Over 500 Killed in India's Monsoon Floods

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 4:25 PM GMT on June 21, 2013

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Earth's deadliest natural disaster so far in 2013 is the deadly flooding in India's Himalayan Uttarakhand region, where torrential monsoon rains have killed at least 556 people, with hundreds more feared dead. At least 5,000 people are missing. According to the Indian Meteorological Department, Uttarakhand received more than three times (329%) of its normal June rainfall from June 1 - 21, and rainfall was 847% of normal during the week June 13 - 19. Satellite estimates indicate that more than 20" (508 mm) or rain fell in a 7-day period from June 11 - 17 over some regions of Uttarakhand, which lies just to the west of Nepal in the Himalayas. Dehradun, the capital of Uttarakhand, received 14.57" (370 mm) of rain in 24 hours on June 16 - 17. This was the highest 24-hour rainfall in city history, according to an official from the India Meteorological Department. Dr. Dave Petley's Landslide Blog details that the torrential rains triggered a massive landslide that hit Uttarakhand's Hindu shrine in Kedarnath, which lies just a short distance from the snout of two mountain glaciers. The shrine is an important pilgrimage destination this time of year, and was packed with visitors celebrating the char-dham yatra: a pilgrimage to the four holy sites of Gangotri, Kedarnath, Yamnotri and Badrinath. Apparently, heavy rainfall triggered a collapse event on the mountain above Kedarnath, which turned into a debris flow downstream that struck the town. The main temple was heavily damaged, and numerous buildings in the town were demolished. It was Earth's deadliest landslide since the August 2010 Zhouqu landslide in China.

According to Aon Benfield's May Catastrophe Report, Earth's deadliest natural disasters of 2013 so far:

Winter weather, India, Bangladesh, Nepal, 1/1 - 1/20, 329 deaths
Earthquake, China, 4/20, 196 deaths
Flooding, Southern Africa, 1/10 - 2/28, 175 deaths
Flooding, Argentina, 4/2 - 4/4, 70 deaths
Flooding, Kenya, 3/10 - 4/30, 66 deaths


Figure 1. Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) arrive to rescue stranded Sikh devotees from Hemkunt Sahib Gurudwara, a religious Sikh temple, to a safe place in Chamoli district, in northern Indian state of Uttarakhand, India, Monday, June 17, 2013. AP photo.


Figure 2. Satellite-estimated rainfall for the 7-day period June 11 - 17, 2013, from NASA's TRMM satellite exceeded 20 inches (508 mm) over portions of India's Uttarakhand province, leading to catastrophic floods. Image credit: NASA.

A record early arrival of the monsoon
The June 2013 monsoon rains in Uttarakhand were highly unusual, as the monsoon came to the region two weeks earlier than normal. The monsoon started in South India near the normal June 1 arrival date, but then advanced across India in unusually rapid fashion, arriving in Pakistan along the western border of India on June 16, a full month earlier than normal. This was the fastest progression of the monsoon on record. The previous record for fastest monsoon progression occurred in 1961, when all of India was under monsoon conditions by June 21. Reliable monsoon records go back to 1961, and are patchy before then. Fortunately, no more heavy rain is expected in Uttarakhand over the next few days, as the monsoon will be active only in eastern India. Heavy rains are expected again in the region beginning on June 24. Wunderblogger Lee Grenci's post, Summer Monsoon Advances Rapidly across India: Massive Flooding Ensues, has more detail on the meteorology of this year's monsoon. There is criticism from some that the devastating floods were not entirely a natural disaster--human-caused deforestation, dam building, and mining may have contributed. "Large-scale construction of dams and absence of environmental regulations has led to the floods," said Sunita Narian, director general of Delhi based advocacy group Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).


Figure 3. The summer monsoon arrived in southwest India right on schedule (June 1) in South India, but it spread northward much faster than usual, reaching Pakistan a full month earlier than normal. Solid green contours indicate the progress of the 2013 summer monsoon (each contour is labeled with a date). You can compare this year's rapid advance to a "normal" progression, which is represented by the dashed, red contours (also labeled with dates).

