Greenland experiences melting over 97% of its area in mid-July

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 12:58 PM GMT on July 25, 2012

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Son Nghiem of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA, was analyzing radar data from the Indian Space Research Organization's Oceansat-2 satellite last week when he noticed that 97% of Greenland appeared to have undergone surface melting on July 12--an event completely unprecedented in 30 years of satellite measurements. In a July 24 press release from NASA, Nghiem said, "This was so extraordinary that at first I questioned the result: was this real or was it due to a data error?" Multiple satellite data sets confirmed the remarkable event, though. Melt maps derived from three different satellites showed that on July 8, about 40 percent of the ice sheet's surface had melted, as a strong ridge of high pressure set up over Greenland. By July 12, the melting had expanded to cover 97% of Greenland. As I blogged about last week, temperatures at at the top of the Greenland Ice Sheet, 10,551 feet (3216 meters) above sea level, and 415 miles (670 km) north of the Arctic Circle, had risen above the freezing mark four times in the 12-year span 2000 - 2011. But in mid-July 2012, temperatures eclipsed the freezing mark on five days, including four days in a row from July 11 - 14. Interestingly, ice core records show that in 1889, a similar pronounced melt event occurred at the top of the Greenland Ice Sheet, and such events occur naturally about every 150 years. "But if we continue to observe melting events like this in upcoming years, it will be worrisome," said Lora Koenig, a NASA/Goddard glaciologist and a member of the research team analyzing the satellite data. Such an event could occur as early as this weekend: the latest wunderground forecast for the Greenland Summit calls for above-freezing temperatures to return again by Saturday through Tuesday, with a high of 36°F (2°C) on Tuesday. This would come close to the record warm temperature at Summit of 3.6°C set just two weeks ago. Exceptionally warm temperatures in Greenland this July have been made more likely by the fact that Arctic sea ice area has been at record low levels so far this month. Furthermore, the Greenland Ice Sheet has become darker this July than at any point since satellite measurements began (Figure 2), allowing Greenland to absorb more solar energy and heat up.


Figure 1. Extent of surface melt over Greenland's ice sheet on July 8 (left) and July 12 (right). Measurements from three satellites showed that on July 8, about 40 percent of the ice sheet had undergone thawing at or near the surface. In just a few days, the melting had dramatically accelerated and an estimated 97 percent of the ice sheet surface had thawed by July 12. Image credit: NASA.



Figure 2. The albedo (reflectivity) of the Greenland Ice Sheet at its highest elevations (2,500 - 3,200 meters, or 8,200 - 10,500 feet) has steadily decreased in recent years as the ice has darkened due to increased melting and dark soot being deposited on the ice from air pollution. This July, the high elevations of Greenland were the darkest on record, which helped contribute to the record warm temperatures observed at the Greenland Summit. Image credit: Dr. Jason Box, Ohio State University.


Video 1. Melt water from the record July temperatures in Greenland fed the raging Watson River, which smashed two bridges connecting the north and south of Kangerlussuaq (Sønder Strømfjord), a small settlement in southwestern Greenland. The flow rate of 3.5 million liters/sec was almost double the previous record flow rate.

Greenland's Petermann Glacier
Greenland's glaciers have seen significant changes in recent years, as they respond to warmer air and water temperatures. Northwest Greenland's Petermann Glacier has seen two massive calving events in the past two years, though it is uncertain if these events were caused by the warming climate. The most recent event came on July 16, 2012, when the glacier calved a 46 square-mile iceberg two times the size of Manhattan. The same glacier calved an iceberg twice as big back on August 4, 2010--the largest iceberg observed in the Arctic since 1962. The freshwater stored in that ice island could have kept the Delaware or Hudson rivers flowing for more than two years, or kept all U.S. public tap water flowing for 120 days. According to a university press release by Andreas Muenchow, associate professor of physical ocean science and engineering at the University of Delaware's College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment, “While the size is not as spectacular as it was in 2010, the fact that it follows so closely to the 2010 event brings the glacier’s terminus to a location where it has not been for at least 150 years. Northwest Greenland and northeast Canada are warming more than five times faster than the rest of the world, but the observed warming is not proof that the diminishing ice shelf is caused by this, because air temperatures have little effect on this glacier; ocean temperatures do, and our ocean temperature time series are only five to eight years long — too short to establish a robust warming signal.”


