La Niña drawing to a close

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:39 PM GMT on February 27, 2012

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La Niña, the cooling of the equatorial Pacific waters off the coast of South America that has dramatically affected our weather for most of the past two years, is almost done. Sea surface temperatures (SSTs) over the tropical Eastern Pacific in the area 5°N - 5°S, 120°W - 170°W, also called the "Niña 3.4 region", have warmed rapidly over the past two weeks, and were 0.4°C below average on February 27. This is slightly warmer than the -0.5°C threshold to be considered La Niña conditions, and is the first time since early August that La Niña conditions have not been present. It is likely that SSTs will continue to warm during March and April, and NOAA's Climate Prediction Center is predicting that they will declare an official end to La Niña sometime between March and April. A moderate to strong La Niña began in the summer of 2010, weakened briefly during May - July 2011 to neutral status, then re-intensified to a borderline weak/moderate La Niña from August 2011 - January 2012.


Figure 1. Comparison of the sea surface temperature departure from average from January 4 and February 22, 2012, over the tropical Eastern Pacific. During January, a large region of the ocean was more than 0.5°C cooler than average, meaning a La Niña event was present. Beginning in mid-February, waters warmed rapidly from east to west along the Equator, signaling and end to the La Niña event. Image credit: NOAA.

The forecast: neutral or El Niño conditions by fall
The period March - May is the typical time of year that El Niño or La Niña events end, and it is common for the opposite phenomena to take hold by fall. Since 1950, there have been twelve La Niña events that ended during the first half of the year; during six of those years (50%), an El Niño event formed in time for the August - September - October peak of hurricane season. The official forecast from Columbia University's IRI and NOAA's Climate Prediction Center calls for a 31 - 32% chance of an El Niño event during the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season. El Niño conditions tend to suppress Atlantic hurricane activity by creating high levels of wind shear that tends to tear hurricanes apart. Given the relatively high chance of an El Niño event this fall, plus ocean temperatures over the tropical Atlantic that are cooler than we saw in 2011 and 2010, I doubt we'll see an Atlantic hurricane season as active as the ones in 2010 and 2011 (nineteen named storms both years, third busiest seasons on record.) The demise of La Niña also means that global temperatures should begin to approach record warm levels by the end of the year. The cool waters of a La Niña event keep global temperatures cooler than average.


Figure 2. Computer model forecasts of El Niño/La Niña made in mid-February 2012. The forecasts that go above the red line at +0.5°C denote El Niño conditions; -0.5°C to +0.5°C denote neutral conditions, and below -0.5°C denote La Niña conditions. Most of the computer models are predicting neutral or El Niño conditions during the fall peak of the Atlantic hurricane season. Image credit: Columbia University's IRI.

I'll have a new post by Wednesday.

Jeff Masters

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Looks like late May here today with the seabreezes moving inland.
Member Since: October 26, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2651
High was supposed to be 77 in Orlando today instead it's 86 with a dewpoint of 65. The stage is now set for severe storms to really start ramping up over the next few hours.

Member Since: October 26, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2651
Quoting Chapelhill:
It's tuesday now? I can't kind any info saying that. Only that it's at 7pm today. Link please.
saw it on the local tv news around noon
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 42267
Quoting BahaHurican:
Good comparative piece there. Thanks, AtHome.

Something I'm curious about re. tornados: what's the likelihood that one location will get hit by more than one tornado in a breakout? With tracks so relatively tiny, wouldn't it be rather unlikely that two would hit the same spot?
ive seen two waterspouts side by side about 10 years ago right off clearwater beach, had they come ashore( which they did not), then one city would have gotten hit by two tornado's, so im sure it COULD happen
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 42267
Another Italian Cruise ship adrift
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Good comparative piece there. Thanks, AtHome.

