Dark Snow Project: Crowd-Source Funded Science for Greenland

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:03 PM GMT on April 26, 2013

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"There's no place on Earth that is changing faster--and no place where that change matters more--than Greenland." So said 350.org founder Bill McKibben, in a 2012 Rolling Stone magazine interview. As Earth Week 2013 draws to a close, I want to draw your attention to a unique effort to learn more about why Greenland is melting so fast--a crowd-funded research project that anyone can contribute to, which aims to answer the "burning question": How much does wildfire and industrial soot darken the ice, increasing melt? The Dark Snow Project, the first-ever Greenland expedition relying on crowd-source funding, hopes to raise $150,000 to mount a field research campaign to find out. The project is the brainchild of Dr. Jason Box, Professor at the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland (GEUS), and one of the world's leading experts on Greenland's glaciers. He has set up a website called darksnowproject.org to help raise the funds for the field campaign, and has raised about half of the needed amount as of mid-April.


Figure 1. Over the course of several years, turbulent water overflow from a large melt lake carved this 60-foot-deep (18.3 meter-deep) canyon in Greenland's Ice Sheet (note people near left edge for scale). Image credit: Ian Joughin, University of Washington.

2012: Unprecedented melting in Greenland
Watching the weather events of 2012 over Greenland made all seasoned climate watchers a little queasy. The vast ice sheet on the island holds enough water to raise global sea levels by 7.36 meters (24.15 feet) were it all to melt, and the ice melt season of 2012 gave notice that an epic melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet may be underway. According to NOAA's 2012 Arctic Report Card, the duration of melting at the surface of the ice sheet in summer 2012 was the longest since satellite observations began in 1979, and the total amount of summer melting was nearly double the previous record, set in 2010 (satellite records of melting go back to 1979.) A rare, near-ice sheet-wide surface melt event melted 97% of the surface of Greenland's ice sheet on July 11 - 12. While a similar melt event at the summit occurred 1889, but the 1889 event has no basis in the instrumental record from coastal Greenland. It's instead likely that 2012 was Greenland's warmest summer in at least 863 years, since the medieval warm period (see http://www.meltfactor.org/blog/?p=677 and http://www.meltfactor.org/blog/?p=725). The incredibly warm temperatures have been blamed on highly unusual atmospheric circulation and jet stream changes, which were also responsible for 2012's unusually wet summer weather in England. It would not be a surprise if this sort of summer began occurring more often, since temperatures on top of the Greenland Ice Sheet have been rising six times faster than the global average during the past twenty years. A May 2013 Geophysical Research Letters paper by McGrath et al., "Recent warming at Summit, Greenland: Global context and implications", concluded that by 2025, there is a 50% chance of ice sheet-wide melt events happening annually. The ice sheet reached its darkest value on record in 2012. The darkened surface was due to below average summer snow, soot particles from pollution and forest fires, and record melting. A darker ice sheet absorbs more solar energy, in a vicious cycle that raises temperatures, melts more ice, and further darkens the ice sheet. The amount of melting that was caused by soot from forest fires is important to know, since global warming is likely to increase the amount of forest fires in coming decades. However, the amount of forest fire soot landing on the Greenland Ice Sheet is almost completely unknown, which is why Dr. Box is determined to find out, via the Dark Snow Project.


Figure 2. Smoke from a fire in Labrador, Canada wafts over the Greenland ice sheet on June 17, 2012, as seen in this cross-section view of aerosol particles taken by NASA's CALIPSO satellite. Image credit: Dr. Jason Box, Ohio State University.

Greenland causing 25% of global sea level rise
In a landmark study published in November 2012 in Science, 47 researchers from 26 laboratories reported that the amount of ice being lost from Greenland and Antarctica has tripled since the 1990s, with Greenland contributing more than twice as much to global sea level rise than Antarctica. The study, "A Reconciled Estimate of Ice-Sheet Mass Balance", found that the two ice sheets were responsible for 20% of the global sea level rise of 3.1 mm/year during the 20-year period 1992 - 2011. The remainder of the rise was due to expansion of the water due to heating of the oceans, melting of mountain glaciers, and unsustainable pumping of ground water. Said co-author Erik Ivins of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, "The pace of ice loss from Greenland is extraordinary, with nearly a five-fold increase since the mid-1990s." As of 2011, Greenland's contribution to global sea level rise on its own had risen to 20 - 25%, according to an international research group led by the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, in an article published in Earth and Planetary Science Letters on 1 June 2012. If the current exponential ice loss trends continue for the next ten years, Greenland's contribution to sea level rise will double to 1.4 mm/yr by 2022, the researchers said. Many sea level rise researchers expect global sea level to rise by about 1 meter (3.3 feet) by 2100. During the 20th century, global sea level rise was about 0.18 meters (7 inches.)


