Severe Cyclone Gonu Prepares to Strike the Gulf of Oman

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 5:34 AM GMT on June 05, 2007

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An unusual event is happening over the next 48 hours, as the first tropical cyclone with hurricane-force winds, and major hurricane-force winds at that, is approaching the Gulf of Oman, to strike the eastern coast of Oman, curve northward, and make landfall on the coast of Iran. In the tropical cyclone best tracks and the modern era of weather satellites, there is no record of such an occurrence.

Today, Steve Gregory and I will be guest-hosting the blog, while Jeff is on vacation, to provide current information on Severe Cyclone Gonu. I'll provide some background on the areas that are currently forecast to be in the path of this dangerous cyclone, followed by Steve's Monday evening surge forecast and assessment based on the most recent JTWC track and intensity forecast, which currently calls for sustained winds of 115 kt when first passing near the coastline of Oman.

Updates during the day will be posted on my blog, The View From the Surface.

As I write this it is late in the evening in the central US, but the day has already begun in the Middle East. Distant cirrus from Gonu have already started to cloud the Gulf of Oman, and over the course of the day there, conditions will deteriorate along the eastern coast of Oman as the tropical cyclone approaches. Overnight, the core of Gonu will approach the tip of Oman, with the eye passing offshore just before dawn, and the bulk of the surge occuring along the eastern coast some time shortly before that. By midday the next day the worst of the storm will have passed the southernmost portion of the coast, and the core of the storm will be directly east of Muscat, the capital of Oman, home to over half a million people. Right now the forecast has the storm passing just offshore, but if the track shifts further east, the most damaging winds of the cyclone will remain over water. This will lessen the damage to Oman, but will likely result in a higher intensity when making landfall in Iran.

--Margie Kieper

* * * * * * *

Those who live along the Gulf of Mexico are well aware of what it means for a major hurricane to make landfall. Even if they've never experienced it themselves, they have relatives or members of their community who have experienced it. And in many places they can see the damage that remains.

Imagine that you live directly on the Gulf, but in a place where it hardly ever rains, and where a hurricane has never hit, for at least a generation -- for more than sixty years. Your community and many like yours are situated not only directly on the water, but near or in large dry riverbeds on the coastal plain, which is a narrow strip of sandy shoreline that is the dropoff for the three-thousand-foot mountain range behind it. Even many of the roads up into the mountains are in these dry riverbeds, which course through deep canyons as they rise into the heights. You don't have any idea what it might mean to experience winds of over 100 miles per hour, whipping up sand, and torrential rain against these mountains that can turn the riverbeds into conduits for dangerous flash floods. And you don't have any idea what storm surge is, and can't conceive of wind-driven high waves that could break against the shoreline and leave nothing behind.

This is the eastern coast of Oman, where communities line the shoreline which is shortly going to be experiencing a major hurricane. We can only hope that the danger is understood and that all of these communities have evacuated to higher ground and a safer location.

Below are two images of the city of Sur, showing how the community is built right along the water's edge:

Sur


closeup of Sur


The first image below shows one of the large winding dry riverbeds, and the second close-up shows a village built right where this riverbed empties into the gulf.

dry riverbed


community built in riverbed


These images show an industrial facility on the shoreline right at the tip of southeastern Oman, with an airstrip and a small community -- all of which could be gone in twenty-four hours, from surge, if the storm passes close to this area as currently forecast.

southeastern tip of Oman


closeup of southeastern tip of Oman


* * * * * * *

Steve Gregory's Monday Evening Forecast for Gonu

Severe Cyclone GONU in the Arabian Sea is currently heading NW at 14KTS (Faster than the JTWC Forecast) and is located 135NM SE of the eastern most 'tip' of Oman, and 180NM SE of Muscat. The storm is now a very strong CAT 4 - with an estimated pressure of 904mb, and wind gusts to 155Kts.

Based on imagery over the last 6 hours - the storm is under-going an Eyewall Replacement cycle, and so the first early morning VIS image (right) shows the eye is now covered with cirrus. As a new eyewall is developing (based on Micro-wave imagery) and will complete this cycle right about the time it gets to the Oman Gulf.

The track the storm takes as it nears the Oman coast is extremely critical in terms of intensity as it is entering the Gulf - and how severe the damage will be. There ocean heat content of the water on the SE FACING side of Oman is lower - and if the storm travels close to that location (as shown on the NAVY chart) the storm will likely weaken further during the day to a low end CAT 3, and then hit the Iran coast as a strong CAT 1 on Wednesday.

