Lake Michigan and Lake Huron hit all-time low water levels

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 1:00 PM GMT on February 06, 2013

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During January 2013, water levels on Lake Michigan and Lake Huron fell to their all-time lowest values since record keeping began in 1918, said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Tuesday. The two lakes (which are connected and are hydrologically the same lake) fell to a water level of 576.02'. This is 0.4" below the previous record low of 576.05' set in March 1964. The lakes have dropped 17 inches since January 2012, and are now 29 inches below their long-term average. Lake Superior is about 9" above its all-time low water level, and Lakes Erie and Ontario are just 6" below average (26 - 27" above their all-time lows), so these lakes will not set new low water records in 2013. The latest forecast calls for Lake Superior to drop 2 inches during February, Lake Michigan and Huron to drop 1 inch, Lake Erie to rise 2 inches, and Lake Ontario remain near its current level.


Figure 1. Low water levels at Old Mission Point Lighthouse at Grand Traverse Bay, Lake Michigan, during July 2000. Image credit: NOAA/GLERL.


Why the record lows?
The record-low water levels on Lake Michigan and Lake Huron are due, in part, to dredging operations in their outflow channel, the St. Clair River. The dredging, which stopped in the 1960s, is blamed for a long-term 10 - 16" decrease in water levels. The record low water levels on Lake Michigan and Lake Huron in January occurred despite the fact that precipitation over their watershed was 61% above average during the month. However, precipitation over the past 12 months was only 91% of average, and runoff into the lakes depends upon precipitation over longer than a 1-month period. Furthermore, evaporation over these lakes was much higher than average during January, making the net water supplied to the lakes (runoff into the lakes, plus precipitation over the lakes, minus evaporation from the lakes) only 63% of average. What caused the increased evaporation? Well, very warm water temperatures, for one. According to NOAA's Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory (GLERL), water temperatures over Lake Michigan are currently about 2.5°F above average, and are about 1°F above average over Lake Huron. These warm water temperatures are the lingering effects of the extraordinary warmth of 2012, which was the warmest year on record over much of the Great Lakes region. Also increasing the evaporation from the lakes during January was the presence of less ice cover than average, which exposed more open water to the air.


Figure 2. The water level on Lake Huron and Lake Michigan measured during 2012 - 2013 (red line) hit an all-time low during January 2013, beating the previous record set in March 1964. The predicted water levels for February - March call for record lows both months. Image credit: Army Corps of Engineers.

Ice cover declining, water temperatures warming, and precipitation increasing in recent decades
The long-term future of Great Lakes water levels is cloudy, since climate change is expected to bring competing effects. A 2011 paper by scientists at NOAA Great Lakes Environemental Research Laboratory found that lake levels could rise or fall, depending upon the climate change scenario used. On the one hand, precipitation has increased by 12% over Michigan during the past century, and is expected to increase even more in the coming decades. This would tend to increase lake levels. However, lake water temperatures are predicted to increase and ice cover decrease, which would heighten evaporation rates. This would tend to lower lake levels. Ice cover on North America's Great Lakes--Superior, Michigan, Huron, Ontario, and Erie--has declined 71% since 1973, according to a 2012 study published in the Journal of Climate by researchers at NOAA's Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory. The loss of ice is due to warming of the lake waters, which could be due to a combination of global warming and natural cycles, the researchers said. Winter air temperatures over the lower Great Lakes increased by about 2.7°F (1.5°C) from 1973 - 2010, and by 4 - 5°F (2.3 - 2.7°C) over the northern Lakes, including Lake Superior. Lake Superior's summer surface water temperature warmed 4.5°F (2.5°C) over the period 1979 - 2006 (Austin and Colman 2007). During the same period, Lake Michigan warmed by about 3.3°F (1.7°C), Lake Huron by 4.3°F (2.4°C), and Lake Erie (which is shallow and loses and gains heat relatively quickly) showed almost no warming. The Army Corps of Engineers is also considering adding speed bumps to the bottom of the St. Clair River to slow down drainage of Lake Huron, which would act to increase water levels in Lake Huron and Lake Michigan.


Figure 3. Average yearly precipitation over the state of Michigan increased by about 12% per century since 1895, according to NOAA's National Climatic Data Center.

References
Austin, J. A., and S. Colman, 2007, "Lake Superior summer water temperatures are increasing more rapidly than regional air temperatures: A positive ice-albedo feedback," Geophys. Res. Lett., 34, L06604, doi:10.1029/2006GL029021.

