March 2 - 3 tornado outbreak: 10th largest in recorded history?

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:06 PM GMT on March 12, 2012

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The deadly early-season tornado outbreak of March 2 - 3 that hit Indiana, Kentucky, and surrounding states, killing 41 people, may have been the 10th largest two-day tornado outbreak since record keeping began in 1950. NOAA's Storm Prediction Center now lists 132 preliminary tornado reports for March 2, and 11 for March 3. It typically takes several months to finish damage surveys and verify all the tornadoes that really occur in a big tornado outbreak. Sixty-one tornadoes have been confirmed so far, according to Wikipedia's tally of the outbreak. The two-day total of 143 tornadoes from March 2 - 3 is probably an over count of about 15%, based on historical levels of over counts. This would give the March 2 - 3 outbreak around 120 tornadoes, making it the tenth largest outbreak since record keeping began in 1950. Assuming this is true, the past two tornado seasons would hold four of the top ten spots for largest tornado outbreaks in recorded history. Below are the top two-day tornado outbreaks since 1950. Several of these two-day totals were taken from outbreaks that lasted three or more days; the highest two-day period of activity was selected for this list, so that the outbreak would not be mentioned multiple times. The numbers from the 2011 outbreaks are still preliminary:

262, Apr 26 - 27, 2011
169, Apr 3 - 4, 1974
160, May 29 - 30, 2004
141, May 24 - 25, 2011
135, Jan 21 - 22, 1999
130, Apr 15 - 16, 2011
125, May 4 - 5, 2003
123, Jun 15 - 16, 1992
121, May 4 - 5, 2007
120ish, Mar 2 - 3, 2012
120, May 3 - 4, 1999


Video 1. Spectacular tornado video taken at a home in West Liberty, Kentucky outfitted with seven automatic security cameras, which captured the fury of the strong EF-3 tornado with 165 mph winds that roared overhead on March 2, 2012. The views from all the cameras are worth watching, but don't watch past 7:00, as the end of the video has three minutes of blankness at the end. According to an article at wkyt.com, the home owners, Randy and Norma Risner, took shelter in the basement, and their home survived the tornado. "You could actually feel the ground shaking and our the 11-foot basement walls were shaking, too," Norma said. The tornado destroyed their workshop (caught on camera), and another camera shows the roof of their neighbors home peel off.


Video 2. Perhaps even more impressive is video taken at a nearby pharmacy showing the West Liberty tornado destroying buildings across the street. The view from Clinic Pharmacy starts at 0:50 into this video.

The uncertain business of counting tornadoes
While there's no question that having four top-ten tornado outbreaks in just two years is highly unusual, the quality of our tornado data base is poor, and there are probably outbreaks that occurred prior to 1990 that were significantly under-counted and would have made the top ten list, had they occurred today. The number of tornadoes being reported has increased in recent decades, and this increase may be due entirely to factors unrelated to climate change:

1) Population growth has resulted in more tornadoes being reported.

2) Advances in weather radar, particularly the deployment of about 100 Doppler radars across the U.S. in the mid-1990s, have resulted in a much higher tornado detection rate.

3) Tornado damage surveys have grown more sophisticated over the years. For example, we now commonly classify multiple tornadoes along a damage path that might have been attributed to just one twister in the past.


Figure 1. Number of EF-1, EF-2, EF-3, EF-4 and EF-5 tornadoes from 1950 to 2011. The total shown for 2011 is preliminary and uses unofficial numbers, but 2011 now ranks in 2nd place behind 1973. There is not a decades-long increasing trend in the numbers of tornadoes stronger than EF-0, implying that climate change, as yet, is not having a noticeable impact on U.S. tornadoes. Data provided by Harold Brooks, NOAA/National Severe Storms Laboratory.