Monsoons in India: a primer
Disastrous monsoon floods are common in India and surrounding nations, and 60,000 people--an average of 500 people per year--died in India due to monsoon floods between 1900 - 2012, according to EM-DAT, the International Disaster Database. EM-DAT lists sixteen flood disasters which killed 1,000 or more people in India since records began in 1950. Here are the number of people killed in these events, along with the month and year of occurrence and locales affected:

4892, Jul 1968, Rajasthan, Gujara
3800, Jul 1978, North, Northeast
2001, May - Oct, 1994, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh
2000, Jul 1961, North
1811, Aug 1998, Assam, Arunachal, Bihar
1600, Aug 1980, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar
1591, Jul 28, 1989, Maharashtra, Andhra Prade
1479, Sep 1995, Bihar, Haryana, Punjab
1442, Aug 1997, Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal
1200, Jul 24 - Aug 5, 2005 Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh
1200, Aug 1987, Assam, Bihar, West Bengal
1103, Jul 3 - Sep 22, 2007, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh
1063, Jun 11 - Jul 21, 2008 West Bengal, Orissa
1023, Jun 1971, North
1000, Sep 22 - Oct 9, 1988, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh
1000, Oct 1961

The monsoon occurs in summer, when the sun warms up land areas more strongly than ocean areas. This happens because wind and ocean turbulence mix the ocean's absorbed heat into a "mixed layer" approximately 50 meters deep, whereas on land, the sun's heat penetrates at a slow rate to a limited depth. Furthermore, due to its molecular properties, water has the ability to absorb more heat than the solid materials that make up land. As a result of this summertime differential heating of land and ocean, a low pressure region featuring rising air develops over land areas. Moisture-laden ocean winds blow towards the low pressure region and are drawn upwards once over land. The rising air expands and cools, condensing its moisture into some of the heaviest rains on Earth--the monsoon. Monsoons operate via the same principle as the familiar summer afternoon sea breeze, but on a grand scale. Each summer, monsoons affect every continent on Earth except Antarctica, and are responsible for life-giving rains that sustain the lives of billions of people. In India, home for over 1.1 billion people, the monsoon provides 80% of the annual rainfall. The most deadly flooding events usually come from monsoon depressions (also known as monsoon lows.) A monsoon depression is similar to (but larger than) a tropical depression. Both are spinning storms hundreds of kilometers in diameter with sustained winds of 50 - 55 kph (30 - 35 mph), nearly calm winds at their center, and generate very heavy rains. Typically, 6 - 7 monsoon depressions form each summer over the Bay of Bengal and track westwards across India.

The future of monsoons in India
A warming climate loads the dice in favor of heavier extreme precipitation events. This occurs because more water vapor can evaporate into a warmer atmosphere, increasing the chances of record heavy downpours. In a study published in Science in 2006, Goswami et al. found that the level of heavy rainfall activity in the monsoon over India had more than doubled in the 50 years since the 1950s, leading to an increased disaster potential from heavy flooding. Moderate and weak rain events decreased during those 50 years, leaving the total amount of rain deposited by the monsoon roughly constant. The authors commented, "These findings are in tune with model projections and some observations that indicate an increase in heavy rain events and a decrease in weak events under global warming scenarios." We should expect to see an increased number of disastrous monsoon floods in coming decades if the climate continues to warm as expected. Since the population continues to increase at a rapid rate in the region, death tolls from monsoon flooding disasters are likely to climb dramatically in coming decades. However, my greater concern for India is drought. The monsoon rains often fail during El Niño years, and more than 4.2 million people died in India due to droughts between 1900 - 2012. Up until the late 1960s, it was common for the failure of the monsoon rains to kill millions of people in India. The drought of 1965 - 1967 killed at least 1.5 million people. However, since the Green Revolution of the late 1960s--a government initiative to improve food self-sufficiency using new technology and high-yield grains--failure of the monsoon rains has not led to mass starvation in India. It is uncertain whether of not the Green Revolution can keep up with India's booming population, and the potential that climate change might bring more severe droughts. Climate models show a wide range of possibilities for the future of the Indian monsoon, and it is unclear at present what the future might hold. However, the fact that one of the worst droughts in India's history occurred in 2009 shows that serious droughts have to be a major concern for the future. The five worst Indian monsoons along with the rainfall deficits for the nation:

1) 1877, -33%
2) 1899, -29%
3) 1918, -25%
4) 1972, -24%
5) 2009, -22%

References
Goswami, et al., 2006, " Increasing Trend of Extreme Rain Events Over India in a Warming Environment", Science, 1 December 2006:Vol. 314. no. 5804, pp. 1442 - 1445 DOI: 10.1126/science.1132027

Wunderground's climate change blogger Dr. Ricky Rood wrote a nice 3-part series about the challenges India faces due to climate change after he completed a 2009 trip there.


Video 1. Flood waters claim a multi-story apartment building in Uttarakhand province, India, on June 17, 2013.

