Six more weeks of non-winter

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:35 PM GMT on February 02, 2012

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Here Ye! Here Ye! Here Ye!

On Gobbler's Knob on this magnificent Groundhog Day, February 2nd, 2012
Punxsutawney Phil, the Seer of Seers, the Prognosticator of all Prognosticators,
was summoned from his burrow in the old oak stump
by the tap of President Bill Deedly.

He greeted his handlers, John Griffiths and Ron Ploucha.

After casting an appreciative glance towards thousands of his faithful followers,
Phil proclaimed
As I look at the crowd on Gobbler's Knob
Many shadows do I see
So six more weeks of winter it must be!


That's the official word posted at groundhog.org from Punxsutawney Pennsylvania's famous prognosticating rodent, Punxsutawney Phil, who saw his shadow this morning. According to tradition, this means that a solid six more weeks of winter can be expected across the U.S. When the sun rises in San Francisco, this morning, wunderground's Alan T. Groundhog can give us an additional shadow-based forecast for the coming winter (video here.)


Figure 1. Wunderground's prognosticating groundhog, Alan T. Groundhog, prepares to go in front of the blue screen with wunderground meteorologist Jessica Parker.

How did this this crazy tradition start?
It all started in Europe, centuries ago, when February 2 was a holiday called Candlemas. On Candlemas, people prayed for mild weather for the remainder of winter. The superstition arose that if a hibernating badger woke up and saw its shadow on Candlemas, there would be six more weeks of severe winter weather. When Europeans settled the New World, they didn't find any badgers. So, they decided to use native groundhogs (aka the woodchuck, land beaver, or whistlepig) as their prognosticating rodent.

What winter? The non-winter of 2011 - 2012
Considering winter hasn't really arrived in the lower 48 states yet, I'm not sure how much validity we can give to fearless Phil's forecast. Here in Michigan, like in most of the U.S., we've basically had three straight months of November weather. There have been no major snowstorms, and frequent sunny days with highs in the 50s--twenty five degrees above average. January 2012 is in the weather record books as the 3rd least-snowy January for the contiguous U.S. since snow records began in 1966, the Rutgers Snow Lab reported yesterday, and December 2011 ranked as the 11th least snowy December on record. With the latest 2-week forecast from the GFS model showing a huge ridge of high pressure dominating the Western U.S. and no major snowstorms over the U.S. through mid-February, the winter of 2011 - 2012 has a chance to end up as the second least snowy winter in U.S. history. Temperature statistics for January will not be available until next week, but I expect the month will end up being a top-five warmest January, with temperatures about 4 - 5°F above average. We won't be able to beat the 8.7°F above-average temperature posted during the warmest January in U.S. history, which occurred in 2006. If U.S. temperatures remain 4 - 5°F above average during February, the winter of 2011 - 2012 will be the warmest in U.S. history. The five warmest U.S. winters since record keeping began in 1895 have all occurred since 1992, with the winter of 1999 - 2000 holding the record for warmest winter. Winter average temperature in the contiguous U.S. has been increasing by about 1.6°F per century since 1895 (Figure 2.)


Figure 2. Winter temperatures in the contiguous U.S. during the period 1895 - 2011 increased at a rate of about 1.6°F per century. The warmest winter was 1999 - 2000, and the coldest was 1978 - 1979. Image credit: NOAA/NCDC.

What's going on?
This January's remarkable warmth and lack of snow contrasts starkly with what happened during the previous two winters. January 2011 was the 5th snowiest and 35th coldest in U.S. history, and January 2010 was the 7th snowiest and 55th coldest. Wunderground meteorologist Angela Fritz had this to say in her blog post yesterday about what's been going on this winter: In December, we were reporting that the lower-48's unseasonably warm weather and lack of snow was due to a particularly positive Arctic Oscillation (AO) index. The Arctic Oscillation is a measure of the jet stream's strength. A positive AO is a stronger than average jet stream, and it tends to keep cold air bottled up in the Arctic. During a positive AO, the Arctic is colder than average, and the mid-latitudes are warmer than average. In December and early January, the AO was positive. In mid-January, the AO went negative, which we expect to have the opposite impact. A weak jet steam means cold, Arctic air can escape to the south, and that's what we've been seeing in Europe this week. This cold air has yet to spill southwards into the Eastern U.S. like it usually does during a negative-AO period, since the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO)--the component of the AO over the North Atlantic--has not gone negative, and is close to normal right now. However, the long-range GFS model is predicting a modest cold air outbreak will occur over the Eastern U.S. around February 15.