If the storm tracks 50-100NM NORTH of the coast as it enters the Gulf of Oman - though the water is shallower there, the SST's are very high (32degC) and with the storm further away from land, and over very warm water - it is likely to hold onto CAT 3 intensity for an additional 4-6 hours as it moves NW.

There is a large oil facility and large airport located right at the eastern 'tip' of Oman - and I counted at least 6 major 'ports' on Satellite imagery along the Oman coast up to 100 miles WNW of Muscat.

On the opposite side of the Gulf is the Iranian coast - with numerous 'cove inlets' each with loading docks and port facilities. At least 9 facilities I could count from the Iran/Pakistan border west to the area I show landfall (Magenta Arrow on the diagram below). Offshore platforms were also seen in a few locations.

Steve Gregory Gonu surge forecast


The Storm surge shown (10-15 ft) will almost certainly hit the Iran coast - even if the storm weakens to a strong CAT 2 late Tuesday (NY time). The Eastern tip of Oman will likely also experience 10-15 foot surge due to the close proximity of the storm track. Further up the Gulf, before reaching the Straits of Hormuz - storm surge heights of 1-4 feet are expected on the Oman side, and 4-possibly 6 feet on the Iranian side near the entrance to the Straits. Significant wave heights will be 20-30 feet, dropping to 15 feet near the Straits.

This is an unprecedented event. NO CYCLONE has ever entered the Gulf of Oman. And there are no custom 'storm surge' models available for that area. This forecast is based on my experience and subjective analysis of the seabed slope and storm surge interaction with the sea floor. Considering the region has never experienced a hurricane, let alone a strong one it is highly unlikely the loading facilities or platforms were constructed to withstand the forces - both wave action and wind force - that they will experience. Significant, damage will occur. How much long term damage, and the volumes associated with it - can not be determined at this time.

--Steve Gregory

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523. Patrap
4:57 PM CDT on June 05, 2007
Muscat, ...Hyatt Hotel. Oman Link
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127647
522. Jedkins
9:55 PM GMT on June 05, 2007
Ya Oman isn't made up of a bunch of wandering nomads, they are well developed, they probably have a much better evacuation system then New Orleans ever had, probably have a much lower poverty rate there as well from all the oil.
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521. Patrap
4:55 PM CDT on June 05, 2007
Gonu is smaller than that storm in 05..in size..And no where near as powerful as Katrina when it made landfall.Gonu has undergone..and continues on a rapid weakening trend..not to recover .
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127647
520. WPBHurricane05
5:56 PM EDT on June 05, 2007
Gonu 12 hours

NA
Member Since: July 31, 2006 Posts: 56 Comments: 8112
519. Canesfan68
9:53 PM GMT on June 05, 2007
Link

The loop is pretty neat. Watch the Bright Clouds shoot west over central america. Its wierd the way the clouds moved.

And whats this area in the central atlantic? Anything to be watched?
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518. Dodabear
5:48 PM EDT on June 05, 2007
Seems like surge is a difficult thing to predict. I have seldom seen them get it right. They were (yesterday) calling for a 10 meter (30 ft) surge from this storm. I am certainly glad they backed down from that.
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517. snotly
9:43 PM GMT on June 05, 2007
When Katrina "calmed" to a cat 3 did't she still have the surge of a cat 5. Could the same happen with gonu?
Member Since: August 27, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 683
516. Patrap
4:43 PM CDT on June 05, 2007
Hopefully..they will make out better than we think.A disaster may be averted..50 knts in 24 hours is a big dropoff in momentumn.But that Cat 5 surge has to go somewhere..
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127647
515. Patrap
4:42 PM CDT on June 05, 2007
I doubt the surge is doing that there.They still transmitting live feeds and printing the paper Im hearing.The worst surge propogated NE..Not NW..
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127647
514. snotly
9:36 PM GMT on June 05, 2007
Convection to the south of gonu and land interaction pulled the storm on a southern wobble. I'd say winds of 50-60kts are basing the shore and 3-10 inches of rain. if there was a 10 ft surge then those guys in patrap's picture are doing the back stroke right about now.
Member Since: August 27, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 683
513. Patrap
4:39 PM CDT on June 05, 2007
Muscat is evacuated.Its a modern city folks.We had a blogger expatmummy on earlier.Hoping to here from them again soon.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127647
512. Patrap
4:38 PM CDT on June 05, 2007
wunderground Muscat,Oman Pics..Link
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127647
511. RL3AO
4:38 PM CDT on June 05, 2007
I know we build on the shore, but we also have easier times evacuating.
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510. Dodabear
5:35 PM EDT on June 05, 2007
RL3AO,

Yeah, we would never build that close to the shore. Nope, we build 'em right on the beach even where we know we regularly get hurricanes.
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508. RL3AO
4:35 PM CDT on June 05, 2007
Where those people are will be a 10 foot swimming pool here in a few hours.
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507. NRAamy
2:35 PM PDT on June 05, 2007
Doda!

