Are atmospheric flow patterns favorable for summer extreme weather increasing?

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:45 PM GMT on March 11, 2013

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In 2010, Russia baked through its most intense heat wave in recorded history, one that killed over 55,000 people. At the same time, intense rains deluged Pakistan, bringing that nation its worst natural disaster in its history. The following year, it was the United States' turn for extreme heat, as the nation sweltered through its third hottest summer on record, and Oklahoma suffered the hottest month any U.S. state has ever recorded. The U.S. summer of 2012 was even more extreme. Only the Dust Bowl summer of 1936 was hotter, and drought conditions were the most extensive since the 1930s. All of these events--and many more unusually extreme summer months in recent decades--had a common feature, said scientists at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) in Germany, in a research paper published in March 2013 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. According to the authors, "each time one of these extremes struck, a strong wave train had developed in the atmosphere, circling the globe in mid-latitudes. These so-called planetary waves are well-known and a normal part of atmospheric flow. What is not normal is that the usually moving waves ground to a halt and were greatly amplified during the extreme events. Looking into the physics behind this, we found it is due to a resonance phenomenon. Under special conditions, the atmosphere can start to resonate like a bell. The wind patterns form a regular wave train, with six, seven or eight peaks and troughs going once around the globe". Using a complex theoretical mathematical description of the atmosphere and 32 years of historical weather data, the scientists showed that human-caused global warming might be responsible for this resonance phenomenon, which became twice as common during 2001 - 2012 compared to the previous 22 years.


Figure 1. Drought-damaged corn in a field near Nickerson, Nebraska, Aug. 16, 2012. The great U.S. drought of 2012 was the most extensive U.S. drought since the 1930s Dust Bowl. Damage from the 2012 drought is at least $35 billion, and probably much higher. The associated heat wave killed 123 people, and brought the U.S. its second hottest summer on record. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)


Figure 2. Business was slow at the Lake Conroe, Texas jet ski rental in 2011, thanks to the great Texas drought and heat wave of 2011. Texas endured its driest 1-year period on record in 2011, and had the hottest summer ever recorded by a U.S. state. July 2011 in Oklahoma was the hottest month any U.S. state has ever recorded, and the contiguous U.S. had its third hottest summer on record. The total direct losses to crops, livestock and timber from the drought, heat wave, and record fires of the summer of 2011 are estimated at $12 billion, with a death toll of 95. Image credit: wunderphotographer BEENE.


Figure 3. Tourists wear protective face masks as they walk along the Red Square in Moscow, Russia on Aug. 6, 2010. Moscow was shrouded by a dense smog that grounded flights at international airports and seeped into homes and offices, due to wildfires worsened by the city's most intense heat wave in its history. The heat wave and fires during the summer of 2010 killed over 55,000 people in Russia and decimated the Russian wheat crop, causing global food prices to spike. (AP Photo/Mikhail Metzel)

Two fundamental atmospheric flow patterns may be resonating more often due to global warming
Earth's atmosphere has two fundamental patterns. One is a series of wave-like troughs and ridges in the jet stream called planetary (or Rossby) waves, which march west-to-east at about 15 - 25 mph around the globe. The other pattern behaves more like a standing wave, with no forward motion, and is created by the unequal heating of the equatorial regions compared to the poles, modulated by the position of the continents and oceans. A number of papers have been published showing that these two patterns can interact and resonate in a way that amplifies the standing wave pattern, causing the planetary waves to freeze in their tracks for weeks, resulting in an extended period of extreme heat or flooding, depending upon where the high-amplitude part of the wave lies. But what the Potsdam Institute scientists found is that because human-caused global warming is causing the Arctic to heat up more than twice as rapidly as the rest of the planet, the two patterns are interacting more frequently during the summer. During the most recent eleven years, 2002 - 2012, there were eight Julys and Augusts that showed this unusually extreme resonance pattern (this includes the U.S. heat wave of July - August 2012.) The two previous eleven year periods, 1991 - 2001 and 1980 - 1990, had just four extreme months apiece. Global warming could certainly cause this observed increase in the resonance phenomenon, but the researchers cautioned, "The suggested physical process increases the probability of weather extremes, but additional factors certainly play a role as well, including natural variability. Also, the 32-year period studied in the project provides a good indication of the mechanism involved, yet is too short for definitive conclusions. So there's no smoking gun on the table yet--but quite telling fingerprints all over the place."



