Nature's thermometers say spring is springing earlier by 3 days per decade

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 7:31 PM GMT on March 29, 2013

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In a welcome sign of spring, Washington DC's famous cherry trees are beginning to burst into bloom, with the peak bloom predicted to come around April 5. This is two weeks behind last year's peak bloom date of March 20, which was the third earliest on record, according the Capital Weather Gang at the Washington Post. The only earlier bloom dates in the National Park Service's 92-year record dating back to 1921 were March 15, 1990 and March 17, 2000. The average bloom date is April 4, and the latest bloom date on record was April 18, 1958.


Figure 1. Cherry blossoms on March 21, 2012, in Washington D.C. Image credit: wunderphotographer KEM.

Nature's thermometers are reacting to global warming
Flowering cherry trees are excellent "natural thermometers" that give evidence that the climate is warming. Their flowering time is highly sensitive to temperatures in February and March. Last year's early bloom was triggered by the record-warm "Summer in March" temperatures that gave DC its warmest March on record. February and March temperatures in Washington D.C. have warmed by nearly 3°F over the past century, causing the city's famous cherry trees to bloom, on average, five days earlier than they did in 1921. The earlier blooming times of D.C.'s cherry trees are part of a global trend towards earlier spring blooms. A 2007 study by Parmesan et al. found that Northern Hemisphere spring events such as flowering times, bird and butterfly migrations, and frog breeding times have been occurring an average of 2.8 days per decade earlier in spring since the 1950s, averaged over all species.


Figure 2. Average temperatures in Northeast Virginia, including the northwestern suburbs of Washington D.C., have warmed by nearly 3°F over the past century. Temperatures in 2012 were the warmest on record. Image credit: NOAA/NCDC.


Figure 3. Comparison of the 1990 and 2012 USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Maps. Wintertime minimum temperatures in the U.S. have risen so much in recent decades that the United States Department of Agriculture decided in 2012 to update their Plant Hardiness Zone Map for gardeners for the first time since 1990. The Plant Hardiness Zone Map is the standard by which gardeners and growers can determine which plants are most likely to thrive at a location. The map is based on the average annual minimum winter temperature, divided into 10°F zones. Compared to the 1990 version, zone boundaries in the new 2012 edition of the map have generally shifted one 5°F half-zone warmer than the previous map throughout much of the United States. This is mostly a result of using temperature data from a longer and more recent time period. The old 1990 map was based on temperature data from only a 13-year period of 1974-1986, while the new map uses data from the 30-year period 1976-2005. Image credit: USDA and Arbor Day Foundation

The forecast: DC's cherry trees blooming in early March by 2080?
Using a computer model of spring bloom driven by the expected climate of this century from climate models, a 2011 paper by Chung et al. predicted that peak bloom of Washington D.C.'s cherry trees will come five days earlier by 2050, and ten days earlier by 2080, assuming a middle-of-the-road climate change scenario called A1B. However, carbon dioxide emissions are at record high levels, and humankind is currently on a path likely to cause much greater warming. Under a higher emission scenario, the authors predict that by 2080, the cherry trees will bloom in early March, nearly a full month earlier (29 days) than at present. One major concern the authors point out: shorter and warmer winters can reduce the cold hardening of trees, leaving them vulnerable to frost injury.


Figure 4. Past and projected peak bloom dates of the Yoshino cherry trees in Washington, DC and surrounding areas. The future projections were made under the IPCC middle-of-the-road emission scenario A1B (middle panel) and high emissions scenario A2 (right panel.) Humanity is currently burning oil, coal, and natural gas at a rate that puts us closer to the high emissions scenario. Image credit: Chung et al., 2011, "Predicting the Timing of Cherry Blossoms in Washington, DC and Mid-Atlantic States in Response to Climate Change", PLoS ONE 6(11): e27439. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0027439