Something I'm curious about re. tornados: what's the likelihood that one location will get hit by more than one tornado in a breakout? With tracks so relatively tiny, wouldn't it be rather unlikely that two would hit the same spot?
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Quoting LargoFl:
daytona 500 was cancelled once again,hope the track dries up for tomorrow
It's tuesday now? I can't kind any info saying that. Only that it's at 7pm today. Link please.
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In my opinion, i think that we will have a weak-moderate El Nino before the year is over. That means that the 2012 Atlantic Hurricane Season may have a early ending aroud October.
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Quoting Chicklit:

I live on a barrier island and do not evaculate either for this and other reasons, including having pets and hurricane shutters, a generator and a block structure to retreat to that is high enough not to be flooded.
You are braver than I am Chicklit. At least I am on coral rock, doesn't get washed out. You are on sand. I hope your foundation is down to bedrock.
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Lordy,
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
but the real question is
is it an earthquake or are they testing something


Probably blowing themselves up underground
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Obviously from last week. But it not totally off topic. It does mention La Nina. :)

Tornado season looms, but forecasting a challenge
Associated PressBy SETH BORENSTEIN | Associated Press – Fri, Feb 24, 2012

WASHINGTON (AP) — Tornado season is starting, but don't ask meteorologists how bad it will be this spring and summer.

They don't know. They're having a hard enough time getting a fix on the likely path of storms expected in the next 48 hours, from the Ohio Valley to the Southeast coast.

The very nature of tornadoes makes them the wildcard of weather disasters. It's just hard to figure when and where they'll appear.

On Wednesday night, one hit Rome, Ga., the National Weather Service said, with winds of 95 mph, leaving a 3-mile swath of destruction.

It's not the first one of the year. In January two people were killed by separate twisters in Alabama. Preliminary reports showed 95 tornadoes struck last month, compared with 16 in January 2011, a particularly stormy year.

The season usually starts in March and then ramps up for the next couple of months, but forecasting a seasonal outlook is even more imprecise than predicting hurricane seasons. Tornadoes are too small and too short-lived. They don't develop like blizzards and hurricanes, which are easier to project.

They pop in and pop out. The storms that give them birth may last only a few hours. Hurricanes and blizzards are lumbering beasts that spend days moving across the satellite maps. When a hurricane approaches, coastlines get days to evacuate. With a tornado, if the weather service can let people know 20 minutes in advance, it's considered a victory.

The deadly Joplin, Mo., tornado "wasn't violent until just about the time it got to the hospital," said Harold Brooks, a research scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Severe Storms Laboratory, in Norman, Okla. "Even when you're in the field, there are still times when you're surprised by the intensity of the event and how quickly it started."

The federal storm center says 158 died in that storm; local officials count 161.

If a forecast for a hurricane or blizzard is off by a mile, it's still bad weather. But a mile difference means no damage in a tornado, Brooks said: "It's so much finer in time and space on the tornado, it does make it a harder problem."

It takes a piece of debris only a few seconds to fly around an entire tornado; it takes hours to circle a hurricane. Yet tornadoes, though smaller, can have stronger winds. Since 1950, there have been 58 tornadoes in the United States with winds exceeding 200 mph; six last year alone. Only three hurricanes have made U.S. landfall with winds more than 155 mph.

And forecasters are telling the Southeast and Midwest to get ready again.

"It looks like this week we're moving into a slightly more active dynamic pattern," said warning meteorologist Greg Carbin at the National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center, also in Norman, Okla.

The percolating Ohio Valley/Southeastern storm is proof of how hard meteorologists have it. On Tuesday evening, Carbin said, "We're kind of expecting it to be a fairly significant event" and the storm center's website had a small red swath for potential severe storms with tornadoes.

By Wednesday afternoon, the storm prediction center massively expanded its Thursday watch area to include 14 states from Florida to Indiana. By Thursday afternoon, it was down to mostly Kentucky and Tennessee with parts of neighboring states.

"A lot of things have to come together at once to have a tornadic storm and the skill at forecasting all those things is near zero," said Howard Bluestein, a professor at the University of Oklahoma. "They are definitely more unpredictable."

