Bill weakens, but still generating huge waves

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:29 PM GMT on August 20, 2009

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Hurricane Bill has peaked in intensity, and now shows signs of weakening. Visible and infrared satellite imagery show that the hurricane is no longer as symmetric as it once was, with an oval instead of circular shape to its cloud pattern. Upper-level cirrus clouds are restricted on the storm's southwest side, indicating that upper-level winds from the southwest are shearing the storm. The University of Wisconsin CIMSS wind shear analysis shows about 10 - 15 knots of wind shear impacting Bill. The latest 8:18am EDT eye report from the Hurricane Hunters indicated that the eyewall had a gap in its southwest side, and the pressure had risen 2 mb since last night, to 951 mb. Maximum winds at the surface observed by the SFMR instrument were only Category 2 strength, though winds measured at the aircraft flight level of 10,000 feet still suggested Bill may be a Category 3 hurricane.

Wind shear is forecast to remain low to moderate, 5 - 15 knots, for the next three days, and it is possible Bill may see a relaxation of the wind shear affecting it, allowing re-intensification to Category 4 status. Sea Surface Temperatures (SSTs) will be plenty warm over the next three days, as Bill traverses a region of ocean with SSTs of 28 - 29°C. Total ocean heat content is at a maximum today, and will gradually decline over the next three days.


Figure 1. Visible satellite image of Bill at 1:33 pm EDT Thursday 8/20/09. Bill had an oval shape oriented SW - NE, and was missing upper-level cirrus clouds on the southwest side, indicating that wind shear from strong upper-level southwesterly winds was affecting it.

Water vapor satellite loops continue to show two small "short-wave" troughs of low pressure to the northwest of Bill, and these troughs are continuing to steer Bill to the northwest. The short wave troughs (so called because they have a relatively small amplitude and wavelength) are not strong enough to turn Bill due north, so Bill is expected to miss Bermuda. The official NHC forecast has the radius of tropical storm force winds from Bill barely reaching Bermuda on Saturday, so the island can expect sustained winds in the 35 - 45 mph range for a few hours on Saturday if the hurricane follows the NHC forecast track.


Figure 2. Visible satellite image of Bill's eye zoomed in, taken from NASA's Aqua spacecraft at 10:15am EDT Wednesday August 19, 2009. Image credit: NASA GSFC.

An unusually strong "long wave" trough of low pressure (called long wave because of its large amplitude and wavelength) is expected to develop along the U.S. East Coast this weekend. This trough will turn Bill to the north, and also bring high levels of wind shear in the 40 - 65 knot range on Sunday. The models have moved the forecast landfall point of Bill several hundred miles back and forth to the east and west over the past few days, but mostly agree that Cape Cod and Maine will probably miss a direct hit by Bill. However, these regions are still at the edge of Bill's cone of uncertainty, and a direct strike by Bill at Category 1 or 2 strength is a possibility. However, it is more likely that Bill will come ashore over the Canadian provinces of Nova Scotia or Newfoundland. Bill will be weakening rapidly as it makes landfall, and is likely to be a Category 1 hurricane if it hits Nova Scotia, or strong tropical storm if it hits Newfoundland. If Bill follows the official NHC forecast path, winds on Cape Cod and in eastern Maine are likely to remain below tropical storm force (below 39 mph).

Bill's waves
Hurricane Bill is generating huge waves, thanks to its enormous size and major hurricane intensity. Bill passed about 75 miles southwest of Buoy 41044 this morning, and the buoy recorded sustained winds of 67 mph, gusting to 92 mph, with a significant wave height (the height of the average 1/3 highest waves) of 38.8 feet. Output from NOAA's Wavewatch III model suggests that significant wave heights near Bill's center will peak at 50 feet by Saturday. Large swells from Bill will reach Bermuda this afternoon, increasing seas to 5 - 9 feet, according to the Bermuda Weather Service. Seas will increase to 10 - 20 feet on Friday and 20 - 30 feet on Saturday as Bill makes its closest approach to the island.

In the U.S., Bill's swells will reach New York's Long Island on Friday afternoon, and seas will build to 7 - 10' on Saturday and 12 - 16' on Sunday in the near shore waters. By Friday night, Bill's swells will be affecting the entire U.S. East Coast from Florida to Cape Cod. Maximum sea heights in near shore waters over the weekend will be about 7' from Florida to South Carolina, 11 - 14' along the North Carolina coast, 8 - 11' along the mid-Atlantic coast, and 10 - 11' along the coast of Maine. The highest waves along the U.S. coast will occur at Cape Cod, Massachusetts, where waves of 18 - 23' are being forecast by NOAA for Sunday. Bill's high waves are going to cause millions of dollars in erosion damage and create very dangerous rip currents and swimming conditions along the coast.

