Moore Tornado an EF-5; $2 Billion Damage Estimate: 3rd Costliest Tornado in History

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:22 PM GMT on May 22, 2013

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The Moore, Oklahoma tornado of May 20, 2013 is now ranked an EF-5, making it one of only 59 U.S. tornadoes to achieve that distinction since record keeping began in 1950. The National Weather Service in Norman, Oklahoma announced Tuesday that their damage survey teams found an area of EF-5 damage near Briarwood Elementary School, with winds of 200 - 210 mph indicated. There were no EF-5 tornadoes observed in 2012, and the last time the U.S. had an EF-5 was on May 24, 2011, when the Oklahoma towns of Calumet, El Reno, Piedmont, and Guthrie were hit by an EF-5 with 210+ mph winds that killed nine people. The maximum width of the 2013 Moore tornado's damage swath was a huge 1.3 miles. Detailed damage survey information in Google Earth Format provided by the Norman, OK NWS office shows that the typical width of the EF-0 and greater damage swath was about 0.6 miles, and the EF-4 damage area was about 0.1 miles across at its widest. EF-4 damage occurred along approximately 4 miles of the tornado's 17-mile long path. The damage swath from the May 20, 2013 tornado as it cut through the most densely built up portions of Moore was roughly 1.5 times as wide as the one from the May 3, 1999 EF-5 tornado. That tornado was the 4th costliest in history ($1.4 billion 2011 dollars), so it is a good bet that the 2013 Moore tornado will end up being even more expensive. This morning, the Oklahoma Insurance Department said the preliminary tornado damage estimate could top $2 billion. This would make the 2013 Moore tornado the 2nd most expensive tornado in history (as ranked by NOAA/SPC) or 3rd most expensive (as ranked by insurance broker Aon Benfield.) The nine billion-dollar tornadoes (2013 dollars) are:

1) Joplin, Missouri, May 22, 2011, $2.9 billion
2) Tuscaloosa, Alabama, April 27, 2011, $2.3 billion (not in SPC's list)
3) Moore, Oklahoma, May 20, 2013, $2 billion
4) Topeka, Kansas, June 8, 1966, $1.8 billion
5) Lubbock, Texas, May 11, 1970, $1.5 billion
6) Bridge Creek-Moore, Oklahoma, May 3, 1999, $1.4 billion
7) Hackleburg, Alabama, April 27, 2011, $1.3 billion (not in SPC's list)
8) Xenia, Ohio, April 3, 1974, $1.1 billion
9) Omaha, Nebraska, May 6, 1975, $1 billion


Figure 1. The Moore, Oklahoma tornado of May 20, 2013 (AP Photo/Alonzo Adams)


Figure 2. The damage swath of the Moore, Oklahoma tornado of May 20, 2013. EF-4 damage (red colors) occurred along roughly 4 miles of the 17-mile path, and the EF-4 damage swath was up to 0.1 miles wide. The tornado's maximum width of 1.3 miles (EF-0 and greater damage) occurred over a relatively small portion of the path, before the storm reached Moore. Image credit: NWS Norman.


Figure 3. On May 20, 2013, a supercell thunderstorm in central Oklahoma spawned a destructive tornado that passed just south of Oklahoma City. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite acquired this natural-color image of the storm system at 2:40 p.m. Central Daylight Time (19:40 Universal Time), just minutes before the devastating twister began. The red line on the image depicts the tornado’s track. Image credit: NASA Earth Observatory.

There have been bigger tornadoes
The 1.3 mile maximum width of the 2013 Moore tornado's damage swath was not a record. Wikipedia documents that the EF-3 Edmonson, Texas tornado of May 31, 1968 had a damage path width between 2 and 3 miles (3.2 and 4.8 km) wide. The EF-4 Wilber - Hallam, Nebraska tornado on May 22, 2004 was of similar size, with a damage path up to 2.5 miles wide. Doppler radar measurements indicate that the May 4, 1999 Mulhall, Oklahoma EF-4 tornado--which thankfully passed mostly over farmland--would have caused damage over a path 4 miles wide at its peak size, had it encountered a built-up area. The EF-5 tornado that devastated Greensburg, Kansas on May 4, 2007 was 1.7 miles wide.


