Three Atlantic threat areas may develop; a record fire season for the U.S.

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:43 PM GMT on August 20, 2012

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A large tropical wave (Invest 94L) located about 1100 miles east of the Lesser Antilles Islands is headed west at 20 - 25 mph, and is showing increasing organization today. The storm is under light wind shear of 5 - 10 knots, and is over waters of 27°C. A large area of dry air lies just to the north of 94L, as seen on the latest Saharan Air Layer (SAL) analysis and water vapor satellite loops. This dry air is interfering with development, and this morning's visible satellite loop shows that 94L's heavy thunderstorm activity is sparse. However, the satellite loops do show that 94L has now separated from the clumps of heavy thunderstorms to its south, and a pretty well-defined surface circulation has developed. Heavy thunderstorms are now attempting to fire up around this circulation center, but are being hampered by dry air. The center of 94L was about 80 miles to the north of buoy 41041 at 10 am Monday morning, and the buoy recorded SW winds of 10 mph, confirming that 94L probably does have a closed surface circulation. The disturbance will have to build and maintain more heavy thunderstorms than it has now to be considered a tropical depression, though. The first hurricane hunter mission into 94L is scheduled for Tuesday afternoon.


Figure 1. Morning satellite image of Invest 94L.

Forecast for 94L
The latest 8 am EDT run of the SHIPS model predicts that wind shear will be low, 5 - 10 knots, for the next five days. Ocean temperatures will warm from 27°C this morning to 28.5°C by Wednesday morning, and the total heat content of the ocean will increase sharply during that period, as well. The main impediment to development will be dry air to the north, and the SHIPS model predicts the amount of dry air will change little over the next five days. I expect that 94L will continue to struggle with dry air through Wednesday, when it will probably have had enough time to moisten the surrounding atmosphere and protect itself against the dry air. The models have shown increasing unity in taking 94L through the Lesser Antilles on Wednesday, and I expect the storm will be a tropical depression or weak tropical storm with 40 - 50 mph winds at that time. In their 8 am EDT Tropical Weather Outlook, NHC gave 94L a 80% chance of developing into a tropical depression by Wednesday morning. None of the reliable models predict that 94L will reach hurricane strength over the next five days, and it is unlikely that 94L will be able to organize quickly enough to become anything stronger than a 60 mph tropical storm before reaching the Lesser Antilles, given the storm's current struggles with dry air, and the lack of model support for intensification. However, once 94L enters the Eastern Caribbean, wind shear will be low, oceanic heat content high, and the storm should have had enough time to moisten the atmosphere to allow steady strengthening to occur. The main factor that might prevent intensification into a hurricane late this week would be a close pass by the island of Hispaniola. Our top models for long-range 4 - 5 days forecasts all show a path for 94L very close to the island.

Will 94L hit the U.S. mainland?
This storm is a long-range threat to the U.S., as historically, 16% of storms in 94L's location have gone on to hit the U.S., with North Carolina the preferred target (10% chance.) A trough of low pressure capable of pulling 94L to the north enters Western Canada Thursday night, and the exact timing and amplitude of this trough will determine the ultimate landfall location of 94L. The long range 7 - 14 day runs of the GFS model over the past three day have all predicted an eventual landfall for 94L in the U.S., though these long-range runs are notoriously unreliable. The predicted landfall locations have ranged from New England to Texas--which isn't much help. The past three runs beginning on Sunday afternoon have all taken 94L over Florida during the August 27 - 29 time frame, which I'm sure is making organizers of the Republican National Convention uncomfortable, since the convention is in Tampa August 27 - 30. However, 94L could miss Florida completely, as the average error in model forecasts going out 7 days is in excess of 500 miles. We can't rule out a North Carolina landfall, but the pattern we've seen so far this year is for landfalls in Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, so a more southwards path for 94L into the Yucatan is definitely a possibility. Also, we have that huge drought region in the Midwest, which tends to create its own high pressure bubble, which reduces the odds of storms making the turn and hitting the Central or Western Gulf Coast. If 94L makes it to the Western Caribbean, I see the two most likely options as a landfall in Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula (and then westwards into Mexico south of the Texas border), or recurvature into the Florida Gulf Coast.


Figure 2. MODIS satellite image of Hurricane Gordon taken on Sunday August 19, 2012, at 11:55 am EDT. At the time, Gordon was a Category 2 hurricane with 100 mph winds. Image credit: NASA.

