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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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
The National Hurricane Center has created a new page in which you can keep better track of active tropical cyclones (if it wasn't easy enough already for you).

Link


They had that page last year as well, just click on active storms.
Member Since: September 6, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6116
219. RTSplayer I dislike the yardage penalty system in Football. I think they should reduce all penalties to 5 yards.

Really?
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Quoting RTSplayer:



Hahahaha.

Hey, how do you do video embedding on this site? Most of the time I try it doesn't work.

Sent you mail with instructions on how. It's pretty easy.
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313. wxmod
This is NASA imaging that shows a population density layer in pink and carbon monoxide, most of it emanating from India and China. Tibet is the blue area with the least carbon monoxide. The carbon monoxide layer is maxed out and headed for the USA.
earthdata.nasa.gov

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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

No it hasn't :P


Yes, it has. :P I noticed it back in 2010.

EDIT: I was wrong, it goes back to 2007 (Hurricane Omar is the only interesting storm caught by it though :P).

Oh and here's Dora near peak intensity.

Have I proved you wrong yet? :P
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Quoting yqt1001:


I forgot to tell you earlier...that has been there since the website upgrade in 2009 iirc.

No it hasn't :P
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
The National Hurricane Center has created a new page in which you can keep better track of active tropical cyclones (if it wasn't easy enough already for you).

Link


I forgot to tell you earlier...that has been there since the website upgrade in 2009 iirc.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
The National Hurricane Center has created a new page in which you can keep better track of active tropical cyclones (if it wasn't easy enough already for you).

Link
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Looks like our cold front was blown a bit out of proportion - NWS says it won't dip below 80 for my area for the entire week, and by Wednesday we're back to 85+ degree weather. Not a drip of rain for the bay area tonight either.
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 23590
Quoting JustSouthofEquator:


Haha, the mental image of what those button inputs would do kinda negate sexiness. Do they sell Brutality as well?


Here is where I got it from.
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Cue the Crickets.

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Quoting KoritheMan:
Check out the sexy shirt I got in today:



Haha, the mental image of what those button inputs would do kinda negate sexiness. Do they sell Brutality as well?
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N,S? Heh, they were within a couple hundred miles, lol. Although, they did say the forecast for SFL was low confidence. I'll be looking for that secondary development being touted, otherwise not much for Palm Beach County.
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Quoting Patrap:
funny how the radar doesnt show tons of clounds folling in from the gulf,right over me, moving north east a lil like towards orlando etc
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 36937
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Quoting aspectre:
DeepwaterHorizon and deadly tarball bacteria

Wikipedia:

"Health officials clearly identified strains of V. vulnificus infections among evacuees from New Orleans due to the flooding there caused by Hurricane Katrina."
Member Since: May 18, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 5958
.
Member Since: May 18, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 5958
Quoting aspectre:
Grothar: ...average cost of dinner was about CCLXXIV.
257 JustSouthofEquator: 274?

Nope, not 274 questions marks. 274 full stops. Good thing those Romans didn't ask for money.


DeepwaterHorizon and deadly tarball bacteria


Lol, did you have to be specific? :D
Wow, I can eat for a month or two with that
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00
FXUS62 KMLB 051929
AFDMLB

AREA FORECAST DISCUSSION
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE MELBOURNE FL
315 PM EDT THU APR 5 2012

.DISCUSSION...

...STRONG TO SEVERE STORMS POSSIBLE TONIGHT...

...TURNING BREEZY AND MUCH COOLER FROM LATE FRIDAY THROUGH THIS
WEEKEND WITH DETERIORATING BOATING AND BEACH CONDITIONS...

