The odds of a hurricane spoiling the Republican National Convention in Tampa

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 4:48 PM GMT on August 14, 2012

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On September 25, 1848, the Great Gale of 1848, the most violent hurricane in Tampa's history, roared ashore as a Category 3 or 4 hurricane with 115 - 135 mph winds. Major R. D. S. Wade weathered the storm in Fort Brooke, in what is now downtown Tampa. Here is what he wrote this to his commanding officer in Washington D.C.: "The waters rose to an unprecedented height, and the waves swept away the wharves and all the buildings that were near the Bay or river." A 15-foot storm surge was observed at Fort Brooke, and the peninsula where St. Petersburg lies in Pinellas County was inundated "at the waist" and "the bays met," making St. Petersburg an island. After the hurricane, "Tampa was a scene of devastation. Magnificent old oaks were toppled by the hurricane's winds. At Fort Brooke the barracks, horse shed, and other structures were gone. The pine forest north of the garrison was filled with wreckage and debris. The hurricane's powerful surge had shifted sand all along the coast and reshaped many of the keys near Tampa Bay. Navigation routes were filled in and closed, making charts of the area produced before 1848 almost useless after the hurricane. In terms of intensity and destruction, the 1848 storm remains perhaps the greatest in Tampa's history" (Barnes, 1999.)


Figure 1. Pencil sketch of the Captains' Quarters, drawn by one of the officers stationed at Fort Brooke in 1845. Fort Brooke was one of the largest military establishments in the United States at the time. Image Credit: The Tampa Bay History Center.

Fort Brooke today
Fort Brooke is the current site of the Tampa Bay Convention Center, which hosts the Republican National Convention on August 27 - 30 this year. The convention center is in Evacuation Zone A, which is evacuated for Category 1 hurricanes. The Tampa Bay Times Forum and two major convention hotels--the Tampa Marriott Waterside and the Embassy Suites--are in Evacuation Zone B, which is evacuated for Category 2 hurricanes. In a worst-case Category 4 hurricane, the Convention Center could be immersed in 20 feet of water. Clearly, even a Category 1 hurricane would be enough to spoil the convention. So, what are the odds of a mass evacuation order being issued for Tampa Bay during the convention?


Figure 2. Predicted height above ground of the water from a worst-case Category 4 hurricane in the Tampa Bay region, as computed using NOAA's SLOSH storm surge model. The Tampa Bay convention center would go under 20 feet of water, and St. Petersburg would become an island, as occurred during the 1848 hurricane.


Figure 3. Perhaps the most spectacular hurricane image ever captured: view of Hurricane Elena on September 1, 1985, as seen from the Space Shuttle Discovery. At the time, Elena was a Category 3 hurricane with 125 mph winds, located just 80 miles offshore from Tampa Bay, Florida. The hurricane prompted the largest mass evacuation in Tampa Bay history.

Two mass evacuations in Tampa in the past 25 years
Two hurricanes have prompted mass evacuations of more than 300,000 people from the Tampa Bay area over the past 25 years. The first was Hurricane Elena of 1985, a Category 3 hurricane that stalled 80 miles offshore for two days on Labor Day weekend, bringing a 6 - 7 foot storm surge, wind gusts of 80 mph, and torrential rains. On August 13, 2004, another mass evacuation was ordered for Hurricane Charley. Thanks to a late track shift, Charley missed Tampa Bay, and instead hit well to the south in Port Charlotte as a Category 4 storm with 150 mph winds. More limited evacuations of low-lying areas and mobile homes in the 4-county Tampa Bay region were ordered for three other hurricanes in the past fifteen years--Hurricane Georges of 1998, Hurricane Frances of 2004, and Hurricane Jeanne of 2004. Other historical storms which would likely trigger mass evacuations were they occur today include:

The 1921 hurricane. One of only two major hurricanes to hit Tampa, this Category 3 storm brought a storm tide of 10.5 feet.

Hurricane Easy of 1950. The hurricane parked itself over the west coast of Florida, drenching residents with record-breaking rains, and brought a 6.5 ft storm surge to Tampa Bay.


Figure 4. Damage to Bayshore Boulevard after the 1921 Tampa Bay hurricane. The road leads to the Tampa Bay Convention Center from the south.


Figure 5. Track of the Tampa Bay Hurricane of 1921, one of only two major hurricanes ever to hit the city. This Category 3 storm with 115 mph winds brought a storm tide of 10.5 feet to Tampa Bay.


