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Hurricane humor

By: Dr. Jeff Masters, 4:59 PM GMT on March 06, 2006

The great thing about attending weather conferences is that you never know what you might learn from the new people you meet. At the annual conference of the American Meteorological Society last month, I had the opportunity to interview a number of candidates for a job opening at wunderground.com, and learned something interesting about Hurricane Katrina I didn't know. (By the way, if you're a skilled C language programmer with a background in meteorology, we're looking to hire!.) The student I interviewed, Chris Smith, attended college in Daytona Beach. He said that during the week following Hurricane Katrina's devastation, beer retailers in the Daytona Beach area were stuck with a huge shipment of beer that was intended for the normally very busy Labor Day weekend period in New Orleans. With no place for the beer to go, local retailers offered steep discounts, and some enterprising college students stocked up big-time. Chris' friend Joe Funkhouser can be seen below posing on his "beer throne" of half-price Katrina beer.

Figure 1. A "beer throne" contructed out of half-price beer on sale because it couldn't make it to New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

National Weather Service to give hurricanes full names

The Onion, the Internet's premier humor newspaper, announced today that hurricanes will now be given a last name in addition to a first name. So, instead of plain old boring "Alberto" for the year's first storm, we'll have "Alberto Fergus." No word on what the last names of Greek storms Alpha, Beta, and so on will be. Alpha Male? Beta Max?

Jeff Masters


The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.

Reader Comments

How very fratboy!

Starting a new body search in New Orleans, found one body in the attic of a house that had been cleared--they will be using cadaver dogs for the first time.
Miller Lite, #1 study aide in Wisconsin, too. Also Miller High Life. Cool picture. I will circulate it.
oh man, i guess they are at least making the best of a bad situation. they should donate the beer to Katrina victims as 'hurricane relief' or something...

I may be taking a trip to Las Vegas this weekend.. and guess what's in the forecast?


i've been to Vegas 5 times, and 3 of them its been pouring rain. Now if the computer models are correct i will have snow as well. The bad news is the drive out will NOT be pretty.
Great stuff. Being a college student I can really appreciate that amazing "beer throne"! Haha pretty interesting too....
That's the brand hubby drinks; wish we had known about that half priced beer and could have stocked up on a little of it also!!!
Yes, very true... you could get 18 packs of Budweiser and Miller Lite for $3.99 at grocery stores.
Cool photo. Speaking of Katrina, I just saw this sad article on CNN's website. They are expecting to still find 300-400 more bodies in their next sweep. There are still 1,900 missing in Louisiana. I'll bet the final toll will be over 2,000 by the time its done. Link
LOL. Dr.Master's. Guess that the Florida people really had there beer runs. Maybe they should think about bottling more of there water during Hurricane season then filling the beer. Instead of waiting till it is needed. Nothing against the beer but always could use more water.
Posted By: Inyo at 9:30 AM GMT on March 06, 2006.
oh man i cant believe someone brought up the tunnels again. and now cyclonebuster has taken to cackling like a mad scientist!

and according to theory any probe sent into a black hole would be crushed long before it entered.. still definitely a worthwhile mission if we could pull it off but once its beyond the 'event horizon' radio waves, etc, can't escape the black hole anyway, so even if the probe survived, we'd never know

Inyo, everything we know about black holes is theory!!!!
Who knows what will happen if the probe was sent????
I think it would be a HUGE scientific experiment even if the hole swallows the probe. Think of the data that would come from this. Also you never know..... there just "might"
be another side or dimension inside a black hole!!!!!!!!!
Dr Masters~ I notice you all offer stock as a benefit. I assume that's WU stock. If so what symbol does it trade under?

My husband cashed in on the Miller Lite Karina specials... so much so, I haven't seen him touch it since.
12. Inyo
Fshhead, if we had the ability, i'd definitely say we should do it, just tos ee what happens.

Waiting for a front here in LA but looks like it stalled out over Ventura County.. we may not get much more than drizzle out of this one.
sounds like there's no money in the budget for a black hole probe... & not enough for our precious satalites.