Hurricane History of Canada
Canada is no stranger to hurricanes, and receives a hit by a Category 1 or stronger hurricane several times per decade, on average. The most recent hurricane strike on Canada occurred in 2008, when Hurricane Kyle struck the southwestern tip of Nova Scotia, just north of Yarmouth. Kyle was rated a Category 1 hurricane with 75 mph winds at landfall, but damage was limited to uprooted trees, scattered power outages, and minor street flooding in Shelburne. The other hurricane to hit Nova Scotia this decade was much more serious. In 2003, Hurricane Juan made landfall at Halifax, Nova Scotia, as a Category 2 hurricane with 100 mph winds. A record storm surge of 4.9 feet inundated the city's waterfront, resulting in extensive flooding of the Halifax and Dartmouth waterfront properties. A buoy just outside Halifax Harbor measured a significant wave height of 9 meters (30 feet), and maximum wave heights of 20 meters (65 feet). Four people died in the storm. Juan downed a phenomenal number of trees--agriculture specialists estimate that 50 - 100 million trees blew down in Nova Scotia in two hours, with one million downed in Halifax alone. The Canadian Hurricane Center has a nice historical hurricane page with more information and photos.


Figure 3. Close up view of the damage at the Bedford Yacht Club after Hurricane Juan in 2003. Photo: Gary Dunbrack. Image credit: Environment Canada website on Hurricane Juan.

Elsewhere in the tropics
There are no threat areas in the Atlantic worth mentioning today, and no reliable models are calling for tropical cyclone development over the next seven days.

I'll have an update Friday morning.

Jeff Masters

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Current steering Map


-3 hours ago.
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 178 Comments: 20439
Quoting NRAamy:
TWC playing some funky music on...local on the 8's...Papa Was a Rolling Stone....

"and when he died...all he left us was a loan...."

wonder if it was a govt. bail out?

I always thought it went.. "all he left us was alone"
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting NEVERRIGHT:
WELL THIS HURRICANE SEASON IS DONE FOR US HERE IN FLORIDA BETWEEN THE WIND SHEAR SAHARA DUST BLOCKING HIGHS WE WONT GET ANYTHING THIS YEAR AGAIN


but I thought you were NEVERRIGHT?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
I'm glad that Galveston's trying to come back. I just wouldnt be brave enough to ride one out in the Flagship.Funny the press didn't stay there either. Lol. It takes time to recover. And like you said it was the end of an era wen the Balinese went. :(
I went to Pleasure Island the other day. There's still debris and busted up boats everywhere.

Yeah SRT I hear that song in my head A LOT! LOL.
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Quoting IKE:


WS riding 70 foot waves.....


MUAHAHAHAHAHA!

Video on Youtube soon
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709. IKE
Quoting NEVERRIGHT:
WELL THIS HURRICANE SEASON IS DONE FOR US HERE IN FLORIDA BETWEEN THE WIND SHEAR SAHARA DUST BLOCKING HIGHS WE WONT GET ANYTHING THIS YEAR AGAIN


See you in 2010!
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Quoting DestinJeff:
The trough steering currents for Bill are currently over Western NC, East TN ... SWerly flow riding up the spine of Appalachians. Also note the clockwise flow of moisture over the eastern seaboard, circulating around the high pressure centered over the SE US.

that high needs to weaken and the swerly flow from the approaching cold front will be able to steer bill. the orientation of the high from sw to ne makes me wonder, though, if Bill might not get caught underneath. not likely, and not at all expected.

Link


That's where that word comes in again, that word I dislike so much. "Stall". Once I'm over that part, Bill hasn't stalled and is moving along, I'll breathe a little easier. I've seen that happen before and it scares me.

And please folks, let's not get excited about landfall, the exciting part is when it miraculously misses everything. There's the hand of God for you, or at least the angels, and that's exciting enough for me.

Hunkered down during the Halloween Storm, '91, (Perfect Storm), I was all by myself, power cut off, wind was howling like I'd never heard it and I could hear trees falling and transformers popping up and down my street. Oh, I had a great conversation with the G man than night, I can tell ya!
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TWC playing some funky music on...local on the 8's...Papa Was a Rolling Stone....

"and when he died...all he left us was a loan...."

wonder if it was a govt. bail out?
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Quoting IKE:
TWC playing some funky music on...local on the 8's...Papa Was a Rolling Stone....


