Which model do you trust? And, Arctic sea ice reaches a record minimum

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 7:33 PM GMT on August 17, 2007

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Hurricane Dean, now a major Category 3 hurricane with 125 mph winds, continues to intensify and grow larger in size. Dean pounded Martinique and St. Lucia this morning, and claimed its first victim when a 62-year old man died on St. Lucia while trying to save his cow from raging flood waters.

Dean's eye is now visible on long range radar out of Puerto Rico. Buoy 42059 is in Dean's path, and should be interesting to watch.

We're fairly confident of the 1-2 day forecast, which has Dean headed west to west-northwest over the Central Caribbean, very close to Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, then into the Western Caribbean. After that, things become murkier. The latest 12Z runs of the NOGAPS, UKMET, GFS, and HWRF computer models all show Dean hitting the Yucatan Peninsula, and continuing on into the Gulf of Mexico towards a second landfall near or south of the Texas border. The HWRF run is slower, and does not take Dean to the coast at the end of its forecast period. The big outlier is the GFDL model, which now takes Dean northwest into central Louisiana. Which model is correct? The problem is that each model has a different solution for the behavior of an upper-level low pressure system expected to be over the Gulf of Mexico early next week. Which model should we trust?

In 2006, the official NHC forecast performed better than any of the individual computer forecast models. However, several "consensus" forecasts made using an average of the "big four" computer models (GFDL, GFS, UKMET, and NOGAPS), slightly outperformed the official forecast at some time periods (Figure 1). The Florida State Super-Ensemble (FSSE), for example, combines the "big four" models on the basis of past performance in an attempt to correct for biases in those models. (The FSSE is owned by a private company, which makes it available to NHC but not the general public). The Florida State Super Ensemble slightly out-performed the official NHC forecast at most forecast times.

The "big four" models are plotted on wunderground.com's computer model page for Dean, (along with the inferior BAMM model, which is plotted since it is always available quickly, and has done well at longer range forecasts in the past). We do not get tracking points for the ECMWF or HWRF models at this point, so you'll have to go the raw plots to see those forecasts. Note that three of the "big four" models performed well in 2006, with the GFDL and GFS performing the best. The UKMET had a very poor showing in the Atlantic in 2006. However, the UKMET was the best-performing model in the Eastern Pacific in 2006, along with the GFDL and BAMM models.

The European Center's model (ECMWF) outperformed the "big four" consensus models for 72, 96, and 120 hours forecasts in the Atlantic. However, the ECMWF model was generally not available in time to be used by forecasters. Efforts are being made to make the ECMWF available in a more timely fashion for the 2007 season, which would be a big help. We also have the new HWRF (Hurricane Weather Research Forecast) model this year. In tests done on a number of hurricanes for past years, the HWRF performed about as well as the GFDL (Figure 2).



Figure 1. Track forecast skill in 2006 of the official forecast and the various models, compared to a "zero skill" forecast using NHC's CLIPER5 model. The CLIPER model (short for CLImatology and PERsistence) is a model that makes a forecast based on historical paths hurricane have taken, along with the fact that hurricanes tend to keep moving in the direction they are going (i.e., their current motion persists). Note that many models had a negative skill for their 120 hour (5 day) forecast. The official NHC forecast had about 10% skill at 5 days. Image credit: NHC.

Figure 2. Track errors for 48-hour forecasts from the 2006 version of the GFDL model (black) and the new HWRF model (red). The HWRF model performed better on some hurricane than the GFDL, and worse on others. Overall, the two models had about the same performance on the cases tested. Image credit: Naomi Surgi, NOAA Environmental Modeling Center.

In conclusion, the official NHC forecast outperforms all the individual models, particularly at long ranges. Looking at the individual model plots can be helpful to determine the uncertainty in the forecast, but it's tough to beat the NHC. In the case of Dean, where one model is an outlier from the rest, it is usually better to believe the consensus of the other models.

