Hurricane Dean--9th strongest hurricane on record

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:46 PM GMT on August 21, 2007

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Hurricane Dean powered ashore in Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula this morning as a Category 5 hurricane with 165 mph winds. The pressure of 906 mb measured by the Hurricane Hunters shortly before landfall at 4:30am EDT makes Dean the ninth strongest hurricane on record in the Atlantic. This is the third lowest pressure at landfall behind the 1935 Labor Day hurricane in the Florida Keys and Hurricane Gilbert of 1988 in Cancun Mexico. Dean is also the first Category 5 hurricane to make landfall in the Atlantic Basin since Andrew of 1992.


Figure 1. Dean at landfall, as seen by the Cancun radar. Image credit: Meteorological Service of Mexico.

Radar images at landfall (Figure 1) show that Dean came ashore just north of Chetumal, Mexico, a city of 130,000 people. Dean's center passed about 15 miles north of the city, and Chetumal missed the strongest Category 5 winds of the storm. The strongest winds from Dean were in the right front quadrant on the northern side, since the forward speed of the storm adds to the rotational speed of the winds there. It appears Chetumal was just at the edge of the southern eyewall, and probably experienced sustained winds of Category 3 strength, 115 mph. We don't know, since the weather station stopped reporting data long before the storm arrived. However, a wind analysis done by NOAA's Hurricane Research Division (Figure 2) supports this estimate. The coastal area north of Chetumal where Dean's greatest fury was unleashed has a cruise ship port and a stretch of beach front development, and this region probably suffered near-total destruction.


Figure 2. Dean's winds one hour before landfall. Winds are in knots, multiply by 1.15 to convert to mph. Locations of Chetumal and the Costa Maya Cruise Ship Port are marked. Winds of Category 1 strength (65 kt) are colored yellow, and winds of minimal Category 3 strength (100 knots) are colored pink. Image credit: NOAA/Hurricane Research Division.

Further north, it appears that Cozumel probably got sustained winds near tropical storm force, 39 mph. The weather station there stopped transmitting data before the storm arrived. Cancun's winds topped out at 29 mph, gusting to 54 mph. To the south, Belize City has had top winds of 23 mph, gusting to 35 mph, so far this morning. On the western side of the Yucatan Peninsula, the winds are starting to rise at Campeche. Dean's center will pass south of Campeche, and bring tropical storm or Category 1 hurricane-force winds to the city.

Dean is powerful enough to survive the crossing of the Yucatan as a hurricane, and I expect it will be a Category 2 hurricane with 100 mph winds when it pops out into the Gulf of Mexico later today. Hurricane Janet of 1955, which hit near Chetumal as a Category 5 storm with 170 mph winds, weakened to a Category 2 storm with 105 mph winds when it popped out into the Gulf of Mexico south of Campeche. Janet was moving at about the same speed Dean is, so I expect Dean will behave similarly. Once out over the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, Dean has time to intensify by perhaps 15 mph before it makes a second landfall near Poza Rica. Dean will finally dissipate in the mountains about 100 miles north of Mexico City, and could bring heavy rains to the Mexican capital. No hurricane has ever survived the crossing from the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific over the wide, mountainous portion of Mexico.

Links to follow today:
Campeche, Mexico observations.
Radar from Cancun, Mexico.
Belize City observations.
Morphed microwave animation.

Disturbance 92L
An area of disturbed weather associated with a tropical wave, 92L, is a few hundred miles north of Puerto Rico. This disturbance is less organized than yesterday, despite some rather favorable upper-level winds. There is some dry air to the north that may be interfering with organization, and there is probably not enough turning motion available from this tropical wave to get 92L spinning. I don't expect significant development today given its current state of disorganization, but 92L deserves close scrutiny over the next few days. None of the reliable computer models develop the system.

My live appearance tonight on Internet Partnership Radio
I'll be the guest tonight on the Internet Partnership Radio (http://www.ipr365.com). Tonight's show is called "Center of Circulation", and consists of global severe, winter, and tropical weather news/topics with up to the minute advisories, watches and warnings, safety & preparedness info, and periodic special guests. The host is Charlie Wilson. I hope you can listen in!

