Powerful Nor'easter poised to hammer Eastern U.S.

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 4:23 PM GMT on December 18, 2009

An intense and very wet Nor'easter is gathering strength over the Gulf of Mexico, and stands poised to generate heavy snow and possible blizzard conditions tonight through Saturday from the Smoky Mountains to New England, including the major cities of Washington D.C., Philadelphia, and New York City. The storm has already dumped up to three inches of snow in western North Carolina, and a foot or more of snow is likely over the mountains of North Carolina, Virginia, and Tennessee. Flooding from the storms' heavy rains will be a problem in Mississippi and Alabama, where up to six inches have fallen (Figure 1).


Figure 1. Total rainfall from the Dec 18 - 19 Nor'easter, as estimated by Birmingham, Alabama radar.

Tornadoes threaten Florida
Severe thunderstorms capable of generating tornadoes have developed along the storm's cold front, which is advancing over Florida today. The Storm Prediction Center has placed most of Florida in its "Slight Risk" area for severe weather, and tornado warnings have already been issued for Homestead and Naples this morning, though no confirmed tornadoes have resulted from the warnings thus far. The threat of tornadoes will continue through mid-afternoon over Florida, then gradually decrease late this afternoon as the low-level winds align with the upper-level winds, creating less of the change of wind direction with height typically needed to create tornadoes.

You can track today's storm with our interactive tornado map and severe weather map.

Copenhagen
Our Climate Change expert, Dr. Ricky Rood, has left Copenhagen's COP15 climate change talks to resume his slightly saner life as a professor at the University of Michigan. His latest post, called The Party is Over: Copenhagen Devolved presents a fascinating look at what it was like to be at the conference, and what was (and was not) accomplished there. I'll be posting my own summary of the legacy of the Copenhagen talks early next week.

Jeff Masters

Ice Over Water... (JasonMac78)
..., or water over ice, whichever you prefer. In Abingdon,VA. We are under a winter storm warning in our area.
Ice Over Water...

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The UKMET has trended a bit eastward with the storm. The CMC pounds the Mid-Atlantic especially the Appalachian region, and western Virginia and the Delmarva Peninsula.
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Oh we got dumped on down here, that's for sure. That's all though, only rain. No lightning seen, No thunder heard, No strong winds felt, just rain.
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Quoting PensacolaDoug:



Yes. He called this almost perfectly from 10 days ago. He called this whole pattern back in October. Seriously.


I guess when you have a hunch go with it.
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Quoting TheCaneWhisperer:
Well, I haven't heard so much as a shake of thunder at all today or yesterday so, if that tells you anything about their predictions.


Ya we barely got any rain here in St. Petersburg, FL.

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JB maintained from the last 6 days or so that the GFS kept this too flat and out to sea and the correction was back to west.
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Quoting StormChaser81:


Is Joe Bastardi ever right?



Yes. He called this almost perfectly from 10 days ago. He called this whole pattern back in October. Seriously.
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Well, I haven't heard so much as a shake of thunder at all today or yesterday so, if that tells you anything about their predictions.
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Quoting NEwxguy:
Right now along the south coast of New England,SE Mass and the cape the islands are set to get dumped on,I'm farther north closer to Boston,so still don't know what to expect for me.


I'm ready for it. I think. They are still not putting any snow predictions out though. An 80% chance of snow Saturday and Sunday but no accumulation numbers. What are they waiting for?
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Quoting reedzone:
Joe Bastardi is calling this a historic blizzard for the northeast. Like Ida, but with snow.. Interesting, the NAM has switched back west with the storm.


Is Joe Bastardi ever right?
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Joe Bastardi is calling this a historic blizzard for the northeast. Like Ida, but with snow.. Interesting, the NAM has switched back west with the storm.
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oo yes it was the blizzard of 78 i was here i rememebr it it started to snow about 2pm when we got out of school by the time we walked home which was 1 1/2 mile we had 2 inches of snow woke up the next day had drifts 5 feet high. nothing moved for a weekit took about the same amount of time to dig out they used bludozers from national guard to clear the street which left piles along sides of roads over 10 ft high when looking out first floor window didnt see the house across the street when looki ng out for a month. it was great people did nothing but walk the streets and made everyone so friendly
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Quoting CosmicEvents:

Reed...you're right. This thing could be big. Epic. Biblical. The possibility exists for a perfect squall line. This could be the mother of all cold fronts.
.
Or it might just rain a lot.


