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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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.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Felix2007:


I bet one of them is a ghost storm, I still think Isaac will be the big one this year, I've been saying it since the end of last year.
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).
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Quoting mcluvincane:
I am going out on a limb and saying the conus will go unscathed by a hurricane this year...


something tells me based on your past comments, that you would say that even if a hurricane was in the GOM and less than 100 miles from landfall
Member Since: March 10, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 7683
Quoting washingtonian115:
Isaac a weak tropical storm in the gulf???.Waaaaaaah!!!.I don't want that to happen :(.


One of them is probably is a ghost storm, I still think Isaac will be the big one this year, I've been saying it since the end of last year.
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TROPICAL WEATHER OUTLOOK
NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
800 PM EDT TUE AUG 14 2012

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

AN AREA OF DISTURBED WEATHER...LOCATED OVER THE CENTRAL ATLANTIC
ABOUT 850 MILES SOUTHEAST OF BERMUDA...IS PRODUCING DISORGANIZED
SHOWERS AND A FEW THUNDERSTORMS. ALTHOUGH THERE IS NO EVIDENCE OF
A SURFACE CIRCULATION AND PRESSURES ARE HIGH...ENVIRONMENTAL
CONDITIONS ARE EXPECTED TO BE CONDUCIVE FOR DEVELOPMENT AND A
TROPICAL DEPRESSION COULD FORM OVER THE NEXT COUPLE OF DAYS. THIS
SYSTEM HAS A MEDIUM CHANCE...50 PERCENT...OF BECOMING A TROPICAL
CYCLONE DURING THE NEXT 48 HOURS AS IT MOVES NORTHWESTWARD AND THEN
NORTHWARD AT ABOUT 15 MPH.

A TROPICAL WAVE...THE REMNANTS OF TROPICAL DEPRESSION SEVEN...HAS
MOVED INLAND OVER CENTRAL AMERICA. DEVELOPMENT OF THIS SYSTEM IS
NOT EXPECTED AND THIS SYSTEM HAS A LOW CHANCE...NEAR 0 PERCENT...OF
BECOMING A TROPICAL CYCLONE DURING THE NEXT 48 HOURS. LOCALLY
HEAVY RAINS AND GUSTY WINDS ARE POSSIBLE ACROSS PORTIONS OF CENTRAL
AMERICA THROUGH WEDNESDAY AS THE WAVE MOVES WESTWARD AT 15 TO 20
MPH.

ELSEWHERE...TROPICAL CYCLONE FORMATION IS NOT EXPECTED DURING THE
NEXT 48 HOUR



EX TD 7 is DONE like i said it was
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115081
I am going out on a limb and saying the conus will go unscathed by a hurricane this year...
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ex 07l near 0 percent
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 171 Comments: 53815
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 171 Comments: 53815
2012 Storms
All Active Year


Atlantic
93L.INVEST
07L.SEVEN

East Pacific
08E.HECTOR

Central Pacific

West Pacific
95W.INVEST
14W.KAI-TAK

Indian Ocean

Southern Hemisphere
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 171 Comments: 53815
If both Isaac and kirk are weak storms I have nothing to look forward to then this season...
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Quoting windshear1993:
is it me or does it seem like hector been in the same place for almost 3 days

It has moved about 11 degrees west.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32024
Quoting Hurricanes101:


actually it is quite common for the ukmet forecast tracks for other storms to be picked up on the sfwmd site.

that UKMET track is for Hector, not Ex TD 7


Oh I know, its all over the place on that site lol. I was talking generally. I remember a time when the UKMET model was relied upon for certain patterns in regards to tropical forecasting but the model has not improved at all in the last 10 years, whereas the other global models have vastly improved.
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A close-in view of our little robot explorer on Mars (as seen from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter):



Click image for larger view and more information.
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Quoting jascott1967:


Fair and I am sorry for being a little hard on you the other day. I hope you get some interesting and beneficial weather.


sorry I was late to reply to this comment I had to step out

ok thank you
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Oh, you guys talking about weather again?????

I'll be back later. Geesh!!
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Quoting atmosweather:


The UKMET is an embarrassment for tropical forecasting these days.


actually it is quite common for the ukmet forecast tracks for other storms to be picked up on the sfwmd site.

that UKMET track is for Hector, not Ex TD 7
Member Since: March 10, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 7683
Quoting GTcooliebai:
372 hrs. and Joyce is intensifying to a Hurricane in the Central Atlantic continuing on a westward track. Anyways this is a long ways out and first thing is first, 93L.

There is plenty that can happen in two and a half months..
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Quoting AussieStorm:
UK Met is out to lunch and dinner over ex-td07.



Who thinks 93L is going to turn???
The models do.