Figure 6. A near miss: just a slight deviation in the path of Hurricane Charley of 2004 would have brought the Category 4 hurricane into Tampa Bay.

Tampa Bay's vulnerability to hurricanes
Tampa Bay doesn't get hit very often by hurricanes. The last time it suffered a direct hit by any hurricane was 1946, when a Category 1 storm came up through the bay. The Tampa Bay Hurricane of October 25, 1921 was a the last major hurricane to make landfall in the Tampa Bay Region. At that time, there were 160,000 residents in the 4-county region, most of whom lived in communities on high ground. Today there are 2.75 million residents in the region, most of whom live along the coast and low-lying areas or in manufactured housing. About 1/3 of the 4-county Tampa Bay region lies within a flood plain. Over 800,000 people live in evacuation zones for a Category 1 hurricane, and 2 million people live in evacuation zones for a Category 5 hurricane, according to the 2010 Statewide Regional Evacuation Study for the Tampa Bay Region. Given that only 46% of the people in the evacuation zones for a Category 1 hurricane evacuated when Category 4 Hurricane Charley threatened the region, the potential for hundreds or thousands of people to die when the next major hurricane hits the region is high. In the long run, I expect a multi-billion dollar sea wall will be built to protect Tampa Bay from storm surges, since sea level rise will make storm surge damages increasingly problematic. A 2007 study by Tufts University titled, Florida and Climate Change, found that a 2.25 foot increase in sea level--which many sea level rise scientists expect will happen by the end of the century--would put 152,000 people in Pinellas County (where St. Petersburg is located) at risk of inundation.

The hurricane forecast for the Republican National Convention
Given that there have been two mass evacuations of Tampa during the past 25 years during the peak three-month period of hurricane season--August, September, and October--history suggests that the odds of a mass evacuation order being given during the 4-day period that the Republican National Convention is in town are probably around 0.2%. Any tropical waves which might develop into hurricanes that could hit Tampa during the convention would have to come off the coast of Africa next week. Looking at the latest 16-day forecast from the GFS, all of the tropical waves coming off of Africa next week are predicted to exit too far north to make the long crossing of the Atlantic and threaten the Gulf Coast. While something could develop in the Gulf of Mexico from the remains of an old cold front, it is rare for such storms to grow strong enough to deserve mass evacuations. So far, early signs point to a hurricane-free Republican National Convention at the end of August.

References
Barnes, J., 1999, Florida’s Hurricane History. The University of North Carolina Press.

Weisberg, R.H, and L. Zheng, 2006, "Hurricane storm surge simulations for Tampa Bay", Estuaries and Coasts Vol 29, No. 6A, pp 899-913.

History of Pasco County: The 1921 Hurricane

The 2010 Statewide Regional Evacuation Study for the Tampa Bay Region

The Tampa Bay Catastrophic Plan for a Category 5 $250 billion hurricane

Jeff Masters

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.......................whew,,southeast florida is getting a bad one
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 33375
Quoting ncstorm:
312 hours
Earl type track?.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 15715
Quoting Skyepony:


Except I thought in IR 10.8 color & you in dust..close though.


Don't get picky now :)
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Quoting Tazmanian:




am starting too think may be none this year

Don't be ridiculous, Taz.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 108 Comments: 30259
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 33375
Quoting windshear1993:
wonder how many ajors hurricanes we will have




am starting too think may be none this year
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5089 Comments: 114062
Must be some bad storms in this area of NYS...................FLOOD ADVISORY
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE BINGHAMTON NY
729 PM EDT TUE AUG 14 2012

NYC097-109-150230-
/O.NEW.KBGM.FA.Y.0030.120814T2329Z-120815T0230Z/
/00000.N.ER.000000T0000Z.000000T0000Z.000000T0000 Z.OO/
SCHUYLER NY-TOMPKINS NY-
729 PM EDT TUE AUG 14 2012

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN BINGHAMTON HAS ISSUED AN

* URBAN AND SMALL STREAM FLOOD ADVISORY FOR...

EASTERN SCHUYLER COUNTY...
TOMPKINS COUNTY...

* UNTIL 1030 PM EDT

AT 725 PM EDT...DOPPLER RADAR INDICATED A LINE OF THUNDERSTORMS WITH
HEAVY RAIN WILL MOVE SLOWLY THROUGH EASTERN SCHUYLER AND TOMPKINS
COUNTY BETWEEN 730 PM AND 900 PM...AND WILL RESULT IN MINOR FLOODING.