Gordon hits the Azores
The eye of Hurricane Gordon passed over Santa Maria Island in the eastern Azores Islands near 1:30 am EDT this morning. Gordon was a Category 1 hurricane with 75 - 80 mph winds at landfall. Winds at the Santa Maria airport reached a sustained 49 mph at 3 am EDT, but the airport did not report winds during passage of the eyewall at 1:30 am. Reuters reported that Gordon caused only minor flooding and power outages. The hurricane is being sheared apart by strong upper-level winds, and the extratropical remnants of Gordon will not bring any strong winds or significant rain to Europe.

Disturbance 95L in the Gulf near the Texas/Mexico border
A region of disturbed weather (Invest 95L) has developed in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast, just northeast of Tampico, Mexico. The disturbance is due to a trough of low pressure and its associated cold front which moved off the coast over the weekend, but has been fortified via moisture from Tropical Storm Helene, which made landfall Saturday near Tampico. If 95L were to develop into a tropical storm, it would receive a new name. In their 8 am EDT Tropical Weather Outlook, NHC gave 95L a 30% chance of developing into a tropical cyclone by Wednesday morning. An Air Force hurricane hunter aircraft is scheduled to investigate 95L this afternoon. Winds at Tampico this morning were light out of the northeast, which implies that no surface circulation is forming at this time. Radar out of Altamira, Mexico does show some banding to the precipitation echoes, though, which may be indicative of something trying to spin up. The computer models show that 95L should move little over the next few days.


Figure 3. Radar out of Altamira, Mexico at 9:45 am EDT August 20, 2012, shows some banding to the precipitation echoes in association with 95L.

Disturbance 96L off the coast of Africa
The tropical Atlantic is very busy this third week of August, and this is the week of the year that we typically see a major ramp-up of tropical storm activity in the Atlantic. A new tropical wave that emerged from the coast of Africa Sunday (Invest 96L) is headed west at 15 - 20 mph. This disturbance has a modest amount of spin and heavy thunderstorm activity, and is under a moderate 10 - 20 knots of wind shear. In their 8 am EDT Tropical Weather Outlook, NHC gave 96L a 20% chance of developing into a tropical cyclone by Wednesday morning. This disturbance does not have much model support for development.


Figure 4. The new Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership satellite (S-NPP) carries an instrument so sensitive to low light levels that it can detect wildfires in the middle of the night. On August 17, 2012, the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on Suomi-NPP acquired this image of the wildfires blazing in Idaho. The images were created with data from the instrument’s "day-night band," which sensed the fire in the visible portion of the spectrum. The Halstead Fire, centered about 18 miles northwest of Stanley, was sparked by lightning on July 27, and is burning in an area with large numbers of trees killed by the mountain pine beetle. As of Sunday afternoon, the fire had burned 92,000 acres was only 5% contained, according to InciWeb. The fire prompted the evacuation of the town of Featherville on Saturday night. Red flag warnings for adverse fire weather were posted in the region yesterday, and temperatures reached the low 90s with 16% humidity and winds of 10 mph. Image credit: NASA.

A record fire season in the U.S.
Massive fires continue to burn in Nevada, Idaho and California, and fires that are currently active in the Western U.S. have consumed over 1.3 million acres of land--an area approximately the size of Delaware. Thanks to widespread drought and unusually high temperatures over the past month, 3 million acres have gone up in flames since mid-July, and the fire season of 2012 now ranks in first place for the most acreage burned at this point in the year. According to the Interagency Fire Center, 6.8 million acres have burned as of August 19 this year, beating the previous record set just last year (6.5 million acres for the year-to-date period.) The Interagency Fire Center shows year-to-date records just for the past ten years. The 2012 fire season is well ahead of the pace of 2006, which was the worst fire year in the U.S. for total acreage burned in a year (records began in 1960). In 2006, 9.9 million acres burned, and 6.4 million acres had burned by August 19. With drought conditions far more widespread this year compared to 2006, and the latest forecasts calling for little drought relief over the coming two months, 2012 is likely to surpass 2006 as the worst fire year in U.S. history before the end of the year.


Figure 5. Comparison of drought conditions between the previous record fire year in the contiguous U.S. (2006) with 2012. Drought is much more widespread in 2012 compared to 2006, and 2012 will likely finish ahead of 2006 for the most acreage burned since record keeping began in 1960. Image credit: U.S. Drought Monitor.