Jeff Masters

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Quoting NEwxguy:


Yeh,got a big party set.We're the only part of the country rooting for them,and pretty much everybody is picking the Giants.Should be a great game no matter what happens.


Here in Indianapolis, the weather is great 52 degrees, sunny, Sunday, rain 47 degrees, but wow can't ask for better weather, 50k people each night downtown Indy, I was down the other nite, NFL experience really neat, I bet the Superbowl will come back to Indy, we know how to throw a party! :)
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80 degrees
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delete duplicate
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95. N3EG
Quoting Balwanz:
I don't expect this to be posted, it's for the author, not the general blogosphere. When I come across reference to the lower 48 states, I am informed that the writer is ignorant and read no farther. This community of states may be referenced as the 48 or the contiguous states, but when there is a lower 48, there is of necessity an upper 48. Where is this?
I'm insulted by this reference. It's not cute. I'm sure many are similarly insulted.


East and West Dakota are in the upper 48 states.
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Quoting Balwanz:
I don't expect this to be posted, it's for the author, not the general blogosphere. When I come across reference to the lower 48 states, I am informed that the writer is ignorant and read no farther. This community of states may be referenced as the 48 or the contiguous states, but when there is a lower 48, there is of necessity an upper 48. Where is this?
I'm insulted by this reference. It's not cute. I'm sure many are similarly insulted.
It is an old phrase dating back to when Alaska became the 49th state. The other states were South of Alaska on the map hence "the lower 48".

To categorize it as insulting is a big reach and nitpicky in the extreme. Oh wait, I'm in the comment section of a blog - carry on.


ETA - And apparently I took snark for serious. My snark sense appears to be out of practice.
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MESOSCALE DISCUSSION 0091
NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER NORMAN OK
0344 PM CST THU FEB 02 2012

AREAS AFFECTED...NRN PORTIONS OF WRN TX THROUGH TX PANHANDLE AND WRN
OK

CONCERNING...SEVERE POTENTIAL...WATCH POSSIBLE

VALID 022144Z - 022345Z

THUNDERSTORMS ARE EXPECTED TO DEVELOP FARTHER SWD OVER PORTIONS OF
THE TX PANHANDLE BY 00-01Z AND EVENTUALLY INTO WRN OK THIS EVENING.
INITIAL PRIMARY THREAT WILL BE SUPERCELLS WITH ISOLATED LARGE HAIL.
HOWEVER...A WINDOW WILL EXIST DURING THE EARLY EVENING FOR ISOLATED
TORNADOES FROM THE SRN TX PANHANDLE INTO NWRN TX AND SWRN OK. AREA
WILL CONTINUE TO BE MONITORED FOR A POSSIBLE WW BY 23-00Z.

WV AND OBJECTIVE ANALYSIS DATA SHOW AN UPPER JET STREAK FROM SRN AZ
THROUGH SRN AND ERN NM WITHIN BASE OF TROUGH SITUATED OVER THE CNTRL
AND SRN ROCKIES. MID-UPPER ASCENT WITHIN THE EXIT REGION OF THIS
FEATURE AND WITHIN STEEP LAPSE RATE ENVIRONMENT IS PROMOTING
DEVELOPMENT OF ELEVATED CONVECTION FROM NERN MN INTO THE TX AND OK
PANHANDLES. THIS AREA REMAINS WELL NORTH OF GREATER MOISTURE AND
INSTABILITY ACROSS W-CNTRL AND WRN TX...AND AS A RESULT IS EXPECTED
TO REMAIN BELOW SEVERE LEVELS NEXT COUPLE HOURS.

