Extreme events of 2011: climate change a major factor in some, but not all

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 1:54 PM GMT on July 11, 2012

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The science of quantifying how climate change changes the odds of extreme weather events like droughts and floods took a major step forward Tuesday with the publication of NOAA's annual summary of the past year's weather. The 2011 State of the Climate report contains a separate peer-reviewed article published in the July issue of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society titled, Explaining Extreme Events of 2011 From a Climate Perspective. In the paper, a group of scientists led by Peter Stott of the Met Office Centre in the United Kingdom looked at how climate change may have changed the odds of occurrence of some of 2011's notable weather extremes. These kinds of attribution studies require huge amounts of computer time and take many months to do, but the scientists plan to start making this a regular part of the annual NOAA State of the Climate report. Some of their findings for 2011:

- Determining the causes of extreme events remains difficult. While scientists cannot trace specific events to climate change with absolute certainty, new and continued research help scientists understand how the probability of extreme events change in response to global warming.

- La Niña-related heat waves, like that experienced in Texas in 2011, are now 20 times more likely to occur during La Niña years today than La Niña years fifty years ago.

- The UK experienced a very warm November 2011 and a very cold December 2010. In analyzing these two very different events, UK scientists uncovered interesting changes in the odds. Cold Decembers are now half as likely to occur now versus fifty years ago, whereas warm Novembers are now 62 times more likely.

- The devastating 2011 floods in Thailand caused an estimated $45 billion in damage, making it the world's most expensive river flooding disaster in history. The study found, however, that the amount of rain that fell in the catchment area was not very unusual, and that other factors such as human-caused changes to the flood plain and the movement of more people into flood-prone areas were more important in causing the disaster. "Climate change cannot be shown to have played any role in this event," the study concluded, but warned that climate models predict an increase in the probability of extreme precipitation events in the future in the region.

- The deadly drought in East Africa, which killed tens of thousands of people in 2011, was made more likely by warming waters in the Indian Ocean and Western Pacific. While the scientists did not specifically tie the warming of these waters to human-caused global warming, they noted that climate models predict continued warming of these waters in the coming decades, and this will likely "contribute to more frequent East African droughts during the spring and summer."


Figure 1. An SH-60F Sea Hawk helicopter assigned to Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron (HS) 14, flies around the Bangkok area with members of the humanitarian assessment survey team and the Royal Thai Armed Forces to assess the damage caused by the 2011 floods. Image credit: Petty Officer 1st Class Jennifer Villalovos.

Weather on steroids
One interesting aspect of the paper was the scientists' use of the baseball player-steroids analogy to help explain how climate change can increase the odds of extreme weather: "One analogy of the effects of climate change on extreme weather is with a baseball player (or to choose another sport, a cricketer) who starts taking steroids and afterwards hits on average 20% more home runs (or sixes) in a season than he did before (Meehl 2012). For any one of his home runs (sixes) during the years the player was taking steroids, you would not know for sure whether it was caused by steroids or not. But you might be able to attribute his increased number to the steroids. And given that steroids have resulted in a 20% increased chance that any particular swing of the player’s bat results in a home run (or a six), you would be able to make an attribution statement that, all other things being equal, steroid use had increased the probability of that particular occurrence by 20%. The job of the attribution assessment is to distinguish the effects of anthropogenic climate change or some other external factor (steroids in the sporting analogy) from natural variability (e.g., in the baseball analogy, the player’s natural ability to hit home runs or the configuration of a particular stadium)."



Video 1. National Center for Atmospheric Research scientist Dr. Jerry Meehl explains how climate change's impact on extreme weather is like how steroids affect a baseball player.

Jeff Masters

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Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 36855
Quoting LargoFl:
..lol and another one absorbs it, round and round we go..nature is laughing at us
exactly, this is all part of natures cycle to get rid of this stuff. people shouldnt worry about global warming but instead they shoud spend that money and time on more important things like fixing our goverment.
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http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120710 115849.htm
Rising Carbon Dioxide in Atmosphere Also Speeds Carbon Loss from Forest Soils
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Most of San Antonio finally got decent rain. (2.28 inches)

I happen to live in the part that didn't get any.