That's how TWC rolls.
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Quoting hydrus:
I can understand being curious about what it is like to witness a hurricane.But to actually think that someone hopes to be hit by one is in my view insanely hilarious..lol.
I wouldn't say hilarious just plain stupid.
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For my brothers and sisters down south

COASTAL HAZARD MESSAGE
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE NEWPORT/MOREHEAD CITY NC
322 PM EDT THU AUG 20 2009


NCZ095-098-103-104-210900-
/O.NEW.KMHX.SU.Y.0007.090822T0000Z-090823T1600Z/
/O.NEW.KMHX.CF.S.0025.090821T1200Z-090822T0000Z/
CARTERET-ONSLOW-OUTER BANKS DARE-OUTER BANKS HYDE-
322 PM EDT THU AUG 20 2009

...HIGH THREAT OF RIP CURRENTS IN EFFECT FRIDAY...
...HIGH SURF ADVISORY IN EFFECT FROM 8 PM FRIDAY TO NOON EDT
SUNDAY...


THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN NEWPORT/MOREHEAD CITY HAS ISSUED
A HIGH SURF ADVISORY...WHICH IS IN EFFECT FROM 8 PM FRIDAY TO
NOON EDT SUNDAY.

SWELLS FROM HURRICANE BILL WILL GRADUALLY INCREASE ALONG THE
COAST FRIDAY. THESE SWELLS WILL PRODUCE ROUGH SURF AND A HIGH
THREAT OF DANGEROUS RIP CURRENTS.

THE SWELLS WILL CONTINUE TO BUILD THROUGH SATURDAY WITH WAVES IN
THE SURF ZONE EXPECTED TO BUILD TO 7 TO 10 FEET SOUTH OF CAPE
LOOKOUT AND 10 TO 14 FEET NORTH LATER SATURDAY. THIS WILL PRODUCE
VERY DANGEROUS SURF...SIGNIFICANT BEACH EROSION AND POSSIBLY OCEAN
OVERWASH. THE MOST LIKELY TIME FOR OVERWASH WILL BE AROUND 9 AM
SATURDAY MORNING AND 930 PM SATURDAY EVENING DURING HIGH TIDE.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

A HIGH SURF ADVISORY MEANS THAT HIGH SURF WILL AFFECT BEACHES IN
THE ADVISORY AREA...PRODUCING DANGEROUS RIP CURRENTS AND
LOCALIZED BEACH EROSION.

RIP CURRENTS ARE STRONG...NARROW CHANNELS OF WATER THAT FLOW OUT
TO SEA. IF YOU BECOME CAUGHT IN A RIP CURRENT...REMAIN CALM. TRY
TO SWIM ON A COURSE THAT IS PARALLEL TO THE BEACH UNTIL YOU GET
AWAY FROM THE RIP...THEN SWIM AT AN ANGLE IN TO SHORE. DO NOT TRY
TO SWIM BACK TO SHORE DIRECTLY AGAINST THE RIP...SINCE IT CAN
EXHAUST AND EVEN KILL THE STRONGEST SWIMMER.
&&
Link
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703. slavp
Quoting TampaSpin:


Don't know what the LOL was for. The storm will certainly slow down alot before the turn NOrth......LOL
That LOL was for Dropping WS into the Hurricane, I meant to quote IKE. Sorry if I quoted you instead
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Quoting scott1968:


Leave when a hurricane comes! Cat 3 or above I'm out. In MOST cases it is a night or two in a hotel somewhere safe having drinks watching the darn thing on TV. I have had to evacuate 4 times and actually had fun 3 times. Came back once with a flooded house but I am still living there now and the earth is still spinning and the sun is still coming up in morning. Now, stormwatcher I am not really referring to you just used your post to make a point.
Where do you live ? I have never considered evacuating mainly due to the fact that 2 of my kids work the EOC and no way in hell will I leave them behind.
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Quoting rwdobson:


Bill to the east, trough to the west, the high is getting squeezed (squozen?) out.
or sucked out?
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Quoting slavp:
LOL!!!


Don't know what the LOL was for. The storm will certainly slow down alot before the turn NOrth......LOL
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 178 Comments: 20439
699. A4Guy
Quoting PBG00:


Wilma hit more north..Plam Beach county and Martin County


Wilma was plenty scary in Broward too. Remember the damage to downtown Fort Lauderdale office bldgs? We also lost 30% of our tree canopy, and I don't know what % of roofs had blue tarps, but it was significant.
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Quoting stormwatcherCI:
I have lived in Grand Cayman since 1973 and I was so sick and tired of hearing young folks hoping for a hurricane. I always used to tell them not to wish for that. They were the same ones crying like babies when Ivan hit in 2004 with Cat 5 winds and gusting to (I have heard) over 200mph. WS, Be careful.
I can understand being curious about what it is like to witness a hurricane.But to actually think that someone hopes to be hit by one is in my view insanely hilarious..lol.
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 20493
Seeing some of OZ's other videos, I am guessing that he is very excited. He seems to feed off of those situations.
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Quoting stormwatcherCI:
I have lived in Grand Cayman since 1973 and I was so sick and tired of hearing young folks hoping for a hurricane. I always used to tell them not to wish for that. They were the same ones crying like babies when Ivan hit in 2004 with Cat 5 winds and gusting to (I have heard) over 200mph. WS, Be careful.