:)
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506. Patrap
4:34 PM CDT on June 05, 2007
Muscat,Oman wunderground page..Link
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127647
505. Dodabear
5:30 PM EDT on June 05, 2007
I almost hate to throw this 2 cents in but feel I have to. A couple of hours ago Joe Bastardi from Accuweather said that Gonu could take a left turn and head straight for Bandar Abbas in Iran and everyone poo pood him. Looks like he hit it on the head with this last forecast track.
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504. RL3AO
4:31 PM CDT on June 05, 2007
Look at those buildings right on the coast...oh man.
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503. Patrap
4:29 PM CDT on June 05, 2007
June 5: Stronger than normal waves come ashore at Muscat, Oman, as Cyclone Gonu approached the Arab nation.

7..pic from Fox news yesterday evening Oman.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127647
502. moonlightcowboy
9:23 PM GMT on June 05, 2007
Posted By: Fl30258713 at 9:17 PM GMT on June 05, 2007.
wave hieght 32 ft, sound like a good place not to be. Hope our Navy folks are out of the way.


...I second that "wavemotion!"
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501. RL3AO
4:25 PM CDT on June 05, 2007
I hope the death toll isnt too bad in Oman and Muscat. But I fear it will get to 1000...at least.
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500. WPBHurricane05
5:21 PM EDT on June 05, 2007
I have one of those maps that tell me where people are from that look at my blog, there has been a lot of hits from the Middle East. I am glad that there are people paying attention to Gonu in that area.
Member Since: July 31, 2006 Posts: 56 Comments: 8112
499. Patrap
4:18 PM CDT on June 05, 2007
The US Military has lotsa assests in Oman.ALl out of Harms way.They a BIG ally.



Masirah Island includes one of four air bases which the Omani government allows the U.S. military to use for refueling, logistics and storage, though little has been revealed publicly about U.S.-Oman military ties.

The Masirah base hosted U.S. B-1B bombers, C-130 transports and U.S. Special Forces AC-130 gunships during the war in Afghanistan and the United States has continued to have basing rights on the island.

U.S. forces are preparing for Gonu "just like anyone would prepare for such a cyclone," said Lt. Denise Garcia, a spokeswoman for U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, which is based in Bahrain. She declined to provide more details.

She said U.S. Navy ships in the Persian Gulf and elsewhere in the region were also taking precautions to avoid Gonu, but there was no major overhaul of operations.