Figure 3. The massive 46 square-mile iceberg two times the size of Manhattan that calved from Greenland's Petermann Glacier on July 16, 2012, as seen on July 21, 2012, using MODIS satellite imagery. Image credit: NASA.

Related posts
Record warmth at the top of the Greenland Ice Sheet (July 18, 2012)
Unprecedented May heat in Greenland; update on 2011 Greenland ice melt
Greenland update for 2010: record melting and a massive calving event

Jeff Masters

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Wash115, I think the focus today will be about the severe weather in the NE states as the North Atlantic is relativly quiet.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1135. ncstorm
Good Morning Everyone!!
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 16284
1134. hydrus
PRELIMINARY EXTENDED FORECAST DISCUSSION
NWS HYDROMETEOROLOGICAL PREDICTION CENTER CAMP SPRINGS MD
840 AM EDT THU JUL 26 2012

VALID 12Z MON JUL 30 2012 - 12Z THU AUG 02 2012


HIGH LATITUDE MID LEVEL VORTICES OVER NRN CANADA WILL CONSOLIDATE
INTO ONE MEAN MID LEVEL LOW AND PERSIST NORTHEAST OF HUDSON BAY
THIS PERIOD WITH A CONTINUATION OF A MID LEVEL BLOCKING RIDGE IN
THE NORTH ATLANTIC ACROSS THE DENMARK STRAIT. NOAM PATTERN
EVOLVES AGAIN INTO THE PERSISTENT EPAC/PAC NORTHWEST TROF WITH
CONTINUED MID LEVEL RIDGING IN THE PLAINS AND ALONG THE ROCKIES
FRONT RANGE WITH AN ERN CONUS TROF THAT MAY EXTEND AS FAR SOUTH AS
NRN FL
. OVERALL MID LEVEL HTS WILL BE SLIGHTLY ABOVE AVERAGE
ESPECIALLY OVER THE NRN HIGH PLAINS AND SLIGHTLY BELOW AVERAGE
WITH THE ERN CONUS TROF. WELL ABOVE AVG TEMPS WILL CONTINUE THRU
THE PLAINS TO THE WRN MS VALLEY THIS PERIOD.

OVERALL MODELS ARE IN GOOD AGREEMENT. LARGEST DIFFERENCE IS THE
ECMWF DEEPER AND SLOWER NERN PAC VORTEX APPROACHING THE B.C. COAST
DAY 7 THURS. ALL OTHER GUIDANCE IS WEAKER AND FASTER WITH THIS
FEATURE WITH GOOD ENSEMBLE AGREEMENT WITH THE WEAKER AND FASTER
SOLUTION. UPDATED MORNING HPC PRELIMS BASED ON A BLEND OF GFS AND
ECMWF ENS MEANS THRU THE SEVEN DAY PERIOD.

MONSOONAL PRECIPITATION SHOULD CONTINUE FROM THE MEXICAN SIERRA
INTO SWRN CONUS ALONG WITH CONVECTIVE ACTIVITY IN THE SRN EDGE OF
THE WESTERLIES OVER THE CENTRAL CONUS RIDGE.