All this comes on the heels of one of the worst tornado years in U.S. history. Tornadoes in 2011 started the earliest ever — New Year's Day — killing 550 people, injuring 5,400 and causing $10 billion in damage over the year, the most in U.S. history. The 2011 season had the most tornadoes in a single day and a single month on record.

But if you ask tornado experts what that means for this year, they'll answer that they just don't know.

Some meteorologists mention La Nina, the flip side of El Nino, as an indicator. It's a cooling of the central Pacific Ocean. Scientists have noticed a correlation between strong La Ninas and active tornado seasons — including last year. But it's not that simple or clear-cut, Columbia University professor Michael Tippett said. The current La Nina is weakening so much it shouldn't be a factor this year, several experts said.

Tippett has a new study that gives some hope, pointing out potential factors — vertical wind shear, updraft and a type of rainfall — that might help for long-range tornado forecasts.

Later this summer, meteorologists will meet in a special conference to try to figure out how to do that type of longer-term tornado prediction. And the National Weather Service is installing new radar for live forecasting, tracking and distinguishing of tornadoes that could save lives in real-time because forecasters can be more certain in their warnings, said National Weather Service meteorologist Paul Schlatter.

All those elements together mean that maybe by 2020 or so, meteorologists will be able to say watch out this season or relax a bit — but not just yet, said federal researcher Brooks.
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Quoting RitaEvac:
Keep, I've been noticing quite a bit of earthquake activity around the globe, LOTS of em


Iran, of all places hit with 5.1
but the real question is
is it an earthquake or are they testing something
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press ya shooting blanks again
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Aaaggghhh!!!!   Glitchyness
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Quoting kwgirl:
I appreciate what you say and do not take any decision whether to stay or go lightly. It is all in the timing. I have lived here since 1960 and have stayed for every storm. The State restricts our building because of evacuation times, but doesn't restrict the mainland. With more buildings north of us the more people on the road. Sometimes there is just no where to go in a timely or safe manner. Remember the scenes from Houston in 2005?

I live on a barrier island and do not evaculate either for this and other reasons, including having pets and hurricane shutters, a generator and a block structure to retreat to that is high enough not to be flooded.
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Keep, I've been noticing quite a bit of earthquake activity around the globe, LOTS of em


Iran, of all places hit with 5.1
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Thanks Press for removing that Carolina mess
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Quoting kwgirl:
I appreciate what you say and do not take any decision whether to stay or go lightly. It is all in the timing. I have lived here since 1960 and have stayed for every storm. The State restricts our building because of evacuation times, but doesn't restrict the mainland. With more buildings north of us the more people on the road. Sometimes there is just no where to go in a timely or safe manner. Remember the scenes from Houston in 2005?
You have been around a little longer than I thought KWGirl..God Bless ya..:)
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 22719
.
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Quoting kwgirl:
I appreciate what you say and do not take any decision whether to stay or go lightly. It is all in the timing. I have lived here since 1960 and have stayed for every storm. The State restricts our building because of evacuation times, but doesn't restrict the mainland. With more buildings north of us the more people on the road. Sometimes there is just no where to go in a timely or safe manner. Remember the scenes from Houston in 2005?


RITAEVAC
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Quoting kwgirl:
I appreciate what you say and do not take any decision whether to stay or go lightly. It is all in the timing. I have lived here since 1960 and have stayed for every storm. The State restricts our building because of evacuation times, but doesn't restrict the mainland. With more buildings north of us the more people on the road. Sometimes there is just no where to go in a timely or safe manner. Remember the scenes from Houston in 2005?


I hear Ya.... Just want you to be safe and not sorry. The Lady of the "Grotto" at St. Mary Star of the Sea in KW has protected you all pretty well for the last few decades......... :)
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Here is a challenge for anyone studying the sociology of science: Bet there is a significant correlation between the population of meteorologists that show an interest in NASCAR and those that deny global warming.

