CSU: expect a quiet 2012 Atlantic hurricane season; EF-3 tornado confirmed in Texas

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:47 PM GMT on April 05, 2012

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Expect one of the quietest Atlantic hurricane seasons since 1995 this year, say the hurricane forecasting team of Dr. Phil Klotzbach and Dr. Bill Gray of Colorado State University (CSU) in their latest seasonal forecast issued April 4. They call for an Atlantic hurricane season with below-average activity: 10 named storms, 4 hurricanes, and 2 intense hurricanes. An average season has 10 - 11 named storms, 6 hurricanes, and 2 intense hurricanes. The 2012 forecast calls for a below-average chance of a major hurricane hitting the U.S., both along the East Coast (24% chance, 31% chance is average) and the Gulf Coast (24% chance, 30% chance is average). The Caribbean is forecast to have a 34% chance of seeing at least one major hurricane (42% is average.) Four years with similar pre-season March atmospheric and oceanic conditions were selected as "analogue" years that the 2012 hurricane season may resemble: 2009, 2001, 1965, and 1957. These years all had neutral to El Niño conditions during hurricane season. The average activity for these years was 9.5 named storms, 4.8 hurricanes, and 2.3 major hurricanes.


Figure 1. Departure of sea surface temperature (SST) from average for April 5, 2012, as computed by NOAA's NESDIS branch. SSTs in the hurricane Main Development Region (red box) were near average to below-average.

Why the forecast of a quiet season?
The CSU team cited two main reasons why this may be a quieter than average hurricane season:

1) La Niña has weakened rapidly over the tropical Eastern Pacific over the past month, and is expected to be gone by the end of April. In its wake, El Niño conditions may develop in time for the August - September - October peak of hurricane season. If El Niño conditions are present this fall, this will likely bring about a quiet Atlantic hurricane season due to increased upper-level winds over the tropical Atlantic creating wind shear that will tend to tear storms apart. The CSU team is leaning towards putting their trust in the ECMWF model, which is predicting that a weak El Niño event will be in place by fall.

2) Sea surface temperatures (SSTs) in the Main Development Region (MDR) for hurricanes from the Caribbean to the coast of Africa between 10°N and 20°N were near average to below average in March 2012. Virtually all African waves originate in the MDR, and these African waves account for 85% of all Atlantic major hurricanes and 60% of all named storms. When SSTs in the MDR are much above average during hurricane season, a very active season typically results (if there is no El Niño event present.) Conversely, when MDR SSTs are cooler than average, a below-average Atlantic hurricane season is more likely. This year's SSTs in the MDR are among the coolest we've seen since our current active hurricane period began in 1995. The cool temperatures are largely due to strong surface winds that blew during the winter over the tropical Atlantic in response to the positive phase of the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO.) The strong winds stirred up the water, bringing up cooler waters from the depths.

How good are the April forecasts?
The forecasters are using a new statistical model developed last year for making April forecasts, so we don't have a long enough track record to judge how good the new model is. The new model correctly predicted a more active than average season for last year, though called for more activity than was actually observed. However, April forecasts of hurricane season activity are low-skill, since they must deal with the so-called "predictability barrier." April is the time of year when the El Niño/La Niña phenomenon commonly undergoes a rapid change from one state to another, making it difficult to predict whether we will have El Niño, La Niña, or neutral conditions in place for the coming hurricane season. Correctly predicting this is key, since if El Niño, conditions are present this fall, this will likely bring about a quiet Atlantic hurricane season due to increased upper-level winds over the tropical Atlantic creating wind shear that will tend to tear storms apart.

CSU maintains an Excel spreadsheet of their forecast errors ( expressed as a mathematical correlation coefficient, where positive means a skilled forecast, and negative means they did worse than climatology) for their their April forecasts. For now, these April forecasts should simply be viewed as an interesting research effort that has the potential to make skillful forecasts. The next CSU forecast, due by June 1, is the one worth paying attention to. Their early June forecasts have shown considerable skill over the years.

