Sandy slams Cuba, intensifies over the Bahamas

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:39 PM GMT on October 25, 2012

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Hurricane Sandy shrugged off wind shear of 20 knots and passage over the southeastern tip of Jamaica yesterday afternoon, explosively deepening into a top-end Category 2 hurricane with 110 mph winds. Sandy made landfall in Southeastern Cuba around 1 am EDT this morning near Santiago de Cuba, which experienced sustained winds of 78 mph, gusting to 114 mph. Winds at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba peaked at 58 mph, gusting to 72 mph, at 3 am local time this morning, and the base received 3.51" of rain from Sandy as of 8 am EDT this morning. Punta Lucrecia, Cuba on the north coast of Cuba received 8.42" of rain from Sandy as of 8 am EDT. Cuban state media is reporting that one person was killed on Cuba, and damage was heavy, with thousands of homes damaged or destroyed. Damage was also substantial on Jamaica, where one person was killed, and power was knocked out for 70% of the island's residents. One death has been reported in Haiti due to flooding.

Sandy survived the crossing of Cuba's high mountains with its inner core relatively intact, and is now re-intensifying over the warm waters of the Central Bahama Islands. The latest 9:30 am center fix from the Hurricane Hunters found a central pressure of 965 mb, down 3 mb in 1.5 hours. The eye is intermittently visible on satellite loops, and Sandy appears to be holding its own against the high 30 knots of wind shear affecting it.


Figure 1. Hurricane Sandy approaching landfall in Southeast Cuba as seen by Cuban radar at 10:15 pm EDT Wednesday, October 24, 2012. Image credit: Cuban Institute of Meteorology.


Figure 2. Morning satellite image of Sandy.

Forecast for Sandy
Wind shear is expected to rise to 40 - 55 knots by Friday, as Sandy interacts with a trough of low pressure to its west. The high shear should disrupt Sandy's inner core and reduce the maximum winds. However, the trough will also inject energy into Sandy, and the hurricane's winds will spread out over a wider area of ocean, keeping the storm surge threat high. This large wind field will likely drive a storm surge of 5 - 8 feet in the Bahamas. Sandy will make its closest pass by Nassau around 8 am EDT Friday.

The latest set of 00Z (8 pm EDT) and 06Z (2 am EDT) computer model runs are in substantial agreement for the next 3 days, but Sandy's future is as clear as mud after that. Sandy will continue to punish the Bahamas today and Friday, as it tracks north to north-northwest. Sandy will probably come close enough to the Southeast U.S. on Saturday afternoon to spread heavy rains to the coasts of South Carolina and North Carolina. However, the 4 - 6 day computer model forecasts for Sunday - Tuesday diverge widely. The GFS model, which has been one of our two top models for predicting hurricane tracks the past two years, has been very inconsistent with its handling of Sandy. Runs of the GFS model done 6 hours apart, at 8 pm last night and 2 am EDT this morning, were 300 miles apart in their position for Sandy on Tuesday, with the latest run predicting a landfall in Maine on Wednesday morning. On the other hand, the ECMWF model, our other top model for predicting hurricane tracks, has been very consistent in its handling of Sandy. The ECMWF model has Sandy hitting Delaware on Monday afternoon, the same forecast it has had for three consecutive runs. The other models tend to follow one extreme or the other, and NHC is picking a solution somewhere in the middle of these two extremes. An extra set of balloon-borne radiosondes is going to be launched at 2 pm EDT Thursday all across the U.S., which should help this evening's model runs. Extra radiosondes will be launched every 6 hours through Saturday afternoon.


Figure 3. This Maximum Water Depth storm surge image for the Bahamas shows the worst-case inundation scenarios for a Category 2 hurricane with 105 mph winds, as predicted using dozens of runs of NOAA's SLOSH model. For example, if you are inland at an elevation of ten feet above mean sea level, and the combined storm surge and tide (the "storm tide") is fifteen feet at your location, the water depth image will show five feet of inundation. No single storm will be able to cause the level of flooding depicted in this image. Sandy's maximum storm surge may reach levels portrayed in this image for some islands in the Bahamas. See wunderground's storm surge pages for more storm surge info.