NASA satellites feel budget crunch

Budget cuts and poor management may be jeopardizing the future of our eyes in orbit -- America's fleet of environmental satellites, vital tools for forecasting hurricanes, protecting water supplies and predicting global warming.
How common is it to get "near misses" in the off season?
The southwest drought is being coined "historic" with a dry spring forecasted.

The dryness is moving north. The Drought Monitor lists abnormal dryness or moderate to severe drought for all of Kansas; most of Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri and Illinois; and much of South Dakota and eastern Colorado. The monitor also reports soil moisture in Nebraska is so low that farmers have begun irrigating months ahead of normal. Most of the Texas Panhandle winter wheat crop is in peril.

Texas and Oklahoma suffered fierce winter grassfires that scorched thousands of acres, destroyed about 500 homes and killed at least five people. More fires broke out last week.

The Arizona Game and Fish Department has begun hauling water to wildlife herds as winter has failed to replenish remote watering holes. With no moisture to keep the dust down, air quality in Phoenix has worsened to unprecedented winter levels: 24 pollution alerts since Nov. 1. One or two is normal.
The dry spell in my area (St. Louis, Missouri) will almost certainly end: the 7-day forecast says showers and thunderstorms from tomorrow until at least next Monday.

Tonight: Partly cloudy, with a low near 29. North wind 5 to 10 mph becoming east.
Tuesday: A 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms after noon. Partly cloudy, with a high around 53. Southeast wind between 6 and 14 mph.
Tuesday Night: Showers and thunderstorms likely. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 44. South wind between 11 and 14 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60%.
Wednesday: Showers and thunderstorms likely. Mostly cloudy, with a high around 61. South wind between 11 and 15 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60%.
Wednesday Night: Showers and thunderstorms likely. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 52. South wind between 13 and 17 mph. Chance of precipitation is 70%.
Thursday: A 50 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly cloudy, with a high around 63.
Thursday Night: A chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly cloudy, with a low near 49.
Friday: A chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly cloudy, with a high around 67.
Friday Night: A chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 55.
Saturday: A chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly cloudy, with a high near 72.
Saturday Night: A chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 54.
Sunday: A chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly cloudy, with a high around 70.
Sunday Night: A chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly cloudy, with a low near 58.
Monday: A chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 71.

The 365 day deficit is about 7 inches right now; one of my locat TV weatherman forecasts a very wet spring, ending in major river flooding (fox2ktvi.com).
not every college student has to party.Do not follow the mainstream culture carbage do something different and right for a change -jedkins.
just enjoy the BEER...yeah!!!

when does the WMO decide what names to retire? I know it is in March...

Posted By: Skyepony ( at 8:51 PM GMT on March 06, 2006.
Dr Masters~ I notice you all offer stock as a benefit. I assume that's WU stock. If so what symbol does it trade under?

wunderground.com is privately held, so there is no public stock available.

Jeff Masters
can some one Please!!!! come to my new blog update lol lol lol lol !!!!!!!!!
Some meteorology folks around campus are predicting tropical storms by April because of warmer than normal ocean temperatures. What do y'all think???
Some meteorology folks around campus are predicting tropical storms by April because of warmer than normal ocean temperatures. What do y'all think???

who knows...mother nature doesnt want to be predicted it seems

I predict NO named tropical systems before July 1--just to go against consensus :)
Max Mayfield sure seemed to think it was possible ~ urging everyone to prepare for hurricane season now. This was also stressed to hurricane cordinators at a large local govt agency about 3 days before the report was turned to the general news.
It's Monday~ the weekly ENSO report is out~

The current patterns of SST annomolys, percipitation & atmosphereic winds are consistant with La Nina.

Most model forecasts predict weak La Nina to persist April-June 2006.

Current conditions & latest forecasts support the continuation of La Nina conditions during the next 3 months.

Temperature during the dust bowl in South Dakota (maybe north Dakota) was over 100 degrees for consecutive days in April.
So very nice to be able to smile in here and take a deep breath....anticipation will build soon enough. Thanks for the fun Dr. M., Good, bad, right, wrong, or ugly, most of us remember those days!
RIP Kirby Puckett--a Minnesota sports legend

Thought you might find this of interest- it came in my weekly electronic edition of Science.

