, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, but many other communities along the rivers suffered great losses. Dick Baumbach, a reporter for The Elmira Star Gazette, covered the hurricane and almost lost his life while he was attempting to take a photograph of the very rapidly rising flood waters in Wellsburg, New York. He went on to be awarded the Associated Press Meritorious Service Award for his coverage of the hurricane. The Delaware River and Potomac River basins also had some flooding. So much fresh water was flushed into Chesapeake Bay that its seafood industry was badly damaged for several years; freshwater intolerant species such as jellyfish became largely non-existent in the upper and mid bay.[3]Link

Schuylkill=skook hence where my name comes from.
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Come on MARIA, I know you can fire a BIG cluster of convection.
Member Since: October 6, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6453
Quoting defdogz:


No, we have two seasons up north here. Winter, and Construction.


I forgot about that part too. Our construction season runs from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31st.
Member Since: March 10, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 10631
Quoting angiest:


In that run Nate looks healthy enough to give maybe the eastern 2/3rds of SE Texas a decent show at rain. Lee caused rain in about the eastern 1/3rd of the area.


I'll pray for that. I love Texas and Texas really needs the rain. I just whish it wasn't in the form of a hurricane, but beggers can't be choosers right?
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I probably would not worry too much at this point. even if it goes a bit more westward, I believe a stronger trough is supposed to come down sometime next week.

I am surprised because I thought the models would have factored that into her path??

maybe something is hidden here! :)
Member Since: July 12, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1133
I got NO rain here today so far.......gotta do the lawn work while its dry.......BBL
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Quoting TampaSpin:


NOPE and a further South and West it should be trending.
tampa do you see convection increasing in its south quadrant soon Maria?
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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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