Wang, J., X. Bai, H. Hu, A.H. Clites, M.C. Colton, and B.M. Lofgren, 2012, "Temporal and spatial variability of Great Lakes ice cover, 1973-2010," Journal of Climate 25(4):1318-1329 (DOI:10.1175/2011JCLI4066.1)

Jeff Masters

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Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 39134
New York City and the northern mid-Atlantic are on the edge of a major storm that will hit New England as a blizzard Friday and Friday night.

Only if two storms, an Alberta Clipper from the west and a storm from the South, merge very quickly will there be more than a manageable amount of snow (a foot) in New York City, northern New Jersey, southwestern Connecticut, Long Island, northeastern Pennsylvania and upstate New York
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 39134
Quoting FunnelVortex:


Well, the winds are only going to be 12-15 MPH and it is going to start out as a mix and turn to snow.

How much snow? I dont know yet. But the ECMWF CAPE values show what could be a potential thundersleet/thundersnow event.
Sorry and I don't mean to be rude... But winds up to 60 mph!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting pcola57:


You can trust that model better tomorrow..
Prepare now..IMO


Well, the winds are only going to be 12-15 MPH and it is going to start out as a mix and turn to snow.

How much snow? I dont know yet. But the ECMWF CAPE values show what could be a potential thundersleet/thundersnow event.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting FunnelVortex:


This is going to be dangerous, but it wont be another Sandy.


Comparing apples to oranges..

Member Since: August 13, 2009 Posts: 13 Comments: 6840
URGENT - WINTER WEATHER MESSAGE
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE BINGHAMTON NY
357 AM EST THU FEB 7 2013

NYZ009-018-036-037-080900-
/O.UPG.KBGM.WS.A.0001.130208T1200Z-130209T1200Z/
/O.NEW.KBGM.WS.W.0001.130208T0900Z-130209T1200Z/
NORTHERN ONEIDA-ONONDAGA-MADISON-SOUTHERN ONEIDA-
INCLUDING THE CITIES OF...BOONVILLE...SYRACUSE...ONEIDA...UTICA...
ROME
357 AM EST THU FEB 7 2013

...WINTER STORM WARNING IN EFFECT FROM 4 AM FRIDAY TO 7 AM EST
SATURDAY...

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN BINGHAMTON HAS ISSUED A WINTER
STORM WARNING FOR HEAVY SNOW...WHICH IS IN EFFECT FROM 4 AM
FRIDAY TO 7 AM EST SATURDAY. THE WINTER STORM WATCH IS NO LONGER
IN EFFECT.

* LOCATIONS...ONONDAGA...MADISON AND ONEIDA COUNTIES.

* HAZARDS...HEAVY SNOW.

* ACCUMULATIONS...8 TO 12 INCHES.

* TIMING...SNOW WILL DEVELOP EARLY FRIDAY MORNING WITH THE
HEAVIEST SNOWFALL OCCURRING DURING THE AFTERNOON AND EVENING
HOURS. SNOW WILL GRADUALLY DIMINISH LATE FRIDAY NIGHT.

* TEMPERATURES...IN THE MID 20S TO LOWER 30S FRIDAY...FALLING INTO
THE TEENS FRIDAY NIGHT.

* WINDS...SOUTHEAST AT 10 TO 15 MPH FRIDAY BECOMING NORTHWEST FRIDAY
NIGHT.

* IMPACTS...HAZARDOUS TRAVEL CONDITIONS.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

A WINTER STORM WARNING MEANS SIGNIFICANT AMOUNTS OF SNOW...
SLEET...AND ICE ARE EXPECTED OR OCCURRING. STRONG WINDS ARE ALSO
POSSIBLE. THIS WILL MAKE TRAVEL VERY HAZARDOUS OR IMPOSSIBLE.

PLEASE REPORT SNOWFALL AND/OR ICE AMOUNTS TO THE NATIONAL WEATHER
SERVICE BY CALLING TOLL FREE AT 1-877-633-6772...OR BY EMAIL AT
BGM.STORMREPORT@NOAA.GOV.

&&

$$
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 39134
Quoting FunnelVortex:


This is going to be dangerous, but it wont be another Sandy.
Snow or Rain... Still has wind. Power outages, trees down, etc.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting JustPlantIt:
Hmmmm.... Perhaps the 'Perfect Storm'???

Saw a post yesterday that referred to 'Nemo' backwards is Omen!!!

Yikes.


