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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WOw!
Member Since: April 29, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 7819
Quoting WalkingInTheSun:


A few models to place it going E or NE I think.


Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Fishinnfever05:
Good morning from Mobile, I'm a lurker but love hurricanes and I am trying to learn more and more. Can someone help me understand the model runs. Like the ooz or the 18z, are those times?


Yes they are times... 0Z 6Z 12Z and 18Z, they are in ZULU times

Which is 6 hours ahead of Mobile,AL. usually, but becuase of daylight savings time it is only 5 hours currently...

So that time equates to 7pm, 1am, 7am, and 1pm... I Think?
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328. yoboi
Quoting StormTracker2K:
Could be a total evacuation of Tampa Bay area if this plays out. Notice that a piece of this trough breaks off and slides into the Gulf while ventilating 94L




my name is BHO and i approve this message.....
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Hmmm what IS going on out there?
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 37950
Quoting osuwxguynew:


Sorry, perhaps funny wasn't the right word choice.


The steering suggest west back to Mexico, so it shouldn't exacerbate the northern Gulf + rainfall anomalies.


A few models to place it going E or NE I think.
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Quoting Fishinnfever05:
Good morning from Mobile, I'm a lurker but love hurricanes and I am trying to learn more and more. Can someone help me understand the model runs. Like the ooz or the 18z, are those times?


These are a little old, but should do exactly what you want.
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Quoting Patrap:



I had that same experience in Pop Warner Football the first day I wore my Spiffy new Nylon White Football pants and sat in pile of dem sucka's.

Nothing like a Hollering 8 yr old stripping in front of 100 People.


But, then again...,a fine memory as my Dad was laughing his rear off.



(laughing/moaning)...lol.
Those things are atrocious beasts!
I recall going out to another region once and straining my eyes repeatedly for any sign of the buggers before sitting down...then finally doing so rather uneasily. It was hard to fathom that they hadn't set up camp there yet in those days.
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just to note 95L still a trough 12Z map

new low in the GOH

Member Since: June 13, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 11704
winds kicking up around me now
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 37950
Looks like 94L is merging with the wave ahead of it, 94L appears its going to be one large cyclone!

Member Since: April 29, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 7819
320. 7544
Quoting tropicfreak:


If you are correct 94L becomes Issac, 95L becomes Joyce, and 96L becomes Kirk.


did it kill 96l on that run dont see it
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Quoting wunderkidcayman:
ok looking at RGB loop for 94L seem like it is relocating its LLCOC again to the SW near 15.2N 46.1W I'm waiting till 2pm or 3pm to confirm that I am not too sure yet
Quoting wunderkidcayman:


So it has moved a full degree north since last night.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Good morning from Mobile, I'm a lurker but love hurricanes and I am trying to learn more and more. Can someone help me understand the model runs. Like the ooz or the 18z, are those times?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
................we must remember what Month this is..and where storms usually go
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 37950
Quoting kshipre1:
sorry for the dumb question but what does IMO mean?

Isaac Moves On! LOL (in my opinion)
Member Since: May 16, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1471
Quoting wunderkidcayman:


so that means that it has some work to do unlike 94L has a much better circulation the problem is convection but I wold think that should not be a problem soon

I certainly think 94L will get the "I" name and if 95L does develop into anything I'd say the most maybe a strong TD


There is a difference in fuel supply however. 95L is sitting just SW of big moisture & storms PLUS that dynamite high-sea-temp region in the W GOM.
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Quoting weathermanwannabe:
95L is still clearly attached to the trof as it lifts out; have to see if that section off the coast of Mexico separates over the next 24 hours.


Agreed that the front caused it, and still appears present with an elongated circulation SW-NE.

However, as we saw recently, a more tropical, round circulation can form quickly in that region...

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Quoting Jax82:
the natural sprinkler is turning on again.
going to be flooding once again in the Debby drenched area's
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 37950
Quoting wunderkidcayman:


so that means that it has some work to do unlike 94L has a much better circulation the problem is convection but I wold think that should not be a problem soon

I certainly think 94L will get the "I" name and if 95L does develop into anything I'd say the most maybe a strong TD


If you are correct 94L becomes Issac, 95L becomes Joyce, and 96L becomes Kirk.
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Quoting Patrap:


I did see a Flock Of Seagulls with Funny Hair and a 80's beat once though,

..I ran so far away..I couldn't get away..