Wah!!
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Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting wxmod:


ONE TREE DIES AND RELEASES ALL THAT CARBON.
..lol and another one absorbs it, round and round we go..nature is laughing at us
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 36855
175. wxmod
Quoting LargoFl:
..why would you say that?..one tree absorbs 22 hundred pounds of co-2 a year..one tree


ONE TREE DIES AND RELEASES ALL THAT CARBON.
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Quoting LargoFl:
..the methane seeping out in the artic is a much more potent threat than our carbon..no one is paying attention to that fact, wonder why...maybe they cant get any taxes out of That?


Climate scientists are paying a lot of attention to Arctic methane.

Thing is, the way to stop massive releases of Arctic methane is to stop pumping so much carbon in the air. The amount of carbon released via fossil fuel burning is under our control.
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CI# /Pressure/ Vmax
6.1 / 947.0mb/117.4kt


Final T# Adj T# Raw T#
6.0 6.4 6.4

Scene Type : EYE

Positioning Method : RING/SPIRAL COMBINATION


looking good now, could be/become a major again
Member Since: March 16, 2012 Posts: 127 Comments: 7927
Quoting Hurrihistory:

The area of convection currently East of Broward and Palm Beach Counties just off the SE Florida coast will have to be watched closely today for signs of possible Tropical Development. It's already begining to show signs of good outflow with some banding to the East and South.
..going to be an interesting week ahead thats for sure
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 36855
Quoting schistkicker:
If we're going to engineer our way out of this, the "simplest" direction would be to come up with a means to sequester carbon back into the crust. Of course, you have to collect that carbon and inject it, presumably via drilling/fracking, in sufficient volumes to offset the "fossil" carbon we've been extracting for the last few decades.

In short; I'm not going to hold my breath.

Planting trees, while a good idea in its own right, isn't the way out of this. That's just moving around surface carbon, and doesn't address the fact that we've accelerated the carbon cycle via fossil fuel combustion. It's just rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.
..but its a good start, but from what i read this morning about the artic ice melting and the huge amounts of methane gas being released because of it..maybe...the end is near for us, hate to think that way but, if all this proves true, the earth is moving into another one of its annilations,hope i spelled that right, but..the way things are happening gee...hopefully in the time i have left here i wont see the final outcome, hopefully none of my kids and grand children will either, but i feel deep inside..a BIG change is coming, what we knew as weather before..wont be there in later years, not in its present form, it may well be alot worse, and if the people around then, dont change with it..well you see what happened to the dinosaurs
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 36855
Quoting GeorgiaStormz:
why dont we mass produce sulfates and aerosols like the ones that come from volcanos and continually emit them while cutting down on carbon.
We could make our goal to reduce insolation to 80% of our pre-greenhouse gas level so as the reverse the effect slowly
Ive seen hydrogen sulfide as a candidate, why not continually produce and release millions of tons of it?

It seems like it would work faster


It's one of the "geo-engineering" approaches that has been discussed.

The problem is, that hydrogen sulfide we shoot up into the air comes back down. Acid rain.

We ran the experiment for some years following World War II. Killed a lot of forests. Messed up a lot of lakes.