LLJ IS STRENGTHENING OVER WRN TX WITHIN UPPER JET EXIT REGION AND IS
CONTRIBUTING TO MOISTURE ADVECTION AND NWD DESTABILIZATION. STORMS
SHOULD INCREASE IN COVERAGE AND INTENSIFY THIS EVENING FROM PORTIONS
OF THE TX PANHANDLE...NWRN TX AND WRN OK AS THE ATMOSPHERE
DESTABILIZES NWD WITH TIME. STRONG VERTICAL SHEAR PROFILES WITH
LARGE 0-2 KM HODOGRAPHS WILL SUPPORT A FEW SUPERCELLS...BUT SOME OF
THE ACTIVITY MAY EVOLVE INTO LINE/BOWING SEGMENTS. A WINDOW MAY
EXIST FOR ISOLATED TORNADOES AS STORMS DEVELOP ON NRN FRINGE OF
GREATER MOISTURE RETURN AND BEFORE ONSET OF NOCTURNAL COOLING.
OTHERWISE...ISOLATED LARGE HAIL AND DAMAGING WIND WILL BE THE MAIN
THREATS.

..DIAL.. 02/02/2012
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OK...this is great....a bunch of cruise ship passengers went out to visit Boone Hall....and now they can't get back to the ship....and it's gonna sail this evening....I don't understand not taking this guy out
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the Ravenel Bridge guy keeps ramming his SUV into the side of the bridge....
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A Basic Question.
With the absence of of the symptoms of winter in the {Lower 48,} the burning question and it might end up as literally that in some cases, though all hope not, is this?
What are going to be the downsides to this? Is there going to be a large amounts of projected droughts,dust storms and fires? Are there going to be water shortages on unprecedented levels. Will this lead to more financial disasters?
Although there are still quite a few weeks to run of "winter" if spring arrives without it then surly this in itself must be a good subject for a whole blog!
I can see the upside of pleasant warm days and lower heating bills etc but there must be a sinister down side to all this. A few blogs ago there was the subject of the billion dollar disasters, some of the winter sports and outdoor activities must really be in the doldrums this winter as well.
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Quoting Balwanz:
I don't expect this to be posted, it's for the author, not the general blogosphere. When I come across reference to the lower 48 states, I am informed that the writer is ignorant and read no farther. This community of states may be referenced as the 48 or the contiguous states, but when there is a lower 48, there is of necessity an upper 48. Where is this?
I'm insulted by this reference. It's not cute. I'm sure many are similarly insulted.
What a great way to start off the day on the blog! Never laughed so hard in my life.
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Quoting hydrus:
I hope there are not to many disasters this year. We have been through so many Pat. I dont mind saying that a few of them tired me out..Storm is winding up.


Stress can be rough after a Disaster for many.
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Quoting Patrap:
#75. hydrus

They certainly are fine folks for sure. This is our 3rd year now with their support.

In April 2010 we had a 1 day Conference here for their Paralysis Resource Center.

Presslord came down for that as well.


It is with support from them, supportive donor's and the wunderground, plus our Dozens of dedicated Volunteer's that has allowed Portlight to make a difference from Haiti to Samoa to Tuscaloosa.

People Helping People is a WUnderful thing.

I hope there are not to many disasters this year. We have been through so many Pat. I dont mind saying that a few of them tired me out..Storm is winding up.
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 21175
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Finally a chance for snow!!


NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE BALTIMORE MD/WASHINGTON DC
326 PM EST THU FEB 2 2012


.SHORT TERM /FRIDAY NIGHT THROUGH SUNDAY/...
HIGH PRESSURE WILL REMAIN ANCHORED OVER THE FORECAST AREA FRIDAY
NIGHT BEFORE TRANSITIONING OFF THE MIDDLE ATLANTIC COAST ON
SATURDAY. A TROUGH OF LOW PRESSURE WILL DEVELOP OVER THE SOUTHWEST
UNITED STATES AND TRACK EAST INTO THE CENTRAL PLAINS FOR THE
START OF THE WEEKEND. SURFACE LOW PRESSURE WILL ALSO TAKE SHAPE AND
TRACK EAST SATURDAY AFTERNOON INTO SUNDAY. GFS AND ECMWF CONTINUE
TO INDICATE SIGNFICANT DIFFERENCES WITH THE TRACK OF THE SURFACE
LOW WITH THE GFS FURTHER SOUTH AND THE ECMWF FURTHER NORTH. EITHER
TRACK WILL IMPACT WEATHER IN THE CWFA TO VARYING DEGREES.

A SECONDARY TROUGH WILL ALSO TAKE SHAPE OVER THE GREAT LAKES LATE
SATURDAY NIGHT AND TRACK EAST ACROSS THE REGION ON SUNDAY. THE GFS
IS MORE PROGRESSIVE AND FURTHER NORTH WHILE THE ECMWF IS FURTHER
SOUTH AND SLOWER. THE SLOWER SOLUTION WOULD ALLOW DEEPER MOISTURE
TO BE DRAWN NORTHWARD INTO THE FORECAST AREA WITH GREATER IMPACTS
OVERNIGHT SATURDAY INTO SUNDAY. COLDER AIR WILL ALSO FILTER INTO
THE REGION WITH EITHER A MIX OR CHANGE TO SNOW OVER THE HIGHER
TERRAIN OUT WEST POSSIBLE. AT THIS TIME...WE DECIDED TO GO WITH A
COMPROMISE OF THE TWO SOLUTIONS BUT OVERALL CONFIDENCE REMAINS LOW

ATTM.

&&

.LONG TERM /SUNDAY NIGHT THROUGH THURSDAY/...
COLD AIR ADVECTION WILL KICK IN BEHIND THE TROUGH SUNDAY NIGHT
INTO MONDAY WITH DRY CONDITIONS EXPECTED FOR THE START OF NEXT WEEK.
WEST TO SOUTHWEST FLOW WILL RETURN DURING MONDAY WITH A BRIEF
MODERATION TREND IN TEMPERATURES. HIGH PRESSURE AND BENIGN WEATHER
CAN BE EXPECTED THROUGH THE MIDDLE OF NEXT WEEK. LONG RANGE GFS
AND ECMWF CONTINUE TO INDICATE THE POTENTIAL FOR WINTER TO MAKE A
COMEBACK WITH MUCH COLDER TEMPERATURES BY NEXT WEEKEND.
STAY
TUNED.
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SHORT RANGE FORECAST DISCUSSION
NWS HYDROMETEOROLOGICAL PREDICTION CENTER CAMP SPRINGS MD
355 PM EST THU FEB 2 2012

VALID 00Z FRI FEB 3 2012 - 00Z SUN FEB 5 2012

...MAJOR STORM SYSTEM TO BRING A VARIETY OF WEATHER TO THE CENTRAL
U.S. INCLUDING HEAVY SNOW...RAIN...AND STRONG THUNDERSTORMS...

...RELATIVELY QUIET CONDITIONS ELSEWHERE...

PUNXSUTAWNEY PHIL SAW HIS SHADOW THURSDAY MORNING...MEANING SIX
MORE WEEKS OF WINTER ACCORDING TO THAT PREDICTION. REGARDING THE
WEATHER OVER THE CENTRAL ROCKIES AND CENTRAL PLAINS OVER THE NEXT
FEW DAYS...THIS PREDICTION WILL HOLD TRUE AS A MAJOR WINTER STORM
IS EXPECTED. A DEVELOPING STORM SYSTEM OVER THE ROCKIES TONIGHT
WILL BRING A MIXTURE OF WEATHER TYPES TO THE CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN
PLAINS BEGINNING FRIDAY MORNING.