The Northeast U.S. scenario
If Sandy makes landfall farther to the north near Maine and Nova Scotia, heavy rains will be the main threat, since the cold waters will weaken the storm significantly before landfall. The trees have fewer leaves farther to the north, which will reduce the amount of tree damage and power failures compared to a more southerly track. However, given that ocean temperatures along the Northeast U.S. coast are about 5°F above average, there will be an unusually large amount of water vapor available to make heavy rain. If the trough of low pressure approaching the East Coast taps into the large reservoir of cold air over Canada and pulls down a significant amount of Arctic air, the potential exists for the unusually moist air from Sandy to collide with this cold air from Canada and unleash the heaviest October rains ever recorded in the Northeast U.S., Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick. This Northeast U.S. scenario would probably cause damages near $100 million dollars.

The mid-Atlantic U.S. scenario
Landfall Monday along the mid-Atlantic coast on Monday, as predicted by the ECMWF and NOGAPS models, would likely be a billion-dollar disaster. In this scenario, Sandy would be able to bring sustained winds near hurricane force over a wide stretch of heavily populated coast, causing massive power outages, as trees still in leaf fall and take out power lines. Sandy is expected to have tropical storm-force winds that extend out more than 300 miles from the center, which will drive a much larger storm surge than its winds would ordinarily suggest. The full moon is on Monday, which means astronomical tides will be at their peak for the month, increasing potential storm surge flooding. Fresh water flooding from heavy rains would also be a huge concern. Given the ECMWF's consistent handling of Sandy, I believe this mid-Atlantic scenario has a higher probability of occurring than the Northeast U.S. scenario. However, it is likely that the models are overdoing the strength of Sandy at landfall. The models have trouble handling the transition from tropical storm to extratropical storm in these type of situations, and I expect that the 940 mb central pressure of Sandy predicted at landfall Monday in Delaware by the ECMWF model is substantially overdone.

Jeff Masters

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Quoting yonzabam:


Gilbert 888

Wilma 882

For those wandering about pressure, here is the National Hurricane Center's Hurricane Data from 1851-2011

Link
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Quoting Patrap:


In the process of moving now. Ugh, double ugh..and yuck


Moving in or moving out?
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Quoting floridastorm:
I don't see Sandy even moving an inch closer to Florida. When will the NNW to NW turn happen? I'm kind of beginning to think that we won't get much at all here in Florida...



Don't let FLORIDAGETSNOTHING see that! (Troll from around 6am :)
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Quoting MAweatherboy1:
Look how big it is. Honestly it really doesn't look that good at all on satellite but it is absolutely huge:



Sandy looks very ragged on satellite imagery. Being in a similar neck of the woods as you (your avatar gives it away), I sure am hoping Sandy spares us.
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Sandy is looking shabby at this point in time, but there are still some strong thunderstorms consolidating around the center.

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Hybrid of Sandy, winter storm threatens East Coast
Associated PressBy SETH BORENSTEIN | Associated Press – 3 hours ago


WASHINGTON (AP) — Government forecasters say a big storm that they're calling "Frankenstorm" is likely to blast most of the U.S. East Coast next week.

The storm is an unusual mix of a hurricane and a winter storm. The worst of it could be focused around New York City and New Jersey.

Forecasters on Thursday said there's a 90 percent chance that the East will get steady gale-force winds, flooding, heavy rain and maybe snow starting Sunday and stretching past Wednesday.

The hurricane part of the storm is likely to come ashore somewhere in New Jersey on Tuesday morning.

NOAA forecaster Jim Cisco said the storm is so massive that the effects will be felt along the entire coast from Florida to Maine and inland to Ohio.
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Quoting SFLWeatherman:
TONY EXPECTED TO BECOME POST-TROPICAL LATER TODAY


Who's Tony?
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TONY EXPECTED TO BECOME POST-TROPICAL LATER TODAY
Member Since: May 23, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 5004
Look how big it is. Honestly it really doesn't look that good at all on satellite but it is absolutely huge:

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Quoting Hurricane1956:
It looks very nasty outside too!!!! windy and very dark sky's.Wondering how much effect we will feel here in South Florida,the Nam Model for some reason,and I know is not the most realiable model bring the storm closer to the South East Coast of the USA,we'll see if this materialize or not??.


The NAM wasn't necessarily made to track the paths of tropical cyclones.

