Next century's most important place in the world--Greenland?

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 1:58 PM GMT on December 21, 2007

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If one had to pick the region of the world most likely to influence the course of human history this century, the Middle East would be the obvious choice, due to its political volatility and rich oil resources. However, the Middle East may have a significant challenger next century from a seemingly unlikely place--Greenland. Why Greenland? Well, the Greenland ice sheet holds enough water to raise global sea level 7 meters (23 feet). There are worrisome signs that the ice sheet might be more vulnerable than we thought to significant melting near the end of the century, according to research results presented at last week's annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) in San Francisco. The meeting is the world's largest annual gathering of climate change scientists.

For climate change scientists, Greenland is clearly the most important place in the world. You could tell this by the way glaciers with unpronounceable names like "Kangerdlugssuaq" rolled off their tongues in a smooth, practiced manner at talks given at the AGU meeting. At least 120 presentations focused on the Arctic or Greenland, and fully 52 of these concerned Greenland. I attended roughly 20 of these talks, and most of the presenters made it clear that they were quite concerned about the future of Arctic sea ice and the Greenland ice sheet, particularly in light of the astounding Arctic sea ice melt that occurred in 2007. A number of these talks raised the possibility that we've reached a tipping point in the Arctic. A complete loss of summertime sea ice may occur between 2013 and 2040, three of the presenters said, with the resulting warming dooming the Greenland ice sheet to a slow but inevitable melting process over a period of centuries. None of the presenters expressed the view that the current melting of the Greenland ice sheet and Arctic sea ice was due to a natural cycle that would completely halt or reverse in the next few years or decades.

At a talk on "The Recent Arctic Warm Period", Dr. Jim Overland, an Arctic expert with NOAA's Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, didn't offer his view on whether a tipping point had been reached. Instead, he asked the audience to vote. The options he presented:

* A The melt back of Arctic sea ice observed in 2007 is permanent and will not lessen.
* B Ice coverage will partially recover but continue to decrease.
* C The ice would recover to 1980s levels but then continue to decline over the coming century.

Both Options A and B had audience support, but only one brave soul voted for the most conservative option C.


Figure 1. A research submarine breaks through the Arctic ice. Image credit: Bernard Coakley.

The latest news from Greenland
I was amazed see the tremendous breadth and intensity of research efforts focused on Greenland and the Arctic, presented at AGU. Extra funding has been given to research efforts as part of the International Polar Year (IPY) program, scheduled to run March 2007 through 2009. Satellites like Icesat and GRACE measure the extent of Greenland's ice from above, aided by a fleet of small and large research aircraft. Scientists now have unmanned aircraft that can use runways or be launched by slingshot that can measure the extent of Greenland's melt water lakes. The air armada will be joined next year by the Total Pole Airship, the first blimp used for Arctic studies. Manned and unmanned submarines measure the thickness of the sea ice surrounding the island, and both permanent and temporary bases dotted across Greenland and the polar sea ice house scientists doing land-based studies. Ships and buoys also add data from the ocean areas.

A short list of the results presented at AGU all point to an ice sheet in peril:

- Melting of snow above 2000 meters elevation on Greenland reached a new record in 2007 (Tedesco, 2007).

- Leigh Stearns of the University of Maine's Climate Change Institute showed that the contribution of Greenland melting to global sea level rise has doubled in the last five years. According to the 2007 IPCC report (see Figure 4.18), Greenland may account for as much as 10% of the total global annual sea rise of about 3-4 mm/year (approximately 1.5 inches per decade).

- Sea Surface Temperatures (SSTs) have warmed over 5° C (9° F) over the waters west of Greenland since 1990 (Figure 1, to the right). This has caused the ice-free season to increase by over 60 days per year along the coast.

- The Greenland ice sheet has experienced conditions as warm as those today in the past. Lowell et al. (2007) found organic remains in eastern Greenland that had just been exposed by melting ice, and dated these remains at between A.D. 800 to 1014. Thus, this portion of Greenland was ice-free about 1000 years ago, and temperatures were presumably similar to today's. Erik the Red took advantage of this warm period to establish the first Norse settlements in Greenland around 950 A.D. However, the climate cooled after 1200 A.D., and the Norse settlements disappeared by 1550.

For more information, see our new Greenland feature on our expanding climate change page.

