Summer in March: more all-time March temperature records in U.S., Canada

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:53 PM GMT on March 21, 2012

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Summer in March continued for the eighth day yesterday, toppling dozens of records for hottest March day in both the U.S. and Canada. Nearly every major airport in Michigan's Lower Peninsula tied or set records for their hottest March temperature, including Detroit (82°), Flint (84°F), Saginaw (83°F), Grand Rapids (83°), Muskegon (82°), Lansing (83°), Alpena (84°), Gaylord (80°), Pellston (84°), Traverse City (86°), and Houghton Lake (81°). Most of these records will be broken again today or tomorrow. Detroit's current string of six days over 70° is unprecedented so early in the year. One has to go back over 125 years to find an early-season warm spell that compares, and even that streak occurred in April, a full month later (April 16 - 24, 1886.)

Pellston, Michigan in the Northern Lower Peninsula is called "Michigan's Icebox", since it frequently records the coldest temperatures in the state, and in the entire nation. But the past four days, Pellston has topped out at 80° - 84°F, the first 80°F March days in their history. Yesterday's 84° reading broke the previous record for the date (55° in 1976 and 1948) by an unbelievable 29°, and was 44°F above average. Nearby Traverse City hit 86°F yesterday, which was 45°F above the average high for the date, and was the fourth consecutive day with a hottest March temperature on record.


Figure 1. Summer-like temperatures this March in the Midwest have heated up Lake Michigan to record warm levels for this time of year. The average temperature of the lake is characteristic of what occurs in June. Image credit: NOAA. Thanks to wunderground member Neapolitan for posting this image in my blog comments.

Hot times in Lake Michigan
The NWS in Chicago reported yesterday that the Windy City's high of 85°F that day boosted the average temperature for the month to levels that would make March the 7th warmest April in the city's 140-year record. The unprecedented March warmth in the states surrounding Lake Michigan have heated the lake to temperatures never seen before this early in the year. Water temperatures at the South Lake Michigan buoy were 46 - 47°F yesterday (8°C), which is about 10°F above average for this time of year, and typical of early June temperatures.

Record March warmth spreads into New England
Temperatures across much of Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine yesterday were the warmest on record for so early in the year. Burlington, Vermont's 80°F was 39°F above the average high for the date, and the earliest 80° reading in recorded history. Concord, New Hampshire (81°) and Bangor, Maine (78°), also had their warmest temperatures for so early in the year. The 73°F recorded in Caribou, Maine tied for that city's highest March temperature on record, and broke the record for the date by a remarkable 23°F.

Record warmth continues in Canada
Numerous all-time warmest March temperatures were recorded in Ontario, Canada yesterday, including Windsor at 27°C (previous record, 26.6°C), Sarnia (26°C, previous record 25.6°C), and London (25°C, previous record 24.8°C). High temperatures for Wednesday and Thursday across Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia are likely to break records for hottest March day for most of the major cities in these provinces, including Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, St. Johns, and Halifax.


Figure 2. The jet stream pattern features a large, southwards dipping bulge over the Western U.S., creating a trough of low pressure with cold and snow, and a large, northwards looping bulge over the Central U.S., creating a record-strength ridge of high pressure. The Western U.S. trough has cut off into a "cut-off low" that will slowly drift eastwards during the remainder of the week.

Summer in March ends by Friday
The unprecedented Summer in March conditions are due to a loop in the jet stream that has created a large upper-level ridge of high pressure that is stuck in place over the Eastern U.S. Since the jet stream acts as the boundary between cold air to the north and warm air to the south, and the large loop in the jet places its axis far to the north of the eastern U.S., summer-like warmth has developed over the eastern half of the U.S. Conversely, colder than average temperatures have developed over the western third of the U.S. behind the southwards-dipping loop of the jet stream. This jet stream pattern is too extreme to be stable, and the big loop over the Western U.S. has broken off to form a giant eddy. The resulting area of low pressure is known as a "cut-off low", because it is cut off from the jet stream. The cut-off low will drift slowly eastwards during the week, gradually bringing an end to "Summer in March" over the Eastern half of the U.S. by Friday.

How rare is this Summer in March heat event?
One measure of how record-breaking this "Summer in March" heat wave has been is the impact it had on NOAA's National Climatic Data Center web site. The extremes section of the their web site has been down since last Friday, since their software has been unable to handle both the huge number of records being set and the huge demand from people wanting to see these records. The web site came back on-line this morning with software re-engineered to handle the load, but only with data through Sunday.

