Tropical Storm Lee's flood in Binghamton: was global warming the final straw?

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:55 PM GMT on December 14, 2011

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With one of the wildest weather years in U.S. history drawing to a close, it's time to look back at some of this year's unprecedented onslaught of billion-dollar weather disasters--and the lessons we should have learned. One of these disasters was the approximately $1 billion in damage due to flooding from Tropical Storm Lee, which brought torrential rains along a swath from Louisiana to New York in early September. Among the hardest hit cities was Binghamton, New York (population 47,000), where record rains due to the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee on September 8 brought a 1-in-200 to 1-in-500 year flood to the city's Susquehanna River. A flood 8.5 inches higher than the city's flood walls spilled over into the city that day, damaging or destroying over 7,300 buildings in Greater Binghamton, and causing hundreds of millions of dollars in damage. Damage to Binghamton's sewage treatment plant and city infrastructure alone are estimated at $26 million. Damage to one elementary school is estimated at $11 - 19 million. The total damage to the county Binghamton lies in (Broome) and the downstream Tioga County is estimated at $1 billion. I argue that there is strong evidence that the extra moisture that global warming has added to the atmosphere over the past 40 years could have been "the straw that broke the camel's back" which allowed Binghamton's flood walls to be overtopped, causing tens of millions in damages. Had this event occurred 40 years ago, before global warming added an extra 4% moisture to the atmosphere, the Susquehanna flood would have likely stayed within the city's flood walls.


Figure 1. Front Street Bridge on the Susquehanna River in Vestal, NY, immediately following the flood of September 8, 2011. Image credit: USGS, New York.


Figure 2. The Susquehanna River at Binghamton crested on September 8, 2011, at the highest flood height on record, 25.71'. The previous record flood was 25', set June 28, 2006. Flood records in Binghamton go back to 1846. Image credit: NOAA/AHPS.


Figure 3. Damage survey of Binghamton, New York after rains from the remains of Tropical Storm Lee sent the Susquehanna River over the city's flood walls on September 8, 2011. Image credit: City of Binghamton.

Binghamton's 2nd 1-in-200-year+ flood in five years
This year's flood is the second 1-in-200 to 1-in-500 year flood in the past five years to hit Binghamton. On June 26 - 29, 2006, tropical moisture streaming northwards over a front stalled out over New York state brought over thirteen inches of rain to portions of southern New York. The Susquehanna River swelled to record levels, triggering devastating flooding that cost at least $227 million. In Binghamton, the Susquehanna River crested eleven feet over flood stage, the greatest flood since records began in 1846. The flood walls protecting Binghamton were overtopped by a few inches, allowing water to pour into the city and cause tens of millions of dollars in damage. This flood is another example of a case where global warming may have been "the straw that broke the camel's back", allowing the flood walls to be overtopped by a few inches. While it is not impossible that the 2006 flood and the 2011 flood could have occurred naturally so close together in time, such a rare double flood has been made more likely by the extra moisture added to the atmosphere due to global warming.


Figure 4. Susquehanna River floodwaters overtop a flood wall along North Shore Drive, Binghamton, NY, on June 28, 2006. Photo courtesy of Alan A. Katz, and available in the USGS report, Flood of June 26 - 29, 2006, Mohawk, Delaware, and Susquehanna River Basins, New York.

The 2011 Tropical Storm Lee flood event on the Susquehanna: a convergence of rare events
Near-record rains fell over much of New York, Pennsylvania, and surrounding states during the first four weeks of August 2011, thanks to an active weather pattern that brought numerous thunderstorms. By August 27, Binghamton, New York had already received nearly double its normal total of 3.45" of rain for the month. When Hurricane Irene swept northwards along the mid-Atlantic coast on August 28, the storm dumped record rains that triggered billions of dollars in flood damage. The Susquehanna River Valley and Binghamton were spared the heaviest of Irene's rains and suffered only minor flooding, but the region received 3 - 5 inches of rain, saturating the soils. The 2.72 inches of rain that fell on Binghamton brought the total rainfall for August 2011 to 8.90", making it the rainiest August in city history (weather records go back to 1890.) Irene's rains helped give New York, New Hampshire, New Jersey, and Vermont their wettest Augusts since record keeping began in 1895.


Figure 5. Rainfall amounts from Hurricane Irene ranged from 3 - 5 inches over Binghamton and the Susquehanna River Valley upstream (northeast) of the city. Image credit: David Roth, NOAA/HPC.


Figure 6. Rainfall amounts from Hurricane Lee ranged from 5 - 10 inches over Binghamton and the Susquehanna River Valley upstream (northeast) of the city. Image credit: David Roth, NOAA/HPC.

Irene set the stage for what was to become the greatest flood in recorded history on the Susquehanna River. On September 5, a front stalled out over Pennsylvania and New York. Tropical moisture streaming northwards in advance of Tropical Storm Lee was lifted up over the front, and heavy downpours resulted. The rains continued for four days, and were amplified by the arrival of Tropical Storm Lee's remnants on September 7, plus a stream of moisture emanating from far-away Hurricane Katia, 1,000 miles to the south-southeast. Binghamton, New York received 8.70" of rain in 24 hours September 7 - 8, the greatest 24-hour rainfall in city history. This was nearly double the city's previous all-time record (4.68" on Sep 30 - Oct. 1, 2010.) The record rains falling on soils still saturated from Hurricane Irene's rains ran off rapidly into the Susquehanna River, which rose an astonishing twenty feet in just 24 hours. By noon on September 8, the rampaging Susquehanna River crested in Binghamton at 25.71', the highest level since records began in 1846. The river would have risen higher had the city's flood walls been higher, but since the water was overtopping the flood walls and spreading out over the city, the river was limited to how high it could rise. By month's end, precipitation in Binghamton for September 2011 totaled 16.58", more than thirteen inches above normal, making it Binghamton's wettest month since records began in 1890.

We can thus see how the record Susquehanna River flood of September 8, 2011 was due to a convergence of rare events, which included moisture from three tropical cyclones:

1) The unusually heavy rains during the first four weeks of August, before the arrival of Hurricane Irene.

2) Hurricane Irene's 3 - 5 inches of rain.

3) The extreme rains from Tropical Storm Lee's remnants.

