Ernesto weakens; Florence forms; fires, historic heat wave in Oklahoma

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 4:12 PM GMT on August 04, 2012

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Enigmatic Tropical Storm Ernesto continues westward across the Caribbean, but has weakened. Ernesto certainly looks impressive on visible satellite loops, with a symmetric shape, good spiral banding, and an upper-level outflow channel to the north and east. But this morning's flight by the Hurricane Hunters found that Ernesto had weakened, with top winds of just 50 mph, and a central pressure that had risen to 1008 mb. The storm is fighting low to moderate wind shear of 5 - 15 knots, and water vapor satellite loops show a large area of dry air to the west. Upper level winds from the west are driving this dry air into the west side of the storm. Ernesto's rains are staying just north of the ABC Islands, as seen on Aruba radar. The southern shore of the Dominican Republic is experiencing occasional heavy rains from Ernesto's spiral bands.


Figure 1. Morning visible satellite image of Ernesto taken at 8 am EDT, with echoes from a microwave satellite instrument in the 85 GHz band superimposed. Image credit: Navy Research Lab, Monterey.

Forecast for Ernesto
Ernesto continues to be a major challenge to forecast. Despite the seemingly favorable conditions for intensification expected today through Tuesday, with low wind shear, a moister environment, and increasing heat energy in the ocean, many of our top computer models refuse to predict intensification, and in fact, weaken the storm. Of the major dynamical models NHC uses operationally--the ECMWF, GFS, NOGAPS, UKMET, GFDL, and HWRF--only the NOGAPS and GFDL show Ernesto reaching hurricane strength in the Caribbean. The ECMWF dissipates the storm. However, some of the best statistical models, such as the LGEM and SHIPS, do show Ernesto becoming a Category 1 or 2 hurricane in the Caribbean. The official NHC intensity forecast of a Category 1 hurricane between Jamaica and Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula is a reasonable compromise, but the uncertainty in this is high. It would not be a surprise to see Ernesto mysteriously degrade, or undergo rapid intensification into a Category 2 hurricane off the coast of the Yucatan. Such is the state of modern hurricane intensity forecasting. Given that we don't have a very good idea of how strong Ernesto will become, making an accurate track forecast is hard. A stronger Ernesto will be more likely to feel the influence of a trough of low pressure moving to the north of the storm on Tuesday, which would pull the storm to the northwest into the Gulf of Mexico. This would likely result in a landfall in the U.S. A weaker Ernesto is more likely to head almost due west, resulting in a landfall Wednesday in Belize or Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. This is the more likely solution, given the recent behavior of the storm.

Tropical Storm Florence forms
Tropical Storm Florence has arrived in the far Eastern Atlantic, marking the 3rd earliest date for formation of the Atlantic's sixth named storm. Only 2005 and 1936 had earlier arrivals of the season's sixth storm. The new tropical storm developed unusually quickly from a tropical wave that moved off the coast of Africa just two days ago, and the storm's formation was aided by a pulse warm ocean water and associated low pressure called a Convectively Coupled Kelvin Wave (CCKW.) The SHIPS model is diagnosing a moderate 10 - 15 knots of wind shear over Florence, and predicts that the shear will stay in the moderate range over weekend, then increase to the high range as Florence encounters an upper-level trough of low pressure. The latest Saharan Air Layer Analysis shows that a large area of dry air lies to the north and west of Florence, and this dry air will likely cause problems for the storm. Ocean temperature are near 26 - 26.5°C, which is right at the threshold for where a tropical storm can typically exist. The predicted steering current flow for Florence does not favor a long-range threat to any land areas.

Historic heat wave in Oklahoma
A historic heat wave and drought fueled raging fires on Friday in Oklahoma. The fires destroyed at least 65 homes, forced multiple evacuations, and closed major roads. Oklahoma City had its hottest day in history, hitting 113°, tying the city's all-time heat record set on August 11, 1936. The low bottomed out at 84°, the warmest low temperature ever recorded in the city (previous record: a low of 83° on August 13, 1936.) Oklahoma City has now had three consecutive days with a high of 112° or higher, which has never occurred since record keeping began in 1891. With today's high expected to reach 113° again, the streak may extend to four straight days. Yesterday was the third consecutive day with more than a third of Oklahoma experiencing temperatures of 110° or higher, according to readings from the Oklahoma Mesonet. NOAA's Storm Prediction Center (SPC) declared a "Critical" fire weather day over most of Oklahoma yesterday, due to extreme heat and drought, low humidities, and strong winds. Between 4 - 5 pm CDT Friday, Oklahoma City had a temperature of 113°, a humidity of 12%, and winds of 14 mph gusting to 25 mph. Another "Critical" fire weather day has been declared for Saturday. A cold front approaching from the northwest will bring winds even stronger than Friday's winds, and Oklahoma will likely endure another hellish day of extreme heat, dryness, and fires.