If we look at changes in the strongest tornadoes--EF-1, EF-2, EF3, EF4, and EF-5 twisters, the ones most likely to have a reliable long-term detection rate, due to their destructive power--we see no sign of an increasing trend in recent decades (Figure 1), even if we include 2011. However, it is difficult to make solid conclusions on how tornadoes may be changing, since the quality of the historical tornado data set is so poor. This is largely due to the fact that we never directly measure a tornado's winds--a tornado has to run over a building before we can make an EF-scale strength estimate, based on the damage. As tornado researcher Chuck Doswell said in a 2007 paper, "I see no near-term solution to the problem of detecting detailed spatial and temporal trends in the occurrence of tornadoes by using the observed data in its current form or in any form likely to evolve in the near future." Major changes in the rating process occurred in the mid-1970s (when all tornadoes occurring prior to about 1975 were retrospectively rated),and again in 2001, when scientists began rating tornadoes lower because of engineering concerns and unintended consequences of National Weather Service policy changes. Also, beginning in 2007, NOAA switched from the F-scale to the EF-scale for rating tornado damage, causing additional problems with attempting to assess if tornadoes are changing over time.


Figure 2. Thomas Hudson and the Portlight trailer in Harrisburg, Illinois.

Portlight disaster relief charity responding to the tornado disaster
The Portlight disaster relief charity has made a strong showing in tornado-devastated Harrisburg, Illinois and Henryville, Indiana. Both towns were hit by deadly EF-4 tornadoes during the February 28 - March 3 tornado outbreak. From the Portlight blog:

"Yesterday we went to Henryville, Indiana and volunteered for a few hours, mainly unloading trailers with water, canned goods, etc.

The people were in great spirit, eager to rebuild, and overall thankful that it wasn't worse than it was.

Myself, Jeremiah Moran, Blaize Edwards, and Andrew Newcomb made the 2 hour drive from Washington, Indiana.

We will be trying to get back this weekend or a couple of days next week."

An interesting sciencedaily.com article discusses how the powerful EF-4 tornado from the February 29, 2012 outbreak that devastated Harrisburg, Illinois passed through a high-density network of seismographs. "The seismograms show a strong, low-frequency pulse beginning around 4:45 a.m. on Feb. 29. Our preliminary interpretation, based on other seismic records of tornadoes, suggests that we were recording not the tornado itself, but a large atmospheric pressure transient related to the large thunderstorms that spawned the tornadoes."

I'll have a new post by Wednesday.

Jeff Masters

HARRISBURG IL (catfish10)
HARRISBURG IL
HARISBURG IL. (catfish10)
Golden circle building
HARISBURG IL.

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Quoting Patrap:
oooooooooh, the anti-post, 666
Kinda fits really.:)... I still plan to ascend to the the pastures of heaven regardless of any number..666... 12/21/12... 13 or 8..Eight is actually good luck in China
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GOM SST's



2011
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 419 Comments: 127377
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
here is a more refined look at sst levels





gives a much better precise outlook then that general sst map

The central and eastern atlantic was much above average last year
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oooooooooh, the anti-post, 666
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 419 Comments: 127377
Evening again guys
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Quoting Patrap:


Have you seen what sells on E-bay ?,..easily, easily.

: )
I would say he enjoyed his ganj regularly.
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Quoting barbamz:

Makes sense. Political opposition increases with fears of further economic dislocation from addressing the problem of global warming. It is expedient to deny the problem.
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Link

From the NOAA Climate Watch Magazine
U.S. has fourth warmest winter on record; West & Southeast drier than average
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Quoting barbamz:


Indeed, Keeper, thanks, the cam was lucky.
Another thing I just found:
Global Warming Skepticism Climbs During Tough Economic Times
ScienceDaily (Mar. 13, 2012) — In recent years, the American public has grown increasingly skeptical of the existence of human-made climate change. Although pundits and scholars have suggested several reasons for this trend, a new study shows that the recent Great Recession has been a major factor.
More: Sciencedaily
O.K., *cough"*, I know not everyone here would fancy those news ;-)


Lovely, a Great Recession of the Mind.
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
nice shot


Indeed, Keeper, thanks, the cam was lucky.
Another thing I just found:
Global Warming Skepticism Climbs During Tough Economic Times
ScienceDaily (Mar. 13, 2012) — In recent years, the American public has grown increasingly skeptical of the existence of human-made climate change. Although pundits and scholars have suggested several reasons for this trend, a new study shows that the recent Great Recession has been a major factor.
More: Sciencedaily
O.K., *cough"*, I know not everyone here would fancy those news ;-)
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Quoting Floodman:


The northern GOM is running from the upper 60s to the mid 70s or thereabouts
yes entire gulf will be between 24c to 26c in the next 30 days with the loop being warmer b then as well
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Quoting barbamz:
Hi, besides all the bad news (esp. droughts; way too early summer to come, even in Europe) the Abisko Skystation Webcam in northern Sweden just caught a nice fireball!
nice shot
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Quoting nymore:
Sea surface temp anomalies from 2 different places. These also match what weather zone says too.