Preliminary NWS survey of the April 3rd, 2012 Dallas, Texas tornadoes
The Fort Worth Weather Service office began surveying tornado damage yesterday from three tornadoes that ripped through the Dallas metro area on Tuesday afternoon. Official storm surveys will be released in the next few days. The Arlington/Kennendale tornado has a preliminary rating of EF-2. They suspect wind speeds peaked around 135mph, a path length of 4.6 miles, and a maximum width of 400 yards (1/4 mile). The Lancaster/Hutchins tornado has a preliminary rating of EF-2, and they suspect it had a maximum width of 200 yards (1/8 mile). The Forney tornado has a preliminary rating of EF-3, with suspected winds up to 150 mph. Surveys are ongoing--there's a lot of damage to see along the tornado paths. These ratings reflect the most severe damage the teams have seen so far. Eighteen tornado warnings were issued by the National Weather Service in Fort Worth on Tuesday, which saved hundreds of lives. There were no fatalities Tuesday, which is welcome news in the wake of 2011's deadly tornado season.


Figure 2. This photo was taken by a NWS Storm Survey team in Lancaster TX on April 4, 2012. It shows EF-2 tornado damage that occurred in parts of Lancaster on April 3, 2012.


Figure 3. From the Weather Service: This is an aerial photograph of a tornado damaged area in Arlington TX. The damage from the tornado that affected Kennedale and Arlington on April 3, 2012 has been given a preliminary rating of EF-2. The photo was taken on Wednesday, April 4, looking to the east.

Portlight disaster relief charity responds to this year's tornadoes
Disaster relief charity portlight.org sent Thomas Hudson to the DFW area yesterday to do damage assessment and determine whether there is a need for Portlight's services in the wake of the tornadoes. Check out the Portlight blog to see the latest updates, and catch up the great work they've been doing in Harrisburg, Illinois in the wake of the devastating EF-4 tornado that hit the town on Leap Day, 2012.

Jeff Masters

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TORNADO WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE SAN ANGELO TX
802 PM CDT SAT APR 7 2012

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN SAN ANGELO HAS ISSUED A

* TORNADO WARNING FOR...
NORTHWESTERN IRION COUNTY IN WEST CENTRAL TEXAS...

* UNTIL 815 PM CDT

* AT 757 PM CDT...A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM CAPABLE OF PRODUCING A
TORNADO WAS OVER EXTREME NORTHWESTERN IRION COUNTY...OR 24 MILES
NORTHEAST OF BIG LAKE...MOVING SOUTH SOUTHWEST AT 15 MPH. THIS
STORM HAS A HISTORY OF PRODUCING A TORNADO AND MAY PRODUCE A
TORNADO AT ANY TIME.

IN ADDITION TO DANGEROUS TORNADIC WINDS...OTHER HAZARDS INCLUDE...
LARGE DAMAGING HAIL UP TO TENNIS BALL SIZE.
DAMAGING STRAIGHT LINE WINDS IN EXCESS OF 60 MPH.
POTENTIALLY DEADLY LIGHTNING.

*THE TORNADO WILL REMAIN OVER MAINLY RURAL AREAS OF...
NORTHWESTERN IRION COUNTY.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WATCH REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 1000 PM CDT
SATURDAY EVENING FOR WEST CENTRAL TEXAS.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting washingtonian115:
We didn't even have 6 inches as the final winter snow amount here in D.C.Quite pitiful if you ask me.


I had a grand total of 2.3 inches for the winter.
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what happen to taz?does he still post?
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Thawing permafrost 50 million years ago led to global warm events

“If the Arctic permafrost thaws out, it will release carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere and amplify warming due to the burning of fossil fuels."
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Quoting tropicfreak:


Agreed, I had 36" of snow that year. Awesome winter considering that my location is the worst possible place for winter. Friggen rain/snow line. Love living in Richmond.

This year I saw 6", which all came in the 2nd half of February and early March. That is more than what NYC had this winter.
We didn't even have 6 inches as the final winter snow amount here in D.C.Quite pitiful if you ask me.
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Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32275
Meh. Not even to -5. Not yet, at least.
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Quoting washingtonian115:
I hope for more snow :).It's been a little...dry over these two years here.Ah well.The 56" that we got back in the winter of 09-10 made up for it.


Agreed, I had 36" of snow that year. Awesome winter considering that my location is the worst possible place for winter. Friggen rain/snow line. Love living in Richmond.

This year I saw 6", which all came in the 2nd half of February and early March. That is more than what NYC had this winter.
Member Since: September 2, 2006 Posts: 110 Comments: 6878
The SOI continues to plunge well inside negative territory.

