Invest now to improve tornado warnings; an early start to hurricane season?

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 4:24 PM GMT on May 27, 2011

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The Atlantic hurricane season officially begin on Wednesday, June 1, and recent computer model runs predict that we may have some early-season action in the Central Caribbean Sea to coincide with the start of this year's season. The GFS, NOGAPS, and ECMWF models have all indicated in some of their recent runs that a tropical disturbance may form between Jamaica and Central America sometime in the May 31 - June 2 time frame, as a lobe of the Eastern Pacific Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) pushes across Central America into the Caribbean. Up until now, wind shear has been too high to allow tropical storm formation in the Caribbean, due to the presence of the Subtropical Jet Stream. However, this jet is expected to push northwards over Cuba over the coming week, allowing a region of low wind shear to develop over most of the Caribbean. Water temperatures in the Central Caribbean are about 1°C above average, 29°C, which is plenty warm enough to support development of a tropical storm. The main impediment to development will probably be lack of spin, as we don't have any African tropical waves that are expected to enter the Caribbean Sea next week, to help get things spinning. Stay tuned.


Figure 1. Satellite image of Typhoon Songda.

Typhoon Songda heads for Okinawa and Japan
Typhoon Songda brushed the Philippines yesterday, bringing heavy rains that killed at least two people. Fortunately, the brunt of this year's first Category 5 storm missed the islands, and Songda has weakened slightly to a Category 4 storm with 145 mph winds. Songda is turning northwards and will threaten the island of Okinawa on Saturday. Sea surface temperatures decline rapidly north of the Philippines, and Songda is expected to weaken significantly before reaching Okinawa, where sea surface temperatures are approximately 26°C. Wind shear will also increase to high levels by Saturday, and Songda should be at most a Category 2 typhoon by the time it reaches Okinawa. On Sunday,

Invest now for better tornado warnings
National Weather Service forecasters issued a tornado warning 24 minutes in advance of the Joplin, Missouri tornado this.week, which is now being blamed for at least 132 deaths--the deadliest U.S. tornado since at least 1947. However, we can do better, and the National Weather Service Employees Organization (NWSEO) put out a press release on May 23, arguing that investments in weather service forecasting technology are needed to reduce loss of life in future violent tornadoes:

"The 24-minute lead time is a great improvement over the average lead time of 13 minutes for tornado warnings. The meteorologists in the Springfield Weather Forecast Office are commended for their lifesaving work," said Dan Sobien, NWSEO President. "But in our age of advanced technology and communication, when new radars and modeling opportunities exist that can provide more lead time to get people out of the path of a storm, hundreds of people do not have to die because of a tornado event."

Sobien says the Joplin and Tuscaloosa tornadoes are examples of how the government's neglect to invest in NWS related infrastructure over the last 10 to 15 years has failed to provide the tools necessary to protect lives and property. He says that the tools forecasters use to issue tornado warnings are woefully inadequate and that the technology exists to provide lead times so far in advance of the storm that it would make the need for tornado warnings as we know them obsolete. "The much touted Doppler Weather Radar, also known as the Weather Service Radar or WSR-88D, was developed in 1988. Since that time, technological advances, including phased array radars developed by the Department of Defense, have been shown to increase the current lead time on tornado warnings by almost 50 percent."

"The much touted Warn on Forecast process utilizes Meso-scale modeling and has the potential to let forecasters know hours in advance where a thunderstorm would form and if it is likely to contain strong winds, hail, or even a tornado. With adequate staffing, local National Weather Service forecasters who understand local terrain and the model output, could be embedded with emergency managers and decision makers. In the event of a storm, the forecaster could provide emergency managers with the tornado track with some margin of error and people in the way of the storm could be evacuated hours before the tornado hits. This technology is being developed and tested right now, however without funding it will never be available."