I'd say its strong, but not anything biblical or epic, just a lot of snow and rain, wait till Jan and Feb that's when were going to see big storms with lots of snow.
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Good morning/afternoon everybody! FYI, I heard from Tornado Dude, he is doing well and will be back in 7 1/2 HRS!! He sends his regards to everyone!!
Member Since: August 25, 2009 Posts: 20 Comments: 6785
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Quoting klaatuborada:


Now that was a remarkable storm. Coming in late on this one. I have family poised to travel from Boston to NY on Monday. Will this be all over with by then? How's

Hey Klaatu! Long time no see. As they say, NIKTU to worry about. Most should be over by Sunday, but the aftermath can be messy. Are they flying or driving?
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Quoting CosmicEvents:

Reed...you're right. This thing could be big. Epic. Biblical. The possibility exists for a perfect squall line. This could be the mother of all cold fronts.
.
Or it might just rain a lot.


LOL!!!!!! I'm going with a lot of rain!!!
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Quoting jeffs713:

1052mb! That is the level of a strong Siberian high... wow.


Now that was a remarkable storm. Coming in late on this one. I have family poised to travel from Boston to NY on Monday. Will this be all over with by then? How's it looking? Anything bumping this storm out to sea?
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Quoting jeffs713:

1052mb! That is the level of a strong Siberian high... wow.


Yes, a most unusually scenario. Not likely to happen often. I don't believe there is anything like that in this storm. I am sure most are happy about that.
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Quoting reedzone:
For people in Northern to Southern Florida...

We are NOT out of the woods yet and nothing has happened. I though we would see some supercells pop up in the rain bands this morning and thank God, nothing has popped up yet. Look in the Gulf, a line of gusty storms is forming. If the clouds begin to clear, the potential is greater for severe storms. Not out of the question that a tornado watch pops up this afternoon. Round two, the greatest threat is heading our way later this afternoon so be on guard and don't think this is over yet because the rain stopped and the sun is trying to pop out. The worst of the storm is "possibly" yet to come.

Reed...you're right. This thing could be big. Epic. Biblical. The possibility exists for a perfect squall line. This could be the mother of all cold fronts.
.
Or it might just rain a lot.
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44.

My point also was it looks to move right over him and not up inside him. It's still gotta cross land to get to him.
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Quoting unf97:



Just checked the 12 noon surface obs. The winds are still strong out of the southwest and temps at &0 degrees in Panama City, but have brisk northerly winds and temps in mid-upper 40s just west of there and throughout the panhandle region. It appears the Low pressure area is coming inland just W-NW of Panama City FL at this hour.



The low can be seen as the swirl here.

Still offshore moving ene but bumping along the coast. (Looks to make landfall south of panama city.)
Link
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Quoting Grothar:
THE NORTHEAST BLIZZARD OF 1978
A tremendous east-northeasterly gradient was set up as the low (984 millibars) bucked up against an enormous 1052 millibar high to the north. Winds gusted to 92 mph at Chatham, Massachusetts. East facing coastal sections were devastated by 4 successive high tides. The 14 foot tide recorded at Portland, Maine was perhaps the highest this century. 75 people were killed and total damage was 500 million dollars


1052mb! That is the level of a strong Siberian high... wow.
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Quoting Floodman:


Pnemonia almos t took me in the late 90s;

Hey Flood, I didn't know you were that old! LOL I am glad you are on the mend. It takes a while. Also glad to see you are back on the blog more.
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They opened the floodgates in my area, hopefully the rainfall rates aren't too high because the floodgates aren't too quick. I have a drainage canal right next to the house and it was close to being at a critical level of flooding.
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Quoting catastropheadjuster:

Floodman, thanks I will do that, it's weird all i want to do is sleep at least last 2 days,I am up right know suppose to go to a Christmas party but i don't think i am going, it's had me down since sunday. Your always so nice to me,. You take care.
Sheri


It's easy being nice to you dear...