Jeff Masters

References
Lowell, T.V., et al., 2007, Organic Remains from the Istorvet Ice Cap, Liverpool Land, East Greenland: A Record of Late Holocene Climate Change,, Eos Trans. AGU, 88(52), Fall Meet. Suppl., Abstract C13A-04.

Stearns, L.A., and G.S. Hamilton, 2007, New States of Behavior: Current Status of Outlet Glaciers in Southeast Greenland and the Potential for Similar Changes Elsewhere, Eos Trans. AGU, 88(52), Fall Meet. Suppl., Abstract C13A-06.

Tedesco, M., "A New Record in 2007 for Melting in Greenland," EOS, 88:39, 2007, 383.

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744. Orcasystems
3:04 AM GMT on December 25, 2007
Ahhh man, we are going to get crapped on again on Vancouver Island. Another big nasty system coming over for Christmas.

Link

East Vancouver Island
3:39 PM PST Monday 24 December 2007
Wind warning for
East Vancouver Island continued

Southeasterly winds up to 100 km/h are expected over the Queen Charlottes and North Coast - coastal sections this evening and over Central Coast - coastal sections and North Vancouver Island overnight.

Southeasterly winds will rise to 50 to 70 km/h over West Vancouver Island overnight and over the other south coast regions Tuesday morning.

This is a warning that potentially damaging winds are expected or occurring in these regions. Monitor weather conditions..Listen for updated statements.



An intense pacific frontal system approaching the north coast this evening will move across the coast tonight through Tuesday afternoon. With the passage of the frontal system, strong southeasterly winds ahead of the front are expected to develop this evening over the north coast, overnight over the central coast and Tuesday morning over most south coast regions. Winds will abate Tuesday morning for the north and Tuesday afternoon for the south as the front moves away from the regions
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743. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
2:39 AM GMT on December 25, 2007
IN ASSOCIATION WITH JTWC INVEST 98S
Gale Warning FOR THE WESTERN AREA OF AUSTRALIA

SITUATION
At 0100UTC a monsoon trough was located near 10S and was near stationary.

AREA AFFECTED
Within 500nm north of the monsoon trough between 90E and 115E.

FORECAST
W/NW winds increasing to 25/35 knots after 251800UTC rough seas low to moderate
swell.



98S_INVEST - 10.0S 116.0E (0130z)
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742. sporteguy03
2:31 AM GMT on December 25, 2007
Dr.Masters,
Thank you for the Greenland update, the great Amazon.com gift ideas and having so many iconic fans and bloggers who love to write, eat and be merry!
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741. CatastrophicDL
12:57 AM GMT on December 25, 2007
Happy Holidays to the best bloggers in the world! May you be blessed by the spirit of the season and have a happy and prosperous New Year!

A special thanks to Dr. Masters and those who keep us all connected!

We have a severe winter storm right now here in Utah. 7"+ in less than 2 hours and it is still coming down. Winds were at about 30 mph, but have calmed quite a bit. My parents live up on a ridge in the mountains and said sustained winds were over 50 mph for over half an hour at their home! I love snow so bring it on!

For all those traveling during the holidays - take care and be safe!
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740. aquak9
8:01 PM EST on December 24, 2007
Thank you to everyone here, thank you for all the time spent, teaching and explaining.

A safe love-filled holiday for everyone.
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739. TropicalNonsense
12:51 AM GMT on December 25, 2007
Merry Christmas To All My WunderGround Friends !!

Thank You For another Great Year of Scientific Reading and Keeping Us ALL Informed Dr. Masters.

This Blog is my Favorite of all The Internet
and is The Best Around.

I Hope Everyone has a Safe and Happy Holiday.
God Bless You All !!

~Tropical Nonsense
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738. HIEXPRESS
7:24 PM EST on December 24, 2007
737. Weather456
Pab-Low
I was just kidding. But, why am I not surprised you knew where it was? I was going to post a nice hi-res loop. Yeah, that's the ticket!
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737. Weather456
8:18 PM AST on December 24, 2007
I thought it was the remnants of Pab-Low.

Pab-Low has long since move into the central ATL. The low is currently a weak 1015 mb in the Central ATL.

Anyways..see u guys later
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
736. HIEXPRESS
7:02 PM EST on December 24, 2007
731. Weather456
Computer models continue to show a developing East Coastal Waters Gale beginning as early as tomorrow.
733. BahaHurican
This explains the funny weather (the line across Lake Okeechobee and the "fuzzy" rain this afternoon.