Bet it's greater than .70!
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Quoting weathermanwannabe:
38. kwgirl 1:49 PM EST on February 27, 2012

You post on here regularly and I have several friends who live in the Keys. I hear your points, but, if you know a bad storm is headed your way (towards the Keys), and evacuations are ordered, please do so......... Not a good idea to take your chances (drowning in storm surge is NOT a peaceful way to go) and much less so if you have kids or other family down there with you.........
I appreciate what you say and do not take any decision whether to stay or go lightly. It is all in the timing. I have lived here since 1960 and have stayed for every storm. The State restricts our building because of evacuation times, but doesn't restrict the mainland. With more buildings north of us the more people on the road. Sometimes there is just no where to go in a timely or safe manner. Remember the scenes from Houston in 2005?
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Keys r not the best place to ride out a cat 5, but on the road between the Keys is even worse.
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Quoting LargoFl:
nothing here on the gulf side yet, real warm and humid, hoping for a few good showers later on though
i'm in northwest Hillsborough and i'm starting to doubt any rain will fall in this area... Seems like there's still a bit of an onshore flow pushing the convection inland
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Afternoon everybody.

Quoting kwgirl:
I remember that storm as well. Because of the quick intensification and proximity to So. Fla., it caused major traffic jams for evacuation. Though the State of Florida has mandatory evacuation for the Keys, I had to talk several friends out of evacuating. It really doesn't make sense to run toward a storm. The people I know who did evacuate had to stop in Homestead. They sheltered through the storm in a motel with large plate glass windows. One of these days the same scenario is going to occur, however, the storm will go down the keys and there is going to be loss of life. I guess if I had my druthers, I would rather stay home and hope to God that if he takes me, it be quick vs dying in my auto on some clogged road.
Stories like this remind us of how important it is to keep improving track and intensity forecasts, up to 3 days out, minimum. If u get told to evacuate, u should be able to feel pretty confident that evacuating is the right action. You should also feel comfortable about staying. S FL in particular, and coastal locations in general, have a serious challenge when it comes to timely and appropriate evacuation. People should only be leaving if staying is lifethreatening, but quite a few in the paths of storms seem to be leaving to avoid the post storm discomfort. All this adds to the problems of conjestion on key roadways. Uncertainty about the forecast creates even more difficulty.
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Storm digging down good off the Cali coast, be nice if rains are heavier and more widespread than forecasted for TX
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SPECIAL WEATHER STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE MELBOURNE FL
201 PM EST MON FEB 27 2012

FLZ058-059-064-271945-
MARTIN-OKEECHOBEE-ST. LUCIE-
201 PM EST MON FEB 27 2012

...A SIGNIFICANT WEATHER ADVISORY IS IN EFFECT FOR STRONG WIND GUSTS
BETWEEN 45 AND 55 MPH AND SMALL HAIL OVER WESTERN MARTIN COUNTY...
SOUTHEASTERN OKEECHOBEE COUNTY...SOUTHWESTERN ST. LUCIE COUNTY...

* UNTIL 245 PM EST.

AT 200 PM EST...NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DOPPLER RADAR INDICATED A
STORM CAPABLE OF PRODUCING STRONG WINDS AND SMALL HAIL 5 MILES EAST
OF FOUR SEASONS ESTATES...MOVING EAST-SOUTHEAST AT 20 MPH.

THE PRIMARY THREAT WILL BE CLOUD TO GROUND LIGHTNING STRIKES AND
GUSTY WINDS OF 45 TO 55 MPH...WHICH CAN CAUSE UNSECURED OBJECTS TO
BLOW AROUND...SNAP TREE LIMBS OR CAUSE POWER OUTAGES. HEAVY RAINFALL
WILL TEMPORARILY REDUCE VISIBILITY. SEEK SHELTER INDOORS UNTIL THE
STORM PASSES. HAIL UP TO THE SIZE OF COINS IS ALSO POSSIBLE.

