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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Cardinals 2nd Dome Stadium Road Opener in Milwaukee today, wonder if that dome will be open, only in 50s up there, but hope it is. Have the day off, a hotel room, and my tix for the Friday the 13th home opener vs the hapless (& hopeless) Cubbies. Should be fun! Long range has mid 60s, but hopefully the forecasted showers don't show up, at least until a few hours after the game.

Glad it appears no fatalities in that crash, sounds like the pilots did a great job getting it down before their last second ejection.
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Quoting WxGeekVA:


This has got to be the smallest slight risk area I have ever seen...

Go check out Mesoscale Discussion #269 #469 for the smallest MD ever issued.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31467


This has got to be the smallest slight risk area I have ever seen...
Member Since: September 3, 2011 Posts: 13 Comments: 3468
Quoting MissNadia:

The pops were compressor stalls in the engines/engine. If you look at the picture of the crashed aircraft, you will see the left engine's exhaust nozzle is closed, it shouldn't be for takeoff. The right nozzle is open.
This is the season that big birds are flying North in that area. My guess is that the F-18 hit some birds shortly after take off.


I'm glad you know that, im shocked the pilots were able to still aim for a unpopulated area and miss 264.
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The waterspout/tornado that hit the west coast of Florida this morning was rated an EF0 with maximum sustained winds between 60-85 mph.

Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31467
441) Wish we had those here. Mid August normally huh, guess that's why they always showed up at SIU-Carbondale Halloween, back when they still allowed it.
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Quoting VAbeachhurricanes:


Plane took off, all the sudden there were 3 loud popping sounds afterwords the pilots took the plane vertical with no sound, the plane went into the nosedive and the pilots waited for the last possible moment to eject. The pilots aimed the plane for the middle of the courtyard and appears they hit their mark.

The pops were compressor stalls in the engines/engine. If you look at the picture of the crashed aircraft, you will see the left engine's exhaust nozzle is closed, it shouldn't be for takeoff. The right nozzle is open.
This is the season that big birds are flying North in that area. My guess is that the F-18 hit some birds shortly after take off.
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Member Since: September 3, 2011 Posts: 13 Comments: 3468
Va Beach fire and rescue say no fatalities, 7 total taken to hospital 5 civilians 2 pilots.
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Quoting nigel20:

What are the reports?


Plane took off, all the sudden there were 3 loud popping sounds afterwords the pilots took the plane vertical with no sound, the plane went into the nosedive and the pilots waited for the last possible moment to eject. The pilots aimed the plane for the middle of the courtyard and appears they hit their mark.
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Quoting nigel20:

What are the reports?


Nothing yet.
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Quoting yqt1001:
The base that the crash occurred at was going to be closed because urban sprawl had made the runways difficult to use.


What are the reports?
Member Since: November 6, 2010 Posts: 11 Comments: 7853
Quoting yqt1001:
The base that the crash occurred at was going to be closed because urban sprawl had made the runways difficult to use.



Still shouldnt be closed, this is the first crash since 1986.
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The base that the crash occurred near was going to be closed because urban sprawl had made the runways difficult to use back in 2005.

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For info and more photos on the crash:
Link
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Aerial shot of the crash
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As the people in the apartment complex were pulling the pilot from the wreckage he said "I am sorry for landing in your backyard."
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Quoting weatherh98:


The experts felt that there would be el niño by the peak months tearing apart the stormS, they have taken much more time than we have looking at the models and made their mind up, it's there best guess


It's not like I'm sitting around hoping for bad weather anyway.

Lately I don't know what to expect of the weather during any given year, because last year the U.S. was only affected by two tropical systems and both of them caused extensive, even catastrophic flooding.

El Nino isn't even necessarily a good thing either. Some El Nino cause very bad inland flooding or droughts that don't even related to tropical systems.

the past decade in weather has been such that you really don't know what one should wish for or prefer anyway.
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Quoting VAbeachhurricanes:
F-18 crash here, apartments engulfed in flames. Hope everyone is okay.

