Genesis of New Atlantic Tropical Cyclones: Which Model Should You Trust?

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:29 PM GMT on August 29, 2013

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It's been a remarkably quiet late August in the Atlantic for hurricanes, with nary an "Invest", and precious few yellow 10% probability circles on NHC's Tropical Weather Outlook. When will this remarkable hurricane drought come to an end? The computer models we use to track hurricanes have conflicting ideas about this. Which model should we believe, and how far into the future can these models successfully predict genesis events of new tropical depressions in the Atlantic? Some answers come in a 2013 paper by a group of scientists led by Florida State's Daniel Halperin, just accepted for publication in the journal Weather and Forecasting, "An evaluation of tropical cyclone genesis forecasts from global numerical models." It turns out that two of the three most reliable models for predicting the genesis of tropical cyclones up to four days in advance are also the our top-performing models for predicting hurricane tracks: the American GFS model and the European ECMWF model. The UKMET model is also quite good at predicting tropical cyclone genesis events. The Canadian GEM model and the Navy NOGAPS model (now succeeded by the Navy NAVGEM model) do less well. When two or more models make the same genesis forecast, the odds of the event actually occurring are increased considerably. The models have improved greatly in making genesis forecasts in recent years; back in 2007, when our top three models made a 4-day genesis forecast, these verified only 17 - 28% of the time. By 2011, the hit rate had increased to 45 - 50%. However, the models still miss most genesis events. In 2011, the probability of detection of a tropical cyclone genesis event was only 8% - 23%, meaning that 77 - 92% of time, a tropical depression or tropical storm formed without the model predicting that it would form. The best model to use for looking at Atlantic tropical cyclone genesis in 2011 was the UKMET model, which combined a relatively high probability of detection rate with a low false alarm rate.


Figure 1. The probability of making a correct tropical cyclone genesis forecast for all forecast hours (06 to 96) by model, for the period 2004 - 2011. In 2011, three models--the GFS, UKMET, and European--made genesis forecasts that were correct 45 - 50% of the time. The Canadian GEM model and the Navy NOGAPS model did less well. Data taken from Halperin et al., 2013, "An evaluation of tropical cyclone genesis forecasts from global numerical models." Weather and Forecasting, doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1175/WAF-D-13-00008.1

The paper looked at 135 Atlantic genesis events over the period 2004 - 2011, as predicted by five global computer weather forecast models: the GFS, ECMWF, UKMET, NOGAPS, and Canadian GEM. The regional GFDL and HWRF hurricane models were not considered, as they use output from the GFS model to drive them, and are not good at making genesis forecasts. The study only looked at forecasts made up to four days in advance. While there have been cases where I've seen genesis predictions made 7 - 10 days in advance come true, these are rare, and the "hit" rate of successful genesis forecasts even four days in advance is low. In the paper, a "hit" was defined as a forecast that successfully predicted genesis within 24 hours and 345 miles of the observed time and location. A "false alarm" occurred when the model predicted a storm that never developed. The other categories considered were "late genesis" events where a storm formed more than 24 hours before it was predicted to, and "early genesis", where a storm formed more than 24 hours after it was predicted to. Here are some details on each model's ability to make Atlantic tropical cyclone genesis forecasts:

European ECMWF model: The model is reluctant to predict genesis, and misses many genesis events (it had only an 8% probability of detection in 2011.) However, when it does predict genesis, it usually happens, with only a 16% false alarm percentage in 2011. The European model exhibits preferred regions of genesis, with over 60% of its genesis forecasts occurring in the MDR: 10-20°N, 60-20°W. Although the ECMWF misses many tropical cyclone genesis events in the Gulf of Mexico (as do the other models), when it does forecast genesis there, it almost always occurs. The model was highly prone to making late genesis forecasts.

American GFS model: The GFS model improved substantially in its genesis forecasts beginning in 2010, most likely due to a major model upgrade in 2010. The GFS is more aggressive at predicting genesis than the European model, and is less likely to miss a genesis event (22% probability of detection in 2011.) However, the incidence of false alarms was 32% in 2011, double what the European model had. Like the European model, the GFS exhibits preferred regions of genesis, with nearly 60% of its genesis forecasts occurring in the MDR: 10-20°N, 60-20°W.

UKMET model: The UKMET is more aggressive at predicting genesis than the European model, and is less likely to miss a genesis event (20% probability of detection in 2011.) The incidence of false alarms was 18% in 2011, similar to what the European model had. Like the European and GFS models, the UKMET exhibits preferred regions of genesis, with more than 67% of its genesis forecasts occurring in the MDR: 10-20°N, 60-20°W. The model was prone to making late genesis forecasts.