LAT...LON 2721 8079 2736 8074 2731 8032 2701 8050
TIME...MOT...LOC 1900Z 287DEG 16KT 2725 8067

$$


52
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 42267
If a early El Nino forms maybe an interesting time come June for the Gulf/Fl coast. The big player will be shear forecast as the water should be plenty warm by then.
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Quoting FLWeatherFreak91:
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE TAMPA BAY RUSKIN FL
954 AM EST MON FEB 27 2012

.DISCUSSION...
WEAK SHORT WAVES MOVING ONSHORE THE FLORIDA WEST COAST EARLY THIS
MORNING CONTINUES TO SUPPORT A LARGE AREA OF LIGHT RAIN OVER THE
NATURE COAST AND THE NORTHERN FLORIDA PENINSULA...WITH PARTLY
CLOUDY SKIES BEING OBSERVED ACROSS THE REMAINDER OF WEST CENTRAL
AND SOUTHWEST FLORIDA. THE ONGOING RAIN AREA ACROSS THE NATURE
COAST IN ASSOCIATION WITH THE SHORT WAVES WILL GRADUALLY WEAKEN
AND SHIFT EAST WITH THE SHORT WAVES THE REMAINDER OF THE MORNING
WHILE CONVECTIVE SHOWERS WILL BEGIN TO DEVELOP ACROSS THE CENTRAL
AND SOUTHERN ZONES BY LATE MORNING INTO THE AFTERNOON WITHIN A
MOIST AND UNSTABLE AIR MASS. MORNING RAOB AND MODEL SOUNDING DATA
SUGGESTS THE POSSIBILITY OF SOME STRONG TO SEVERE STORMS ACROSS
CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN ZONES WHERE ONGOING CONSIDERABLE BREAKS IN
THE CLOUDS SHOULD ALLOW FOR SOME FAIRLY GOOD DAYTIME HEATING AND
POSSIBLE SEA BREEZE DEVELOPMENT. WITH RATHER COLD TEMPERATURE
ALOFT (-13C AT 500MB) AND LOW WET BULB ZERO LEVELS ANY STORMS
THAT DO DEVELOP WILL BE CAPABLE OF PRODUCING HAIL AND OR DAMAGING
WIND GUSTS
...AND WILL ADD THIS WORDING TO THE ZONES IN A MID
MORNING UPDATE. OTHER THAN THIS NO OTHER GRID OR ZONE CHANGES
ARE EXPECTED AT THIS TIME.
nothing here on the gulf side yet, real warm and humid, hoping for a few good showers later on though
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 42267
38. kwgirl 1:49 PM EST on February 27, 2012

You post on here regularly and I have several friends who live in the Keys. I hear your points, but, if you know a bad storm is headed your way (towards the Keys), and evacuations are ordered, please do so......... Not a good idea to take your chances (drowning in storm surge is NOT a peaceful way to go) and much less so if you have kids or other family down there with you.........
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Quoting StormTracker2K:
It is going to be a very stormy evening here in C & S FL as temps are in the 80's now in Orlando.
yes 82 here on the gulf side
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 42267
Quoting StormTracker2K:
This cluster of storms will slowly slip into C FL and merge with developing Sea-breeze storms later this afternoon. Daytona 500 should run now not later as the atmosphere is getting very unstable here with -13C temps aloft.

daytona 500 was cancelled once again,hope the track dries up for tomorrow
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 42267
Need more rains for TX
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This looks like a big trough.
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 22719
Quoting weathermanwannabe:


I remember that well being in Miami at the time....Andrew was forecast to go up towards your parts Broward and Palm Beach), took a bit of a sharp turn between Sat evening and Sunday and took a beeline to extreme South Florida exploding over the Gulf Stream when sheer relaxed considerably. Not much damage North of Miami proper cause it was a very compact buzz saw when it came across Cutler Ridge.
Exactly, I was in Atlanta, and remember getting up to check the news for storm damage. Everyone was reprting minor damage to trees and powerlines in the Miami area. It just did not make since looking at the appearance of the storm. It took a full day for word to get out that Homestead was gone!
That's another good point. Small does not mean they will be weak.
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Quoting weathermanwannabe:


I remember that well being in Miami at the time....Andrew was forecast to go up towards your parts Broward and Palm Beach), took a bit of a sharp turn between Sat evening and Sunday and took a beeline to extreme South Florida exploding over the Gulf Stream when sheer relaxed considerably. Not much damage North of Miami proper cause it was a very compact buzz saw when it came across Cutler Ridge.
I remember that storm as well. Because of the quick intensification and proximity to So. Fla., it caused major traffic jams for evacuation. Though the State of Florida has mandatory evacuation for the Keys, I had to talk several friends out of evacuating. It really doesn't make sense to run toward a storm. The people I know who did evacuate had to stop in Homestead. They sheltered through the storm in a motel with large plate glass windows. One of these days the same scenario is going to occur, however, the storm will go down the keys and there is going to be loss of life. I guess if I had my druthers, I would rather stay home and hope to God that if he takes me, it be quick vs dying in my auto on some clogged road.
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Maybe a weak Nino by winter. Are the warm waters off South America still shallow or are they becoming deeper?
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Quoting Chapelhill:
It's fun to try and predict the number of storms, and how the climate will influence, but you make a good point that most people easily forget. That is that it only takes one!

I drive out of West Palm Beach the day before Andrew hit. The thought of that storm still makes me jumpy.


I remember that well being in Miami at the time....Andrew was forecast to go up towards your parts Broward and Palm Beach), took a bit of a sharp turn between Sat evening and Sunday and took a beeline to extreme South Florida exploding over the Gulf Stream when sheer relaxed considerably. Not much damage North of Miami proper cause it was a very compact buzz saw when it came across Cutler Ridge.
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Quoting StormTracker2K:
This cluster of storms will slowly slip into C FL and merge with developing Sea-breeze storms later this afternoon. Daytona 500 should run now not later as the atmosphere is getting very unstable here with -13C temps aloft.

It will have to push south of Daytona by 5pm for a 7pm race as they need 2 hours to dry the track. It's going to be a tight one! A 7pm race already puts a finish past most of the east coasts bedtime. (at least those who work)lol
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Member Since: October 26, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2651
This cluster of storms will slowly slip into C FL and merge with developing Sea-breeze storms later this afternoon. Daytona 500 should run now not later as the atmosphere is getting very unstable here with -13C temps aloft.

Member Since: October 26, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2651
Quoting TampaSpin:


Come back to Haunt him......Neutral Conditions is some of the worst conditions for land falling Hurricanes. This if the ESNO conditions of Neutral will be correct, could very well be a rough Cane season for many! BEWARE
Yep..And it only takes one large hurricane making landfall an a populated area to create a really bad situation...Especially with our economy in a weakened state.
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 22719
It is going to be a very stormy evening here in C & S FL as temps are in the 80's now in Orlando.
Member Since: October 26, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2651
even if numbers are low lets say 11 systems
7 of them could make a us landfall
so numbers are just that
numbers nothing more
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Quoting weathermanwannabe:
We always remind folks that some of the worst storms for the US (trajectory/landfall) have come during less active years such as Andrew in 92 during an El Nino Event......... No way to know what will ultimately happen this season.
It's fun to try and predict the number of storms, and how the climate will influence, but you make a good point that most people easily forget. That is that it only takes one!

I drive out of West Palm Beach the day before Andrew hit. The thought of that storm still makes me jumpy.
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Quoting wxmod:
China today. MODIS
BeijingAir %u200F @BeijingAir

02-28-2012 01:00; PM2.5; 278.0; 328; Hazardous (at 24-hour exposure at this level)

Good post, every other day we see these images from you and the first question that comes across my mind is how can anyone think mankind isn't capable of influencing the atmosphere of this planet?
Member Since: February 2, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1540

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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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