The U.S. military has offered its assistance to Oman, but so far, Omani authorities have not requested help, she said.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127647
498. BoyntonBeach
9:19 PM GMT on June 05, 2007
It's pouring in Boca Raton as well ! Link
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497. Patrap
4:17 PM CDT on June 05, 2007
JTWC Ship Avoidance Graphic GONU Issued at 05/2100Z Link
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127647
496. Fl30258713
9:14 PM GMT on June 05, 2007
wave hieght 32 ft, sound like a good place not to be. Hope our Navy folks are out of the way.
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495. Patrap
4:13 PM CDT on June 05, 2007
---
REMARKS:
052100Z POSITION NEAR 22.3N 60.1E.
TROPICAL CYCLONE (TC) 02A (GONU) LOCATED APPROXIMATELY 130 NM
SOUTHEAST OF MUSCAT, OMAN, HAS TRACKED NORTHWESTWARD AT 07 KNOTS
OVER THE PAST 06 HOURS. THE CURRENT FORECAST REPRESENTS A SIG-
NIFICANT SHIFT IN TRACK AND INTENSITY. FORECAST TRACK HAS BEEN
SHIFTED WEST OF THE PREVIOUS FORECAST AND INTENSITY REFLECTS A
RAPID WEAKENING TREND. THE INTENSITY TREND IS DRIVING THE FORECAST
TRACK CHANGE. CURRENT INTENSITY IS BASED ON DVORAK ESTIMATES OF
90 KNOTS WITH A 50-KNOT DECREASE IN INTENSITY OVER THE PAST 24
HOURS. ANIMATED SATELLITE IMAGERY AND TWO RECENT MICROWAVE
IMAGES (051522Z SSMIS AND 051729Z AMSU) INDICATE THAT THE CORE
DEEP CONVECTION, PARTICULARLY OVER THE EASTERN SEMI-CIRCLE AND
CONVECTIVE BANDING, HAVE WEAKENED RAPIDLY DUE TO DRY AIR
ENTRAINMENT, LAND INTERACTION, AND A SHARP DECREASE IN OCEAN
HEAT CONTENT. THIS HOSTILE ENVIRONMENT IS FORECAST TO CONTINUE
TO IMPACT THE SYSTEM THROUGH THE FORECAST PERIOD. TC 02A
CONTINUES TO TRACK ALONG THE SOUTHWEST PERIPHERY OF THE MID-
LEVEL SUBTROPICAL RIDGE AND IS FORECAST TO TRACK NORTHWESTWARD
THROUGH TAU 24. AFTER TAU 24, THE TRACK IS FOREACST TO BECOME MORE
NORTH-NORTHWESTWARD AS THE SYSTEM MOVES INTO A WEAKNESS IN THE
STEERING RIDGE ENHANCED BY AN APPROACHING SHORTWAVE TROUGH. THE
05/12Z UPPER AIR ANALYSIS SHOWS THIS WEAKNESS OVER THE STRAITS OF
HORMUZ CURRENTLY AND EXPECTED REMAIN IN THIS AREA. THERE IS
INCREASED UNCERTAINTY IN TRACK AFTER TAU 24 SINCE STEERING WILL
SHIFT TO A LOWER LEVEL AS THE TC WEAKENS UNDER 60 KNOTS AND THIS
LOW-LEVEL STEERING COULD PRODUCE A MORE WESTWARD TRACK TOWARD
ASH SHARIQAH. IT IS IMPORTANT TO NOTE THAT TC 02A WILL BECOME
A VERY WEAK TC WITH 30-40 KNOT INTENSITY AFTER TAU 48 DUE TO
EXTREMELY DRY AIR. THEREFORE, REGARDLESS OF THE 48-72 HOUR
TRACK, THE SYSTEM WILL NOT BE A SIGNIFICANT TC. THE AVAILABLE
DYNAMIC AIDS HAVE STABILIZED AND ARE IN GOOD AGREEMENT WITH THE
NORTHWESTWARD TRACK AND RAPID WEAKENING TREND. THIS FORECAST IS
BASED ON A CONSENSUS OF THE AIDS THROUGH THE PERIOD BUT REFLECTS
SLOWER TRACK SPEEDS AFTER TAU 36 DUE TO LAND INTERACTION AND
WEAKER STEERING. MAXIMUM SIGNIFICANT WAVE HEIGHT AT 051800Z
IS 32 FEET. NEXT WARNINGS AT 060900Z AND 062100Z.//
NNNN
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127647
494. RL3AO
4:13 PM CDT on June 05, 2007
Gonu has shifted west. Right over the capital of Oman.
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493. WPBHurricane05
5:13 PM EDT on June 05, 2007
Its pouring!! (west palm)
Member Since: July 31, 2006 Posts: 56 Comments: 8112
492. Patrap
4:08 PM CDT on June 05, 2007
WTIO31 PGTW 052100
MSGID/GENADMIN/NAVPACMETOCCEN PEARL HARBOR HI/JTWC//
SUBJ/TROPICAL CYCLONE WARNING//
RMKS/
1. TROPICAL CYCLONE 02A (GONU) WARNING NR 015
01 ACTIVE TROPICAL CYCLONE IN NORTHIO
MAX SUSTAINED WINDS BASED ON ONE-MINUTE AVERAGE
---
WARNING POSITION:
051800Z --- NEAR 22.1N 60.4E
MOVEMENT PAST SIX HOURS - 305 DEGREES AT 07 KTS
POSITION ACCURATE TO WITHIN 040 NM
POSITION BASED ON CENTER LOCATED BY SATELLITE
PRESENT WIND DISTRIBUTION:
MAX SUSTAINED WINDS - 090 KT, GUSTS 110 KT
RADIUS OF 064 KT WINDS - 070 NM NORTHEAST QUADRANT
060 NM SOUTHEAST QUADRANT
065 NM SOUTHWEST QUADRANT
070 NM NORTHWEST QUADRANT
RADIUS OF 050 KT WINDS - 100 NM NORTHEAST QUADRANT
075 NM SOUTHEAST QUADRANT
090 NM SOUTHWEST QUADRANT
OVER WATER
095 NM NORTHWEST QUADRANT
OVER WATER
RADIUS OF 034 KT WINDS - 140 NM NORTHEAST QUADRANT
110 NM SOUTHEAST QUADRANT
120 NM SOUTHWEST QUADRANT
OVER WATER
125 NM NORTHWEST QUADRANT
OVER WATER
REPEAT POSIT: 22.1N 60.4E
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127647
489. seminolesfan
9:05 PM GMT on June 05, 2007
Seriously though, like MTZ said, the rain is gonna be the serious deal over there in Oman and Iran. There are mountains right near the coasts which will serve to squeeze those tropical clouds dry real quickly.
Member Since: June 14, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 2108
487. Fl30258713
9:06 PM GMT on June 05, 2007
http://oiswww.eumetsat.org/SDDI/cgi/listImages.pl?m=prod,a=0,sa=7,pr=MPEF,f=1,c=MPE,se=0,n=12,d=1,v=4 00,pp=0,t=200706052000#controlsLink