I may do a short update this afternoon, and the next full update will be Wednesday morning around 10am EDT.

Jeff Masters

Dean 2007 (nickmini)
A roof dumped atop another house
Dean 2007

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968. mississippiwx23
4:30 AM GMT on August 22, 2007
Dean will likely NOT reach the west coast of Mexico. The mountains will rip it to bits. I believe the models are being way too agressive in keeping the low level circulation together in that region. If anything, there might be some heavy rain, but dont expect tropical storm conditions.
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967. mikester
4:29 AM GMT on August 22, 2007
Most likely a disturbance and not a tropical depression. But that also depends on alot of things though.
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966. HailKing
4:28 AM GMT on August 22, 2007
It's interesting that the computer models show that Dean's course won't be affected by the mountians once it comes on shore, but the uplift will dump alot of rain in this area. What will Dean be like when it reaches the west coast of Mexico?
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965. mikester
4:23 AM GMT on August 22, 2007
Katrina bought ah reality check for New Orleans and it dependence on levees. Not all man made levees will stop mother nature especially aging ones like New Orleans had. Unfortunately for anyone in nycity, they are in real trouble if a major hurricane strikes them. Most of nycity would be underwater just like new orleans.
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964. WxKIDD
4:17 AM GMT on August 22, 2007
WxKIDD - You make some good points bu I cannot agree with his statement: "the storm surge was not to cat 4 level at that time, when katrina was passing over htat area it was cat 2, if i remember correctly."

Water has a density of 1000 kg/m^3. Air at sea level has a density of about 1.275 kg/m^3. The inertia of the storm surge overwhelms relatively fast changes in the surface wind velocity of a hurricane. Katrina may have been a CAT 2, but it was still driving at least a CAT 4 surge. Record storm surges east of N.O. confirm this.


i completely agree. you are right, the inertia totally outweighed any short term flux in the winds....and perhaps my statement was a bit clumsy, but what i was trying to say was that because katrina went to the east of NOLA, they did not feel the full brunt of the storm surge...idk perhaps that very fact made NOLA worse off than if they had hit the right front quadrant...im not really sure of the answer to that. perhaps the southerly winds pushed the water into the lake, then the east winds drove the water west and then finally as the center passed it pushed all that piled water to the south into the canals, causing the failures...

maybe if the storm had gone to the west, they would have stuck with the southerly winds for the most part and avoided this problem, i havent really studied it all that closely to be sure of the topography, for that might have presented a whole host of other problems...driving water up the Mississippi?? (idk, just speculation).

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963. guygee
4:23 AM GMT on August 22, 2007
Posted By: BahaHurican at 4:19 AM GMT on August 22, 2007.
[...]
"At the beginning of this discussion you said the responsibility was a shared one, and you were right. However, governments have a certain amount of responsibility towards those who elected them, and most especially to those who are most vulnerable in moments of crisis. I'm not saying the US should devolve into a welfare state; I'm saying "national security" should be more than a matter of defense against enemy countries."

Great words of wisdom BahaHurican, thank you for writing them. It is amazing the viciousness of the attacks one must endure in the US just by speaking these obvious truths.
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962. BahaHurican
11:46 PM EDT on August 21, 2007
WxKIDD,

You are absolutely right. I think the real disaster caused more strictly by Katrina happened on the MS coast, where the damage was genuinely caused by the storm's wind and surge. Even there loss of life could have been reduced by better preparation, but at least what happened there was more understandable from a meteorological perspective.

The best we can hope for in the aftermath of Katrina is that EMAs in particular but the general population also have learned from the experience of Katrina. I think some lessons have been learned. OTOH, I see a lot of knee-jerk reaction to events now, so I don't know how much has really been given to serious and thorough planning by these storm-prone communities. And public education on hurricane preparedness is a little bit better, I think, but perhaps more school districts in these areas need to make hurricane prep. a part of their curriculums, esp. at the high school level.