Figure 4. The northward wind speed (negative values, blue on the map, indicate southward flow) at an altitude of 300 mb in the mid-latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere during July 2011 and July 1980. July of 2011 featured an unusually intense and long-lasting heat wave in the U.S., and the normally weak and irregular waves (like observed during the relatively normal July of 1980) were replaced by a strong and regular wave pattern. Image credit: Vladimir Petoukhov.

Commentary
The new Potsdam Institute paper gives us a mathematical description of exactly how global warming may be triggering observed fundamental changes in large-scale atmospheric flow patterns, resulting in the observed increase in unusually intense and long-lasting periods of extreme weather over the past eleven years. The paper also adds important theoretical support to the research published in 2012 by Dr. Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University, which found that the amplitude of Earth's planetary waves had increased by over 100 miles (161 km) in summer over the past decade in the Northern Hemisphere. Dr. Francis theorized that this change was connected to increased heating of the Arctic relative to the rest of the Earth, due to the observed decline in late spring Northern Hemisphere snow cover. Humans tend to think linearly--one plus one equals two. However, the atmosphere is fundamentally non-linear. What may seem to be modest changes in Earth's climate can trigger unexpected resonances that will amplify into extreme changes--cases where one plus one equals four, or eight, or sixteen. In some cases, when you rock the boat too far, it won't simply roll a bit more, it will reach a tipping point where it suddenly capsizes. Similarly, human-caused global warming is capable of pushing the climate past a tipping point where we enter a new climate regime, one far more disruptive than what we are used to.

Julys and Augusts since 1980 when quasiresonant extreme conditions were observed
The Potsdam Institute's research lists sixteen July and August periods since 1980 that have had extreme atmospheric flow patterns due to quasiresonance. These months featured severe regional heat waves and destructive floods in the Northern Hemisphere midlatitudes, detailed below. Half of these months occurred in the most recent 11-year period, 2002 - 2012. During most of these extreme months, there was not a moderate or strong La Niña or El Niño event contributing to the extremes. Summers when a La Niña or El Niño event was present are listed in parentheses, based on the Oceanic Niño Index (ONI).

July and early August 2012: Catastrophic floods in China and Japan, as well as record-breaking temperatures during heat waves in the United States and southern Europe (weak summer El Niño)

July 2011: Record heat wave in the United States, resulting in the fourth warmest July on record nationally and the driest conditions in the southern United States ever (weak summer La Niña)

July/August 2010: Russian heat wave and the Pakistan flood, with the strongest and most persistent extreme weather conditions and the highest death tolls from heat waves and floods ever for these two regions (strong summer La Niña)

July 2006: Temperatures higher than 100°F for only the second time in Britain’s history and much of Europe experiencing a serious heat wave (weak summer El Niño)

August 2004: Much of northern Europe hit by very low winter-like temperatures and sporadic snowfalls (moderate to strong summer El Niño)

August 2003: European summer 2003 heat wave, causing a highly persistent drought in western Europe (weak summer El Niño)

August 2002: Catastrophic Elbe and Danube floods (strong summer El Niño)

July 2000: Destructive floods in northern Italy and the Tisza basin and a simultaneous heat wave in the southern United States, smashing all-time high-temperature records by that time at many sites (strong summer La Niña)

July/August 1997: Disastrous Great European Flood, which caused several deaths in central Europe, and the destroying floods in Pakistan and western United States (strong summer El Niño)

July 1994: Very strong heat wave in southern Europe, with a national temperature record of 47.2°C set in Spain (weak summer El Niño)

July 1993: Unprecedented great flood in the United States that reigned over the country from April (weak summer El Niño)

July 1989: Unusually intense and unprecedented widespread drought in the United States (weak summer La Niña)

August 1987: Severe drought in the southeastern United States (strong summer El Niño)

August 1984: Continuation of the severe heat of summer 1983, with serious drought in the United States (weak summer La Niña)

July and August 1983: Very dry conditions, severe heat, and substandard crop growth (5–35% below normal) in the Midwest United States (weak summer El Niño)

Links
Petoukhov, V., Rahmstorf, S., Petri, S., Schellnhuber, H. J. (2013), "Quasi-resonant amplification of planetary waves and recent Northern Hemisphere weather extremes" Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, (Early Edition) [doi:10.1073/pnas.1222000110]. No subscription required, but understanding this article requires a graduate-level understanding of the mathematical theory of atmospheric dynamics. Try reading instead this easy-to-read description of the paper by the authors, published at http://theconversation.edu.au.