Figure 4. Damage swath of the Wilber - Hallam, Nebraska EF-4 tornado of May 22, 2004 was up to 2.5 miles wide, making it one of the largest tornadoes on record.


Figure 5. Severe weather outlook for Wednesday, May 22, calls for a "Slight Risk" of severe weather over portions of the Ohio Valley and Northeast U.S. You can follow today's severe weather from our Severe Weather page.

No tornadoes reported on Tuesday; "Slight Risk" of severe weather on Wednesday
The severe weather outbreak of May 18 - 22 peaked on Sunday and Monday. We did not record any tornadoes on Tuesday, though there were many reports of large hail and damaging winds, including three thunderstorms with wind gusts over 74 mph. Tuesday was the first day since May 14 that no tornadoes were recorded in the U.S. And after issuing four consecutive "Moderate Risk" outlooks for severe weather, NOAA's Storm Prediction Center (SPC) is going with only a "Slight Risk" for severe weather on Wednesday in the U.S., with the main severe weather action expected to affect portions of the Ohio Valley and Northeast U.S. The primary threat will be straight-line wind damage and large hail, though we can't rule out a few tornadoes. During the three-day period May 18 - May 20, 70 tornadoes (preliminary) were recorded by SPC.


Video 1. Charles Cook caught the birth of the May 20, 2013 tornado at Newcastle, OK. It moved from there to Moore where it caused catastrophic devastation.


Video 2. NOAA's GOES-East satellite collected this view of the storm system that spawned a deadly tornado over Moore, Oklahoma on May 20, 2013. The animation runs from 10:45 a.m. through 6:45 p.m., Central Daylight Time. Images courtesy NASA GOES Project Science: ‪http://goes.gsfc.nasa.gov/‬

The Norman, OK NWS office has an excellent page with detailed info on the Moore tornado.

I did a 10-minute Skype interview with democracynow.org on Tuesday morning, discussing the Moore tornado.

I greatly appreciate all the valuable links members of the WU community have posted here, and I have used many of them in my posts over the past day. Keep up the great work!

How to help
Portlight Strategies, an organization that supports disaster victims with disabilities, will be working with shelter operators and disability stakeholder organizations in Oklahoma to serve the needs of people with disabilities. Further information and how to offer additional support can be found on their website.

Donations can be made to American Red Cross disaster relief at redcross.org/weather or by texting WEATHER to 90999 to donate $10.

Donations can be made on The Salvation Army's website or by texting STORM to 80888 to donate $10. You can also call to make donations of other monetary amounts at (800) 725-2769.

Jeff Masters

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Is anyone having trouble getting to NRL site? I got this.

NRL Site
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Yay, severe thunderstorm warning!

WUUS53 KDTX 222127
SVRDTX
MIC093-099-125-222230-
/O.NEW.KDTX.SV.W.0022.130522T2127Z-130522T2230Z/

BULLETIN - IMMEDIATE BROADCAST REQUESTED
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DETROIT/PONTIAC MI
527 PM EDT WED MAY 22 2013

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN DETROIT/PONTIAC HAS ISSUED A

* SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING FOR...
EASTERN LIVINGSTON COUNTY IN SOUTHEAST MICHIGAN...
MACOMB COUNTY IN SOUTHEAST MICHIGAN...
OAKLAND COUNTY IN SOUTHEAST MICHIGAN...

* UNTIL 630 PM EDT

* AT 523 PM EDT...SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS WERE LOCATED ALONG A LINE
EXTENDING FROM PINCKNEY TO TAYLOR...AND MOVING NORTHEAST AT 45 MPH.

HAZARD...60 MPH WIND GUSTS.

SOURCE...RADAR INDICATED.

IMPACT...EXPECT DAMAGE TO ROOFS...SIDING AND TREES.

* SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS WILL BE NEAR...
BRIGHTON AND CHILSON AROUND 535 PM EDT.
NEW HUDSON AND NOVI AROUND 540 PM EDT.
HARTLAND AND WIXOM AROUND 545 PM EDT.
WOLVERINE LAKE AND WEST BLOOMFIELD AROUND 550 PM EDT.
ROSE CENTER AND SYLVAN LAKE AROUND 555 PM EDT.
DAVISBURG AND HOLLY AROUND 600 PM EDT.