If you want to look at plots of the individual models, I've written a description of the various models and where to find these plots on our tropical weather page.

Arctic sea ice shrinks to record low
The National Snow and Ice Data Center announced today that Arctic sea ice has just surpassed the previous single-day (absolute minimum) record for the lowest extent ever measured by satellite. Satellite measurements began in 1979. Sea ice extent has fallen below the 2005 record low absolute minimum and is still melting. Sea ice extent is currently tracking at 5.26 million square kilometers (2.02 million square miles), just below the 2005 record absolute minimum of 5.32 million square kilometers (2.05 million square miles). This new record was set a full five weeks before the usual late September minima in ice extent, so truly unprecedented melting is occurring in the Arctic. The most recent images from the North Pole webcam show plenty of melt water and rainy conditions near the Pole.


Figure 2. Current extent of the polar sea ice, compared to the normal for this time in August (pink line). Image credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center.

I'll have an update Saturday morning.
Jeff Masters

Hurricane Dean near the island Puerto Rico (Hector777)
the ciclonic surge hard mind in Salinas,Puerto Rico mines the Community Las Ochenta in the south of Puerto Rico
Hurricane Dean near the island Puerto Rico

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2234. Metallica1990
5:01 AM GMT on August 18, 2007
Am I hearing things or is TWC running it could happen tomorrow about houston right now
2233. H2PV
5:00 AM GMT on August 18, 2007
Dean shedding rainbands portends intensification.

When the rotation speed increases rainbands are fluffed off. In this case a massive eruption of convection has appeared to the southeast. Any other time during hurricane season a rash of convection like that would be TOPIC A. Now however it means nothing, as Dean is sucking up all the fuel so nothing is left for sibling development.

http://www.h2-pv.us/wiki_100mpg/img/wiki_up/20070818.0415._04LDEAN_120kts.jpg
http://www.h2-pv.us/wiki_100mpg/img/wiki_up/20070818.0415._04LDEAN_120kts.jpg
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2232. atmoaggie
4:58 AM GMT on August 18, 2007
Posted By: Aggie92 at 4:57 AM GMT on August 18, 2007.

I live in College Station. It's about 127 miles NW of Galveston and about 130 NNW of Freeport. Given the worst case senario of a Cat 5 storm hitting Freeport, what should I expect this far inland? I know lots of rain, but what about wind?


Howdy. Not enough wind to blow down the very few trees there. I would NOT get on any highway from that far inland. Part of the reason the Rita evac went so badly is that the fear created by Katrina/media caused a lot of people who did not need to evac to do so.
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12463
2231. C2News
12:59 AM EDT on August 18, 2007
Let us all crank up our freezer's ice makers and drive to the beach and dump all the ice in the water and cool off the ssts and weaken Dean...I had a dream like that once...
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2230. PensacolaBuoy
11:53 PM CDT on August 17, 2007
These flare-ups in Dean's outer bands may mean he is expanding his wind fields and overall size overnight.
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2229. VEROBEACHFL1
5:00 AM GMT on August 18, 2007
LOL@METALLICA-ME 2!!!!
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2228. KnowYourRole
12:57 AM EDT on August 18, 2007
Posted By: getalife at 12:57 AM EDT on August 18, 2007.
You want Florida to be a real possibility because it gives you a reason to talk about it, that's my best guess. I just don't see Dean heading to Florida. I'm sorry if that upsets you. Oh well, no point in arguing this any further.


I won't go as far as saying these people want it to hit Florida, but there is no data to support Dean all of the sudden make a right hand turn and heading for the Sunshine state.
2227. leelee75k
4:53 AM GMT on August 18, 2007
is it a front or the ull that is pushing some weather down into florida?

and if it's from a front, how will that affect the ull that is crossing florida?

and would it mean for Dean?

t.i.a. for anyone who offers an answer to my probably silly questions.
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2226. Metallica1990
4:55 AM GMT on August 18, 2007
Posted By: C2News at 4:55 AM GMT on August 18, 2007.

