Fourteen U.S. billion-dollar weather disasters in 2011: a new record

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 12:12 PM GMT on November 04, 2011

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It's time to add another billion-dollar weather disaster to the growing 2011 total of these costly disasters: the extraordinary early-season Northeast U.S. snowstorm of October 29, which dumped up to 32 inches of snow, brought winds gusts of 70 mph to the coast, and killed at least 22 people. Not since the infamous snow hurricane of 1804 have such prodigious amounts of October snow been recorded in New England and, to a lesser extent, in the mid-Atlantic states. Trees that had not yet lost their leaves suffered tremendous damage from the wet, heavy snow. Snapped branches and falling trees brought down numerous power lines, leaving at least 3 million people without electricity. The damage estimate in Connecticut alone is $3 billion, far more than the damage Hurricane Irene did to the state. Hundreds of thousands still remain without power a week after the storm, with full electricity not expected to be restored until Monday.


Figure 1. Wet, heavy snow from the October 29, 2011 snowstorm weighing down trees still sporting their fall leaves in Winchester, VA. Image credit: wunderphotographer MaddScientist98.

The October 29 snow storm brings the 2011 tally of U.S. billion-dollar weather disasters to fourteen, thoroughly smashing the previous record of nine such disasters, set in 2008. Between 1980 - 2010, the U.S. averaged 3.5 of these weather disasters per year. Through August, the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) estimated that ten weather disasters costing at least $1 billion had hit the U.S., at total cost of up to $45 billion. However, the October 29 snow storm brings us up to eleven billion-dollar disasters, and a new disaster analysis done by global reinsurance company AON Benfield adds three more. Flood damage from the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee in the Northeast on September 8 is now estimated at more than $1 billion, and two outbreaks of severe thunderstorms and tornadoes--one in April and one in June--now have damage estimates exceeding $1 billion. A remarkable seven severe thunderstorm/tornado outbreaks did more than $1 billion each in damage in 2011, and an eighth outbreak July 10 - 14 came close, with damages of $900 million. In total, the fourteen billion-dollar disasters killed 675 people. Tornadoes, hurricanes, and floods in these fourteen disasters killed over 600 people, putting 2011 into fourth place since 1940 for most deaths by severe storms. Only 2005, with over 1,000 deaths caused by Katrina, 1969, with over 700 hurricane and flood-related deaths, and 1972, with 676 hurricane and flood-related deaths, were deadlier years for storms, according to NOAA. The fourteen billion-dollar weather disasters of 2011 caused $53 billion in damage, putting 2011 in fifth place for most damages from billion-dollar weather disasters. The top damage years, according to NCDC in adjusted 2011 dollars, were 2005 (the year of Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma), 2008 (Hurricane Ike), 1988 (Midwest drought), and 1980 (Midwest drought). With nearly two months remaining in 2011, the potential exists for more billion-dollar weather disasters this year. Our first opportunity comes Tuesday, when the NOAA Storm Prediction Center is forecasting the possibility of a severe weather outbreak centered over Arkansas and Missouri.


Video 1. Remarkable video of the tornado that hit Tuscaloosa, Alabama during the April 25 - 30, 2011 Super Outbreak. This tornado outbreak was the most expensive U.S. weather-related disaster of 2011, with damages estimated at $9 billion. Fast forward to minute four to see the worst of the storm.

Here are AON Benfield's estimates of the damages and NCDC's estimates of the death tolls from 2011's fourteen billion-dollar weather disasters (a clickable version of this table with information on each disaster is available on our severe weather resource page):



Have a great weekend, everyone, and I'll be back with a new post on Monday.

Angela Fritz is subbing for Ricky Rood this week, and has written an interesting post on the latest climate change controversy, the release of the new Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature (BEST) study by skeptic Dr. Richard Muller.

Jeff Masters

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Is it not totally possible that the earth has been through many normal hot and cold cycles all on its own.

It's a well-accepted fact that the Earth has been through multiple hot and cold cycles. Some have been caused by changes in Earth orbit, some by changes in solar behavior, some by changes in the height of mountain ranges, some by the movement of continents which have changed ocean current patterns.


Is that aggravated by some things humans do

We know of no previous extreme hot/cold cycles which had a significant human input. Humans have lived on the planet for a very short time in geological terms.


will thwarting technology advances and freedoms to drive a gas car stop the cycle

That's part of the solution, not thwarting technological advances or halting the freedom to drive, but changing how we produce our energy would keep the cycle from accelerating even faster than it already is.