I'm wondering if the next system coming off of India's west coast is going to follow a simular track.
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486. seminolesfan
9:03 PM GMT on June 05, 2007
Yeah FLBoy, They better have that Rapid Dissipation Flag : ON!

Member Since: June 14, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 2108
484. alaema
9:02 PM GMT on June 05, 2007
emagirl where ya from
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482. DocBen
8:48 PM GMT on June 05, 2007
emagirl - I think you will find a lot of willing 'teachers' here about technical stuff.
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481. emagirl
8:49 PM GMT on June 05, 2007
thanks
well time to go home
talk to you guys tomorrow
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480. Fl30258713
8:41 PM GMT on June 05, 2007
emagirl
I wouldn't worry about question. Like others in here, I think I know more than I do, ;-).

If you ask a question and don't seem to get a response from the real weather folks, some of them are just busy making a living at this.
The busier the tropics get, the more novices like us there will be in here,the less time others might have too respond.

Using key words in your search engine will usually pull up the info your looking for. Like typing in "tropical,wind,shear" (without the comma's) is how I pulled up the wiki link)

Like anything else, the more you do it, the better you get.
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479. MZT
8:41 PM GMT on June 05, 2007
Gomu might weaken quickly over the desert - but I think the proper comparison is not with Katrina, but with storms that cross Hispanolia... another mountainous area with little vegitation, prone to flash floods.

The big story here could be how unprepared people in coastal Oman are for fast floods. Even mere tropical storms can be big news in Haiti.
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478. emagirl
8:40 PM GMT on June 05, 2007
interesting thanks
hope to learn alot this year
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476. Fl30258713
8:37 PM GMT on June 05, 2007
emagirl,

I found this on wikipedia(not the best source for info, but you can usually find the resources used at bottom of page for sources used)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tropical_cyclogenesis

Weak vertical wind shear
Main article: Vertical wind shear
Vertical wind shear of less than 10 m/s (22 mph) between the surface and the tropopause is required for tropical cyclone development. Strong wind shear can "blow" the tropical cyclone apart, as it displaces the mid-level warm core from the surface circulation and dries out the mid-levels of the troposphere, halting development. In smaller systems, the development of a significant mesoscale convective complex in a sheared environment can send out a large enough outflow boundary to destroy the surface cyclone. Moderate wind shear can lead to the initial development of the convective complex and surface low similar to the mid-latitudes, but it must relax to allow tropical cyclogenesis to continue.

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475. emagirl
8:37 PM GMT on June 05, 2007
okay thanks
i am really into weather but still dont understand alot of the tech. stuff yall talk about but it is still very interesting so sorry if i may ask dumb questions sometimes
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474. HurricaneMyles
8:34 PM GMT on June 05, 2007
emagirl...If there was some kinda of orginized thunderstorms in the area, then yes, 0 knots of windshear would be very good for development. Luckily, right now there is nothing there that could possibly develope into anything.
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473. emagirl
8:25 PM GMT on June 05, 2007
Posted By: Tazmanian at 8:23 PM GMT on June 05, 2007.

in the SW part of the Caribbean wind shear is 0

So not to sound dumb but does that mean a good chance for something to develop or what exactly
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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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