* LOCATIONS IN THE ADVISORY INCLUDE BUT ARE NOT LIMITED TO DRYDEN...
GROTON...ITHACA...TRUMANSBURG AND MECKLENBURG.

THE HEAVY RAINFALL WILL CAUSE URBAN AND POOR DRAINAGE FLOODING AND
SIGNIFICANT RISES ON STREAMS AND CREEKS...POSSIBLY CAUSING MINOR
FLOODING. THE BIGGEST RISK FOR FLOOD ISSUES WILL BE IN THE CITY OF
ITHACA AND OTHER MORE URBANIZED AREAS WHERE MORE POOR DRAINAGE AREAS
EXIST. LOW-LYING AREAS PRONE TO FLOODING ALSO MAY SEE SOME WATER
PONDING AND ROAD FLOODING. THE RAINS WILL TAPER OFF BETWEEN 9 AND 10
PM.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

EXCESSIVE RUNOFF FROM HEAVY RAINFALL WILL CAUSE ELEVATED LEVELS ON
SMALL CREEKS AND STREAMS...AND PONDING OF WATER IN URBAN AREAS...
HIGHWAYS...STREETS AND UNDERPASSES AS WELL AS OTHER POOR DRAINAGE
AREAS AND LOW LYING SPOTS.

&&

LAT...LON 4255 7668 4255 7659 4257 7662 4261 7651
4261 7626 4251 7626 4244 7632 4238 7636
4228 7652 4228 7662 4225 7662 4223 7664
4225 7673 4229 7673 4230 7682

$$
DJN
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 33375
.
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wonder how many ajors hurricanes we will have
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Quoting ncstorm:
300 hour
Some of you have way to much Time on your hands!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
312 hours
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who still think we could see the forcast for this hurricane season??
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958
WUUS51 KLWX 150014
SVRLWX
MDC005-013-025-150100-
/O.NEW.KLWX.SV.W.0296.120815T0014Z-120815T0100Z/

BULLETIN - EAS ACTIVATION REQUESTED
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE BALTIMORE MD/WASHINGTON DC
814 PM EDT TUE AUG 14 2012

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN STERLING VIRGINIA HAS ISSUED A

* SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING FOR...
NORTHWESTERN HARFORD COUNTY IN NORTHERN MARYLAND...
EASTERN CARROLL COUNTY IN NORTH CENTRAL MARYLAND...
NORTHWESTERN BALTIMORE COUNTY IN NORTHERN MARYLAND...

* UNTIL 900 PM EDT

* AT 810 PM EDT...A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WAS DETECTED NEAR GAMBER...OR
6 MILES SOUTHEAST OF WESTMINSTER...AND WAS MOVING NORTHEAST AT 15
MPH. THIS STORM IS CAPABLE OF PRODUCING HAIL UP TO THE SIZE OF
QUARTERS AND DAMAGING WINDS IN EXCESS OF 60 MPH.

* LOCATIONS IMPACTED INCLUDE...
HAMPSTEAD...
MANCHESTER...

THIS IS A DANGEROUS STORM. IF YOU ARE IN ITS PATH...MOVE INDOORS TO A
STURDY BUILDING AND STAY AWAY FROM WINDOWS. WHEN IT IS SAFE TO DO
SO...REPORT SEVERE WEATHER TO LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT OR TO THE
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE.

LAT...LON 3971 7645 3941 7690 3954 7706 3973 7685
3973 7648
TIME...MOT...LOC 0014Z 227DEG 15KT 3954 7690



BJL
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 33375
773. MTWX
Quoting MAweatherboy1:
This storm looks real nasty on radar.

BULLETIN - EAS ACTIVATION REQUESTED
TORNADO WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE BINGHAMTON NY
816 PM EDT TUE AUG 14 2012

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN BINGHAMTON HAS ISSUED A

* TORNADO WARNING FOR...
NORTHWESTERN CHENANGO COUNTY IN CENTRAL NEW YORK...
CENTRAL CORTLAND COUNTY IN CENTRAL NEW YORK...

* UNTIL 900 PM EDT.

* AT 812 PM EDT...NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DOPPLER RADAR INDICATED A
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM CAPABLE OF PRODUCING A TORNADO NEAR MCGRAW...
MOVING EAST AT 25 MPH.

