NOAA report unable to pinpoint causes of the historic 2012 U.S. drought

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 7:27 PM GMT on April 12, 2013

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The extreme 2012 drought in the Central Great Plains of the U.S. was more intense than any drought since record keeping began in 1895, says a new NOAA assessment of the historic drought, released Thursday. However, the study was unable to pinpoint the cause of the drought. Other major global droughts in recent years have been linked to global warming and/or natural variation in patterns of sea surface temperatures, but these factors were seemingly not important in causing the drought of 2012, said the team of 19 atmospheric scientists, led by Martin Hoerling of the NOAA Modeling, Analysis, Predictions and Projections Program (MAPP). Their study attributed the drought to a random natural variation in the jet stream, which caused it to become "stuck" far to the north in Canada. Since rain-bearing low pressure systems travel along the jet stream, the northwards displacement of the jet stream resulted in abnormally dry conditions over the Central U.S. "This is one of those events that comes along once every couple hundreds of years," said Hoerling.



Key findings of the report
The researchers focused on a six-state region--Wyoming, Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado, Missouri and Iowa, and found that the amount of precipitation in 2012 was only 53% of the long-term average. This was the driest year since record keeping began in 1895, surpassing the previous record driest years of 1934 and 1936, during the great Dust Bowl drought.

The researchers called the 2012 drought a "flash drought"--it developed suddenly in May, and was unrelated to the 2011 drought over Texas and surrounding states. The 2011 drought had a separate and well-understood trigger (a change in the jet stream and storm tracks, due to a La Niña event in the Eastern Pacific.)

The 2012 drought was not predicted by long-range weather forecast models. The new report concluded that our ability to predict drought is limited, but some new experimental techniques could improve future drought forecasts. For example, NOAA's long-range GFDL forecast model and the European EUROSIP model correctly anticipated the summer 2012 heat and dryness over the Central U.S. in projections made as early as January 2012.


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. Over a six-state region--Wyoming, Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado, Missouri and Iowa--precipitation during 2012 was only 53% of the long-term average., making it the driest year since record keeping began in 1895. 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)

Criticism of the report
Dr. Kevin Trenberth of the National Center for Atmospheric Research was critical of the report's conclusions. In comments posted in Joe Romm's blog at climateprogress.org, Dr. Trenberth said that the study failed to "say anything about the observed soil moisture conditions, snow cover, and snow pack during the winter prior to the event in spite of the fact that snow pack was at record low levels in the winter and spring" and "no attempt was made to include soil moisture, snow cover anomalies, or vegetation health" in the climate model runs performed.

I would have liked to have seen the paper mention the growing body of research that has linked unusually early May snow melt in the Northern Hemisphere and Arctic sea ice loss in recent years to unusual summertime jet stream patterns, like the jet stream pattern observed during 2012. A March 2013 paper by scientists at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) in Germany found that under special conditions, the atmosphere can start to resonate like a bell. This causes the jet stream pattern to freeze in place and amplify, leading to months-long periods of weather extremes. They showed that warming of the Arctic due to human-caused climate change might be responsible for this resonance phenomenon, which became twice as common during 2001 - 2012 compared to the previous 22 years. One of the more extreme examples of this resonance occurred during the summer of 2012, and could have been the cause of the 2012 drought.

Other blogs on the report
Yes, Climate Change Is Worsening U.S. Drought — NOAA Report Needlessly Confuses The Issue by Joe Romm at climateprogress.org

Global Warming Not Significant in 2012 Drought: Report by Andrew Freedman of climatecentral.org

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Jeff Masters

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Quoting LargoFl:
Nice outflow.
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Quoting AtHomeInTX:


Sorry for the delay GS. I used to have a link to the average return periods but lost it. Good question though.


Try this AtHome..

NOAA Return Periods
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What was the biggest known tornado? The Hallam, Nebraska F4 tornado of 22 May 2004 is the newest record-holder for peak width, at nearly two and a half miles, as surveyed by Brian Smith of NWS Omaha. This is probably close to the maximum size for tornadoes; but it is possible that larger, unrecorded ones have occurred.
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spring rains bring summer flowers............
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NAM at 5pm today...........
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ST. PETERSBURG --
A quiet morning could give way to a wet afternoon and evening in parts of west central Florida.

According to Bay News 9 meteorologist Diane Kacmarik, a front has stalled south of the Bay area and could bring scattered showers and thunderstorms late in the day when temperatures rise.