EXPECT SNOW TO SPREAD EAST OF THE FRONT RANGE TONIGHT WITH LIGHT
TO MODERATE RAIN OVER EASTERN COLORADO AND INTO THE SOUTHERN
PLAINS. THIS STORM SYSTEM WILL INGEST MOISTURE FROM THE GULF OF
MEXICO...SUPPORTING THE DEVELOPMENT OF SHOWERS AND
THUNDERSTORMS...SOME OF WHICH COULD BE SEVERE...OVER PARTS OF THE
SOUTHERN PLAINS. AS THE UPPER LOW STRENGTHENS OVERNIGHT...COLDER
AIR FROM CANADA WILL TRAVEL DOWN THE FRONT RANGE INTO THE CENTRAL
HIGH PLAINS...RESULTING IN A CHANGEOVER FROM RAIN TO SNOW FOR MOST
OF EASTERN COLORADO BY FRIDAY MORNING. LOCALLY HEAVY RAIN WILL BE
ONGOING FRIDAY MORNING OVER EASTERN KANSAS AND OKLAHOMA. AS THE
SURFACE LOW SLOWLY TRACKS EAST SATURDAY...RAIN SHOULD CHANGE TO
SNOW AS THE COLDER AIR MOVES EAST...WHILE LOCALLY HEAVY RAIN ALSO
SPREADS EAST TOWARDS THE DEEP SOUTH. STORM TOTAL SNOWFALL WITH
THIS STORM IS EXPECTED TO BE AT LEAST EIGHT INCHES...WITH LOCALLY
HIGHER AMOUNTS...OVER NORTHEAST COLORADO INTO WESTERN NEBRASKA AND
KANSAS.

ELSEWHERE...WEATHER CONDITIONS ARE EXPECTED TO BE RELATIVELY QUIET
WITH ABOVE NORMAL TEMPERATURES CONTINUING FOR THE EAST
COAST...ALBEIT COOLER THAN WHAT WAS OBSERVED EARLIER IN THE WEEK.
OUT WEST...A LARGE RIDGE OF HIGH PRESSURE WILL GOVERN THE WEATHER
PATTERN WITH RELATIVELY CLEAR SKIES. THE EXCEPTION WILL BE
MOUNTAIN SNOW SHOWERS OVER PARTS OF WYOMING AND COLORADO IN
CONJUNCTION WITH THE STORM SYSTEM OVER THE GREAT PLAINS.

D. HAMRICK
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 21175
Quoting StormTracker2K:
I bet that person is probably a disgruntled banned troll from this blog.


WOW!!!
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#75. hydrus

They certainly are fine folks for sure. This is our 3rd year now with their support.

In April 2010 we had a 1 day Conference here for their Paralysis Resource Center.

Presslord came down for that as well.


It is with support from them, supportive donor's and the wunderground, plus our Dozens of dedicated Volunteer's that has allowed Portlight to make a difference from Haiti to Samoa to Tuscaloosa.

People Helping People is a WUnderful thing.

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I bet that person is probably a disgruntled banned troll from this blog.
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http://www.hpc.ncep.noaa.gov/qpf/p120i12.gif
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 21175
Quoting TampaSpin:


Thought that might get a response......HEY BROTHER! You ready for the big game....You having a party?


Yeh,got a big party set.We're the only part of the country rooting for them,and pretty much everybody is picking the Giants.Should be a great game no matter what happens.
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Ravenel Bridge camLink camera # 68
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Quoting Patrap:
Portlight awarded Reeve Foundation Quality of Life Grant


Many thanks to the Christopher Reeve Foundation for their continued support of Portlight.

They do much good for many Groups who strive to improve the Human Condition, Globally.

That is awesome Pat..Great foundation indeed...Christopher Reeve was a real life hero to many people including myself. President Reagan talking with Christopher Reeve and Frank Gifford during a reception and picnic in honor of the 15th Anniversary of the Special Olympics program in the Diplomatic Reception room.
Date

12 June 1983
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 21175
Quoting TampaSpin:


That is messed up....what the heck is wrong with trying to hurt so many. Screw yourself up ....go ahead but, leave others alone.


yea....if he wants to end it all...he shoulda just jumped...
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Portlight awarded Reeve Foundation Quality of Life Grant


Many thanks to the Christopher Reeve Foundation for their continued support of Portlight.