ATLANTIC AND CARRIBBEAN BASINS CONTINUE TO BE MOSTLY UNFAVORABLE
FOR TROPICAL DEVELOPMENT THIS PERIOD AS SEEN BY VELOCITY POTENTIAL
ANOMALIES WHILE THE WESTERN PACIFIC REMAINS HIGHLY FAVORABLE. AN
EASTERLY WAVE MAY APPROACH THE LESSER ANTILLIES TUES/WED WITH A
DECREASING NUMBER OF ENSEMBLE MEMBERS FAVORING THIS THAN PREVIOUS
DAYS AND ENCOUNTERING MORE SHEAR AND LESS MOISTURE LESSENING ITS
CHANCE OF MUCH IMPACT.
ROSENSTEIN




Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 23258
Weather Statements already up for NY:

...STRONG THUNDERSTORMS WILL IMPACT BERGEN...BRONX...FAIRFIELD... HUDSON...KINGS (BROOKLYN)...NEW YORK (MANHATTAN)...NORTHERN ESSEX... NORTHERN NASSAU...PASSAIC...QUEENS...ROCKLAND...SUFFOLK AND WESTCHESTER COUNTIES...

AT 843 AM EDT...NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DOPPLER RADAR WAS TRACKING STRONG THUNDERSTORMS ALONG A LINE EXTENDING FROM OSSINING TO NANUET TO RAMSEY TO 5 MILES SOUTHWEST OF WEST MILFORD...OR ALONG A LINE EXTENDING FROM OSSINING TO NANUET TO RAMSEY TO WEST MILFORD...AND MOVING SOUTHEAST AT 35 MPH.

WINDS UP TO 40 MPH ARE EXPECTED WITH THESE STORMS. IN ADDITION...VERY HEAVY RAIN IS OCCURRING WITH THESE STORMS. THIS COULD CAUSE PONDING OF WATER ON ROADWAYS...AND MINOR FLOODING OF POOR DRAINAGE AREAS.

LIGHTNING IS ONE OF NATURES NUMBER ONE KILLERS. REMEMBER...IF YOU CAN HEAR THUNDER...YOU ARE CLOSE ENOUGH TO BE STRUCK BY LIGHTNING. MOVE TO SAFE SHELTER IMMEDIATELY.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1132. yoboi
Quoting Neapolitan:
It's been noted before that warming will certainly benefit some areas at some times, but the negative effects of a rapidly changing climate will far outweigh any positives. (Look at it this way: an obese person who develops terminal cancer probably won't do much celebrating over his rapid weight loss.)

Something else which people often fail to take into consideration when discussing moving agriculture farther north: while it will be warmer, there won't be more sunlight--and sunlight dictates what will grow and where as much as temperature and precipitation...



not really a true statement, they now have genetic seeds that don't require that much sunlight to grow and produce a larger harvest...
Member Since: August 25, 2010 Posts: 8 Comments: 2870
Quoting goosegirl1:


We already had a few thundershowers move through to the far west of DC, ahead of the front, but none severe. A cold front is predicted to move through this afternoon and produce yet more storms. There is a large area of Moderate risk, but DC is not part of that.
Thank goodness .we need the rain.Just not the damage that comes with it.
Quoting muddertracker:


Actually, my brother lives in New York..near Schenectady...(he is in the Army)...his wife is from Korea and has been complaining about the heat...I am hoping the storms/rain will help cool things down for her.



sorry hon!.Just going to have to get use to it.You could recommend her to a place like Washington state where they are known to have cool summers.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 18665
Quoting washingtonian115:
..Anyone want to discuss tropical weather...Or today's server outbreak?.

Both, of course.
Member Since: October 22, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2561
Quoting ktymisty:


I think the north will benefit greatly ( eventually ) from the melt. I know it's not a popular thing to say but still. There are many regions which will benefit ( again eventually ) and yes, when trees grow near the arctic circle the world will change and so will we.

/a slightly off-topic comment but the drift is the same
It's been noted before that warming will certainly benefit some areas at some times, but the negative effects of a rapidly changing climate will far outweigh any positives. (Look at it this way: an obese person who develops terminal cancer probably won't do much celebrating over his rapid weight loss.)

Something else which people often fail to take into consideration when discussing moving agriculture farther north: while it will be warmer, there won't be more sunlight--and sunlight dictates what will grow and where as much as temperature and precipitation...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting washingtonian115:
I take that as a no..