Unisys

Link

NOAA

Link

Neither seem to agree with Nea's graphic. Did you try and pull a fast one on us?
i had noticed his response was about SST's, but the map appears to be atmospheric temp anomalies. i believe that is the discrepancy...
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
here is a more refined look at sst levels





gives a much better precise outlook then that general sst map


The northern GOM is running from the upper 60s to the mid 70s or thereabouts
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Hi, besides all the bad news (esp. droughts; way too early summer to come, even in Europe) the Abisko Skystation Webcam in northern Sweden just caught a nice fireball!
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
gom/carb compare maps 2011/2012



The Gulf of Mexico is warmer this year than last, and the Caribbean was warmer last year than this year.
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
gom/carb compare maps 2011/2012


That gulf is sure looking suspecious.
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Here is a good graphic of the sst anomalies. The GOM is one of the warmest spots in the Atlantic Basin.

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gom/carb compare maps 2011/2012


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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
So, I went back and got radar data for the Joplin tornado (for like the 5 billionth time). It just amazes me how the atmosphere was able to produce an EF5 tornado on May 22, a day that wasn't really conducive for strong, long-lived tornadoes. I guess it goes to show you that it doesn't take a fully primed environment to produce a monster.



Left: Base Reflectivity
Right: Base Velocity


Constructive interference with a dissipating thunderstorm to its southwest, locally enhancing the low level helicity environment. Many of the strong (F4/F5) tornadoes from the april 27th were following outflow boundaries from the mornings thunderstorms as well.

In general as long as the large scale environment is conducive to thunderstorm development it comes down to mesoscale environmental factors. Aka localized boundaries that enhance the low level wind shear, especially in high cape environments.
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Quoting Floodman:
Here's what the SSTs looked like yesterday:

here is a more refined look at sst levels





gives a much better precise outlook then that general sst map
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Quoting Floodman:
Here's what the SSTs looked like yesterday:

Look'n a bit warm over there in the Pacific...
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Quoting Floodman:


So you like the "Sunrise" logo?


Is schweet I think, ez to recognize too.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 419 Comments: 127377
Quoting Patrap:






Floodman did a excellent job at the upgrade of the Portlight Page,as well as blogger tornadodude, Mr. Hudson,and many others who are still sending in a group as of this Thursday morning to Indiana.

And of course partnering again with the Veteran Group Team Rubicon was paramount.

All these folks carried the portlight mission to the field that made a direct and continuing presence in the Hard hit Tornado areas.

..also,Presslord had a b-day last Saturday the 10th and he is the center of all this activity.

He listened to "cello's" last week I heard too.

But that's another fine story I'm sure he can expound on.

People helping people.

It works, and were all in this together.

A Heartfelt Thank you to the wunderground.com folks, The Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation,Team Rubicon and all our many donors and volnteers.







So you like the "Sunrise" logo?
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Quoting Neapolitan:
Yesterday's Michigan tornado was rare for location and date:

Rare March Tornado Hits Midland County on March 12th

A rare March tornado hit just southeast of Colemen during the evening hours of March 12. A listing of all of the severe reports are below.

The Coleman tornado was just the 10th tornado to occur before April 1 in Southeast Michigan (the 17 counties hat represent the NWS Detroit/Pontiac area of responsibility). Tornado statistics go back to 1950. Of those ten tornadoes, it is the first to occur north of Interstate 69. The March 12 date also marks a tie for the second earliest tornado in Southeast Michigan since 1950.

Here is a list of the February and March tornadoes...

twister

Beat you ;-)
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Quoting hydrus:
Rather unusual to see the words" controlled " and " mayhem" in such a short post. Someone said you can pinch the heads off if the " outbursts " are not effective.