Figure 2. The Geary, Oklahoma fire, looking north, on August, 3, 2012. Image credit: Oklahoma City Fire Department. The Geary fire spawned a gustnado.

Only comparable heat wave: August 1936
The only heat wave in Oklahoma history that compares to this week's occurred in the great Dust Bowl summer of 1936, the hottest summer in U.S. history. Oklahoma City experienced three days at 110° that summer, and a record streak of 22 straight days with a temperature of 100° or hotter. Those numbers are comparable to 2012's: three days at 110° or hotter, and a string of 17 consecutive days with temperatures of 100° or hotter. It's worth noting that Oklahoma City has experienced only 11 days since 1890 with a high of 110° or greater. Three of those days were in 2011, three were in 2012, and three were in the great Dust Bowl summer of 1936. Clouds moved in over Tulsa, Oklahoma yesterday, holding down the high temperature to just 107°, ending that city's 3-day streak of 110°+ days. The only longer streak was 5 consecutive days on August 9 - 13, 1936.


Figure 3. Most of Oklahoma has experienced eight consecutive days with highs of 100° or more, and many regions, including Oklahoma City, have had a streak of 17 such days. Image credit: Oklahoma Mesonet.

Jeff Masters

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3895. akailm
9:07 PM GMT on August 05, 2012
Quoting lottotexas:
try here and google HAARPLink
Member Since: September 11, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 27
3894. Tazmanian
6:37 PM GMT on August 05, 2012
AL, 06, 2012080518, , BEST, 0, 164N, 360W, 45, 1005, TS,
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115347
3893. Tazmanian
6:37 PM GMT on August 05, 2012
AL, 05, 2012080518, , BEST, 0, 152N, 779W, 45, 1006, TS
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115347
3892. stormwatcherCI
4:58 PM GMT on August 05, 2012
Quoting wunderkidcayman:
Grand Cayman is under a Tropical Storm Watch rain bands are expected to impact us as early as this afternoon
Rain is about all we MIGHT get.
Member Since: October 9, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 8421
3891. robert88
4:46 PM GMT on August 05, 2012
Ernesto is headed for Honduras...shows about over folks. The last 2 frames it's heading SW. Link

Member Since: May 22, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 907
3890. BahaHurican
4:45 PM GMT on August 05, 2012
We've been having some pretty decent winds here today, courtesy I suppose of the pressure gradient between the high and Ernesto...

Beautiful day to be in the Bahamas.
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 22561
3889. hydrus
4:40 PM GMT on August 05, 2012
Quoting BahaHurican:
u r on the north coast, yes?

Even cmc is better than it used to be.
Absolutely.
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 21734
3888. Patrap
4:29 PM GMT on August 05, 2012

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129089
3887. Clearwater1
4:29 PM GMT on August 05, 2012
Quoting CybrTeddy:
We 'should' begin to see Ernesto start to organize later tonight into a real tropical cyclone with a circulation.
I doubt that happening.
Member Since: August 26, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 1548
3886. Clearwater1
4:28 PM GMT on August 05, 2012
Looks like the GFS had good handle on Ernesto from the start. . . just like it did a good job with Debby. I see no reason to discount it's predictions for Florence and her dissipation down the near future.
Member Since: August 26, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 1548
3885. wunderkidcayman
4:27 PM GMT on August 05, 2012
Grand Cayman is under a Tropical Storm Watch rain bands are expected to impact us as early as this afternoon
Member Since: June 13, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 12324
3884. BahaHurican
4:27 PM GMT on August 05, 2012
Quoting allancalderini:
Figures Ernesto would pass near me at least is weak and will bring beneficial rains to me.looks like the Gfs and Euro well right all along.
u r on the north coast, yes?