4) The enhanced rainfall on September 7 - 8 due to a moisture plume from Hurricane Katia.

Had any one of these events not occurred, it is questionable whether the flood walls in Binghamton would have been overtopped. One could also argue that the flood walls would not have been overtopped had there been less development in the Susquehanna's floodplain. Dr. Peter Knuepfer, Associate Professor of Geology and director of the Environmental Studies Program at Binghamton University, and Dr. Burrell Montz, who is now Professor and Chair of Geography at East Carolina University, wrote in a 2007 essay titled, Flooding and Watershed Management, "the 2006 flood might be considered a land use flood, due to the levels of development in floodplains in Conklin and elsewhere in the Binghamton area." They argued that development on the Susquehanna's floodplain has been driven by economics, without enough thought to how development increases flood heights downstream. "It can hardly be argued that we need to reacquaint the river with its floodplain," they concluded. In an email I received from Dr. Knuepfer, he indicated that some positive steps have been taken to reduce flood vulnerability in the Binghamton area before this year's flood: "There's still more development in the floodplain than should be, though there is a little more awareness (but only a little!) about the downstream implications of raising levees and walls (and certainly this seems to be true at the Federal level). From Binghamton downstream--the Susquehanna River had a 200+ year flood (the number one chooses depends on how one treats the historic flood record, but it was clearly an event well beyond the historical record.) Some areas flooded by the river in 2006--houses, specifically--no longer exist due to FEMA buy-outs. Yet there is still development in flood-prone areas, so there is still a degree of floodplain development that contributes significantly to the disaster. On the other hand, this flood overtopped levees and flood walls precisely because it was a bigger natural event than these were designed to withstand. So there's still more exposure than I'd like to see, but this was a natural disaster." To illustrate how development in a flood plain can increase flood height, consider this stat from nrdc.org: a 1-inch rainstorm falling on a 1-acre natural meadow produces about 28 bathtubs full of runoff into local rivers. However, a 1-inch rainstorm falling on a 1-acre parking lot produces sixteen times as much runoff--448 bathtubs full. We obviously can't convert our parking lots into meadows, but we can create permeable pavement, planted swales around parking lots, rain gardens planted along sidewalks, green roofs, and more trees to help absorb rainwater like a sponge. The city of Philadelphia has recently started an ambitious effort to reduce flood through such green infrastructure efforts.


Figure 7. Water vapor satellite image taken at 2:45 pm EDT September 7, 2011, during the height of the heavy rainstorm affecting the Susquehanna River Valley near Binghamton, NY. Moisture came from the remains of Tropical Storm Lee, tropical moisture streaming northwards and lifting over a stalled front, and from Hurricane Katia, located 1,000 miles to the south-southeast, between Florida and Bermuda. White and blue colors show where copious atmospheric moisture lies, while brown colors show dry air. Image credit: NOAA/NESDIS.

The global warming connection
Finally, I'll add one more "straw that broke the camel's back" that contributed to the overtopping of the flood walls in Binghamton: global warming. Had the flood of September 8, 2011 occurred in the atmosphere of the 1970s or earlier, the flood walls would have been less likely to be overtopped. There is a well-established relationship in atmospheric physics called the Clausius-Clapeyron equation, which says that atmospheric moisture will increase by 6% - 7% for every degree Centigrade increase in Earth's temperature. Global sea surface temperatures in the regions where hurricanes form, between 30°S and 30°N latitude, warmed 0.9°F (0.5°C) between 1970 - 2004, due to global warming (Trenberth et. al, 2007.) Satellite observations show that atmospheric moisture over the oceans increased by 1.3% per decade between 1988 - 2003 (Trenberth, 2006), so we can expect that the amount of moisture storms have to work with has increased by 4% since 1970 and 5% since 1900 (IPCC, 2007.) The amount of rainfall a hurricane can now drop as a result of this increase in moisture can be much more than 4 - 5%, though. The extra moisture in the atmosphere helps intensify storms by releasing "latent heat" energy when it condenses into rain. Latent heat is the extra energy that is required to convert liquid water to gaseous water vapor, and this energy is liberated when the vapor condenses back to rain. The released latent heat energy invigorates the updrafts in a storm, allowing it to draw in moisture from an area greater than usual (a typical storm draws in moisture from an area 3 - 5 times the radius of the precipitating region, according to Trenberth et.al, 2003.) This effect is thought to be the main reason why heavy precipitation events--the ones most likely to cause floods--have been increasing over the past 50 years, in general agreement with the predictions of climate models (Figure 8.) A 2008 study in the Netherlands by Lenderink and Meijgaard called "Increase in hourly precipitation extremes beyond expectations from temperature changes," found that "one-hour precipitation extremes increase twice as fast with rising temperatures as expected from the Clausius–Clapeyron relation when daily mean temperatures exceed 12°C. In addition, simulations with a high-resolution regional climate model show that one-hour precipitation extremes increase at a rate close to 14% per degree of warming in large parts of Europe." A 2007 study led by Dr. Kevin Trenberth of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, "Water and energy budgets of hurricanes: Case studies of Ivan and Katrina", looked at how much additional rainfall hurricanes might be dropping as a result of global warming. The researchers found that global warming likely increased the amount of rain dropped Hurricane Ivan and Hurricane Katrina by 6 - 8%. The authors wrote, "We conclude that the environmental changes related to human influences on climate have very likely changed the odds in favor of heavier rainfalls and here we suggest that this can be quantified to date to be of order 6 to 8% since 1970. It probably also results in more intense storms. The key point is that the value is not negligible, and nor is it large enough to dominate over the natural processes already in place. In the case of Katrina and New Orleans, where rainfalls locally exceeded 12 inches (305 mm), this would mean an enhancement of about 0.75 to 1 inch (19 to 25 mm). Although incremental, such changes can cause thresholds to be exceeded (the straw that breaks the camel's back.) Small differences of a few percent in rainfall can matter a great deal when that extra water is concentrated by a river drainage system to create a flood. For example, observations of flooding events in the Pennsylvania's 7.2 square km Mahantango Creek watershed (Troch et al., 1993) showed one case where two rainfall events with the same maximum precipitation rate generated flow rates in the creek a factor of seven different, even though the difference in total precipitation between the two events was about a factor of two. A modeling study by Jha et al. (2004) predicted that climate change would cause a 21% annual increase in precipitation over the Upper Mississippi River basin by 2040. However, their model predicted that streamflow would increase much more than this--51%. This occurred as a result of rain falling on saturated soils, which creates disproportionately large runoff. Much of the rain falling on dry soils takes time to infilrate the soil, and the arrival of this water into a river is delayed. But if soils are saturated, a greater percentage of the rain runs off immediately into the river, resulting in higher stream flows and higher flood potential. The largest increases in streamflow in their model occurred in spring and summer, when flood danger is at its highest.