Canadian GEM model: The Canadian model was the least likely to miss a formation event, with a 23% probability of detection in 2011. False alarms have been a major issue, though, and the Canadian model generated the second highest number of bogus genesis events of any of the five models evaluated (42% of all its genesis forecasts in 2011 were false alarms.) The Canadian model does not seem to have a preferred region of genesis—all types of genesis events occur across the entire basin. The model performs best over the main development region (MDR; 10-20°N, 60-20°W), Caribbean Sea, and Gulf of Mexico (GOM).

Navy NOGAPS model: This model was retired in 2012, but we may be able to assume that its successor, the NAVGEM model, will have some of the same characteristics. False Alarms have been a major issue, and the NOGAPS model generated the highest number of bogus genesis events of any of the five models evaluated (60% of all its genesis forecasts in 2011 were false alarms.) The model also had a low probability of detection, just 9%. NOGAPS model does not seem to have a preferred region of genesis—all types of genesis events occur across the entire basin. Despite the high levels of hurricane activity in 2004 and 2005, the NOGAPS model failed to successfully forecast any genesis events those years.

Sources of Model Data
You can view 7-day ECMWF and 16-day GFS forecasts on wunderground's wundermap with the model layer turned on.
Longer ten-day ECMWF forecasts are available from the ECMWF web site.
FSU's experimental hurricane forecast page (CMC, ECMWF, GFDL, GFS, HWRF, and NAVGEM models)
NOAA's HFIP model comparison page (GFS, ECMWF, FIM, FIM9, UKMET, and CMC models.)
Experimental HFIP models

Very Quiet in the Atlantic
A tropical wave that came off the coast of Africa on Sunday is midway between Africa and the Lesser Antilles Islands. This disturbance is moving westward at 15 mph, has a modest amount of spin, but only a limited amount of heavy thunderstorm activity. In their 8 am EDT Thursday Tropical Weather Outlook, NHC left the 5-day odds of formation of this disturbance at 20%, but increased the 2-day odds of formation to 10%. Wind shear is a moderate 10 - 20 knots over the system, but there is an area of dry air and dust from the Saharan Air Layer (SAL) to the north and west that is interfering with development. With the exception of the NAVGEM model, there is little support from the models for developing the disturbance during the next five days. The wave could spread heavy rains and gusty winds to the Lesser Antilles Islands on Sunday and Monday.

A tropical wave expected to emerge from the coast of Africa on Friday and track over the Cape Verde Islands is also showing little support for development from the models. This wave is expected to take a northwesterly track, and would likely not be able to make the long trek across the Atlantic to threaten North America or the Caribbean Islands. In their 8 am EDT Thursday Tropical Weather Outlook, NHC put the 5-day odds of development at 20%.

Wunderblogger Lee Grenci has an excellent new post, "Atlantic Hurricane Season: The Saharan Air Layer and Vertical Wind Shear".

California's Rim Fire Now 6th Largest in State History, and is 30% Controlled
California's massive Rim Fire in Yosemite National Park continues to grow, but an army of over 4,000 firefighters are making headway against the blaze, and had attained 30% containment of the fire as of 9:20 am EDT on Thursday. According to Inciweb, fire has burned over 192,700 acres. This moves the fire into 6th place for largest fire in state history, according to statistics tabulated by wunderground's weather historian, Christopher C. Burt in his latest post, "The Worst Wild Fires in U.S. History". The Rim Fire will have difficultly surpassing California's largest fire on record--the Cedar Fire in San Diego County of October 2003. That fire burned 273,246 acres (430 square miles). California has had its driest year-to-date period, so it is no surprise that the state is experiencing an unusually large fire this summer.


Video 1. Time-lapse photography shows various perspectives of the 2013 Rim Fire, as viewed from Yosemite National Park. The first part of this video is from the Crane Flat Helibase. The fire is currently burning in wilderness and is not immediately threatening visitors or employees. The second half of the video is from Glacier Point, showing Yosemite Valley, and how little the smoke from the fire has impacted the Valley.

Jeff Masters

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SEVERE WEATHER STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DULUTH MN
529 PM CDT THU AUG 29 2013

MNC021-292245-
/O.CON.KDLH.TO.W.0009.000000T0000Z-130829T2245Z/
CASS MN-
529 PM CDT THU AUG 29 2013

...A TORNADO WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT FOR NORTH CENTRAL CASS COUNTY
UNTIL 545 PM CDT...

AT 528 PM CDT...A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM CAPABLE OF PRODUCING A TORNADO
WAS LOCATED NEAR SCHLEY...AND MOVING EAST AT 15 MPH.

