Tornadoes Slam 5-State Area, Killing Two; Outbreak Continues Today

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 1:29 PM GMT on May 20, 2013

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The Midwest U.S. is under the gun again today, as a potent storm system that spawned a preliminary count of 24 tornadoes in five states on Sunday reloads and prepares to dish out another afternoon and evening of atmospheric mayhem. Sunday's tornadoes swept through Oklahoma, Kansas, Iowa, Missouri, and Illinois, with Oklahoma bearing the brunt of the assault. The outbreak's only deadly tornado--preliminarily rated as en EF-5 with 166 - 200 mph winds--hit Shawnee, Oklahoma, a town of 30,000 located 35 miles southeast of Oklahoma City. The twister leveled a trailer park, killing two people, and blew a semi-trailer off of an expressway overpass on I-40. At least 21 people were injured and 300 homes destroyed over the five-state area by the tornadoes. The 24 tornadoes from May 19 make it the biggest day for tornadoes in the U.S. this spring, and the highest number reported in one day since January 30, when 44 tornadoes touched down from Georgia to Indiana.


Figure 1. The Shawnee, Oklahoma tornado at 6:44 pm CDT May 19, 2013, as it passed just NW of Shawnee. The tornado killed two people in a mobile home park in Shawnee. Viewer submitted photo. #okwx pic.twitter.com/UCH9e8o9G8 Matt Mahler@themahler


Figure 2. The Shawnee tornado hurled a semi-trailer off of an expressway overpass at Highway 117 and I-40 in Oklahoma, and toppled another semi. Four people who sheltered under this overpass were injured, one seriously, and taken to the hospital. Highway overpasses can act to amplify a tornado's winds, and are very dangerous places to be during a tornado. According to the NWS in Norman Oklahoma, during the tornado outbreak of May 3, 1999, tornadoes crossed three highway overpasses, and at all three locations, there was a fatality. One of the fatalities occurred from an EF-2 tornado in a rural area, which suggests that a tornado need not be a large, violent tornado with a considerable debris cloud to cause fatal injuries to people seeking shelter from storms under overpasses. In addition to the fatal injuries to three people, there were also many severe, potentially life-threatening and gruesome injuries inflicted upon people underneath the overpasses, that in some cases, has left these people with permanent disabilities. Don't take shelter under a highway overpass from a tornado! Image credit: KFOR.com.


Figure 3. Radar reflectivity image taken at 6:08 pm CDT May 19, 2013 of the supercell thunderstorm that spawned the Shawnee, Oklahoma tornado.


Figure 4. Doppler velocity image taken at 6:08 pm CDT May 19, 2013 of the supercell thunderstorm that spawned the Shawnee, Oklahoma tornado. Note the couplet of dark red colors right next to light blues near the center of the image, showing that the air was moving both towards the radar and away from it within a short distance, indicating a tight rotation of the tornado's parent mesocyclone.

Iowa's record tornado-free streak ends at 359 days
A tornado touched down near Slater, Iowa at 6:10 pm CDT on Sunday, May 19, one of six tornadoes reported in the state that day. Remarkably, it was the first tornado recorded in the state since May 24, 2012 (Fayette County.) The 359-day streak without a tornado was the longest tornado-free period in state history. The previous record was 355 days, set between May 5, 1955, and April 26, 1956. The new streak is far more impressive because digital technology and spotter networks today are so comprehensive, resulting in far fewer missed tornadoes. There was a much higher likelihood back in the 1950s for tornadoes to be missed. The exceptional tornado-free period was due to the combination of the state's dry summer of 2012 (3rd driest on record) and cold spring of 2013 (8th coldest March - April on record). Thunderstorms like heat and moisture to form, and its tough to get a tornado if you're experiencing a top-ten driest or coldest spring or summer.


Figure 5. Radar reflectivity image of the tornado-spawning supercell thunderstorm that dropped an EF-1 tornado just to the southwest of Wichita, Kansas, on May 19, 2013.