They do much good for many Groups who strive to improve the Human Condition, Globally.

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Quoting presslord:
my business partner is stuck on the bridge...he just called me to see what's happening..."well, James....you might want to get right with Jesus..."


That is messed up....what the heck is wrong with trying to hurt so many. Screw yourself up ....go ahead but, leave others alone.
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 178 Comments: 20439
Maybe it's just a "Glitter Bomb?"
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my business partner is stuck on the bridge...he just called me to see what's happening..."well, James....you might want to get right with Jesus..."
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Well this can't be possible can it?
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the alleged bomb is in the white SUV
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Ravenel Bridge in Charleston shut down 'cause some idiot is threatening to blow it up
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It is currently 72 °F under abundant sunshine with gusty winds.

This is April weather.
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Quoting NEwxguy:


Ouch!!!!


Thought that might get a response......HEY BROTHER! You ready for the big game....You having a party?
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Quoting TampaSpin:



Its like referencing New England is gonna win the Super Bowl....NOT....LOL


Ouch!!!!
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Quoting Balwanz:
I don't expect this to be posted, it's for the author, not the general blogosphere. When I come across reference to the lower 48 states, I am informed that the writer is ignorant and read no farther. This community of states may be referenced as the 48 or the contiguous states, but when there is a lower 48, there is of necessity an upper 48. Where is this?
I'm insulted by this reference. It's not cute. I'm sure many are similarly insulted.

If you have a total of 50?
"1" is above relevant to the normally accepted orientation of the perceived globe of the world.
"48" are normally seen to be below the "1"
Just for good measure there can also be the "1" to the west.
I apologize if Ive missed any I'm from the European "27"
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Quoting Balwanz:
I don't expect this to be posted, it's for the author, not the general blogosphere. When I come across reference to the lower 48 states, I am informed that the writer is ignorant and read no farther. This community of states may be referenced as the 48 or the contiguous states, but when there is a lower 48, there is of necessity an upper 48. Where is this?
I'm insulted by this reference. It's not cute. I'm sure many are similarly insulted.
You almost had me. For a moment there, I thought you might be serious. Thanks for the laugh! ;-)
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Plenty of moisture here... And it reaches deep into the Caribbean,,,
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 21175
Quoting NEwxguy:


This is a joke right????



Its like referencing New England is gonna win the Super Bowl....NOT....LOL
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 178 Comments: 20439
Quoting Tropicsweatherpr:


Do you have the link to that text? Thanks in advance.


Link


You may have to click through "Current Version/Previous Version", when they add another it gets moved down the queue.
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Quoting Patrap:

Tropical Cyclone Heat Potential




GFS is hinting on a low forming east of Belize do you think this could produce a lot more rain for us .
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Quoting JNCali:
Hey Hydrus.. most the storms missed us last night.. how was it at your place?? I don't think we got more than .1 precip..
We had a quarter inch and some thunder..We have another soaker coming this weekend..After that, we have the system in the gulf to watch. It may go south of us. to early to tell GFS 168 hours..
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 21175
Quoting Balwanz:
I don't expect this to be posted, it's for the author, not the general blogosphere. When I come across reference to the lower 48 states, I am informed that the writer is ignorant and read no farther. This community of states may be referenced as the 48 or the contiguous states, but when there is a lower 48, there is of necessity an upper 48. Where is this?
I'm insulted by this reference. It's not cute. I'm sure many are similarly insulted.


This is a joke right????
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Tropical Cyclone Heat Potential




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Quoting NoNamePub:
Can any one post Current SST's vs Last years Same Date?Not sure where to find them

Mahalo in advance! 



Use this Link easily best way to do it.
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Hi Everyone they should have brought the Groundhog to Belize . We have not seen the sun in days the warm ocean temps are still giving us plenty of moister .
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Shear has been running thus far above Average according to this
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 178 Comments: 20439
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 178 Comments: 20439

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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.