Crossing Hispaniola and Cuba: a history

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 1:20 AM GMT on August 25, 2012

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Throughout hurricane history, numerous tropical storms and hurricanes have battered themselves against Hispaniola and Cuba. Some have been destroyed; others have survived and gone on to wreak additional havoc. Cuba's most formidable barrier to hurricanes is the one Isaac will be running into--the eastern portion of the island, where mountains up to 6,000 feet high rear up out of the sea. I present here a history of five storms that crossed portions of both Hispaniola and Cuba, similar to Isaac's track. These five storms strengthened by 5 - 20 mph in their first 24 hours after coming off the coast of Cuba, and one went on to become the deadliest disaster in American history--the Great Galveston Hurricane.

Tropical Storm Fay of 2008. This storm was so unpredictable, I nicknamed it "The Joker." Fay got disrupted by passage over Haiti and Eastern Cuba, then slowly intensified to a 50 mph tropical storm as it tracked just south of Cuba. After crossing Central Cuba, Fay intensified from 50 mph to 65 mph in 36 hours over the Florida Straits, before making landfall in southwest Florida. Fay actually strengthened another 5 mph to a 70 mph tropical storm while its center was over land near the western end of Lake Okeechobee.




Figure 1. Tropical Storm Fay approaching Florida. Satellite: Aqua at 6:50 PM GMT on August 18, 2008


Hurricane Ernesto of 2006. Ernesto was a hurricane for the briefest of time, just six hours, before it encountered the rugged mountains on the southwest Peninsula of Haiti and Eastern Cuba, which weakened it to a 40 mph tropical storm. After popping off the north coast of Cuba, Ernest had 24 hours over the warm waters of the Florida Straits before making landfall on the southern tip of Florida, but Ernesto was only able to strengthen by 5 mph to 45 mph.




Figure 2. Hurricane Ernesto (05L) over Hispaniola. Satellite: Terra at 3:50 PM GMT on August 27, 2006


Hurricane Georges of 1998. This nasty Cape Verde hurricane cut a swath of destruction across the Caribbean and in the U.S., killing 602 people, mostly in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Passage over Hispaniola weakened Georges from a Category 3 storm to a Category 1, and Georges was able to maintain Category 1 status for over a day while traversing the eastern half of Cuba. After the center popped off the coast, Georges had 18 hours over water before it hit Key West, and the hurricane intensified from 85 mph winds to 105 mph winds during that time.




Figure 3. Inside the eye of Hurricane Georges, as seen from a NOAA WP-3D research aircraft on 19 September 1998.


Hurricane Two of 1928. This storm became a Category 1 hurricane with 90 mph winds before reaching Haiti, the got disrupted by close passage to Haiti's southwest peninsula, and Eastern Cuba. After the storm crossed Cuba, it strengthened from 60 mph to 70 mph in the Florida Straits, before close passage by the landmass of South Florida weakened it back to a 60 mph tropical storm again. It eventually made landfall in the panhandle of Florida as a 45 mph tropical storm.




Great Galveston Hurricane of 1900. This deadliest hurricane in American history killed an estimated 8,000 - 12,000 people in Galveston, Texas when it hit as a Category 4 storm with 145 mph winds on September 8, 1900. On its way to Galveston, the storm crossed both Hispaniola and the greater part of the length of Cuba as a tropical storm with 40 - 50 mph winds. When the storm popped out into the Florida Straits, it intensified from a minimum strength 40 mph tropical storm to a 145 mph Category 4 monster in two-and-a-half days. There's a very good chance the hurricane passed over a warm core Gulf eddy on its way to Galveston, allowing explosive deepening to occur. That situation does not exist in the Gulf at present for Isaac.




Figure 4. Aftermath of the Great Galveston Hurricane of 1900 on Galveston Island.



I'll have a new post Saturday between 11 am - 1 pm.

Jeff Masters

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2843. SSideBrac
3:17 PM GMT on August 25, 2012
Quoting pottery:

... and it seems that the worst of the rainfall is still to come, for them.


Yes - I fear that Haiti has far worse to come for perhaps another 24 hours
Member Since: September 21, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 320
2842. FloridaShore
3:06 PM GMT on August 25, 2012
[Jeff wrote] "Fay actually strengthened another 5 mph to a 70 mph tropical storm while its center was over land near the western end of Lake Okeechobee."