Sandy will be the closest to us in southern Florida by the early hours of tomorrow morning, I think, so that is when the worst of the conditions will be felt.
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MONSTER MASH
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The big rain here now!!

Member Since: May 23, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 5004
Ridin' The Storm Out
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I don't see Sandy even moving an inch closer to Florida. When will the NNW to NW turn happen? I'm kind of beginning to think that we won't get much at all here in Florida...
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Quoting Hurricane12:
Winds are picking up here in Miami.
It looks very nasty outside too!!!! windy and very dark sky's.Wondering how much effect we will feel here in South Florida,the Nam Model for some reason,and I know is not the most realiable model bring the storm closer to the South East Coast of the USA,we'll see if this materialize or not??.
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First reports from Ragged Island:

The sun is out there for the first time in a while. So far no casualties, but lots of downed power lines, trees, with damage to boats and buildings. Apparently they are reporting 110 mph winds at one point [I'm assuming gusts] , so I imagine there will be some damage.

A current report from Exuma is suggesting they are in the eye... the centre is around 25 miles east of Exuma right now.

Cat Island and Rum Cay are starting to get into the hurricane zone.
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 23093
Quoting Patrap:
Were gonna need a bigger blog..



Cudos to you sir. Well done!
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Quoting RitaEvac:


I was at 952mb during Ike


Gilbert 888

Wilma 882
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Quoting zoomiami:


Hi Pat:

Missed you the last few days, how is it going with repairs etc?


In the process of moving now. Ugh, double ugh..and yuck
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Devilcane
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Quoting AllStar17:


The models have trouble handling the transition from tropical storm to extratropical storm in these type of situations, and I expect that the 940 mb central pressure of Sandy predicted at landfall Monday in Delaware by the ECMWF model is substantially overdone.

Jeff Masters


I'm aware of what Dr. Masters said, I am pointing out though that now the GFS and CMC have come into agreement. The fact that the ECMWF bombs it out is no surprise, intensity has always been a problem for it with large storms moving north at a high speed. The main problem isn't going to be wind, as it probably will be 70-80mph, but the wind field is going to be massive as the pressure may be quite low. That means increased surge, increased effects.
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What's Allan Huffman talking about? Whoa...

@RaleighWx

The 12z ECMWF gives much of northern NC 4-8 inches of snow! #Sandy


EDIT: For the mountains, he meant to say.
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Quoting Patrap:


Dat's a fine synopsis with Lagniappe fer sho'


Hi Pat:

Missed you the last few days, how is it going with repairs etc?
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Quoting FunnelVortex:
Below 950 millibars is like the inside of a freakin tornado.


I was at 952mb during Ike
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Maybe NAM was sensing an eye reforming to the west. We shall see.
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Quoting CybrTeddy:
For comparison's sake, 2011 Halloween Nor'easter was 971mb, and the Perfect Storm in 1993 was 972mb.

This could be sub-950mb.


The models have trouble handling the transition from tropical storm to extratropical storm in these type of situations, and I expect that the 940 mb central pressure of Sandy predicted at landfall Monday in Delaware by the ECMWF model is substantially overdone.

Jeff Masters
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Is this the storm we are waiting for since a long time?
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410 RitaEvac: definite East of North component (NNE movement) [old GreatCircleMapper mapping]

That's the previous mapping including a straightline projection 6hours into the then future.
The new mapping (with no projection into the future) looks like this

(PST removed cuz its dot overlapped onto the line)
Adding the straightline projection onto the most recently added path-segment...


Click this link to the GreatCircleMapper for a larger combined map with more info
And the previous mapping for comparison

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EURO -
https://sphotos-a.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash3/55219 5_394838210584931_1582934597_n.jpg
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You're a good one, mojo.
I've copied that and am sending to my friend with relatives on Long Island.
Member Since: July 11, 2006 Posts: 14 Comments: 11477
Looking at satellite images, it appears that Sandy is losing her eye and central structure...
any opinions on what is next? ...ie will the eye reform?
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Quoting mojofearless:


Yep, we roll like that, don't we, Pat? It's a perpetual preparation cycle here in Nola.
Ok - for our North East Coasters up in here, lemme give you the run down again of how we deal with this in New Orleans.
Freeze water bottles. Pack your freezer with them, in fact. Two liters, small bottles, doesn't matter. Fill them most of the way up if they're two liters, and freeze them. Cubed ice is good for not a damn thing except cocktails. It's will make a mess and be gone in less than 24 hours. Skip the bags of ice. Freeze bottles. If you have to use them to preserve your food, get the food as snug as possible in your freezer and put the bottles on top and around - since cold air sinks.
Start drawing down your perishable food immediately. Do not allow your family to eat anything non-perishable between now and the storm if there's still perishable food in your fridge. Smack their little grubby hands when they reach for the Triscuits. Make them eat the yogurt instead.
Stock up on liquor, hand sanitizer, baby wipes for personal hygiene (cucumber green tea wipes are my fave), more liquor, cigarettes if you smoke, at least two hundred dollars in cash (the ATM's and credit card machines go down when the power does), gas up your car - keep it full. Buy batteries, flashlights, a good book. Buy shelf stable bacon, cheese and milk (Parmalat is the best UHT milk).
Remember that it'll be easier to text than make actual calls if the phone lines go down. Communicate with your family before the storm hits so they know your plan.
Move anything you value away from windows and off of exterior walls - especially in older buildings. It's common for brick walls to weep massive amounts of water during hurricanes. Mine looked like a demented full-wall water feature during Isaac. Be we were ready for that, and nothing was damaged except one rug.
When you lose power, you should automatically assume that your water is contaminated until told otherwise. Do not use it for drinking, hand washing, or dish washing. Use your bottled water and disposable plates and utensils.
Be aware of the high potential for dog bites - one of the most common injuries immediately post-hurricane. Fences are down, animals are scared. It happens frequently. Be wary of loose dogs.
Ahhh, what else? Boredom - after a couple of days without power, boredom sets in. Invest in a game of Risk or Monopoly.
And last but not least, do not assume that since you personally sailed thru Irene with flying colors, you shouldn't have to prepare for this. Every storm is wildly different.
Anyone have anything to add here? I'm running out of basic advice.


Dat's a fine synopsis with Lagniappe fer sho'
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Quoting Grothar:
Just called my brother on Long Island and some other relatives. They said, "What storm"? Although my sister-in-law did call back and said they were beginning to make calm, but serious reports of the impending storm
That's no surprise given it is 4 to 5 days out. There is still plenty of time to get good information out, as well as the doomcaster's info out.
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Long time lurker checking in. I wonder what the conditions in Virginia Beach will be Sunday into Monday. Any ideas? So far, it looks like it may stay far enough off the coast to bring just some rain and gusty winds. Thanks everyone!
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Winds are picking up here in Miami.
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Below 950 millibars is like the inside of a freakin tornado.
Member Since: October 20, 2012 Posts: 7 Comments: 2905
Is it possible the center is relocating now?
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i'm in Hollywood, Florida. So far it's been breezy, with some decent rain appearing. It's pretty gray out and raining right now. Watching this storm carefully, although it looks like it'll stay far enough out to sea to not seriously threaten us
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Quoting mojofearless:


Yep, we roll like that, don't we, Pat? It's a perpetual preparation cycle here in Nola.
Ok - for our North East Coasters up in here, lemme give you the run down again of how we deal with this in New Orleans.
Freeze water bottles. Pack your freezer with them, in fact. Two liters, small bottles, doesn't matter. Fill them most of the way up if they're two liters, and freeze them. Cubed ice is good for not a damn thing except cocktails. It's will make a mess and be gone in less than 24 hours. Skip the bags of ice. Freeze bottles. If you have to use them to preserve your food, get the food as snug as possible in your freezer and put the bottles on top and around - since cold air sinks.
Start drawing down your perishable food immediately. Do not allow your family to eat anything non-perishable between now and the storm if there's still perishable food in your fridge. Smack their little grubby hands when they reach for the Triscuits. Make them eat the yogurt instead.
Stock up on liquor, hand sanitizer, baby wipes for personal hygiene (cucumber green tea wipes are my fave), more liquor, cigarettes if you smoke, at least two hundred dollars in cash (the ATM's and credit card machines go down when the power does), gas up your car - keep it full. Buy batteries, flashlights, a good book. Buy shelf stable bacon, cheese and milk (Parmalat is the best UHT milk).
Remember that it'll be easier to text than make actual calls if the phone lines go down. Communicate with your family before the storm hits so they know your plan.
Move anything you value away from windows and off of exterior walls - especially in older buildings. It's common for brick walls to weep massive amounts of water during hurricanes. Mine looked like a demented full-wall water feature during Isaac. Be we were ready for that, and nothing was damaged except one rug.
When you lose power, you should automatically assume that your water is contaminated until told otherwise. Do not use it for drinking, hand washing, or dish washing. Use your bottled water and disposable plates and utensils.
Be aware of the high potential for dog bites - one of the most common injuries immediately post-hurricane. Fences are down, animals are scared. It happens frequently. Be wary of loose dogs.
Ahhh, what else? Boredom - after a couple of days without power, boredom sets in. Invest in a game of Risk or Monopoly.
And last but not least, do not assume that since you personally sailed thru Irene with flying colors, you shouldn't have to prepare for this. Every storm is wildly different.
Anyone have anything to add here? I'm running out of basic advice.