It has been a very long time since I had to resort to it, but yes, I have been known to do that too...LOL
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As per comment #637; yesterday's Michigan tornado was rare for location and date:

Rare March Tornado Hits Midland County on March 12th

A rare March tornado hit just southeast of Colemen during the evening hours of March 12. A listing of all of the severe reports are below.

The Coleman tornado was just the 10th tornado to occur before April 1 in Southeast Michigan (the 17 counties hat represent the NWS Detroit/Pontiac area of responsibility). Tornado statistics go back to 1950. Of those ten tornadoes, it is the first to occur north of Interstate 69. The March 12 date also marks a tie for the second earliest tornado in Southeast Michigan since 1950.

Here is a list of the February and March tornadoes...

twister
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13442
with the way things are going it looks to be a long hot dry summer ahead
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Here's what the SSTs looked like yesterday:

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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

Not sure what you are looking at, but they look very similar to me. Additionally, Nea's map, if you notice the dates in the lower left corner, is for the rest of March. Water temperatures across the globe will undoubtedly change between now and the end of the month.
I see we don't look at what is currently happening but rather at what MIGHT, MAY, COULD, POSSIBLY happen.
Member Since: July 6, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2253
Quoting Ameister12:

Yeah you would. That would be insane if that actually happened. O_O

Oh, like 1980.
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Quoting hydrus:
I think I see Picasso,s silhouette in there. Will it sell on E-Bay.?..:)


Have you seen what sells on E-bay ?,..easily, easily.

: )
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 419 Comments: 127377
Speaker of Admin they have been trying to get rid of My avatars and banned me for 'em.They said it's violating community standards..But I don't see how.They aren't offensive or showing anything that could possibly get me banned.One of my pictures were under copy right law when I looked up.
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Floodman did a excellent job at the upgrade of the Portlight Page,as well as blogger tornadodude, Mr. Hudson,and many others who are still sending in a group as of this Thursday morning to Indiana.

And of course partnering again with the Veteran Group Team Rubicon was paramount.

All these folks carried the portlight mission to the field that made a direct and continuing presence in the Hard hit Tornado areas.

..also,Presslord had a b-day last Saturday the 10th and he is the center of all this activity.

He listened to "cello's" last week I heard too.

But that's another fine story I'm sure he can expound on.

People helping people.

It works, and were all in this together.

A Heartfelt Thank you to the wunderground.com folks, The Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation,Team Rubicon and all our many donors and volnteers.





Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 419 Comments: 127377
While yesterday mainly consisted of a few hail reports and about a dozen damaging wind reports, one tornado did touchdown in Michigan. It was an EF1 tornado with winds of 90 mph...just the 10th to occur in the state before April 1, the first to occur north of Interstate 69, and also the second-earliest tornado in southeast Michigan since 1950.

Rare March Tornado Hits Midland County on March 12th

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Later guys
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Quoting WxGeekVA:


Looking at some pop up storms to the west moving in the general direction of DC right now. They may contain some small hail or gusty winds.
With all this heat around it's not a surprise.i have the air conditioner on right now :).
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Quoting nymore:
Sea surface temp anomalies from 2 different places. These also match what weather zone says too.

Unisys

Link

NOAA

Link

Neither seem to agree with Nea's graphic. Did you try and pull a fast one on us?

Not sure what you are looking at, but they look very similar to me. Additionally, Nea's map, if you notice the dates in the lower left corner, is for the rest of March. Water temperatures across the globe will undoubtedly change between now and the end of the month.
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Quoting Floodman:


Yes, I believe in small outbursts of controlled, selective mayhem. Keeps the riff-raff in line...
Rather unusual to see the words" controlled " and " mayhem" in such a short post. Someone said you can pinch the heads off if the " outbursts " are not effective.
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Next Sunday-Tuesday look to be big Severe Weather days (and not tornado for a change). As a dryline sets up across western Texas, this probably be the focus for severe thunderstorm initiation during the afternoon/evening hours of Sunday. Judging by the wind profiles, definitely expect a squall line, and not supercells. That is not to say supercells cannot form within the line, it just will not be a tornado outbreak like we've seen.