If you've ever been in the swamps of Florida, or in the bigger rivers where they're wide, slow, and shallow, you'll quickly realize that it can be hotter than the Gulf or ocean SSTs, and full of humidity. Making "landfall" along certain stretches of the Florida coast is a misnomer, as there is as much or more convection energy on "land" as it was seeing over the water. Please don't be too surprised that it did that.
Member Since: September 13, 2001 Posts: 0 Comments: 1
2841. lobdelse81
2:55 PM GMT on August 25, 2012
Where is Levi? I want some tropical tidbits.
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2840. cirrocumulus
2:54 PM GMT on August 25, 2012
11:00 AM EDT Sat Aug 25
Location: 20.1°N 74.6°W
Moving: NW at 17 mph
Min pressure: 998 mb
Max sustained: 60 mph
Member Since: September 30, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 1606
2839. etxwx
2:50 PM GMT on August 25, 2012
Quick newsbreak about Typhoons Bolaven and Tembin and possible Fujiwhara effect. Bolaven is the 15th Typhoon this year.
Interaction may strengthen typhoons
China Daily 08-25-2012 The interaction between the severe typhoons Tembin and Bolaven, known as the Fujiwhara effect, will bring torrential rains, strong gusts of wind and rough seawater to the southeastern parts of China, a senior weather forecaster said. "The twin typhoons are likely to rotate around each other if they get close (about 1,500 kilometers), bringing strengthened power," Qian Chuanhai, a typhoon expert at the China Meteorological Administration, told China Daily on Friday.

Story continues here.
Member Since: September 4, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 1528
2838. cirrocumulus
2:48 PM GMT on August 25, 2012
Does anyone have the "KEYS" to this storm?
Member Since: September 30, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 1606
2837. fredric1979
2:44 PM GMT on August 25, 2012
Quoting GetReal:
Quoting CoastalAlabama:



To anyone in coastal Alabama region:

I am new to Alabama, came from Coastal Texas. What is typical storm surge in Mobile Bay?? I know highly dependent, but for example during Ike in 2008 we had it come around almost entire backside of Galveston Island (aka S. Houston). And that was for a strong Cat 1 / weak Cat 2...but it had lots of time to pile up the water. Shallow shelf.

What is storm surge like for Mobile Bay??



You also want to stay out of the two traffic tunnels during a hurricane.... I understand that they both go underwater!!! (sarcasm)
They actually do close the old one on Hwy 90 ( Government St.) the Bankhead Tunnel usually gets water from the bayside in it since it opens at the bay. They have a gate that closes off that end. Dauphin Island usually gets hammered
Member Since: August 16, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 98
2836. weatherbro
2:42 PM GMT on August 25, 2012
Now that the storm is this far north it can now more strongly feel the weakness just east of Florida on the periphery of the Bermuda ridge as it continues to weaken!!!
Member Since: May 26, 2007 Posts: 47 Comments: 1393
2835. CaneHunter031472
2:42 PM GMT on August 25, 2012
Quoting ALlisa:

I would say I love your user name but not :-) ...very young during frederic but still remember so much about that hurricane (before, during and after). So much has changed since then but not ready for that. I am in West Mobile off Dawes and I can ONLY imagine Wal-Mart today! I guess I will venture that way soon :-(. Reality is setting in that I need to prepare.


I'm in Pascagoula MS. I feel much better now that we are close to be out of the cone. I think that we will see advisories issued soon but I don't think they will be issued for MS. Mobile to Panama Beach is a different story tho. I will keep you guys in my prayers. I think this is almost settled and anywhere between Pcola and Panama beach will be directly hit, so better to be prepared.
Member Since: August 1, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 202
2834. Vlad959810
2:37 PM GMT on August 25, 2012
Quoting SFLWeatherman:
97L at 384HR

This is not 97L, is the one well behind it
Member Since: July 14, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 90
2833. SLU
2:37 PM GMT on August 25, 2012
25/1200 UTC 12.8N 30.4W T1.0/1.0 97L -- Atlantic
25/1145 UTC 19.9N 73.6W T3.0/3.0 ISAAC -- Atlantic
Member Since: July 13, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 5367
2832. 12george1
2:36 PM GMT on August 25, 2012
Tropical Storm Isaac floods Haiti, at least 3 dead
Member Since: August 27, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 260
2831. StormJunkie
2:34 PM GMT on August 25, 2012
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
I don't believe so; fixate your eyes on the lower-level cloud deck and you'll see the surface circulation basically on the southeastern tip of the Cuban coast. I doubt that Isaac will spend anymore than 45 minutes to an hour over mainland, if not just a scrape along the coast.