Figure 8. Percent increase in the amount falling in heavy precipitation events (defined as the heaviest 1% of all daily events) from 1958 to 2007, for each region of the U.S. There are clear trends toward more very heavy precipitation events for the nation as a whole, and particularly in the Northeast and Midwest. Climate models predict that precipitation will increasingly fall in very heavy events in coming decades. Image credit: United States Global Change Research Program. Figure updated from Groisman, P.Ya., R.W. Knight, T.R. Karl, D.R. Easterling, B. Sun, and J.H. Lawrimore, 2004: Contemporary changes of the hydro-logical cycle over the contiguous United States, trends derived from in situ observations. Journal of Hydrometeorology, 5(1), 64-85.

Conclusion
There is strong evidence that the extra moisture that global warming has added to the atmosphere over the past 40 years could have been "the straw that broke the camel's back" in the case of the Susquehanna River floods of June 2006 and September 8, 2011, which overtopped the flood walls in Binghamton, New York, causing tens of millions of dollars in damages. During September 8, 2011 flood, the Susquehanna River rose twenty feet in 24 hours and topped the flood walls in Binghamton by 8.5 inches, so just a 6% reduction in the flood height would have led to no overtopping of the flood walls and a huge decrease in damage. Extra moisture in the air due to global warming could have easily contributed this 6% of extra flood height. It is possible that detailed computer modeling studies of the event may conclude that global warming was not a significant factor in this particular case, but we will see an increasing number of these back-breaking extreme flooding events in the future as the climate continues to warm and we increasingly load the dice in favor of greater extreme rainfall events. It is wildly improbable that two 1-in-200 to 1-in-500 year floods could have occurred on the same river within five years of each other naturally. Increased moisture in the atmosphere due to global warming and increased flood plain development are shifting the odds in favor of more extreme floods occurring more often. Our flood control system, which is designed for the climate of the 20th century and a lesser degree of flood plain development, is bound to be increasingly overwhelmed if we continue to put more structures into flood plains and continue to pump more heat-trapping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Unfortunately, we are not dealing well with the "new normal" for extreme floods. The National Flood Insurance Program, which charges unrealistically low insurance premiums, is $18 billion in debt. A government shut-down was narrowly avoided in September over disputes on how to pay for the damages from this year's 1-in-100 to 1-in-500 year floods on the Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Souris, Susquehanna, and hundreds of smaller rivers. Federal funding to operate 321 USGS stream gauges critical for issuing accurate and timely flood warnings was eliminated this year, and funding for an additional 69 gauges is threatened, including gauges on the Susquehanna River where this year's extreme flooding occurred. Eliminating funding for stream gauges in an era of increasing floods is like being too cheap to replace your cracked windshield that's hard to see out of, when you're about to drive the most difficult and dangerous road your car has ever attempted, at night, in a heavy rainstorm. You'll be unaware of the coming danger until it's too late to avoid it. Flood damages are going to grow much worse and potentially cause serious harm to the American economy in the coming decades, and our politicians need to adopt intelligent policies that don't cater to special interests in order to deal with the increasingly frequent and larger extreme floods that a warmer climate will bring.

References
IPCC, 2007: Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Solomon, S., D. Qin, M. Manning, Z. Chen, M. Marquis, K.B. Averyt, M.Tignor and H.L. Miller (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA.

Jha, M., Z. Pan, E. S. Takle, and R. Gu (2004), Impacts of climate change on streamflow in the Upper Mississippi River Basin: A regional climate model perspective, J. Geophys. Res., 109, D09105, doi:10.1029/2003JD003686.

Lenderink, G., and E. van Meijgaard (2008), Increase in hourly precipitation extremes beyond expectations from temperature changes,, Nature Geoscience 1, 511 - 514 (2008)
Published online: 20 July 2008 | doi:10.1038/ngeo262

Suro, T.P., G.D. Firda, and C.O. Szabo, 2009, Flood of June 26 - 29, 2006, Mohawk, Delaware, and Susquehanna River Basins, New York, USGS Open-File Report 2009-94-1063.

Trenberth, K. E., A. Dai, R. M. Rasmussen and D. B. Parsons, 2003: The changing character of precipitation", Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 84, 1205-1217.

Trenberth, K. E., C. A. Davis and J. Fasullo, 2007: "Water and energy budgets of hurricanes: Case studies of Ivan and Katrina," J. Geophys. Res., 112, D23106, doi:10.1029/2006JD008303.

Trenberth, K.E., J. Fasullo, and L. Smith. 2005. "Trends and variability in column-integrated atmospheric water vapor," Climate Dynamics 24:741-758.

Trenberth, K. E., 2011: Changes in precipitation with climate change. Climate Research, 47, 123-138,
doi:10.3354/cr00953.

Troch, P.A., J.A. Smith, E.F. Wood, and F.P. de Troch, "Hydrologic Controls of Large Floods in a Small Basin: Central Appalachian Case Study", Journal of Hydrology, 156:285-309, 1994.

Other posts looking back at the remarkable weather events of 2011
Wettest year on record in Philadelphia; 2011 sets record for wet/dry extremes in U.S.
Hurricane Irene: New York City dodges a potential storm surge mega-disaster

Jeff Masters

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Quoting mickharp:

Hahaha. I had to read your reply 3 times because I just couldn't believe you actually took the couple hours to compose that.

Next time, why don't you simply tell the other blogger that they are wrong...

It's a lot easier and saves a lot of time.

He stepped on your corns, didn't he !
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Quoting mickharp:

Hahaha. I had to read your reply 3 times because I just couldn't believe you actually took the couple hours to compose that.