"The art and science of severe weather warnings made considerable progress during the 1980s and 90s, going from almost zero lead time to average of about 13 minutes for tornado warnings. However, in recent years, that progress has stalled, even while the technological advancements have accelerated. If the country made the type of investment in the National Weather Service that it did in the 1980s, scenes like the ones in Missouri this week and in Alabama and Mississippi last month could be a thing of the past."

"I am very proud of my co-workers at the National Weather Service this tornado season. They saved many lives and having been there myself, I can assure you, they feel personally about every lost life," said Sobien. "I know that budgets are tight and there are many priorities, but if you put investing in the National Weather Service up to a vote today in tornado alley, I think the approval would be a landslide."


I wholeheartedly agree with this view--investments in better tornado forecasts and tornado observing technology will potentially give us a huge return in lives saved. Have a great holiday weekend, everyone, and I'll be back Monday or Tuesday with a new post.


Jeff Masters

Tornado Power (Betty2)
Sunday, LaCrosse, WI a tornado hit. This is a photo of a 2x4 board that slammed through a tire.. and, freaky, but it left the air in the tire! Photo was taken by my neighbor, Lori Hines, Gays Mills WI.
Tornado Power
25 May, (rdjgonzo)
May 25, 2011 at 7:10pm. Picture taken from Bartlett (Shelby County) TN.
25 May,
What A Storm (llpj04)
What A Storm

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Quoting kmanislander:
Vorticity on the rise N of Panama

Good morning kman. We surely can use the rain.
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Vorticity on the rise N of Panama

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instant grits? eck! but they'll do in a pinch, I suppose.
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Quoting Neapolitan:
Good morning, WU-people.

As the tropics heat up both literally and figuratively, another sure sign of summer in Texas. Here's this weekend's Fort Stockton forecast:

Today: Sunny and hot, with a high near 109. South wind 10 to 15 mph becoming west.

Sunday: Sunny and hot, with a high near 105. South wind 10 to 15 mph increasing to between 20 and 25 mph. Winds could gust as high as 30 mph.

And the relatively humidity for Fort Stockton will be a steamy 3% during the hottest part of the day. Sounds like fun. :-\

Of course, Fort Stockton's not alone; the entire western half of Texas will be in triple digits today, and temps in the eastern 2/3 of the nation will be very toasty most of the next week, with temps in the 80s and 90s most days all the way into the upper Mississippi Valley and New England.

Weee-doggy! indeed...


You just described an convection oven.
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A sight for sore eyes.
LinkWVLoop
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Vinny Gambini: So obviously it takes you 5 minutes to cook your breakfast.
Mr. Tipton: That's right.
Vinny Gambini: That's right, so you knew that. You remember what you had?
Mr. Tipton: Eggs and grits.
Vinny Gambini: Eggs and grits. I like grits, too. How do you cook your grits? Do you like them regular, creamy or al dente?
Mr. Tipton: Just regular I guess.
Vinny Gambini: Regular. Instant grits?
Mr. Tipton: No self respectin' Southerner uses instant grits. I take pride in my grits.
Vinny Gambini: So, Mr. Tipton, how could it take you 5 minutes to cook your grits when it takes the entire grit eating world 20 minutes?
Mr. Tipton: I don't know, I'm a fast cook I guess.
Vinny Gambini: I'm sorry I was all the way over here I couldn't hear you did you say you were a fast cook, that's it?
Mr. Tipton: Yeah.
Vinny Gambini: Are we to believe that boiling water soaks into a grit faster in your kitchen than anywhere else on the face of the earth?
Mr. Tipton: I don't know.
Vinny Gambini: Well, I guess the laws of physics cease to exist on top of your stove. Were these magic grits? Did you buy them from the same guy who sold Jack his beanstalk beans?
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480. IKE

Quoting Thundercloud01221991:
How about this forecast?
That is horrible. Ain't even summer yet!
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How about this forecast?
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478. IKE

Quoting aquak9:
dang squawk, you're up early.

ike- are those instant grits, or they been cookin' awhile?
Instant aquak. Throw some butter on em....