Unusual winter jet stream patterns tied to Arctic sea ice loss may slow down cherry tree blooming changes
However, the authors' cherry tree bloom model did not take into account the fact that unusual jet stream contortions in winter have become increasingly common in recent years, increasing the odds of cold winters over the Eastern U.S. According to a March 2013 paper by Tang et al., "Cold winter extremes in northern continents linked to Arctic sea ice loss", wintertime Arctic sea ice loss can cause an increase in unusual jet stream patterns capable of bringing cold, snowy weather to the Eastern U.S., Western Europe, and East Asia. They theorized that sea ice loss in the Arctic promotes more evaporation, resulting in earlier snowfall in Siberia and other Arctic lands. The earlier snow insulates the soil, allowing the land to cool more rapidly. This results in a southwards shift of the jet stream and builds higher atmospheric pressures farther to the south, which increases the odds of cold spells and blocking high pressure systems that can cause extended periods of unusually cold and snowy weather in the Eastern U.S., Western Europe, and East Asia. Climate scientist Stefan Rahmstorf has an intriguing blog post (translated from the German by Eli Rabbett) that shows a dramatic agreement between temperature and pressure patterns during March 2013, and those expected to occur as a result of Arctic sea ice loss. He concludes, "In my view, the above studies provide strong evidence for a link between Arctic ice loss due to global warming, more frequent winter high pressure air masses, especially over the Atlantic-European part of the Arctic, and an associated influx of cold air to Europe." With Arctic sea ice expected to steadily dwindle in the coming decades, there may be an increase in cold February and March temperatures in the Eastern U.S. that will slow down the shift in cherry tree bloom times.

References
Chung et al., 2011, "Predicting the Timing of Cherry Blossoms in Washington, DC and Mid-Atlantic States in Response to Climate Change", PLoS ONE 6(11): e27439. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0027439

Parmesan, 2007, “Influences of species, latitudes and methodologies on estimates of phenological response to global warming”, Glob. Change Biol. 13, 1860–1872

Root, T. L. et al., 2005, "Human-modified temperatures induce species changes: Joint attribution", Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 102, 7465–7469.

Related posts
From Heat Wave to Snowstorms, March Goes to Extremes by Andrew Freedman of Climate Central
Extreme jet stream causing record warmth in the east, record cold in the west (January 2013)
Arctic sea ice loss tied to unusual jet stream patterns (April 2012)
Our extreme weather: Arctic changes to blame? (December 2011)
New USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map for gardeners shows a warming climate (February 2012)

Have a great weekend, everyone, and I'll be back with a new post on April Fool's Day, appropriate for the occasion.

Jeff Masters

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not moving too fast either..flooding concerns i bet...
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 39025
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 39025
well it looks like the whole gulf coast from texas to florida is going to be seeing alot of rain and stormy weather for just about the whole week..stay alert and safe folks!
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 39025
RSOE/ EDIS Epidemic Alert

Sunday, 31st March 2013 :: 13:25:41 UTC

Epidemic Hazard in Pakistan on Thursday, 28 March, 2013 at 04:00 (04:00 AM) UTC.

Link

At least 12 children have died because of measles in North Waziristan and Timergara, Lower Dir, while a large number are said to be infected. The exact number of deaths and those infected with measles in North Waziristan could not be ascertained because of the curfew imposed since the suicide attack on Esha check post, which claimed the lives of 17 security personnel and wounded 40 others. However, reports from the troubled region indicate two children from Dossali and Lora Mandi died due to the unavailability of medicines on Tuesday. They have been identified as four-year-old Haseena Bibi and seven year-old Wahidullah, while several children are stranded in their houses without treatment. Requesting anonymity, a doctor from Agency Headquarters Hospital, told The Express Tribune the hospital had been closed for the past three days and all patients were told to go home as soon as the curfew was announced. “We do not know how many children have died and how many are in critical condition as no one is allowed to visit the hospital right now,” the doctor said, adding that he himself was not allowed to go to work as announcements were made via local mosques that anyone spotted on the street would be shot on sight.
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Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 39025
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April Showers.............................
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551. etxwx
The Easter Egg Hunt Prediction Center is predicting five eggs in your basket: 4 decorated and 1 major.
Happy Easter everyone!


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Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 21407


Member Since: August 13, 2009 Posts: 13 Comments: 6838
NWS Mobile/ Pensacola..





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Quoting pottery:

You have a shrimp tree ?

:):))

Happy Easter to all.
Any Easter eggs found around here need to be eaten right away or put into the fridge.
93F and Chocolate is a bad combination......