Historic flooding in Calgary, Alberta
Torrential rainfall on Wednesday night and Thursday has resulted in the most extensive flooding in Alberta Province, Canada in at least 8 years, with some 100,000 people facing evacuations in the city of Calgary. Wunderblogger Christopher C. Burt has a look at the disaster in his latest post. The floods are due, in part to the "stuck" jet stream pattern that brought record heat to Alaska this week.

Jeff Masters

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Quoting JeffMasters:
Wow, check out the pictures of the West Fork, CO fire posted at:

https://twitter.com/pikehotshots



Jeff Masters


Wake up some morning and face the gates of hell coming over the mountain towards your home... the horror.

I evacuated the family to Denver for 9 months post Katrina. Everyone there asked us to stay declaring that "they don't have natural disasters in Denver". We moved back to NOLA area the following June. We decided we'd prefer the occasional H-cane & flooding to annual firestorms. That's just terrifying.
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Quoting mikatnight:


Good morning! Wow, talk about over-sleeping, what I get for staying up late (on this blog!)
Now Gro, I want you to know that despite my ability to eat anything I want without gaining weight or any ill effects, I've been having the same breakfast for years and years:

Greek no-fat yogurt, banana(s), strawberries (fresh or frozen), mango (when available), coconut (when I'm not too lazy to open one - BTW, natures most perfect produce), honey (sometimes)...blend, drink. Keeps you going for a couple of hours, and has probably kept me alive these many years despite my wicked ways!



I am the same weight since I was 18. However, there has been some redistribution over the years.
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Quoting JeffMasters:
Wow, check out the pictures of the West Fork, CO fire posted at:

https://twitter.com/pikehotshots



Jeff Masters


Incredible. It's looking like the outbreak of a volcano :(
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Rain forecast puts dark cloud over Uttarakhand
HT Correspondents and Agencies, Hindustan Times Dehradun, June 22, 2013
First Published: 19:15 IST(22/6/2013) | Last Updated: 19:20 IST(22/6/2013)

"There is a possibility of light to moderate rain from June 23. Further increase in rainfall is likely to occur from June 25 onwards up till June 27," Anand Sharma, head of the meteorological centre, Dehradun, said on Saturday.

Authorities fear a second spell of rain - after the first on June 15 triggered flash floods and landslides - may hit rescue operations in the tough Himalayan terrain and turn the disaster into a catastrophe.

Fresh rain could add to the woes of the stranded people, taking down night temperatures even as they battle hunger.

The army and paramilitary rescuers picked up the already frenzied pace of their operations, which entered the fifth day. According to the state government's bulletin, 7,000 stranded people were rescued till evening.

Officially, the death toll remained at 556, but locals insisted it was closer to 1,200.

"… Time is limited. We have window till tomorrow because I have been told the weather might turn bad again. We are rushing our people there," army chief General Bikram Singh said on the sidelines of an event in Hyderabad.

He said the army had increased its footprint from 500 personnel to over 6,000 for the operation.

Amid the race against time, an eight-member team of experts was sent to Kedarnath temple to count the bodies lying in the area.

Union home minister Sushilkumar Shinde admitted to a "lack of coordination between government agencies engaged in rescue operations". Shinde, who arrived here to review the rescue operations, said the disaster was not man-made.

Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi also visited the state and lauded the army and other rescue teams after an aerial survey of the flood-ravaged areas.
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504. JeffMasters (Admin)
Wow, check out the pictures of the West Fork, CO fire posted at:

https://twitter.com/pikehotshots



Jeff Masters
Quoting Grothar:


Nice, I try and fix all of you such nice breakfasts, and this is what I had this morning. You guys trying to torture me.




Grothar I have far too much respect for you to attempt to torment. I mean no disrespect at all, I apologize for not considering or being sensitive to your current dietary situation.

Please get better ASAP so you can once again enjoy some of the finer things available to eat. Check with the Doc, I'm sure he'll grant you some sort of indulgences as you progress. Everything in moderation.

BTW; Do you foresee a possible blobster declaration for the GOM off the tail of that front? Clearly not there yet, but perhaps eventually...
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The long range models seem to want to keep all the systems south.




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NASA Earth observatory:
Severe Flooding in Northern India, Nepal: Click to see enlarged images and more infos
June 22, 2013

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Quoting Grothar:


Nice, I try and fix all of you such nice breakfasts, and this is what I had this morning. You guys trying to torture me.



Good morning! Wow, talk about over-sleeping, what I get for staying up late (on this blog!)
Now Gro, I want you to know that despite my ability to eat anything I want without gaining weight or any ill effects, I've been having the same breakfast for years and years:

Greek no-fat yogurt, banana(s), strawberries (fresh or frozen), mango (when available), coconut (when I'm not too lazy to open one - BTW, natures most perfect produce), honey (sometimes)...blend, drink. Keeps you going for a couple of hours, and has probably kept me alive these many years despite my wicked ways!

