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 NiƱo 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 AussieStorm:

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


We have a GOM blob?
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 68 Comments: 25051
Quoting JrWeathermanFL:
Swirl making landfall on SC/NC border.


I understand they have reported gusts up to 3 mph.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 68 Comments: 25051
Quoting Grothar:
Come on. If they number this, I will believe in conspiracies. I've seen bigger storms in a desert. We aren't that desperate yet, are we people????


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

Um, they didnt number it yet.


Um, that is why I wrote the word "if".
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 68 Comments: 25051
Quoting Grothar:
Come on. If they number this, I will believe in conspiracies. I've seen bigger storms in a desert. We aren't that desperate yet, are we people????


Um, they didnt number it yet.
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Swirl making landfall on SC/NC border.
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Come on. If they number this, I will believe in conspiracies. I've seen bigger storms in a desert. We aren't that desperate yet, are we people????

Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 68 Comments: 25051
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
Cool.



Interesting... Seems to have a decent LLC, wish there were some surface obs near there...
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Excerpt From NBC NEWS:

3 towns at risk from Colorado wildfires; 100-foot wall of flame reported.

"The fire behavior we saw yesterday was so extreme, it was ... unprecedented," said Eric Norton, a fire behavior analyst with the National Incident Management Organization.

A smoke plume from the blazes billowed 30,000 feet into the air, and firefighters reported 100-foot flames.

A string of fires have claimed at least two lives, charred hundreds of square miles and torched hundreds of homes across the western United States and in Alaska, which is baking in a heat wave.

Link
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 68 Comments: 25051
Quoting sar2401:

What??? There's no Santa Claus??? Hey, as long as we have FEMA, there is a Santa Claus. :-)

Unfortunately, we have a few people on this blog (not you) who seem to feel any questioning of what comes out of a science-type agency is questioning both science and the integrity of the agency. While that's sometimes the case, it's also important to understand that, except in unusual cases, the numbers generated by agencies like NOAA and the NCDC are compiled numbers that are given to them from sources at the local levels all the way up to agencies like the UN. They are reliant on each of these hundreds (maybe thousands) of entities to have the same level of accuracy and precision, which is highly unlikely. When you combine the normal difficulties of gathering numbers from all the possible sources, not over or undercounting, and then the built-in biases from all these different sources, it's no wonder that some of the figures don't make sense.
LOL, here is an article on Santa Claus Secret Prisons.
As far as questioning the science of government agencies, science is meant to be questioned but as an amateur you better have very sound logical reasoning backed by clear evidence before you question well-established professional scientists. The mass dismissal of science in the name of false religions is a recurring theme in history (just to take one example).
PS Off to the beach with one of my sons, I wait in the water with my body-board while he runs. Swells 2-3 ft with 9s period this morning.
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Cool.
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95E this am looking pretty good so far..



94E looking ok too..

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Cool.

Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 112 Comments: 31316
TROPICAL WEATHER OUTLOOK
NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
500 AM PDT SAT JUN 22 2013

FOR THE EASTERN NORTH PACIFIC...EAST OF 140 DEGREES WEST LONGITUDE..

1. THERE HAS BEEN LITTLE CHANGE WITH AN AREA OF LOW PRESSURE LOCATED
ABOUT 400 MILES SOUTH-SOUTHWEST OF ACAPULCO MEXICO. UPPER-LEVEL
WINDS ARE BECOMING FAVORABLE FOR ADDITIONAL DEVELOPMENT...AND A
TROPICAL DEPRESSION COULD FORM DURING THE NEXT COUPLE OF DAYS AS
THE SYSTEM MOVES WESTWARD AT ABOUT 10 MPH. THIS SYSTEM HAS A HIGH
CHANCE...60 PERCENT...OF BECOMING A TROPICAL CYCLONE DURING THE
NEXT 48 HOURS.

2. AN AREA OF LOW PRESSURE CENTERED ABOUT 700 MILES SOUTH-SOUTHWEST OF
THE SOUTHERN TIP OF BAJA CALIFORNIA IS DRIFTING TOWARD THE NORTH.
WHILE THUNDERSTORMS NEAR THE CENTER HAVE RECENTLY INCREASED...
ENVIRONMENTAL CONDITIONS ARE EXPECTED TO BECOME LESS CONDUCIVE FOR
FURTHER DEVELOPMENT IN A DAY OR TWO. THIS SYSTEM HAS A MEDIUM
CHANCE...30 PERCENT...OF BECOMING A TROPICAL CYCLONE DURING THE
NEXT 48 HOURS.

ELSEWHERE...TROPICAL CYCLONE FORMATION IS NOT EXPECTED DURING THE
NEXT 48 HOURS.

$$
FORECASTER BLAKE
NNNN
Member Since: July 21, 2011 Posts: 83 Comments: 7167
These two waves may be another story..