Something else that struck me today was - money. I saw part of a tv programme speaking about a TN bus crash where it turned out the driver had been using drugs. However, when asked school district officials said there were no seatbelts on school buses because they were too expensive. Meanwhile, the lives of two boys on that bus were ruined in ways that were potentially preventable had they been wearing seatbelts (one boy was ejected through a window, causing serious injury to his face and eye). So how much money is a person's life worth? In NOLA a lot more people could have been evacuated if there had been less focus on how much the evacuation would have cost.

In the end, there is still a lot of personal responsibility, and it's human nature to believe nothing bad will happen to you. I've read a couple times today that some Quintana Roo residents chased evacuating soldiers away with machetes, only to find themselves evacuating their homes in fear at a much more dangerous moment in the storm.

At the beginning of this discussion you said the responsibility was a shared one, and you were right. However, governments have a certain amount of responsibility towards those who elected them, and most especially to those who are most vulnerable in moments of crisis. I'm not saying the US should devolve into a welfare state; I'm saying "national security" should be more than a matter of defense against enemy countries.
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961. mississippiwx23
4:16 AM GMT on August 22, 2007
People need to start getting the mentality that you can't just live anywhere. Mother nature always wins. In the end, we cant hold back the sea and pump in as much water as possible into deserts. Eventually we will lose and have to move on. New Orleans, at least the areas that are indeed below sea level, should be abandoned. It sucks, but thats what should happen if people were to think logically. It is only a matter of time until we can't sustain the growth in areas like Arizona and Nevada.
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960. guygee
4:06 AM GMT on August 22, 2007
WxKIDD - You make some good points but I cannot agree with this statement: "the storm surge was not to cat 4 level at that time, when katrina was passing over htat area it was cat 2, if i remember correctly."

Water has a density of 1000 kg/m^3. Air at sea level has a density of about 1.275 kg/m^3. The inertia of the storm surge overwhelms relatively fast changes in the surface wind velocity of a hurricane. Katrina may have been a CAT 2, but it was still driving at least a CAT 4 surge. Record storm surges east of N.O. confirm this.
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959. WxKIDD
4:14 AM GMT on August 22, 2007
seems like a smaller southern eye wall is trying to form, probably too little too late for dean, but bares watching, imo.
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958. rareaire
4:15 AM GMT on August 22, 2007
well its late and i am tired all you guys keep up the vigilent efforts. Its been a pleasure.

Night
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957. mississippiwx23
4:13 AM GMT on August 22, 2007
The Dutch have don't have to deal too often with 150 mph winds...but they will have to deal with global sea level rise in the next 100 years if the global models are correct.
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956. rareaire
4:12 AM GMT on August 22, 2007
I have an employee who is from N.O. and I kid him all the time you live in a swamp below sea level!!!! but he is a die hard and proud to be from Nawlins no matter what...
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955. WxKIDD
4:08 AM GMT on August 22, 2007
Posted By: rareaire at 4:08 AM GMT on August 22, 2007.
On the contrary of what you might have heard, the levees did not break in New Orleans. The levees were actually able to withstand the storm surge of Hurricane Katrina. What happened was that the levees were replaced in some areas of the city with a wall approximately 2 feet thick that fell during there hurricane. These walls were built in order to widen the canal, but they could not withstand Katrina’s storm surge. Therefore, it was the replacement walls that broke, NOT the levees.


and this just adds to the fundamental failure of the emergency preparedness of the area. that never should have happened. some even speculate that a barge came loose and smacked the walls. regardless the poorly designed containment system failed the people of NOLA.

I often wonder what the Dutch people think of all this, they routinely build levees and containment systems that would hold katrina's water without so much as a stress crack. their entire freakin country is under sea level.
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954. rareaire
4:09 AM GMT on August 22, 2007

Hurricane Katrina had an average 12 foot devastating storm surge. The storm surge in New Orleans reached 22 feet, but the highest recorded was 27 feet in Mississippi.


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953. mississippiwx23
4:08 AM GMT on August 22, 2007
No, not something to worry about, just thunderstorms.
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952. WxKIDD
4:06 AM GMT on August 22, 2007
Posted By: mississippiwx23 at 4:02 AM GMT on August 22, 2007. I wonder if the storm had actually gone just to the west of New Orleans if the levees would have not failed.