Global warming expected to increase fire activity in the Western U.S.
As I blogged about in June, the severe fire seasons of 2012 and 2011 fit the pattern of what we expect to see more of with global warming. Hotter heat waves dry out vegetation more readily, resulting in increased probability of more acreage burned. A study published in the Journal Ecosphere in June 2012 used fire models driven by the output from sixteen climate models used in the 2007 IPCC report and found that while 8% of the planet should see decreases in fire activity over the next 30 years, 38% should see increases. By the end of the century, 20% of the globe should see decreased fire activity, and 62% increased fire activity. In the U.S., the regions most at risk of increased fires are the tundra regions of northern Alaska, and the West, with Arizona and Colorado at particularly high risk.

Jeff Masters

hugh blanket of smoke (got2dogs)
blew in about an hr after my last upload here - I thought I was done for the nite, but this smoke was incredible! made for some awesome light - sooooo eerie!
hugh blanket of smoke
Smoke! What smoke ?? (saltydawgg)
12th Ave road South looking north. Nampa Idaho full of smoke from 7 fires at last count with more dry lightning on the way.
Smoke! What smoke ??
Temecula Fire (photoandy)
This is just two hours after ignition! It quickly became a PYROCUMULUS...
Temecula Fire

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1865 Hurricane Four:

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Quoting opal92nwf:

It almost definetly will go through the HERBERT BOX.


The box only is relevant to Major Hurricanes.
Member Since: August 19, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 5395
2379. Dakster
Quoting opal92nwf:

It almost definetly will go through the HERBERT BOX.


Umm. One rule you are forgetting, it must be a MAJOR Hurricane for the box to be 'valid' and even that rule has been broken on several occasions. HOWEVER, statistically a Major in that box is something that South Florida needs to watch for.
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inb4 The GFS run is wrong again!!!
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2377. Grothar
Quoting wakd3Xn04:


Charlie, Frances, and Jeanne. We got all three here in Polk county which is the next county over from the county Tampa is in. The ground was so saturated after that that trees just fell over fithout having to be blown over.


That was some year.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26117
Quoting wakd3Xn04:


Charlie, Frances, and Jeanne. We got all three here in Polk county which is the next county over from the county Tampa is in. The ground was so saturated after that that trees just fell over fithout having to be blown over.
I winter in Polk.
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2375. hahaguy
Quoting ProgressivePulse:


Yes I know, I saw it. In denial ATM.


Don't mean to chime in but that was like a bad dream for us. Plus within 10 miles of each other.
Member Since: August 12, 2007 Posts: 2 Comments: 2838
I HOPE THE GFS IS RIGHT ON 94L! The N Leewards want rain!!!!! Islands from antigua to anguilla... not guadeloupe nor dominica cause they have already HAD ENOUGH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!
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2373. Grothar
Quoting goosegirl1:


If you are learning Vietnamese or Chinese, intonation is everything. Sort of like singing :)

The Japanese seem to assign at least 10 words to everything, depending on who owns the object in question.

My daughter is learning Japanese, but I just cannot "get" it. It is lot harder than just assiging a gender, like Spanish and French.


Ask her how many words there are for 'I'. LOL

Chinese and Southern Vietnamese have 5 tones
In the North of Vietnam they have 6 tones. Very difficult. Japanese does not really have tones like the other Asian languages.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26117
2372. Dakster
Quoting goosegirl1:


If you are learning Vietnamese or Chinese, intonation is everything. Sort of like singing :)

The Japanese seem to assign at least 10 words to everything, depending on who owns the object in question.

My daughter is learning Japanese, but I just cannot "get" it. It is lot harder than just assiging a gender, like Spanish and French.


Yeah -- we had a Japanese lady at work as a contractor and I couldn't get it either.
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Quoting ProgressivePulse:


You see as well the end point hasn't changed. As I said earlier, whatever this is has FL written all over it.

It almost definetly will go through the HERBERT BOX.
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Quoting Grothar:


Didn't you guys get nailed 3 weeks apart in 2004?


Charlie, Frances, and Jeanne. We got all three here in Polk county which is the next county over from the county Tampa is in. The ground was so saturated after that that trees just fell over fithout having to be blown over.
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2369. SLU
Quoting DDR:
94L's circulation is so large winds here in Trinidad are NNE already.


you guys could get some solid rain from the tail of this monster.
Member Since: July 13, 2006 Posts: 12 Comments: 5111
Quoting Grothar:


Didn't you guys get nailed 3 weeks apart in 2004?