Watch your fever as well; if it gets hard to handle, you can take Tylenol on the 3s and 9s and Ibuprofen on the 12s and 6s. Again, the problem with that is that it will try to make you sleep...sleep is good, but don't let 8 hours pass without getting up and moving around, okay?
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Quoting HurricaneKing:


I don't think the low is passign inland of you. From what I can tell it's actually going to go right over you.

It looks to be near the Florida panhandle moving ene.

Link



Just checked the 12 noon surface obs. The winds are still strong out of the southwest and temp at 70 degrees in Panama City, but have brisk northerly winds and temps in mid-upper 40s just west of there and throughout the panhandle region. It appears the Low pressure area is coming inland just west-northwest of Panama City at this hour.
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We are drowing in Hallandale FL. Right now I believe we've had over 14 inches since last night.. but I can see the end... sometime....
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Quoting Floodman:


Sheri, be careful with that stuff; plenty of fluids and no matter how much you want to lay in bed, make sure you get uo every few hours or so to help clear your lungs. Pnemonia almos t took me in the late 90s; I slept from Wednesday til Saturday and the doc told me that the only reason I was still breathing was that I hadn't taken in enough fluid...she told me that I had to get up every few hours and move around to clear the lungs...

By the way, Merry Christmas, dear, and a Happy New Year to you and yours!

Floodman, thanks I will do that, it's weird all i want to do is sleep at least last 2 days,I am up right know suppose to go to a Christmas party but i don't think i am going, it's had me down since sunday. Your always so nice to me,. You take care.
Sheri
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Quoting MTWX:


I hear ya. Touching the floor is a thing of the past for me too. My fusion is L4-S1


Oh man, that's the bad one! My surgeon tells me that if I keep up the walking and start the PT when he tells me to I should be around 95% mobility inside of 9 months...I had a friend who had essentially the same procedure done in 1979 and he's about 60% of his original mobility...technology is a wonderful thing!
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Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:
Wind is shifting to the SSE here--the low will be passing inland to the west of us. Rain is pretty heavy, but started several hours later than forecast.


I don't think the low is passing inland of you. From what I can tell it's actually going to go right over you.

It looks to be near the Florida panhandle moving ene.

Link
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Quoting catastropheadjuster:


Floodman, Hey how are ya? Long time no see, well i haven't been around. Life? If ya know what i mean, and right know i am very sick, I think I have pneumonia i feel like i am dieing. I wanted to stop in and tell everyone MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR. Just in case i get sicker and can't get on.You take care of your back and read that book.

Sheri


Sheri, be careful with that stuff; plenty of fluids and no matter how much you want to lay in bed, make sure you get uo every few hours or so to help clear your lungs. Pnemonia almos t took me in the late 90s; I slept from Wednesday til Saturday and the doc told me that the only reason I was still breathing was that I hadn't taken in enough fluid...she told me that I had to get up every few hours and move around to clear the lungs...

By the way, Merry Christmas, dear, and a Happy New Year to you and yours!
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38. MTWX
Quoting Floodman:


Thanks, MTWX! I had three removed (L3-5) plus the fusion and a decomp at L5-S1...I'm 4 weeks post surgery and no sign of the sciatica back, though the spasms are certainly stronger than any I've ever had before...my biggest joy out of this thing? I lost almost no mobility...of course it's hard for me to bend at the waist and try to touch the floor, but I can twist far enough to lay my right palm flat against the wall to my left (and vice versa)

As for snow, I miss it like you woudn't beleive...therer really is nothing like a snow day, watching the heavy stuff coming down from inside...I live in Fort Worth now though so I have a pretty good shot at some serious snow every now and again


I hear ya. Touching the floor is a thing of the past for me too. My fusion is L4-S1
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Quoting NEwxguy:
10.
No way is this anything like the Blizzard of 78,that would be just overhype mentioning that storm.


I watched the entire thing looking for the 1978 comparison. They only made a passing referenced to '78, as in the 1983 storm was the female host's blizzard of '78.

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LINK TO LATEST NAM RUN LOOP

Link
Member Since: August 25, 2009 Posts: 20 Comments: 6785
Quoting reedzone:
For people in Northern to Southern Florida...

We are NOT out of the woods yet and nothing has happened. I though we would see some supercells pop up in the rain bands this morning and thank God, nothing has popped up yet. Look in the Gulf, a line of gusty storms is forming. If the clouds begin to clear, the potential is greater for severe storms. Not out of the question that a tornado watch pops up this afternoon. Round two, the greatest threat is heading our way later this afternoon so be on guard and don't think this is over yet because the rain stopped and the sun is trying to pop out. The worst of the storm is "possibly" yet to come.


