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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Quoting NYCyclone86:
You know what, the Mets finally got a no hitter this year... ANYTHING can happen


LOL! If the Astros win three in a row I'll know the Mayan's were right!
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 2337
Isn't it Ironic?.So I did some searching around the internet and Ike comes from the name Isaac...Oh the irony...
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Quoting congaline:
Wasn't it the Republicans little darling Pat Robertson who claimed that New Orleans was hit by Hurricane Katrina because of their sinfulness? What will he say if the Republican National Convention is washed out by Hurricane Isaac...kind of biblical. The name Isaac means "he laughs". Just sayin'...



This is why I don't come here often. PLZ, stick to the weather, at least on Master's blog! IGGY!!!
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Quoting Grothar:
GFS 168 hours (If you want the image bigger, put your head closer to the screen)






Apply directly to the forehead!
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 2337
Quoting stormpetrol:
I would say a track between Charley and Ivan of 2004 is most likely, though there is possibility it could turn right just after crossing the Lesser Antilles and threaten the East Coast, just my take though!

Same as I suspect
Member Since: May 12, 2012 Posts: 11 Comments: 2298
2025. ackee
THE oz GFS run will be intresting to watch and see weather it keeps 94L further North or south
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Quoting scott39:
The Ladies have been rough on me here tonight! Lol


Man, they hit and they hit hard....


shhhh here she comes....
Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9693
2022. Grothar
GFS 168 hours (If you want the image bigger, put your head closer to the screen)




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Quoting tropicfreak:


GFS and EURO and most of the others have yet to come out in the 00z suite...

yes its out Bam models are out XTRP CLP5 TVCN are all out and shows S and W

Quoting TomTaylor:
Not surprised...they've been shifting west for the last several days (except for the ECMWF) as the system has remained weaker than forecasted. 94L could very well end up in the Gulf should it continue to stay weak. Lot depends on the intensity.

Out for now

hmm ok

Quoting stormpetrol:


Sorry Bro, we'll have to split the cookie in 3 :) I didn't see that!Looks like the models have shifted south again, almost hate to say this, hope we are not looking at another Ivan, its the last thing we need. :((


hmm ok bro lets split it 3 way

Quoting stormwatcherCI:



You can't dispute the fact though that the current steering is wsw.


so very true

Quoting stormwatcherCI:
Not Ivan but maybe Gustav. Too far north and west for another Ivan.


for Track I see 94L/TD9 to take are Charley (04) Gustav (08) and TS Fay(08)

I'm should you remember those well cause I do
Member Since: June 13, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 10985
Quoting gator23:


The GFS is most certainly showing a Florida hit. 2 actually people live on those tiny islands and it looks like a panhandle big bend hit toward the end


Gulp :-( This is a little too close to Gainesville, FL for me!

It has rained here quite a bit over the past three days with that cold front. We don't need any more water.
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My forecast, not official of course. It's been shifted south of the islands now. Though it does show weakening due to land interaction near the end of the forecast period.

(click to enlarge)
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Quoting Hurricanes101:


It also depends on what part of Cuba, a good portion of it is flat and a storm can go over it and weaken very little
Easternmost Cuba can be just as disruptive to a circulation as Hispañola.

Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21091
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
MH09's highly intricate forecast. :)



Three straight-line projections, now THIS is what I call a model we can understand!! Nice job.
SP
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Quoting TXHuRRicanE:
oh wow, did the gfs ensemble members shift to the west a little or is it just me?

Not just you.
Member Since: August 4, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 3156
oh wow, did the gfs ensemble members shift to the west a little or is it just me?
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2013. Grothar
GFDL at 126 hours


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MSWX I have seen storms shape shift. Lows can just disappear from one place and reappear somewhere else. One of our knowledgeable weather bloggers can probably cite date and particular storm, but it happens. Amazing really.
Anyway, redwagon you have been particularly funny tonight. Thanks! Good night everyone.
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Quoting mcluvincane:


Lol the tracks will change


It also depends on what part of Cuba, a good portion of it is flat and a storm can go over it and weaken very little
Member Since: March 10, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 7361
Quoting Chicklit:
lol



hurricane 23 says this track is 'system suicide'
ie the mountains of cuba will slice up storms like diced onions.