Wichita gets lucky
At 3:30 pm Sunday, Kansas' largest city, Wichita, got a major scare when a large supercell thunderstorm spawned a half-mile wide tornado to the southwest of the city. The tornado headed directly for the airport and downtown Wichita, prompting the issuance of "Tornado Emergency" for the city. In the wake of the deadly EF-5 tornado that leveled Joplin, Missouri in 2011, the NWS decided to give local NWS offices the option to issue special, strongly worded tornado warnings to let the population know when a particularly dangerous tornado--one that has been confirmed by spotters to be on the ground--is approaching. The NWS issued one of these very strongly-worded tornado warnings on Sunday for Wichita:

Statement as of 3:47 PM CDT on May 19, 2013
... A Tornado Warning remains in effect for southern Sedgwick County until 415 PM CDT...

... Tornado emergency for Wichita...

At 345 PM CDT... a confirmed large... violent and extremely dangerous tornado was located on the southwest side of Wichita... and moving northeast at 30 mph.

This is a particularly dangerous situation.

Hazard... deadly tornado.

Source... weather spotters confirmed tornado.

Impact... you could be killed if not underground or in a tornado shelter. Complete destruction of neighborhoods... businesses and vehicles will occur. Flying debris will be deadly to people and animals.

Locations impacted include...Maize... downtown Wichita... Wichita... Bel Aire... McConnell Air Force Base…east Wichita and Oaklawn.

Precautionary/preparedness actions...

This is an extremely dangerous tornado with complete devastation likely. You could be killed if not underground or in a tornado shelter. Do not delay... seek shelter now! If no underground shelter is available seek shelter in an interior room of the lowest level of a structure... or if time allows... consider moving to an underground shelter elsewhere. Mobile homes and outbuildings will offer no shelter from this tornado.

Tornado... observed
Tornado damage threat... catastrophic
Hail... 2.75in

Wichita TV station KSNW did an excellent job covering the tornado, but were forced to abandon the studio during the height of the storm, as seen on this video clip. You can hear hail pounding the roof as the news crew scrambles for shelter. Station meteorologist J.D. Rudd has this to say: "We are okay. I'll tell you though, it got intense. That thing passed right over our studio. Luckily, it had lifted. But I truly thought the roof of our studio was about to peel off. And the sound of the hail was deafening. What a day. Three hours of coverage with the largest city in the state under a TOR warning for a long time. Weather service called it a Tornado Emergency…'Large, violent tornado on the ground'. Words that gave me chills when I read them." Preliminary damage surveys from the NWS indicate that the Wichita tornado was an EF-1 with a path length 4.6 miles that lifted two miles south of the Wichita airport.


Figure 6. Severe weather outlook for Monday, May 20, calls for a "Moderate Risk" of severe weather over much of Oklahoma, and portions of surrounding states. You can follow today's severe weather outbreak from our Severe Weather page.

Another big severe weather day today in the Midwest
The latest forecasts from NOAA's Storm Prediction Center call for an active severe weather day again on Monday, with a "Moderate Risk" of severe weather over much of Oklahoma, plus portions of Southwest Missouri, Northwest Arkansas, and extreme North Texas. The highest threat for tornadoes will be in Southern Oklahoma and into North Texas. The severe weather outbreak will continue on Tuesday and Wednesday, progressing eastwards into the Ohio Valley and Great Lakes. Only a "Slight Risk" of severe weather is expected those days.


Video 1. Impressive footage (peaking at 4:30 of the video) of the huge tornado that devastated Carney, Oklahoma on May 19, 2013.