Posted By: VEROBEACHFL1 at 12:52 AM EDT on August 18, 2007.
we here in FL dont need a landfall---anything within so many miles of it is still not good--dependind on the cat size- lets see, storm surge, outer bands, tornados-------- are u with me?


I concur with you AGAIN vero...we do not need another landfall



I want the storms to stay away till september 17th thats the day i move to my new house

after that bring em on i dont care hurricanes dont really bother me in fact i enjoy them

ive been through
Andrew (I dont remember it I was only 2)
Irene
Frances
Jeanne
Wilma
and lol Ernesto

the only complaint i have is FPL lol
2225. mikester
4:57 AM GMT on August 18, 2007
or we could loose 45% of our oil production when oil rigs close for dean. Which would be worse on oil prices - 15% or 45%. Dean is going to really intensify ounce it gets into the moisture of the Caribbean.
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2224. cirrocumulus
4:56 AM GMT on August 18, 2007
stormybil: anything is possible with that ULL! It is starting to move west and that should help Florida out this time!
Member Since: September 30, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 1606
2223. treehuggingsister
4:56 AM GMT on August 18, 2007
"...thinking I am going to die gets old after about 20 seconds."

Oh, aMEN to that!

Worse, the neighbor on the walkie-talkie at 3 a.m. thinking HE'S going to die ("Sounds like the Devil's beating the front door in!!") and sharing it with you.
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2222. MrNiceville
4:57 AM GMT on August 18, 2007
92 - Just stay away from the Brazos...

class of 84 here...

u non-reg or a "real" aggie?
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2221. punkasshans
4:56 AM GMT on August 18, 2007
Gas is a minor issue when considering human lives. I am not worried about gas prices. And anyway, hurricanes have already been factored in to the current gas price. A recent forecast was for a 60 cent drop in gas prices over the next few months, which might not occur if a hurricane damages some platforms. My guess is $3 and thats it.
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2220. atmoaggie
4:55 AM GMT on August 18, 2007
I actually did it. Decided to turn on the weather channel. After all, Steve Lyons is very knowledgeble (and a former A&M professor), but all I saw was commercials for prescription medicines, 3 of them. Click
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12463
2219. weatherblog
4:53 AM GMT on August 18, 2007
Posted By: VEROBEACHFL1 at 4:52 AM GMT on August 18, 2007.

we here in FL dont need a landfall---anything within so many miles of it is still not good--dependind on the cat size- lets see, storm surge, outer bands, tornados-------- are u with me?



Even IF this were to go through Cuba, the Keys and South Florida may get some TS winds. And, not to mention the Panhandle still has a chance for a landfall...so, I'd put my chance for Florida getting affected by Dean at 10-15%. My chances--IMO--for a AL/MS/LA landfall would be close to 20-25%, a Texas landfall at 35-40%, and a Mexico Landfall at 85-90%. This will probably take a path similiar to Emily, Allen, or Gilbert. It's most obvious...until the NHC says otherwise.
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2218. C2News
12:56 AM EDT on August 18, 2007
Posted By: mikester at 12:56 AM EDT on August 18, 2007.
I hope dean keeps the current track and goes into mexico. We dont need gas price hikes cause of dean going into the gulf. Not saying mexico could use a direct hit either but gas prices are so high i can't wait to see them break the $4 a gallon up here after dean is over.