I agree with you reedzone. I'm here in Jax, and if we get any heating this afternoon, strong storms will certainly be capable of developing along a squall line comimg out of the GOM as the Low Pressure area moves through later today.

So, most definitely, I am watching for that to happen later today. Hopefully, of course, we will get fortunate and get by without severe storms over the peninsula.
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Quoting MTWX:


Good luck with your back. I have a 2 level lumbar fusion. My back is somewhat better, but I never wish surgery on anyone.

Someone needs to send some of that snow to Mississippi!! I sure do miss it, and would love to see everyone around here run around llike its the end of the world!! LOL


Thanks, MTWX! I had three removed (L3-5) plus the fusion and a decomp at L5-S1...I'm 4 weeks post surgery and no sign of the sciatica back, though the spasms are certainly stronger than any I've ever had before...my biggest joy out of this thing? I lost almost no mobility...of course it's hard for me to bend at the waist and try to touch the floor, but I can twist far enough to lay my right palm flat against the wall to my left (and vice versa)

As for snow, I miss it like you woudn't beleive...there really is nothing like a snow day, watching the heavy stuff coming down from inside...I live in Fort Worth now though so I have a pretty good shot at some serious snow every now and again
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MESOSCALE DISCUSSION 2256
NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER NORMAN OK
1016 AM CST FRI DEC 18 2009

AREAS AFFECTED...SOUTH FL

CONCERNING...TORNADO WATCH 804...

VALID 181616Z - 181715Z

THE SEVERE WEATHER THREAT FOR TORNADO WATCH 804 CONTINUES.

LATEST RADAR AND SATELLITE IMAGERY SUGGEST THE BACK EDGE OF A WEAK
DISTURBANCE IS SHIFTING EAST ACROSS SOUTH FL. DATA ALSO STRONGLY
SUGGESTS AT LEAST TWO MCV-TYPE ROTATIONAL CLUSTERS ADVANCING
STEADILY TOWARD THE EAST COAST...SERVING AS THE EFFECTIVE BACK EDGE
OF THE SEVERE THREAT IN THE SHORT TERM. AHEAD OF THIS ORGANIZED
ACTIVITY...NUMEROUS SUPERCELLS...POTENTIALLY TORNADIC...CONTINUE
JUST OFF THE SE COAST WITH A FEW TRAILING SUPERCELLS INLAND OVER
DADE COUNTY. A BREAK IN DEEP CONVECTION SHOULD OCCUR IN THE WAKE OF
AFOREMENTIONED SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS BEFORE PRE-FRONTAL SEVERE
CONVECTION EVOLVES LATER THIS AFTERNOON.

..DARROW.. 12/18/2009
Member Since: August 25, 2009 Posts: 20 Comments: 6785
THE NORTHEAST BLIZZARD OF 1978
The Blizzard of 1978, known to New Englanders as the Blizzard of '78, which generated blizzard conditions across the Northeast, was born February 5, 1978 with the merger of a Canadian high-pressure system and a dense mass of low pressure off the Carolina coast.

By February 7, the storm had tracked north and taken on the cyclonic counter-clockwise flow characteristic of nor’easters. At its peak, storm winds reached speeds of 86 miles per hour with gusts of 111mph. The lowest central pressure was 980 mb, which made the storm comparable to a strong Category 1 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale.

Arriving at the time of a new moon, the storm produced heavy coastal flooding along the New England coast. Beachfront homes were washed away due to strong winds and coastal flooding. More than 1,700 homes suffered major damage or were destroyed and 39,000 people took refuge in emergency shelters.Federal disaster assistance totaled $202 million.

Snow fell at a rate of 4 inches an hour at times during the storm, which lasted for 36 hours. The unusual duration of the 1978 Nor’easter was caused by the Canadian high, which forced the storm to loop east and then back toward the north. Thunder, lightning and hail was seen in the blizzard as it blanketed the Northeast with over three feet of snow. Drifts in New England were reported to be 15 feet deep.