HAZARD...TORNADO AND TENNIS BALL SIZE HAIL.

SOURCE...RADAR INDICATED ROTATION.

IMPACT...MOBILE HOMES WILL BE DAMAGED OR DESTROYED. DAMAGE TO
ROOFS...WINDOWS AND VEHICLES WILL OCCUR. FLYING DEBRIS WILL
BE DEADLY TO PEOPLE AND ANIMALS. TREE DAMAGE IS LIKELY.

RADAR INDICATED A SECOND STRONG CIRCULATION WAS DEVELOPING BETWEEN
SUCKER BAY ON LEECH LAKE AND PORTAGE LAKE...ALSO MOVING EAST AT 15
MPH.

LOCATIONS IMPACTED INCLUDE...
SCHLEY...FEDERAL DAM AND PORTAGE LAKE.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

TAKE COVER NOW. MOVE TO AN INTERIOR ROOM ON THE LOWEST FLOOR OF A
STURDY BUILDING. AVOID WINDOWS. IF IN A MOBILE HOME...A VEHICLE OR
OUTDOORS...MOVE TO THE CLOSEST SUBSTANTIAL SHELTER AND PROTECT
YOURSELF FROM FLYING DEBRIS.

&&

LAT...LON 4741 9426 4724 9420 4725 9460 4737 9461
TIME...MOT...LOC 2228Z 262DEG 11KT 4732 9446

TORNADO...RADAR INDICATED
HAIL...2.50IN

$$
MILLER


Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Localism - is a problem I see with some of the blogs I frequent.
You can get a small group "locals" that try to control the blog.
If you go against their thinking, you'll get jumped.

This is an issue many blogs/forums need to work on.

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting 576. TomTaylor:
Asking him his opinion is not the problem. The problem is the manner in which he asks him and then heckles him for not giving a direct answer to a question that doesn't deserve a direct answer. It is unwise to give a flat "yes" or "no" response regarding the prospects of a storm's development. Anybody who has ever forecasted knows that using absolutes is a bad idea.

I guess we see what we want to see, as you just suggested. Also, feel free to PM me what I'm apparently incapable of seeing.


Tom..Levi and Drakeon have been doing this a long time..way before you joined..I sense no hostility with them when they debate..they both are grown men and maybe one day both will be working in Miami together..I can even see a hurricane discussion sent out by Levi that he wrote at 11am saying a storm will be forming and then at 5pm Drakeon coming on his shift saying the opposite..I think you are interpreting their conversations wrong. I have never seen both complain about each other or god forbid, threaten to ignore each other..
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
18z GFS shows massive fish storms everywhere
Member Since: August 23, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 1735
Quoting 577. hydrus:
Below freezing in parts of Nunavut and North West Territories.


CFS AlertDate: 6:00 PM EDT Thursday 29 August 2013
Condition:Not observed
Pressure:29.8 inches
Tendency:falling
Temperature:23.4°F
Dewpoint:22.3°F
Humidity:96%
Wind:NNE 3 mph
Wind Chill: 20
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
ok, I think I'm at my magic arbitrary .5" mark lol. 10 days now in a row.




Lightning just made me jump out of my seat lol. On the porch as usual. Long day of working outside, made it home dry, now chilling with some nice thundering rains and a glass of shiraz, awllllright!
Member Since: January 1, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 3802
Quoting 562. Patrap:
Welcome to 2013 Tropical Wunder Jeopardy,

Keeper, please announce our 3 competitors today.




"I'll take the pen-is mightier for 500, Alex."
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting 577. hydrus:
Below freezing in parts of Nunavut and North West Territories.
ya they will start to see flurries soon if not already sun is getting lower in the sky faster every day now
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Quoting 572. KEEPEROFTHEGATE:





watchin for cold air
Below freezing in parts of Nunavut and North West Territories.
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Quoting 569. caneswatch:


I don't see Drak asking for Levi's opinion as disrespectful. Levi's forecasting I'm not whining about. You should know what I'm seeing, but I guess you can't.
Asking him his opinion is not the problem. The problem is the manner in which he asks him and then heckles him for not giving a direct answer to a question that doesn't deserve a direct answer. It is unwise to give a flat "yes" or "no" response regarding the prospects of a storm's development. Anybody who has ever forecasted knows that using absolutes is a bad idea.