I hope so too!
Member Since: November 6, 2010 Posts: 11 Comments: 7853
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

The Gulf of Guinea remains extremely cold, which will probably push the ITCZ farther north than normal and get rid of some of that drought.

That also means development further north...
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Quoting RTSplayer:


I know that, but still, just watch and see.

Even their El Nino rationale doesn't seem to matter much, because that's not likely till at least the end of July anyway.

Early Season Hurricanes tend to hit in the Gulf and Florida at some point in their lives.

Since even the most aggressive models in the most recent runs don't call for true "El Nino" conditions until the end of July or in August, and the consensus never develops an El Nino at all, it may not even be relevant.


Two months and everyone will have a better idea, but the graphics for model forecast of El Nino strongly suggests a true neutral, straight down the middle conditions for the peak of the season.

Plus we've tended to have absurdly early, large, and unpredictable "A" and "B" storms in some of the past several years.


The experts felt that there would be el niño by the peak months tearing apart the stormS, they have taken much more time than we have looking at the models and made their mind up, it's there best guess
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Quoting PedleyCA:
Link

Here is another picture of 90C Or NOT


That looks sub-tropical at best for the moment.

The higher level winds above the circulation are cyclonic when they should be anti-cyclonic to be considered tropical.
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Quoting VAbeachhurricanes:
F-18 crash here, apartments engulfed in flames. Hope everyone is okay.

Can you see the crash?
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Quoting RTSplayer:


yeah, I don't get CSU's forecast at all.

Not only is this not in any way significantly cooler than last year this time, but several of the most important regions for development are actually 0.5C to as much as 3C warmer than last year!

I mean, one tiny "cold" pocket out east of 40W doesn't make much difference IMO.


Just because u put rocket fuel in a box doesnt mean itll fly into orbit...
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April 5, 2011 TCHP

April 5, 2012 TCHP
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Quoting dabirds:
399) Why I'm picking big yellow morels in the first week of April instead of the last week. Pretty good haul last night, hope the 36 low this morning didn't shut them off. StL long range still not showing any frost/freeze temps thankfully, but definitely more seasonable than early March was.
Why I am picking cubensis in the first week of April instead of mid August?!
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Link

Here is another picture of 90C Or NOT
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437:

Well, SST anomalies in the Great Lakes, Hudson Bay and the Atlantic near the coast of New England probably have a lot to do with that.

In the past couple years the anomalies have gotten as high as 5C or more on a few days out of the year, and regularly topped 3C on many occasions over widespread areas of ocean last year.
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399) Why I'm picking big yellow morels in the first week of April instead of the last week. Pretty good haul last night, hope the 36 low this morning didn't shut them off. StL long range still not showing any frost/freeze temps thankfully, but definitely more seasonable than early March was.
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I thought some of you might like to feast on these numbers.

Although, I will certainly write a more detailed and extensive blog in the coming days about the lack of real cold since the mid-1990's in Montreal, Quebec.

The lack of exceptional cold this winter season was remarkable but for the last 15 years it's become more usual than not. The lowest temperature recorded was a mere -24.1C(-11.4F).

Using 1971-2000 as a base period, the three coldest months combined (December, January and February) registered an average of 16.2 times a low of -20C(-4F) or less each year. The low temperature on any given day dropped below -20C three times in total this winter, which is 18.5% of normal.

Additionally, using the same months and base period, we saw an average of 0.5 days (nights might be more fitting) a year where the thermometer dipped below -30C(-22F). The temperature has never dropped below -40C(-40F) since record-keeping began in 1942.

The last time the mercury fell below -30C was in January 1994, twice. Precisely on the 27th and 26th. Interestingly, winter 1993-1994 registered three lows below -30C
Member Since: October 17, 2006 Posts: 60 Comments: 1297
Quoting weathermanwannabe:
431. RTSplayer 1:38 PM EDT on April 06, 2012

Been on the Blog for 6 years and every year folks play the numbers prediction game. Nothing wrong with that, but, numbers are irrelevant at the end of the day whether El Nino/Neutral/La Nina........Trajectory and landfall location are what ultimately matter and in spite of very active seasons for the past several years, the US has been very lucky. Another Andrew in a low numbers year is all that it takes.