Interesting thought, and im not really sure of the answer. my hunch is that the winds would have been stronger (as they always are on the right front quadrant, which would have brought in more water into the lake, still leaving the levees vulnerable, but would there have been a north back push to drive the waters south into the canals, probably not...but with water piling so high into the lake, it might not have mattered, failure might have happened anyways. interesting thought tho.
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951. rareaire
4:04 AM GMT on August 22, 2007
On the contrary of what you might have heard, the levees did not break in New Orleans. The levees were actually able to withstand the storm surge of Hurricane Katrina. What happened was that the levees were replaced in some areas of the city with a wall approximately 2 feet thick that fell during there hurricane. These walls were built in order to widen the canal, but they could not withstand Katrina’s storm surge. Therefore, it was the replacement walls that broke, NOT the levees.
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950. plylox
3:59 AM GMT on August 22, 2007
Anyone know what that blob of thunderstorms just west of florida, in the Gulf is? IS that anything to worry about?
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949. WxKIDD
4:01 AM GMT on August 22, 2007
Posted By: mikester at 3:56 AM GMT on August 22, 2007.
Actually the levees in new orleans is what gave way do to excessive amounts of water from rain. Also these levees where never made to with stand what katrina brought them.


Im going to respectfully disagree with you on this one. It was the north wind behind katrina that pushed water from lake Ponchartrain into the canals...the levees were then overtopped and some failed. this is most definitely due to storm surge and not rain. and the storm surge was not to cat 4 level at that time, when katrina was passing over htat area it was cat 2, if i remember correctly.
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948. mississippiwx23
3:57 AM GMT on August 22, 2007
Yes, I noticed the GFS does bring that system into Central America, thus keeping it from potential development. Just have to watch over the next 2-3 days and see which way the energy goes.

And as for the surge, you are right, 30 ft surge did not actually go into the lake, however substantial surge did. And with Katrina pumping in the surge before landfall, moving up just east of the city, and then bringing the strong northerly winds over the lake, and levees (sp?) failed. I wonder if the storm had actually gone just to the west of New Orleans if the levees would have not failed.
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947. mikester
3:56 AM GMT on August 22, 2007
Actually the levees in new orleans is what gave way do to excessive amounts of water from rain. Also these levees where never made to with stand what katrina brought them.
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946. guygee
3:53 AM GMT on August 22, 2007
Yeah, we really need to get some tropical rains into FL this season or we are in for a bad fire season next spring. I should be careful for what I hope for, but a couple of gentle slow-moving TS's would do the trick.
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945. skibrian95
3:55 AM GMT on August 22, 2007
looks like things are kinda slow now...night all....c u tomorrow if things are still interesting.
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944. hosweather
3:34 AM GMT on August 22, 2007
Posted By: mississippiwx23 at 3:31 AM GMT on August 22, 2007.
I looked at the model more closely and the south caribbean system on the NAM looks more like a low/mid level system rather than a ULL. It might be something that comes out of an existing ULL, and thats what the model is trying to pick up on for development. I am not saying I am too 'excited' about development there, just saying its interesting that two models have some sort of low level circulation forming in the area over the next 2-4 days.


The GFS shows a system spinning up just north of Panama and then heading north. The GFS system dies in the mountains of Central America. Perhaps this is the same system but the GFS track is a little more to the west. The models are showing a much more northerly steering than usual in that area during the next few days.
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943. skibrian95
3:54 AM GMT on August 22, 2007
looks like things are kinda slow now...night all....c u tomorrow if things are still interesting.
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942. WxKIDD
3:49 AM GMT on August 22, 2007
Posted By: mississippiwx23 at 3:47 AM GMT on August 22, 2007.
Dont forget that Katrina had surge near 30ft! I cant remember the exact number, but it was a record. The levee system failed, not because of the wind, but because of the surge.