Leave when a hurricane comes! Cat 3 or above I'm out. In MOST cases it is a night or two in a hotel somewhere safe having drinks watching the darn thing on TV. I have had to evacuate 4 times and actually had fun 3 times. Came back once with a flooded house but I am still living there now and the earth is still spinning and the sun is still coming up in morning. Now, stormwatcher I am not really referring to you just used your post to make a point.
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694. IKE
Quoting Floodman:


LOL...maybe a surfboard for when he gets to the bottom of the ride...LOL


WS riding 70 foot waves.....
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We might see Bill make a slight move to the WEST for a very short period before it turns more North when Bill gets to the Southern Part of the HIgh to its West....
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 178 Comments: 20439
@677 - heck, you should go visit sooner rather than later :-). The city would certainly appreciate the $, and for visiting and having a good time, it's up and running. It's just the stuff that isn't tourist-driven that's taking a little longer.
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Quoting southfla:
Oh Ike don't be silly -- at those wind speeds he wouldn't need a parachute.


LOL...maybe a surfboard for when he gets to the bottom of the ride...LOL
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690. IKE
TWC playing some funky music on...local on the 8's...Papa Was a Rolling Stone....
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Quoting sunbunny24:


We live on the St. Lucie River and can see Sewall's Point from our back yard. Frances took 1/3 of our concrete dock and then Jeanne took the rest and most of our backyard. Wild ride.


I remember driving down Indian River drive(the parts that weren't crumbled into the river) a day or two after Jeanne and Frances and seeing no docks there at all.
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Quoting Floodman:


From the east, yes, I think so
Thanks.
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687. slavp
Quoting homelesswanderer:


Well, I didn't experience the eye of a cat3. I was in the TEXODUS. But I have to agree with you there. The aftermath of Rita was ummm. I'm trying to find a word...shocking just aint enough it was horrible. And her eye really did go "right over my house" So I can agree with that. Although Ike was a two and he was a life changer as well. Way away from his center as well.
Agreed. Rita and Ike both hit quite away away from me in SWLA and we still got flooded by surge
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Quoting DestinJeff:
Can clearly see the trough and associated steering in this map from CIMMS. not much of a short-wave left for short term steering



That's the same weakness in the ridge that has been moving westwards with Bill since 50W. It's now at 65W and still due north of Bill. I don't know if its coincidence that they're both moving west at the same speed, or if there's some sort of weird physical connection between them. The Bermuda High has also moved west.
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Quoting stormwatcherCI:
Correct me if I am wrong but wasn't Andrew the last major to make a direct landfall in the Miami area ?


From the east, yes, I think so
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Quoting weathersp:
WOW... Look at the dry air intruding at the 700 mb level!

This was taken from recent dropsonde on the SE side of Bill...


As expected, Bill mixed it out rather quickly. He's surely gellin'
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Quoting IKE:
Maybe recon could pick up WS and take him with them on their next flight into Bill. Drop him in the middle of Bill in a parachute and let him feel a major cane.


How's he going to fit in the dropsonde tube?... oh well not our problem.
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682. IKE
BREAKING NEWS.....Jim Cantore at Bermuda. Maybe CycloneOz can interview him or vice versa.
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681. A4Guy
Quoting TampaSpin:
Funny the steering maps just updated...LOL the High has already weakened alot in the last 3 hrs.


can you pls post image or link - would like to see how the map has changed.
thank you.
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Quoting IKE:
Maybe recon could pick up WS and take him with them on their next flight into Bill. Drop him in the middle of Bill in a parachute and let him feel a major cane.


talk about dry air intrusion...
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Oh Ike don't be silly -- at those wind speeds he wouldn't need a parachute.
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Quoting mossyhead:
it has to be scary to be on bermuda and seeing bill on sattelite and how close it is and the size of the storm. anybody on bermuda on here and their observations?


Isn't CycloneOz on his way over there. I hope he knows what wave heights that might be there.
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677. flsky
Quoting toasterbell:
Argh, dang system doesn't want me to post... trying again.