We can also quantify how rare a meteorological event is by looking at statistics of past years. By averaging together at least 30 years of data to take a representative snapshot of the climate, we can generate a mean and a standard deviation of the data. The standard deviation gives a measure of how much the data fluctuates around the mean.

In comparing deviations from normal across wide regions, it helps to normalize the deviations. A temperature deviation of 3 degrees C may be not that unusual in one region, but may be very significant in another. The solution is to use climatological anomalies (which we often refer to by the Greek letter, sigma.) Calculating the climatological anomaly is a two step process. First, we calculate the difference between a quantity (i.e., temperature) and it's 30-year average value. Then we normalize the difference by dividing it with the 30-year standard deviation. From statistical theory, we know how unusual climatological anomalies are by value:

Odds of a deviation > 1 climatological anomaly=31.7%
Odds of a deviation > 2 climatological anomalies=4.5%
Odds of a deviation > 3 climatological anomalies=0.27%
Odds of a deviation > 4 climatological anomalies=6.34/1000%
Odds of a deviation > 5 climatological anomalies=5.7/100000%
Odds of a deviation > 6 climatological anomalies=1.9/1000000%

So, if we have a 30-year history of high temperatures for a particular date, we'd expect 20 of those years to be 1-sigma years, when the temperature is plus or minus 34% of average (ten colder years, and ten warmer years.) Rare 2-sigma events occur 4.5% of the time, so we should have about 16 of these per year. Even rarer 3-sigma events occur just 0.27% of the time, or just one day per year, on average. Truly extreme 4-sigma events should only occur once every 43 years. Much of Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota, Northeast Iowa, and the eastern Dakota have experienced multiple 4-sigma days over the past week.

Wunderground is computing 30-year means of the weather for each day of the year using data from the Climate Forecast System Reanalysis (CFSR) (NOMADS data repository). Here is a description how a reanalysis works. CFSR is notable because it is the first reanalysis to use a coupled atmosphere-ocean model. As a result, CFSR has physically consistent estimates of the conditions of the atmosphere, ocean, and land. CFSR has data from 1979 (When polar-orbiting satellites became able to estimate vertical profiles of temperature) to 2010. We can take the mean and standard deviation for each calendar day using this history, and compare it to the current forecast from the GFS model. The result is an image showing how far from average the temperatures are. Yesterday, the analysis showed that Michigan experienced temperatures that were 4 - 5 climatological anomalies warmer than average (4-sigma to 5-sigma), the type of extreme that occurs between once every 43 years and once every 4779 years. Of course, using 30 years of data to estimate extreme events with a return period of centuries is a sketchy proposition. However, keep in mind that had we used a century-long climatology instead of using the past 30 years, yesterday's warmth would have been classified as much more extreme, since the climate has warmed considerably in the past 30 years. It is highly unlikely the warmth of the current "Summer in March" heat wave could have occurred unless the climate was warming.


Figure 3. Climatological anomalies for March 20, 2012. Michigan experienced temperatures that were 4 - 5 climatological anomalies warmer than average (4-sigma to 5-sigma), the type of extreme that occurs between once every 43 years and once every 4779 years. Wunderground plans to make these plots available in real time on our web site later this year.

Heavy rains create flash flood concerns in Texas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma
Widespread rainfall amounts of 3 to 5 inches have fallen over the past two days in Eastern Texas, Eastern Oklahoma, Western Arkansas, and Louisiana over the past two days, creating a serious flash flood hazard. So far, no major river flooding has been reported, and it appears the damage from this flood event will be limited. A few rainfall amounts from the event, from 7 pm CDT Sunday - 3 am CDT Wednesday, taken from the latest NWS Storm Summary:

...TEXAS...
ORANGE 9.68
WACO 6.17
FORT HOOD AAF/KILLEEN 5.43
DALLAS LOVE FIELD 4.49
NWS FORT WORTH 4.13

...OKLAHOMA...
LANGLEY 7.16
NORMAN 5.55
TULSA 4.52
MCALESTER 4.02
OKLAHOMA CITY 3.18

...LOUISIANA...
FORT POLK 6.14
SHREVEPORT 4.06
LAKE CHARLES 2.11

...ARKANSAS...
FORT SMITH 3.49
BENTONVILLE 3.09
LITTLE ROCK 2.22
FAYETTEVILLE 2.08


Jeff Masters

Hot Hot Hot (llpj04)
wait ......we are suppose to play this in the summer
Hot Hot Hot
HOT !!!!!!!! (emixam101)
5h05 PM today, the Local Weather Station in Beauceville reported 22C, (73F) ! An ALL TIME RECORD ALL MARCH MONTHS CONFUSED SINCE 1871 ! The previous record was 20.6C (69F) recorded on March 30th 1977.We also broke the daily record of 12C (54F) recorded on 1970.On local thermomethers with sun sensation, put them up to 29C (84F) ! Guys in Arizona, DON'T SEARCH THE HEAT ! IT IS IN QUEBEC AS INSANE AS I LOOKS !!!!!! I LOVE IT, KEEP THE SNOW !!! :)))P
HOT !!!!!!!!
Happy Spring! (gardner48197)
Happy First Day of Spring everyone!
Happy Spring!