Yes I know, I saw it. In denial ATM.
Member Since: August 19, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 5395
2367. pottery
Quoting wunderkidcayman:

nope WSW is correct

At the moment, yes.
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1851 Hurricane Four:

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Turtle Observations in Boca Raton:

On a beach walk on the 4th of July, I was happy to see that turtle nests were very close to the shore line, indicating that there would probably not be severe beach erosion for about 50 days. If my calculations are correct, this grace period would end around Aug. 22.

For whatever it's worth, a friend of mine who has observed turtle nesting behavior for years, informed me that she noticed on July 25, that the turtles making new nests here in Boca Raton, FL, were commencing construction and laying their eggs far away from the shore. It was to an extreme. They were laying their eggs (which take about 50 days to hatch) in the bushes by the sea grape trees. She frequents the beach on a regular basis and had never seen so many bury eggs under the life guard station. These animals have to go behind the station and down into a depression that forms there. This is quite a feat for a big animal with flippers instead of claws.

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2364. Grothar
Quoting pottery:

General movement has been North of West overall.
Center, seen on post 2269, is around 15.2N.
System covers a Massive area.


It actually has been moving a little slightly SW for the last 6 hours.

15.3N 48.8W last fix

15.6N 46.7
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26117
2363. pottery
Quoting gustavcane:
Here is my guess for 94L

Well, you are starting 10 degrees too far south, for one thing..
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2362. DDR
Quoting MississippiWx:


Well, you're getting a bit of a squeeze play between the high to your north and 94L to your east. Winds really have no choice but to come out of that direction.


Thanks for the info
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Quoting Dakster:


Ok so you got me into being able to kind of read French and German. Any tricks for the Asian languages?


If you are learning Vietnamese or Chinese, intonation is everything. Sort of like singing :)

The Japanese seem to assign at least 10 words to everything, depending on who owns the object in question.

My daughter is learning Japanese, but I just cannot "get" it. It is lot harder than just assiging a gender, like Spanish and French.
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2360. hydrus
Quoting opal92nwf:
Here's my guess.
img src="Image and video hosting by TinyPic">
Yep..That path has happened before, and it was bad. One very weird storm in 1878
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????????????
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2358. Gorty
Quoting Thing342:
2006. I know Ida formed in November, and two others formed in October.


Ah ok thx.

I just dont want another repeat of 2011 where the remnants of a TC just happens to, by luck beyond the imagination come up the coast at the same time to combine with a system moving across the US to dump 10 inches of heavy wet snow on me. Power was out for like 6 days, many upon many large branches and smaller branches, power lines and power poles were knocked down and even parts of trees as well.
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Quoting pottery:

General movement has been North of West overall.
Center, seen on post 2269, is around 15.2N.
System covers a Massive area.

nope WSW is correct
Member Since: June 13, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 11952
2356. scott39
Look at 1979 Fredrics track.....similar so far to 94L.
Member Since: June 13, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 6774
2355. Grothar
Quoting ProgressivePulse:


You see as well the end point hasn't changed. As I said earlier, whatever this is has FL written all over it.


Didn't you guys get nailed 3 weeks apart in 2004?
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26117
2354. DDR
Quoting pottery:

General movement has been North of West overall.
Center, seen on post 2269, is around 15.2N.
System covers a Massive area.

Yea i can see that,i'm hoping those feeder bands miss us.
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2353. Grothar
Quoting GeoffreyWPB:
Oye...



vey
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26117
TAMPA - Thunderstorms crashed across the Tampa Bay area on Monday, closing bridges, damaging structures, and knocking out power.
High winds pushed over a boat and trailer onto a car near Evergreen St. in Clearwater. Nearby, a carport was torn from a home.
In Brandon, there was a car crash near Lakewood Ave and Brandon Blvd., and power in the area was shut down for a short time for about 1,600 customers, according to TECO's website.
The bridge to Davis Islands was temporarily closed shortly after 10 p.m., after a large sign fell into the roadway. Officials worked feverishly to reopen the only route to Tampa General Hospital.
Also in downtown Tampa, tents that were set up near the Franklin St. entrance to the Convention Center were knocked down.




Read more: http://www.abcactionnews.com/dpp/weather/weather_n ews/storms-wreak-havoc-across-tampa-bay-area#ixzz2 497EVCb9
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Quoting Grothar:


It has taken a dip to the Southwest as well. Slight, but a dip. Too bad you don't have a link to a site that could show that.