THE WARNING INCLUDES AREAS SURROUNDING THESE LOCATIONS...
WEST BLOOMFIELD... WHITMORE LAKE... WARREN...
TROY... STERLING HEIGHTS... ST. CLAIR SHORES...
SOUTHFIELD... SOUTH LYON... ROYAL OAK...
ROMEO... ROCHESTER... RICHMOND...
PONTIAC... PINCKNEY... OXFORD...
ORTONVILLE... NOVI... NEW BALTIMORE...
MOUNT CLEMENS... MILFORD... MACOMB TOWNSHIP...
HOLLY... HARTLAND... HAMBURG...
CLARKSTON... BRIGHTON... BIRMINGHAM...
ARMADA...

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

FOR YOUR PROTECTION MOVE TO AN INTERIOR ROOM ON THE LOWEST FLOOR OF A
BUILDING.

&&

LAT...LON 4267 8273 4264 8281 4262 8281 4259 8277
4256 8278 4256 8283 4254 8285 4245 8286
4242 8404 4277 8375 4279 8369 4285 8369
4287 8366 4289 8274
TIME...MOT...LOC 2127Z 219DEG 41KT 4243 8386 4223 8324

HAIL...<.75IN
WIND...60MPH

$$

MANN







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Quoting wunderkidcayman:

No I'm not its just simply we get hit alot but unlike the US we can Handle it better than them


The US handles their hurricane/tornado disasters quite excellent I think, Even though we are on a small Island we have the advantage with hurricanes of not having mountains or rivers to cause severe flooding for days on end, also the water around us is very deep, we are not on a continental shelf which makes storm much worse and no doubt about we have some of the strongest best built buildings in the world as our building codes will show, I think this is what helps to handle our hurricane disasters so well, just my take though.
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GOES 13 had a problem with both the imager and the sounder toward the end of the 2012 hurricane season. GOES 13 was put into storage while engineers tried to resolve the problem and GOES 14 was placed onto active duty but it was slowly moved to where GOES 13 is "parked". Engineers resolved the problem and GOES 13 was put back into and GOES 14 was place into storage at 90 degrees west.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129844
I wouldn't put it pass Grothar, his forecasts often helped Lincoln tip the balance during the war. :)
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Quoting CybrTeddy:
The GFS is also showing significant lowering in pressures as well as an anti-cyclonic circulation aloft developing around 240 hours as well. I'm not sure how long this has been portrayed on the models because I've been preoccupied with the Moore EF-5, but if it keeps up for the next week we may have something to look out for. This goes right in hand with what the GFS is predicting with the positive MJO pulse coming through our basin. This is when my best bet will be that we will see our first named storm. Again, watch for consistency.


Model been at it since just before the 17th both GFS and CMC few days ago NOGAPS joined now EURO is now on board
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Quoting Grothar:


Reservations!


Clever! One could take that in more than one way ;)

Reservations for me or about me?
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Link
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Quoting wxchaser97:
Dear weather gods,
Please make sure this cell doesn't fall apart right before hitting me. I'd like some severe weather for once.

Thanks,
Me




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Quoting BaltimoreBrian:
What did you bring me for dinner Grothar?


Reservations!
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[Heaven knows] what kind of fool am I
[Heaven knows] why you take an eye for an eye
[Heaven knows] what comes over me
You were pumping iron as I was pumping irony

Now I find myself fully occupied and half alive
With your head, heart, arms and legs wrapped around my family pride
See the whites of their eyes then shoot
With all the romance of the Ton Ton Macoute




Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129844
What did you bring me for dinner Grothar?
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Dear weather gods,
Please make sure this cell doesn't fall apart right before hitting me. I'd like some severe weather for once.

Thanks,
Me

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Quoting viman:

Can you please send some over to St. Thomas... These sprinkle sprinkle things don't fill cisterns... frustratingly watching all the rain pass to the south and into PR...


Same feeling here in the Northern(most) Leewards. I'm tired to see the rain passing so close to the south OR staying just east over Barbuda (blocking effect?) SO OFTEN.