Actually, my brother lives in New York..near Schenectady...(he is in the Army)...his wife is from Korea and has been complaining about the heat...I am hoping the storms/rain will help cool things down for her.



Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Caner:
"and such events occur naturally about every 150 years"...

"But if we continue to observe melting events like this in upcoming years, it will be worrisome," said Lora Koenig


So, Mr. Masters, the short version of what you are trying to say here is:

"No warming hype to report. Situation normal, nature working as intended."

That about sum it up?

Link


No, not at all.

Situation not normal.
Nature not working as intended.



Here.



Regarding the torrent of ice melt in that river video, having twice the flood volume of the previous record is obviously not normal anywhere.

If pink polka-dotted gummy bears were spontaneously falling out of the sky would you call that normal too?
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Quoting washingtonian115:
..Anyone want to discuss tropical weather...Or today's server outbreak?.


We already had a few thundershowers move through to the far west of DC, ahead of the front, but none severe. A cold front is predicted to move through this afternoon and produce yet more storms. There is a large area of Moderate risk, but DC is not part of that.
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There is a wicked cool video of a volcano erupting in Japan....it's on CNN's main page if you are interested

Link
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1124. LargoFl
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Caner:
"and such events occur naturally about every 150 years"...

"But if we continue to observe melting events like this in upcoming years, it will be worrisome," said Lora Koenig


So, Mr. Masters, the short version of what you are trying to say here is:

"No warming hype to report. Situation normal, nature working as intended."

That about sum it up?

Link
Not remotely. A re-read of Dr. Masters' post might help you get a better grasp on what he wrote (and re-directing your browser from WUWT's denialist extremism toward a site that's based on actual science certainly wouldn't hurt, either).

Quoting jiminceiba:
on that Greenland warming thing....uh,,how did it get the name GREENLAND?...seems to me I read there were Viking colonies there a 1000 years ago..I guess it melted back then due to all the coal fired plants and cars in North America?
Oh, a two-fer!

The Vikings attempted to eke out a living there. The name "Greenland" was a marketing ploy chosen (by Erik the Red) to lure the unsuspecting. Some came, realized they could reliably raise nothing, and then quickly abandoned the island. That's why, you know, all the old settlements are just that: old.

Now: have you an alternate explanation as to why the planet is experiencing rapid warming?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1122. yoboi
Quoting ScottLincoln:


Your comments claimed that the ships and planes in the Arctic were the sources of black carbon. People were correcting you because those are not the main sources of black carbon. Estimates of globally averaged sources for black carbon put transportation sources at maybe 10-20%. Energy production in developing countries is the largest factor, probably 30-50%. Considering that the number of ships/planes/automobiles in the Arctic region is barely a blip when compared to all global transportation, that would explain why people indicated that your post was incorrect.

It was not a conspiracy, it was not some "pounce-attack" where people just wanted say that you were wrong no matter what. People called you out because your statistics didn't make sense, and with just a little bit of research you would find similar numbers to me, helping you to correct your false claims.


wow... your trying to correct me about "false claims" with and quote your word "estimates" scott figured ya would back it up with facts.....not "estimates" that is as bad as using an analogy....
Member Since: August 25, 2010 Posts: 8 Comments: 2870
1121. LargoFl
Quoting StormTracker2K:
People in FL and all across the Greater Antillies better stay aware of this potential down the road.

..huh?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1120. LargoFl
Quoting ktymisty:


I think the north will benefit greatly ( eventually ) from the melt. I know it's not a popular thing to say but still. There are many regions which will benefit ( again eventually ) and yes, when trees grow near the arctic circle the world will change and so will we.