Next time, why don't you simply tell the other blogger that they are wrong...

It's a lot easier and saves a lot of time.


Not if you want to make a convincing argument it's not.
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162. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Japan Meteorological Agency
Tropical Cyclone Advisory #15
TROPICAL STORM WASHI (T1121)
15:00 PM JST December 15 2011
===============================

SUBJECT: Category One Typhoon Near Caroline Island

At 6:00 AM UTC, Tropical Storm Washi (1000 hPa) located at 7.8N 132.5E has 10 minute sustained winds of 35 knots with gusts of 50 knots. The cyclone is reported as moving west at 19 knots

Dvorak Intensity: T2.5

Gale Force Winds
===============
180 NM from the center in northern quadrant
90 NM from the center in southern quadrant

Forecast and Intensity
======================
24 HRS: 9.6N 126.7E - 45 knots (CAT 1/Tropical Storm)
48 HRS: 10.6N 122.0E - 35 knots (CAT 1/Tropical Storm)
72 HRS: 10.9N 117.5E - 35 knots (CAT 1/Tropical Storm)
Member Since: May 24, 2006 Posts: 51 Comments: 45604
Cool pic sunlinepr!

Here is an interesting quote from the paper on Ivan and Katrina cited in Dr. M's blog.

"It is abundantly clear from this and several previous studies that the moisture budget in tropical cyclones is dominated by the inflow of moisture, mainly in the lowest 1 km of the storm. Inside about 100 km of the center of the storm, the moisture inflow is about a factor of 10 greater than the latent heat flux from the surface (12.9 for Ivan and 9.1 for Katrina), in spite of the fact that it is ultimately the latter that mainly causes the inflow to occur."

I've seen comments on the blog that attribute the cold wakes of cyclones to evaporation which is not true. It occurs from vertical mixing which is why the TCHP is so dependent on the depth of the warmer water. With high TCHP, when water mixes down, warm water replaces it. With lower TCHP, when water mixes down colder water replaces it. The dominance of moisture inflow over evaporation in latent heat flux is consistent with evaporation not accounting for the cold water wake.

The last little piece is interesting: "it is ultimately the latter that mainly causes the inflow to occur".
Member Since: May 18, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 6061


This Dec. 8, 2011 satellite image provided by the the DigitalGlobe Analysis Center shows the Chinese aircraft carrier Varyag sailing in the Yellow Sea, approximately 100 kilometers south-southeast of the port of Dalian, China. (AP Photo/DigitalGlobe) MANDATORY CREDIT

APNewsBreak: Satellite gets pic of Chines
e carrier

DENVER (AP) - A commercial U.S. satellite company said it has captured a photo of China's first aircraft carrier in the Yellow Sea off the Chinese coast.

DigitalGlobe Inc. said Wednesday one of its satellites photographed the carrier Dec. 8. A DigitalGlobe analyst found the image Tuesday while searching through photos.

Stephen Wood, director of DigitalGlobe's analysis center, said he's confident the ship is the Chinese carrier because of the location and date of the photo. The carrier was on a sea trial at the time.

DigitalGlobe, based in Longmont, Colo., sells satellite imagery and analysis to clients that include the U.S. military, emergency response agencies and private companies. DigitalGlobe has three orbiting satellites and a fourth is under construction.

The aircraft carrier has generated intense international interest because of what it might portend about China's intentions as a military power.

The former Soviet Union started building the carrier, which it called the Varyag, but never finished it. When the Soviet Union collapsed, it ended up in the hands of Ukraine, a former Soviet republic.

China bought the ship from Ukraine in 1998 and spent years refurbishing it. It had no engines, weaponry or navigation systems when China acquired it.


More Link
Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9821
Quoting Xyrus2000:


That's isn't what he's saying. He is pointing out that the measured increase in water vapor leads to an increased likelihood of heavy precipitation events. He is also stating the increases in such events over the past few decades merit this out. He also provides links to references to reinforce this.

He's not stating specific attribution (which you can't do). He's pointing out that events like these floods are more likely to happen with increasing atmospheric moisture.


Dr. M makes the following claim.

"Had this event occurred 40 years ago, before global warming added an extra 4% moisture to the atmosphere, the Susquehanna flood would have likely stayed within the city's flood walls."

He is in fact equating climate change with likely flooding in this specific instance. In weather forecaster speak, a likely event is something you had darn well better prepare for, so there is an implied direct connection between the 4% extra moisture and a need to take action.

Backing up a moment, a lot of factors due to 40 years of change could account for a difference of 8.5 inches that are independent of the precipitation amount, but surely they are red herrings for this blog's topic. (Perhaps that is what you want to point out?) It probably would have been more in line with his position to say:

"Had this event occurred without an extra 4% moisture to the atmosphere, the Susquehanna flood would have likely stayed within the city's flood walls."

Of course, the whole dynamics of the atmosphere would have been different without the extra 4% of moisture. The combination of the four events he describes would not have even occurred since the atmosphere would be in a completely different state--a critical point that probably needs greater emphasis. We would in fact be talking about a completely different hurricane season. Since we in fact do have an extra 4% of moisture in the air, we are in effect asking what is the incremental contribution to the flooding that the extra 4% creates apart from the creation of the weather patterns in the first place.

Now there are two important questions: a) how much rain does a 4% increase in humidity amount to in this case and b) how does that precipitation increase play out given the hydrology of the Susquehanna river basin. Dr. M cites studies that are suggestive but are not conclusively applicable. For instance, Lee was a thousand miles from where it made landfall, well inland, but Dr. M cites a study of Katrina and Ivan when over water.

Answers to complicated questions like these cannot be developed in a Wunderground blog post. The post starts off with a strong assertion and eventually backs away from the initial position. In the middle of a long passage near the end. Dr. M says:

"It is possible that detailed computer modeling studies of the event may conclude that global warming was not a significant factor in this particular case."

In effect Dr. M admits that his initial assertion is just that. Call it a claim if you doubt it, a hypothesis if you are sympathetic. There is no demonstrable connection--at least yet. I don't think Dr. M is off target with raising concerns about increased heavy precipitation events. I just think that in this case he bit off a bit too much.
Member Since: May 18, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 6061

Quoting bohonkweatherman:
ALmost 80 here with 94 percent humidity and off and on drizzle, no real measurable rain but it sure does not feel like December, hope it gets Cold before Christmas because it feels like July.