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Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 27211
Quoting StormTracker2K:
Lots of moisture being pulled up from the Gulf into LA.


Is the warmer GOM helping to induce moisture in the system?
Member Since: November 6, 2010 Posts: 12 Comments: 8490
Quoting aspectre:
197 StormTracker2K "Jets picked up Tebow? What sense does that make?"

The Jets are always in need of a miracle.


Edit: Tim Tebow may now end up in St. Louis or JAX. Deal may not go through due to contract fine print.
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85° at O'Hare right now. One more degree and the high temp on March 21 would be warmer than the warmest average temperature for any day in the year, I do believe.
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Quoting oracle28:


No. Even worse, public schooled. :)

Just seems odd that man is causing the warming, but some highly populated areas are cooler than average.


Weather.

It's the noise of climate....
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Chamber of Commerce day here...Crossville 02:53 PM ..Fair.. 76-F 40% SE 10 30.16 in 6:43 AM/6:53 PM
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197 StormTracker2K "Jets picked up Tebow? What sense does that make?"

The Jets are always in need of a miracle.
Member Since: August 21, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 4860
Quoting BobWallace:


Home schooled?


No. Even worse, public schooled. :)

Just seems odd that man is causing the warming, but some highly populated areas are cooler than average.
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:D
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Lots of moisture being pulled up from the Gulf into LA.

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Today, I found a new perspective on how dull and plain life has become.

This guess teacher came into class today to speak about the wonders of the world of skilled trades and how your life could be much better.

It's not the topic that bugged me (although it did since I have been brainwashed to think that university = best life, but this isn't always true as I learned), it's something she said which I do not remember that reminded me that in this world your sole purpose is to provide services so other people can provide services to the people who actually control the world. Made me really want to be on the top of that chain and do something great.

I have another desire to rise from who I am now and enact change..or go power crazy (more likely). We'll see.
Member Since: November 19, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 1286
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Quoting help4u:
Talking about climate change how about saints getting nailed for a bounty too hurt players during games!!Way too go NFL!!


LOL! Yeah the Saints got blasted by Goodel.
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181 RitaEvac "When police arrive, Thorn urges Hatcher to spread the word that
'Soylent Green is PEOPLE!'
"

Well, so are the consumers. And as the old saying goes, "You are what you eat."
Member Since: August 21, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 4860
Talking about climate change how about saints getting nailed for a bounty too hurt players during games!!Way too go NFL!!
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The suggestion of using a bomb reminds me of a letter I received while working for a nuclear power plant. The writer wanted to be paid for his idea of sending our nuclear waste into space to crash onto the moon. We were unable to convince him that there might be some risks to that approach.

Speaking of bombs, I visited West Liberty Kentucky yessterday in the course of my work and my heart is broken again to see the losses to the people who were hit by that tornado. You can see all the pictures in the world and they don't tell you the awfulness of seeing block after block destroyed. As always, the volunteers are there and thank heaven that weather that's in the midwest is sitting there and not yet moving over them. It's letting them clear the debris and get things started toward recovery.
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This system has sure been a drencher.
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Quoting StormTracker2K:



Well see! I don't think anybody knows right now. Especially with so many models calling for El-Nino to form this summer. Question will be is will it stay weak because if it does then we could be in trouble but it's too early to speculate right now.


Well, I was mainly pointing out where he thought the most storms would form at.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32873
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
Oh Marguisty, you're so wrong..




Well see! I don't think anybody knows right now. Especially with so many models calling for El-Nino to form this summer. Question will be is will it stay weak because if it does then we could be in trouble but it's too early to speculate right now.

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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

:P I'm just joking. It is only illegal if you pretend to have any affliction with the National Weather Service. I would make sure to include a disclaimer in every post you make concerning a warning just to be safe...


i was about to say...if i got banned for leavin a comment concerning my personal weather info WITH a disclaimer, i would be thru with wunderground.
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169 wxmod "It's too easy to focus on the near view. Here's the big picture. GoogleEarth with satellite data from right now."