The LLC is just off the coast between Cajobabo and Rio Seco. The mid-level circulation is slightly to the NW of that. Not perfectly stacked. Now go look at the mountains in that area.

Again, the way it looks now was to be expected, and no it would not take a lot for him to recover if/when he gets off the Cuban Coast and in to the Atl/Straits. But right now he is limping along and just trying to hold it all together.
Member Since: August 17, 2005 Posts: 26 Comments: 16874
2830. tennisgirl08
2:33 PM GMT on August 25, 2012
Quoting ALlisa:

I would say I love your user name but not :-) ...very young during frederic but still remember so much about that hurricane (before, during and after). So much has changed since then but not ready for that. I am in West Mobile off Dawes and I can ONLY imagine Wal-Mart today! I guess I will venture that way soon :-(. Reality is setting in that I need to prepare.


I don't think he is going to make it as far west as Mobile. I say a Panama City landfall is more likely.

I would wait to buy your supplies until Monday.

Mobile could be on the West side of the storm which would mean less serious effects. No need to freak out just yet ;)
Member Since: July 17, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 1242
2829. MrMixon
2:32 PM GMT on August 25, 2012
There is a NEW BLOG
Member Since: March 26, 2006 Posts: 44 Comments: 1520
2828. AAPLTrader
2:32 PM GMT on August 25, 2012
Where is the MJO now? Is it in our neck of the woods.
If anyone can post it--thx.
Member Since: September 7, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 24
2827. mynameispaul
2:31 PM GMT on August 25, 2012
mid level wind shear



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2826. cat6band
2:30 PM GMT on August 25, 2012
NORTH, SOUTH, EAST, WEST......YAY!!! Everybody's RIGHT!!!!! Gettin ridiculous in here...
Member Since: May 11, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 322
2825. WhoDat42
2:30 PM GMT on August 25, 2012
Wooble baby, wooble baby, wooble baby, wooble, yeah
Wooble baby, wooble baby, wooble baby, wooble, yeah
Wooble baby, wooble baby, wooble baby, wooble, yeah

Get in there, yeah, yeah
Get in there, yeah, yeah
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 50
2824. yonzabam
2:29 PM GMT on August 25, 2012
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
Reed just pointed out where I think the center is. The western part of the circulation seems to be scraping Cuba, but the...center of the center looks to be farther northwest.




Good spot. It's now through the channel. It would now have to start moving due west to be over Cuba.
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2823. tennisgirl08
2:29 PM GMT on August 25, 2012
Quoting ILwthrfan:


No, but it is why the NHC is being EXTREMELY conservative with a CAT 1 cane instead of a CAT 4. Look at the history analogs of the storms that passed through here. 2 out of the 5 became hurricanes with the others being less. These islands are a tall task for a tropical system to overcome.


True. But just as many storms were TDs over the passage over the islands and eventually bombed out in the GOMEX. He is not going to look good right now due to dry air and land interaction.

But...this will not be a busted forecast. I think a strong TS or weak Cat 1 will hit S. FL and Keys.

I think the northern GOMEX has the most to worry about
Member Since: July 17, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 1242
2822. Elena85Vet
2:29 PM GMT on August 25, 2012
Quoting Tazmanian:



that rader is crap


Because an ARSR4 was designed for the FAA to primarily be a long range/high altitude Air Route Surveillance Radar

It has weather capabilities, but they are very limited in comparison to a dopplar.

Member Since: August 18, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 628
2821. watercayman
2:28 PM GMT on August 25, 2012
New blog up.
Member Since: September 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 95
2820. MiamiHurricanes09
2:27 PM GMT on August 25, 2012
Quoting StormJunkie:


Actually, I would argue that that says the circulation is a little decoupled. The LLC is to the SW of that band right on the coast of Cuba. That is about an hour old and is an excellent representation of what is going on with the storm right now. Couple that with visible loops and it is evident that Isaac is struggling right now. But that was to be expected.
I don't believe so; fixate your eyes on the lower-level cloud deck and you'll see the surface circulation basically on the southeastern tip of the Cuban coast. I doubt that Isaac will spend anymore than 45 minutes to an hour over mainland, if not just a scrape along the coast.

Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
2819. STXHurricanes2012
2:27 PM GMT on August 25, 2012
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
I can't help but laugh at the idea that people think this is falling completely apart. Its center is over the extreme eastern tip of Cuba and moving NW, which means it will already emerge off the coast very shortly. It has a well-defined center and well-defined core as advertised by microwave imagery from a few hours ago.