Welcome to Texas. Or in the case of SE TX where it's always humid!  Lol.  Had some foggy pics and huge hair while out Christmas shopping today. But I'm too tired to upload. Lol. We're runnin 65 F, 65 dewpoint, 100% humidity. What could be more Christmasy? :-D Hope you get your cold.


Statement as of 6:56 PM CST on December 14, 2011




... Dense fog advisory in effect until 9 am CST Thursday...

The National Weather Service in Lake Charles has issued a dense
fog advisory... which is in effect until 9 am CST Thursday.

* Visibility... widespread visibilities below 1/2 mile are
expected. Occasional visibilities below 1/4 mile in patches.

* Impacts... more time required to reach you destination.

Precautionary/preparedness actions...

A dense fog advisory means visibilities will frequently be
reduced to less than one quarter mile. If driving... slow down...
use your headlights... and leave plenty of distance ahead of you.




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155. Skyepony (Mod)


I'll go with 60kts at landfall for now..
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154. Skyepony (Mod)
Incredible video of Binghamton Flood. HD, good tune, there too..


Cosmic~ I agree about Katrina. The outpouring of lurkers & our not so fair weather friends after was overwhelming. That Ike surge. There's been smaller events too.

I wasn't referring to portlight they are more large scale disaster, lost, disabled or something but the Wunderblogs.. There's all sorts of stories of people helping people there. Just read through the titles.. Seen people travel to help out sick here. I think some Wunderbloggers went to Bord's funeral this week..As a whole we're still in a bit of shock over losing a regular like that.

I've got shelter if needed, in every direction from other WUnderfolk..that's something. There's people here that think nothing of mailing a care package to a Wunderblogger in the Caribbean that contains a chainsaw. Some of it goes on in Wundermail. Not so much this blog, since it doesn't really belong here other than maybe a shout out to get people to a Wunderblog..like your doing now. Chances are he's in for more help just by it being mentioned here. Hope he recovers fully.

If here we don't keep to constantly obsessing about the weather, the season, the climate, the records, the models, ENSO, MJO, PDO, AMO, NAO, ESPI, SST & such..we could miss something that could save someone too. Not that is necessarily the intent (& you people should listen to your NWS)..but more an unexpected surprise that evolved out of some of ours' love of chaos..
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153. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Japan Meteorological Agency
Tropical Cyclone Advisory #14
TROPICAL DEPRESSION 25
12:00 PM JST December 15 2011
===============================

SUBJECT: Tropical Depression Near Caroline Island

At 3:00 AM UTC, Tropical Depression (1006 hPa) located at 7.6N 133.6E has 10 minute sustained winds of 30 knots with gusts of 45 knots. The depression is reported as moving west northwest at 18 knots

Dvorak Intensity: T2.0

Forecast and Intensity
======================
24 HRS: 9.2N 127.6E - 35 knots (CAT 1/Tropical Storm)
Member Since: May 24, 2006 Posts: 51 Comments: 45604
152. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Philippine Atmospherical Geophysical Astronomical Services and Administration
Tropical Cyclone Bulletin #1
TROPICAL DEPRESSION SENDONG
11:00 AM PhST December 15 2011
=================================

The Tropical Depression East of Mindanao has entered PAR and was named "SENDONG".

At 10:00 AM PhST, A Tropical Depression located at 7.5°N 134.2°E or 840 km east southeast of Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur has 10 minute sustained winds of 30 knots. The depression is reported as moving west northwest at 15 knots.

Additional Information
=======================

Tropical Depression "SENDONG" is likely to intensify within the next 24 hours.

Estimated rainfall amount is from 10-25 mm per hour (moderate to heavy) within the 300 km diameter of the Tropical Depression.

The public and the disaster coordinating councils concerned are advised to take appropriate actions and watch for the next bulletin to be issued at 11 PM today.
Member Since: May 24, 2006 Posts: 51 Comments: 45604
151. JRRP
Quoting sunlinepr:

nice pic
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Quoting sunlinepr:
Panama area keeps holding that low...



Boy, that is one crazy smoke ring in the CATL. Where'd that come from?
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Quoting bappit:
Given all the variables, I think the bottom line is that it is dubious to infer climate change from flooding. You can measure rainfall and relate that to climate, but rainfall does not equate to floodwater. I think the Doctor bit off a bit too much with this post.

Edit of an edit: not that I don't think the climate is changing. I think the graphic showing a 67% increase in the northeast of the portion of precipitation occurring during very heavy rainfall events is telling.


That's isn't what he's saying. He is pointing out that the measured increase in water vapor leads to an increased likelihood of heavy precipitation events. He is also stating the increases in such events over the past few decades merit this out. He also provides links to references to reinforce this.

He's not stating specific attribution (which you can't do). He's pointing out that events like these floods are more likely to happen with increasing atmospheric moisture.
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Quoting RitaEvac:
Concrete the landscape of the world and everything will flood, simple fact


No it is not a simple fact. A properly planned "concrete" world would have run-off channels, "dry" rivers, and flow controls which would eliminate flooding. As a demonstration of this, inland cities and towns in southern California have hundreds to thousands of concrete "dry" rivers. Why? Because without them any heavy rainstorm would flash flood the valley basins into kindling and wreckage.

Even without planning, a concrete world would still only result in flooding in the lowest lying areas. There isn't enough precipitation to "flood the world", as you put it.

So no, your hyperbole is not a fact.
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Quoting RitaEvac:


Development has EVERYTHING to do with flooding. That is why these events are occuring


Flooding happens in non-developed regions as well (it just doesn't make the news very often). The only time you hear about flooding in non-developed areas is when it may influence flooding IN developed areas. A river 15 feet above flood stage in the middle of nowhere Nebraska isn't going to make the news. But if a flood wall is crested in a populated area, you'll see it all over the place.

And while development CAN affect water levels on a local scale, watersheds are much much larger than any human development. For example, look at the Mississippi river basin. The watershed is essentially the middle third of the country. An increase of 4% atmospheric water content means more heavy rainfall events over the basin, which means a noticeably higher risk of flooding, regardless of whether an area is developed or not.