I thought it was the remnants of Pab-Low.
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735. Weather456
7:23 PM AST on December 24, 2007
732. lindenii 7:09 PM AST on December 24, 2007 Hide this comment.
Hey 456,

Did you forward that info on to Santa?

Got grandkids that need to know he will be safe tonight. Otherwise....gonna have sad faces tomorrow. :-)


LOL....If i don't the NWS (North Pole Weather Service) will. Also I don't see anything stopping him tonight except Iraq...lol...They shot down the poor jolly fellow by mistake.
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
734. Weather456
7:05 PM AST on December 24, 2007
Santa should enjoy the Caribbean tonight and most parts will be able to enjoy tonights full moon.

CENTRAL AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN REGION....

Dry and fine weather is over the Northwest, North-central and Northeast Caribbean due to dry air supported by an upper ridge. Locally light to moderate showers possible within patches of tradewind moisture. Across the South Caribbean, satellite imagery continue show southwesterly upper winds advecting cirrus showers from thunderstorms over the Southwestern Caribbean, Central America and South America. This pattern is typical in the off-season across the Caribbean. The outflow cirrus jet is extensive; extending south of 15N from 80W eastward across the Windward Isles and into the Tropical Atlantic ending near 35W. Trades will remain weak over the Central and Eastern Caribbean due to a weak surface pressure gradient. Trades will however remain breezy over the Northwest Caribbean where the pressure gradient is tightest between the front and the subtropical ridge. Nevertheless, Santa should enjoy his trip to our region tonight.

By W456
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
733. BahaHurican
5:30 PM EST on December 24, 2007
This explains the funny weather (the line across Lake Okeechobee and the "fuzzy" rain this afternoon.

Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 21570
732. lindenii
11:12 PM GMT on December 24, 2007
Hey 456,

Did you forward that info on to Santa?

Got grandkids that need to know he will be safe tonight. Otherwise....gonna have sad faces tomorrow. :-)
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731. Weather456
6:18 PM AST on December 24, 2007
Mainly good weather for Santa Tonight....

....SYNOPSIS....

GULF OF MEXICO/NORTHWEST ATLANTIC OCEAN WEST OF 50W....

A well define frontal boundary continues to push its way across the Eastern Gulf extending from Florida to the continental shelf just north of the Yucatan Peninsula. Interestingly, most of cloudiness and showers lies within a swath of moisture across the Western Gulf from Northeastern Mexico, into Louisiana and the Southeast United States. This area is clearly enhanced by divergence ahead of a shortwave trough over the Plains. As for the initial frontal boundary, dry air is inhibiting any shower activity with only widely scattered clouds and isolated showers at the surface. Meanwhile, at the surface, high pressure dominates the area behind the front producing 5-10 knot northeast winds over the Gulf of Mexico west of 80W-90W.

A frontal boundary continues from Central Florida along the East Coastal Waters though 30N/78W 35N/70W. Yet again dry air is inhibiting much of the showers with this feature. Most of the moisture lies within the anticyclonic flow around a deep layered ridge over the Caribbean. Multilayered cloudiness with embedded showers goes from the Florida Panhandle, across the Southeast United States into the Atlantic north of 35N. As for the remainder of the Atlantic, dry air supported by surface riding is mainly exceptionally fair weather with light oceanic winds. Great weather for marine activities in this region tomorrow Christmas Day.

Computer models continue to show a developing East Coastal Waters Gale beginning as early as tomorrow. The 12Z GFS run shows the storm coming close to North Carolina early on the 26 then racing off to the northeast while deepening to reach near Newfoundland on the 27th. The NOGAPS also agree but with a less intense storm than the GFS. Further analyses at 500 mb showed the same shortwave trough discuss in the first paragraph will play a role in the genesis of this storm.


by W456

This image is the GFS Valid 18Z 26 DEC 2007



This image is the NAM Valid 18Z 26 DEC 2007

Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
730. ShenValleyFlyFish
5:50 PM EST on December 24, 2007
Merry Christmas Qca and all the other fine folks on Wunderground. God bless you all.
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729. lindenii
9:33 PM GMT on December 24, 2007
728. Orcasystems 9:23 PM GMT on December 24, 2007

PS. 456, don't you dare stop posting pics on here.


******************************

Here, here.

