Extreme weather and climate change: a new IPCC report

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:48 PM GMT on November 18, 2011

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Extreme weather events are already being affected by human-caused climate change, and will increase in destructive power during the coming decades as huge cost, reported the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) today. The IPCC issues reports on the state of the scientific knowledge of climate change every six years, with the next full report due out in 2013. However, concern over the possible impact climate change may already be having on extreme weather events like heat waves, floods, and droughts prompted the IPCC to release their first-ever Special Report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation (SREX). The SREX report was divided into two sections: how human-caused climate change has already affected extreme weather events, and predictions on how these events will change during the rest of the century. Here are some highlights on how the climate has already changed, according to the SREX report:

- Globally, cold days and nights have decreased, and warm days and nights have increased (90 - 100% chance).

- In many but not all regions of the globe, the length or number of heat waves has increased.

- Some areas have seen more intense and longer droughts, in particular, southern Europe and West Africa. However, droughts have become less frequent, less intense, or shorter in some areas, such as central North America and northwestern Australia.

- Heavy precipitation events have changed in some regions. There is at least a 2-in-3 probability that more regions have seen increases than decreases in heavy precipitation events.

- The historical data base on hurricanes and tropical cyclones is not good enough to tell if they have changed.

- The jet stream has shifted towards the poles, meaning that the tracks of rain-bearing low pressure systems have also shifted towards the poles.

- Rising sea levels have led to an increase in extreme coastal flooding events (66 - 100% chance).

- Damage from extreme weather events has increased. Increases in population and wealth, and the fact more people are living in vulnerable areas, is a major cause of this increase in damage. It is uncertain if climate change is partially responsible for the increase in damage.


Figure 1. Predicted return periods for 1-day extreme precipitation events that occurred, on average, only once every 20 years between 1981-2000. A decrease in return period implies more frequent extreme precipitation events (i.e., less time between events on average). For Eastern North America, a 1-in-20 year heavy rain event is predicted to become a 1-in-7 to 1-in-9 year event by the end of the century, according to these climate model predictions. The box plots show results for regionally averaged projections for two time horizons, 2046 to 2065 and 2081 to 2100, as compared to the late-20th-century, and for three different emissions scenarios--a scenario where humans emit relatively little CO2 and other heat-trapping gasses (B1, blue bars), and two higher-emission scenarios (A1B and A2, green and red bars). Humanity is currently on a pace to emit more CO2 than the highest emission scenario shown here. Results are based on 14 climate models that contributed to the 2007 IPCC report. The level of agreement among the models is indicated by the size of the colored boxes (in which 50% of the model projections are contained), and the length of the whiskers (indicating the maximum and minimum projections from all models). Values are computed for land points only. The “Globe” inset box displays the values computed using all land grid points. Averaged over all areas of the globe, a 1-in-20 year heavy rain event is predicted to become a 1-in-8 to 1-in-12 year event by the end of the century. Image credit: The IPCC Special Report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters (SREX), 2011.

Here are some highlights of the forecasts for the future from the 2011 SREX report:

- A 1-in-20 year hottest day is at least 66% likely to become a 1-in-2 year event by the end of the 21st century in most regions, except in the high latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere, where it is likely to become a 1-in-5 year event.

- For Eastern North America, a 1-in-20 year heavy rain event is predicted to become a 1-in-7 to 1-in-9 year event by the end of the century.

- For Eastern North America, a maximum high temperature that occurred only once every 20 years during 1980 - 2000 is predicted to occur between once every three years and once per year by 2100.

- Extreme high temperature readings that occur once every 20 years will increase by 1°C to 3°C (1.8°F - 5.4°F) by mid-21st century and by about 2°C to 5°C (3.6°F - 9°F) by late-21st century.

- It is at least 66% likely that the frequency of heavy precipitation or the proportion of total rainfall from heavy falls will increase in the 21st century over many areas of the globe. This is particularly the case in the high latitudes and tropical regions, and in winter in the northern mid-latitudes. There is medium confidence that, in some regions, increases in heavy precipitation will occur despite projected decreases of total precipitation in those regions.

- Heavy rainfalls associated with tropical cyclones are at least 66% likely to increase with continued warming, and the maximum winds will increase. The total number of these storms is likely to remain about the same or decrease.