Figure 3. Monthly smoothed (purple) and unsmoothed (blue) values of the total mass lost from the Greenland Ice Sheet (in Gigatons, Gt) from measurements by the GRACE satellites between March 2002-September 2012. An approximate equivalent global sea level rise figure is on the right axis. Note that the decline in ice mass lost from Greenland is not a straight line--it is exponential, meaning that more ice loss is lost each year than in the previous year. Image credit: 2012 Arctic Report Card.

Will Antarctica be more important than Greenland for sea level rise?
Although melting from Greenland is currently raising global sea level by about a factor of two more than Antarctica melting is, that situation may change later this century. A 2013 study by Dahl-Jensen et al. looked at a new ice core drilled from the bottom-most depths of the Greenland Ice Sheet. The core suggests that the ice in Greenland may have partially survived the warm Eemian period before the Ice Age, approximately 118,000 - 126,000 years ago, when Greenland temperatures were 5- 8°C warmer than present-day temperatures. Global sea level during the Eemian was 4 - 8 meters (13 - 26 ft) higher than the present sea level, and the scientists estimated that melting from Greenland was responsible for 2 meters (6.6 ft) of this sea level rise. This implies that Antarctica was responsible for 50 - 75% of global sea level rise during the Eemian, and thus we might expect Antarctica to take over as the dominant source of sea level rise later this century, when global temperatures may to rise to levels similar to those experienced during the Eemian.

Related posts
Greenland experiences melting over 97% of its area in mid-July (July 25, 2012)
Record warmth at the top of the Greenland Ice Sheet (July 18, 2012)
Unprecedented May heat in Greenland; update on 2011 Greenland ice melt (May, 2012)
Greenland update for 2010: record melting and a massive calving event

Dr. Jason Box's blog on Greenland and the Dark Snow Project is at http://www.meltfactor.org.

The http://www.greenlandmelting.com/ website looks like a great resource for following this year's melt progression in Greenland.


Video 1. Glaciologist Dr. Jason Box and 350.org founder Bill McKibben plug the Darksnow project in this January 2013 video by Peter Sinclair. There's some impressive footage of the record Greenland snow melt of summer 2012 sweeping away a 20-ton tractor that was attempting to repair a bridge washed out by the raging Watson River on July 11, 2012 in Kangerlussauaq, Greenland. The driver escaped unharmed.

Support the Dark Snow Project
One of Dr. Box's collaborators, photographer James Balog, who created the amazing time-lapse Greenland glacier footage in the fantastic 2012 "Chasing Ice" movie, puts it like this: "Working in Greenland these past years has left me with a profound feeling of being in the middle of a decisive historic moment--the kind of moment, at least in geologic terms, that marks the grand tidal changes of history." On that note, I encourage you all to support the Dark Snow Project. Have a great weekend, everyone!

Dark Snow Project Expedition Plan 2013
Prepare and gather science equipment including a field spectrometer, snow and ice coring device, and snow metrics kit.

Travel to Iqualuit, on Baffin Island, Nunavut from home locales in California, Ohio, Michigan, Vermont and rendezvous with Dash-6 "Twin Otter" ski-equipped airplane and flight crew.

Organize cold weather survival kit.

Ferry team from Iqualuit to Kangerlussuaq, Greenland.

Fly to and land at sampling sites high on the inland ice sheet.

At each site collect snow samples from a snow pit and obtain snow cores to a minimum depth of the previous year's snow surface, and record snow properties.

Transport of team and snow samples to Greenland's capital Nuuk, where the team will rest after hustling at field sites.

Return to Iqualuit, then to respective home locales to start the data analysis and reporting phase of campaign.

Jeff Masters

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382. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Tropical Cyclone Warning Center Brisbane
Tropical Cyclone Outlook
2:30 PM EST April 27 2013
===========================================

At 10:00 EST, a tropical low was situated approximately 700 km east southeast of Port Moresby and 1,100 km northeast of Cairns and moving slowly in a general southwards direction.

The tropical low is expected to remain slow moving over the weekend before developing a west southwest track towards the far northeast Queensland coast on Monday, while intensifying.