Not criticizing your position or analog stats; I think the gist of your position is that you disagree with the CSU study as to the timing of the La Nina. They are relying heavily on the current model support for La Nina conditions at some point during the year and we will not know until the season unfolds when/if the sheer will "cut off" the season so to speak....But no one has the crystal ball. The only thing that we do know, from decades of observation, it that a La Nina will create hostile conditions aloft to retard formation.

I am looking at the current drought conditions in The Sahel region in Africa and wondering if we will have a SAL issue this season which can also retard development.

It's all a wait and see.

Agreed
Member Since: November 6, 2010 Posts: 11 Comments: 7853
Quoting weathermanwannabe:
431. RTSplayer 1:38 PM EDT on April 06, 2012

Been on the Blog for 6 years and every year folks play the numbers prediction game. Nothing wrong with that, but, numbers are irrelevant at the end of the day whether El Nino/Neutral/La Nina........Trajectory and landfall location are what ultimately matter and in spite of very active seasons for the past several years, the US has been very lucky. Another Andrew in a low numbers year is all that it takes.

Not criticizing your position or analog stats; I think the gist of your position is that you disagree with the CSU study as to the timing of the La Nina. They are relying heavily on the current model support for La Nina conditions at some point during the year and we will not know until the season unfolds when/if the shear will "cut off" the season so to speak....But no one has the crystal ball. The only thing that we do know, from decades of observation, it that a La Nina will create hostile conditions aloft to retard formation.

I am looking at the current drought conditions in The Sahel region in Africa and wondering if we will have a SAL issue this season which can also retard development.

It's all a wait and see.

The Gulf of Guinea remains extremely cold, which will probably push the ITCZ farther north than normal and get rid of some of that drought.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31467
431. RTSplayer 1:38 PM EDT on April 06, 2012

Been on the Blog for 6 years and every year folks play the numbers prediction game. Nothing wrong with that, but, numbers are irrelevant at the end of the day whether El Nino/Neutral/La Nina........Trajectory and landfall location are what ultimately matter and in spite of very active seasons for the past several years, the US has been very lucky. Another Andrew in a low numbers year is all that it takes.

Not criticizing your position or analog stats; I think the gist of your position is that you disagree with the CSU study as to the timing of the La Nina. They are relying heavily on the current model support for La Nina conditions at some point during the year and we will not know until the season unfolds when/if the sheer will "cut off" the season so to speak....But no one has the crystal ball. The only thing that we do know, from decades of observation, it that a La Nina will create hostile conditions aloft to retard formation.

I am looking at the current drought conditions in The Sahel region in Africa and wondering if we will have a SAL issue this season which can also retard development.

It's all a wait and see.
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433. Skyepony (Mod)
I think that plane went down just east of the plus with a circle around it.. No rain, just explosion of smoke, that gets blown off toward the south..

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F-18 crash here, apartments engulfed in flames. Hope everyone is okay.
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

You were told yesterday, Sea Surface Temperatures are not the only factor that goes into predicting tropical cyclone formation.


I know that, but still, just watch and see.

Even their El Nino rationale doesn't seem to matter much, because that's not likely till at least the end of July anyway.

Early Season Hurricanes tend to hit in the Gulf and Florida at some point in their lives.

Since even the most aggressive models in the most recent runs don't call for true "El Nino" conditions until the end of July or in August, and the consensus never develops an El Nino at all, it may not even be relevant.


Two months and everyone will have a better idea, but the graphics for model forecast of El Nino strongly suggests a true neutral, straight down the middle conditions for the peak of the season.