true, but correct me if im wrong, but the majority of the surge was in mississippi in the right front quadrant, there was some surge into lake ponchetrain (sp?) but definitely not 30ft, i believe.
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941. rareaire
3:50 AM GMT on August 22, 2007
I worked Katrina as an environmetal consultant. I went in 2 days after landfall. Unless you were there to see the total devistation and the pure and utter chaos of that situation I do not think you can even remotely speculate on whos to blame!!! Those levees broke and that town ceased to exist. It was 3 months of my life I will never forget nor do I wish to repeat it..
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940. guygee
3:45 AM GMT on August 22, 2007
snowboy - Good Point. I think it will be hard for Dean to pull itself together with that large lazy eye. Bu if the eye starts to contract, then conditions should be good tonight for some deepening.

I hope for the sake of the people in Mexico that does not happen, the flash flooding will already be bad enough as Dean hits the mountains.
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939. skibrian95
3:46 AM GMT on August 22, 2007
georges98 --
try stormjunkie's webpage for various links. Or go to the NOAA website. You'll have to follow the movement of the low pressure yourself as the models advance normally in increments of 12hrs. there are not any nice graphical models such as the one you see on the tracking page for dean on weather underground.

good luck.

if i'm wrong...hopefully someone can steer you the right way.

PS -- for what you are trying to track, Dr. Masters has posted a very helpful discussion on what kind of systems each model tracks best, and how long out into the future. then find the raw output for that model that is best for what you want to look at, and you can get a glimpse into the future of just about any system you want.
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938. cajunkid
10:45 PM CDT on August 21, 2007
its too late to get my blood pressure up
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937. TheCaneWhisperer
11:44 PM EDT on August 21, 2007
I too am concerned guygee, about the rain. Seems we got a good soaking past month, everyone exited but, long summer ahead.
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936. Haarpy
3:42 AM GMT on August 22, 2007
What is interesting in the comparasins of storms that guygee gave us is both Frances and Wilma both show the deep convection on the northern quadrants.....what looks funny about dean is he is inverted ...the convection seems all south and about the time this phenomena occurred is when it seemed to take a northward shift in my observations...not sure if that means anything.
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935. mississippiwx23
3:45 AM GMT on August 22, 2007
Dont forget that Katrina had surge near 30ft! I cant remember the exact number, but it was a record. The levee system failed, not because of the wind, but because of the surge.
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934. skibrian95
3:43 AM GMT on August 22, 2007
guygee -- i'm in orlando...definetly need a nice TD or TS...nothing to harsh, but wet.
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933. BahaHurican
11:37 PM EDT on August 21, 2007
H2PV,

Your kit is not serious:

1. your Guinness is in CANS (OMG) rather than bottles.

2. no Kalik. Real hurricane beer.
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932. MeteorodelGolfo
3:36 AM GMT on August 22, 2007
Good Nigth All.

Dean Mov NW ???
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931. WxKIDD
3:36 AM GMT on August 22, 2007
Posted By: BahaHurican at 1:59 I believe the resources existed to prevent many of the deaths in NOLA; I don't believe they were effectively utilized. I also disagree with people who criticised Blanco's (hope I spelled her name right) decision to call for a state of emergency early, though I wouldn't necessarily support such a move in other Gulf states. LA has a unique set of difficulties that cannot be addressed by the burying of heads in the sand (or mud, if that's what u have). The problems, overwhelming as they seem, must be identified and faced if they are to be resolved in ways that prevent another disaster such as the one precipitated by Katrina.

And I think everybody can agree that such a disaster should be avoided.



The scary thing is, NOLA DID miss the brunt of that hurricane...at most, the winds were cat 2 level and the levee system failed. that is a scary thought considering the very real posibility of a cat 4 storm utterly innundating NOLA.