It's something we might have to do if things get really bad. But working to keep things from getting that bad is a much better idea, IMHO.
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The area of convection currently East of Broward and Palm Beach Counties just off the SE Florida coast will have to be watched closely today for signs of possible Tropical Development. It's already begining to show signs of good outflow with some banding to the East and South.
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Ah well it was good while it lasted. Temps are steadily climbing without the rain. Possibly hotter at my house with the sun shining but my grandbabies got the batteries out of my weather station thing last time they were here so I can't tell. :)



Mostly Cloudy

79°F

26°C

Humidity84%
Wind SpeedS 8 mph
Barometer30.00 in
Dewpoint73°F (23°C)
Visibility10.00 mi
Heat Index83°F (28°C)
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The warming on Mars argument again?

http://www.skepticalscience.com/global-warming-on -mars-basic.htm

It's like a zombie. It won't stay dead!
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well the think clouds are now forming here along the gulf coast by me..it will be our turn for the storms this afternoon..hope it isnt as bad as yesterday
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 36855
Quoting oreodogsghost:
We have a drencho in Houston!


LOL
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Quoting GeorgiaStormz:


you dont need hazmat cleanup.
It really is not bad for you, weve broken quite a few in our house, you clean it up, and its all good.
no evacuation, gas masks, or hazmat necessary.

The effect is negligible
people always overreact to such things


Morning, just saw your comment.

As a hazmat team leader for many years, we were trained to handle a vast variety
of chemicals, gases, and compounds. If you will google the two words = Mercury Poisoning,
as of a few minutes ago when I did it, you will find 23,100,000 entries on mercury poisoning.

There are 9 entries on the first page.
The first entry on my page was the wiki article.
It was very good actually.
Some of the information you will find there will help you.
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Enjoying the temps in the mid 70's here in Baton Rouge. Raining pretty hard with gusts to over 30. Feels a bit tropical.
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162. Skyepony (Mod)
Quoting StormTracker2K:


This blob looks good on sat and it is even sending rain bands up toward Melbourne which hasn't had much rain at all so far this month so this is great news for the east coast of FL.



Locally here in Melbourne today NWS gives us a slight risk of rip currents, flood, severe winds & fire. Moderate risk of lightning. Sea breeze clouds are building already.. Up to 95ºF already with a dewpoint of 80..
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
If we're going to engineer our way out of this, the "simplest" direction would be to come up with a means to sequester carbon back into the crust. Of course, you have to collect that carbon and inject it, presumably via drilling/fracking, in sufficient volumes to offset the "fossil" carbon we've been extracting for the last few decades.

In short; I'm not going to hold my breath.

Planting trees, while a good idea in its own right, isn't the way out of this. That's just moving around surface carbon, and doesn't address the fact that we've accelerated the carbon cycle via fossil fuel combustion. It's just rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.
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Quoting wxmod:


Planting a tree is a net zero for carbon. Burning a tree is also a net zero for carbon.
..why would you say that?..one tree absorbs 22 hundred pounds of co-2 a year..one tree
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 36855
Quoting MrMixon:


Could you provide a link to some data? Thank you.



I was just there and it was hotter than the last time I was there. Thats a fact.
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158. wxmod
Quoting Skyepony:


The kids will be appalled to see Santa's Workshop fall into the ocean..


VERY EXCELLENT POINT!
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Rain in Texas ang coming to NOLA area.
Storms already popping up in FL.
Member Since: March 16, 2012 Posts: 127 Comments: 7927
Dr. Masters,
I read yesterday that there is increased solar activity

Could that in any way be one of the causes of current extreme weather that we are experiencing?

Thanks

Link
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155. wxmod
Quoting LargoFl:
true but that is a natural occurance, clearing the way for new tree's


Planting a tree is a net zero for carbon. Burning a tree is also a net zero for carbon.
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Quoting Skyepony:


The kids will be appalled to see Santa's Workshop fall into the ocean..
that would be quite funny to see.
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Quoting Chicklit:
From 8 a.m. NHC Tropical Weather Discussion:
TROPICAL WAVE OVER THE W ATLC WILL MOVE THROUGH THE STRAITS OF FLORIDA THU NIGHT AND EARLY FRI.
A SECOND TROPICAL WAVE WILL REACH THE CENTRAL ATLC ON
FRI NIGHT AND INTO THE E CARIBBEAN SAT.