Unlike yesterday, when cloud cover kept the temperatures down, some breaks in the clouds could allow the sun to peak through and cause afternoon heating. And that would help to destabilize the atmosphere.
"The winds are going to be lighter today - calm now, but we’ll have some breezes out of the Northeast by later this afternoon - so the dew points will be a little lower, and it might not feel quite as muggy," Kacmarik said.

"But we'll see the rain chances pop up, especially around Tampa Bay, Hillsborough County, Polk (County) and southward, since the front has settled to the south. I think it will be a little drier today around the Nature Coast."

Highs will reach the low to mid 80s today and tomorrow and will climb into the mid to upper 80s early next week, according to the Bay News 9 forecast. The rain chance is 50 percent around Tampa Bay today and a little lower in the north counties.
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Quoting GeorgiaStormz:


70 is a nice number to do math with

'70-'00 is 30 years...
'00 - 13' is 13 years.

43 total. What is the average return period?

I know ike was close to there.


Sorry for the delay GS. I used to have a link to the average return periods but lost it. Good question though.
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Day 4-8 Convective Outlook: seem familiar to anyone?



ZCZC SPCSWOD48 ALL
ACUS48 KWNS 130833
SPC AC 130833

DAY 4-8 CONVECTIVE OUTLOOK
NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER NORMAN OK
0333 AM CDT SAT APR 13 2013

VALID 161200Z - 211200Z

...DISCUSSION...
BROAD SWLY FLOW IS EXPECTED TO DOMINATE THE SRN PLAINS/MS VALLEY
DURING THE EARLY-MID WEEK BEFORE NWLY FLOW DEVELOPS ALONG BACK SIDE
OF LONG WAVE TROUGH. LARGE SCALE PATTERN DOES NOT FAVOR DEEP SFC
CYCLOGENESIS DURING THE PERIOD BUT RATHER A WEAK WAVE SHOULD BE
INDUCED ACROSS THE SRN ROCKIES TUESDAY BEFORE SHIFTING INTO SWRN TX
WEDNESDAY DUE TO SIGNIFICANT FRONTAL PENETRATION OVER THE PLAINS.
MULTIPLE DAYS OF FAVORABLE TRAJECTORIES OFF THE WRN GULF BASIN
SHOULD RESULT IN MEANINGFUL BOUNDARY LAYER MOISTURE ADVANCING ACROSS
THE SRN PLAINS INTO THE MID MS VALLEY WITH SIGNIFICANT
MOISTURE/ELEVATED BUOYANCY EXPECTED TO SUPPORT A BAND OF POST
FRONTAL CONVECTION WITHIN WARM ADVECTION ZONE
. DIABATIC HEATING AND
FRONTAL LIFT SHOULD ALSO CONTRIBUTE TO SIGNIFICANT THUNDERSTORM
DEVELOPMENT NEAR THE FRONT BOTH TUESDAY AND WEDNESDAY BEFORE
PROGRESSIVE UPPER TROUGH SHUNTS DEEPER MOISTURE/ASCENT EAST.
STEEPEST LAPSE RATES/INSTABILITY MAY BE OVERTURNED BY MID WEEK SO
CONFIDENCE IN ORGANIZED SEVERE DOWNSTREAM IS LOWER THAN ACROSS THE
PLAINS/MS VALLEY REGION.

..DARROW.. 04/13/2013
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239. VR46L
Morning Folks .... View of the Global weather




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Quoting Grothar:


Sure, ruin my prediction. :)

No! Not at all, Sir.

Was just pointing out the plural nature of the Hebert for which the prediction was referring. lol
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Quoting seminolesfan:



Sure, ruin my prediction. :)
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Quoting Grothar:
Prediction:

August 10, 2013 - First mention the The Hebert Box.



EDIT: Some might call them the Hebert Boxen. :)
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Quoting pcola57:


2004,2005..Memories.. :(



:) I've been working on some analog years myself. I have a few others that weren't mentioned.

This however, is the first hurricane I actually remember. (Please note the date is 1948 and not 1848):P

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Another solid pic from yesterday at sunset

Member Since: July 18, 2010 Posts: 50 Comments: 1869
It looks like the sun will break through in a few spots today before more rain moves into the area. Strong thunderstorms are possible with gusty winds to 60mph and hail

From the US National Weather Service Miami Florida
Please share -- Quick changing weather expected next few hours! Strong to potentially severe thunderstorms, heavy rain developing this afternoon, focused across Palm Beach, Broward, and Miami-Dade Counties. Visit weather.gov/miami for the latest updates.