I'd rather listen to a real flock of seagulls with gas than the band.
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 613
do the gfs and euro runs show a more zonal flow as per the meteorologists saying last week in respect to potential Isaac? If so, that is not good
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Quoting LargoFl:
what would NOT be funny is if 95 travels up along this trough in the gul and goes into the northern gulf states..they surely do NOT need any more rain


Sooo, what's to keep 95L from doing that & smacking the convention site from the West...while the other storms smacks it from the East? lol. Hey, maybe even God dislikes politics! (heh)
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thanks, lol
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:


in my opinion IMO
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Quoting kshipre1:
sorry for the dumb question but what does IMO mean?



in my opinion
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yikes
Quoting hydrus:
Thats not all, if the storm tracks through the Florida Straits and starts to recurve in the S.E.Gulf of Mexico, it may intensify to a formidable hurricane, You can guess the rest.
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Quoting WalkingInTheSun:


Well, things much be changing, as my local weather radio said it had only 10% chance of development this AM. I wonder how interesting it would get if if migrated a little NE to that hot-water spot in the W-central GOM.

It's a 30 % now
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Quoting Patrap:
A weak rotation is evident along the Mexican Coast.







so that means that it has some work to do unlike 94L has a much better circulation the problem is convection but I wold think that should not be a problem soon

I certainly think 94L will get the "I" name and if 95L does develop into anything I'd say the most maybe a strong TD
Member Since: June 13, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 11704
Quoting ILikeIke:
Does anyone else make a Hurricane kit at the start of each season or do you just run to the store when the storms a commin


They also tell people to have one but when the lines form you realize no one listens.
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Quoting ILikeIke:
Does anyone else make a Hurricane kit at the start of each season or do you just run to the store when the storms a commin


A little of both. Don't get the Cheeto's till last minute. Don'twant to eat them up before there time. :)

.........and the Milk Jugs!
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Quoting kshipre1:
sorry for the dumb question but what does IMO mean?


in my opinion IMO
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Quoting LargoFl:
what would NOT be funny is if 95 travels up along this trough in the gul and goes into the northern gulf states..they surely do NOT need any more rain


Sorry, perhaps funny wasn't the right word choice.


The steering suggest west back to Mexico, so it shouldn't exacerbate the northern Gulf + rainfall anomalies.
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Quoting osuwxguynew:
Going to be funny if 95L in the Gulf gets to TS strength and becomes Isaac before 94L...

Though clearly not nearly the threat that 94L is longer term.



Only thing wrong with that statement....is the word "clearly". Tropical weather seems to have a way of taking words like that to heart.
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sorry for the dumb question but what does IMO mean?
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Quoting ILikeIke:
Does anyone else make a Hurricane kit at the start of each season or do you just run to the store when the storms a commin
most of it i store til the next year, the batteries etc i change every 2 years..the canned food etc i use up every year..all the ropes etc stay, jerky is gone every year too..common sense in all things..any one who waits til the last moment is quite foolish especially if you live in an urban area..anyone see walmart on just a regular day?..imagine, thousands trying to get in there for storm supplies..publix and kmart all the same thing, get to the gas station and signs up..NO GAS....so do it early if the storm seems to be coming to your area, days in advance if you can..the last 2 days..poof everything you need..is gone
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 37950
Quoting GetReal:


95L seems to have possibly made the connection to the front that is currently across the northern GOM. Waiting to see if it will react and start moving ENE.

I suspect that this is already happening, based upon visual observation.
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Quoting wunderkidcayman:
from last blog

right just want to put this out there

this was my forecast cone from late last night in colour




and this is mine now the cone has shifted abit N and has a more N track at the end of the run also extended for an extra 24 hours

(tracks on Jamaicas S coast and track NW between Grand Cayman and its sister islands then up into Cuba then towards Fl and turns back WNW towards NE GOM coast warning no colour



I don't have much confidence with this cone due to the fact that 94L is not offically TD9 yet I am waiting for advisory to come out and forecast cone given


You put the middle of the cone over..... never mind.
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Quoting StormTracker2K:
Very near Tampa at 180hrs


Folks this if FAY all over again. The GFS spitting out 20" plus inches from this set up.