- There is medium confidence that droughts will intensify in the 21st century in some seasons and areas. Southern Europe and the Mediterranean region, central Europe, Central North America, Central America and Mexico, northeast Brazil, and southern Africa are at particular risk.

- In some regions, the main driver for increased damages from extreme weather events will not be climate change, but increases in population and wealth and vulnerability.

Intoducing climatecommunication.org
For those of you seeking detailed information on the research linking extreme weather events to climate change, I recommend a new website dedicated to improving communication of climate change information to the public, media, and policy makers, climatecommunication.org. The group is led by Susan Joy Hassol, a veteran climate change communicator, analyst, and author known for her ability to translate science into English, making complex issues accessible to policymakers and the public. Climatecommunication.org has put together an overview of extreme weather and climate change that I find a helpful resource when I am looking for the latest research results on the subject. I serve on their advisory board, along with a number of leading climate scientists.


Figure 2. Still image of the Bangkok, Thailand floods of October - November, 2011, as seen on the inaugural episode our new bi-monthly Extreme Weather video series.

Wunderground launches new Extreme Weather video series
Wunderground now features a new, twice-monthly Extreme Weather video series from GREEN.TV, with the latest reports and analysis on extreme weather around the world. From droughts to hurricanes to blizzards to flooding, Extreme Weather will cover the story and the science behind the events to try to understand their causes and consequences. The Extreme Weather series is sponsored by Vestas, the world's leading wind turbine manufacturer. The inaugural episode, launched yesterday, features video of the great Thailand flood, destructive floods in Italy, the $3 billion Northeast U.S. snowstorm of October 29 - 30, the massive Bering Sea, Alaska blizzard of November 9, the Texas drought, and the launch of a new polar-orbiting weather satellite. Look for a new video every two weeks on our Climate Change Videos page.

Resources
For those of you who haven't seen it, my top "must-read" post of 2011 is called, 2010 - 2011: Earth's most extreme weather since 1816?. Back in June, I went through the ridiculous barrage of extreme weather events the planet saw in 2010 and early 2011, and concluded: But it is highly improbable that the remarkable extreme weather events of 2010 and 2011 could have all happened in such a short period of time without some powerful climate-altering force at work. The best science we have right now maintains that human-caused emissions of heat-trapping gases like CO2 are the most likely cause of such a climate-altering force.

Wunderground's climate change blogger, Dr. Ricky Rood, has some thoughtful observations on the communication of the extreme weather/climate change link published in earthzine magazine titled, Changing the Media Discussion on Climate Change and Extreme Weather.

Jeff Masters

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Quoting TomTaylor:
Thanks for the tips, lookn forward to my daily tip tomorrow :p lol

And I work at Claire's on Cedros, my aunt's (Claire's) restaurant, its a breakfast and lunch place in Solana Beach, California, which is a pretty nice part of San Diego county so food is a little more pricy.


dads military i loved san diego... was the best place on the tour. when will you get to serve?
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Quoting VAbeachhurricanes:


I only stopped because of college ill do it again next summer. Yeah the main thing you should remember, is that when people ask for their checks its usually because they need to leave. Either to get to a show, or maybe a babysitter's at home. So always do that, and always greet and take order right away, people are much more understanding if you keep checking it, refilling drinks etc. if the kitchen is a little behind. One other thing, try and make small talk but what youll come to realize is that the serious ones who didn't come to talk to you and just want good service are the ones that tip the most.

Well there is my coaching tip of the day... lol.
What restaurant do you work at?
Thanks for the tips, lookn forward to my daily tip tomorrow :p lol

And I work at Claire's on Cedros, my aunt's (Claire's) restaurant, its a breakfast and lunch place in Solana Beach, California, which is a pretty nice part of San Diego county so food is a little more pricy.
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One thing I do know is that it isn't turtles all the way down.
After accepting that fact, it isn't possible to come to a point describing the "beginning" other than "I can't explain."
Where did God come from?
Where did the singularity come from?
At some point, no one can avoid saying "I don't know."
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Quoting TomTaylor:
Cool to see another person from the restaurant business, though I'm guessing you are no longer in it.

And the bold is true lol, the bus boy is the middle man, we do everything in between. Although when I get to waiting tables I'm going to try my best to take people's orders and get them their checks as soon as possible. Those are the two things I get requested most from people and where the most room for time cutting is in my opinion.