Were we to switch to renewable energy for our electricity, heating and transportation we would no longer need to extract carbon from underneath the Earth and pump it into our atmosphere. We can do everything with renewables that we now do with fossil fuels. And we can save money by switching to renewables.

Do you know how much we spend in tax dollars and health insurance premiums because we're burning coal?

Do you realize that wind farms and solar panels pay for themselves in not that many years and then produce almost free electricity for decades? Wind and solar have no fuel costs.

Do you realize that if you drove an EV you'd pay less than 1/4th as much per mile than you now pay to drive the average US gas-burning car?


This debate could go so munch better if we stopped hanging the political and ideological angles on it.

I agree. Let's stick to the scientific and economic angles. If we leave the political and ideological angles out then it's clear that getting off fossil fuels helps us in so many ways. There's the health cost, the $1 billion per day to purchase foreign oil, the changes in our climate that are screwing our weather systems, etc.


We are in a warming trend, no doubt, but if just the US goes back to horse and buggy, or the world for that matter will it stop the sun from being hotter? Will it stop the normal cycles

Well, based on changes in Earth orbit and the measured output from the Sun over the last few decades we should be in a cooling trend. Something other than Earth orbit and solar output are warming us up. Decades of research and thousands of research projects have identified no cause other than humans extracting and burning fossil fuels. No one has found an alternate explanation for which there is any supporting data.

We don't need to go back to horse and buggy technology, we need to rush forward to 21st Century technology and leave 20th Century fossil fuel technology behind us along with 19th Century horse-powered technology.

We've got the technology we need right now to almost totally replace fossil fuels. All we need to do is to get to work installing it.

Lots of good jobs for Americans building and installing wind turbines, solar panels, and storage systems.

Lots of cleaner air for all Americans as well as lower utility bills for all.

And just consider the physics of a strong, destructive storm. Putting more energy into our atmosphere and oceans in terms of heat is going to make those storms even more destructive. And no one should know more about how heat feeds storms than those who follow extreme weather as people here do.

(Back to lurking... ;o)





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Quoting islander101010:
camping in north fl. two weeks ago and my oranges are still cold. the joke at the camp was yea global warming 30s oct in florida.. yea this is the affect of global weather change some said. me i was just frozen. at least the music was insane.


GW means extreme temperature fluctuations and it also alters wx patterns as experienced the last few years where it's warmer in Maine than in FL in the middle of Winter due to the NAO. Same type of situation may play out this year that is why I'm not buying the above normal temps this winter for the SE US eventhough we are in La-Nina.
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This is a weather blog, not a political one. All post referring to politics will be flagged. I mean GW is on topic, but capitalism is a failure ect is not.
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78. MTWX
Quoting TXMegaWatt:
I will be in NOLA all next week for a conference. Anyone have any good suggestions for places to go or eat? I've never been there so I'm up for anything.

Send a WUmail to Patrap. He knows NOLA better than anyone else I know!
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Quoting TXMegaWatt:
I will be in NOLA all next week for a conference. Anyone have any good suggestions for places to go or eat? I've never been there so I'm up for anything.


Patrap is the man for you ask. He can tell you of all the best and less in NOLA!
Member Since: August 24, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 4737
I will be in NOLA all next week for a conference. Anyone have any good suggestions for places to go or eat? I've never been there so I'm up for anything.
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...the community of voices raising concerns about AGW are recommending we go back to horse and buggy?
that's a shocking (false) development. thanks for the hyperbolic humor though..
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Quoting bohonkweatherman:
Financially? Since the drought is still going on who knows? I wish I could see any kind of improvement where I live but i have seen none in 14 months except it isn't 110 right now, that I am thankful but the damage is Unreal where I live.


Bohonk, I hope you guys get some of the wet weather expected here in Dallas next week. A lot of rain is forecast for our area beginning Monday.
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Quoting divingpyrate:
Here is both the problem and the exposing motive behind the man made global warming quarrel

Is it not totally possible that the earth has been through many normal hot and cold cycles all on its own.

YES

Is that aggravated by some things humans do

YES

will thwarting technology advances and freedoms to drive a gas car stop the cycle

NO

This debate could go so munch better if we stopped hanging the political and ideological angles on it.