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TORNADO WARNING SAN ANGELO TX - KSJT 732 PM CDT SAT APR 7 2012
SVR T-STORM WARNING SAN ANGELO TX - KSJT 730 PM CDT SAT APR 7 2012
SVR T-STORM WARNING SAN ANGELO TX - KSJT 730 PM CDT SAT APR 7 2012
FLASH FLOOD WARNING SAN ANGELO TX - KSJT 727 PM CDT SAT APR 7 2012
http://kamala.cod.edu/svr/
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Quoting CybrTeddy:


IMO compared to 2009 and 2006, this year's El Nino will be weaker, which is why I think the CSU's playing it a little on the low side.
Yep Yep.That is why that update by the CSU is going a little tooo low.Some models even show us going back to la nina after a warm period.
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Quoting CybrTeddy:


IMO compared to 2009 and 2006, this year's El Nino will be weaker, which is why I think the CSU's playing it a little on the low side.
I wonder if that now that the worlds climate has changed, will we see less El-Nino episodes.
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Quoting tropicfreak:


Usually a quiet season (el nino) can be a foretelling of an active winter. Let's hope so.
I hope for more snow :).It's been a little...dry over these two years here.Ah well.The 56" that we got back in the winter of 09-10 made up for it.
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My "team" has analyzed the data and we predict with a level of confidence 8-2-1.
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Quoting CybrTeddy:


IMO compared to 2009 and 2006, this year's El Nino will be weaker, which is why I think the CSU's playing it a little on the low side.

I agree.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32275
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

We're still in La Niña I believe (-0.6 °C)...could be -0.5 °C though.


Last CPC update on April 2 has Nino 3.4 at -0.2C and that is up from -0.5C on prior update.

Link
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
We're in a cool Neutral phase right now. According to the chart, we'll come very close to El Niño in August, but cool back to near 0 °C by December.



IMO compared to 2009 and 2006, this year's El Nino will be weaker, which is why I think the CSU's playing it a little on the low side.
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We're in a cool Neutral phase right now. According to the chart, we'll come very close to El Niño in August, but cool back to near 0 °C by December.

Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32275
Quoting washingtonian115:
I think we are in a weak la nina or neutral.


Usually a quiet season (el nino) can be a foretelling of an active winter. Let's hope so.
Member Since: September 2, 2006 Posts: 110 Comments: 6878
The SPC may have been a little too conservative with its tornado outlook for today... We should've at least had 2%

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Quoting tropicfreak:


Aren't we in El Nino yet or are we neutral?

We're still in La Niña I believe (-0.6 °C)...could be -0.5 °C though.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32275
Quoting tropicfreak:


Aren't we in El Nino yet or are we neutral?
I think we are in a weak la nina or neutral.
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Quoting tropicfreak:


Aren't we in El Nino yet or are we neutral?

We're still neutral... In fact I think we're closer to La Nina than El Nino
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 83 Comments: 7836
BULLETIN - EAS ACTIVATION REQUESTED
TORNADO WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE SAN ANGELO TX
708 PM CDT SAT APR 7 2012

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN SAN ANGELO HAS ISSUED A

* TORNADO WARNING FOR...
SOUTH CENTRAL STERLING COUNTY IN WEST CENTRAL TEXAS...

* UNTIL 730 PM CDT

* AT 701 PM CDT...A FUNNEL CLOUD WAS OVER CENTRAL STERLING COUNTY...
OR 12 MILES SOUTH SOUTHWEST OF STERLING CITY...MOVING SOUTH AT 20 MPH.
THIS STORM HAS A HISTORY OF PRODUCING A TORNADO AND MAY PRODUCE A
TORNADO AT ANY TIME.


IN ADDITION TO DANGEROUS TORNADIC WINDS...OTHER HAZARDS INCLUDE...
LARGE DAMAGING HAIL UP TO GOLF BALL SIZE.
DAMAGING STRAIGHT LINE WINDS IN EXCESS OF 60 MPH.
POTENTIALLY DEADLY LIGHTNING.

*THE TORNADO WILL REMAIN OVER MAINLY RURAL AREAS OF...
SOUTH CENTRAL STERLING COUNTY.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WATCH REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 1000 PM CDT
SATURDAY EVENING FOR WEST CENTRAL TEXAS.

&&

LAT...LON 3158 10093 3157 10118 3176 10113 3175 10099
TIME...MOT...LOC 0006Z 005DEG 19KT 3168 10107

$$
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MESOSCALE DISCUSSION 0474
NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER NORMAN OK
0641 PM CDT SAT APR 07 2012

AREAS AFFECTED...WRN/N CNTRL TX INTO S CNTRL OK

CONCERNING...SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WATCH 150...