The UKMET is an embarrassment for tropical forecasting these days.
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is it me or does it seem like hector been in the same place for almost 3 days
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UK Met is out to lunch and dinner over ex-td07.



Who thinks 93L is going to turn???
The models do.
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Quoting washingtonian115:
I hope so to.The "I" storms made a name for themselves over the years.It's like nature has been saving the best for them.And well....I like the name Isaac..
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Quoting MTWX:


who's on first... what's on second!

We have to worry about why that who is on first before we start worrying about what's on second.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32024
Quoting WxGeekVA:


BUT IT IS SUMMER...
Well Sugar Honey Ice Tea it feels like it's been summer for 6 months now with winter being more like spring this year...was their a winter this year?.Couldn't tell...
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As I repeated on the previous mapping, "I expect some position fixes will be re-evaluated&altered on the next ATCF report..." Derived from (NHC) ATCF data for TropicalWaveSeven from 14August12pmGMT AND from 14August6pmGMT
14.3n70.4w - 14.4n72.7w - 14.5n74.9w - 14.6n76.6w - 14.7n78.4w - 14.8n80.1w - 14.9n81.8w from the 14Aug12pmGMT ATCF report have been re-evaluated&altered to
14.1n70.4w - 14.1n72.7w - 14.1n74.9w - 14.1n76.6w - 14.1n78.4w - 14.1n80.1w - 14.1n81.8w - 14.1n83.5w as the most recent positions on the 14Aug6pmGMT ATCF report

PEU-PuertoLempira :: PUZ-PuertoCabezas :: AUA-Aruba

The easternmost unlabled dot is the last position that the 14Aug12pmGMT ATCF(obsolete)path and the 14Aug6pmGMT ATCF(recent)path held in common on 11Aug6pm
Long top line is the 14Aug12pmGMT ATCF(obsolete)path for TW.7 between 12Aug6pm and 14Aug12pmGMT
Long bottom line is the 14Aug6pmGMT ATCF(recent)path for TW.7 between 12Aug6pm and 14Aug12pmGMT
The short line is the most recent 6hour ATCF path between 14Aug12pmGMT and 14Aug6pmGMT

Copy&paste 14.1n68.0w- 14.3n70.4w- 14.4n72.7w- 14.5n74.9w- 14.6n76.6w- 14.7n78.4w- 14.8n80.1w- 14.9n81.8w, cun, peu, puz, aua, 14.1n68.0w- 14.1n70.4w- 14.1n72.7w- 14.1n74.9w- 14.1n76.6w- 14.1n78.4w- 14.1n80.1w- 14.1n81.8w, 14.1n81.8w-14.1n83.5w into the GreatCircleMapper for a larger-scale map and other information
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Quoting WxGeekVA:


BUT IT IS SUMMER...


Lol I thought that pattern explanation was a really redundant piece of information to add in an August forecast discussion :p
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707 what are you, an owl? :)
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710. MTWX
Quoting Articuno:

Wuuut? :O
Quoting 954FtLCane:


who's who? ;-)


who's on first... what's on second!
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Quoting jascott1967:


LOL...cute. Keep your chin up, maybe Isaac will be a powerful, beautiful and harmless storm that churns away in he Central/Northern Atl that we can study and marvel at.
I hope so to.The "I" storms made a name for themselves over the years.It's like nature has been saving the best for them.And well....I like the name Isaac..
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Quoting 954FtLCane:


who's who?
anyone lol its gonna be me though :)
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Quoting windshear1993:
lets see if who gets the 777 post first :)


who's who? ;-)
Member Since: September 30, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 108
Quoting Tazmanian:
AREA FORECAST DISCUSSION
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE ALBANY NY
359 PM EDT TUE AUG 14 201

.LONG TERM /FRIDAY THROUGH TUESDAY/..


BY LATE IN THE WEEKEND AND THROUGH THE BEGINNING OF NEXT WEEK...AN
OVERALL UPPER PATTERN SETS UP WITH A MEAN UPPER TROUGH OVER EASTERN
NORTH AMERICA. IN FACT...IF THIS PATTERN WERE TO SET UP IN THE
WINTER...WITH AN UPPER LOW IN THE VICINITY OF HUDSON BAY...IT COULD
FAVOR POTENTIAL EAST COAST SNOWSTORMS.
BUT IT IS SUMMER...AND LITTLE
PIECES OF UPPER ENERGY ARE PREDICTED TO TRACK WITHIN THE SOUTHERN
PERIPHERY OF THE UPPER TROUGH...SUPPORTING OCCASIONAL PERIODS OF
SHOWERS AND STORMS AND OCCASIONAL PERIODS OF DRY WEATHER.

Wuuut? :O
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lets see if who gets the 777 post first :)
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Always cool when you get two outflow boundaries colliding directly on top of your location.