I don't want gas prices to spike either but at the same time don't want Mexico to get hit or anyone for that matter...I guess staying away from the oil rigs is the lesser of the two evils...but they are both evil :(
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2217. VEROBEACHFL1
4:53 AM GMT on August 18, 2007
--maybe i better make the movement a bit bigger and with quotes attached to it---------------------------------------------------------------------"GRADUAL WNW movement till 80W".......from there i cannot go further as more info is needed of corse......
---why is everyone interpreting it as a DUE NORTH movement?
--one more time---"GRADUAL WNW"...................
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2216. getalife
4:53 AM GMT on August 18, 2007
You want Florida to be a real possibility because it gives you a reason to talk about it, that's my best guess. I just don't see Dean heading to Florida. I'm sorry if that upsets you. Oh well, no point in arguing this any further.
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2215. Aggie92
4:57 AM GMT on August 18, 2007
I live in College Station. It's about 127 miles NW of Galveston and about 130 NNW of Freeport. Given the worst case senario of a Cat 5 storm hitting Freeport, what should I expect this far inland? I know lots of rain, but what about wind?
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2214. stormybil
4:52 AM GMT on August 18, 2007
same here but there is a cat 4 out there south of fla . early this week the mets talked about the ull that would push dean north at cat 2 he is now at cat 4 the ull that was suppse to be west of fla by now is still there . dean has a chance to catch up to it . models going nuts shifting back and forth every run if you live in fla even so fla you in the blind here scratching your head i know i am the forcast is not 100% written in stone . so untill it passes the 80 west im very concerned that dean can pull a fast one . WOULDNT YOU . ?????
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2213. sammo
4:56 AM GMT on August 18, 2007
Florida is definitely a possibility for landfall...and I will stick to that no matter how much I get bashed. Anything is still possible at this point.

I agree C2NEWS. FL is not entirely out of the woods, but I live in FL too - would never wish for a hurricane. 4 were enough in 04.
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2212. MrNiceville
4:56 AM GMT on August 18, 2007
Mikester - check your shipping logs...

We import 15% of our oil from Mexico...
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2211. mikester
4:54 AM GMT on August 18, 2007
I hope dean keeps the current track and goes into mexico. We dont need gas price hikes cause of dean going into the gulf. Not saying mexico could use a direct hit either but gas prices are so high i can't wait to see them break the $4 a gallon up here after dean is over.
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2209. atmoaggie
4:54 AM GMT on August 18, 2007
That could be very soon. Check the Weather Channel for an update.


Surree...

Amen! lol
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12463
2208. C2News
12:53 AM EDT on August 18, 2007
Posted By: VEROBEACHFL1 at 12:52 AM EDT on August 18, 2007.
we here in FL dont need a landfall---anything within so many miles of it is still not good--dependind on the cat size- lets see, storm surge, outer bands, tornados-------- are u with me?


I concur with you AGAIN vero...we do not need another landfall
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2207. MrNiceville
4:53 AM GMT on August 18, 2007
Hey all - just checking in before bed...

Anything new on the ULL?
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2206. C2News
12:51 AM EDT on August 18, 2007
Posted By: KnowYourRole at 12:50 AM EDT on August 18, 2007.
Posted By: C2News at 12:48 AM EDT on August 18, 2007.
Posted By: stormybil at 12:46 AM EDT on August 18, 2007.
yeap vero and c2 news also the ull is suppose to stall thats what im also watching . i think fla. has its eyes close on dean but if he make that move evryone will get wide awake fast .


I think everyone along the gulf coast should monitor Dean very closely and make sure their hurricane kit is fully stocked NOW...no need to rush out when you are under a watch or warning.

Florida is definitely a possibility for landfall...and I will stick to that no matter how much I get bashed. Anything is still possible at this point.

How is Dean going to make landfall in Florida based upon the current information available?


Current information...many cyclones have completely changed tracks...I am not saying Florida will have a landfall, but am letting people know it is a possibility...
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2205. VEROBEACHFL1
4:50 AM GMT on August 18, 2007
we here in FL dont need a landfall---anything within so many miles of it is still not good--dependind on the cat size- lets see, storm surge, outer bands, tornados-------- are u with me?
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2204. weatherblog
4:51 AM GMT on August 18, 2007
Posted By: cirrocumulus at 4:51 AM GMT on August 18, 2007.

DaveG: It is shifting a little to the N but remember that it is the ULL that will help determine when it moves in a more definite manner. That could be very soon. Check the Weather Channel for an update
.