Press release issued in March 2013 by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), "Weather extremes provoked by trapping of giant waves in the atmosphere."

In this 40-minute lecture presented in 2013 at the University of Arkansas, Dr. Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University explains the linkage between warming in the Arctic due to human-caused global warming and an observed shift in Northern Hemisphere jet stream patterns.

Linking Weird Weather to Rapid Warming of the Arctic, a March 2012 article by Dr. Jennifer Francis in the Yale Environment 360.

Francis, J.A., and S.J.Vavrus, 2012, "Evidence linking Arctic amplification to extreme weather in mid-latitudes", GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS, VOL. 39, L06801, doi:10.1029/2012GL051000, 2012

Jeff Masters

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Quoting Luisport:
Number of California EQ's now exceeding 150...


hope this is not setting up to be the "big one"..
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Hey Yall. We can crunch all the analog numbers/years, and prospective long-term models, in terms of the 2013 Atlantic H-Season all we want but the last several years have been full of surprises; large numbers of storms regardless of enso cycle, large percentage of tropical storms vs. predicted majors that never materialized, and no major landfalls in the US when steering patterns appeared favorable (last year coming to mind the the very fast westerlies kept several storms from blowing up past TS level).

Anything could happen this year is my point and it is all a wait and see...........It will be interesting fo sho to see what this year brings and whether it will also be out of the norm at any given level.
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Quoting JustPlantIt:
Yes... posted a couple days ago that they also hear the "Booms" that were unexplainable. Try and correlate all of what I am learning with weather, sun and quakes. Seems that all of this has a part in earth and atmosphere.


Hey JustPlantIt,
It's so amazing how much we are learning about our planet these days..
And these new Satellites are engineered so well..
Now if we can just get people to understand the brevity of the Climate Data being collected and act upon it..
It's imperative to go forward and not look back..
It's sad but true but "when money talks, the truth is silent"..
A new way of thinking is needed..
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Number of California EQ's now exceeding 150...
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Quoting pcola57:
GOCE "Feels" Quake

European Space Agency News Report..Read more HERE




New studies have revealed that the massive earthquake that hit Japan on 11 March 2011 was also felt in space by ESA’s GOCE satellite. The massive earthquake sent ripples of sound – called infrasound – upwards through the atmosphere. These sound waves caused changes in air density that were detected by ESA’s GOCE gravity satellite as it crossed the wavefront.
Yes... posted a couple days ago that they also hear the "Booms" that were unexplainable. Try and correlate all of what I am learning with weather, sun and quakes. Seems that all of this has a part in earth and atmosphere.
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The GEM (Canadian) ensembles are even colder than the GFS for the U.S. in the 10-15 day period:

Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26562
107. VR46L
Do I see another winter storm on the horizon!

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GOCE "Feels" Quake

European Space Agency News Report..Read more HERE




New studies have revealed that the massive earthquake that hit Japan on 11 March 2011 was also felt in space by ESA’s GOCE satellite. The massive earthquake sent ripples of sound – called infrasound – upwards through the atmosphere. These sound waves caused changes in air density that were detected by ESA’s GOCE gravity satellite as it crossed the wavefront.
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Just for giggles..

CFS model..

end of march


middle of April
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Quoting CaribBoy:
I hope for some DECENT rains and tropical waves this year!!! The Leewards are so dry...


It looks like no change from the below average rainfall in PR/USVI/BVI and Northern Leewards until May. Here is the Precipitation Outlook for March / April / May.
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Quoting Tropicsweatherpr:

And if the east coast troughing persists thru the Summer,then the U.S will see landfalls from Tropical Systems.

Actually, if we take a look at the 700mb Geopotential Height anomalies from August to September during 2010, 2011, and 2012 (all of which featured many recurvatures), we can see that East Coast troughing was evident. This is not what we want for landfalls, unless a tropical cyclone is phasing with the trough (ex. Sandy), as it provides a gateway for them to recurve prior to reaching the USA.

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NASA News Release


Amplified Greenhouse Effect Shifts North's Growing Seasons..read more HERE


WASHINGTON -- Vegetation growth at Earth's northern latitudes increasingly resembles lusher latitudes to the south, according to a NASA-funded study based on a 30-year record of land surface and newly improved satellite data sets.