CURRENT-OVERNIGHT...MCS/MCV RACING E TO ESE AT 40KT OVER THE NERN
GOMEX EXHIBITING CLASSIC LARGER SCALE "ROTATING COMMA" APPEARANCE.
RADAR/LTG TRENDS HAVE GONE DOWNWARD OVER THE LAST 2-4HR SINCE THE
SYSTEM HAS LEFT THE LOOP CURRENT AND IS TRAVERSING COOLER SHELF
WATERS. HOWEVER...EXPECT TO SEE SQUALL LINE GET REINVIGORATED AS
IT APPROACHES THE COAST AS ENCOUNTERS HIGHER CAPE/THETA VALUES OVER
LAND. TIMING FOR AND EARLY EVENING IMPACT FOR NORTH LAKE/VOLUSIA COS
AROUND SUNSET STILL LOOKS ON TARGET WITH RAPID ESE PROGRESSION INTO
THE EVENING AND OVERNIGHT HOURS. COULD SEE SECONDARY REDEVELOPMENT
OF CONVECTIVE CELLS/BANDS BEHIND THE LEAD MCS AS MEAN LAYER WINDS
CONTINUE TO INCREASE LATE TONIGHT/EARLY FRI MORNING BEFORE SUNRISE.
HOWEVER...MOST OF THE BETTER INSTABILITY WILL GET USED UP BY THE
INITIAL CONVECTION...SO LATER REDEVELOPMENT FOR THE MOST PART MAY BE
WEAKER THAN EARLY ACTIVITY. PRESSED FOR TIME A BIT SO DON`T WANT TO
REHASH SPECIFIC TIMING AND POTENTIAL IMPACTS FOR THE CWA....REFER TO
HWO/GHWO PRODUCT SUITE AND BLOG/IMPACT WX UPDATES FOR DISCUSSION OF
THESE IMPACTS.




Something tells me the folks at the NWS Melbourne are probably scratching their heads a bit tonight after that forecast above...
Member Since: August 21, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 7287
Quoting MahFL:
Not a drop of rain n NE Fl today.


not a drop of rain in S florida today.
(okay, it did drizzle this morning.)
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295. MahFL
Not a drop of rain n NE Fl today.
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I don't think moisture will be a problem with the system being depicted in the long range according to the ECMWF.

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Also, I think it's worth noting that many climate models were predicting an El Nino for the summer of 2001, after a three year La Nina. It never happened.
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"A majority of models predict ENSO-neutral conditions for March-May 2012, continuing through the Northern Hemisphere summer 2012 (Fig. 7). Based on the continued weakening of the negative SST anomalies during March 2012, and on the historical tendency for La Ni%uFFFDo dissipate during the Northern Hemisphere spring, we continue to expect La Ni%uFFFDo dissipate during April 2012. ENSO-neutral conditions are then expected to persist through the summer."



Graphic from IRI (The International Research Institute for Climate and Society)
Anyway, night all.
I hope it's not raining here in ECFL Friday morning so I can go out and play some tennis!
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Quoting FLWeatherFreak91:
They sure did perform bad, but this is where the human forecasters should have stepped up and updated the forecast based solely on their educated opinions on what will take place. Last night the forecasted 10% pops remained until less than 1 HOUR before the storms hit the coast without a SPS or any statement being issued. I just don't get why our local office insists on giving the computer models so much credit instead of using its own knowledge to make a better forecast based on real time data including radar and satellite...



I agree, I get frustrated with the lack of personal involvement in forecasting. Its strange because I know they have all the expertise and intelligence to do so, that goes for way more than just the NWS. In fact the NWS is often the best at stepping in and changing the forecast in opposition to models but they still too often seem afraid to do so till its too late. They usually act quick only when there is an emergency involved such as severe weather that the models didn't predict(like last night).


I almost wonder if there isn't some sort of expectation of meteorologists to always stick with models unless they have absolutely no choice because so much money and attention is based on the computer models. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying we should get rid of them by any means. Computer models are among the best tools available for forecasters. But they are exactly that. Tools, they do all the millions of calculations and other extremely valuable help to forecasters. But it does bother me also when a forecaster just goes with the models. Sometimes the whole model consensus is wrong and forecasters need to step in.

If I saw the bust in the forecast of the models coming, then I know the folks at the NWS did too, I'm sure most of them are way smarter than me, they just chose to keep the forecast. Its strange, and I'm not entirely sure what the reasoning is for keeping a forecast when the models are all getting it wrong.
Member Since: August 21, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 7287
Quoting BobWallace:


OK, since you're so absolutely certain of the future we'll just have to wait and watch you make the big money by shorting the market....