Good morning. Are there any significant showers associated with that second wave and could we possibly get some rain here in Antigua?
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152. Skyepony (Mod)
Quoting wxmod:
This is what the ice on the north pole looks like today. It will start breaking up soon. MODIS



The kids will be appalled to see Santa's Workshop fall into the ocean..
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HAZARDOUS WEATHER OUTLOOK
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE MELBOURNE FL
1107 AM EDT WED JUL 11 2012

AMZ550-552-555-570-572-575-FLZ041-044>047-053-054 -058-059-064-141-
144-147-112000-
COASTAL WATERS FROM FLAGLER BEACH TO VOLUSIA BREVARD COUNTY LINE
OUT 20 NM-
COASTAL WATERS FROM VOLUSIA BREVARD COUNTY LINE TO SEBASTIAN
INLET OUT 20 NM-
COASTAL WATERS FROM SEBASTIAN INLET TO JUPITER INLET OUT 20 NM-
WATERS FROM FLAGLER BEACH TO VOLUSIA BREVARD COUNTY LINE 20 TO
60 NM OFFSHORE-
WATERS FROM VOLUSIA BREVARD COUNTY LINE TO SEBASTIAN INLET 20 TO
60 NM OFFSHORE-
WATERS FROM SEBASTIAN INLET TO JUPITER INLET 20 TO 60 NM OFFSHORE-
INLAND VOLUSIA-NORTHERN LAKE-ORANGE-SEMINOLE-SOUTHERN BREVARD-
OSCEOLA-INDIAN RIVER-OKEECHOBEE-ST. LUCIE-MARTIN-COASTAL VOLUSIA-
SOUTHERN LAKE-NORTHERN BREVARD-
1107 AM EDT WED JUL 11 2012

THIS HAZARDOUS WEATHER OUTLOOK IS FOR EAST CENTRAL FLORIDA.

.DAY ONE...THIS AFTERNOON AND TONIGHT.

.THUNDERSTORM IMPACT...
A MOIST SOUTHEAST FLOW WILL ALLOW SHOWERS AND STORMS TO INCREASE
THROUGH THE AFTERNOON HOURS. STEERING WINDS WILL PUSH THE STORMS
TOWARD THE NORTHWEST AT 10 MPH...WITH HIGHER COVERAGE SHIFTING TO
THE INTERIOR COUNTIES THROUGH THE LATE AFTERNOON. THE PRIMARY
THREATS WILL BE FREQUENT TO EXCESSIVE LIGHTNING IN THE STRONGER
STORMS ALONG WITH A FEW DOWNBURSTS UP TO 50 MPH POSSIBLE.

.FLOOD IMPACT...
LOCALLY HEAVY 2 TO 3 INCH DOWNPOURS CAUSING PONDING OF WATER WILL
BE POSSIBLE WHERE STORMS MOVE ACROSS THE SAME AREAS WITHIN A DEEP
MOIST SOUTHEAST FLOW.

.MARINE THUNDERSTORM GUST IMPACT...
SCATTERED LIGHTNING STORMS WILL MOVE TOWARD THE NORTHWEST AT 10 MPH
OVER THE INTRACOASTAL WATERS...COASTAL WATERS AND INTERIOR LAKES
THIS AFTERNOON. A FEW STRONGER STORMS MAY CONTAIN DOWNBURST WINDS
OF 35 TO 45 KNOTS AND FREQUENT CLOUD TO WATER LIGHTNING.

.WATERSPOUT IMPACT...
DEEP MOISTURE AND RELATIVELY LIGHT LOW LEVEL WINDS MAY ALLOW AN
ISOLATED WATERSPOUT OR FUNNEL CLOUD TO FORM OVER MARINE AREAS...
INCLUDING THE INLAND LAKES.