An international team of university and NASA scientists examined the relationship between changes in surface temperature and vegetation growth from 45 degrees north latitude to the Arctic Ocean. Results show temperature and vegetation growth at northern latitudes now resemble those found 4 degrees to 6 degrees of latitude farther south as recently as 1982.

"Higher northern latitudes are getting warmer, Arctic sea ice and the duration of snow cover are diminishing, the growing season is getting longer and plants are growing more," said Ranga Myneni of Boston University's Department of Earth and Environment. "In the north's Arctic and boreal areas, the characteristics of the seasons are changing, leading to great disruptions for plants and related ecosystems."


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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
The good news: troughing in the East, ridging in the West...cold in the East, warm in the West...keeps the severe weather threat at bay through the end of the month.

The bad news: The longer the cold stays around, the more the temperature gradient intensifies = big outbreaks next month.

12z GEFS 8-16 day temperature anomalies:


And if the east coast troughing persists thru the Summer,then the U.S will see landfalls from Tropical Systems.
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
The good news: troughing in the East, ridging in the West...cold in the East, warm in the West...keeps the severe weather threat at bay through the end of the month.

The bad news: The longer the cold stays around, the more the temperature gradient intensifies = big outbreaks next month.

12z GEFS 8-16 day temperature anomalies:



Setting the stage for a nor easter or 2 as well. An active Southern Branh across the Gulf & FL then add a active northern branch. If we can get some phasing then we are in business. Severe wx maybe confined FL and coastal GA.

GFS Long Range.
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Quoting JNCali:
friend in Temecula FB's this comment..."EARTHQUAKE! Little rumble then a BIG Shake! It was a build up! Scary...freaked the dogs out! Hope we don't have an after shock!"


I checked with Google Earth and that is 52 miles from me and about 28 miles roughly East of your friend.
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Amazing that all those quakes in S. Cali are happening. Can not even get a real seismic with all of it happening together in one locale. Aftershocks??? Data on top of data... they need to change this.
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Quoting VR46L:


Yeah 70° all year round and rain 4 nights a week but dry and sunny during the day ...that would be perfect IMO but then we would have nothing to talk about weatherwize!


I second that motion....
Member Since: February 29, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 5691
The good news: troughing in the East, ridging in the West...cold in the East, warm in the West...keeps the severe weather threat at bay through the end of the month.

The bad news: The longer the cold stays around, the more the temperature gradient intensifies = big outbreaks next month.

12z GEFS 8-16 day temperature anomalies:

Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31543
Quoting StormTrackerScott:
I know people in FL deperately need rain well hold tight because we may see drought busting rains the next few weeks.


Hope you are right the folk seem to be desperate for rain and tomorrow is not too hopeful for many
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Quoting hydrus:
I remember the March-93 Storm very well. I was in Port Charlotte when it hit late in the night and early morning hours while at work. After the squall moved through, the wind was sustained at 55 mph with gusts to 70....Mean stuff.


Yeah, we were staying just north of Venice that night. Went to breakfast the next morning along the intracoastal before leaving for our flight. Saw a piece of metal roofing tear off the building next door and go flying into the water.
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A couple little quakes in New Madrid yesterday.
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I know people in FL deperately need rain well hold tight because we may see drought busting rains the next few weeks.
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Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 169 Comments: 53296
IMO opinion this pattern has the makings of a history making weather event down the line. People across the eastern US really need to watch out over the coming weeks.
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I remember the March-93 Storm very well. I was in Port Charlotte, FL when it hit late in the night and early morning hours while at work. After the squall moved through, the wind was sustained at 55 mph with gusts to 70....Mean stuff. From Wiki..Besides producing record low barometric pressure across a swath of the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic states, and one of the nation's biggest snowstorms, the low produced a potent squall line ahead of its cold front. The squall line produced a serial derecho as it moved into Florida and Cuba shortly after midnight on March 13. Straight-line winds gusted above 100 mph (87 kn, 160 km/h) at many locations in Florida as the squall line moved through. The supercells in the derecho produced eleven tornadoes in the United States. One tornado killed three people when it struck a home which later collapsed, pinning the occupants under a fallen wall.[15] A substantial tree fall was seen statewide from this system.