This is going to be dangerous, but it wont be another Sandy.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting FunnelVortex:
I'm still watching the models for a huge winter storm that is supposed to hit my area Sunday night into Monday.

The ECMWF is showing a possible thundersnow event.



You can trust that model better tomorrow..
Prepare now..IMO
Member Since: August 13, 2009 Posts: 13 Comments: 6840
Quoting pcola57:


Right now it's creeping along th SE..
Will accelerate to the North and become quite dangerous..


I bet Washingtonian is getting excited for this.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Hmmmm.... Perhaps the 'Perfect Storm'???

Saw a post yesterday that referred to 'Nemo' backwards is Omen!!!

Yikes.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
HURRICANE FORCE WINDS?........URGENT - MARINE WEATHER MESSAGE
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE GRAY ME
644 AM EST THU FEB 7 2013

ANZ150-152-154-080245-
/O.CAN.KGYX.SC.Y.0016.000000T0000Z-130207T1200Z/
/O.CON.KGYX.HF.A.0001.130209T0000Z-130210T0000Z/
STONINGTON ME TO PORT CLYDE ME OUT TO 25 NM-
PORT CLYDE ME TO CAPE ELIZABETH ME OUT TO 25 NM-
CAPE ELIZABETH ME TO MERRIMACK RIVER MA OUT TO 25 NM-
644 AM EST THU FEB 7 2013

...HURRICANE FORCE WIND WATCH REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM FRIDAY
EVENING THROUGH SATURDAY EVENING...
...SMALL CRAFT ADVISORY IS CANCELLED...

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN GRAY HAS CANCELLED THE SMALL
CRAFT ADVISORY.

* WINDS AND SEAS...NORTHEAST WINDS 35 TO 55 KT WITH GUSTS UP TO
70 KT. SEAS 28 TO 33 FEET.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

A HURRICANE FORCE WIND WATCH IS ISSUED WHEN THE RISK OF HURRICANE
FORCE WINDS OF 64 KNOTS OR GREATER HAS SIGNIFICANTLY INCREASED...
BUT THE SPECIFIC TIMING AND/OR LOCATION IS STILL UNCERTAIN. IT
IS INTENDED TO PROVIDE ADDITIONAL LEAD TIME FOR MARINERS WHO MAY
WISH TO CONSIDER ALTERING THEIR PLANS.
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 39134
I'm still watching the models for a huge winter storm that is supposed to hit my area Sunday night into Monday.

The ECMWF is showing a possible thundersnow event.

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting FunnelVortex:


Is it one of the two systems that is going to form the nor'easter?


Right now it's creeping along the SE..
Will accelerate to the North and become quite dangerous..

(See post #694)
Member Since: August 13, 2009 Posts: 13 Comments: 6840
wow folks in the northeast THis is coming to you..
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 39134
Quoting pcola57:


Yes it is..
Coming together again now..


Is it one of the two systems that is going to form the nor'easter?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting FunnelVortex:


Woah, is the the Texas storm from yesterday?
yes it is and when it reaches the atlantic its going to be the nor'easter that makes the blizzard up north
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 39134
Quoting FunnelVortex:


Woah, is the the Texas storm from yesterday?


Yes it is..
Coming together again now..
Member Since: August 13, 2009 Posts: 13 Comments: 6840
THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN MOBILE HAS ISSUED A

* SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING FOR...
SOUTHEASTERN ESCAMBIA COUNTY IN NORTHWEST FLORIDA...
SOUTH CENTRAL SANTA ROSA COUNTY IN NORTHWEST FLORIDA...

* UNTIL 845 AM CST

* AT 739 AM CST...A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM CAPABLE OF PRODUCING DAMAGING
WINDS OVER 60 MPH WAS LOCATED 11 MILES SOUTHWEST OF WARRINGTON...OR
11 MILES SOUTHEAST OF PERDIDO BEACH...AND MOVING NORTHEAST AT 25
MPH.

* LOCATIONS IMPACTED INCLUDE...
PENSACOLA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT... MIDWAY...
WOODLAWN BEACH... TIGER POINT... PEA RIDGE...
MULAT... HOLLEY... FLORIDATOWN...
ORIOLE BEACH...

THIS INCLUDES INTERSTATE 10 BETWEEN MILE MARKERS 12 AND 28.
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 39134
Member Since: August 13, 2009 Posts: 13 Comments: 6840
Quoting pcola57:
Starting to get cranked up..