We are in a warming trend, no doubt, but if just the US goes back to horse and buggy, or the world for that matter will it stop the sun from being hotter?
Will it stop the normal cycles

Please


Well put!
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Here is both the problem and the exposing motive behind the man made global warming quarrel

Is it not totally possible that the earth has been through many normal hot and cold cycles all on its own.

YES

Is that aggravated by some things humans do

YES

will thwarting technology advances and freedoms to drive a gas car stop the cycle

NO

This debate could go so munch better if we stopped hanging the political and ideological angles on it.

We are in a warming trend, no doubt, but if just the US goes back to horse and buggy, or the world for that matter will it stop the sun from being hotter?
Will it stop the normal cycles

Please
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Quoting Some1Has2BtheRookie:


How, may I ask, is my comment meaningless?

It's meaningless because "I am advocating a future that is not made more complicated by the effects we produce today" doesn't advocate for anything. It simply states a cliche.

It's like saying "I'm for world peace." Who isn't for world peace? The issue is, how do you get there?
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Quoting jrweatherman:
"skeptic Dr. Richard Muller". U mean someone who doesn't see it your way or has his own opinion.


Dr. Richard Muller remains a skeptic, even today. Dr. Muller was skeptical that the data collected from "urban heat" areas and from thermometers that were "sub par", compared to others, were capable of producing usable data. What he and his team discovered is that , yes, the data is usable and shows no real bias. Dr. Muller remains skeptical today towards if the IPCC reports showed enough warming as to what his research has revealed. Dr. Muller is now skeptical as to if the IPCC showed enough warming. In all fairness, Dr. Muller and his team did not attribute any cause towards the warming trend that he and his team realized... I always appreciate true skeptics. I less appreciate those that will deny with no real scientific basis for their denial.
Member Since: August 24, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 4737
Quoting EasyRiderX:
As was said yesterday the Texas town that is being abandoned due to lack of water is just the beginning. A rare and new event that will become the norm.

Sound familiar?

Rare, perhaps, but not new. You don't have to look too far back in the history of the United States to find a block of years that makes this year look like a walk in the park. In the 1920s, the Great Plains from Texas into Canada had an unusually wet decade. Then, in the 1930s (especially 1930-1936), we entered a period called the Dust Bowl, which left in its wake a mass migration of some 2.5 million people from the Great Plains and caused many towns to be abandoned.

No one likes this year's drought. But, so far it doesn't light a candle to the 1930s; and, here's praying its a shorter-term proposition.
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Quoting DallasGumby:

Your comment is meaningless.

As to what I am advocating - I advocate the spread of free markets around the globe, because as free markets spread, the human condition across the globe improves. I am not advocating the forced reduction in economic output in the United States (or anywhere else, for that matter), something which will cause (in fact, is causing) widespread hardship evidenced by mass unemployment and all the negative effects of mass unemployment.

To the extent that carbon output is a meaningful yardstick by which to measure nations, the United States fares quite well on the global scale, considering our share of carbon output is roughly 70% of our share of economic output.


How, may I ask, is my comment meaningless? Is it meaningless that I wish that we give future generations a chance at the same successes we have enjoyed? We already have a semblance of free markets and free trade. I believe the only way to continue this, in the future, is for us to not strip away the vast majority of our resources and a favorable climate now. Without placing serious efforts towards protecting our climate and our environment now, future generations will expend all of their resources just trying to maintain life. Unless we make adjustments now, "free trade" and "free markets" will consist of wars over clean water, clean air and a climate that supports life, as we know it. ... How does maintaining the status quo now help to assure the success of our future generations? I am at a loss as to how we can do this without making serious and dedicated adjustments towards how we do things now.
Member Since: August 24, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 4737
Quoting EvPv:
What is the damage from the Texas drought this year?
Financially? Since the drought is still going on who knows? I wish I could see any kind of improvement where I live but i have seen none in 14 months except it isn't 110 right now, that I am thankful but the damage is Unreal where I live.
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Quoting Patrap:
I think the blog has never seen the sanity it now enjoy's.


But datz jus me maybe?