Wish ?NASA?/?JPL? would quit making those fakeBigBlueMarble"photo"s.
A shot of Earth would show a near-hemisphere, nearly50% of the surface. What's depicted in those montages (ie multiple pictures taken at different times from different orbital positions "photoshopped" together) is probably less than 35%. So it's especially deceptive that they wrap the "Earth" in a fake atmosphere (which is WAY too thick relative to the diameter of Earth anyways).
Member Since: August 21, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 4860
Quoting SPLbeater:


i sure dont. but i do think i will mail somebody and ask WHY

:P I'm just joking. It is only illegal if you pretend to have any affliction with the National Weather Service. I would make sure to include a disclaimer in every post you make concerning a warning just to be safe...
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32873
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

It will get you banned from here. Do you want that?


i sure dont. but i do think i will mail somebody and ask WHY
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Quoting SPLbeater:


then i guess they will have to DEAL WITH IT. because I am not hurting anyone nor copying anyone.

It will get you banned from here. Do you want that?
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32873
Quoting Tropicsweatherpr:
ECMWF shows Tropical Cyclone formation by the end of the month on the South China Sea.



ye watch it change tomorrow. might make it stronger might not even show it...das 10 days. The ECMWF isnt the one to do dramatic changes, just sayin. :)
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Oh Marguisty, you're so wrong..

Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32873
Quoting weathermanwannabe:
Thank You Dr. M.; It is highly unlikely the warmth of the current "Summer in March" heat wave could have occurred unless the climate was warming.

The next few decades of data will go a long way towards validating many of the concerns as to climate change. What I do not know (and it may not be possible during my/our current life time) is whether the current trends and anomalies are due to natural cycles (over thousands of years of "Earth" time as documented by ice core samples and other similar data)or whether this truely signals climate change due to carbon emissions and other man-made factors.


All the scientific literature on the subject shows with a very high level of confidence that this warming is not part of a natural cycle. But you are correct about the next few decades being further evidence.

Unfortunately a few more decades of "business as usual" won't be very helpful.
Member Since: October 31, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 1656
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

Yep.


then i guess they will have to DEAL WITH IT. because I am not hurting anyone nor copying anyone.
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ECMWF shows Tropical Cyclone formation by the end of the month on the South China Sea.

Member Since: April 29, 2009 Posts: 75 Comments: 14921
From the blog last night Neapolitan posted a story about the strange noises being heard in Clintonville, WI for 3 days in a row. Yes, it was heard again this morning. He and others also included reasons for the sounds. My other half thinks the sounds are from the tunnel that CA,AZ & TX are digging to tap into Lake Superior water. In a kind of funny way, this fits in with todays chatter. WATER will be the cause of many future wars.

On another note - 81 in Madison,another record broken.
Low this morning at the farm was 62, 35 degrees above average!
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Quoting SPLbeater:


how is it illegal. is this world to stuck up to let a teenager practice his skills?

Yep.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32873
204. wxmod
Quoting PlazaRed:

Thank you for your informative sat photos.
" Statement," I was in a car dismantlers in the UK some time back. The workers were filling a shipping container with used car engines. I asked them why they were doing it? They said all the engines were emission failures but worked perfectly and they were sending/(selling,) them to Africa to be fitted into cars with mechanically destroyed engines, for want of a better translation.
"Question," to somebody who may have access to national vehicle emission regulations. How many countries of the world HAVE emission control regulations for vehicles?


This is the problem, and not calculated into any of the so called solutions. I used to have an antique car and always wondered why it wasn't worth much, being as they hadn't been made in fifty years. Turns out there were still tons of those models still running in poor countries around the world. They clearly didn't pass smog regs.
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Quoting oracle28:
from looking at the standard deviation map...and being well aware that man causes global warming, there must be a lot of humans in Michigan and not very many in the west half of the nation.


Home schooled?
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You can see these storms building back a bit.
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Quoting StormTracker2K:
Jets picked up Tebow? what sense does that make.


now lets hope they get rid of Sanchez...lol
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Quoting nigel20:

This system is crawling
Backwards...There is some back building with the convection associated with that squall line.
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199. wxmod
Quoting JTDailyUpdate:
Interesting Letter to the Editor I found


Wants to neutralize storms
To the editor:

Something we've never tried is to neutralizing storms by interrupting their wind force and destructive suction.

I envision dropping a bomb into the center of a tornado or hurricane in an area which would be least destructive to the landscape and an ocean path.

I reason that depending on the force required that a bomb could interrupt the cause and effect of the wind turbulence and by such an interruption knock the power out of the turbulence.