Increased global atmospheric moisture increases precipitation, which increases the likelihood of extreme precipitation events.
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Quoting BioChemist:
Its kinda funny that whenever it snows in Florida, or Everglades City gets into the 20s, there is always a gigantic banner that says you cannot use one single weather event to prove or disprove global warming.

The bias is so obvious its funny.

Global Warming is a fact that everyone who can read peer reviewed literature knows. But, with that knowlege also comes with the knowlege of what types of biases, lack of transparencies, and generalizations are made to back hypotheses that are the backbones to peoples careers.

I find it highly unlikely that the science has grown so concrete with computer models that we have any remote knowlege that AGW will without a doubt cause catastrophic damage to the planet in just a few decades. This is because I know how the literature in my field can be cleaned and shined, and I guarantee it is the same way in this field.

I also wonder if, out of all the models that show little to no warming, do they even count those, or show them, or are they swept under the rug. If a model did show this, would they even say anything?

Similar models are used to relate to weather patterns in the coming year, what is their success rate? It is a fact that that number will go down when you extrapolate out for time.

Both sides are biased. Both sides need to be less so, and todays blog post really put it out there with neon lights and a glowing girls girls girls sign.


Apparently you have not read much literature on the subject.

First, there is not a single credible scientist claiming catastrophic damage to the planet will occur. There is plenty of research pointing to more extreme weather events, climate changes, and other such items that will affect HUMANS. But the planet, as always, will be just fine.

All long range climate predictions are run with multiple models with multiple scenarios. Lots of them. Just like weather models, climate models are using ensembles, only a larger scale.

Climate models do not "extrapolate". They simulate. They use the physical equations describing various facets of the climate to simulate our global climate system. That's a far cry from merely extrapolating.

Even the simplest possible 0-D climate models predict a warmer planet based on increased GHGs. It's simple physics. You add more GHGs, you get higher planetary temperatures. In this universe, we obey the laws of thermodynamics.

The real climate models take land changes, ocean changes, atmospheric chemistry changes, solar changes, etc. into account. There aren't ANY scientifically validated models that show little or no warming. Check out the IPCC report to get better idea about the models, ranges, error bars, etc. .

Also, climate != weather. Climate models do not predict yearly weather patterns, nor can they. That's not what climate models do. Climate models predict overall probabilities of conditions and large scale/long term events. For example, a climate model can predict the average global temperature 50 years from now with a high degree of accuracy, but it will NOT tell how hot it will be on July 2, 2050.

Climate models have been used for few decades now to make predictions (many of which are used in government and business decision making). They've done a pretty good job, despite the lack of sophistication in some of the earlier models back in the 70's and 80's. In fact, the 0-D energy balance model can get you within spitting distance of our current global average temperature, and that was created back in the early 20th century.

Dr. Master's post isn't about one event. It's about a series of events. Even just restricting to the US, the number of extreme events have been on a steady increase over the past 30 years.

Instead of superstitiously hinting at conspiracy, corruption, or some other form of dishonesty you can try posting some references to some reviewed research that shows how current climate science has it all wrong.
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Quoting GTAIVman:


Texas did have the hottest summer on record. When you speak of records that were set in the 30's, 40's, and 50's, those may have been only brief heat waves. What Texas experienced this summer is much more prolonged but not as hot. It was generally in the 100's everyday during the summer in Texas, just short of records, but many record highs were set. Typically, long lasting heat waves have less "heatness" to them, but a quick heat wave might have much more heat along with them. Breaking a few record highs over summer is quite a lot. And as far as I know, nights would be typically cooler if it's more dryer. The lack of moisture in the atmosphere would allow the nights to cool down faster (specific heat), although that wasn't the case for places near the Gulf of Mexico, where humidity levels were higher thus in so keeping the overnight lows well above average.


Exactly. Texas had the hottest summer on record, along with Oklahoma having the hottest month on record of any US state during any month. Having a hottest/driest summer on record literally obliterate past records is of a completely different magnitude than one site breaking a state record for one point in time.
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Quoting GeoffreyWPB:
Cool video, thank you for posting it..:)
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Quoting Proveit:



One thing I do know about water vapor is it's mostly related to the surface area of the oceans, I don't think the surface area of the oceans have grown by 6 - 7 %


No, that's not quite correct. Changes in globally-averaged water vapor do not correspond to changes in the "surface area of the oceans." As mentioned previously, the moisture capacity of air varies significantly by its temperature, and as temperature increases, the capacity increase is non-linear. An increase in specific humidity averaged across the globe has been measured and has nothing to do with the ratio of land to oceans, it has to do with average global temperature of land/air/sea increasing.
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Uh-Oh... Crashing birds again...
Link
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Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9821
I see the Doc has made a GW blog...Yeah gonna get off now.anywho I see rumors are that once again(but not surprisingly) that people were banned.Good night.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 17084
Shark that smiles for the cameras: Meet the fearsome creature that eats polar bears and can live until 200

By Gareth Finighan Last updated at 7:11 PM on 14th December 2011

A daredevil photographer went to extraordinary lengths to photograph these rarely seen sharks, which look like they have been etched from stone.
These incredible Greenland sharks can survive for more than 200 years at depths of up to 600 metres under Arctic ice.
Bigger than the notorious great white, they grow to 23-feet long and are so fearsome they have even been known to eat polar bears.

Link

Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9821
Could those just be seeps of natural gas?
Member Since: May 18, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 6061
'Fountains' of methane 1,000m across erupt from Arctic ice - a greenhouse gas 30 times more potent than carbon dioxide

'Methane fields on a scale not seen before' - researcher
More than 100 fountains, but could be 'thousands'
Could cause rapid climate change

The Russian research vessel Academician Lavrentiev conducted a survey of 10,000 square miles of sea off the coast of eastern Siberia.

They made a terrifying discovery - huge plumes of methane bubbles rising to the surface from the seabed.