Video 2. The "Dominator 3" armored tornado intercept vehicle saw plenty of action on Sunday, as seen in this video, taken just northeast of Edmond, Oklahoma. From the ‪http://tvnweather.com/‬ description of the video: "This tornado was one of the strongest ever intercepted, and we needed all 10,000k pounds of the new Dominator because I have never felt vibration like that before as we were slammed by suction vortices wrapping all around the vehicle. Jim Cantore was on board and he's hooked. All part of #TornadoChasers, Season 2013 coming up this fall on ‪http://tvnweather.com/ondemand‬"

Additional info
Wunderblogger Lee Grenci has an interesting post discussing how last Wednesday's Granbury, Texas tornado was able to form in an atmosphere that seemingly had too little wind shear to get a supercell thunderstorm spinning. The Granbury tornado was an EF-4 with 166 - 200 mph winds that killed six people, and was part of a weather system separate from the one that is generating the current Midwest U.S. tornado outbreak.

news9.com out of Oklahoma City had some excellent live helicopter coverage of Sunday's storms, and will likely be out there again today.

Jeff Masters

Severe Thunderstorm Warned 4 (smyezek)
Outflow dominate storms, interesting to watch especially this wall of water that just pushed east. Lots of wind, heavy rains and even some decent size hail (mainly quarter sized, but may have been slightly larger). Intercepted this storm several miles SW of Coin, Ia (Page County). Wall of Water from an outflow dominate storm.
Severe Thunderstorm Warned 4
Don't Try This At Home (taddarkprince)
No Really....Don't try this at home. Pentax K-5 and Tamron 10-24mm Lens.
Don't Try This At Home
Rozel, KS Stovepipe Tornado! (charlesimages)
My first tornado ever in my chasing career, and it's this massive beast! Awesome! Follow my adventures at facebook.com/CharlesimagesStormedia and cistormedia.com!
Rozel, KS Stovepipe Tornado!
Medford, OK (amy1225)
Medford, OK
After the Storm (ctrmom)
Calm after the storm, with lots of birds singing in the background too!
After the Storm

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While on the topic of analog years, would be a nice time for a good definition (from Dr. M or perhaps someone like Levi or another more experienced blogger) as to what exactly constitutes an analog year.

In my mind, no two years are ever exactly alike because of all of the variables that occur in any given season, but I think the normally used definition of a potential analog year is a review, in the "pre-season", of large scale synoptic factors that influence/impact hurricane season (such as SST's/Sahel Rainfall/Enso conditions etc.)in the months leading up to the start of the season (Jan-May) and to compare current conditions to past years. Then you match up these current ones with similar past years in the same period and create a spreadsheet of close analog years as to what "might" happen in current upcoming season.

Any comments on this would be welcome.
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Outflow boundary plowed through my area this morning and really churned up the atmosphere, putting a major dent in instability. You can definitely see where the subsidence is occurring over Northeast Missouri and Western Illinois.

Cumulus fields breaking out all over Indiana ahead of the outflow.



Now the question is how will the return flow back act today southwest around Oklahoma and Southwest Missouri. Today may not be as easy of a forecast as yesterday in pin pointing where convection will fire given the added variables.



Will be interesting to see just how far north the boundary gets pushed back if at all today.

The SPC will likely get an adjustment, not so much for the moderate area, but the overall slight risk area I would think will...

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This has nothing to do with any of the recently discussed topics, but did anyone else get spam WU mail this morning?
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Whatever happened to Taz anyway? he hasnt talked in at least an hour now.
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Quoting seminolesfan:
That was part c), buddy...


xD
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Quoting Torito:


They missed d) Original poster reports the complaining posters post for personal attack.

....
That was part c), buddy...
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Quoting RitaEvac:


IDIOTS

The world is FULL of the blissfully unaware;
Locked in their prison of ignorant happiness...
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Quoting RitaEvac:


IDIOTS


They missed d) Original poster reports the complaining posters post for personal attack.

....
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Quoting seminolesfan:
Funny how the blog is reading today:
a)Poster complains about another poster's post.
b)Poster2 complains about another poster's posting of a post complaining about the first posters's post.
c)Original complaining post poster posts a post cautioning other posters about complaining about HIS posts.