: )

I dropped in on one other site where a lot of people went and didn't like the goofyness, the profanity, and the lack of respect being shown to some. Especially the profanity. I'm not used to having kid's level of cursing and raunchy talk in something I read regularly. That was the last time I visited that site. I'd rather have the serious discussion and do without a few people who don't want to be here anyway. On the anti-AGW people who are denying truth in favor of their religious or political fervor, I don't like to read them so I use the ignore button. Then I am undisturbed by their rants. Give me fact and back-up and then let me make up my own mind. Don't try to spin things into the blender so fast I have no way of figuring out what the foundation of your arguments might be. It's pontification to sound off as if one knows all the answers and anyone else must be wrong. It insults the true seekers among us, and disrespects those with different views who could be quite right with their views. Enough for a gorgeous fall day.
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2011 has been a very bad year. Unfortunately these events are no longer uncommon surprises. They are becoming not just frequent but the expected norm.

Of particular interest to me is the severe drought lined up alongside severe flooding. Precipitation extremes occurred all around the globe this year.

That to me would show the weather has gone irregular. We are going to have to come up with new baseline norms otherwise every new event is going to be labeled as historic. When you have 14 historic events in a row they are no longer historic. They are the norm. When historic events become the norm you know things have gone wrong.

What is the new bar for a historic event? I'm not sure any of us want to know. If we continue in this direction we are going to find out and soon.

Watch the Wild China program last night on Discovery. It showed how the Tibetan plateau feeds several billion people their water supplies. Towards the end of the show they remarked how the once great glaciers are almost gone. When they are gone so is the vast water supply so many, one third of our global population, depend on.

You don't need to think too hard to know what that means. As was said yesterday the Texas town that is being abandoned due to lack of water is just the beginning. A rare and new event that will become the norm.

Sound familiar?
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Quoting AussieStorm:

I advocate this.


That is a poor invention for a couple of reasons.

What happens when the open regions of the tires fill with mud, dirt, or snow? What happens when other debris finds it's way in there as it easily would?

Do I spend an hour scraping the debris out of the tires to regain a comfortable ride?

What happens when the mischievous kids down the block slide a broom handle through the spokes and I don't see it and try to drive off?

It would seem to me like this tire invention is begging for trouble.
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59. EvPv
What is the damage from the Texas drought this year?
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"skeptic Dr. Richard Muller". U mean someone who doesn't see it your way or has his own opinion.
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Click for full size image.
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15935
Quoting DallasGumby:

Your comment is meaningless.

As to what I am advocating - I advocate the spread of free markets around the globe, because as free markets spread, the human condition across the globe improves. I am not advocating the forced reduction in economic output in the United States (or anywhere else, for that matter), something which will cause (in fact, is causing) widespread hardship evidenced by mass unemployment and all the negative effects of mass unemployment.

To the extent that carbon output is a meaningful yardstick by which to measure nations, the United States fares quite well on the global scale, considering our share of carbon output is roughly 70% of our share of economic output.

I advocate this.
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15935
Quoting Some1Has2BtheRookie:


I am advocating a future that is not made more complicated by the effects we produce today. ..... What is it that you are advocating?

Your comment is meaningless.

As to what I am advocating - I advocate the spread of free markets around the globe, because as free markets spread, the human condition across the globe improves. I am not advocating the forced reduction in economic output in the United States (or anywhere else, for that matter), something which will cause (in fact, is causing) widespread hardship evidenced by mass unemployment and all the negative effects of mass unemployment.

To the extent that carbon output is a meaningful yardstick by which to measure nations, the United States fares quite well on the global scale, considering our share of carbon output is roughly 70% of our share of economic output.
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camping in north fl. two weeks ago and my oranges are still cold. the joke at the camp was yea global warming 30s oct in florida.. yea this is the affect of global weather change some said. me i was just frozen. at least the music was insane.
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Quoting TampaSpin:


Zip me your email....or go to my site and put it there...Ya many of the good old boys and gals are not on any more as they simply got tired and went on to other places.....they really need to evaluate things on here.....JMO.....Thanks Brother...have a great day and weekend!

Any idea where they all went, zip me a WU-mail of some locations.
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15935
I'll be there Sunday.


"U betcha"
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Quoting Patrap:
yeah,, dat must be it.

LoL


Jest missing with ya PAT....gotta a big game in the big easy on Sunday.....Good luck!
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yeah,, dat must be it.