Goes for tree shrimp too??..Lol.. :)
Member Since: August 13, 2009 Posts: 13 Comments: 6838
Stay safe out there if you are going to church services in and especially to the east of Dallas, TX. A line of severe thunderstorms will contiune to move through NE Texas over the next few hours from NNW to SSE.
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Big time rain for all of FL next week!!:)
06z GFS ENSEMBLE MEMBERS


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Happy Easter Bloggers! 6z GFS shows the potential gulf coast storm moving up the east coast Thursday night through Saturday. It looks like it will be all rain for once in my area if this does take place...LOL. But it could be cold enough for some decent snowfall once it reaches New England... if it happens.
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Member Since: August 13, 2009 Posts: 13 Comments: 6838
Dallas/Fort Worth, TX (KFWS) - Base Reflectivity (0.5)



Fort Smith, AR (KSRX) - Base Reflectivity (0.5)

Member Since: August 13, 2009 Posts: 13 Comments: 6838


Member Since: August 13, 2009 Posts: 13 Comments: 6838
Quoting indianrivguy:
Happy Easter everyone, I'm off to pick shrimp!

You have a shrimp tree ?

:):))

Happy Easter to all.
Any Easter eggs found around here need to be eaten right away or put into the fridge.
93F and Chocolate is a bad combination......
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24372
Happy Easter everyone, I'm off to work now!:) have a good day!!:)
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Quoting indianrivguy:


I wish NOAA would take over the investigation of our 80 dead manatees in the Indian River lagoon...FWC hid the deaths for some 7 months


I did some research on manatees after reading your post. I already knew a bit about them. Found myself getting drawn into the fascinating story of Steller's sea cow. 30 feet long, and weighing 10 tons, their range once stretched from California to Alaska and Japan.

Indigenous people hunted them to near extinction, then Europeans came along and finished the job. Or did they? Apparently there are still 'sightings'. But, then, there are still sightings of Bigfoot.

Makes you wonder, though.
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URGENT - IMMEDIATE BROADCAST REQUESTED
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WATCH NUMBER 70
NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER NORMAN OK
510 AM CDT SUN MAR 31 2013

THE NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER HAS ISSUED A
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WATCH FOR PORTIONS OF

PARTS OF SOUTHWESTERN ARKANSAS
PARTS OF SOUTHERN OKLAHOMA OKLAHOMA
NORTH CENTRAL AND NORTHEAST TEXAS



EFFECTIVE THIS SUNDAY MORNING FROM 510 AM UNTIL NOON CDT.

HAIL TO 2 INCHES IN DIAMETER...THUNDERSTORM WIND GUSTS TO 70
MPH...AND DANGEROUS LIGHTNING ARE POSSIBLE IN THESE AREAS.

THE SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WATCH AREA IS APPROXIMATELY ALONG AND 90
STATUTE MILES NORTH AND SOUTH OF A LINE FROM 35 MILES SOUTH OF
WICHITA FALLS TEXAS TO 30 MILES SOUTH SOUTHEAST OF TEXARKANA
ARKANSAS. FOR A COMPLETE DEPICTION OF THE WATCH SEE THE
ASSOCIATED WATCH OUTLINE UPDATE (WOUS64 KWNS WOU0).

REMEMBER...A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WATCH MEANS CONDITIONS ARE
FAVORABLE FOR SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS IN AND CLOSE TO THE WATCH
AREA. PERSONS IN THESE AREAS SHOULD BE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR
THREATENING WEATHER CONDITIONS AND LISTEN FOR LATER STATEMENTS
AND POSSIBLE WARNINGS. SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS CAN AND OCCASIONALLY
DO PRODUCE TORNADOES.

DISCUSSION...AN INTENSIFYING AND INCREASINGLY ORGANIZED CLUSTER OF
THUNDERSTORMS WILL CONTINUE TO DEVELOP SOUTHEASTWARD THROUGH PARTS
OF THE RED RIVER VALLEY THIS MORNING. THE RISK FOR SEVERE HAIL WILL
CONTINUE IN STRONGER CELLS...WITH POTENTIAL FOR DAMAGING WIND GUSTS
ALSO INCREASING...ESPECIALLY AS SURFACE TEMPERATURES BEGIN TO WARM
AHEAD OF IT AFTER DAYBREAK. ADDITIONAL STRONG/SEVERE STORMS MAY
DEVELOP IN ADVANCE OF THE CONVECTIVE SYSTEM...ACROSS NORTH CENTRAL
AND NORTHEAST TEXAS.

AVIATION...A FEW SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS WITH HAIL SURFACE AND ALOFT
TO 2 INCHES. EXTREME TURBULENCE AND SURFACE WIND GUSTS TO 60
KNOTS. A FEW CUMULONIMBI WITH MAXIMUM TOPS TO 450. MEAN STORM
MOTION VECTOR 29035.


...KERR
Member Since: August 13, 2009 Posts: 13 Comments: 6838
Good morning and Happy Easter to all.