I don't envy the mod's job of maintaining sanity here. lol


IDIOTS
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Quoting seminolesfan:
Funny how the blog is reading today:
a)Poster complains about another poster's post.
b)Poster2 complains about another poster's posting of a post complaining about the first posters's post.
c)Original complaining post poster posts a post cautioning other posters about complaining about HIS posts.

I don't envy the mod's job of maintaining sanity here. lol


LAWL funny how things work out that way.

My mind is blown.
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Funny how the blog is reading today:
a)Poster complains about another poster's post.
b)Poster2 complains about another poster's posting of a post complaining about the first posters's post.
c)Original complaining post poster posts a post cautioning other posters about complaining about HIS posts.

I don't envy the mod's job of maintaining sanity here. lol
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Quoting SouthernIllinois:
That truck with the cargo spilled all over the road is very telling. Glad the driver was able to escape with his or her life.


I would love to hear the story though..
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Thanks for the Post Doc,
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Quoting SouthernIllinois:
At @ 90:

That's old news. Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton already achieved that feat years ago.


LOL!!!!
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Quoting muddertracker:


The blogger IKE, not hurricane Ike. lol! Never want to see that storm again.


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Quoting ScottLincoln:

I love how the comment about how there isn't strong evidence linking the 11yr solar cycle to earthquakes was snuck in there at the end.
And the video didn't seem to stay anything about a tsunami, just hypothesized (at best) an increase in earthquake activity.


I totally agree with you,Predict earthquake is impossible right now for the science, everything beyond that, is a fallacy..
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Quoting SouthernIllinois:
At @ 90:

That's old news. Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton already achieved that feat years ago.


LOL


(Maybe someone should tell SI that that was a movie ;))
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Quoting SouthernIllinois:
At @ 90:

That's old news. Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton already achieved that feat years ago.


Still interesting to read. Also, this guy lived...
And yes, that movie was funny.
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:)
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The Weather Channel‏@weatherchannel3 min
RT @nwsnorman: Preliminary information from NWS survey team near Shawnee indicates EF4 damage. Surveys are ongoing. more details later.
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Article about a man surviving inside of a tornado. Credit goes to USATODAY.COM.


FORDLAND, Mo. (AP) High school senior Matt Suter has already survived being blown more than 1,300 feet by a tornado. Now he's caught up in the whirlwind of media attention.
The 19-year-old from southwest Missouri appeared Tuesday on ABC's "Good Morning America" and is also being courted by the "Today" show and talk show host David Letterman who, producer Ryan Williams said, would likely comment on the fact that Suter took his wild ride clad only in boxer shorts.

"I think Dave might be able to say something funny about that," Williams told the Springfield News-Leader.

(Related Weather Guys blog post: A twist of fate)

At the time, though, there was nothing funny about Suter's ordeal.

On March 12, he was in his grandmother's trailer, near Fordland, when the twister bore down on them.

"It got louder and louder, like 10 military jets coming at us," Suter told the newspaper. "Suddenly there was lots of pressure inside the house. The front and back doors that were both locked came off their hinges and blew out.

"I looked at my grandma in the kitchen, and the walls were moving, the roof was moving, the floor was moving just like Jell-O," he said. "I could feel the whole trailer tipping over."

The twister, packing 150-mph winds, ripped open the mobile home and carried Suter into the night. It flung him over a barbed wire fence 200 yards away, eventually dropping him in soft grass in an open field.

He had a gash in his head from being hit by a lamp, but was otherwise intact.

"Everything was gone. I could see debris from the trailers and garage everywhere," Suter said. "It finally hit me that it must have been a tornado. I figured they were dead or hurt really bad, so I took off running for my best friend's house."

The National Weather Service arrived at the final distance 1,307 feet using global positioning satellite technology.

Tom Grazulis, a Vermont-based author and tornado researcher, said that is the farthest anyone has been carried by a twister and survived.