LoL

We all know how Loud dem folks were.
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I guess it has toned down since all the Conservatives have left and all that is left is the Liberal LEFT........have a great day everyone.....ENJOY your Weekend!
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Quoting DallasGumby:

Actually, that chart showed the U.S. contribution to be 16.4%. Meanwhile, the United States produced more than 23% of the world's economic output in 2010. The problem is not the United States - unless you are advocating that the U.S. reduce its economic output.


I am advocating a future that is not made more complicated by the effects we produce today. ..... What is it that you are advocating?
Member Since: August 24, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 4737
I think the blog has never seen the sanity it now enjoy's.


But datz jus me maybe?

: )
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tampaspin tell me
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Quoting NEwxguy:


Thanks,no haven't been around much on this blog,get tired of the stuff that goes on here,and not many of the regulars on here anymore either.Drop in from time to time if something interesting is going on.


Zip me your email....or go to my site and put it there...Ya many of the good old boys and gals are not on any more as they simply got tired and went on to other places.....they really need to evaluate things on here.....JMO.....Thanks Brother...have a great day and weekend!
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Quoting Some1Has2BtheRookie:


The U.S. has about 5% of the world's population but, the U.S. is responsible for about 25% of the greenhouse gas emissions. While the rest of the world needs to do their part, in lowering greenhouse gas emissions, we certainly need to do our part as well. Our 25% contribution is fairly substantial when you consider that we have also exported most of our "dirty" manufacturing jobs to other countries.

Actually, that chart showed the U.S. contribution to be 16.4%. Meanwhile, the United States produced more than 23% of the world's economic output in 2010. The problem is not the United States - unless you are advocating that the U.S. reduce its economic output.
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C'est la vie.

Whats a reg-la anyway?

Aruba does dat to some.
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Quoting TampaSpin:


So sorry i did not know.....I know what its like and how tuff it is.....My heart goes out to ya. Guess i have not seen you on much lately. Again Sorry for your loss.


Thanks,no haven't been around much on this blog,get tired of the stuff that goes on here,and not many of the regulars on here anymore either.Drop in from time to time if something interesting is going on.
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Quoting Neapolitan:

2011's year-to-date disasters are up to fourteen. That's 55% above the record set just three years ago, and 334% above the 1980-2010 normal. Would it be your opinion, then, that the nation's population density has increased that much since 1980?

Whether it's climate change or just mere coincidence, one can't simply ignore the fact that something peculiar is going on.


334% ? Source?
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Good Morning. On the topic of long-term trends, I am not sure of when the "active" period of the current multi-decadal Atlantic signal (AMO)is supposed to end but it has remained very active for the last several seasons with no end in sight. Have to see what happens over the next decade in terms of the numbers.

Here is a paper from Kloztbach on this issue from February.

Everyone Have a Great Weekend.

Link

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Quoting surferjoe5899:


Yeah it could only be Gorebull warming right?

Couldnt possibly be that we now have much denser population or the fact that people now live where there used to be nothing but farms?

More money only means more destruction to human property. To try to link it to anything else it ignorant.
And, in addition, sometimes the destructive force of the storms is random. We have tornadoes every year in the Southeast, South, and Midwest. Sometimes they hit the heart of cities, like this year in Joplin and Tuscaloosa. Sometimes, they miss the cities. This year, particularly sadly for the people of Joplin and Tuscaloosa, they hit the cities.
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We are now boarding for Flight# 0001 to Mars

Even at my age, this would be an exciting trip.
Member Since: August 24, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 4737
Quoting NEwxguy:
I was one of the lucky ones that didn't lose power,but some 80,000 people in Mass still without power.Major tree damage around the area.
I lost my dad about a year and half ago.


So sorry i did not know.....I know what its like and how tuff it is.....My heart goes out to ya. Guess i have not seen you on much lately. Again Sorry for your loss.
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7544 how cold does it showing it get
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33. 7544
Quoting TampaSpin:



WOW...Land Cane...it gets stronger on the Coast and moves SE toward the Bahamas the models show.


yeap models to seem to develope this this to become atropical system moving sse to the bahamas but seem to be confused on where it will head from run to run but interesting no less and the good ole cmc shows 2 more ts hmmmmm is the season really over stay tuned
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I was one of the lucky ones that didn't lose power,but some 80,000 people in Mass still without power.Major tree damage around the area.
I lost my dad about a year and half ago.
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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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