Vampire Vortices Suck Each Other's Energy
By Kimberly Krieger
ScienceNOW Daily News
2 March 2006

From the humble swirling of bathwater down the drain to the violent storm on Jupiter, vortices thrive by sucking the energy from smaller ones, report researchers. Such vortex cannibalism contradicts the common view that vortices grow via benevolent mergers. But it confirms a famous hypothesis and could help explain how energy moves through the atmosphere and the oceans.
In the 1970s, Robert Kraichnan proved mathematically that, in two-dimensional situations, energy should flow from smaller vortices to larger ones. But just because the math said so didn't mean anyone knew how it occurred. (Indeed, in three dimensions, energy flows from larger to smaller vortices.) The 2-D conjecture was considered extremely important because lots of weather is essentially two-dimensional; the enormous width and breadth of a hurricane makes its thickness negligible, for example. Because the 2-D case is so important to weather prediction, researchers have puzzled for 30 years over how energy actually flows between vortices in two-dimensions.

In the 3 March issue of Physical Review Letters, Gregory Eyink, a physicist at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, and colleagues report that Kraichnan had it right. The group set up a pool of salt water about 1 meter square, laid it on a bed of magnets, and ran an electrical current through the water horizontally. When the magnetic field crossed the electrical field, the disturbance gave birth to hundreds of tiny vortices in the salt water. Then larger vortices took over.

The team took a step beyond Kraichnan's paper and proposed an idea of what's going on. A computer simulation showed that the larger vortices were stretching the smaller ones. Imagine a small vortex as a bunch of concentric circles. As it stretches, the path of a water molecule looping around one circle would stretch out, and the molecule would slow down, indicating that the small vortex is losing energy. This lost energy, the researchers found, is flowing to the larger vortex nearby. Energy transfer in the atmosphere should work the same way: not via mergers but rather through hostile takeovers, they conclude.

"This paper gives a very novel and plausible mechanism," for the energy flow between vortices in two dimensions, says Philip Marcus, a computational physicist at the University of California, Berkeley. Having that mechanism cleared up should be useful for improving weather models, he says.

Cool article.

I would not be at all suprised to see a pre-season storm.
Thanks, FC.

In theory, the vortices approach would work with any intense low pressure system, wouldn't it?
Question for everyone. I remember having read on here at one time that there is maybe a possible link between La Nina, and severe storm seasons for the midwest. [Was 2004 like this?] Has anyone followed up with that, or did I imagine reading that? I am curious how La Nina cycles correlate between drought and severe storms. If I am off point, let me know.
Thanks for everyone's thoughts on possible pre-season storms. Predicting the unpredictable - an interesting art. I guess that's why one of the reasons that this blog is so intriguing.
37. Inyo
That southwest drought has gotten pretty nasty.. here in southern California it has mostly eased but it isnt looking good for areas in the desert Southwest, or the great plains.

I know La Nina correlates with drought in much of the southern United States. Also... i notice that the Nino 1 +2 is still rather warm... but i did read somewhere that its not unusual for that to happen in La Nina
In the short term, things are looking up for the Plains. Several shots at good rainfall, starting soon...

I will have to do some research on the La Nina, Neutral, El Nino years and relate them to the busy severe storm breakout years as well to the droughts...I have a gut feel there may be loose trends that tie them all together...
The SPC indicates that 2004 have far more tornadoes than average, with 1,819 to be exact. Furthermore, this year has already had more tornadoes than average in January and February. Link

I am not sure how this relates to hurricanes though. I also think that there is a good chance of a pre-season storm, based on the fact that numerous disturbances have been developing (I think that the one in the Gulf last week was the third or fourth so far since Zeta, excluding the South Atlantic system).
have = has
I would be interested to find out how many disturbances like the ones we have already seen normally develop during the offseason. I would think 3-4 systems would not be unreasonable and that we are only paying more attention now for obvious reasons.
Perhaps, but I don't think so. Plenty of people fanatically follow the offseason, even if more are doing so this year - I think maybe 1 viable disturbance would be normal.