Plus we've tended to have absurdly early, large, and unpredictable "A" and "B" storms in some of the past several years.
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421. Patrap 1:25 PM EDT on April 06, 2012

Lets hope there are no injuries. On a military note (and I was not aware this plane was in Tallahassee for the week), I am at work yesterday and hear the rumble of a "propeller" airplane. Look out the window, and I see a WWII era B-29 cruising over Tallahassee at about 1000 ft........Watching a piece of History in the air; that plane looked great and it must be at least 65 years old........Amazing.
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Quoting wxgeek723:


Yes.
Hurricane Ekeka
January 28-February 9, 1992


Thanks for the answer.
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Wonder what the back story on that crash...



Could have been wx related, I guess.





It's getting cloudier here, but so far the real wx is staying over the extreme NW Bahamas.
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:

I like this SST chart...can you post the march 30 chart so that I can compare it with this one
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Quoting justmehouston:


Was wondering the same thing when I saw that. Crashed near an apartment complex

Actually it crashed striaght into the apatment complex... It would be a miracle if no one is killed from that
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Quoting RTSplayer:


yeah, I don't get CSU's forecast at all.

Not only is this not in any way significantly cooler than laster year this time, but several of the most important regions for development are actually 0.5C to as much as 3C warmer than last year!

I mean, one tiny "cold" pocket out east of 40W doesn't make much difference IMO.

You were told yesterday, Sea Surface Temperatures are not the only factor that goes into predicting tropical cyclone formation.
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Quoting MAweatherboy1:
I just heard that an F-18 military jet crashed in Virginia Beach... Both pilots on board ejected out but offcials believe casualties on the ground are likely... I wonder if the weather had anything to do with this?


Was wondering the same thing when I saw that. Crashed near an apartment complex
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Quoting BenBIogger:

April 5, 2012 SST


April 5, 2011 SST





yeah, I don't get CSU's forecast at all.

Not only is this not in any way significantly cooler than last year this time, but several of the most important regions for development are actually 0.5C to as much as 3C warmer than last year!

I mean, one tiny "cold" pocket out east of 40W doesn't make much difference IMO.
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Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31467
Military fighter plane crashes in Virginia

VIRGINIA BEACH
A plane crashed in Virginia Beach near Naval Air Station Oceana just after noon on Friday.




A Navy spokesman has confirmed to the media that the plane that crashed was an F/A-18 Hornet - a two-seat jet belonging to VFA (Strike Fighter Squadron) 106.

Sgt. Michelle Anaya of state police confirmed that the plane crashed.


Two pilots have been transported to the hospital. There has been no word on injuries according to Tim Riley of the Virginia Beach Police Department. He stated that the two pilots ejected from the jet.
Rescue crews from Virginia Beach are on the scene of a two-alarm fire at the Mayfair View apartment complex. There have been no reports of injuries or casualties.

Sean Pepe, of Norfolk, and Kenny Carver, of Hampton were driving on Interstate 264 when they saw the jet seem to be "floating" in the air before it went down behind some trees.

It was odd, but we didn't think anything of it, Pepe said. We thought it was doing maneuvers. We were watching the plane but didn't see the impact. We saw it go down and there was a 'boom.' Then there was black smoke everywhere."

Original story: Daily Press

Contributing: WTKR-TV
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Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 169 Comments: 53296
Quoting wxgeek723:


Yes.
Hurricane Ekeka
January 28-February 9, 1992

That was real early
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I just heard that an F-18 military jet crashed in Virginia Beach... Both pilots on board ejected out but offcials believe casualties on the ground are likely... I wonder if the weather had anything to do with this?
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Quoting BenBIogger:

April 5, 2012 SST


April 5, 2011 SST




Thanks for posting the SST maps...over the last week or so the SST's have warmed a bit
March 30, 2012
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Quoting JRRP:

2001

This year's SSTs in the MDR are among the coolest we've seen since our current active hurricane period began in 1995

??


"among the coolest" ;)
Member Since: October 17, 2006 Posts: 60 Comments: 1297

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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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