I guess we see what we want to see, as you just suggested. Also, feel free to PM me what I'm apparently incapable of seeing.
Member Since: August 24, 2010 Posts: 19 Comments: 4358
Quoting 573. PedleyCA:
Well, the temp just took a dive. 91.8 windy and sprinkling and the sound of thunder off to the East.

keep an eye out for hail if its the size of melons let me know right away
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Well, the temp just took a dive. 91.8 windy and sprinkling and the sound of thunder off to the East.

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting 570. hydrus:
+ 32...or a few more..





watchin for cold air
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569. caneswatch 10:23 PM GMT on August 29, 2013


can we just take it somewhere else


that's twice
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Quoting 556. KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
think its time to make a drak&levi poll blog and take it over there tom and do a tally of votes or something
something to do while we are waiting


lol
+ 32...or a few more..
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Quoting 558. TomTaylor:
Figured I would get this response.

I responded the way I did because I don't have a problem with Levi. He isn't disrespectful. Yes, the blog can carry him around like he is a god, but do I care? No. I appreciate everything he does but I'm wise enough to know that nobody's forecast is gospel.

The problem with the other blog member is he is disrespectful. You seem to be concerned with the blog letting Levi get away with forecasting (?). I am concerned with the blog letting someone get away with being disrespectful and immature. There is a huge difference.


I don't see Drak asking for Levi's opinion as disrespectful. Levi's forecasting I'm not whining about. You should know what I'm seeing, but I guess you can't.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting 562. Patrap:
Welcome to 2013 Tropical Wunder Jeopardy,

Keeper, please announce our 3 competitors today.




Gonna thro some weather trivia out there for us to chew tonight Pat.?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting 562. Patrap:
Welcome to 2013 Tropical Wunder Jeopardy,

Keeper, please announce our 3 competitors today.






rotfl, this is the best reality show out there.
Member Since: January 1, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 3802
Quoting 561. KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
going to be warm till tusday then back towards seasonal numbers

T-storms coming for sat 60 percent and again maybe sun at 30 percent before the cool down

the first cold down is not far off now couple of more weeks


Back to the mid 90's tomorrow. My water cooler don't like these temps. But at least I got it working, so I can save some $$$.
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YeeHAW!

Member Since: January 1, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 3802
Quoting 551. TomTaylor:
That's not Levi's fault nor is it his problem. Drak's attitude is 100% his own problem. Levi's attitude, on the other hand, is much more professional.
Are you going to keep this up? Your acting immature yourself. Levi is an adult, and he will handle it.
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Quoting 502. HurricaneGroupie:
I hope things stay quiet!
and that the 2013 season becomes the norm.


I don't, we haven't seen a CV hurricane since Katia. The norm for them is to OTS, so I'm hoping we see a CV hurricane at least once this year.
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 24726
Quoting 553. PedleyCA:


Nice weather you got there. TRADE?
going to be warm till tusday then back towards seasonal numbers

T-storms coming for sat 60 percent and again maybe sun at 30 percent before the cool down

the first cold down is not far off now couple of more weeks
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting 556. KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
think its time to make a drak&levi poll blog and take it over there tom and do a tally of votes or something
something to do while we are waiting


lol
Atlantic should heat up soon. Hopefully lol
Member Since: August 24, 2010 Posts: 19 Comments: 4358
Ah guys? Some of the comments are coming close to being personal attacks.

Still no rain, I got to go stand out in the 100 degrees and water the garden. Why is it I want a garden??
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Quoting 554. caneswatch:


See, exactly what I mean. Ignorance is bliss Tom.
Figured I would get this response.

I responded the way I did because I don't have a problem with Levi. He isn't disrespectful. Yes, the blog can carry his forecasts around like he is a god, but do I care? No. I appreciate everything he does but I'm wise enough to know that nobody's forecast is gospel.

The problem with the other blog member is he is disrespectful. You seem to be concerned with the blog letting Levi get away with forecasting (?). I am concerned with the blog letting someone get away with being disrespectful and immature. There is a huge difference.
Member Since: August 24, 2010 Posts: 19 Comments: 4358
think its time to make a drak&levi poll blog and take it over there tom and do a tally of votes or something
something to do while we are waiting


lol
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting 551. TomTaylor:
That's not Levi's fault nor is it his problem. Drak's attitude is 100% his own problem. Levi's attitude, on the other hand, is much more professional.