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No biggie Thing342..
Enjoy your Vacation

000
ABNT20 KNHC 221139
TWOAT

TROPICAL WEATHER OUTLOOK
NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
800 AM EDT SAT JUN 22 2013

FOR THE NORTH ATLANTIC...CARIBBEAN SEA AND THE GULF OF MEXICO...

A WEAK LOW PRESSURE AREA IS MOVING INLAND NEAR THE BORDER OF NORTH
CAROLINA AND SOUTH CAROLINA. THIS LOW IS EXPECTED TO MOVE NORTHWARD
OVER NORTH CAROLINA TODAY...SPREADING SHOWERS AND A FEW
THUNDERSTORMS. THIS SYSTEM HAS A LOW CHANCE...NEAR 0 PERCENT...OF
BECOMING A TROPICAL CYCLONE DURING THE NEXT 48 HOURS.


ELSEWHERE...TROPICAL CYCLONE FORMATION IS NOT EXPECTED DURING THE
NEXT 48 HOURS.

$$
FORECASTER AVILA

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Just as i'm about to go on vacation in the OBX, an invest forms over us. Lovely.
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Quoting HurricaneAndre:
Guys let me put this up for you.WAVES coming in and that what will contribute for development.
k

Really. .???.. how else do we get lots of stoms in Aug-Sep-Oct...aka th heart of the season.

Upper lows?. Frontal systems off the east coast? Cut offs?, itcz?
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Good morning folks.
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Quoting HurricaneAndre:
We have 94-L.


Floater has it just as invest. not numbered.
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remember earl developed in the same area turned out to be a nasty storm they are spinning up easily this yr
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more like happily moving inshore. personally id be happy if all stay out to sea. there is enough bad things going on already. kory your character is very knowledgeable but come on now. dangerous times ahead
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It kind appears to me,it's going NE.
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Sadly, satellite data suggests it will be inland within the next few hours, so no development is likely.
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A. TROPICAL DISTURBANCE

B. 22/0545Z

C. 33.7N

D. 78.0W

E. FIVE/GOES-E

F. T1.0/1.0/D1.0/24HRS

G. IR/EIR/SWIR

H. REMARKS...A SMALL CIRCULATION HAS DEVELOPED OFF THE BORDER OF NORTH
AND SOUTH CAROLINA. THE CENTER OF CIRCULATION IS LESS THAN 3/4 DEGREE
FROM WARM TOP CONVECTION WHICH RESULTS IN A DT OF 2.5 BUT INITIAL
CLASSIFICATION WILL BE CONSTRAINED TO T1.0. MET AND PT ARE 1.0.

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Look at the buoys off the South Carolina coast. We can't get a good look at the south side due to limited observations and lack of scatterometer data, so we don't know the extent of westerly winds, but it is likely there are some.
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TROPICAL WEATHER OUTLOOK
NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
200 AM EDT SAT JUN 22 2013

FOR THE NORTH ATLANTIC...CARIBBEAN SEA AND THE GULF OF MEXICO...

1. SHOWER ACTIVITY ASSOCIATED WITH A WEAK LOW PRESSURE AREA ABOUT
60 MILES EAST-SOUTHEAST OF MYRTLE BEACH SOUTH CAROLINA SHOWS SOME
SIGNS OF ORGANIZATION. HOWEVER...SURFACE OBSERVATIONS INDICATE
THAT PRESSURE ARE HIGH AND WINDS ARE LIGHT IN THIS AREA.
UPPER-LEVEL WINDS ARE NOT CONDUCIVE...AND NO SIGNIFICANT
DEVELOPMENT IS EXPECTED BEFORE THE LOW MOVES INLAND OVER SOUTH AND
NORTH CAROLINA LATER TODAY. THIS SYSTEM HAS A LOW CHANCE...NEAR
0 PERCENT...OF BECOMING A TROPICAL CYCLONE DURING THE NEXT 48 HOURS.

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Quoting KoritheMan:
Based on the limited surface observations I was able to dig up, the circulation associated with 94L is likely well-defined, but extremely small (less than 150 miles).
Can you post me a link.
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Based on the limited surface observations I was able to dig up, the circulation associated with 94L is likely well-defined, but extremely small (less than 150 miles).
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Quoting HurricaneAndre:

HERE IT IS.


Ah, I forgot to check the NHC floaters. :P

Still, I don't see any evidence of it on ATCF or the Navy, which is interesting.
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Quoting KoritheMan:


No we don't.
Go to this link.Link
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HERE IT IS.
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Quoting HurricaneAndre:
We have 94-L.