Woah, is that the Texas storm from yesterday?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
URGENT - WINTER WEATHER MESSAGE
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE BUFFALO NY
354 AM EST THU FEB 7 2013

NYZ001-002-010-011-071700-
/O.UPG.KBUF.WS.A.0001.130208T0600Z-130209T1200Z/
/O.NEW.KBUF.WS.W.0001.130208T0600Z-130209T1000Z/
NIAGARA-ORLEANS-NORTHERN ERIE-GENESEE-
INCLUDING THE CITIES OF...NIAGARA FALLS...MEDINA...BUFFALO...
BATAVIA
354 AM EST THU FEB 7 2013

...WINTER STORM WARNING IN EFFECT FROM 1 AM FRIDAY TO 5 AM EST
SATURDAY...

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN BUFFALO HAS ISSUED A WINTER STORM
WARNING FOR HEAVY SNOW...WHICH IS IN EFFECT FROM 1 AM FRIDAY TO
5 AM EST SATURDAY. THE WINTER STORM WATCH IS NO LONGER IN EFFECT.

* LOCATIONS...NIAGARA FRONTIER.

* TIMING...OVERNIGHT TONIGHT THROUGH LATE FRIDAY NIGHT. THE
HEAVIEST SNOW WILL FALL DURING THE DAY ON FRIDAY.

* HAZARDS...HEAVY SNOW...MIXED WITH SLEET AT TIMES.

* ACCUMULATIONS...A STORM TOTAL OF 6 TO 12 INCHES.

* VISIBILITIES...A HALF MILE OR LESS.

* IMPACTS...SNOW WILL RESULT IN DIFFICULT TRAVEL. SNOW WILL FALL
ACROSS THE ENTIRE REGION...WITH THE WORST CONDITIONS EXPECTED
DURING THE DAY ON FRIDAY. IT IS DURING THIS TIME THAT THE BULK
OF THE SNOW WILL FALL.
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 39134
Starting to get cranked up..







Member Since: August 13, 2009 Posts: 13 Comments: 6840
so far no warnings for the carolina's except gale warnings off the coast
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 39134
URGENT - WINTER WEATHER MESSAGE
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE MOUNT HOLLY NJ
329 AM EST THU FEB 7 2013

...A POTENTIALLY SIGNIFICANT WINTER STORM TO AFFECT THE AREA
FRIDAY INTO SATURDAY...

.LOW PRESSURE IS FORECAST TO DEVELOP NEAR THE CAROLINA COAST LATE
TODAY...THEN TRACK NORTHEASTWARD WHILE RAPIDLY INTENSIFYING
THROUGH FRIDAY NIGHT. THIS BRINGS THE STORM TRACK TO OUR EAST...
WITH THE POTENTIAL FOR A SIGNIFICANT SNOWFALL.
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 39134
Nemo at its worst! (Saturday)

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Stay well, Stay safe, Prepare for this snow storm if your in the warned area.

Good night all.
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15938
Well, see ya guys gotta go to school... be back early this afternoon
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
well GFS at 192 hours..
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 39134
Quoting GeorgiaStormz:
I guess it shifted north and less?
still 30" in boston



Doesn't the NAM model usually underestimate snowfall totals?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
I hope the models are wrong, is there yet another storm going to go up the east coast Next week?...well i remember NY and Feb was always a dangerous month for snow storms etc....stay safe folks..heed your local warnings.
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 39134
NAM for SW Conn..

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Breaking News Storm ‏@breakingstorm
Flight delays reported at Chicago's O'Hare Airport due to snow and ice - @NBCNews
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15938
Quoting GeorgiaStormz:
I can tell you this noreaster is giving me a drab rainy day.
That's why I don't like noreasters when they come through GA before heading NE
YES YOU BE CAREFUL UP THERE..HOPE NO TORNADO'S
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 39134
I can tell you this noreaster is giving me a drab rainy day.
That's why I don't like noreasters when they come through GA before heading NE
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
we are getting a mess of historical storms past few yrs
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
I guess it shifted north and less?
still 30" in boston

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting GeorgiaStormz:
hey guys, dont have time to check all the models, what do they show now?
still 30-40 inches?
is the NAM still the crazy outlier?
Euro is showing 24-30 inches. Not sure about GFS, though. I'm at school right now and haven't got a chance to check it.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Good Morning All..
A soggy one this am..



The National Weather Service in Mobile has issued a

* Severe Thunderstorm Warning for...
central Escambia County in northwest Florida...
southeastern Baldwin County in southwest Alabama...