/a slightly off-topic comment but the drift is the same
..there is a north sea passage that will open up,shipping will love that.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1119. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)


Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 181 Comments: 56956
I take that as a no..
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 18665
vis...large.amplitude.t.w...30w
Member Since: September 11, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 5084
Quoting jiminceiba:
on that Greenland warming thing....uh,,how did it get the name GREENLAND?...seems to me I read there were Viking colonies there a 1000 years ago..I guess it melted back then due to all the coal fired plants and cars in North America?


I think the north will benefit greatly ( eventually ) from the melt. I know it's not a popular thing to say but still. There are many regions which will benefit ( again eventually ) and yes, when trees grow near the arctic circle the world will change and so will we.

/a slightly off-topic comment but the drift is the same
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
..Anyone want to discuss tropical weather...Or today's server outbreak?.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 18665
Quoting StormTracker2K:
People in FL and all across the Greater Antillies better stay aware of this potential down the road.



Whats the time frame?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Caner:
"and such events occur naturally about every 150 years"...

"But if we continue to observe melting events like this in upcoming years, it will be worrisome," said Lora Koenig


So, Mr. Masters, the short version of what you are trying to say here is:

"No warming hype to report. Situation normal, nature working as intended."

That about sum it up?

Link


The Gentleperson's Guide To Forum Spies

Link
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting anglerfish:


That's called a Chinook, right?


I don't know...sorry. But it's a bit creepy
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Quoting jiminceiba:
on that Greenland warming thing....uh,,how did it get the name GREENLAND?...seems to me I read there were Viking colonies there a 1000 years ago..I guess it melted back then due to all the coal fired plants and cars in North America?


Do about 5 minutes of research and you'll find out why it got the name Greenland, and why your reference shows a lack of context and perspective, as well as facts.
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Quoting jiminceiba:
on that Greenland warming thing....uh,,how did it get the name GREENLAND?...seems to me I read there were Viking colonies there a 1000 years ago..I guess it melted back then due to all the coal fired plants and cars in North America?
Wanna buy some ocean front property in Arizona?
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Quoting Neapolitan:
No surprise: it's getting worse.

--All 50 states are experiencing some level of drought ("abnormally dry") in at least some way.
--43 states are experiencing some amount of moderate drought
--22 states are experiencing some amount of extreme drought
--14 states are experiencing some amount of exceptional drought
--Five states are experiencing at least severe drought across 100% of their land area (Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, Colorado, and Missouri)
--Arkansas is the most affected state, with 33.64% listed as exceptional, and nearly 76% listed as severe.
--Twice as much of the nation is experiencing severe to exceptional drought now as it was last year at this time.

Last week:

drought
drought

This week:

drought
droughtdrought



With El-Nino arriving that drought across the Midwest will only get worse as El-Nino typically gives the Midwest below average precip over the Fall and Winter months.

Member Since: October 26, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2651
Quoting HurricaneHunterJoe:


Another Typhoon for China perhaps?
nature.likes.twos
Member Since: September 11, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 5084
No surprise: it's getting worse.

--All 50 states are experiencing some level of drought ("abnormally dry") in at least some way.
--43 states are experiencing some amount of moderate drought
--22 states are experiencing some amount of extreme drought
--14 states are experiencing some amount of exceptional drought
--Five states are experiencing at least severe drought across 100% of their land area (Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, Colorado, and Missouri)
--Arkansas is the most affected state, with 33.64% listed as exceptional, and nearly 76% listed as severe.
--Twice as much of the nation is experiencing severe to exceptional drought now as it was last year at this time.

Last week:

drought
drought

This week:

drought
droughtdrought

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
We need something to track..badly..
Quoting ILwthrfan:
Very disappointed this morning as we are likely going to miss out another possible rain event. Soon as this system hit the Mississippi it just evaporated. Local NWS already updating forecast to cut back on pops considerably across our area as the front is already now nearing the Ohio River. SPC has already cut back on the severe across our area as well.



Even this image update is exaggerated the westward extent of the outlook. Should be from Indy southwest to south of St. Louis and points east from there.