Surree...
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2203. KnowYourRole
12:51 AM EDT on August 18, 2007
Posted By: cirrocumulus at 12:51 AM EDT on August 18, 2007.
Check the Weather Channel for an update.


Now that is funny. Check the "Hurricane Authority". Might be time for bed for me.
2202. Metallica1990
4:49 AM GMT on August 18, 2007
Im about 80% certain this thing wont hit florida

and that goes up for every long. it gains
2201. guygee
4:19 AM GMT on August 18, 2007
EXTENDED FORECAST DISCUSSION
NWS HYDROMETEOROLOGICAL PREDICTION CENTER CAMP SPRINGS MD
134 PM EDT FRI AUG 17 2007
VALID 12Z MON AUG 20 2007 - 12Z FRI AUG 24 2007
[...]
"...TEXAS...
A GREAT DEAL OF UNCERTAINTY WITH THE TRACK OF HURRICANE DEAN AFTER DAY 5. GHM/00Z UKMET/NAM AND MOST OF 06Z GFS ENSEMBLES ARE WELL NORTHWARD OF CURRENT FORECAST WITH CANADIAN/ECMWF AND LATEST 12Z GFS AND 12Z UKMET TO THE LEFT WITH A SPREAD FROM WRN LA TO THE BAYOF CAMPECHE. 12Z GFS ENSEMBLES STILL ARE TO THE RIGHT AND MEAN STILL THREATENS THE LOWER HALF OF THE TX COAST. HPC DAYS 6 AND 7 THU/FRI TARGET LOWER AND THEN SCENTRAL TX AS THE SUBTROPICAL RIDGE OVER LOWER CONUS WEAKENS LEAVING A COLL FOR A MORE NWD TRACK."

"...TROPICS...
HURRICANE DEAN AIMS AT JAMAICA/YUCATAN AND NERN MEXICO/SRN TX. SEE TPC/NHC ADVISORIES/WARNINGS. UPSTREAM CONDS REMAIN FAVORABLE OVER WRN 3/4 OF THE TROPICAL ATLC/CARRIBEAN/GLFMEX AND TROP EPAC FOR DEVELOPMENT OR SUSTAINING TROP SYSTEMS AS INDICATED BY CHI VERTICAL VELOCITY POTENTIAL CHARTS OF GFS/ECMWF AND GFS/ECMWF OP AND ENSEMBLE 200-850 WIND SHEAR FORECASTS. RECENT OUTSTANDING LONG TERM FORECAST OF DEAN BY GFS IS A HEADS UP TO PAY ATTENTION TO ANY ADDITIONAL LONG TERM FORECASTS BY THIS MODEL ESP WITH CAPE VERDE TYPE SYSTEMS. AT LEAST TWO WAVES ARE NOTED BY GFS ON RECENT RUNS BUT WITH ONLY LIMITED DEVELOPMENT. FIRST COMES INTO THE BAHAMAS LATE NEXT WEEK WHILE THE SECOND COMES INTO THE WINDWARDS. EVER AGRESSIVE CANADIAN DEPICTION OF A STRONGER SOLUTION THAN A TROPICAL WAVE IS CERTAINLY POSSIBLE GIVEN FAVORABLE ENVIRONMENTAL CONDS INDICATED BY OTHER MODELS ESP WITH THE BAHAMAS SYSTEM LATE
NEXT WEEK. SEE TPC DISCUSSIONS OVER THE NEXT WEEK."
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2200. C2News
12:50 AM EDT on August 18, 2007
Posted By: getalife at 12:49 AM EDT on August 18, 2007.
I guess we can just agree to disagree? No need to argue, I just don't Florida will not be hit. Anyone who "sees a north movement" is just looking for it because they want to see it. I won't say 100% because your right, I can't be certain, so I will go with 99%. ;)