93L is probably going to become a tropical depression by tomorrow and will give the Azores islands a good scare. Much better environment for development now than in previous days and has a well defined surface reflection.
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Quoting washingtonian115:
(sniff sniff) well if Isaac is a weak storm at least I have Kirk to look forward to...


LOL...cute. Keep your chin up, maybe Isaac will be a powerful, beautiful and harmless storm that churns away in he Central/Northern Atl that we can study and marvel at.
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 614
Guh, missed another cell here in Brevard. I think it is time to throw out my rain gauge.
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Quoting washingtonian115:
Who knows..it could do a 93L..stay weak until it reaches near Bermuda develop and threaten the Azores...Mmmmmm you know a few days ago the Euro did show the potential storm take a more Southern route right into the Antilies.


um humm..something to ponder..
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 15286
Quoting ncstorm:
this is the 12z Ensemble spread with the cape verde storm that the GFS is showing..look how west (yellow reaches) the ensembles get it before turning it..still recurves it but it could be a trend

Who knows..it could do a 93L..stay weak until it reaches near Bermuda develop and threaten the Azores...Mmmmmm you know a few days ago the Euro did show the potential storm take a more Southern route right into the Antilies.
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Quoting WxGeekVA:


True...
2007 ingrid did
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

The Cape Verde forms before the one in the Gulf...Isaac would be the weak Gulf TS.

Do you know how bad that would ruin the history of I storms?

Unless it were to pull an Allison, of course. :P
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2007 ingrid did
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Quoting MAweatherboy1:

What if Isaac looked like this:


Nah..........
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32024
Quoting wunderkidcayman:
Quoting CybrTeddy:
@clwstmchasr. Let's see, judging by the fact he lives in the Cayman islands.. I'd say quite a few. Probably more than most of us.

Listen guys, lay off of wunderkidcayman. I'm sick of seeing him bashed on here. His opinion is no less valid than yours, get off your high horse and learn to respect it. If you really have a problem with him, just ignore him - but he isn't a troll, a wishcaster, or any of the such. He wants to learn and discuss weather and he actually contributes.

thank you




My comments was a results of people bashing me so if you think about it

"if you hit a propaine tank enough the valve cap will blow off and explosion."

well I was the tank. ok all of that done lets all end this foolishness about bashing other people and getting them to war over them and lets get back to the matter at hand the tropics


Fair and I am sorry for being a little hard on you the other day. I hope you get some interesting and beneficial weather.
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 614
hmm why is there a lot of chat about me when I am not here :)
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this is the 12z Ensemble spread with the cape verde storm that the GFS is showing..look how west (yellow reaches) the ensembles get it before turning it..still recurves it but it could be a trend

Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 15286
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

The Cape Verde forms before the one in the Gulf...Isaac would be the weak Gulf TS.

Do you know how bad that would ruin the history of I storms?
NO NO NO!!.IT WASN'T SUPPOSE TO HAPPEN LIKE THAT!!!!.Hopefully the storm in the gulf is nothing more than a weak tropical storm...
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Quoting MrMixon:


Hey Taz, is there a way to search through all AFDs for the U.S.?



not relley
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115081
Quoting TXCWC:
Big rains still showing for Gulf System on 18Z GFS just shifted east...on this run



That last GFS run looked like it was struggling between going NE or west. The EURO 12Z looked like it wanted to go NE at the end of it's run. Should be interesting.
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689. TXCWC
Quoting GTcooliebai:
Could tease the forecasters like Debby and drift around before making its move.


Lol...ya, it does look like a slow mover and depending on exact track COULD bring alot of rain for someone - hopefully someone who needs it.
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

The Cape Verde forms before the one in the Gulf...Isaac would be the weak Gulf TS.

Do you know how bad that would ruin the history of I storms?

What if Isaac looked like this:

Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 83 Comments: 7779
687. MTWX
Quoting Tazmanian:
YAHOO YAY YAY YAY YAY


the 1st adf of the season too have snow word on it


AREA FORECAST DISCUSSION
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE RIVERTON WY
302 PM MDT TUE AUG 14 2012


BOTH THE ABSAROKAS AND WIND RIVERS
TO PRODUCE LOWER CLOUDS...FOG AND AT LEAST SOME LIGHT SHOWERS WITH
A LITTLE SNOW ABOVE 10K. THE BEST BET OF MEASURABLE SNOW STILL
LOOKS TO BE OVER THE BIGHORNS ABOVE 10K TOMORROW AFTERNOON




there is all so a small ch of snow in the mts of MT with this cool spell comeing down ahhh its that time of year


My home town of Great Falls...

Currently: 98 degrees

Tomorrows Forecasted High: 64 degrees


Gotta love those NW fall temperature swings!!

Link
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(sniff sniff) well if Isaac is a weak storm at least I have Kirk to look forward to...
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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.