Traffic came to a standstill as major corridors like I-95 shut down. During the storm several people died on Route 128 around Boston from asphyxiation: snow had blocked the tailpipes of their idling automobiles. In New York City schools were closed and cross-county skiers could be seen sliding up Fifth Avenue.

the "Great Blizzard of '78" struck New England. By the time the storm ended late on the 7th, Boston had 27.1 inches of new snow to set an all-time single storm snowfall record. Up to 50 inches fell in northern Rhode Island. A tremendous east-northeasterly gradient was set up as the low (984 millibars) bucked up against an enormous 1052 millibar high to the north. Winds gusted to 92 mph at Chatham, Massachusetts. East facing coastal sections were devastated by 4 successive high tides. The 14 foot tide recorded at Portland, Maine was perhaps the highest this century. 75 people were killed and total damage was 500 million dollars

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Radar presentation kind of looks like Extratropical Storm Barry
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Link


1978. The pictures are really worth a look.
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Quoting NEwxguy:
Right now along the south coast of New England,SE Mass and the cape the islands are set to get dumped on,I'm farther north closer to Boston,so still don't know what to expect for me.


Right now, 2 to 4" is what you're local weather folk are saying.
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That was also the year of the biggest Ice Storm the NE had ever seen. I will post the Link. It has some great pictures in it.
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Quoting Floodman:
Thank you, Dr. Masters, for this entry and for all the work you do year-round and thank you for this forum where we can meet and discuss; as I told you before, you are greatly appreciated!

Good morning everyone!


Floodman, Hey how are ya? Long time no see, well i haven't been around. Life? If ya know what i mean, and right know i am very sick, I think I have pneumonia i feel like i am dieing. I wanted to stop in and tell everyone MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR. Just in case i get sicker and can't get on.You take care of your back and read that book.

Sheri
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For people in Northern to Southern Florida...

We are NOT out of the woods yet and nothing has happened. I though we would see some supercells pop up in the rain bands this morning and thank God, nothing has popped up yet. Look in the Gulf, a line of gusty storms is forming. If the clouds begin to clear, the potential is greater for severe storms. Not out of the question that a tornado watch pops up this afternoon. Round two, the greatest threat is heading our way later this afternoon so be on guard and don't think this is over yet because the rain stopped and the sun is trying to pop out. The worst of the storm is "possibly" yet to come.
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Quoting MarylandGirl:
I can't belive that we will be getting this much snow. A white Christmas for SO MD! So excited I could not sleep last night. Will be up tonight to see it happen.

Thanks for the great blog. Awake..I'll let you know how St. Mary's makes out!

The only bad thing with the snow falling this far before Christmas is that by Christmas day, unless more snow falls, half of the snow will be dirty and just... eww.
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Thanks Dr. Masters for the update on the NE storm. Another unusual Atlantic coastal storm
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I can't belive that we will be getting this much snow. A white Christmas for SO MD! So excited I could not sleep last night. Will be up tonight to see it happen.

Thanks for the great blog. Awake..I'll let you know how St. Mary's makes out!
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22. MTWX
Quoting Floodman:

Yep, I would have to think that I'm warmer here than you are there...you're about to get a goodly blanket of snow too...how I envy you...

As far as my back goes, life is pretty good, though I forgot to take a flexeril this morning, which means this will be a short day; my back will be in full spasm shortly. It's all good, I was going to finish a book on the Great Depression anyway and this way I can start it earlier...LOL


Good luck with your back. I have a 2 level lumbar fusion. My back is somewhat better, but I never wish surgery on anyone.

Someone needs to send some of that snow to Mississippi!! I sure do miss it, and would love to see everyone around here run around llike its the end of the world!! LOL
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Right now along the south coast of New England,SE Mass and the cape the islands are set to get dumped on,I'm farther north closer to Boston,so still don't know what to expect for me.
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Quoting NEwxguy:
10.
No way is this anything like the Blizzard of 78,that would be just overhype mentioning that storm.


The computer models are still up in the air about this storm affecting New England. However, the Mid Atlantic and VA/NC will get SLAMMED by this thing, hit hard!!
Member Since: August 25, 2009 Posts: 20 Comments: 6785

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Dr. Masters co-founded wunderground in 1995. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters 1986-1990. Co-blogging with him: Bob Henson, @bhensonweather

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