Truly all u guys are crazy lol!
Member Since: June 4, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 767
2818. ALlisa
2:27 PM GMT on August 25, 2012
Quoting fredric1979:
not trying to doom and gloom you, but, the only way we get out of the cone here is if Isaac opens into an open wave. 2. A severe error in model consistency. What has me worried a little is we've been in the cone for about 2 days now. Models are either dead on top of us, or just a little east, or just a little west. The really reliable ones don't seem to get to far away from us. When / if this thing gets into the Gulf they will probably lock on too it better. Are people going crazy all ready. They are in Semmes buying a lot of gas and raiding the Wally- world as of yesterday.

I would say I love your user name but not :-) ...very young during frederic but still remember so much about that hurricane (before, during and after). So much has changed since then but not ready for that. I am in West Mobile off Dawes and I can ONLY imagine Wal-Mart today! I guess I will venture that way soon :-(. Reality is setting in that I need to prepare.
Member Since: September 12, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 9
2817. SELAliveforthetropic
2:26 PM GMT on August 25, 2012
Can someone please post the latest Euro... Tia
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2816. drg0dOwnCountry
2:25 PM GMT on August 25, 2012
Quoting wxmod:
Arctic sea ice comparison: previous record year 2007 with this year.



And that changes a lot

Changing Jet Streams May Alter Paths of Storms and Hurricanes

Member Since: September 22, 2005 Posts: 11 Comments: 2032
2815. pottery
2:25 PM GMT on August 25, 2012
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
I can't help but laugh at the idea that people think this is falling completely apart. Its center is over the extreme eastern tip of Cuba and moving NW, which means it will already emerge off the coast very shortly. It has a well-defined center and well-defined core as advertised by microwave imagery from a few hours ago.

... and by the time it is fully over the warm water again, it will have rotated all that heavy convection to the east and south of it, into it's central part.
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24883
2814. QMiami
2:25 PM GMT on August 25, 2012
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Yep.


pretty annoying press conference. news station keep cuttting out because the mayor keeps flipping back and forth between english/spanish. Never saw a conference like that usually they do one english and then again in spanish.
Member Since: May 12, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 130
2813. tennisgirl08
2:25 PM GMT on August 25, 2012
Quoting StormJunkie:


Actually, I would argue that that says the circulation is a little decoupled. The LLC is to the SW of that band right on the coast of Cuba. That is about an hour old and is an excellent representation of what is going on with the storm right now. Couple that with visible loops and it is evident that Isaac is struggling right now. But that was to be expected.


He was never expected to become a Hurricane until he gets north of Cuba. I think his center is going to pass over the Eastern tip of Cuba which has some mountains. He will struggle over next day or so.

BUT...

His true colors will show near the FL straits and especially the GOMEX.
Member Since: July 17, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 1242
2812. GTcooliebai
2:25 PM GMT on August 25, 2012
Quoting clwstmchasr:


Aren't the models shifting west?
The 06z GFDL shifted substancially west and GFS shifted a tad bit west and the 06 HWRF shifted a tad bit east.
Member Since: August 31, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 5628
2811. Bluestorm5
2:25 PM GMT on August 25, 2012
People, USE ALL TOOLS before making comments. Do not just assume Isaac based on visible image or any other satellite image. Microwave suggest that the center is still organized. It is NOT dying.
Member Since: August 1, 2011 Posts: 28 Comments: 8075
2810. Dakster
2:25 PM GMT on August 25, 2012
Did I miss something?

SFWMD just said now Hurricane Isaac?
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2809. ILwthrfan
2:25 PM GMT on August 25, 2012
Quoting tennisgirl08:


Do you really think that if the NHC expected Isaac to weaken to a TD they would be making forecasts for him to be a hurricane?? He looks ragged right now because of dry air...IMO. But he will not degenerate.


No, but it is why the NHC is being EXTREMELY conservative with a CAT 1 cane instead of a CAT 4. Look at the history analogs of the storms that passed through here. 2 out of the 5 became hurricanes with the others being less. These islands are a tall task for a tropical system to overcome.
Member Since: February 2, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1540
2808. barotropic
2:25 PM GMT on August 25, 2012
Quoting TampaFLUSA:

The NHC at 11 will settle to see who is right.