A wet Sunday is on tap for PR with flash flooding probable but things dry out on Monday and continue that way for most of the week.

AREA FORECAST DISCUSSION
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE SAN JUAN PR
430 AM AST SUN MAR 31 2013

.SYNOPSIS...BROAD MID-UPPER TROF WILL PULL AWAY FROM THE REGION
MON WITH MID-LEVEL RIDGE EXPECTED TO BUILD TUE AND STRENGTHEN THRU
THE END OF THE WEEK.

&&

.DISCUSSION...DEEP MOISTURE WITH PWAT VALUES JUST ABOVE 2.0 INCHES
LOCATED OVER ST. CROIX THIS MORNING WILL BE AIMED TOWARD ERN PR
LATER TODAY ON STRENGTHENING ESE WINDS. THIS TO RESULT IN A SHORT
BUT INTENSE PERIOD OF OROGRAPHIC RAINS OVR ERN PR SPECIFICALLY THE
CAYEY AND LUQUILLO MOUNTAIN RANGES WHERE WIDESPREAD 1 TO 3 INCHES
OF RAIN SEEM LIKELY. THIS COULD BE ENOUGH TO RESULT IN SOME FLASH
FLOODING OF SMALL STREAMS AND CREEKS ESPECIALLY AROUND EL YUNQUE
WHERE RIVERS ARE SHORT IN LENGTH. BY THIS EVENING...MOST OF THE
CONVECTION SHOULD HAVE SHIFTED NWWD INTO THE ATLC OCEAN WITH SHARP
DRYING EXPECTED AFTER MIDNIGHT. BELIEVE THE FLOODING THREAT IS
OVER BY 00Z MON.

WORK WEEK...MODELS SHOW MID LEVEL RIDGE BUILDING IN OVR THE REGION
AND STRENGTHENING THROUGH TIME. 850 AND 800 DEWPOINT DEPRESSIONS
ARE QUITE LARGE MON AND TUE AND REALLY DOUBT THAT THERE WILL BE
ANY CONVECTION. TEMPERATURES ALSO SOAR BY WED AND THU AND EXPECT
TO BE BACK IN THE 90S. IT WILL ALSO BE WINDY DUE TO A STRONG PRES
GRADIENT. SO DRASTIC CHANGES FROM COOL WET TODAY TO MUCH WARMER
AND DRYER MON AND TUE. ANY PLACES THAT DO NOT RECEIVE OR RECEIVE
VERY LITTLE RAIN WILL HAVE A SIG FIRE WEATHER THREAT MOST OF THE
WORK WEEK. THIS SEEMS TO BE MOST LIKELY OVER SOUTHWEST PR.

&&

.AVIATION...MULTIPLE CLD LYRS/NMRS SHRA TO AFFECT ALL TAF SITES WITH
OCNL OBSCD MTNS. OVERALL VFR WITH PDS MVFR/ISOLD IFR IN SHRA. COND
IMPVG ON MON. LLVL WIND BLO FL100 E-ESE 13-25 KT CONT MON.

&&

.MARINE...SEAS 6 TO 7 FT TODAY BUT WILL BE VERY SLOW TO SUBSIDE
OVR THE NEXT FEW DAYS AS WINDS STAY UP


&&

.PRELIMINARY POINT TEMPS/POPS...
SJU 83 74 84 74 / 80 50 10 10
STT 83 75 86 75 / 70 40 0 10
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Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 39025
so far no BIG rain event,models must have changed...
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7 day forecast for the Tampa Bay area...........
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Good Morning and Happy Easter everyone!..........
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Quoting indianrivguy:
Happy Easter everyone, I'm off to pick shrimp!
Good Morning!..and a Happy Easter to you!
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 39025
Happy Easter everyone, I'm off to pick shrimp!
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Quoting yonzabam:
NOAA Declares 'Unusual Mortality Event'

Sea lion pups starving to death in California.

BBC Link


I wish NOAA would take over the investigation of our 80 dead manatees in the Indian River lagoon...FWC hid the deaths for some 7 months
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NOAA Declares 'Unusual Mortality Event'

Sea lion pups starving to death in California.

BBC Link
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SPC is forecasting a slight risk of severe thunderstorms for portions of Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi in the Day 1 convective outlook:

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From the NWS Honolulu:

AT 709 PM HST...RADAR SHOWED AN AREA OF HEAVY RAINS AND POSSIBLE
HAIL ALONG WITH STRONG LOCALIZED WINDS OF 34 KNOTS OR GREATER 9
NM EAST OF FAD BUOY A...OR ABOUT 46 NM SOUTH OF HILO...MOVING
SOUTHEAST AT 5 KNOTS.
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Quoting Astrometeor:
Just wanted to let the blog know that I made it home after a 11 hour drive back to Nashville, TN from Harrisburg, PA.