We got one inch last night, that's better than nothing though. I hope for a better chance of rain latter this week and into next week :-)
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The GFS is also showing significant lowering in pressures as well as an anti-cyclonic circulation aloft developing around 240 hours as well. I'm not sure how long this has been portrayed on the models because I've been preoccupied with the Moore EF-5, but if it keeps up for the next week we may have something to look out for. This goes right in hand with what the GFS is predicting with the positive MJO pulse coming through our basin. This is when my best bet will be that we will see our first named storm. Again, watch for consistency.
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Hey, who's picking on TA? Leave the kid alone. I taught him practically everything he knows. :)
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Finally - two months late - the rainy season begins in earnest in the mountains of western Panama 50 miles east of the Costa Rica border. It's been overcast all day as the tropical wave approaches. I live almost on the shaft of the red arrow in the above graphic, about halfway between the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean.

We've had steady rainfall increasing over the past hour to fairly heavy right now - but no weather radar to check. It's 65 degrees here at 4,500' elevation, with barely a breeze to start move the leaves of the trees. There's a little rumble of occasional thunder in the distance, but no close lightening strikes. This seems a bit different than our more typical pop-up thunderstorms with the heavy duty lightning and thunder, and short-lived downpours.

There is very little weather information and hard data available for this region at 8.75 degrees north latitude - below the hurricane zone. In the 15 months and one rainy season that I've lived here, this is the first time I've noticed a low pressure system with a tropical wave passing directly over us, and I suspect that such occurrences may be more common in heavy rain years. 2008 started out slowly like this year, and the area ended up with 220 inches of rain - compared with 105 inches (at the Palmira Arriba WU station) last year.

Perhaps later in the season, tropical waves like this would develop and head north in the Caribbean, but for now, I'm thankful that it kept gong west and came over us to bring us some precipitation - after all it wouldn't be a rainforest without a lot of rain!
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Quoting Patrap:




LoL

Lol
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379
WFUS51 KBOX 222103
TORBOX
MAC011-222145-
/O.NEW.KBOX.TO.W.0001.130522T2103Z-130522T2145Z/

BULLETIN - EAS ACTIVATION REQUESTED
TORNADO WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE TAUNTON MA
503 PM EDT WED MAY 22 2013

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN TAUNTON HAS ISSUED A

* TORNADO WARNING FOR...
CENTRAL FRANKLIN COUNTY IN WESTERN MASSACHUSETTS...

* UNTIL 545 PM EDT

* AT 500 PM EDT...DOPPLER RADAR INDICATED A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM
CAPABLE OF PRODUCING A TORNADO. THIS DANGEROUS STORM WAS LOCATED
NEAR PLAINFIELD...OR 14 MILES WEST OF GREENFIELD...AND WAS MOVING
EAST AT 30 MPH.

* LOCATIONS IMPACTED INCLUDE...
GREENFIELD...DEERFIELD...SHELBURNE...BUCKLAND...AS HFIELD...
HAWLEY...CONWAY...MONTAGUE...WENDELL...ERVING AND GILL.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

TAKE COVER NOW! DO NOT WAIT TO SEE THE TORNADO. GO TO A BASEMENT OR
INTERIOR ROOM ON THE LOWEST FLOOR OF A STURDY BUILDING...AWAY FROM
WINDOWS. IF IN A VEHICLE...A MOBILE HOME OR OUTDOORS...GET TO THE
CLOSEST SHELTER. PROTECT YOURSELF FROM FLYING DEBRIS.



LAT...LON 4258 7294 4269 7239 4245 7237 4249 7288
4254 7288 4255 7294
TIME...MOT...LOC 2103Z 262DEG 25KT 4253 7288
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129844
Quoting Patrap:


That Image is from 11pm last night when GOES-13 East went dark.

Oops, forgot about that. I guess it doesn't look so bad then.


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Quoting wunderkidcayman:

No I'm not its just simply we get hit alot but unlike the US we can Handle it better than them


LoL
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129844
Lowering pressures in the WCARB is a good sign for future development beyond 240 hours. Let's see if it continues to indicate such. Looks like the hallmark of classic monsoonal development, note the competing low in the EPAC.
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.
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OK, finally got StL site w/ 10 day to load again, highest temp is 31st at 86, so nothing highly aboved avg to that point. Don't know how often they update, but looks to be pretty avg or below. Will see what they say tomorrow, but...?
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Quoting Patrap:
WunderKid, destroying the Caymans, one post at a time.