I work for an oil company, so I think that would be insider trading or something.
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

I realize what he was saying, but it does not make much sense. Yes, Weather Underground's system may focus more on specific locales, but the temperature surrounding the area is not going to be drastically different, it would be uniform. I believe that Weather Underground's system is unaccurate, especially with a 10 degree margin.


Ah. Yes, I did consider that after the fact.
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276 CanesfanatUT: I don't believe the futures energy curves. Even the most liquid contracts - crude oil - don't make sense. Brent crude is steadily backwardated. So that implies either demand for Brent will drop or production will increase.

Third and most likely possibility is that the option prices will fall because most purchase-options are owned by financial speculators who can not take delivery: no processing and no storage facilities.
ie Purchase option contracts are bought with high margins: ie extremely small down payments with huge balloon payments due on the contract execution date.
The betting now is that all rentable storage facilities will already be filled when the obligations to take delivery and pay off those contracts in full come due.

Which is what the Saudis have been saying: oil producers have been pumping out a lot more than the world is actually consuming.
Considering that the financial sector has been dumping a lot of cash into inflating the oil market through the options market... ?CreditCrunch&Bailout: Part2?
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Quoting Chicklit:
According to Dr. Masters, it looks like we'll have to see what kind of Nino we'll have, if any. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but it is my impression that neutral seasons produced the most land-falling activity. Is this correct?


Generally, yes.
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Quoting weatherh98:


Oh I see thanks 13 I gotta run to swim practice


yeah. go swimmers!!
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Quoting uncwhurricane85:
nobody knows what kind of a season we are going to have, they are saying this because its been so active the past decade, and hey, its just time for it to calm down! forecasting less hurricanes before august is like saying moscow might not be this cold this winter!

I beg to differ. Hurricane season forecasts issued by major agencies such as Colorado State University, NOAA, and Tropical Storm Risk usually have a decent to high turnout rate when November 30 comes around. They're not perfect, but they're not bad either.
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According to Dr. Masters, it looks like we'll have to see what kind of Nino we'll have, if any. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but it is my impression that neutral seasons produced the most land-falling activity. Is this correct?

LinkEL NIO/SOUTHERN OSCILLATION (ENSO)
DIAGNOSTIC DISCUSSION
issued by CLIMATE PREDICTION CENTER/NCEP
and the International Research Institute for Climate and Society
5 April 2012
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nobody knows what kind of a season we are going to have, they are saying this because its been so active the past decade, and hey, its just time for it to calm down! forecasting less hurricanes before august is like saying moscow might not be this cold this winter!
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Quoting CanesfanatUT:


Alright. My prediction is that Henry Hub reaches 1$/MBTU by early August, maybe even July.

Do you realize that nat gas comes with crude oil (trading over 100 $/bbl) and natual gas liquids (priced well over nat gas on a BTU basis)? So the NG keeps getting produced.
We'll hit max industry storage sometime in August. Just a matter of when and what happens. I really don't know - that's not happened before.

Anyway - on your earlier point, I don't believe the futures energy curves. Even the most liquid contracts - crude oil - don't make sense. Brent crude is steadily backwardated. So that implies either demand for Brent will drop or production will increase. Neither is going to happen. So anyway.


OK, since you're so absolutely certain of the future we'll just have to wait and watch you make the big money by shorting the market....
Member Since: February 22, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 1344
Quoting weatherh98:


I do my stuff on the iPhone and there ap is right on the money..


I use their app on my iphone and it uses the same "Best forecast" as the website.
Member Since: July 10, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 227


ZCZC MIATWOAT ALL
TTAA00 KNHC DDHHMM

SPECIAL TROPICAL WEATHER OUTLOOK
NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
700 AM EST MON FEB 6 2012

FOR THE NORTH ATLANTIC...CARIBBEAN SEA AND THE GULF OF MEXICO...

ROUTINE ISSUANCE OF THE ATLANTIC TROPICAL WEATHER OUTLOOK WILL RESUME ON 1 JUNE 2012.

$$
FORECASTER BRENNAN
NNNN


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247 Grothar: ...average cost of dinner was about CCLXXIV.
257 JustSouthofEquator: 274?