See, exactly what I mean. Ignorance is bliss Tom.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting 552. KEEPEROFTHEGATE:


Toronto Pearson Int'l Airport
Date: 6:00 PM EDT Thursday 29 August 2013
Condition:Mainly Sunny
Pressure:30.0 inches
Tendency:falling
Visibility:15 miles
Temperature:81.0°F
Dewpoint:66.0°F
Humidity:60%
Wind:SE 9 mph
Humidex: 93



Nice weather you got there. TRADE?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:


Toronto Pearson Int'l Airport
Date: 6:00 PM EDT Thursday 29 August 2013
Condition:Mainly Sunny
Pressure:30.0 inches
Tendency:falling
Visibility:15 miles
Temperature:81.0°F
Dewpoint:66.0°F
Humidity:60%
Wind:SE 9 mph
Humidex: 93

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting 547. caneswatch:


I say the same about Levi but then again a huge majority of here never whines about him, everyone praises him like he's God and can do no wrong.

That's not Levi's fault nor is it his problem. Drak's attitude is 100% his own problem. Levi's attitude, on the other hand, is much more professional.
Member Since: August 24, 2010 Posts: 19 Comments: 4358
550. IKE
Just give it time...when the "hurricane" season is over. That will take care of most problems on here. Also...use the ignore feature. I do. But when someone is quoted the feature is of little use.
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Riverside, California (Airport)
Updated: 2:53 PM PDT on August 29, 2013
Mostly Cloudy
102 °F
Mostly Cloudy
Humidity: 23%
Dew Point: 58 °F
Wind: 9 mph from the West
Pressure: 29.81 in (Falling)
Heat Index: 102 °F
Visibility: 10.0 miles
UV: 4 out of 16
Pollen: 7.50 out of 12
Pollen Forecast new!
Clouds:
Mostly Cloudy 11000 ft
(Above Ground Level)
Elevation: 817 ft



The Monsoon is upon us here, and it just got a bit windy, hmmmm
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Aha. Something to watch other than......




Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 27518
Quoting TomTaylor:
Sigh.

Drak is a blog member just like the rest of us. Just because he is working towards a degree in meteorology doesn't mean he has the right to be a disrespectful brat. So, unfortunately for you, my "clucking" isn't going to any local hen house. As long as Drak keeps giving the 'tude to Levi (or any other blog members), I will be right here to call him out for it. Not sure why you and the rest of this community continue to turn a blind eye to his ridiculous behavior.


I say the same about Levi but then again a huge majority of here never whines about him, everyone praises him like he's God and can do no wrong.

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Quoting 545. TomTaylor:
Hm, then perhaps something like 850 RH or integrated low-level RH across multiple levels would be a more useful addition to your site? Also, 700mb RH is a little over 10,000 ft. Inflow level of a storm is entirely below that.

I'm happy with whatever though, just throwin' out ideas :)


Yeah, I'll figure something out. I'm also planning on adding equivalent potential temperature (Theta-E) anomaly at some point.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting 533. Levi32:


Yeah it has been dry overall thus far, but right now it is not really that dry. That map is 3 days old.

I do plan on adding at least 700mb RH once I get my new plotting script installed. I agree that PWAT is not all one needs, but I've rarely seen PWAT and 700mb RH disagree, if ever.

Hm, then perhaps something like 850 RH or integrated low-level RH across multiple levels would be a more useful addition to your site? Also, 700mb RH is a little over 10,000 ft. Inflow level of a storm is well below that.

I'm happy with whatever though, just throwin' out ideas :)
Member Since: August 24, 2010 Posts: 19 Comments: 4358
Quoting 532. HurricaneAndre:
We need an invest in the Atlantic,matter of fact,a hurricane.


something big
the likes of which
has never been seen before
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Quoting 535. bappit:

Y'all can take your clucking to the local hen house. Keep it off the blog.
Sigh.

Drak is a blog member just like the rest of us. Just because he is working towards a degree in meteorology doesn't mean he has the right to be a disrespectful brat. So, unfortunately for you, my "clucking" isn't going to any local hen house. As long as Drak keeps giving the 'tude to Levi (or any other blog members), I will be right here to call him out for it. Not sure why you and the rest of this community continue to turn a blind eye to his ridiculous behavior.
Member Since: August 24, 2010 Posts: 19 Comments: 4358

12z navgem model
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Quoting 510. hurricanes2018:
this is big hurricane moving north and hit land in the north east
It will head west not north..Model error.
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New ts forming in 3 - 4 days north of Peurto rico. mjo has just hit the wave!! I think navgem may be correct time will tell
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Quoting 530. MahFL:
What is the blob south of Cuba ?
Clouds with rain inside them...Good evening Mah.
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Quoting 519. HurricaneAndre:
I' m back,what's up with the tropics.



nothing
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Quoting 531. TomTaylor:
100% agreed. It is sad to see Drakoen, one of our brightest members, set such a poor example for the newcomers.

Y'all can take your clucking to the local hen house. Keep it off the blog.
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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