A substantial storm surge was also generated along the gulf coast from Apalachee Bay in the Florida panhandle to south of Tampa Bay. Due to the angle of the coast relative to the approaching squall, Taylor County along the eastern portion of Apalachee Bay and Hernando County north of Tampa were especially hard hit.[2]

Storm surges in those areas reached up to 12 feet (3.7 m); higher than many hurricanes. With little advance warning of incoming severe conditions, some coastal residents were awakened in the early morning of March 13 by the waters of the Gulf of Mexico rushing into their homes.[16] More people died from drowning in this storm than during Hurricane Hugo and Hurricane Andrew combined.[3] Overall, the storm's surge, winds, and tornadoes damaged or destroyed 18,000 homes.[17] A total of 47 lives were lost in Florida due to this storm.[2] In Florida this storm was and still is referred to as the "No Name Storm."
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Very active Northern Branch and Southern Branch if we can get these to jet streams to phase then watchout folks. This precip map of the 12Z GFS really shows how volitale the end of March is going to be for the US. You can easily see where the jet streams will likely lie over the coming weeks.

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Quoting PedleyCA:


What, I miss something....?


Yes, I see it, to my SE, didn't feel a thing. 60-70 miles away....
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Quoting JNCali:
California Shaker
friend in Temecula FB's this comment..."EARTHQUAKE! Little rumble then a BIG Shake! It was a build up! Scary...freaked the dogs out! Hope we don't have an after shock!"
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California Shaker
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Quoting ncstorm:
was there an big earthquake in Southern Cali?
One (or more?) in the 5.x range out in the desert far to the ESE of LA:

quake
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Quoting ncstorm:
was there an big earthquake in Southern Cali?


What, I miss something....?
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Quoting ncstorm:
was there an big earthquake in Southern Cali?
5.2. Go to USGS.
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Quoting PedleyCA:
We need a happy medium, too cold there and about to be a bit warm here.


Yeah 70° all year round and rain 4 nights a week but dry and sunny during the day ...that would be perfect IMO but then we would have nothing to talk about weatherwize!
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was there an big earthquake in Southern Cali?
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Jim Cantore ‏@JimCantore

NEW 12z GFS coming in line w/ EURO thinking of developing northeast cyclone. GFS brings it to NY state vs, east coast as per latest EURO.
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We need a happy medium, too cold there and about to be a bit warm here.
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Quoting PedleyCA:
How is the Weather in Ireland today?


You baiting me out of lurk mode? lol

Is is 38 ° right mow but wind chill of 32° think we dodged the snow here but much of the country got a bit ...
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How is the Weather in Ireland today?
Member Since: February 29, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 5691
Be Careful What you ask for. 57.1 right now, my forecast is 81 here

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Quoting Jeff Masters:
...the atmosphere is fundamentally non-linear. What may seem to be modest changes in Earth's climate can trigger unexpected resonances that will amplify into extreme changes--cases where one plus one equals four, or eight, or sixteen. In some cases, when you rock the boat too far, it won't simply roll a bit more, it will reach a tipping point where it suddenly capsizes. Similarly, human-caused global warming is capable of pushing the climate past a tipping point where we enter a new climate regime, one far more disruptive than what we are used to.
That bolded phrase at the front summarize chaos theory in as small a nutshell as I've ever seen, while the rest of the passage contains a great analogy to explain climatic tipping points. Thank you.

Speaking of Santa's lair: this year's new Arctic sea ice--that is, the stuff that's frozen since last year's maximum--is thin, frangible, and full of massive cracks. Because of that, many who watch the polar ice cap believe it's more possible than thought just a few months ago that if conditions are right this summer, 2013 could be after all the first summer in many thousands of years to see a virtually ice-free Arctic. (And even if it's not this year, it'll be one of the next few after that.)

ice

Satellite animation. Land mass in lower left is Ellesmere Island.
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Toronto Pearson Int'l Airport
Date: 12:24 PM EDT Monday 11 March 2013
Condition: Cloudy
Pressure: 29.8 inches
Tendency: falling
Visibility: 12 miles
Air Quality Health Index: 4

Temperature: 44.6°F
Dewpoint: 39.9°F
Humidity: 88 %
Wind: S 7 mph
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Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 169 Comments: 53296
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Pcola how's the weather like up there....
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Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 169 Comments: 53296
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 169 Comments: 53296
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 169 Comments: 53296
Man that system that was Winter Storm Saturn has always looked to me as though it was a hybrid system, and now it almost looks like some subtropical storms we've seen. It looks pretty cool on satellite.
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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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