'We found more than 100 fountains, some more than a kilometre across,' said Dr Igor Semiletov, 'These are methane fields on a scale not seen before. The emissions went directly into the atmosphere.'
Far East Siberia: The melting of 'permafrost' under the sea has led to huge releases of methane - far more abrupt and intense than anything on land

Far East Siberia: The melting of 'permafrost' under the sea has led to huge releases of methane - far more abrupt and intense than anything on land

Earlier research conducted by Semiletov's team had concluded that the amount of methane currently coming out of the East Siberian Arctic Shelf is comparable to the amount coming out of the entire world’s oceans.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-207 3686/Fountains-methane-1-000m-erupt-Arctic-ice--gr eenhouse-gas-30-times-potent-carbon-dioxide.html#i xzz1gZBudVEp
Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9821
Panama area keeps holding that low...

Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9821
Mexican farmers despair over record drought
by Staff Writers
Chihuahua, Mexico (AFP) Dec 12, 2011

Dust blows across once fertile fields in north Mexico, where the worst drought in 70 years has left thousands of cattle dead and destroyed more than two million acres (almost one million hectares) of crops.

"It practically hasn't rained this year," said Ernesto Ruiz, a farmer in Satevo, in the border state of Chihuahua.

"It's sad to see the land like this," Ruiz added, observing the remains of his corn and sorghum fields.

Dry conditions have affected 1.7 million head of cattle, including 50,000 that have died, according to the Agriculture Ministry.......................

Link
Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9821
Quoting TomTaylor:
Hello all.


Hello Tom
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Thousands of birds make crash landing in Utah The Associated Press

ST. GEORGE, Utah - Thousands of migratory birds were killed or injured after apparently mistaking a Wal-Mart parking lot, football fields and other snow-covered areas of southern Utah for bodies of water and plummeting to the ground in what one state wildlife expert called the worst mass bird crash she'd ever seen.

Crews went to work cleaning up the dead birds and rescuing the injured survivors after the creatures crash-landed in the St. George area Monday night.

By midday Wednesday, volunteers had helped rescue more than 3,000 birds, releasing them into a nearby pond. There's no count on how many died, although officials estimate it's upwards of 1,500.

Read more: http://www.bellinghamherald.com/2011/12/14/2310925 /thousands-of-birds-make-crash.html#ixzz1gZ8XWMU7
Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9821
better..
Member Since: August 4, 2011 Posts: 46 Comments: 4486
Quoting yqt1001:
I don't know if I should really worry about global warming. It could as easily be a natural cycle than man-made (we barely know enough about our environment to be able to accurately predict the intensity of a hurricane let alone make a firm conclusion about the causes of GW). I feel that humanity has enough problems in the next few years to worry about, many of which could and probably will be worse than climate change in the next 3 decades. Overall, I'm more worried that we will kill ourselves to death in the turbulent times ahead than nature biting back at us. As horrible as this sounds, but it really does sound like this decade will be 1930s-esque.


We should worry about global warming. There's no good reason to not, and it's more serious than people are taking it. Climate models predict by 2015, GW would be unstoppable, and there would be very little room for escaping it if we don't take action now.
Quoting Proveit:
The weather in Texas has always been extreme, it can change in a minute in the winter time. I remeber in the 70's playing football outside at christmas and it was 80 degrees. Other times it was snowing(icy :)) and 5 degrees.
If our planet is getting dangerously hot then why in one of the hottest Texas summers did we only break a few daily records and didn't break the hottest ever record set in 1980? There were other dates this hot in the 30's,40's and 50's. There are so many variables in weather making a prediction of our future with some fixed instruments scattered over the planet is hard for me to believe.
I have had many throw back at me that the average temperature in North Texas was higher than any other time in history. Well, I do believe that because those temps were recorded at DFW airport where that area is mostly covered in concrete now than when the 1980 summer was upon us. The main reason the nights were hotter was because it was so dry, another variable!

As far as I can recall, Texas did have the hottest summer on record. When you speak of records that were set in the 30's, 40's, and 50's, those may have been only brief heat waves. What Texas experienced this summer is much more prolonged but not as hot. It was generally in the 100's everyday during the summer in Texas, just short of records, but many record highs were set. Typically, long lasting heat waves have less "heatness" to them, but a quick heat wave might have much more heat along with them. Breaking a few record highs over summer is quite a lot. And as far as I know, nights would be typically cooler if it's more dryer. The lack of moisture in the atmosphere would allow the nights to cool down faster (specific heat), although that wasn't the case for places near the Gulf of Mexico, where humidity levels were higher thus in so keeping the overnight lows well above average.
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what is bunker? can somebody explin this please?
Member Since: August 4, 2011 Posts: 46 Comments: 4486
Cos ~ I'm aware of what happened over at the Bunker today. It was great. And I can understand why you would say, I've never seen anything like it on any site, weather related site or not.

Still, the truth is the same sorts of things happen in WU-circles, too, just as they happen in other blogging worlds I inhabit. Much of it happens outside the public eye, and you'd have no reason to know about it. But there's no question there are good, decent and loving people on this site who do far more than "click a button" to add value, comfort and joy to others' lives. They certainly don't limit themselves to words, or to a casual verbal-pat-on-the-back.

To paraphrase one of my old buddies, there are more things in the blogosphere, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your flame wars.

That's my piece, and I've said it. Enjoy the season, all.

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Quoting yqt1001:
I don't know if I should really worry about global warming. It could as easily be a natural cycle than man-made (we barely know enough about our environment to be able to accurately predict the intensity of a hurricane let alone make a firm conclusion about the causes of GW). I feel that humanity has enough problems in the next few years to worry about, many of which could and probably will be worse than climate change in the next 3 decades. Overall, I'm more worried that we will kill ourselves to death in the turbulent times ahead than nature biting back at us. As horrible as this sounds, but it really does sound like this decade will be 1930s-esque.