The longest previously documented incident, he said, happened in Bowdle, S.D., on July 1, 1955, when a tornado carried a 9-year-old girl and her pony 1,000 feet before setting them down virtually unhurt.

"In more than 40,000 newspaper reports about tornadoes I've only found a single documented case of a person being carried more than a mile," Grazulis said. "But he died."


Suter's grandmother, Linda Kelley, and his uncle Robert Dewhirst were both buried in the wreckage of the trailer but survived.

"I started hollering for Matt immediately, but there was nothing left where he had been standing," Kelley said. "I just panicked. It was awful. I wanted to find him, but I didn't want to find him dead."

Unable to find her grandson, Kelley returned to help dig Dewhirst out. In the meantime, Suter bloodied from his head wound turned up at neighbor Don Cornelison's house.

"He said the storm blew him way out into the field and he didn't know if his grandma or uncle were alive," Cornelison said. "His feet were all cut up. I don't know how he made it this far."

Dr. Ron Buening, Suter's physician, said his lack of serious injuries beyond the head wound corroborated Suter's account.

"If he'd have been blown across that field, there would have been more body surface areas abraded and contused than what he had," Buening said. "He was the most lucky man on Earth."

Suter, who needed five surgical staples in his head, said he plans to help his grandmother rebuild and then join the Marines after graduation.

In the meantime, he'll deal with the sudden fame his experience has brought him.

"I've always told my girlfriend I wanted to see a tornado," he said. "But I sure didn't want to be in one."

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Quoting Luisport:
'Climate Risk Scientist' Tells FOX News "Solar Flares" May Cause North Atlantic Tsunami May 20 - June 5
VIDEO: Link

I love how the comment about how there isn't strong evidence linking the 11yr solar cycle to earthquakes was snuck in there at the end.
And the video didn't seem to stay anything about a tsunami, just hypothesized (at best) an increase in earthquake activity.
Member Since: September 28, 2002 Posts: 5 Comments: 3190
Massive amounts of smoke and haze in the BOC, heading north
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Quoting Luisport:
'Climate Risk Scientist' Tells FOX News "Solar Flares" May Cause North Atlantic Tsunami May 20 - June 5
VIDEO: Link



Powerful earthquake hits off coast of Chile
A magnitude 6.8 earthquake rattled the coast of southern Chile early Monday, the U.S. Geological Survey reported.
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From the NHC:

AN ATLANTIC OCEAN TROPICAL WAVE IS ALONG 33W/34W TO THE SOUTH OF
9N. WIDELY SCATTERED MODERATE TO ISOLATED STRONG CONVECTIVE
PRECIPITATION IS FROM 2N TO 5N BETWEEN 30W AND 37W.

A TROPICAL WAVE IS ALONG 61W/62W TO THE SOUTH OF 13N...FROM THE
SOUTHEASTERN CARIBBEAN SEA ISLANDS INTO EASTERN VENEZUELA.
CONVECTIVE PRECIPITATION...SCATTERED MODERATE TO ISOLATED STRONG
IN THE ATLANTIC OCEAN FROM 10N TO 13N BETWEEN 57W AND 61W NEAR
TRINIDAD. RAINSHOWERS ARE POSSIBLE FROM 15N TO 17N BETWEEN 55W
AND 65W.

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Quoting Luisport:
'Climate Risk Scientist' Tells FOX News "Solar Flares" May Cause North Atlantic Tsunami May 20 - June 5
VIDEO: Link


Not good..
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'Climate Risk Scientist' Tells FOX News "Solar Flares" May Cause North Atlantic Tsunami May 20 - June 5
VIDEO: Link
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wow, my buddy got a network interview.. rough day for the midwest, this fella does a very respectable job in the field, and a key contributor to Storm Assist!
Link
Edit: the news outlet did mistakenly include a different chaser video among Rob's clips..
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Quoting SouthernIllinois:
That truck with the cargo spilled all over the road is very telling. Glad the driver was able to escape with his or her life.