No we don't.
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We have 94-L.
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Quoting VAbeachhurricanes:


If only it had a bit more time


For shame.
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If only it had a bit more time
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421. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Japan Meteorological Agency
Tropical Cyclone Advisory #21
TROPICAL STORM BEBINCA (T1305)
15:00 PM JST June 22 2013
=====================================

Overland Hainan Island

At 6:00 AM UTC, Tropical Storm Bebinca (990 hPa) near 19.1N 110.2E has 10 minute sustained winds of 35 knots with gusts of 50 knots. The cyclone is reported as moving west at 12 knots.

Dvorak Intensity: Overland

Gale Force Winds
================
150 NM from the center in northeast quadrant
120 NM from the center in southwest quadrant

Forecast and Intensity
=======================
24 HRS: 20.5N 107.6E - 35 knots (CAT 1/Tropical Storm) Gulf Of Tonkin
48 HRS: 21.6N 107.2E - 35 knots (CAT 1/Tropical Storm) Overland Southern China
72 HRS: 22.3N 107.1E - Tropical Depression Overland Southern China
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Quoting HurricaneAndre:
Guys let me put this up for you.WAVES coming in and that what will contribute for development.

Actually the storm the GFS shows comes from energy from the monsoon trough and increased moister/convection from a MJO pulse. Of course, as we get later into the season we will get storms developing solely from waves.
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Quoting sar2401:

True, although the early models want to develop both invests. 94E develops a lot faster and moves a lot faster than 95E, which spends most of its time meandering in circles. I'll be interested to see how the models react (or don't) to this possible Fujiwhara effect.

One model, I forget which one, had the stronger eating the smaller one.
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Quoting AussieStorm:


They both have to develop also.

True, although the early models want to develop both invests. 94E develops a lot faster and moves a lot faster than 95E, which spends most of its time meandering in circles. I'll be interested to see how the models react (or don't) to this possible Fujiwhara effect.
Member Since: October 2, 2004 Posts: 0 Comments: 12745
Quoting HurricaneAndre:
Guys let me put this up for you.WAVES coming in and that what will contribute for development.

Yes, we generally need waves to develop if we're going to have tropical storms. Assuming you're talking about the Atlantic, where exactly are these waves located now?
Member Since: October 2, 2004 Posts: 0 Comments: 12745
Quoting sar2401:

Or maybe even a Fujiwhara effect. :-) We still have to see what path both of these cyclones take to see if a Fujiwhara actually takes place.


They both have to develop also.
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Quoting HuracanTaino:
Interesting a Fujimori effect in the Pacific with our 2 new invest... you don't see that everyday...


You mean Fujiwhara Effect
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Quoting HuracanTaino:
Interesting a Fujimori effect in the Pacific with our 2 new invest... you don't see that everyday...

Or maybe even a Fujiwhara effect. :-) We still have to see what path both of these cyclones take to see if a Fujiwhara actually takes place.
Member Since: October 2, 2004 Posts: 0 Comments: 12745
Guys let me put this up for you.WAVES coming in and that what will contribute for development.
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Interesting a Fujimori effect in the Pacific with our 2 new invest... you don't see that everyday...
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Quoting mikatnight:
Ok. I killed the blog. Sorry about that.

I have the same effect at parties.

I gotta go to bed anyway. I'll leave you with a song...


GN, Mik. Funny catoons and some good information you posted here tonight.
Member Since: October 2, 2004 Posts: 0 Comments: 12745
It's good there are smart people like you to question things. I figure we'll get it right eventually.
Just don't tell me there's no such thing as the Great Pumpkin and we'll be cool.
Really off to bed. 'night all.
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Quoting mikatnight:


You've got a good argument and I have to say I now have doubts of my own. Of course, now I kinda feel the same way as when I found out there wasn't a Santa Claus...oh well! Keep up the good work!

What??? There's no Santa Claus??? Hey, as long as we have FEMA, there is a Santa Claus. :-)

Unfortunately, we have a few people on this blog (not you) who seem to feel any questioning of what comes out of a science-type agency is questioning both science and the integrity of the agency. While that's sometimes the case, it's also important to understand that, except in unusual cases, the numbers generated by agencies like NOAA and the NCDC are compiled numbers that are given to them from sources at the local levels all the way up to agencies like the UN. They are reliant on each of these hundreds (maybe thousands) of entities to have the same level of accuracy and precision, which is highly unlikely. When you combine the normal difficulties of gathering numbers from all the possible sources, not over or undercounting, and then the built-in biases from all these different sources, it's no wonder that some of the figures don't make sense.
Member Since: October 2, 2004 Posts: 0 Comments: 12745
Ok. I killed the blog. Sorry about that.

I have the same effect at parties.

I gotta go to bed anyway. I'll leave you with a song...

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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.