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Quoting pcola57:


Mornin' gulfbreeze..
As I wrote,and hopefully conveyed,the county government and sheriff is just the latest in goofball politikin'..
As you well know in "the breeze"
they decided to do road improvements on hwy 98 now in the middle of tourist season..
Go figure.. :)
I hear you the Sheriff is a joke and the county goverment is out to lunch and I don't evan want to talk about HWY 98 !!
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Quoting pcola57:


Mornin' Gro..
Having a bowl of Fruit Loops here..
I know..
Makes sense.. :)


Another piece of the puzzle. :)
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Quoting gulfbreeze:
I do not see any part of the Country doing a Great Job!


Mornin' gulfbreeze..
As I wrote,and hopefully conveyed,the county (sticking with the county gov issues and not the croutries issues as that would be a blogging disaster.. :) government and sheriff is just the latest in goofball politikin'..
As you well know in "the breeze"
they decided to do road improvements on hwy 98 now in the middle of tourist season..
Go figure.. :)
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As you can see, I just commented on a Blog Post by nigel20.
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495. etxwx
How's this for consistancy?


Beautiful weather here in East Texas...seasonably hot, seasonably humid...and normal!

Hope everyone has a great day!
*Waves at the increasingly feisty Grothar* :-)
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Quoting VR46L:


I think you are right !

Will try again



Ahhh..
Much better..
Messy little feature..
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Quoting pcola57:
Good Morning All..
76 degrees with 85%rh and dew at 71..
Clear skies and winds at 5mph from the ENE at present..

Beach looks inviting today..






Don't forget the sunscreen if you go..



PS..
A footnote..
Another tax increase on tourist is coming soon..
The local sheriff has given up on advocating county jail improvements and the county now has control after last nights vote..
If you come here for a visit be prepared to support our in-ability to manage our funds here to any degree..
This part of the country is sooo behind the times..
I do not see any part of the Country doing a Great Job!
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492. VR46L
Quoting pcola57:


Good Morning VR46L..
Methinks the image in post# 485 failed.. :(


I think you are right !

Will try again

Member Since: March 1, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 6803
Quoting Grothar:


Nice, I try and fix all of you such nice breakfasts, and this is what I had this morning. You guys trying to torture me.



Mornin' Gro..
Having a bowl of Fruit Loops here..
I know..
Makes sense.. :)
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Quoting Birthmark:



Never forget!


Can it be repaired? :)
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Quoting VR46L: Post# 485
Good Morning
Guess it looks better than it is.....

NorthAmerica-CONUS-East/vis_ir_background/goes





Good Morning VR46L..
Methinks the image/link in post# 485 failed.. :(
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Quoting MechEngMet:
Good morning all,

East coast may get some drizzle from 94L blobster, but other than that not much in the tropics. Sooooo, time for breakfast.

It's Saturday Morning in NOLA so you have multiple meal plans available.

First try the Eggs Florentine over barbant potatoes topped with a dozen fried oysters smothered in Holendais (sp?) sauce.

If that doesn't do it, try the breakfast burrito with smoked aligator sausage, pulled pork, eggs, cheese, fresh pico-d, lime, and crystal hot sauce.

Still not there? How 'bout a 20oz apple wood smoked rib-eye topped with two fried eggs and a side of steak fries.

The above served with Bellinis, mimosas, fresh squeezed screwdrivers, or bloody marrys. ...and of course rich CDM coffee in bottomless cups.

I love this town.


Nice, I try and fix all of you such nice breakfasts, and this is what I had this morning. You guys trying to torture me.


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Quoting SFLWeatherman:

Do I hear a note of el nino in your voice?
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485. VR46L
Good Morning
Guess it looks better than it is.....

NorthAmerica-CONUS-East/vis_ir_background/goes



Member Since: March 1, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 6803
Quoting AussieStorm:

Don't you mean Summer???

No, I made this when Winter Storm Euclid hit my area. I've kept it up since then.
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Wow. Pretty Quiet. Unless something happens before then, I'm not going to hold my breath till July, when I think we will have our next storm(s).

Member Since: May 12, 2012 Posts: 11 Comments: 2195
Quoting FIUStormChaser:


Looks like it has decent structure, could definitely be a weak tropical depression... Any buoys around there Sky?


National Buoy Center from NOAA..Click HERE
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Quoting Skyepony:
The Land falling swirl is a little higher than 4kts but not as impressive as the low that rolled off the coast there 3 days ago.. Buoy riding the more harsh northern side..