VALID 072341Z - 080045Z

THE SEVERE WEATHER THREAT FOR SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WATCH 150
CONTINUES.

A SEVERE WEATHER THREAT WILL CONTINUE ACROSS WW 150 WITH THE PRIMARY
THREATS OF LARGE HAIL AND DMGG WINDS.

SFC ANALYSIS CURRENTLY DEPICTS A COLD FRONT ALONG A FST TO ABI TO
ADM LINE WITH THUNDERSTORMS ONGOING S OF BGS AND NEAR ABI. SURFACE
TEMPERATURES SOUTH OF THE FRONT ARE IN THE 80S WITH DEWPOINT VALUES
IN THE 60S. WARMEST TEMPERATURES...HIGHEST DEWPOINTS...AND BEST
CONVERGENCE ARE ALONG THE SRN PORTIONS OF THE FRONT /ABI SWWD
TOWARDS FST/. AS A RESULT...THE BEST CHANCE OF CONTINUING/INCREASING
THUNDERSTORM ACTIVITY IS IN THIS AREA. FARTHER N...WEAKENING WINDS
AND SLIGHTLY LOWER DEWPOINTS BRING UNCERTAINTY REGARDING CONVECTIVE
INITIATION. ADDITIONALLY...DESPITE SURFACE OBJECTIVE ANALYSIS
DEPICTING AN UNCAPPED ML PARCEL...WARM TEMPERATURES ALOFT ASSOCIATED
WITH SWLY FLOW ARE LIKELY INHIBITING THUNDERSTORM DEVELOPMENT.

..MOSIER.. 04/07/2012
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Quoting washingtonian115:
I think the model they were using has a strong El nino by fall or something like that.I think at best a weak El nino will form their for those numbers may need to be adjusted a little higher.Like at around 12-14.


Aren't we in El Nino yet or are we neutral?
Member Since: September 2, 2006 Posts: 110 Comments: 6878
Quoting jrweatherman:
A quiet hurricane season forecasted by CSU. Not surprised by the low numbers although I would have expected a couple of more which is the new normal.
I think the model they were using has a strong El nino by fall or something like that.I think at best a weak El nino will form their for those numbers may need to be adjusted a little higher.Like at around 12-14.
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A quiet hurricane season forecasted by CSU. Not surprised by the low numbers although I would have expected a couple of more which is the new normal.
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Remember guys 2005 didn't feature any "real" cape verde type storms(was it 2 I think?).All that heat and moisture was bundled close to home.Just like this year.Storms that form closer to home can be even more dangerous than cape verde systems.With a cape verde system you have time to actually watch it.But with home grown systems you have only a few short days to a weak at most.
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Quoting MAweatherboy1:

And you can still get significant costly storms forming close to home (Katrina)


Exactly.
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
Large hail core in Texas along with a likely tornado.

Still searching for that D7/D8.

You guys have this link, right? I checked two big events in OK in the last couple years, May 10, 2010 when OK had 55 tors touch down in 5 hours including 2 anticyclonic tors (Total was from field surveys not reports.) and May 24, 2011 with assorted EF3s, two 190 mph EF4s and an EF5. Both days had risk identified at Day 6, slight risk day 3, moderate day 2 and high risk day 1 with PDS tor watches issued.

Oh, I see you emailed the SPC.
:)

As well as tors, there are some 3" hail reports in Texas. Click image for text
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Quoting Tropicsweatherpr:


The NAO is now at negative. Let's see how it will be by August and September to see if the MDR warms or not.


Would've been nice if the NAO were negative in, ya know, the winter?
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Quoting MAweatherboy1:

You didn't have to do that... Although I am still curious about it. If the April 27 2011 outbreak didn't have one I almost doubt there's ever been one

That Katrina loop is great btw

Thanks.

I'm doing Emily, Rita, and Wilma now.
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Quoting tropicfreak:
But that doesn't mean folks along the gulf and east coast can rest easy, you can still get a significant and costly storm even in an el nino season. I don't think it will be as quiet as 09 or 06 was but it'll likely be something similar to 02,

And you can still get significant costly storms forming close to home (Katrina)
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Quoting KoritheMan:


The eastern Atlantic will likely be very quiet this year.
But that doesn't mean folks along the gulf and east coast can rest easy, you can still get a significant and costly storm even in an el nino season. I don't think it will be as quiet as 09 or 06 was but it'll likely be something similar to 02,
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72% of the 57 deaths from this year's tornadoes have come from people taking shelter in mobile homes.
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:


MA, I emailed the Storm Prediction Center about it.