and shrink wrap your potted shrubbery...
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For comparison's sake, 2011 Halloween Nor'easter was 971mb, and the Perfect Storm in 1993 was 972mb.

This could be sub-950mb.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Patrap:


Work your plan, as now is the time for Action.

Thats why preparing all year Long is critical.


Yep, we roll like that, don't we, Pat? It's a perpetual preparation cycle here in Nola.
Ok - for our North East Coasters up in here, lemme give you the run down again of how we deal with this in New Orleans.
Freeze water bottles. Pack your freezer with them, in fact. Two liters, small bottles, doesn't matter. Fill them most of the way up if they're two liters, and freeze them. Cubed ice is good for not a damn thing except cocktails. It's will make a mess and be gone in less than 24 hours. Skip the bags of ice. Freeze bottles. If you have to use them to preserve your food, get the food as snug as possible in your freezer and put the bottles on top and around - since cold air sinks.
Start drawing down your perishable food immediately. Do not allow your family to eat anything non-perishable between now and the storm if there's still perishable food in your fridge. Smack their little grubby hands when they reach for the Triscuits. Make them eat the yogurt instead.
Stock up on liquor, hand sanitizer, baby wipes for personal hygiene (cucumber green tea wipes are my fave), more liquor, cigarettes if you smoke, at least two hundred dollars in cash (the ATM's and credit card machines go down when the power does), gas up your car - keep it full. Buy batteries, flashlights, a good book. Buy shelf stable bacon, cheese and milk (Parmalat is the best UHT milk).
Remember that it'll be easier to text than make actual calls if the phone lines go down. Communicate with your family before the storm hits so they know your plan.
Move anything you value away from windows and off of exterior walls - especially in older buildings. It's common for brick walls to weep massive amounts of water during hurricanes. Mine looked like a demented full-wall water feature during Isaac. Be we were ready for that, and nothing was damaged except one rug.
When you lose power, you should automatically assume that your water is contaminated until told otherwise. Do not use it for drinking, hand washing, or dish washing. Use your bottled water and disposable plates and utensils.
Be aware of the high potential for dog bites - one of the most common injuries immediately post-hurricane. Fences are down, animals are scared. It happens frequently. Be wary of loose dogs.
Ahhh, what else? Boredom - after a couple of days without power, boredom sets in. Invest in a game of Risk or Monopoly.
And last but not least, do not assume that since you personally sailed thru Irene with flying colors, you shouldn't have to prepare for this. Every storm is wildly different.
Anyone have anything to add here? I'm running out of basic advice.
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Just called my brother on Long Island and some other relatives. They said, "What storm"? Although my sister-in-law did call back and said they were beginning to make calm, but serious reports of the impending storm
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Looking back at HH mission... and found this:

SFMR Peak (10s) Sfc. Wind: 83 knots (~ 95.4 mph)

Whoa...
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Quoting TomballTXPride:

GFDL, which is notorious for blowing up storms equivalent to something out of a SCI-FI movie. 926mb = ain't gonna happen. 960mb = now that I could see...with maybe a 955mb. But 930 and 920 is pushing it.
The record for the Atlantic basin is 914mb set in 1993. Levi pointed out earlier that the record for US landfall system is 948.5 mb. I think we have a chance to break that record.
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Were gonna need a bigger blog..

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Dr. Masters co-founded wunderground in 1995. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990. Co-blogging with him: Bob Henson, @bhensonweather

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