Tropical Cyclone Formation Potential
======================================
Sunday: Moderate
Monday: High
Tuesday: High
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New GFS starts surface cyclogenesis farther south and west this time with a larger distance between the cut-off upper low and the surface low. If this can happen the chances might be better for some sort of subtropical development before the upper low begins to dominate.

Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 17 Comments: 10284


Tri-State Weather
Oklahoma
Photo via Jamie Simpson
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
Tuscaloosa



Cullman



Hackleburg-Phil Campbell-Tanner



Smithville



Cordova



the list goes on.


Ok, the commentary on the Cullman one is the worst ever. Holy.
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 17 Comments: 10284
wrong location...sorry. fixed
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almost knocked out...Gnite.

I'll leave you with this picture taken at Sydney, NSW. Land of the Oz.

enjoy.

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Quoting MississippiWx:


Sure, they may not be collocated, but the upper low to the west is in a bad position to permit any sort of true tropical development.
exactamente
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Insane:

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Tuscaloosa



Cullman



Hackleburg-Phil Campbell-Tanner



Smithville



Cordova



the list goes on.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32275
What do the numbers mean on the pink TVS??

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Two years ago...the peak of the 2011 Super Outbreak and a day that changed the lives of everybody who tracked the event.

ABC 33/40 Coverage of the 2011 Super Outbreak

How the ABC 33/40 Weather Team Was Impacted by 4.27.11

"Gary, have I ever told you that I expected a violent tornado outbreak with mass casualties before? And he says no. I said, well today's that day. Today's the day."



CBS 42 April 27, 2011 Weather Coverage



SPC outlook:


Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32275
Quoting MississippiWx:


Sure, they may not be collocated, but the upper low to the west is in a bad position to permit any sort of true tropical development. It will more than likely be pumping cold air/stable air into any low that develops on the East Coast. The surface low will also more than likely pinwheel around the huge upper low, so as you said, it won't last long over water. This would be like a Sandy situation where an approaching low from the southeast merges with an upper trough approaching from the west. Except this time, we obviously won't have a hurricane first. It will be just a surface low with not much, if any tropical characteristics that's already close to the coast.



The trough is the fly in the ointment. The isobaric distribution of the trough in the models does seem favorable for some cold air advection into the system, which wasn't the case with Andrea six years ago. As always, things will probably change from now until then. It's still one week out.
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I hope I don't have to post this to many times this year.

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those storms on Oklahoma are very strong... they even get to purple colors on radar
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Quoting KoritheMan:
Looking at the global models this evening, it appears that the main impediment to subtropical development off the southeast coast will be the relatively short time (about two or three days) the forecast low will have over water. The GFS, which usually does well with forecasts of vertical shear, predicts 5 to 10 kt of westerly mid-level flow across the region, which is a situation favorable for subtropical cyclogenesis to occur. Upper-level winds (note that above I said _mid_-level winds, meaning about up to 500 mb) are expected to be highly unfavorable, with 30 kt of westerly shear. Subtropical entities generally do not intensify based on upper-level winds, since their associated convection is normally fairly shallow, which by extension means the accompanying cloud tops do not extend very far upward into the troposphere; this is why systems like Delta, Epsilon, and Zeta in 2005 were able to thrive (and indeed, intensify) in environments that are normally deemed unfit for tropical cyclone formation.

Interestingly, looking at the 300 mb forecast fields from the 18z GFS, I don't see much evidence of a solidly organized upper low collocating with the surface low, so if upper-level winds permit, there could be some potential for truly tropical development, albeit probably not a classical tropical cyclone given the still cold western Atlantic, particularly near the coast where this low is expected to track.

Anything that does develop, baroclinic or tropical, named or not named, is expected to move inland under the influence of a negatively-tilted upper trough. More unseasonable cold will filter in behind this front for the southeast.


Sure, they may not be collocated, but the upper low to the west is in a bad position to permit any sort of true tropical development. It will more than likely be pumping cold air/stable air into any low that develops on the East Coast. The surface low will also more than likely pinwheel around the huge upper low, so as you said, it won't last long over water. This would be like a Sandy situation where an approaching low from the southeast merges with an upper trough approaching from the west. Except this time, we obviously won't have a hurricane first. It will be just a surface low with not much, if any tropical characteristics that's already close to the coast.

Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 17 Comments: 10284
1042 PM CDT FRI APR 26 2013

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN TULSA HAS ISSUED A

* SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING FOR...
EASTERN OKFUSKEE COUNTY IN EAST CENTRAL OKLAHOMA...
SOUTHERN OKMULGEE COUNTY IN NORTHEAST OKLAHOMA...
WESTERN MCINTOSH COUNTY IN SOUTHEAST OKLAHOMA...

* UNTIL 1130 PM CDT

* AT 1040 PM CDT...A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WAS LOCATED NEAR OKEMAH...
MOVING EAST AT 35 MPH.

STORM HAZARDS INCLUDE...
HALF DOLLAR SIZE HAIL...

* SOME LOCATIONS IN OR NEAR THE PATH OF THIS STORM INCLUDE...
CLEARVIEW...WELEETKA...PHAROAH...WILSON...HENRYETT A...SCHULTER...
DEWAR...GRAYSON...HOFFMAN AND RAIFORD.
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366. etxwx
And to keep this weather related, all I can say is thank goodness...just in time for hurricane season! G'nite all.

Twinkies return by midsummer? Hostess factories reopening soon.
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Quoting MississippiWx:
The huge bowling ball low forecast for next week is simply amazing. If this happens, there will be temp anomalies in the negative 30-40 range (easily). 850mb temps of at least -4C all the way down to the Gulf Coast in May is slightly disheartening. Could be major crop damage to places that have been warm enough to start growing. Let's hope this doesn't end up as extreme as the models are currently showing. The rains will be quite excessive as well.

BTW, this pattern doesn't just shout subtropical development to me. I'm thinking this is way too cold-cored to be considered for subtropical development and even if a surface low forms along the coast it will have a difficult time developing into anything hybrid with so much cold continental air funneling into it from the huge upper low over the US. We'll see. I'm sure this will change several times between now and then.


I don't think this frontal system will ever make it near subtropical... as many models show the system

not buying it until next week.

Some people here already call for tropical storm Andrea in the making (??)
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Looking at the global models this evening, it appears that the main impediment to subtropical development off the southeast coast will be the relatively short time (about two or three days) the forecast low will have over water. The GFS, which usually does well with forecasts of vertical shear, predicts 5 to 10 kt of westerly mid-level flow across the region, which is a situation favorable for subtropical cyclogenesis to occur. Upper-level winds (note that above I said _mid_-level winds, meaning about up to 500 mb) are expected to be highly unfavorable, with 30 kt of westerly shear. Subtropical entities generally do not intensify based on upper-level winds, since their associated convection is normally fairly shallow, which by extension means the accompanying cloud tops do not extend very far upward into the troposphere; this is why systems like Delta, Epsilon, and Zeta in 2005 were able to thrive (and indeed, intensify) in environments that are normally deemed unfit for tropical cyclone formation.

Interestingly, looking at the 300 mb forecast fields from the 18z GFS, I don't see much evidence of a solidly organized upper low collocating with the surface low, so if upper-level winds permit, there could be some potential for truly tropical development, albeit probably not a classical tropical cyclone given the still cold western Atlantic, particularly near the coast where this low is expected to track.

Anything that does develop, baroclinic or tropical, named or not named, is expected to move inland over the upper mid-Atlantic region under the influence of a negatively-tilted upper trough. More unseasonable cold will filter in behind this front for the southeast.
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Quoting Tornado6042008X:
Aww man. You beat me to the question. That is almost word for word what I was about to say.....LOL. I was about to post: "What is that like 6 inches of hail?!"


I read your mind and stole the information...lol
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DrTornadoCooley Jason Cooley 4h
BEAUTIFUL supercell coming up on Elk City, OK. Wall cloud taking shape!

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Quoting trHUrrIXC5MMX:


that is crazy!!
may be what... 6" of hail?
Aww man. You beat me to the question. That is almost word for word what I was about to say.....LOL. I was about to post: "What is that like 6 inches of hail?!"
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360. etxwx
Waters off Northeast US coast unusually warm, says NOAA
By Eoin O'Carroll, CSM Staff / April 26, 2013

Sea surface temperatures on the Northeast US Continental Shelf reached the highest recorded in 150 years, says an advisory issued by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Complete article here.
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The huge bowling ball low forecast for next week is simply amazing. If this happens, there will be temp anomalies in the negative 30-40 range (easily). 850mb temps of at least -4C all the way down to the Gulf Coast in May is slightly disheartening. Could be major crop damage to places that have been warm enough to start growing. Let's hope this doesn't end up as extreme as the models are currently showing. The rains will be quite excessive as well.