* THE STORM CAPABLE OF PRODUCING THE TORNADO WILL BE NEAR...
SOLON BY 825 PM EDT...
EAST FREETOWN BY 830 PM EDT...
CINCINNATUS BY 840 PM EDT...
TAYLOR AND PITCHER BY 845 PM EDT...

WHEN YOU CAN DO SO SAFELY...PLEASE REPORT HAIL...OR DAMAGING WINDS TO
THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE BY CALLING TOLL FREE AT
1-888-603-1402...OR BY EMAIL AT BGM.STORMREPORT@NOAA.GOV.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

IF YOU ARE IN THE PATH OF THIS TORNADO...SEEK SHELTER IN A BASEMENT
OR AN INTERIOR ROOM...AWAY FROM WINDOWS.

&&

LAT...LON 4256 7572 4247 7615 4260 7622 4272 7593
4273 7578
TIME...MOT...LOC 0016Z 250DEG 21KT 4256 7607

$$

DJN


Not a bad signature!! Link
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No 93L on it???
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this is gonna be a long season!!!
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Quoting Skyepony:
This blob still on Africa has already killed 28 in Nigeria with scores more missing. Flooding was extreme & it was described as ice blocks falling from the sky.
Wow that wave all ready has a legacy in behind it.Looks potent as well.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 15715
769. Skyepony (Mod)
Quoting Grothar:


We must have the same thoughts at the same time.


Except I thought in IR 10.8 color & you in dust..close though.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
300 hour
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 33375
This storm looks real nasty on radar.

BULLETIN - EAS ACTIVATION REQUESTED
TORNADO WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE BINGHAMTON NY
816 PM EDT TUE AUG 14 2012

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN BINGHAMTON HAS ISSUED A

* TORNADO WARNING FOR...
NORTHWESTERN CHENANGO COUNTY IN CENTRAL NEW YORK...
CENTRAL CORTLAND COUNTY IN CENTRAL NEW YORK...

* UNTIL 900 PM EDT.

* AT 812 PM EDT...NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DOPPLER RADAR INDICATED A
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM CAPABLE OF PRODUCING A TORNADO NEAR MCGRAW...
MOVING EAST AT 25 MPH.

* THE STORM CAPABLE OF PRODUCING THE TORNADO WILL BE NEAR...
SOLON BY 825 PM EDT...
EAST FREETOWN BY 830 PM EDT...
CINCINNATUS BY 840 PM EDT...
TAYLOR AND PITCHER BY 845 PM EDT...

WHEN YOU CAN DO SO SAFELY...PLEASE REPORT HAIL...OR DAMAGING WINDS TO
THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE BY CALLING TOLL FREE AT
1-888-603-1402...OR BY EMAIL AT BGM.STORMREPORT@NOAA.GOV.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

IF YOU ARE IN THE PATH OF THIS TORNADO...SEEK SHELTER IN A BASEMENT
OR AN INTERIOR ROOM...AWAY FROM WINDOWS.

&&

LAT...LON 4256 7572 4247 7615 4260 7622 4272 7593
4273 7578
TIME...MOT...LOC 0016Z 250DEG 21KT 4256 7607

$$

DJN
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting ncstorm:
276 hour
I'm interested to see what it has in store for Joyce.
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Quoting ncstorm:
18z GFS Ensemble Spread

174 hours
actually if that track would hold and it weakened alot, thats a great track, all that rain coming up thru all those drought stricken states..i think those folks are praying for this to happen
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 33375
Hector doesn't have much time left:



93L needs convection:



Kai-Tak still pounding the Philippines... I hope they're holding up okay:

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276 hour
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WOW big rain for TX!!!
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Quoting Grothar:
H storm or I storm?


That will be Helene and Isaac will form in the Gulf.
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252 hours..the operational had this turning around the 48 degree marker..the ensembles has this as far as 60W

Im not sure if the 70W is the same storm or not

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Quoting ncstorm:
this is the 204 hour with the GOM storm
if one did form and go into the gulf,its following the normal hurricane track for august with that track..
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 33375
Quoting Skyepony:
This blob still on Africa has already killed 28 in Nigeria with scores more missing. Flooding was extreme & it was described as ice blocks falling from the sky.


We must have the same thoughts at the same time.
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Quoting MTWX:


He also has summer homes in North Pole, Alaska and North Pole, New York...