Nope, not 274 questions marks. 274 full stops. Good thing those Romans didn't ask for money.

DeepwaterHorizon and deadly tarball bacteria
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

That makes no sense.


How so?
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Quoting BobWallace:


You think I don't understand that wells, once drilled, produce gas for a while? Why would you arrive at that thought?

Yes, rigs can move back in when the price is right. And at the moment the price is not right which is why they packed up and left. You seem to feel that $4 is about the right price to bring some rigs back. I can't dispute that, but clearly today's price is too low to keep them working.

We had a drilling bubble. Too much money flooded into operations and too many wells were sunk. A supply glut was created and prices dropped below the cost of drilling a well.

Of course if the price goes higher then NG use will drop for grid energy. Gas peaker plants will likely start loosing out to storage. We've got some interesting battery options coming on line.


Alright. My prediction is that Henry Hub reaches 1$/MBTU by early August, maybe even July.

Do you realize that nat gas comes with crude oil (trading over 100 $/bbl) and natual gas liquids (priced well over nat gas on a BTU basis)? So the NG keeps getting produced.
We'll hit max industry storage sometime in August. Just a matter of when and what happens. I really don't know - that's not happened before.

Anyway - on your earlier point, I don't believe the futures energy curves. Even the most liquid contracts - crude oil - don't make sense. Brent crude is steadily backwardated. So that implies either demand for Brent will drop or production will increase. Neither is going to happen. So anyway.
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

I realize what he was saying, but it does not make much sense. Yes, Weather Underground's system may focus more on specific locales, but the temperature surrounding the area is not going to be drastically different, it would be uniform. I believe that Weather Underground's system is unaccurate, especially with a 10 degree margin.


I do my stuff on the iPhone and there ap is right on the money..
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6461
Quoting trHUrrIXC5MMX:
2012 Hurricane season-EL NINO
I love active seasons...nooooo!
boring for those hurricane lovers? or good for those who fear them?

not so much activity in 2009


somewhat active...in my opinion.


but HEY, look what happens in the neighboring basin.... 2009



we get some fun cat 5s there... meaning LOTS of action.....
I should head over for the west Pacific this year then


Lots of nice large hurricanes out here. Come on over......
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Quoting weatherh98:


They don't use official stations...

I realize what he was saying, but it does not make much sense. Yes, Weather Underground's system may focus more on specific locales, but the temperature surrounding the area is not going to be drastically different, it would be uniform. I believe that Weather Underground's system is unaccurate, especially with a 10 degree margin.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
2012 Hurricane season-EL NINO
I love active seasons...nooooo!
boring for those hurricane lovers? or good for those who fear them?

not so much activity in 2009


somewhat active...in my opinion.


but HEY, look what happens in the neighboring basin.... 2009



we get some fun cat 5s there... meaning LOTS of action.....
I should head over for the west Pacific this year then
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

That makes no sense.


They don't use official stations...
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Quoting KoritheMan:


I think it's because they focus more on specific locales, and even neighborhoods. Whereas NWS data is typically calibrated from an official observing station, usually outside of a particular community.

That makes no sense.
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Quoting pipelines:
why is wundergrounds "Best forecast" so inaccurate? I've noticed huge discrepancies lately from the NWS forecast and wundergrounds "best forecast".

For example, tonight, in Birmingham, wunderground states the low will be 72, NWS 49, it's already 56 and dropping. Tomorrow wunderground 82/68, NWS 72/49, Saturday wunderground 86/63, NWS 74/50. A 10-20 degree discrepancy is huge......


The app is accurate
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6461
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

I think 2000 j/kg of CAPE is sufficient.

The site I use does not have 500 mbar winds like TwisterData (but TwisterData doesn't have the ECMWF model), but it has 850 mbar and 200 mbar winds. Winds near the surface (850 mbar) are from the south, and up at 200 mb, they're due west.

Eek.


Very nasty stuff. Good news is, it's 240 hours out and just like with hurricanes the models can flipflop, bad news is also just like with hurricanes the ECMWF is usually the higher preforming model.
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 23590

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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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