May be time to leave my trailer living behind and head out of state for a while!!!
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95L is still clearly attached to the trof as it lifts out; have to see if that section off the coast of Mexico separates over the next 24 hours.
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Quoting WalkingInTheSun:


Fireants are never funny to me -- not since they got up my pants' leg at age 5 & I had to shuck my jeans in front of a bunch of my relatives. Hey, when my Aunt & I saw how badly they were on me...& she said to pull my pants off, I don't think she had to say it twice, despite some embarassment. lol.



I had that same experience in Pop Warner Football the first day I wore my Spiffy new Nylon White Football pants and sat in pile of dem sucka's.

Nothing like a Hollering 8 yr old stripping in front of 100 People.


But, then again...,a fine memory as my Dad was laughing his rear off.

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Bluestorm5:
You wish, lol.


No. not really, cause I am not wishing anything. but hey I don't have much confidence with this cone yet. I need to see more happening and that will only happen in time so time will tell and we just have to wait and see.

Member Since: June 13, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 11704
Quoting MississippiWx:
I would be surprised if the HH found anything significant circulation-wise with 95L today. Still needs more time to consolidate and separate from the trough.



Out for now.


It look slike it is reaching for the moisture & higher sea temps in the W GOM.
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Quoting duranta:

But the trade off is the loss of underground aquifers to the fracking process. Folks and animals have become ill from exposure to the chemicals on their own properties. The radioactive waste water is dumped into sewer systems and water bodies. This is not acceptable.
So if u r going to use natural gas, there's gotta be a better way of getting at it.

Quoting WINDSMURF:
Good morning all,

94l is too far out for anybody to have a good handle on it right now. In my humble opinion we should all wait another 24 hrs. to have a better idea of future track
LOL... I think we have to wait, whether we should or even want to... no choice in the matter... lol

Quoting weatherh98:
And I wundered why the blog was dead...

There was a new blog
I been looking out for the WunderBot since before 10 a.m. .... lol

[Gotta love that wunderbot...]

Quoting sar2401:


Yes, I have, but this is not the time to be discussing fracking when we have a bunch of active invests, tropical storms, and typhoons happening at the same time.
Agreed. Nevertheless we have now had more posts about posting about fracking than we have had posts about fracking.... which is the greater distraction to the blog?

;o/
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 21883
A weak rotation is evident along the Mexican Coast.





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Quoting AllStar17:


I agree. That's why I asked if they were even going to investigate it.

Probably there to give a precentage on it only but u know on these things.
Member Since: June 4, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 767
Quoting Grothar:
Anybody notice their ants acting funny? I just saw a flock of birds heading for Home Depot.


Fireants are never funny to me -- not since they got up my pants' leg at age 5 & I had to shuck my jeans in front of a bunch of my relatives. Hey, when my Aunt & I saw how badly they were on me...& she said to pull my pants off, I don't think she had to say it twice, despite some embarassment. lol.
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Quoting osuwxguynew:
Going to be funny if 95L in the Gulf gets to TS strength and becomes Isaac before 94L...

Though clearly not nearly the threat that 94L is longer term.

what would NOT be funny is if 95 travels up along this trough in the gul and goes into the northern gulf states..they surely do NOT need any more rain
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 37950
Quoting wunderkidcayman:
from last blog

right just want to put this out there

this was my forecast cone from late last night in colour




and this is mine now the cone has shifted abit N and has a more N track at the end of the run also extended for an extra 24 hours

(tracks on Jamaicas S coast and track NW between Grand Cayman and its sister islands then up into Cuba then towards Fl and turns back WNW towards NE GOM coast warning no colour



I don't have much confidence with this cone due to the fact that 94L is not offically TD9 yet I am waiting for advisory to come out and forecast cone given


I might suggest removing the NOAA/NWS/NHC logos from your images if they do not represent the official track guidance produced by the official NOAA forecasts. Even if they were from official products, I would still suggest caution in usage of official logos. This can lead to confusion and put you in a bad position.
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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.