^That took a while to write, so sleepy here.

Happy Easter Sunday everyone.


Happy Easter to you too.
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Just wanted to let the blog know that I made it home after a 11 hour drive back to Nashville, TN from Harrisburg, PA.

^That took a while to write, so sleepy here.

Happy Easter Sunday everyone.
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There's a lot of moisture in the equatorial Indian Ocean. In fact, this is where the upward pulse of the MJO taking place right now in this part of the world. The abundant moisture helped aid in the development of a tropical disturbance, which is now classified as Invest 91S. The disturbance is forecast to become a tropical cyclone in the next several days and slowly moves southeastward, then turns southwestward and later recurves before hitting the islands east of Madagascar. Another cyclone might develop behind it.

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The remains of Invest 90S are lingering on the Northern Territory of Australia. Flooding is still a major risk in this area with prolonged periods of rain.



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SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE NORMAN OK
1141 PM CDT SAT MAR 30 2013

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN NORMAN HAS ISSUED A

* SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING FOR...
NORTHEASTERN ATOKA COUNTY IN SOUTHEAST OKLAHOMA...

* UNTIL 1245 AM CDT

* AT 1139 PM CDT...NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE METEOROLOGISTS DETECTED
A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM LOCATED 5 MILES SOUTHEAST OF WARDVILLE...AND
MOVING SOUTHEAST AT 25 MPH.

HAZARDS IN THE WARNING INCLUDE...
LARGE DESTRUCTIVE HAIL UP TO TENNIS BALL SIZE...
DAMAGING WINDS IN EXCESS OF 60 MPH...

* LOCATIONS IMPACTED INCLUDE...
STRINGTOWN...DAISY...LANE...MCGEE CREEK LAKE...CHOCKIE...REDDEN
AND ATOKA RESERVOIR.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

LARGE DAMAGING HAIL IS LIKELY. TAKE SHELTER NOW IN A STURDY BUILDING
AND STAY AWAY FROM WINDOWS.

SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS CAN PRODUCE TORNADOES WITH NO WARNING. GET TO A
STORM SHELTER OR STURDY BUILDING IF A TORNADO APPROACHES.
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A weakening cold front is now between the islands of Kauai and Oahu. Conditions should become drier and cooler for the islands by tomorrow and through the middle of next week.

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Time to Bail - Stay Safe - Stay Warm - Sleep Well - Hope for Spring - Hang in There.....
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Quoting trHUrrIXC5MMX:


Something I did not know about Hawaii...
There is bamboo there... really odd when I heard about it...

Hawaii is great. I want to to to Waikiki beach one day


Bamboos are believed to have been originated from China, and many Chinese immigrant workers had come to Hawaii in the mid-1800s to earn more money there by working out in the sugar cane fields. They brought bamboos, along with other plants.

Anyway, Hawaii is a great place to live in. I'm sure you'll enjoy going there someday.
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Quoting Civicane49:


Hawaii is a beautiful place to live in with warm but calm weather and some rain mainly on windward sides. Hawaii receives lots of rain during the winter months.


Something I did not know about Hawaii...
There is bamboo there... really odd when I heard about it...

Hawaii is great. I want to go to Waikiki beach one day
Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14873
Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14873
Quoting allancalderini:
Nop Texas looks cool and I would like to visit but its too Dry imo, I would prefer some state like Hawaii because it has a lot of rain,I live in Honduras.


Hawaii is a beautiful place to live in with warm but calm weather and some rain mainly on windward sides. Hawaii receives lots of rain during the winter months.
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Quoting trHUrrIXC5MMX:


I did the same thing...waited 4 years until actually becoming a member...idk why.
Same here I want to get up tomorrow thinking is June 1... lol


I waited longer than that! haha But, it wouldn't let me for a while. Can't remember what browser I was on, but gave probs so just didn't bother for so very long
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Quoting Tornado6042008X:


Thank you. I've actually been reading this blog since Hurricane Season 2010. I can't wait for hurricane season 2013 to start
;).


I did the same thing...waited 4 years until actually becoming a member...idk why.
Same here I want to get up tomorrow thinking is June 1... lol
Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14873

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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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