His favorite is Rothenburg ob der Tauber in Deutschland, another one he likes is Frankenmuth, MI.

Some rain here later this week or weekend would be nice.
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H storm or I storm?


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this is the 204 hour with the GOM storm
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753. Skyepony (Mod)
This blob still on Africa has already killed 28 in Nigeria with scores more missing. Flooding was extreme & it was described as ice blocks falling from the sky.
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look at the Ensemble spread for the 18z GFS run for the cape verde storm..some ensembles have it much south than the operational run

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751. MTWX
Quoting Grothar:



This actually has been asked and answered many, times. The Claus's actually live in Northern Finland. They just want people to think they live at the North Pole. They also have a condo in Antarctica. So if the North does get too warm his trip will just take a little longer than usual.


He also has summer homes in North Pole, Alaska and North Pole, New York...
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WOW 6Z


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Quoting RevElvis:
I have to ask the obvious questions -

- What happens to Santa Claus when there's no more North Pole? What about Mrs. Claus, the elves, reindeer, sleigh, and toy shop?

- How about Santa Claus' home? Where are they going to live? What Happens to Christmas?

Arctic Sea Ice Could Vanish in 10 Years



This actually has been asked and answered many, times. The Claus's actually live in Northern Finland. They just want people to think they live at the North Pole. They also have a condo in Antarctica. So if the North does get too warm his trip will just take a little longer than usual.
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Quoting allancalderini:
Remember that Gordon sounds like a powerful name and if 93L becomes Gordon at most it will be a cat 1 so Isaac could be weak too.
i also wanted Gordon to be a beautiful cape verde storm...total opposite.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 15715
GOM 12z GFS ENSEMBLE MEMBERS all from 120HR






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Quoting washingtonian115:
It will be really something beautiful to track and forecast.
Remember that Gordon sounds like a powerful name and if 93L becomes Gordon at most it will be a cat 1 so Isaac could be weak too.
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18z GFS Ensemble Spread

174 hours
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I have to ask the obvious questions -

- What happens to Santa Claus when there's no more North Pole? What about Mrs. Claus, the elves, reindeer, sleigh, and toy shop?

- How about Santa Claus' home? Where are they going to live? What Happens to Christmas?

Arctic Sea Ice Could Vanish in 10 Years
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It looks like the SW Car. blob is on its' way to being a NW Car. blob...heading to Yucatan.??
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

It has moved about 11 degrees west.
haha it seems like it been flaring up and fizzling for aboout 3 days
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.
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Quoting Felix2007:


I'm hoping for it to be like a Bill 2009 storm, strong Cape-Verde Hurricane that harmlessly passes in between the East coast and Bermuda.
It will be really something beautiful to track and forecast.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 15715
Quoting popartpete:
In regards to Dr. Masters' post today about Tampa Bay: I went to St. Leo College in the Tampa Bay area from January 1992 to May 1995. I knew of the 1921 storm, the last big one for the gulf city. Anyhow, in all my time, only once did tropical storm winds visit the area, for TS Gordon (coincidentally the next name in '12) in November '94. I leave the area, and that August visits Hurricane Erin, which hit the east coast first. Charley was supposed to be the new 1921 storm, but it changed course before hitting Tampa Bay.


Add Debby of 2012 to the list

some areas got up to 20 inches of rain around here and TS force winds in the bands
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Quoting washingtonian115:
Now that I think about it the GFS at first immediately developed 93L into a hurricane.but now as we all know 93L is still nothing but a AOI still waiting to develop XD.if memory serves me correctly it also showed another storm developing that never occured.Isaac all ready has a fan base here.We're cheering you on Isaac(except for when it decides to threaten land).


I'm hoping for it to be like a Bill 2009 storm, strong Cape-Verde Hurricane that harmlessly passes in between the East coast and Bermuda.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
In regards to Dr. Masters' post today about Tampa Bay: I went to St. Leo College in the Tampa Bay area from January 1992 to May 1995. I knew of the 1921 storm, the last big one for the gulf city. Anyhow, in all my time, only once did tropical storm winds visit the area, for TS Gordon (coincidentally the next name in '12) in November '94. I leave the area, and that August visits Hurricane Erin, which hit the east coast first. Charley was supposed to be the new 1921 storm, but it changed course before hitting Tampa Bay.
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About JeffMasters

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.