I only stopped because of college ill do it again next summer. Yeah the main thing you should remember, is that when people ask for their checks its usually because they need to leave. Either to get to a show, or maybe a babysitter's at home. So always do that, and always greet and take order right away, people are much more understanding if you keep checking it, refilling drinks etc. if the kitchen is a little behind. One other thing, try and make small talk but what youll come to realize is that the serious ones who didn't come to talk to you and just want good service are the ones that tip the most.

Well there is my coaching tip of the day... lol.
What restaurant do you work at?
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Quoting VAbeachhurricanes:


I was a server, and loved my best bussers. It was great, getting the good bussers means more tables turned means more tip money. Sometimes I would give them some of my tip money on top of the percentage they are already cut, you guys make us more than we ever could on our own :D
Cool to see another person from the restaurant business, though I'm guessing you are no longer in it.

And the bold is true lol, the bus boy is the middle man, we do everything in between. Although when I get to waiting tables I'm going to try my best to take people's orders and get them their checks as soon as possible. Those are the two things I get requested most from people and where the most room for time cutting is in my opinion.
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Quoting VAbeachhurricanes:
The reason I believe in god is because there is no explanation where everything came from. I understand and believe the big bang theory, I am a physics major after all, but until someone can explain how something can come from nothing, I have to believe that it is from somewhere, from something. However I do hate the fact that some people say if you are a christian you can't believe in evolution. or modern science like string theory/ quantum mechanics. That's stupid, you can obviously do both Newton and many other famous founders of physics were very religious.
Problem is who made God then. I guess you could say he made himself, there's no real counter to that except that it makes no sense lol. Also, what is the proof that there is a God?

Either way, I can't explain where the Big Bang came from nor can I prove that there is a God, therefore I chose to be agnostic - recognizing the potential for him to exist but not believing in a God.
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Quoting TomTaylor:
lol it's cool now he was just being a lazy toad trying to get me to do his chores since he thought I did nothing today...but oh wait, I worked 9hrs today busing tables (if you've ever done it, you'd know it's a lot of work-physical work), woke up 3 hrs before him and I didn't get home until after 1am last night.

Anyway, yeah it was my Dad who mostly instilled a sense of atheism in me, but I also had unanswered questions. I also despise organized religion, although I try not to show it much because I know it's offensive to people and I wouldn't want a religious person pestering me because I don't believe.

There are still facts though...ie, religion was invented, religion has allowed the few to control the many, and it has also been the root for countless wars, scientific advancement has been impeded by religion, list goes on


I was a server, and loved my best bussers. It was great, getting the good bussers means more tables turned means more tip money. Sometimes I would give them some of my tip money on top of the percentage they are already cut, you guys make us more than we ever could on our own :D
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I would rather believe something, then just have no theory. For me thats god, for you, i don't know. Believing in something that can't be proven doesn't mean you are ignorant, meanw you have faith. Why can't there be a god? Wouldn't the logical thing be to believe in it? If you are wrong the same result will happen to your body as if you are an atheist. If you are an atheist and your wrong, then what happens?
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Quoting KoritheMan:

Questions that couldn't be answered. That, and I've naturally been predisposed toward skepticism anyway. In hindsight, I never really was that serious with my faith, save for about a year in 2004. After I became an atheist, I was fiercely against religion (not just Christianity). I softened up after that, and although I still consider myself fairly mellow, I definitely despise religion now. Odd how much in circles I went.

Sorry to hear that about your brother.
lol it's cool now he was just being a lazy toad trying to get me to do his chores since he thought I did nothing today...but oh wait, I worked 9hrs today busing tables (if you've ever done it, you'd know it's a lot of work-physical work), woke up 3 hrs before him and I didn't get home until after 1am last night.

Anyway, yeah it was my Dad who mostly instilled a sense of atheism in me, but I also had unanswered questions. I also despise organized religion, although I try not to show it much because I know it's offensive to people and I wouldn't want a religious person pestering me because I don't believe.

There are still facts though...ie, religion was invented, religion has allowed the few to control the many, and it has also been the root for countless wars, scientific advancement has been impeded by religion, list goes on
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Quoting VAbeachhurricanes:
The reason I believe in god is because there is no explanation where everything came from. I understand and believe the big bang theory, I am a physics major after all, but until someone can explain how something can come from nothing, I have to believe that it is from somewhere, from something.
Yes, but that leads to infinite regression. What caused god, etc.?