Thats for sure. Likely multiple vortex's especially in this scenario. No question one just went in over east cuba, but as I posted seems that the dominant circulation may be still going NW.
Member Since: August 22, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 652
2807. flcanes
2:25 PM GMT on August 25, 2012
Quoting Tazmanian:



yep



the center is not moveing inaland it may have all ready move back in too open water

it'll probably be back over water soon
Member Since: August 20, 2012 Posts: 13 Comments: 1254
2806. washingtonian115
2:24 PM GMT on August 25, 2012
Lol.Why does TWA13 vanish when I get on the blog?.May you all in the path be safe.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 17814
2805. waterskiman
2:24 PM GMT on August 25, 2012
Squally here in the upper keys, the son of Isaac.

Lot of people driving out, Not many people at the stores, either they don't know a storm is comming or have their stuff already. Price of fuel jumped 8 cents over night
Member Since: June 6, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 4458
2804. flcanes
2:24 PM GMT on August 25, 2012
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
I can't help but laugh at the idea that people think this is falling completely apart. Its center is over the extreme eastern tip of Cuba and moving NW, which means it will already emerge off the coast very shortly. It has a well-defined center and well-defined core as advertised by microwave imagery from a few hours ago.

this is going to be very bad
Member Since: August 20, 2012 Posts: 13 Comments: 1254
2803. WunderAlertBot (Admin)
2:24 PM GMT on August 25, 2012
JeffMasters has created a new entry.
2802. Tazmanian
2:24 PM GMT on August 25, 2012
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
I can't help but laugh at the idea that people think this is falling completely apart. Its center is over the extreme eastern tip of Cuba and moving NW, which means it will already emerge off the coast very shortly. It has a well-defined center and well-defined core as advertised by microwave imagery from a few hours ago.



yep



the center is not moveing inaland it may have all ready move back in too open water
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115454
2801. RTSplayer
2:23 PM GMT on August 25, 2012
The anomaly has gotten to the biggest it's been all year, even though we're approaching the phase where the seasonal changes should be slowing down melting.



and



and



and

Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 33 Comments: 1520
2800. 94vortech
2:23 PM GMT on August 25, 2012
Quoting wpb:
no recon {af}bc of cuban airspac. dont know about noaa p-3. data from sat and cuba radar


Not true...they just haven't taken off yet.
Member Since: July 26, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 4
2799. Carnoustie
2:23 PM GMT on August 25, 2012
Quoting barotropic:


No its not.....look at center crossing E cuba heading WNW SEEING IS BELIEVING!!!


Link


over open water moving nw.
Member Since: August 31, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 49
2798. nola70119
2:22 PM GMT on August 25, 2012
Quoting ftlaudweathermaster:


No,more east.


No, they were East at 2am, but west this morning....
Member Since: June 16, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 1565
2797. TropicalAnalystwx13
2:22 PM GMT on August 25, 2012
I can't help but laugh at the idea that people think this is falling completely apart. Its center is over the extreme eastern tip of Cuba and moving NW, which means it will already emerge off the coast very shortly. It has a well-defined center and well-defined core as advertised by microwave imagery from a few hours ago.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32830
2796. hurricanejunky
2:22 PM GMT on August 25, 2012
Isaac brings to mind this Jimmy Buffett song:
Tryin' To Reason With Hurricane Season
Member Since: August 28, 2006 Posts: 6 Comments: 2899
2795. StormJunkie
2:22 PM GMT on August 25, 2012
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
The circulation is not decoupled.



Actually, I would argue that that says the circulation is a little decoupled. The LLC is to the SW of that band right on the coast of Cuba. That is about an hour old and is an excellent representation of what is going on with the storm right now. Couple that with visible loops and it is evident that Isaac is struggling right now. But that was to be expected.
Member Since: August 17, 2005 Posts: 26 Comments: 16874
2794. MAweatherboy1
2:22 PM GMT on August 25, 2012
Quoting Fishaholic25fl:
pressure dropped from it last recording though right??

This morning's recon reported 998mb, that's what they used at 8AM, and that was up substantially from earlier... They'll probably keep 998mb at 11 with no evidence to support otherwise, and I think they'll use 50mph as the intensity.
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 84 Comments: 8039
2793. wpb
2:21 PM GMT on August 25, 2012
Quoting ILwthrfan:
1. It's inflow is blocked from the south.
2. Its cener is stretched to the northeast and becoming more disorganized.
3. Its void of a central core.
4. Its lower level circulation is moving right into a substantial mountain range

One thing you can bet on is that any intensification WILL be TURTLE SLOW at best. Book it.
great post very true.
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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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