Lol the tracks will change
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2009. gator23
Quoting victoria780:
GFS what else


This is not likely. The pattern has been favoring a Florida strike
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TVCN has 94L approaching the Florida Keys in 168 hours, which is 1 week from today. 1 week from today is Monday, which would be perfect for a couple days off due to tropical weather. :)
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21091
I hate when a troll invades a Weather Chat
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I would say a track between Charley and Ivan of 2004 is most likely, though there is possibility it could turn right just after crossing the Lesser Antilles and threaten the East Coast, just my take though!
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2005. Patrap
00z Early Cycle NHC model tracks
Invest94

Statistical/Simple Models (CLIPER,BAMs,LBAR,other Statistical Models)




Dynamic Models (More sophisticated models)




Early Model Wind Forecasts

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Quoting MississippiWx:


I can agree with the overall track, but the way the storm seems to jump from place to place is a little odd. :-p I've never seen a storm do that.
A little odd isn't it? You have to take chances in this...here...er...weather business. ;)
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21091
Quoting GeoffreyWPB:


This run is worse for Fla. But remember, we still have a week A lot can/will change.


Oh I know that, was just puzzled by redwagons' comment about the latest GFS backing off of a Florida hit, which is definitely not the case
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Quoting Grothar:


Redwagon, you're a lady?

I probably wouldn't go that far, but, yes, I don't have anything that 'comes up'.
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Quoting victoria780:
The models have shifted west by 75 miles,next they will be in New Orleans,then Galveston.Isaac (Ikes Brother)?
GFS what else
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Quoting Hurricanes101:


???

The last 6 runs of the GFS have all hit or affected FL, not sure what you are looking at


This run is worse for Fla. But remember, we still have a week A lot can/will change.

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Quoting Hurricanes101:


???

The last 6 runs of the GFS have all hit or affected FL, not sure what you are looking at




For reference, the latest GFS does not move away from Florida
Member Since: March 10, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 7361
Quoting biloxibob:
do you have an opinion,regarding the gom?


what you mean 95L I'd say the most that will mount to during the next 48 is maybe a TD maybe I think thats more like 72 hour and then it will only like last a day or two then get caught up in the front


Quoting GeoffreyWPB:


We will know a lot more after tomorrow’s recon.


yep can't wait and also GIV is flying over as well so can't wait for that as well

Member Since: June 13, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 10985
Quoting stormpetrol:


Sorry Bro, we'll have to split the cookie in 3 :) I didn't see that!Looks like the models have shifted south again, almost hate to say this, hope we are not looking at another Ivan, its the last thing we need. :((
Not Ivan but maybe Gustav. Too far north and west for another Ivan.
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Quoting Grothar:


Redwagon, you're a lady?

Terrible, some of the things we could write in response to that statement, Grother?
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
And which models are these?
The models have shifted west by 75 miles,next they will be in New Orleans,then Galveston.Isaac (Ikes Brother)?
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1994. gator23
Quoting redwagon:

GFS moving W.. backing off its FL hit. That means the GFS has been fed some facts for this run.

The new GFS ain't done me wrong yet. Well, not enough to call mamma and cry about.


The GFS is most certainly showing a Florida hit. 2 actually people live on those tiny islands and it looks like a panhandle big bend hit toward the end
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00z model suite has in fact shifted slightly equatorward, with 94L just scraping Hispañola and clipping eastern Cuba.

Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21091
1992. Grothar
Quoting icmoore:


Alright just stop it right now :) I warned you to get rid of all this garbage ... please evacuation is such a dirty word.