.DAYS TWO THROUGH SEVEN...THURSDAY THROUGH TUESDAY.
SCATTERED LIGHTNING STORMS ARE EXPECTED EACH AFTERNOON FOCUSED
OVER THE INTERIOR SECTIONS. FREQUENT TO EXCESSIVE LIGHTNING
STRIKES AND LOCALLY HEAVY RAIN SHOULD BE THE PRIMARY THREATS.

.SPOTTER INFORMATION STATEMENT...
SPOTTERS ARE REQUESTED TO MONITOR THE WEATHER AND SELF ACTIVATE
IF NEEDED.

$$

KELLY/GLITTO
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 36855
Quoting GeorgiaStormz:
Floridians, why are you all excited about rain?
Just 2 weeks ago you said you didnt want anymore rain for the rest of the year....
:)


It's the rainy season, keep it coming...
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149. Skyepony (Mod)



stormygace~ I do a good many things you mention there & more. Makes living so less expensive we only need one income & we all can enjoy life more. Started small, replacing inefficient things in our lives..each payed for themselves surprisingly fast & providing savings to replace more money suckers. Big oil is nickleing & dimeing some of y'all to death.. Just let the oil go as much as you can & grow as much as you can. Too many people die a year from bad food & bad air because we do & buy what the TV says we all must have, shiny & new to be happy..

You seem caught up in the propaganda. There is mercury free LED bulbs, some even dimmable. Saw some on sale the other night for less than $2. I'm surprised to see so many resistant to a change that would save them boatloads of cash & maybe even their elderly & kids from the mercury & other pollutants that power plants put in the air & environment. You don't have to suffer..an efficient AC can save a few grand a year with an even cooler setting. Eating homegrown food is far better tasting than anything else, combined with walking or some biking instead of constant car use might even help make people one of the ~30% of Americans that aren't overweight.

The countries that are economically pulling away are the ones investing in sustainable. Fighting over seas in unstable areas to protect our oil interests is not working.

Moving on to Alaska is not the answer either..last week Shell Clarifies: It Can ‘Encounter’ 95 Percent Of An Arctic Oil Spill, Not Collect It.. Check out how well Alaska has been cleaned up 23years after Valdez..

Exxon Valdez oil in 2012. Photo courtesy of David Janka, taken on May 24, 2012 on Eleanor Island, Prince William Sound, Alaska.
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Quoting VAstorms:


Great idea unless you live in a place with little water. It is hard to get a tree going in Santa Fe as it takes a lot of water.
..thats true too,so there is no real answer for many places on earth, man has taken over so much tree growing land, it may be impossible to reverse warming...i just know..how much cooler it is..just standing under a tree, under a tree the soil is cooler, the air seems cooler...not even mentioning how much co-2 it is absorbing..i see many cities are now taking up the task and planting tree's wherever they can..thats a good sign and a good start
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 36855
147. wxmod
This is what the ice on the north pole looks like today. It will start breaking up soon. MODIS

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Member Since: March 16, 2012 Posts: 127 Comments: 7927
Statement as of 10:40 AM CDT on July 11, 2012

... Locally heavy rainfall and localized flooding will be possible
across the four state region through late Thursday evening...

A weak stationary front across the region... an unstable
airmass... and a series of upper level disturbances will lead to
scattered to numerous thunderstorms across much of the four state
region mainly during the afternoon hours today and Thursday. A rich
tropical airmass will help create efficient rain producing storms.
Weak steering flow aloft will lead to slow movement of the storms
and possibly long duration heavy rain events. The overall coverage
of thunderstorm activity will cover a wide area... however individual
storm cells will probably be small and will not affect large areas.

Combined... these factors will provide a threat for locally heavy
rainfall amounts in excess of 3 inches in the strongest storms.
This will also lead to a threat for localized flooding especially in
low lying areas or poor drainage areas. Isolated locations have
already received very heavy rainfall amounts over the last 48 hours.
Saturated soil conditions may make these locations particularly
vulnerable to more excessive rain. The thunderstorm and heavy rain
threat is greatest south and east of a line from Tyler Texas to El
Dorado Arkansas.