@625 - Galveston is really working on it. They've got the beach looking better than it did pre-Ike, and from the outside the town looks pretty whole. However, there's still a lot of repairs going on and a lot of abandoned homes. I heard that the Flagship owner rode out the storm in the hotel, but that may just have been a rumor. They're also rebuilding some of the businesses out on piers like Murdoch's, but sadly the Balinese room is gone forever.


Glad to hear things are improving. I was there working for 3 weeks last year and things were awful. I'd like to go back sometime when they get themselves back together. It seemed like it would have been a fun place to visit.
Member Since: October 24, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 1910
676. slavp
Quoting TampaSpin:
I think Bill will almost come to a Stall sometime late tonite or tomorrow.
LOL!!!
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Quoting southfla:


The largest impact is in the immediate vicinity of either the eye and/or the largest storm surge. That can be as small as 10 miles or as large as 30 miles (just by example). The people who lived in Fort Lauderdale, Fl 20 miles north of Andrew's landfall "thought" they had gone through a hurricane -- but not really. Clearly the folks in Homestead knew what a major cane is like, but in Fort Lauderdale a lot of folks were surprised by the strength of Wilma. It is a crap shoot and your experience just depends on how close you are to the highest impact region. Until you've been through the eye of a Cat 3 or higher (or within the radius of the highest winds) --- you just don't really know how bad it can be.


Well, I didn't experience the eye of a cat3. I was in the TEXODUS. But I have to agree with you there. The aftermath of Rita was ummm. I'm trying to find a word...shocking just aint enough it was horrible. And her eye really did go "right over my house" So I can agree with that. Although Ike was a two and he was a life changer as well. Way away from his center as well.
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I think Bill will almost come to a Stall sometime late tonite or tomorrow.
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 178 Comments: 20439
Quoting IKE:
Maybe recon could pick up WS and take him with them on their next flight into Bill. Drop him in the middle of Bill in a parachute and let him feel a major cane.
Sounds like a plan LOL
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WOW... Look at the dry air intruding at the 700 mb level!

This was taken from recent dropsonde on the SE side of Bill...
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Quoting RickWPB:


Yep, my experience as well. Frances huge and very slooowww moving. Jeanne a bit stronger, but since it was smaller, didn't seem as bad here in West Palm Beach area. Wilma was the worst for us. As you say, the backside was a surprise!

What I remember from TV coverage after H. Jeanne was that Hutchinson Island had broken concrete power polls. That area really got slammed really hard twice in 3 weeks. Two storms made landfall within 1 mile of each other at Sewells Point.


RickWPB, the 2004 season was really one to remember for me, haha. maybe you didn't think Jeanne was much trouble, but she ripped off my roof in West Palm Bch, I live near Southern Blvd and Olive. I guess Frances "loosened up" the roof structure and then Jeanne dealt the "final Blow"-sorry about the bad pun.
I had a blue tarp until mid May 2005, when my insurance finally told me they would Not Help me with the roof. Believe it or not, FEMA came through with about half of the replacement roof cost, I am grateful to those much maligned folks at FEMA. Later Wilma tried to get my new roof but failed, despite dropping a medium tree on my garage. So, my WPB hurricane experience might have been less fun than yours? Let's hope West Palm does not see "eye to eye" with another 'cane for a good long while... Good Luck to you Rick.
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Quoting guygee:
Hey Floodman - I'm wondering if 1)it will close off, 2)if it will couple with Bill. Unlikely, but I've seen stranger things happen.

...The shoe is on the hand it fits
There's really nothing much to it
Whistle through your teeth and spit
cause it's all right.

Oh well a Touch Of Grey
Kind of suits you anyway.
That was all I had to say
It's all right.

I will get by / I will get by
I will get by / I will survive


I've always liked you, Guygee!
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Quoting TampaSpin:
Funny the steering maps just updated...LOL the High has already weakened alot in the last 3 hrs.


Bill to the east, trough to the west, the high is getting squeezed (squozen?) out.
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667. IKE
Maybe recon could pick up WS and take him with them on their next flight into Bill. Drop him in the middle of Bill in a parachute and let him feel a major cane.
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Quoting TampaSpin:
Here is the Steering map for Bill.......that trough better start tapping away at that VERY STRONG building High on the EAST coast or things will be changing abruptly real fast...


Explain please :)
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@653 I think you meant to say VERY WEAK dissipating high instead. it's not strong or building.
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Funny the steering maps just updated...LOL the High has already weakened alot in the last 3 hrs.
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 178 Comments: 20439

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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.