You see as well the end point hasn't changed. As I said earlier, whatever this is has FL written all over it.
Member Since: August 19, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 5395

Quoting Tazmanian:



Gordon was moving at 21mph and it got his act together. And became a cat 2. So if Gordon can do it so can 94L
Slowing down a little would be helpful, but it doesn't need to slow down to 6-12.  Hell, 18 - 20 mph would be a huge improvement over 23-25mph.
Member Since: August 17, 2005 Posts: 26 Comments: 16505
2349. JLPR2
94L is just ridiculous.



It's huge! Then add to that the fact that the northern side is basically devoid of convection.
Member Since: September 4, 2007 Posts: 7 Comments: 8690
Quoting DDR:
94L's circulation is so large winds here in Trinidad are NNE already.


Well, you're getting a bit of a squeeze play between the high to your north and 94L to your east. Winds really have no choice but to come out of that direction.

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Here is my guess for 94L
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HERBERT BOX ALERT!! HERBERT BOX ALERT!!! HERBERT BOX ALERT!!!!img src="Image and video hosting by TinyPic">
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Quoting gustavcane:
As long as this 94L moves at a fast clip at 23mph, this storm will never get its act together unless it slows down its forward speed to at least 6 to 12mph IMO.


not true at all it is doing better than before and if Ernesto canbe named a TS moving at 25mph I don't see why this one can not at 23mph not only that it is droping speed before 94L was moving at 25mph but it is slowing down abit
Member Since: June 13, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 11952
Quoting Gorty:


I thought 2009 died by Oct? Or was that 2006?
2006. I know Ida formed in November, and two others formed in October.
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2343. Dakster
Quoting Grothar:


It was a Spock moment. I could have said "fascinating"


For those of us living in Florida, I think more along the lines of something that rhythms with shucked...
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2342. pottery
Quoting DDR:
94L moving wsw now?

General movement has been North of West overall.
Center, seen on post 2269, is around 15.2N.
System covers a Massive area.
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2341. Thrawst
Quoting Gorty:


I thought 2009 died by Oct? Or was that 2006?


2009 had Category 2 hurricane Ida in November. Ended up being a major Nor'easter that created some amazing waves for me.
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Quoting gustavcane:
As long as this 94L moves at a fast clip at 23mph, this storm will never get its act together unless it slows down its forward speed to at least 6 to 12mph IMO.



Gordon was moving at 21mph and it got his act together. And became a cat 2. So if Gordon can do it so can 94L
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115074
Quoting DDR:
94L's circulation is so large winds here in Trinidad are NNE already.


Very large circulation. While large and cumbersome, they are very efficient in shutting out dry air.
Member Since: August 19, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 5395
2338. Gorty
You can tell dry air is affecting 94L. Luckily we have the dry air.
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2337. Dakster
Quoting wunderkidcayman:


no I don't think that is it and I don't think John Hope rule applies to every storm and I don't think it applies to this one too


In a nutshell, Dr. John Raymond Hope said, that if a storm doesn't form before it gets to the Leeward Islands(eastern Caribbean) it won't form until it gets to the western Caribbean. I thought that was more 70W, but I never really got the exact longitudinal coordinates of the rule...
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Quoting stormchaser19:


The system needs to have at least 65 mph winds, to survive the topography of hispanola...Hurricane David entered in the island as a cat.5 and get out as a weak cat.1 that is a example of how destructive is this terrain


I could only plus this once, but this is going to be one of the major factors as to happens with this system.  If it tangles with those mountains a lot changes, it it misses them a lot changes in a different way.  A pass to the N is likely to be less disruptive than a pass to the S....Big questions that aren't ready to be answered just yet.
Member Since: August 17, 2005 Posts: 26 Comments: 16505
2335. Gorty
Quoting Thing342:
2009 was actually fairly active from Sept-Nov, it was just June-August that was dead.


I thought 2009 died by Oct? Or was that 2006?
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Yeah i feel real badly for China Taiwan they have got hit hard this and Taiwan's east coast is not looking so hot right now, so many towns small cities along the the eastern coastline of that island.I think we should at least say a prayer for them, my pro gamer buddies have alot of family there.
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94L is Fay 2!!:) lol
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Oye...

Member Since: September 10, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 11149
2331. Gorty
Quoting gustavcane:
As long as this 94L moves at a fast clip at 23mph, this storm will never get its act together unless it slows down its forward speed to at least 6 to 12mph IMO.


Yeah idk why they been moving so fast this year.
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About

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