456 you are doing something good and stopping would only send the wrong message.

It is up to the gang at DevBlog to find a solution that does not silence you or anyone else for that matter.
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728. Orcasystems
9:20 PM GMT on December 24, 2007
Merry Christmas to all.. with a special one to Storm, Shen and Lake for making this an interesting place to be.

Another special thanks to the kids fighting on here.. gives me something to read and snicker about :)

PS. 456, don't you dare stop posting pics on here.

Cancun

11 Days 20 Hours 37 Minutes
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727. sullivanweather
9:03 PM GMT on December 24, 2007
stagnant MJO over the Indian Ocean...
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726. BahaHurican
4:01 PM EST on December 24, 2007
Ah, the Christmas classics . . . LOL

I need some egg nog . . .
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 21570
725. BahaHurican
4:00 PM EST on December 24, 2007
456, It looks like it rolled over there from the western coast of India.

This is the most activity in the Arabian Sea area (the last 16 mths) in years. . . .

Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 21570
723. Weather456
4:28 PM AST on December 24, 2007
94B refuses to die. It is named 94B but in fact it's suppose to be called 94A, becuz its in the Arabian sea.

Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
722. lindenii
8:23 PM GMT on December 24, 2007
Merry Christmas to All

and

To All a Good Night!
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721. BahaHurican
3:05 PM EST on December 24, 2007
Back atcha, lat.
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 21570
720. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
8:04 PM GMT on December 24, 2007
peace and good will to all
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719. BahaHurican
3:05 PM EST on December 24, 2007
Merry Christmas, Syd!!!
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 21570
718. BahaHurican
2:49 PM EST on December 24, 2007
Case studies of northern Australia cyclone records.

Function and purpose
This series was created as a collection of documents to give relatively easy access to the case histories of tropical cyclones in northern Australia. The collection and collation was put together by Mr. Kevin Murphy who worked for the Bureau of Meteorology in the 1980s. In 1984 he published “Big Blow Up North: A History of Tropical Cyclones in Australia’s Northern Territory,” published by the University Panning Authority in Darwin.

The collection includes negative and positive prints of satellite and radar weather maps (laserfax sapix), written summaries, track maps, track details, relevant synoptic reports, M.L.S analysis, upper air analysis, operational worksheets, operational watch and warning messages, Radiosonde data, F160 aerological diagrams, messages, rainfall maps with isohyets, anemograms, barograms, damage reports, post cyclone reports, and newspaper clippings.



What a pity much of this stuff is not available online. I guess the same could be said for much of the weather information for the Commonwealth Caribbean, though.
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 21570
717. sydneyaust1
7:57 PM GMT on December 24, 2007
See ya later everyone and may you all have a GREAT CHRISTMAS
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716. latitude25
2:57 PM EST on December 24, 2007
LOL get um Baha

I wish you a very Merry Christmas

and wishing you the best for the new year
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715. sydneyaust1
7:53 PM GMT on December 24, 2007
Thanks Baha - I have not seen this site before either!! and BTW MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR - It is Christmas Day here - be seeing family later on today.
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714. BahaHurican
2:48 PM EST on December 24, 2007
BTW, that page has a cyclone archive going back to 1981 for the Oz area.
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 21570
713. BahaHurican
2:46 PM EST on December 24, 2007
Here's a site on Aussie tropical weather. I haven't seen this before.
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 21570
712. BahaHurican
2:40 PM EST on December 24, 2007
Can we have more of this:

Love and joy come to you,
And to you a wassail too,
And God bless you
And send you a happy new year,
And God send you a happy new year.


And less of the acrimonious debate, please?

It's Christmas eve, for goodness sake!
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 21570
711. lindenii
6:57 PM GMT on December 24, 2007
Make that $85.05 and $1020.60 respectively.
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710. sydneyaust1
6:48 PM GMT on December 24, 2007
Yes Michael you are exactly tight - that information was outdated - I have really only started my interest in Hurricanes/Typhoons/Cyclones since the beginning of this US season just passed. I am only just beginning to learn about this stuff. Usually one post from any of the professionals on here can have me reading for weeks - LOL

I do remember Cyclone Larry from the news at the time and I have been to Innisfail but thats about it.
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709. V26R
6:49 PM GMT on December 24, 2007
WOW
Not much error for a big snow event for the Northeast
Local Forecast Offices aren't even talking this one up at all
Would have thought that they would make a passing mention of it someplace in their forecast discussions
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708. sydneyaust1
6:38 PM GMT on December 24, 2007
In the excerpt above it is mentioned that

"The strongest Australian cyclones have crossed Western Australia's NW coast. This coast is so sparsely populated ..."