This drought is going to get much worse I feel. It's simply to large right now. Even when any given area gets relief it becomes quickly engulfed in the dry conditions in a matter of weeks because the of the huge area it encompasses and it continues to strengthen each passing week. The Gulf coast might be spared, but I'm afraid when September rolls around we are going to see vast areas of dark red from the TX panhandle up to the Great Lakes.


Hope you get some rain but in a decent way and not a server thunderstorm/hurricane way.Unfortunately our rain has only come from server events this summer...
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 18665
People in FL and all across the Greater Antillies better stay aware of this potential down the road.

Member Since: October 26, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2651
1103. Caner
"and such events occur naturally about every 150 years"...

"But if we continue to observe melting events like this in upcoming years, it will be worrisome," said Lora Koenig


So, Mr. Masters, the short version of what you are trying to say here is:

"No warming hype to report. Situation normal, nature working as intended."

That about sum it up?

Link
Member Since: Posts: Comments:


Another Typhoon for China perhaps?
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Quoting SFLWeatherman:


I saw that and that is concerning. I saw that this morning infact some of the ensembles are curving this wave/TS up the Greater Antillies and into FL. I didn't comment on it earlier as I am waiting for more consistancy and infact the Euro shifted west big time on the 0Z run basically developing this wave as it approaches PR.

Member Since: October 26, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2651
Very disappointed this morning as we are likely going to miss out another possible rain event. Soon as this system hit the Mississippi it just evaporated. Local NWS already updating forecast to cut back on pops considerably across our area as the front is already now nearing the Ohio River. SPC has already cut back on the severe across our area as well.



Even this image update is exaggerated the westward extent of the outlook. Should be from Indy southwest to south of St. Louis and points east from there.

This drought is going to get much worse I feel. It's simply to large right now. Even when any given area gets relief it becomes quickly engulfed in the dry conditions in a matter of weeks because the of the huge area it encompasses and it continues to strengthen each passing week. The Gulf coast might be spared, but I'm afraid when September rolls around we are going to see vast areas of dark red from the TX panhandle up to the Great Lakes.


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I guess I killed the blog..?
Member Since: October 22, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2561
Quoting StormTracker2K:
Get Low people.

Link

Need For Speed Underground has that song.
Member Since: October 22, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2561
Get Low people.

Link
Member Since: October 26, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2651
I see some people still won't give up on the blob eh?.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 18665
I have that feeling today!

Link
Member Since: October 26, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2651
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Quoting ktymisty:
I just copied this from http://www.athropolis.com/map2.htm

for ALERT, NUNAVUT, CANADA


"Weather report as of 64 minutes ago (10:00 UTC):
The wind was blowing at a speed of 10.8 meters per second (24.2 miles per hour), with gusts to 13.9 meters per second (31.1 miles per hour), from South in Alert, Canada. The temperature was 12 degrees Celsius (54 degrees Fahrenheit). Air pressure was 1,009 hPa (29.79 inHg). Relative humidity was 54.0%. There were a few clouds at a height of 2743 meters (9000 feet) and a few clouds at a height of 6401 meters (21000 feet). The visibility was 24.1 kilometers (15.0 miles). Current weather is .


That's called a Chinook, right?
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Quoting ktymisty:
The forecast for the Summit over the weekend is frightening.

37 degrees for monday.
Overcast in the morning, then mostly cloudy. Fog early. High of 37F with a windchill as low as 10F. Winds from the SSW at 10 to 15 mph.
Member Since: October 22, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2561


Look at that trof all the way to Florida in 192 Hours.Isn't that kinda far south for late July?
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Quoting wxchaser97:

Wave still looks goodish
Member Since: October 22, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2561

Member Since: October 26, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2651
Quoting Tropicsweatherpr:


I agree. They do great discussions about every feature out there.


Their discussions really compliment the NHC discussions during a storm. NHC (for the general public) focuses on track and intensity issues, and covers some of this ground in their discussions, but NCEP breaks down the synoptic conditions and often also breaks down the model runs in plain English.
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