At least, that's what the GFS has been saying today.

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Sea surface temp anomalies from 2 different places. These also match what weather zone says too.

Unisys

Link

NOAA

Link

Neither seem to agree with Nea's graphic. Did you try and pull a fast one on us?
Member Since: July 6, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2253
Quoting SPLbeater:
how in this big wide world do i get an email telling me that i have violated community standards here???

i betcha it was the political comments yesterday...yeah, most likely. any1 else ever gotten this?

Wait, you get emails now?

I've never gotten one...guess that's a good thing. :)
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561 SPLbeater "How in this big wide world do I get an email telling me that I have violated community standards here??? I betcha it was the political comments yesterday..."

Nope. It's not HurricaneSeason, nor is there an ongoing eruption of SevereWeather or geophysical disaster. So conversations have been allowed to be pretty free-wheelin' around here.
Note all the politics (often agreeing with your own) and other non-weather topics that've been appearing recently without being flagged or otherwise disappeared for "violating community standards".

However, many new teenyboppers mistake the "clever" use of "adult" words with engaging in intelligent adult conversation. In this particular case, I suspect that your entirely gratuitous and deliberately demeaning injections of a 4-letter word into your comments torqued off enough readers to produce a sufficient number of 'minus'es and '!' flags to draw a moderator's attention... and ire.
Member Since: August 21, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 4860
Quoting hydrus:
Nobody cryin about it either. Except for your deserving victims.


Yes, I believe in small outbursts of controlled, selective mayhem. Keeps the riff-raff in line...
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Quoting hydrus:
I,m so busy its not even funny.


Better way too busy than not busy enough...
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Quoting Floodman:


LOL...yes,I will admit I've busted a few heads in here...metaphorically speaking, that is...
Nobody cryin about it either. Except for your deserving victims.
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Quoting Patrap:
Sun Doc's?



recently a massive sphere was observed within the solar corona. It was apparently attached to the solar sphere by an umbilical tube of sorts. Whether 'birthed' from the sun, or just sucking at the solar tit, i am struck by the excellence of the timing of the occurrance. Just when our friendly neighborhood sun is in the throes a seeming major expansion event (or events), along comes a very very very very very very unexpected form of solar energy dissipation. Right at a scary peak of activity in fact.

Hmmm...is this good for us here on earth?

Can't see that this is bad. And as universe is self correcting, and self adjusting (read that again, oh admirals of the temporal seas...), it makes sense that it would have its own form of an 'adjustment mechanism' in-built into the proccesses.

As humans are mostly small and ignorant, and even collectively (in the matterium), we can barely keep our asses covered, it also makes sense that we are totally oblivious to the larger processes of universe operating around us. It would seem that universe is providing a demonstration for our elucidation.

The large 'triangle' coronal 'hole' makes sense as well. If the energy levels are being 'drawn down' so to speak, then the underlying geometric nature of the sun (and all within matterium) will be revealed as a natural outcome of less 'energetic overlay'.



Hmmm...from the view point of the small and the ignorant, this whole turn of events feels like a 'good thing'.

posted March 13, 2012 by clif high
I think I see Picasso,s silhouette in there. Will it sell on E-Bay.?..:)
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Quoting Neapolitan:
The two-week cold spell in early February was a deep one. But since then, temps have been mostly above normal throughout the European mainland and the UK. In fact, hundreds of record high temperatures have been set, mainly in western Europe--and the UK overall had one of its mildest winters ever, despite the February cold snap.


ok, thanks. wasn't sure if it was a short term thing or what the rest of their winter was like. and that map that you just posted is really great also.
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Quoting Minnemike:
i do miss the Jerry when things get messy round here.. 'grate' to see your return (~};)


LOL...yes,I will admit I've busted a few heads in here...metaphorically speaking, that is...
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Quoting washingtonian115:
Wow very very warm outide.And beautiful,all though some storms might roll in later today.It's going to be in it's upper 70's through 80's the rest of the week and next week.


Looking at some pop up storms to the west moving in the general direction of DC right now. They may contain some small hail or gusty winds.
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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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