We should worry about global warming. There's no good reason to not, and it's more serious than people are taking it. Climate models predict by 2015, GW would be unstoppable, and there would be very little room for escaping it if we don't take action now.
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Hello all.
Member Since: August 24, 2010 Posts: 19 Comments: 4358


Member Since: May 18, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 6061
Skye...I respect your thoughts more than any other blogger here, but you really had to be there to see what happened today over on the weather bunker. It transcends clicking a button to contribute to a worthy charity, as I've done with Portlight. It transcends having a shoulder to cry on and getting support via words, which I've seen here over the years(you and I have been members about the same time). I think the best of WU was during Katrina, when I think we saved some lives by hammering away on evacuating as local officials and Dr. Masters strongly advised.
.
You had to see the look in this teenage boy's eyes, lying in a hospital bed at acute-care Shands with some serious health problem with an uncertain ending, to see how much it meant...to him...to have what happened today happen. There were a few bunkerite's who drove quite a way and spent quite a bit of time and money to make it all happen. I've never seen anything like it on any site, weather related site or not. It transcends petty thoughts we've seen from others.....I just come back to the boy, who's lying in that bed right now.
Member Since: August 3, 2005 Posts: 10 Comments: 5610
124. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Japan Meteorological Agency
Tropical Cyclone Advisory #13
TROPICAL DEPRESSION 25
9:00 AM JST December 15 2011
===============================

SUBJECT: Tropical Depression Near Caroline Island

At 0:00 AM UTC, Tropical Depression (1006 hPa) located at 7.3N 134.4E has 10 minute sustained winds of 30 knots with gusts of 45 knots. The depression is reported as moving west at 16 knots

Dvorak Intensity: T2.0

Forecast and Intensity
======================
24 HRS: 9.1N 128.3E - 35 knots (CAT 1/Tropical Storm)
Member Since: May 24, 2006 Posts: 51 Comments: 45604
123. Skyepony (Mod)
I can't believe that that could ever happen here on WU....

Really? Venture beyond Master's pretty much weather only blog in WeatherUnderground... I've seen many acts of kindness & giving though connections formed here. People down, sick, flooded out, roofs gone, houses burnt..it's in their Wunderblogs. People give & help & share everyday here..there are just too many here for us to handle every issue in this blog. We've had this issue from a few months in..some people don't want to take their private affairs to their own blog but there isn't room enough for it all here..


Thinking of new blogs.. Astro~ I managed to get a fresh blog up with Firefox, no problem.. Maybe give it another go.


In world weather doom news today I see a heat wave in Canada..hails storm in Malawi that injured people & destroyed homes..flash flood in Guernsey, Canada, New Zealand & Zimbabwe..storm surge in Ireland.. Nuclear events in Canada & South Korea.
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I've done a little checking on the list of 38 ways to win any argument. It originates with a book by Arthur Schopenhauer, The Art of Controversy. An excellent discussion of it is at www.skepticblog.org. I also found some discussion of the list at www.debate.org. You can check out the www.skepticblog.org entries on climate change here.
Member Since: May 18, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 6061
Member Since: September 10, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 11271
119. Skyepony (Mod)
Another great blog by Masters..like all the references & different view points brought in.


Proveit~ It doesn't take more ocean surface area to increase water vapor. Warmer air holds more WV because the warmer it is the faster the molecules move, the easier it becomes for water to become & stay in water vapor form. Oceans & lakes help add WV to the air as it warms, but it doesn't need to be bigger because the warmer it becomes the faster it evaporates. It's a repeatable experiment with very exact results as to how much warmth allows a certain extra WV to be held in the air.

Warmer air doesn't always mean more WV. In winter the cold air can't hold the humidity..So think of your cold house with a humidity of 25%, you turn on the heat. It is toasty warm by morning but the humidity hardly goes up..because it doesn't have much a source of water to draw from, well except the Christmas tree which is suddenly dry, needles falling...your lips are kinda chapped. Any source available will be robbed much faster than normal.

Like that town in TX.. They had a lake for water, as it got low everyone conserved...but it got really hot & the air from MX is dry too (their drought is hurting TX too). That hot dry air sucked an 18 month supply out of that lake in a few weeks leaving that town looking for water elsewhere.

It's hard to get out of extreme drought. The air tends to take it's share of water..as much as it can hold depending on temp~ from land, trees, animals, lakes. TX needs the GOM to get above average hot with a stuck pattern of an onshore flow for an extended time.
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Quoting emcf30:

Just opposite NEA. Dozens of bloggers the from the " Land of the Banned" as you call it ( which is a untrue statement because I as a paying member and others are posting here ) participated in a surprise video blog with a ten year old suffering from a auto immune disease that is in Shands Hospital. 3 of the bloggers travels across the state to visit this kid today. Not only did they do a live video session with this kid but also, gave him a Android Tablet for going through this ordeal. This kid had been poked 46 times in less than a month for IVs and Blood work. In addition he has had a Bone Marrow and Kidney Biopsy. This kid is my son and I am the Blessed One to have such kindness and passion from a group of people like the Bunker. Something, you, nor anyone else that calls this site home. shall see and experience here. I will let you all go back to your AGW debates and fights. Have a nice evening
Jeff

Well, I'm glad you and your son are getting some good from the site. But anyone can pay a visit there, as I did just this afternoon, and see many posts over many pages berating a solid WU member who's military service wasn't what they think it should have been, or tittering about how they'd conspire to cleverly repost those unclever and offensive "12 Days of Christmas" comments so admin wouldn't be able to keep up, and bragging about how they'd plused their own comments so many times that they actually had more plus votes than Dr. Masters' entry itself, and so on, and so forth. It's my opinion--and I could be wrong--that there's a lot more of that sour grapes stuff going on there than there is being charitable to your unfortunately ill child. (Perhaps if more members were busy being charitable, they'd have less time for stunts such as today's?)

I hope your son gets better.
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110. AstroHurricane001 10:57 PM GMT on December 14, 2011:
I'm somehow unable to post a new blog?


http://www.wunderground.com/blog/AstroHurricane00 1/addentry.html

maybe put the address manually in navigation bar?
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Quoting Proveit:



Okay, in Texas we are either impacted by dry air from the desert Southwest or the Gulf. This summer we were basically cut off from moisture from the gulf since the high pressure systems were pulling dry air from the West and Southwest or just plain stagnant. I can tell you the moisture in our air was very dry this summer. Now that we are in the more southern and moist weather patterns the humidity levels look the same to me. One thing I do know about water vapor is it's mostly related to the surface area of the oceans, I don't think the surface area of the oceans have grown by 6 - 7 %


Try a look at the typical WV Mosaic or other.


Also, the Global evaporative Loop increases with the Avg Global temp increase.



..click for Loop.


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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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