Station 41038 - ILM2 - 5 miles SE of Wrightsville Beach, NC



Never forget!
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Quoting 62901IL:
Good morning, and this is the euclid winter storm forecasting center giving you your not so daily report!
Currently, in 62901, it is 76 degrees with a heat index of 77. Today should be HOT. Isolated thunderstorms with a high of 90 degrees, with a heat index of 95. That is your report, have a great day!

Don't you mean Summer???
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Good morning, and this is the euclid winter storm forecasting center giving you your not so daily report!
Currently, in 62901, it is 76 degrees with a heat index of 77. Today should be HOT. Isolated thunderstorms with a high of 90 degrees, with a heat index of 95. That is your report, have a great day!
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Quoting hydrus:
Ya gotta stay frosty when these swirls come on shore....Winds just a few miles an hour stronger will blow the lids of styrofoam coolers causing all the beer to warm..a disaster in laymans terms..:)

Beer doesn't stay in styrofoam coolers here, it's drunk to quickly.
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Quoting Skyepony:
Landfalling swirl..



Looks like it has decent structure, could definitely be a weak tropical depression... Any buoys around there Sky?
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Quoting AussieStorm:

and here was me thinking 3 was high. your just being crazy. LOL
Ya gotta stay frosty when these swirls come on shore....Winds just a few miles an hour stronger will blow the lids of styrofoam coolers causing all the beer to warm..a disaster in laymans terms..:)
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475. Skyepony (Mod)
The Land falling swirl is a little higher than 4kts but not as impressive as the low that rolled off the coast there 3 days ago.. Buoy riding the more harsh northern side..

Station 41038 - ILM2 - 5 miles SE of Wrightsville Beach, NC
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Quoting hydrus:
More like four. .and a slight rustling of trees in leaf was recorded.

and here was me thinking 3 was high. your just being crazy. LOL
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Guess where this is???
Link
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The GFS 00Z and the 06Z runs continue to show a strong disturbance east of the central lesser Antilles in 72 hrs. the wave at the moment is at 35W. conditions are expected to be conducive for slow development. In other words this area deserves watching the next few days.
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Quoting Grothar:


I understand they have reported gusts up to 3 mph.
More like four. .and a slight rustling of trees in leaf was recorded.
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Regarding UV burn chart in post 459:

Does that scale look inverted to anyone else? Pick any UV condition (say 10) on the X axis. Now check the Y axis for exposure duration in min. How could 10 min 'always' burn yet, 70 min 'rarely' burn?

Am I reading the shading scale (Not color scale) the way it's written? Seems inverted...
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468. Skyepony (Mod)
Landfalling swirl..

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Quoting Grothar:


I understand they have reported gusts up to 3 mph.

3?!?!?!?!?!?! You have GOT to be kidding me.
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Good morning all,

East coast may get some drizzle from 94L blobster, but other than that not much in the tropics. Sooooo, time for breakfast.

It's Saturday Morning in NOLA so you have multiple meal plans available.

First try the Eggs Florentine over barbant potatoes topped with a dozen fried oysters smothered in Holendais (sp?) sauce.

If that doesn't do it, try the breakfast burrito with smoked aligator sausage, pulled pork, eggs, cheese, fresh pico-d, lime, and crystal hot sauce.

Still not there? How 'bout a 20oz apple wood smoked rib-eye topped with two fried eggs and a side of steak fries.

The above served with Bellinis, mimosas, fresh squeezed screwdrivers, or bloody marrys. ...and of course rich CDM coffee in bottomless cups.

I love this town.
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Quoting JrWeathermanFL:
Better send out the Hurricane Hunters

better go to walmart and stock up on shower curtains
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Quoting Grothar:


I understand they have reported gusts up to 3 mph.
Better send out the Hurricane Hunters
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Quoting Grothar:


We have a GOM blob?

opps, you haven't designated it a blob. sorry.

:-)

Almost a green flag at Le Mans 24hrs. Raining too
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Good Morning All..
76 degrees with 85%rh and dew at 71..
Clear skies and winds at 5mph from the ENE at present..

Beach looks inviting today..






Don't forget the sunscreen if you go..



PS..
A footnote..
Another tax increase on tourist is coming soon..
The local sheriff has given up on advocating county jail improvements and the county now has control after last nights vote..
If you come here for a visit be prepared to support our in-ability to manage our funds here to any degree..
This part of the country is sooo behind the times..
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Quoting AussieStorm:

Which blob you talking about, the GOM blob or the NC/SC blob?


We have a GOM blob?
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About

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.