Why would anyone WANT to see to see it move north towards Florida? Is that a joke??!!! I live in Florida and would not want no tropical cyclone in my backyard!!!
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2199. cirrocumulus
4:48 AM GMT on August 18, 2007
DaveG: It is shifting a little to the N but remember that it is the ULL that will help determine when it moves in a more definite manner. That could be very soon. Check the Weather Channel for an update.
Member Since: September 30, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 1606
2198. drj27
4:50 AM GMT on August 18, 2007
how do u post images
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2197. KnowYourRole
12:49 AM EDT on August 18, 2007
Posted By: C2News at 12:48 AM EDT on August 18, 2007.
Posted By: stormybil at 12:46 AM EDT on August 18, 2007.
yeap vero and c2 news also the ull is suppose to stall thats what im also watching . i think fla. has its eyes close on dean but if he make that move evryone will get wide awake fast .


I think everyone along the gulf coast should monitor Dean very closely and make sure their hurricane kit is fully stocked NOW...no need to rush out when you are under a watch or warning.

Florida is definitely a possibility for landfall...and I will stick to that no matter how much I get bashed. Anything is still possible at this point.


How is Dean going to make landfall in Florida based upon the current information available?
2196. C2News
12:48 AM EDT on August 18, 2007
Posted By: nola70119 at 12:48 AM EDT on August 18, 2007.
Hurricane warning was issued for parts of Haiti and DR hours ago.....


Which means within 24 hours, Dean should pass 75 miles within the coast.
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2195. nola70119
4:48 AM GMT on August 18, 2007
C2 its all yours......we already have a "state of emergency" in La.
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2194. punkasshans
4:49 AM GMT on August 18, 2007
Looks to me like a South/Central Texas US landfall. Jamaica is going to be hit hard, with a skim of the Yucatan Pen, luckily missing the major tourist ($ in Mexican terms) regions.

But what I am also concerned about right now is the possibility of a Florida storm. Many of the models have a system developing out of the wave at about 50W. This wave does not have much convection now, but the forecast is for it to move north of the islands toward Florida. We should keep an eye on that, plus possible development from the wave in the central atlantic over the next 5 days as well.

We could be looking at 1-2 more storms in the next week.
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2193. getalife
4:45 AM GMT on August 18, 2007
I guess we can just agree to disagree? No need to argue, I just think Florida will not be hit. Anyone who "sees a north movement" is just looking for it because they want to see it. I won't say 100% because your right, I can't be certain, so I will go with 99%. ;)
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2192. VEROBEACHFL1
4:48 AM GMT on August 18, 2007
---DEAN is gonna wobble WNW for the next 24 hrs or so.....hmmmmmmmmmm, i think......time will tell........ come on ULL---do SOMETHING!
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2191. weatherblog
4:46 AM GMT on August 18, 2007
KYR--it wasn't "that" funny...O_o
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2190. cirrocumulus
4:47 AM GMT on August 18, 2007
It looks like the ULL is moving now to the WSW. However, the ULL doesn't seem to be moving extaordinarily fast!
Member Since: September 30, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 1606
2189. C2News
12:47 AM EDT on August 18, 2007
Posted By: stormybil at 12:46 AM EDT on August 18, 2007.
yeap vero and c2 news also the ull is suppose to stall thats what im also watching . i think fla. has its eyes close on dean but if he make that move evryone will get wide awake fast .


I think everyone along the gulf coast should monitor Dean very closely and make sure their hurricane kit is fully stocked NOW...no need to rush out when you are under a watch or warning.

Florida is definitely a possibility for landfall...and I will stick to that no matter how much I get bashed. Anything is still possible at this point.
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2187. nola70119
4:47 AM GMT on August 18, 2007
Hurricane warning was issued for parts of Haiti and DR hours ago.....
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2186. Metallica1990
4:47 AM GMT on August 18, 2007
Posted By: intunewindchime at 4:46 AM GMT on August 18, 2007.

hebert box
I think I read that 9 out of 10 which passed therough the box made a Fl landfall.


thats box 1

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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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