Quoting robert88:
The ECMWF has done pretty well also. I always take a blend of the GFS and ECMWF myself. They are the best globals hands down. The rest are junk now. It takes days for the worthless CMC and UKMET to get onboard with the big boys.
Even cmc is better than it used to be.
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 22561
3882. GTcooliebai
4:26 PM GMT on August 05, 2012
Quoting washingtonian115:
Hey but the I storms have been on a role these last few years.So we'll see if Isaac either breaks or continue the stretch.
That's true, last year Irene, the year before Igor, in '08 Ike, '04 Ivan, '03 Isabel, '02 Isidore. The "I" names have made quite a feat for themselves.
Member Since: August 31, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 5628
3881. allancalderini
4:26 PM GMT on August 05, 2012
Quoting washingtonian115:
Lol.That is true.I've also notice that.
Do you remember hurricane Gloria?
Member Since: October 15, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 4446
3880. WunderAlertBot (Admin)
4:25 PM GMT on August 05, 2012
JeffMasters has created a new entry.
3879. Hurricanes101
4:25 PM GMT on August 05, 2012


168 hours, ridge continues to intensify to the north and the storm is moving due west
Member Since: March 10, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 7866
3878. weathermanwannabe
4:25 PM GMT on August 05, 2012
FWTIW. Here are portions of the upgrades to the GFS this year from NCEP. It's a long list so the entire link is below.

NOUS41 KWBC 251842 AAB
PNSWSH

Technical Implementation Notice 12-22, Amended
National Weather Service Headquarters Washington DC
342 PM EDT Wed Apr 25 2012

Effective on or about Tuesday, May 22, 2012, beginning with the 1200 Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) run, the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) will upgrade the GFS model and its associated data assimilation system (GDAS). The primary changes will be to the analysis system. There will be no major changes to the GFS model itself, but there will be a few modifications to the output products available from the GFS.

The primary change to the operational GFS and GDAS will be in the analysis system. The major component of the analysis change will be the incorporation of a hybrid variational/ensemble assimilation system. In this system, the background error used to project the information in the observations into the analysis is created by a combination of a static background error (as in the prior system) and a new background error produced from a lower resolution (T254) Ensemble Kalman Filter. The development of this system was done in collaboration with PSD at ESRL. The inclusion of this change and the other smaller changes listed below produce significant positive impact on forecasts in both the northern and southern hemispheres and in the tropics. In almost all measures, a positive impact is noted; however, during the summer (convective precipitation) season, a small consistent degradation of the rain/no rain line and an increase in the bias was noted. This problem will be addressed through modifications to the convective parameterization in the next global implementation.

GFS Model Changes:

The global spectral model is restructured, but there are no major physics or dynamics changes except for some bug fixes. The impact of these changes on the forecast is at the machine round off level.


Link
Member Since: August 8, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 9317
3877. scott39
4:24 PM GMT on August 05, 2012
Only man can give arrogance to an automated tool.
Member Since: June 13, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 6881
3876. allancalderini
4:24 PM GMT on August 05, 2012
Quoting washingtonian115:
Hey but the I storms have been on a role these last few years.So we'll see if Isaac either breaks or continue the stretch.
If Isaac is not retire will be the only veteran I to be in the lists since they start if I remember correctly the 6 veterans were Isaac,Iris,Isabel,Ivan,Irene,Isidore.
Member Since: October 15, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 4446
3875. washingtonian115
4:23 PM GMT on August 05, 2012
Quoting allancalderini:
I am waiting for Michael the M storms are the ones that affect us ex Mitch Michelle Matthew.even though when they are P storms too they affect us too.
Lol.That is true.I've also notice that.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 17474
3874. tennisgirl08
4:23 PM GMT on August 05, 2012
2 scenarios that I am pondering at this moment, and any input you have on these would be appreciated:

1) Ernesto fully dissipates over the Yucatan/CA?

2) Ernesto begins to slightly strengthen before hitting the Yucatan, but then weakens due to land interaction. The weakening trend causes a center reformation - changing the track forecast as he re-emerges in the Gulf?

The reason I mention scenario #2 is because climatologically this happened several times in the past.
Member Since: July 17, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 1242
3873. Msdrown
4:23 PM GMT on August 05, 2012
Quoting Msdrown:
Newby here again. The Weather Channel just said because that low in BOC is moving off to the west Ernesto is more then likely not going to affect the US. My question is the dry air pocket to the west of Ernesto seems to be getting sandwitched into the YUC. Will it be pushed over the YUC or will it dissappear all together??It seems to me that if it goes over the YUC it will suck up the humidity from the jungle which could moisten the air contributing to Ernesto. Also what about the trough to the north that you all were talking could pick the storm up and move it into the northern GOM?