Besides, I'm much more comfortable reviling in (or at least accepting) my ignorance regarding the universe than I am needlessly attributing it to a god or some sort of deific force. Ignorance is not an excuse for the whole "god of the gaps" leap.
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The reason I believe in god is because there is no explanation where everything came from. I understand and believe the big bang theory, I am a physics major after all, but until someone can explain how something can come from nothing, I have to believe that it is from somewhere, from something. However I do hate the fact that some people say if you are a christian you can't believe in evolution. or modern science like string theory/ quantum mechanics. That's stupid, you can obviously do both Newton and many other famous founders of physics were very religious.
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Quoting TomTaylor:

what made you become a non believer?
Questions that couldn't be answered. That, and I've naturally been predisposed toward skepticism anyway. In hindsight, I never really was that serious with my faith, save for about a year in 2004. After I became an atheist, I was fiercely against religion (not just Christianity). I softened up after that, and although I still consider myself fairly mellow, I definitely despise religion now. Odd how much in circles I went.

Sorry to hear that about your brother.
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Quoting KoritheMan:

Hehehe, try living in a family full of Christians.
Sorry that response above was a little heated, I'm pissed at my little brother right now so it was kinda coming through in that post. I don't hate religion as much as it may seem in that post.

That sounds rough though, what made you become a non believer?
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Quoting TomTaylor:


As long as one is happy and not annoying me or others, I will respect their religion. If they try and force their viewpoints on others or deny science through religion, I will be quite annoyed.
Hehehe, try living in a family full of Christians.
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Funny pic, not 100% accurate, but it has some truth to it

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Quoting KoritheMan:


I take it you've never believed in god then? I started off Christian but became atheist three years ago.
Well I believed in God when I was young but from about middle school on (6 years ago) I became atheist, or I guess agnostic (not denying the possibility that something is out there). I think both my parents started off as Catholic when they were young but the presence of religion in their lives faded as they aged and my Dad is an atheist now, so I never went to church.

As far as religion, I like that it gives people something to believe in, something to have faith in, something to give them hope, but I can't stand most other aspects of it. The wars its caused, the control over the people through fear (fear of hell), the hypocrisy of it all, the fact that it has significantly prohibited scientific progression, the fact that it has very little basis in reality and was literally invented by man all annoy me.

As long as one is happy and not annoying me or others, I will respect their religion. If they try and force their viewpoints on others or deny science through religion, I will be quite annoyed.
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Also, if anyone gets the wrong idea, I'm not trying to start debate, I'm just talking. Religion is one of my biggest interests, after all.
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Quoting TomTaylor:
I read the title...and that's about where I stopped


I take it you've never believed in god then? I started off Christian but became atheist three years ago.
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Quoting KoritheMan:

How much of the Bible have you read, Tom?
I read the title...and that's about where I stopped
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Quoting Walshy:
December 3rd..south-east snow?
Wishful thinking. ;)
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December 3rd..south-east snow?
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Quoting TomTaylor:
true true, I wouldn't read the entire bible to learn why though lol

How much of the Bible have you read, Tom?
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Quoting VAbeachhurricanes:


Never a bad thing, even though you don't believe something doesn't mean you shouldn't learn why other believe it.
true true, I wouldn't read the entire bible to learn why though lol

Quoting KoritheMan:

I did get a kick out of your comment, though. ;)
glad someone did, didn't want to offend anyone although it was slightly offensive
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Quoting TomTaylor:
Is that really a bad thing though?


Never a bad thing, even though you don't believe something doesn't mean you shouldn't learn why other believe it.
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Quoting TomTaylor:

Ah right, wasn't really paying attention to the conversation, just saw that comment
I did get a kick out of your comment, though. ;)
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Quoting GeoffreyWPB:
Is it time to post Brenda Lee, Burl Ives or Rick Astley?