There has been extensive development of Oil, Gas and Mining in this area now so if the season is as intense as forecast by the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) and the British TSR people then these assets and their workers will be at risk - but like the Oil Rigs in the gulf I know these companies tightly monitor the situation
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707. lindenii
6:44 PM GMT on December 24, 2007
Regarding your post #686. V26R 6:17 PM GMT on December 24, 2007

Earlier I posted the following:

"...556. lindenii 2:36 AM GMT on December 24, 2007

..."Were it not for cable in my area, I would be forced to use dial-up because DSL is not available. I am forced, however to use dial-up at my business. I am too cheap to pay $95 per month for commercial access which is the only other choice I have available."

Liar??

First sentence makes it clear that I do indeed have cable and since the second sentence says I have dail-up at work, the only other place that the 'CABLE' could be is at home.

Second sentence makes it quite clear that the dial-up is at work because I made the fiscal decision and chose a more reasonable access, through Netscape' which cost $9.95 which is a full $85.15 per month savings or a full $1021.85 yearly savings. BTW Cost of cable at home is $45 per month, half the 'commercial' rate at work. Which is why I did not go with it at work.

Perhaps the problem is with your reading skills, perhaps I need to write in fourth grade level words. In any case, that is a small problem in comparison to calling people names like you do ie. calling me a liar. Shame on you.

Looks like I have met my second TROLL in one day since learning what they look and smell like.

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706. Weather456
6:40 PM GMT on December 24, 2007
The GFS shows a broader cyclone..with gale forece radius larger than the NAM.
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
705. weatherboyfsu
6:34 PM GMT on December 24, 2007
Good Afternoon everyone,,,,,,,,


I wanted to say "MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR" to everyone......

Another great Wunderground year......

Congratulations to Dr. Masters and all the people who contributed to this website. It is a honor to be affiliated with such professionals and with all the fellow amateur weather forecasters on here.......
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704. BahaHurican
1:36 PM EST on December 24, 2007
This must have been a doozy to forecast . . .

Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 21570
703. Weather456
6:33 PM GMT on December 24, 2007
The NAM is still onboard. Shows a deep cold core non frontal cyclone early in the phase then becomes deep cold core frontal later in the phase while deepening to in the 990s.

Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
701. BahaHurican
1:32 PM EST on December 24, 2007
Here is the BOM's article on Cyclone Tracy.
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 21570
700. V26R
6:33 PM GMT on December 24, 2007
Baha thats amazing

I've seen the destruction from Tornados here stateside and always (seriously) wondered
how the debris field stays clear of the
roads
Many times there will be bulldozers that
clear a path for Responding Rescue crews
but that photo looks as if the wind just cleared the path on its own!
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699. Weather456
6:31 PM GMT on December 24, 2007
697. V26R 6:30 PM GMT on December 24, 2007
456 anything new on that Storm thats supposed to form off the Carolinas?
Action: | Ignore User


I'm going to check the NAM and GFS to see if they are still in agreement.
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
698. BahaHurican
1:27 PM EST on December 24, 2007
Yep. Reminded me of Andrew in Homestead, and also of some pictures I have seen of Belize after Hattie and the 1933 (or was it 1936) 'canes.
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 21570
697. V26R
6:29 PM GMT on December 24, 2007
456 anything new on that Storm thats supposed to form off the Carolinas?
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696. Weather456
6:26 PM GMT on December 24, 2007
I should of said..cold weather only for the mid sections. Floida others along the South sits in the WAA quadrant of the shortwave.

WAA=Warm Air Advection.
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
695. BahaHurican
1:23 PM EST on December 24, 2007
I just realize why I know the name "Cyclone Tracy". It was that really tiny storm, wasn't it? Just goes to prove that size really doesn't matter when it comes to devastation.

In fact, I'm starting to think there is some correlation between these high-end cat 4s / cat 5s and small size. It's as if the small radius makes the spin more pronounced.

I didn't realize it had hit Darwin on Christmas, though.
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 21570
694. V26R
6:24 PM GMT on December 24, 2007
Baha , were those Houses???
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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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