As for the resources, you see in places like belize, police with pickup trucks going around and collecting people, getting them out of harms way...and for the richest country in the world to be unable to do such a thing for their people, is almost unfathomable. Everyone is entitled to mistakes in a disaster, but planning for one cannot be one of them.
particularly when your own head of the NHC tells you two days before the storm hits that this is going to be a disaster of biblical proportions (paraphrasing).

the fact is, NOLA is under sea level, and SINKING at that...and the utmost care must be taken to prevent disaster, and that clearly didnt happen.
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930. mikester
3:44 AM GMT on August 22, 2007
This is the only one i found so far:
pic
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929. snowboy
3:38 AM GMT on August 22, 2007
good post guygee - it will be interesting to see if that blob of convection to the NNW of Dean "plugs the hole" in the eyewall and (with convection already intensifying) what happens overnight as we approach the diurnal max..
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928. guygee
3:40 AM GMT on August 22, 2007
Agreed, CaneWhisperer. I am still very interested in watching Dean, but for the rest, it looks like there will be no more all-nighters for a few days.

I am in FL and I want it to rain! This has been one of the driest hottest Augusts I can remember.
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927. Georges98
11:36 PM AST on August 21, 2007
Can someone have the computer model for waves coming of the coast of Africa,please.
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926. skibrian95
3:39 AM GMT on August 22, 2007
bahahurricane --

Agree bout EWR...he slams me for an errant post regarding a historical event involving meterology (a post I amended immediately) yet he gets off no problem confusing irene and iris (a storm he was supposed to be in) after another poster called him on that. Not cool.
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925. taco2me61
3:37 AM GMT on August 22, 2007
OK 28Feet,
Have a great nite and we will see you on here again.....

I too am off for the nite 5am come pretty early...

All left on here have a Great Nite....

Taco :0) :0) :0)
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924. TheCaneWhisperer
11:32 PM EDT on August 21, 2007
Apart from Dean!

ITCZ has flat-lined, 92L not likely (Half an eye on it), peace for at least a week eveyone. Only bugaboo would be the trough this weekend off the SE Conus.
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923. BahaHurican
11:30 PM EDT on August 21, 2007
Posted By: flibinite at 10:38 PM EDT on August 21, 2007.


Don't engage... just click. Trust your fellow bloggers here to see the truth of things on their own.

Jo


Good word, Jo. I warrant most of the foolish posters would simply evaporate if we followed your advice. People like EWR who talk a good game but make few "real" contributions would either put up or go away.

Thanks for the links to the photos, BTW, 3for5, rod0 et al.
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922. 28feetabovesealevel
3:35 AM GMT on August 22, 2007
G-night all,

I probably won't post anymore for a while, until I just cant handle it anymore

But I will be watching. ALWAYS Watching
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921. nickmini
3:33 AM GMT on August 22, 2007
Posted By: rodrigo0 at 3:24 AM GMT on August 22, 2007.
Damage by a Category 5 hurricane:


Concrete without reinforcing steel is a useless way to build!
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920. guygee
3:34 AM GMT on August 22, 2007
Just dropping by to say hi, while watching Dean try to regenerate out in the BoC. There must be some pretty mean longshore currents just offshore in the BoC right now!

It looks like Dean has completely lost its inner core structure. The huge raggedy eye is the big giveaway. I can think of two storms from recent years that reached this stage, Wilma from 2005 and Frances from 2004. Both storms were majors that suffered from adversity - Wilma for its extended Cancun vacation, and Frances due to dry air, upwelling and shear as it stalled. Both storms still packed a wallop even after losing their inner eye, but they had reached their "old age" and had a hard time quickly redeveloping even under good conditions. Since Dean has such a short time over water, in his condition I would be surprised if he could reach major status before landfall. Some slow and brief restrengthening is more likely.

Thumnnail pics below of Wilma and Frances in their raggedy hollowed out eye old age stage.
Frances:
Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us

Wilma:
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919. redrobin
10:31 PM CDT on August 21, 2007
What is sad is I wasnt trying to run. I work in Reasurch and had to get to a patient!!! It was a bad bad thing.
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918. mississippiwx23
3:29 AM GMT on August 22, 2007
I looked at the model more closely and the south caribbean system on the NAM looks more like a low/mid level system rather than a ULL. It might be something that comes out of an existing ULL, and thats what the model is trying to pick up on for development. I am not saying I am too 'excited' about development there, just saying its interesting that two models have some sort of low level circulation forming in the area over the next 2-4 days.
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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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