Some of our scientists should be able to determine how much counteracting force would be required to interrupt the wind force. We, with our incalculable offsetting force, could try out the experiment in the Kansas or Nebraska plains without much damage to the terrain or better yet attempt to neutralize the force over the ocean and drop the bomb with our U.S. Air Force.

Nothing tried, nothing gained and think of the benefits if it works.

John N. Dodgen

Humboldt

Link


This is already being done with aluminum oxide and HAARP. No bombs required. Sometimes a lot more harm than good!
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

As opposed to a watch, whether or not you say it is related to the NWS in any way or not, it's still illegal.

(Just telling you so that you do not get banned)

Good afternoon all.


how is it illegal. is this world to stuck up to let a teenager practice his skills?
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Jets picked up Tebow? what sense does that make.
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Quoting Birthmark:

Yes, I call that period of my life The 1970s. From what I've heard, it was kinda fun.
The 1970,s was a time of dangerous stunts and taking risks. Evel Kneivel played an important roll in that. Every person I knew was trying to out do the other with high dives, skateboard ramps, bike and motorcycle jumps, go cart and boat speed records and who could build the fastest mini bike. ..I miss those days tremendously...:)..That squall line in the gulf is scary lookin.
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Quoting SPLbeater:
I have issued a Severe Thunderstorm Warning for northeast Pitt County in North Carolina due to possible quarter sized hail. Greenville is included in this warning.

(This is NOT related to the NWS in any way, this is just me)

As opposed to a watch, whether or not you say it is related to the NWS in any way or not, it's still illegal.

(Just telling you so that you do not get banned)

Good afternoon all.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32873
I have issued a Severe Thunderstorm Warning for northeast Pitt County in North Carolina due to possible quarter sized hail. Greenville is included in this warning.

(This is NOT related to the NWS in any way, this is just me)
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Quoting GeorgiaStormz:
I dont see any snow in the Ohio Valley.

Did anybody see what happened to the New Orleans 'AINTS


Posted earlier. That was several hours ago already.
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Quoting hydrus:

This system is crawling
Member Since: November 6, 2010 Posts: 12 Comments: 8490
..hey Bob, what kinda shape charge do we use for a EF-5, the Blue or the Magenta?
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129904
Interesting Letter to the Editor I found


Wants to neutralize storms
To the editor:

Something we've never tried is to neutralizing storms by interrupting their wind force and destructive suction.

I envision dropping a bomb into the center of a tornado or hurricane in an area which would be least destructive to the landscape and an ocean path.

I reason that depending on the force required that a bomb could interrupt the cause and effect of the wind turbulence and by such an interruption knock the power out of the turbulence.

Some of our scientists should be able to determine how much counteracting force would be required to interrupt the wind force. We, with our incalculable offsetting force, could try out the experiment in the Kansas or Nebraska plains without much damage to the terrain or better yet attempt to neutralize the force over the ocean and drop the bomb with our U.S. Air Force.

Nothing tried, nothing gained and think of the benefits if it works.

John N. Dodgen

Humboldt

Link
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I dont see any snow in the Ohio Valley.

Did anybody see what happened to the New Orleans 'AINTS
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Quoting wxmod:


You're right. You are too optimistic. I posted satellite photos showing dust storms covering probably 20 percent of the people in the world (and 10 percent of the world's oceans!). You're very optimistic to think that making electric cars is going to fix anything. And people wanting "bang for their buck": nature doesn't care about that.

Thank you for your informative sat photos.
" Statement," I was in a car dismantlers in the UK some time back. The workers were filling a shipping container with used car engines. I asked them why they were doing it? They said all the engines were emission failures but worked perfectly and they were sending/(selling,) them to Africa to be fitted into cars with mechanically destroyed engines, for want of a better translation.
"Question," to somebody who may have access to national vehicle emission regulations. How many countries of the world HAVE emission control regulations for vehicles?
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187. wxmod
Quoting SPLbeater:


No i wont.

yals 0.5 degree change doesnt affect me :)


The saying "Ignorance is bliss" didn't come from nowhere!
(sorry...dint come frum nowhere,yall.)
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Quoting MAweatherboy1:

Like the 1991 Bangladesh cyclone for example
About 140,000 fatalities, 150 mph winds, widespread 20 foot surge, 1.7 billion dollars in damage, which may not sound like that much compared to other events but keep in mind Bangladesh is a small, poor country without a lot of valuable property.

The coastal area of Bangladesh and parts of India is also a low lying river delta which is quite populated....this makes it quite dangerous when TC affect these areas
Member Since: November 6, 2010 Posts: 12 Comments: 8490
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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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