Holly Jolly Christmas would be nice ... btw Brenda rocks - g'nite
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Quoting KoritheMan:


You said:

"Uh no"

;)
well he said "making landfall" as in the present tense meaning it's making landfall now...which it isn't doing lol

Quoting KoritheMan:


If he wants to defend his faith, yes.
Ah right, wasn't really paying attention to the conversation, just saw that comment
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TROPICAL WEATHER OUTLOOK
NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
100 AM EST MON NOV 21 2011

FOR THE NORTH ATLANTIC...CARIBBEAN SEA AND THE GULF OF MEXICO...

A BROAD LOW PRESSURE SYSTEM LOCATED ABOUT 850 MILES NORTHEAST OF THE
LEEWARD ISLANDS CONTINUES TO PRODUCE A LARGE AREA OF CLOUDINESS...
SHOWERS AND A FEW THUNDERSTORMS MAINLY TO THE NORTH AND EAST OF ITS
CENTER. THIS SYSTEM IS FORECAST TO STRENGTHEN AND PRODUCE
GALE-FORCE WINDS OVER THE NEXT COUPLE OF DAYS...AND IT IS POSSIBLE
THAT THE LOW COULD GRADUALLY ACQUIRE SUBTROPICAL CHARACTERISTICS
BEFORE IT MOVES OVER COOLER WATER. THIS SYSTEM HAS A MEDIUM
CHANCE...40 PERCENT...OF BECOMING A SUBTROPICAL CYCLONE DURING THE
NEXT 48 HOURS AS IT MOVES NORTH-NORTHEASTWARD AT 10 TO 15 MPH.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ON THIS LARGE WEATHER SYSTEM CAN BE FOUND IN
HIGH SEAS FORECASTS ISSUED BY THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE...UNDER
AWIPS HEADER NFDHSFAT1 AND WMO HEADER FZNT01 KWBC.
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Quoting TomTaylor:
Oh I know lol

key word in that post was "Forecasted" lol

It's forecasted to go out to sea, will it actually?


You said:

"Uh no"

;)
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Quoting TomTaylor:
Is that really a bad thing though?


If he wants to defend his faith, yes.
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Quoting VAbeachhurricanes:


Now I can confirm you have never read the bible.
Is that really a bad thing though?
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Quoting KoritheMan:


No no no. Remember what we talked about regarding certainty in weather forecasting? ;)
Oh I know lol

key word in that post was "Forecasted" lol

It's forecasted to go out to sea, will it actually?
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Hey ya'll

Checking in on 99l;

Fight nice this eve - good night and good luck.
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Quoting VAbeachhurricanes:


Now I can confirm you have never read the bible.


You mean like most Christians?
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Quoting TomTaylor:
uh no...

Forecasted to go out to sea



No no no. Remember what we talked about regarding certainty in weather forecasting? ;)
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Quoting trHUrrIXC5MMX:
Kenneth making landfall in baja cal?
uh no...

Forecasted to go out to sea

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Quoting Neapolitan:

Only if by "futuristic" you mean 1,700 years ago, and if by "alien" you mean Latin. (The short version: it was an ancient pagan ritual that celebrated the winter solstice, and took place near the end of December. The Catholic Church felt threatened by paganism, so they usurped the holiday, and declared it to be Jesus' birthday. [Pretty much the same thing happened at Easter, a holiday named after an ancient goddess of the dawn.])
Interesting, thanks Nea
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Kenneth making landfall in baja cal?
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Quoting GeoffreyWPB:


Thanks, Geoff! I forgot to tell you that we had a silent vote. ;-)
Member Since: August 24, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 4737
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Quoting GeoffreyWPB:
By popular vote, Burl Ives win...



No! No! We wanted Brenda Lee!
Member Since: August 24, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 4737
By popular vote, Burl Ives win...

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Is it time to post Brenda Lee, Burl Ives or Rick Astley?
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Quoting Some1Has2BtheRookie:


Google-ը ձեր ընկերն է.


Id rather not...
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Quoting Grothar:


I would, but it was told to me in Aramaic. It's been a long time since I spoke that one.


Google-ը ձեր ընկերն է.
Member Since: August 24, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 4737
Quoting SPLbeater:


i am sorry if i have gone far with Christ. but i would stand up for Christ as long as i live. resume weather talk:)


God wouldn't want you spreading lies either.
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Quoting GeoffreyWPB:
Grothar...You were around then...Tell us how the holiday known as Christmas came to be.


I would, but it was told to me in Aramaic. It's been a long time since I spoke that one.
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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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