BTW, this pattern doesn't just shout subtropical development to me. I'm thinking this is way too cold-cored to be considered for subtropical development and even if a surface low forms along the coast it will have a difficult time developing into anything hybrid with so much cold continental air funneling into it from the huge upper low over the US. We'll see. I'm sure this will change several times between now and then.
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 17 Comments: 10284
Quoting AussieStorm:
@KevinDeShazo @wxbrad another from OKC. Never seen hail like this.



that is crazy!!
may be what... 6" of hail?
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Also quite the atmospheric river into the NE on the GFS....lots of flooding possible.

Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 9731
NWS Norman ‏@NWSNorman 1m
1028pm - Nasty storm crossing I-35 btwn Purcell and Pauls Valley. DO NOT park under overpasses! You will block the road for others!
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LOL at 18Z gfs showing a trace of snow in the SE
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 9731
@KevinDeShazo @wxbrad another from OKC. Never seen hail like this.

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353. etxwx
Oklahoma City TV stations:

KFOR

KOCO
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Quoting trHUrrIXC5MMX:


About last night chat we had...

I find so many similarities between Iniki and Andrew, since both were on the same year and left historic devastation


Both were significant hurricanes that many people will never forget.
Member Since: July 21, 2011 Posts: 83 Comments: 7167
NWS Norman ‏@NWSNorman
1015pm - 51 mph wind gust at the Norman @okmesonet site #okwx
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Quoting AussieStorm:
Max, you've got WU Mail.


yes Aussie, I replied it too.
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NWS Norman ‏@NWSNorman now
Happening now on I-35 - Parking under a highway overpass is extremely dangerous and traps other motorists out in the storm. Don't do it!

@NEWS9 150th & Penn.. Tons of hail on the ground. Very slick out there.



Holy crud.... that's a crud lot of hail. and big too
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Member Since: July 21, 2011 Posts: 83 Comments: 7167
NWS Norman ‏@NWSNorman 6m
1003pm - In Meeker, ping pong ball size hail and 60 mph winds. Numerous windows broken on west side of homes. #okwx

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Quoting Civicane49:


About last night chat we had...

I find so many similarities between Iniki and Andrew, since both were on the same year and left historic devastation
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Max, you've got WU Mail.
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Member Since: July 21, 2011 Posts: 83 Comments: 7167
Quoting trHUrrIXC5MMX:



I'll WU mail you...

ok
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Quoting AussieStorm:

It was J _ _ , has a name similar to Daniel


I'll WU mail you...
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Quoting trHUrrIXC5MMX:


oww I know what you are talking about...
why? you saw it on someone's facebook?

whoever that was, can't even be called a copycat!

It was J _ _ , has a name similar to Daniel
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Quoting AussieStorm:

The image you made that you refereed to me... someone "borrowed" it, I saw it on his FB profile


oww I know what you are talking about...
why? you saw it on someone's facebook?

whoever that was, can't even be called a copycat!
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Quoting trHUrrIXC5MMX:


which photo?..I shut off the computer after I said gnite to you and to Civicane49...
I missed it

The image you made that you refereed to me... someone "borrowed" it, I saw it on his FB profile
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NWS Norman ‏@NWSNorman 1m
945pm - core of storm near Mustang will move along the Oklahoma-Cleveland Co line, Watch for local flooding!! #okwx
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Quoting AussieStorm:

I've been awake since 8am, I went to bed way earlier than normal at 10pm. what's with that??

Did you see the linked photo i posted on the last blog?


which photo?..I shut off the computer after I said gnite to you and to Civicane49...
I missed it
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Quoting trHUrrIXC5MMX:


getting up sir?
good afternoon... almost 1 PM at your place

I've been awake since 8am, I went to bed way earlier than normal at 10pm. what's with that??

Did you see the linked photo i posted on the last blog?
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Quoting AussieStorm:
NWS Norman %u200F@NWSNorman 1m
934pm - severe storm moving along and just N of I-40. Meeker and Prague are next. #okwx


good afternoon... almost 1 PM at your place
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New severe thunderstorm watch issued downstream of the old one due to the severe storms in Oklahoma. Severe Thunderstorm Watch #140

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NWS Norman ‏@NWSNorman 1m
934pm - severe storm moving along and just N of I-40. Meeker and Prague are next. #okwx
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332. DDR
Quoting pottery:


Sorry to hear this.
Only 4mm here at Freeport today. 6mm yesterday.

Hope you get some more tomorrow,we had almost 3 inches since Monday.
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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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