Chicklit: Your comment about the Low in the BOC on post 3807. Could you answer my above question for me pleas?
Member Since: August 1, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 255
3872. WxGeekVA
4:22 PM GMT on August 05, 2012


Daily Atlantic Tropical Analysis
Member Since: September 3, 2011 Posts: 13 Comments: 3476
3871. Hurricanes101
4:22 PM GMT on August 05, 2012


High to the north moves "Gordon" due west

could see watches and warnings of some kind for the Cape Verde Islands as the system is moving off the coast of Africa, since the GFS shows the system going right over them
Member Since: March 10, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 7866
3870. Seflhurricane
4:22 PM GMT on August 05, 2012
Quoting ilovehurricanes13:
that crazy
When is this and is this gordon
Member Since: July 14, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 3028
3869. washingtonian115
4:18 PM GMT on August 05, 2012
Quoting GTcooliebai:
LOL, it's so far out we don't know the origins of Isaac. With the MJO returning I would also keep an eye off the SE Coast and Western Caribbean for home grown development that come off stalled out boundaries,, in addition to Cape Verde development. One thing I have noticed on recent model runs, it looks like the troughs are going to be stronger and more frequent. As the atmosphere responds that could also be a sign that we are inching closer to an El Nino.
Hey but the I storms have been on a role these last few years.So we'll see if Isaac either breaks or continue the stretch.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 17474
3868. allancalderini
4:18 PM GMT on August 05, 2012
Quoting washingtonian115:
Judging by that looks like future Gordon develops immediately and will hopefully stay out to sea like a good cape verde storm.
I am waiting for Michael the M storms are the ones that affect us ex Mitch Michelle Matthew.even though when they are P storms too they affect us too.
Member Since: October 15, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 4446
3867. KmanGal
4:17 PM GMT on August 05, 2012
Quoting stormwatcherCI:
Thanks. I went on HMCI and Cayman Prepared which is where it "SHOULD" be posted and didn't see anything.



That's another story in itself! LOL ;-)
Member Since: August 26, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 14
3866. GeorgiaStormz
4:17 PM GMT on August 05, 2012
Quoting washingtonian115:
Judging by that looks like future Gordon develops immediately and will hopefully stay out to sea like a good cape verde storm.


well it wont recurve for a while...we'll have to see if the western edge of the high stays weak enough for it to recurve in time...
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 9737
3865. CybrTeddy
4:16 PM GMT on August 05, 2012
We 'should' begin to see Ernesto start to organize later tonight into a real tropical cyclone with a circulation.
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 24457
3864. moonlightcowboy
4:16 PM GMT on August 05, 2012
Quoting moonlightcowboy:
TCHP starting to work. Convection firing neast side of the swirl. ;) Slowly, gradually. Wait, watch, see!


I'm thinking I'm seeing multiple vortices. Decoupled? May be now. Look seast of the the exposed LLC.

VISIBLE LOOP
Member Since: July 9, 2006 Posts: 184 Comments: 29610
3863. GTcooliebai
4:15 PM GMT on August 05, 2012
Quoting washingtonian115:
No no no.Isaac.I can imagine something like this on the news "Isaac eyeing coast".Ha ha get it You know with the long I sound on both of them..please don't throw a tomato at me...
LOL, it's so far out we don't know the origins of Isaac. With the MJO returning I would also keep an eye off the SE Coast and Western Caribbean for home grown development that come off stalled out boundaries,, in addition to Cape Verde development. One thing I have noticed on recent model runs, it looks like the troughs are going to be stronger and more frequent. As the atmosphere responds that could also be a sign that we are inching closer to an El Nino.
Member Since: August 31, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 5628
3862. Hurricanes101
4:15 PM GMT on August 05, 2012
If the GFS is right, TD 7 may form right off the African coast

that high is pretty strong too, but if that system gets strong quick enough, it will probably go out to sea
Member Since: March 10, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 7866
3861. lottotexas
4:15 PM GMT on August 05, 2012
Quoting Chicklit:

This is not true. They have stayed with the basically westerly track, adjusting a little north to accomodate the other models.
When Ernesto
Quoting Chicklit:

This is not true. They have stayed with the basically westerly track, adjusting a little north to accomodate the other models.
My mistake. Just read through all discussions and saw that they didn't discount GFS but were relying more on the other models call for a more northerly solution.
Member Since: December 3, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 54
3860. GeorgiaStormz
4:15 PM GMT on August 05, 2012
Quoting BahaHurican:
told u the F storm was the 1 2 watch....


its even worse..

Quoting WxGeekVA:
Still think Kirk is the storm to watch this year... Cleverbot said so.


so does my local met kirk
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 9737
3858. washingtonian115
4:13 PM GMT on August 05, 2012
Quoting GeorgiaStormz:
End of ernesto in the BOC it seems:
Judging by that looks like future Gordon develops immediately and will hopefully stay out to sea like a good cape verde storm.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 17474
3857. etxwx
4:12 PM GMT on August 05, 2012
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

Not going against it anymore, no matter what it shows.

Whatever they did to the model, it's working.