* until 815 am CST

* at 718 am CST... a severe thunderstorm capable of producing damaging
winds over 60 mph was located near Foley... or 4 miles west of
Elberta... and moving northeast at 20 mph.

* Locations impacted include...
Summerdale... Foley... Elberta...

This includes Interstate 10 in Florida between mile markers 1 and 8.
This includes Interstate 10 in Alabama between mile markers 57 and
66.

Lat... Lon 3030 8765 3044 8778 3073 8741 3052 8728
time... Mot... loc 1319z 236deg 19kt 3041 8766
Member Since: August 13, 2009 Posts: 13 Comments: 6840
hey guys, dont have time to check all the models, what do they show now?
still 30-40 inches?
is the NAM still the crazy outlier?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting JupiterKen:
Link

1888 blizzard


Thanks for posting that link..
Simply amazing storm..
Thanks to Chris Burt for all the work to research and posting..
Kudo's..
Member Since: August 13, 2009 Posts: 13 Comments: 6840
Not really often a storm makes the loop of doom


Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Only a fool would make the claim that tomorrow's potentially historic nor'easter will be "caused" by global warming--and only a bigger fool would make the claim that anyone credible has said that. After all, there's a whole world of difference between saying climate change caused a specific weather event and saying climate change made that specific weather event worse. Denialists know that, which is why they desperately work themselves into a lather making lame strawman arguments in the hopes that the lesser-informed won't recognize the difference.

Having said all that, Andrew Freeman over at Climate Central had this to say about this weekend's event:

"Heavy precipitation events in the Northeast, including both rain and snowstorms, have been increasing, in a trend that a new federal climate report links to manmade global climate change. In addition, rising sea levels due to warming seas and melting ice caps are already making typical nor'easters such as the upcoming event more risky, since they provide the storms with a higher launching pad for causing coastal flooding."

So, no, GW won't "cause" this weekend's storm, so feel free to ignore anyone who says otherwise. But feel just as free to ignore those who flatly deny any connection between the two whatsoever.
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13549
Vermont and upstate NY
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26472
Quoting VR46L:


Thats alot different to 12+ inches..


for 12" is not 100% everywhere though...

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Scott McPartland ‏@scottmcpartland
00z ECMWF shows this storm bombing out big time between 00z and 06z tomorrow night. 992mb down to 976mb in 6 hours! 4mb per hour drop. Nice!
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15938
Blizzard alerts could be expanded even more, into the areas with the arrows




As discussed in the NWS office for my area..
Blizzard conditions could be for al larger area...so can be the blizzard alerts as well.

SIGNIFICANT WINTER STORM WILL IMPACT THE REGION THURSDAY NIGHT
THROUGH FRIDAY NIGHT.

LOW PRES OVER THE MID-ATLANTIC WILL TRACK TOWARDS THE 40/70
BENCHMARK BY FRIDAY EVENING. MEANWHILE...THE NORTHERN STREAM
LOW...ALONG WITH A STRONG H5 TROUGH/SHORTWAVE COMBO...WILL PUSH
THROUGH THE NORTHEAST AND PHASE WITH THE OFFSHORE LOW FRIDAY
NIGHT. ONCE THESE 2 SYSTEMS PHASE...RAPID CYCLOGENESIS WILL OCCUR
OVER THE OCEAN...RESULTING IN WIDESPREAD HEAVY SNOW AND
STRONG...GUSTY WINDS. BASED ON THE LATEST FORECAST...THE BEST
CHANCES FOR BLIZZARD CONDS WILL BE OVER EASTERN CT AND LONG ISLAND...SO
HAVE UPGRADED THE WINTER STORM WATCH TO A BLIZZARD WATCH FOR SUFFOLK...NEW
HAVEN...MIDDLESEX...AND NEW LONDON COUNTIES. FOR THE REST OF THE
CWA...WINTER STORM WATCHES REMAIN IN EFFECT...ALTHOUGH IT IS QUITE
POSSIBLE THAT BLIZZARD CONDS WOULD EXTEND INTO WESTERN LONG
ISLAND...AND POSSIBLY AS FAR WEST AS NYC AND THE LOWER HUDSON
VALLEY.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
D.C. Weather Forecast: The calm before the storm?
By Doug Hill
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15938
633. VR46L
Quoting trHUrrIXC5MMX:
at least this is definitely for sure

probability for 4 inches



Thats alot different to 12+ inches..
Member Since: March 1, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 6927

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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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