: )

No I'm not its just simply we get hit alot but unlike the US we can Handle it better than them
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Quoting MAweatherboy1:
Here's invest 91E... not exactly a beacon of organized deep convection, lol:



That Image is from 11pm last night when GOES-13 East went dark.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129844
Segment for the map above

"A large scale ridge predicted over the southern CONUS and Gulf of Mexico during Week-2 is expected to reduce wind shear and provide favorable conditions for tropical cyclone development across the northwestern Caribbean Sea. Due to the reduced wind shear in an area of enhanced convection, the development of an early season tropical cyclone is favored for the northwest Caribbean Sea. The GFS model has been consistent in developing a potential tropical cyclone in the northwestern Caribbean Sea in early June."
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Quoting CaribBoy:


ENSO is crashing into LA NINA territory
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Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129844
Edit, nevermind.
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Quoting MAweatherboy1:






ENSO is crashing into LA NINA territory
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WunderKid, destroying the Caymans, one post at a time.

: )
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129844
CPC still mentioning possible tropical development

US HAZARDS OUTLOOK
NWS CLIMATE PREDICTION CENTER COLLEGE PARK MD
300 PM EDT MAY 22 2013



Excerpt:

FOR THURSDAY MAY 30 - WEDNESDAY JUNE 05:

THE SECOND ITEM INVOLVES THE POSSIBILITY OF A TROPICAL SYSTEM DEVELOPING OVER THE WESTERN
CARIBBEAN AND MOVING NORTHWARD INTO THE GULF OF MEXICO, AS INDICATED BY CPC`S GLOBAL TROPICS HAZARDS AND BENEFITS OUTLOOK AT:

HTTP://WWW.CPC.NCEP.NOAA.GOV/PRODUCTS/PRECIP/CWLI NK/GHAZARDS/IMAGES/GTH_FULL.PNG
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Quoting Gearsts:
Is something that probably happen in 2010 the record breaking year for SST in the MDR. But now we have Levi's tool than updates like 3 times a day and we see all the bumps of SST's but the overall trend is for above average MDR and to stay that way until the season is over.

Yep
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Quoting stormchaser19:


The days of colling GOM are over!!!
how fast it fell is as fast as its rising
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Quoting wunderkidcayman:

I knew it was temporary thing

Is something that probably happen in 2010 the record breaking year for SST in the MDR, but now we have Levi's tool than updates like 3 times a day and we see all the bumps of SST's but the overall trend is for above average MDR and to stay that way until the season is over.
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Quoting Patrap:

Those were the same maps that showed a below-average winter for South Florida... And we ended up having summer in January.
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Tropical Cyclone Imagery - Storm Floaters
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129844
No surprise to this
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Quoting MississippiWx:


I've noticed that Levi's SST page updates more than 1 time a day. It seems like it updates 3 times a day every now and then. Weird.


The days of colling GOM are over!!!
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Quoting MAweatherboy1:






Maybe we see La Nina in the Summer.
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Maybe they didn't account for jet stream change, we'll see. Wouldn't mind it warming up the lakes so can get the boat out.
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Urrrg.... Warm weather is cool. Cool weather is cool. But I hate hot weather! and today is hot
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Quoting Tropicsweatherpr:
Back to weather,the MDR continues to warm slowly in the past few days again after the downward trend of the past couple of weeks.


I knew it was temporary thing

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Quoting hurricanes2018:
WOW!!!!! HOT WEATHER!! PINK COLORS!!
Quoting wxchaser97:

OMG IKR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! BLUE COLORS TOO!!!


But seriously, warm pattern setting up in the east/central and cool pattern in the west per 6-10 and 8-14 day outlooks.


OMG!!!!!!!!!!! It's two extremes lol fun time
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Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129844
Quoting Tropicsweatherpr:
Back to weather,the MDR continues to warm slowly in the pas few days again after the downward trend of the past couple of weeks.



I've noticed that Levi's SST page updates more than 1 time a day. It seems like it updates 3 times a day every now and then. Weird.
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The extended forecast temps I've seen don't show us above normal in C IL, below if anything, for next 6 days and avg at day 7. Can't pull up the one w/ 10 day, out of StL, at moment, but don't rem anything abnormally high when looked at it this a.m. So not sure why we're in that 80% chance over avg. in 289).
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Back to weather,the MDR continues to warm slowly in the past few days again after the downward trend of the past couple of weeks.

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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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