Hey TA13, I always appreciate your analysis because if you disagree or don't understand you give your reasons. I've never seen you pull something out of ...uh ummmm...a can of speculation and present it as fact. You have excellent reasoning skills and aren't reluctant to admit error, so hats off to you. I mean that sincerely.
The best thing I've learned from the Ernesto discussions is if the storm is not doing what it "should" be doing, then there are some puzzle pieces missing in our analysis - meaning it's time to sit back and take another look. Weather is complex but it's not magic...changes in it are due to identifiable forces. Trying to identify and account for all complex forces acting on a system is like trying to juggle 27 balls at once - it's easy to drop a few. Don't disbelieve or absolutely believe the models, try to understand the "why" of the model predictions. Just my two cents...and I'll even give ya change. :-)
Member Since: September 4, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 1516
3856. stormpetrol
4:12 PM GMT on August 05, 2012
Member Since: April 29, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 7983
3855. Abacosurf
4:11 PM GMT on August 05, 2012
Quoting Skyepony:


There was a Kelvin wave that kicked all this off & it moved east. Yesterday convergence aloft built in. It's moving east too. Another Kelvin wave is coming from the east Pacific with the MJO behind. Awesome animation here. Warm colors is convergence aloft. Cool blues is divergence aloft. Click fwd.
Neato...
Member Since: August 28, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 459
3854. Tazmanian
4:11 PM GMT on August 05, 2012
Quoting hydrus:
No reason for anyone to discount this storm..There is still the real possibility of a major hurricane developing.


major hurricane ? not a ch
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115347
3853. stormwatcherCI
4:11 PM GMT on August 05, 2012
Quoting KmanGal:


The CINWS and CITN have reported that Cayman is under a Tropical Storm Watch as of the 10am Bulletin. Dr. Fred Sambula and McCLeary Frederick made the decision as a precautionary measure.
Thanks. I went on HMCI and Cayman Prepared which is where it "SHOULD" be posted and didn't see anything.
Member Since: October 9, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 8421
3852. GeorgiaStormz
4:10 PM GMT on August 05, 2012
End of ernesto in the BOC it seems:
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 9737
3851. washingtonian115
4:10 PM GMT on August 05, 2012
Quoting allancalderini:
do you think Isaac would recurve if it form from a cape Verde system?
That is a possibility.Especially since it seems that these waves are exiting more up north.But it could be a situation where the first few storms go out to sea and the high rebuilds back in unfortunately sending one storm more west having a chance to affect land.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 17474
3850. hydrus
4:10 PM GMT on August 05, 2012
Quoting stormpetrol:
Don't write off Ernesto just yet, convection sames to be catching up with the LL swirl, we have some storm breeze here in Grand Cayman with that occasional howling of the wind which I hate!
No reason for anyone to discount this storm..There is still the real possibility of a major hurricane developing.
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 21734
3849. moonlightcowboy
4:08 PM GMT on August 05, 2012
TCHP starting to work. Convection firing neast side of the swirl. ;) Slowly, gradually. Wait, watch, see!
Member Since: July 9, 2006 Posts: 184 Comments: 29610
3848. BahaHurican
4:08 PM GMT on August 05, 2012
Quoting Joe21:
Can anybody my question.
Is it possible that florence does what Andrew did weaken in the ATL and then blow back up and then be a threat to east coast like from FL to Carolinas.
Been thinking about this possibility since Flo formed... it's possible, but atm I think probabilities r low...
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 22561
3847. Zedjam
4:08 PM GMT on August 05, 2012
Quoting stormpetrol:
Don't write off Ernesto just yet, convection sames to be catching up with the LL swirl, we have some storm breeze here in Grand Cayman with that occasional howling of the wind which I hate!


Here in Kingston Jamaica its overcast, with some delightful wind gusts to 12mph.
Member Since: September 24, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 0
3846. Skyepony (Mod)
4:07 PM GMT on August 05, 2012
Quoting 7544:
we need the mjo to kick in


There was a Kelvin wave that kicked all this off & it moved east. Yesterday convergence aloft built in. It's moving east too. Another Kelvin wave is coming from the east Pacific with the MJO behind. Awesome animation here. Warm colors is convergence aloft. Cool blues is divergence aloft. Click fwd.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 191 Comments: 38624
3845. washingtonian115
4:07 PM GMT on August 05, 2012
Quoting WxGeekVA:
Still think Kirk is the storm to watch this year... Cleverbot said so.
No no no.Isaac.I can imagine something like this on the news "Isaac eyeing coast".Ha ha get it You know with the long I sound on both of them..please don't throw a tomato at me...
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 17474

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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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