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Quoting Grothar:
2013



2004



2005


2004,2005..Memories.. :(
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Prediction:

August 10, 2013 - First mention of the The Hebert Box.
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2013



2004



2005
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FLORIDA/PINELLAS BOIL WATER NOTICE.................NEW PORT RICHEY --
New Port Richey police have issued a boil water novice for residents located on South Pinehill Road east of U.S. 19, including Washington Street and Grand Boulevard.

The notice was issued Saturday morning and is in effect until further notice. No explanation was given.

Residents should boil all water used for cooking and drinking.
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Quoting lilElla:
Hope it stabilizes, this is an exceptional birding/natural area. On the farm, totatl rain recorded this week was 4.6". All snow is gone except for a few patches on our N. facing hill. Our happy chickens had their first day out of the coop yesterday!


7.7" of snow here so far, with some light stuff still falling this morning. I did see some reports around 15" just south of Duluth and along the shoreline communities of Douglas and Bayfield counties. While this morning's snow is light and fluffy, yesterdays was packy enough that the snowblower wasn't happy (I measured a 7:1 snow-to-liquid ratio).

So my updated winter total is now 88.6" with 6" on the ground. Thus far we haven't had flooding problems up here, but with June 21st fresh in everyone's mind, the fear of heavy rains is on everyone's mind. [or... when can I finally put away the snowblowers!?!]

Duluth on June 22nd, 2012 (more pictures at the link in the above paragraph):


Glad your chickens are happy and that you're surviving the wet weather, lilElla! Hope there's some sunshine in the forecast!!

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!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!:)
Showers and thunderstorms, mainly after noon. High near 85. South wind 6 to 8 mph. Chance of precipitation is 80%.
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Hope it stabilizes, this is an exceptional birding/natural area. On the farm, total rain recorded this week was 4.6". All snow is gone except for a few patches on our N. facing hill. Our happy chickens had their first day out of the coop yesterday!
Quoting 47n91w:
Small dam in Kenosha County, Wisconsin seems to have been weakened by recent heavy rains in southern Wisconsin.

This website has good pictures and videos: http://www.westofthei.com/2013/04/12/update-hole- detected-in-vern-wolf-lake-dam-is-source-of-concer n-about-possible-failure/41080

From the Wisconsin DNR news alert:

Heavy rains in southeastern Wisconsin have created the potential for the Vern Wolf Lake Dam in Kenosha County to fail. As a precaution, State Highway 75 is closed between Highway 142 and County Highway K and detours have been posted. The dam is located in the Richard Bong State Recreation Area. Several trails within Richard Bong State Recreation Area are closed. Some trails near the lake also have been posted closed.

Department of Natural Resources conservation wardens and rangers are working with the Kenosha County Sheriff%u2019s Department to staff barricades on Highway 75 for the next 24 hours to keep traffic out. DNR dam safety engineers are evaluating the dam. The department will maintain an incident command center onsite.

Richard Bong State Recreation Area is eight miles southeast of Burlington on State Highway 142. The entrance is less than one mile west of State Highway 75. Vern Wolf Lake is a 93- acre lake located within the Richard Bong Recreation Area, with depths reaching up to 12 feet. Portions of the lake are approximately 50 feet from State Highway 75.
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on the GFS a wave is going into the Caribbean and i know it is far out but
336HR

348HR

360HR

372HR

384HR
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NWS forecast for Sunday for Mobile/ Pensacola..

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Oklahoma getting some needed rain this am..



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The Des Plaines River, downstream from Vern Wolf Lake Dam, has been rising already and will hopefully crest now if there's no additional surge added.



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This mess in the GOM is coming to visit us here tomorrow and Monday..



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5 Day GFS snowfall..

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Quoting Hernando44:
16-8-4 for hernando44


got your hurricane numbers..you're the 87th counted.
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Small dam in Kenosha County, Wisconsin seems to have been weakened by recent heavy rains in southern Wisconsin.

This website has good pictures and videos: http://www.westofthei.com/2013/04/12/update-hole- detected-in-vern-wolf-lake-dam-is-source-of-concer n-about-possible-failure/41080

From the Wisconsin DNR news alert:

Heavy rains in southeastern Wisconsin have created the potential for the Vern Wolf Lake Dam in Kenosha County to fail. As a precaution, State Highway 75 is closed between Highway 142 and County Highway K and detours have been posted. The dam is located in the Richard Bong State Recreation Area. Several trails within Richard Bong State Recreation Area are closed. Some trails near the lake also have been posted closed.