If flooding conditions develop... seek higher ground and do not drive
into flooded areas.

Stay tuned to NOAA Weather Radio and local media outlets for further
updates. You can also follow the National Weather Service in
Shreveport on facebook... twitter... and on the web.
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Quoting VINNY04:
yes and also fires will help some seeds to grow because of the heat.
..thats right also..nature sure has thought of almost everything that could happen and used that to renew...except for the arrival of man lol..oh oh..she is now thinking again lol..aw we have to laugh or else we have to cry, things are getting way out of hand and fast, how we have changed this planet huh.
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 36855
Quoting LargoFl:
people laugh when i say, plant a tree......well here is the answer to the problem,how much carbon does one tree absorb...........................................A bout 1000 kg (2204.62262 lb) is absorbed by one average tree per year. Read More »
Source: http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_much_co2_absorbed_by _trees


Great idea unless you live in a place with little water. It is hard to get a tree going in Santa Fe as it takes a lot of water.
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Quoting hydrus:
I have have seen many a blob in me day..:)
..LOL good one
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 36855
Quoting LargoFl:
..one thing is for sure..the skeeters are going to be a real problem here in a lil while with all this standing water around everywhere


They've been thick around here this year too. And west nile has been found already in one community. We had drought resistant mosquitoes last year but they are really bad now. But that's pretty normal.
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UW - CIMSS
ADVANCED DVORAK TECHNIQUE
ADT-Version 8.1.3
Tropical Cyclone Intensity Algorithm

----- Current Analysis -----
Date : 11 JUL 2012 Time : 150000 UTC
Lat : 14:33:00 N Lon : 117:14:54 W


CI# /Pressure/ Vmax
6.1 / 947.0mb/117.4kt


Final T# Adj T# Raw T#
6.0 6.2 6.2

Estimated radius of max. wind based on IR :N/A km

Center Temp : -19.2C Cloud Region Temp : -72.3C

Scene Type : EYE

Positioning Method : RING/SPIRAL COMBINATION

Ocean Basin : EAST PACIFIC
Dvorak CI > MSLP Conversion Used : PACIFIC

Tno/CI Rules : Constraint Limits : NO LIMIT
Weakening Flag : ON
Rapid Dissipation Flag : OFF

C/K/Z MSLP Estimate Inputs :
- Average 34 knot radii : 80km
- Environmental MSLP : 1010mb

Satellite Viewing Angle : 26.6 degrees

She has definitely strengthened in the past few hours.
Member Since: March 16, 2012 Posts: 127 Comments: 7927
Quoting GeorgiaStormz:


1. Grothar
2. GeorgiaStormz
3. Levi32
4. TropicalAnalystwx13
5. hydrus
6. It doesnt really matter, no one else compares!!
I have have seen many a blob in me day..:)
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Quoting LargoFl:
true but that is a natural occurance, clearing the way for new tree's
yes and also fires will help some seeds to grow because of the heat.
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http://www.popsci.com/category/tags/climate-prepara tion

or do nothing and argue it's not happening...

even if not happening, might be nice to try some new things that improve quality of life vs. quantity.
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Quoting ilovehurricanes13:
lots of rain for miami,fl soon
..one thing is for sure..the skeeters are going to be a real problem here in a lil while with all this standing water around everywhere
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 36855
Quoting LargoFl:
..simply amazing, going from drought to now possible flooding, hope all your lakes etc are filling up, i know alot were going dry a month or so ago


Yes, the lakes farther west in TX are the ones running really low. Ours up in east TX were drastically low last year but they've filled up nicely with all the rains we've received since last winter. And I agree it is the complete opposite here than last year. Thank goodness! :)
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Quoting RitaEvac:


No where near outta the drought

..hopefully the rains will continue, like they have here in florida..debby wiped out our drought pretty well..season is still going..hopefully yours will be gone too
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 36855
In fact America is going in the hole

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Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 36855

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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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