I was trying to figure out what the cargo was, and if it was hazardous or not...
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Quoting muddertracker:


The blogger IKE, not hurricane Ike. lol! Never want to see that storm again.


ooh... im new, so i dont know him. xD
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Quoting Torito:



Lol..... Just listing all the years i have heard so far this season... :P


I dont miss ike, it killed over 100 people and was the 3rd most expensive storm in recorded history...


The blogger IKE, not hurricane Ike. lol! Never want to see that storm again.
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The Weather Channel‏@weatherchannel58 s
Via AP: A second fatality has now been confirmed from Sunday's tornado near Shawnee, OK.
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Quoting muddertracker:


I said not to tell me if it's 2008. lol. (I miss IKE)



Lol..... Just listing all the years i have heard so far this season... :P


I dont miss ike, it killed over 100 people and was the 3rd most expensive storm in recorded history...
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Quoting Torito:
These years seem to be roughly on par with what people are predicting this year...
1915
1916
1933
1936
1950
1964
1966
1969
1981
1990
1999
1996
2003
2004
2005
2008
2011
2012



I said not to tell me if it's 2008. lol. (I miss IKE)
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Quoting MississippiWx:


Well, by the end of June, it almost looked like a certainty that El Nino was on its way, but it never materialized.

June 28, 2012:



May 2012


May 2013



Almost the opposite of last year, if I have to choose i take the average of the statistical model, they did better job last year..BTW lol....so i think will be a borderline La Nina, the opposite of last year
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Quoting muddertracker:


Some people say its 2004 and some say 2005.....

Waaay too many storms into the gomex for my liking in 2004 and 2005. We'll see how it sets up in Aug/Sept


Way too many nasty storms in those 2 years ! period!
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These years seem to be roughly on par with what people are predicting this year...
1915
1916
1933
1936
1950
1964
1966
1969
1981
1990
1995
1996
1999
2003
2004
2005
2008
2011
2012

Quoting muddertracker:
What are the analog years for 2013? (And if it's 2008, don't bother to tell me.)
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Quoting MississippiWx:


According to CSU, the best analog years are 1915 (maybe Grothar remembers this one), 1952, 1966, 1996, and 2004. Having 2004 as an analog is not a good thing, especially if you're in Florida. :-)


1915 had a Houston hit, or close. (Grothar?)
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Quoting Bluestorm5:
Oh now you can post whatever you want to, but still tell other people that they can't post what they posted. Make sense... my advice to you? Quit being a blog police and let people have freedom what to post. Let the mods handle it. They're mods for a reason and not you.


you been reported for personal attack





if you guys dont have any thing nic too say about me then dont say nothing if you dont see any thing you dont like in my commets i wish you learn too ignore them and this move on with your posting




for now on say nothing about my commets this is how the bickering starts
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 114954
Quoting muddertracker:
What are the analog years for 2013? (And if it's 2008, don't bother to tell me.)


According to CSU, the best analog years are 1915 (maybe Grothar remembers this one), 1952, 1966, 1996, and 2004. Having 2004 as an analog is not a good thing, especially if you're in Florida. :-)
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Some people say its 2004 and some say 2005.....

Waaay too many storms into the gomex for my liking in 2004 and 2005. We'll see how it sets up in Aug/Sept
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Quoting muddertracker:
What are the analog years for 2013? (And if it's 2008, don't bother to tell me.)


Ima say, 2004, storm wise. I think our streak of no landfalls as hurricanes will be broken this year...

I was also looking at 1995, but idk now...
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Quoting muddertracker:
What are the analog years for 2013? (And if it's 2008, don't bother to tell me.)


Some people say its 2004 and some say 2005.....
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What are the analog years for 2013? (And if it's 2008, don't bother to tell me.)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:

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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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