Department of Natural Resources conservation wardens and rangers are working with the Kenosha County Sheriff%u2019s Department to staff barricades on Highway 75 for the next 24 hours to keep traffic out. DNR dam safety engineers are evaluating the dam. The department will maintain an incident command center onsite.

Richard Bong State Recreation Area is eight miles southeast of Burlington on State Highway 142. The entrance is less than one mile west of State Highway 75. Vern Wolf Lake is a 93- acre lake located within the Richard Bong Recreation Area, with depths reaching up to 12 feet. Portions of the lake are approximately 50 feet from State Highway 75.
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TC Imelda..Indian Ocean



OLS 1km




ABIO10 PGTW 121800
MSGID/GENADMIN/JOINT TYPHOON WRNCEN PEARL HARBOR HI//
SUBJ/SIGNIFICANT TROPICAL WEATHER ADVISORY FOR THE INDIAN
/OCEAN/121800Z-131800ZAPR2013//
REF/A/MSG/JOINT TYPHOON WRNCEN PEARL HARBOR HI/120751ZAPR2013//
AMPN/REF A IS A TROPICAL CYCLONE WARNING.//
RMKS/
1. NORTH INDIAN OCEAN AREA (MALAY PENINSULA WEST TO COAST OF AFRICA):
A. TROPICAL CYCLONE SUMMARY: NONE.
B. TROPICAL DISTURBANCE SUMMARY: NONE.
2. SOUTH INDIAN OCEAN AREA (135E WEST TO COAST OF AFRICA):
A. TROPICAL CYCLONE SUMMARY:
(1) AT 120600Z, TROPICAL CYCLONE 21S (IMELDA) WAS LOCATED NEAR
14.1S 58.9E, APPROXIMATELY 465 NM NORTH-NORTHEAST OF LA REUNION, AND
HAD TRACKED SOUTH-SOUTHEASTWARD AT 06 KNOTS OVER THE PAST SIX HOURS.
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED SURFACE WINDS WERE ESTIMATED AT 45 KNOTS GUSTING
TO 55 KNOTS. SEE REF A (WTXS31 PGTW 120900) FOR FURTHER DETAILS.
(2) NO OTHER TROPICAL CYCLONES.
B. TROPICAL DISTURBANCE SUMMARY: NONE.//
NNNN
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Quoting kparcell:
Jeff, Your blog is the only must-read blog for me - if I can reach the internet then I read your blog. My reason for this is that over the years I've observed that you are rigorous and fair in your treatment of issues that are vital to me.

The omissions you note in NOAA's drought report are fatal to the possibility of the report being accurate. Tragically, this won't keep opponents of restrictions on GHG emissions from citing this report to support their claims that the jury is still out. I hope you go after this report more pointedly.


Nice first post..Welcome!!.. :)
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Quoting AtHomeInTX:
Turns out I needn't have gone past 1971 to answer that question. The last major to hit the Central Texas Coast was Celia in 1970. So it has been awhile there. Can't do math any more. :)



70 is a nice number to do math with

'70-'00 is 30 years...
'00 - 13' is 13 years.

43 total. What is the average return period?

I know ike was close to there.
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Lake Lanier in GA is finally full!!




other lakes around GA









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Turns out I needn't have gone past 1971 to answer that question. The last major to hit the Central Texas Coast was Celia in 1970. So it has been awhile there. Can't do math any more. :)

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Cyclone Imelda had a good night last night after a couple of real tough days all but caused it to dissipate:

Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 83 Comments: 7754
Jeff, Your blog is the only must-read blog for me - if I can reach the internet then I read your blog. My reason for this is that over the years I've observed that you are rigorous and fair in your treatment of issues that are vital to me.

The omissions you note in NOAA's drought report are fatal to the possibility of the report being accurate. Tragically, this won't keep opponents of restrictions on GHG emissions from citing this report to support their claims that the jury is still out. I hope you go after this report more pointedly.
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
Severe weather looks like a possibility in the South towards the end of next week. Probably won't be too significant with a positively-tilted trough.



It could be negative... days and days to figure it out.
Just being worse than the last two systems might not be good.

i liked yesterdays 12z run the best :D
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16-8-4 for hernando44
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Severe weather looks like a possibility in the South towards the end of next week. Probably won't be too significant with a positively-tilted trough.

Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31917
NAM for Monday................
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GFS for Monday..................
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Huntsville

DEEP-LAYER MOISTURE/INSTABILITY PARAMETERS DO APPEAR QUITE FAVORABLE
FOR AN EPISODE OF SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS ON THURSDAY NIGHT...ESPECIALLY
GIVEN THE DEVELOPMENT OF A 50-60 KNOT SOUTHERLY LOW-LEVEL JET...AND
THIS EVENT WILL LIKELY FEATURE SEVERAL MODES OF CONVECTION.

jackson

FORECAST SOUNDINGS FOR
THU INDICATE A STRONG EML WILL YIELD STEEP MID LEVEL LAPSE
RATES...WHICH COMBINED WITH THE HEALTHY LOW LEVEL MOISTURE SHOULD
ALLOW SBCAPE VALUES TO CLIMB ABOVE 1500-2000J/KG BY THU
AFTERNOON/EVENING. GIVEN THESE FACTORS COMBINED WITH SOME BETTER
AGREEMENT ON TIMING WILL GO AHEAD AND INCLUDE A MENTION OF SEVERE
STORM POTENTIAL FOR THU INTO THU NIGHT.

cap could be trouble

btw



BMX


..BOTH LONG RANGE MODELS ARE BRINGING A
VERY STRONG COLD FRONT INTO OUR NORTHWEST COUNTIES BY MIDNIGHT
FRIDAY MORNING. WITH MOIST UNSTABLE AIR IN PLACE AND SUFFICIENT
SHEAR PROFILES THAT WILL BE PRESENT...AS WELL AS A STRONG LOW LEVEL
JET BEING ADVERTISED...THE THREAT OF SEVERE STORMS WILL CERTAINLY BE
IN THE CARDS IF THESE TRENDS CONTINUE. THEREFORE...WE`VE GONE AHEAD
AND ADDED IN A LOW CONFIDENCE TORNADO THREAT IN THE HWO FOR LATE
THURSDAY NIGHT AND INTO THE DAY ON FRIDAY.
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Good morning people

A much better day than yesterday here for sure

snowing again in the northern states
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This tornado, producing up to EF-3 damage in Kemper County, Miss. traveled a total path of 68.4 miles and remained on the ground for 1 hour and 35 minutes from southwest of Damascus, Miss. to just east of Ethelsville, Ala.

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HAZARDOUS WEATHER OUTLOOK FOR SOUTH FLORIDA
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE MIAMI FL
611 AM EDT SAT APR 13 2013

THUNDERSTORMS: THE COMBINATION OF A WEAK FRONT JUST NORTH OF LAKE
OKEECHOBEE WITH AFTERNOON LAKE AND SEA BREEZES WILL RESULT IN
SCATTERED TO LOCALLY NUMEROUS AFTERNOON AND EVENING THUNDERSTORMS
ACROSS THE AREA TODAY WITH THE MAIN FOCUS NORTH OF TAMIAMI TRAIL
ACROSS INTERIOR SOUTH FLORIDA AND THE EAST COAST. DUE TO THE SLOW
MOVEMENT THE MAIN CONCERN WILL BE LOCALIZED FLOODING. SECONDARY
CONCERNS ARE GUSTY WINDS IN EXCESS OF 40 MPH AND SMALL HAIL WITH
THE STRONGEST STORMS.

WIND: WIND GUSTS IN EXCESS OF 40 MPH ARE POSSIBLE WITH THE
STRONGEST STORMS.

HAIL: SMALL HAIL (LESS THAN A QUARTER IN SIZE) IS POSSIBLE WITH
A FEW OF THE STORMS.

FLOODING: STREET FLOODING WILL BE THE MAIN CONCERN WITH ANY STORM
THAT DEVELOPS TODAY PARTICULARLY IN LOW LYING OR FLOOD PRONE AREAS.
STREET FLOODING IS A POTENTIAL IMPACT DUE TO SLOW MOVEMENT OF THE
STORMS.
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Good morning/evening all. Have to correct my earlier post. The record for no Texas landfalling storms at all is seven years not five. The storm I thought hit Texas in 1908 formed off our coast and went to Louisiana. 1902 Hurricane 2, a cat 1, hit Corpus on June 26th. Then many years without anything even getting anywhere near Texas. Then 2 hurricanes in 1909. Hurricane 2, a cat 2, hit Brownsville on June 29th. The Valesco Hurricane, a cat3, hit the Freeport area on July 21st. Still not sure of the last major hurricane to hit the central Texas coast.

For some reason my notes stopped at 1971. I'm sure the rest is here somewhere. :)
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For those who live in Texas and may want to go to a NHC workshop,you have the opportunity to attend for free the Houston/Galveston Workshop on June 1rst from 10 AM CDT to 3 PM CDT
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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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