I never evacuate.
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

I doubt it.



You can't dispute the fact though that the current steering is wsw.
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Quoting wunderkidcayman:

white choc chip



no I don't think so Bobo I called 90% at 8pm from 2pm today and TD 9 at 11pm from 12 noon today


Sorry Bro, we'll have to split the cookie in 3 :) I didn't see that!Looks like the models have shifted south again, almost hate to say this, hope we are not looking at another Ivan, its the last thing we need. :((
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
MH09's highly intricate forecast. :)



I can agree with the overall track, but the way the storm seems to jump from place to place is a little odd. :-p I've never seen a storm do that.
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 17 Comments: 10159
Quoting redwagon:

GFS moving W.. backing off its FL hit. That means the GFS has been fed some facts for this run.

The new GFS ain't done me wrong yet. Well, not enough to call mamma and cry about.


???

The last 6 runs of the GFS have all hit or affected FL, not sure what you are looking at
Member Since: March 10, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 7361
Even FIM takes it S undeveloped....

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Quoting wunderkidcayman:
hmm 00Z models have shifted a bit S and W yep just checked it sorry TA



if WSW movement continues I expect further S and W movement of the models
Not surprised...they've been shifting west for the last several days (except for the ECMWF) as the system has remained weaker than forecasted. 94L could very well end up in the Gulf should it continue to stay weak. Lot depends on the intensity.

Out for now
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1984. gator23
Quoting Chicklit:
lol



hurricane 23 says this track is 'system suicide'
ie the mountains of cuba will slice up storms like diced onions.


Except that most of the mountains in Cuba are in the extreme east portion this track will do little to disrupt this storm
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1983. scott39
The Ladies have been rough on me here tonight! Lol
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1982. Grothar
Quoting redwagon:

Could you leave they hyperventilating and vapors to us women.. go cut some firewood or something


Redwagon, you're a lady?
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1981. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Japan Meteorological Agency
Tropical Cyclone Advisory #9
SEVERE TROPICAL STORM BOLAVEN (T1215)
9:00 AM JST August 21 2012
====================================

SUBJECT: Category Two Typhoon In Sea Near Marianas Islands

At 0:00 AM UTC, Severe Tropical Storm Bolaven (985 hPa) located at 18.2N 140.8E has 10 minute sustained winds of 50 knots with gusts of 70 knots. The cyclone is reported as moving northwest slowly.

Dvorak Intensity: T3.0

Gale Force Winds
==================
210 NM from the center

Forecast and Intensity
======================

24 HRS: 19.6N 138.0E - 65 knots (CAT 3/Strong Typhoon) Sea East of The Philippines
48 HRS: 21.2N 134.0E - 80 knots (CAT 2/Severe Tropical Storm) South Of Japan
72 HRS: 22.7N 130.5E - 85 knots (CAT 4/Very Strong Typhoon) South Of Japan

Japan Meteorological Agency
Tropical Cyclone Advisory #25
TYPHOON TEMBIN (T1214)
9:00 AM JST August 21 2012
====================================

SUBJECT: Category Four Typhoon In Sea South Of Okinawa

At 0:00 AM UTC, Typhoon Tembin (945 hPa) located at 20.0N 125.2E has 10 minute sustained winds of 90 knots with gusts of 130 knots. The cyclone is reported as moving north at 7 knots.

Dvorak Intensity: T5.5

Storm Force Winds
================
60 NM from the center

Gale Force Winds
=================
180 NM from the center

Forecast and Intensity
========================

24 HRS: 22.3N 124.5E - 100 knots (CAT 4/Very Strong Typhoon) South Of Okinawa
48 HRS: 22.7N 122.4E - 105 knots (CAT 5/Intense Typhoon) South Of Okinawa
72 HRS: 22.7N 119.0E - 95 knots (CAT 4/Very Strong Typhoon) Taiwan Strait
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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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