You didn't have to do that... Although I am still curious about it. If the April 27 2011 outbreak didn't have one I almost doubt there's ever been one

That Katrina loop is great btw
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Quoting BobWallace:


I think when you have someone like him continuously making the same sort of erroneous public arguments and being repeatedly called on it you can't write it off to a lack of not paying attention in Statistics 101.

The public feedback should be education enough.

There's a point at which misrepresentation is willful and intentional.

Too true. IMHO that point passed well over a decade ago. Some of the claims I've heard against GW by "professionals" is depraved indifference to the damage to come and the people who will suffer from that damage.
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AREA FORECAST DISCUSSION
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DODGE CITY KS
1200 PM CDT SAT APR 7 2012

.LONG TERM...(SUNDAY THROUGH FRIDAY)
ISSUED AT 418 AM CDT SAT APR 7 2012

AFTER THIS SYSTEM PASSES,
UPPER-LEVEL TROUGHINESS WILL RELOAD ACROSS THE WESTERN UNITED
STATES. WITH PLENTY OF LOW-LEVEL MOISTURE CLOSE BY, THUNDERSTORMS
WILL BE A POSSIBILITY AS THIS SYSTEM GETS CLOSER BY FRIDAY NIGHT OR
SATURDAY. THESE STORMS HAVE A MUCH BETTER CHANCE OF BEING SEVERE. IN
FACT, THE SURFACE AND UPPER-LEVEL PATTERN ALONG WITH MOISTURE
AVAILABILITY WILL ALL BE NEARLY IDEAL FOR OUTBREAKS OF SEVERE
THUNDERSTORMS NEXT WEEKEND. OF COURSE, GIVEN THAT THIS IS STILL A
WEEK AWAY, IT IS NOT CLEAR EXACTLY WHERE IN THE PLAINS THE
SEVERE WEATHER WOULD BE CONCENTRATED.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32275


MA, I emailed the Storm Prediction Center about it.
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The sst can be hot all they want.But when you have shear and dry air affecting a system then forget about the sst.
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Quoting Xyrus2000:


Um.....no, not really. Quite frankly, by some of his arguments I'm quite surprised he even made it through elementary college statistics and probability courses.


I think when you have someone like him continuously making the same sort of erroneous public arguments and being repeatedly called on it you can't write it off to a lack of not paying attention in Statistics 101.

The public feedback should be education enough.

There's a point at which misrepresentation is willful and intentional.
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Large hail core in Texas along with a likely tornado.

Still searching for that D7/D8.

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Quoting Grothar:
Doesn't look like much weather anywhere.



The Calms before the Storms!
Don't Count your Invests before they're hatched.
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Quoting MAweatherboy1:

Has the SPC ever highlighted an area on day 8 of the 4-8 day outlook?

I'm not sure. I did take a quick look at the Day 8 for April 27 (April 19) and it did not have one, so I have my doubts, but I'll search.
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
April 6, 2012:



April 6, 2011:



April 6, 2010:



April 6, 2009:


2012!
I would hazard a guess, that with this kind of SSTs you might just be in for a spot of bother this year?
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
The Storm Prediction Center will need to shift the Day 6 Convective Outlook a little bit farther west. With the ECMWF showing a solid LLJ and a Negatively-tiled trough, it appears that we are in for a regional, significant Severe Weather Outbreak.

Saturday and especially Sunday look even better.

Has the SPC ever highlighted an area on day 8 of the 4-8 day outlook?
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 83 Comments: 7836
The Storm Prediction Center will need to shift the Day 6 Convective Outlook a little bit farther west. With the ECMWF showing a solid LLJ and a Negatively-tiled trough, it appears that we are in for a regional, significant Severe Weather Outbreak.

Saturday and especially Sunday look even better.
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
April 6, 2012:



April 6, 2011:



April 6, 2010:



April 6, 2009:

In a week the entire gulf will be at 26C. The entire gulf is almost already at 26C
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90C looking much better. Is about to move into the Western Pacific.

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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
This tornado has been on the ground for 45 minutes now.

Luckily it appeared to go over mostly rural areas
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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.