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Quoting aquak9:




Very good description lol!
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476. IKE

Quoting SQUAWK:


I'm IN!!!!
"""Me too. Throw in the link sausage"""


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dang squawk, you're up early.

ike- are those instant grits, or they been cookin' awhile?
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Quoting IKE:

"""Mornin folks. Grits and eggs anyone?"""






I'm IN!!!!
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Why don't they just change the name of Fort stockton to Hell, and get it over with?

Wunderkid- are you hoping for rain? are you hoping for development? I'm gonna go with the NE swoop-away, if I had to guess.
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Good morning, WU-people.

As the tropics heat up both literally and figuratively, another sure sign of summer in Texas. Here's this weekend's Fort Stockton forecast:

Today: Sunny and hot, with a high near 109. South wind 10 to 15 mph becoming west.

Sunday: Sunny and hot, with a high near 105. South wind 10 to 15 mph increasing to between 20 and 25 mph. Winds could gust as high as 30 mph.

And the relatively humidity for Fort Stockton will be a steamy 3% during the hottest part of the day. Sounds like fun. :-\

Of course, Fort Stockton's not alone; the entire western half of Texas will be in triple digits today, and temps in the eastern 2/3 of the nation will be very toasty most of the next week, with temps in the 80s and 90s most days all the way into the upper Mississippi Valley and New England.

Weee-doggy! indeed...
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471. IKE

Quoting aquak9:
Well call me Jed Clampett and I'll sing Weee-Doggy!
"""Mornin folks. Grits and eggs anyone?"""




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Good morning all

A great weather watching weekend for the SW Caribbean.

The models all call for development but the long term solutions vary. The GFS prefers an exit from the Caribbean over Jamaica to the NE. The Canadian and NOGAPS lean towards due North between Jamaica and the Caymans and the ECMWF keeps the system hanging around for a very long time.

Lots to choose from but certainly a lot of rain in the offing for this area over the next few days.
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469. Ylee
Ike can be Jethro...
He's good at those "gazintas".... :)
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Well call me Jed Clampett and I'll sing Weee-Doggy!
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Quoting Tropicsweatherpr:
Good morning. Let's see how the 12z package of the models do. So far,GFS is the less bullish (Although,develops another low north of Puerto Rico) while NOGAPS is the most bullish,followed by CMC and ECMWF.


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465. IKE
Quoting aquak9:
That's it, Ike! I'm gonna buy one, duct tape it to the roof of my car, and be my own portable invest!
lol.

................................................. .................................................. ..........

I've had 1.41 inches of rain since April 6th.
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464. IKE
Aquak...you have a 20% shot of rain today...Thursday and Friday...WOOHOO!

I've got 20% tomorrow....Thursday and Friday! Yeehaw!
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That's it, Ike! I'm gonna buy one, duct tape it to the roof of my car, and be my own portable invest!
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Good morning. Let's see how the 12z package of the models do. So far,GFS is the less bullish (Although,develops another low north of Puerto Rico) while NOGAPS is the most bullish,followed by CMC and ECMWF.
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461. IKE

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Good weekend morning friends and lurkers.

Reading back- Blogger FrankZapper honestly does not know who Frank Zappa was.

Sunrise is smoky, coffee is hot, and I'd wishcast a garden sprinkler at this point if I thought it'd help.

Hi Aussie- Hi Ike.
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459. IKE
Miami,FL...

EXTENDED PERIOD...TUESDAY THROUGH FRIDAY...WITH THE HIGH PRES
OVER THE SE U.S. MOVING W...THE UPPER TROUGH TO THE S MOVES N
OVER S FLA PULLING DEEPER TROPICAL MOISTURE OVER S FLA. THIS WILL
INCREASE THE CHANCES OF RAIN LATE NEXT WEEK. WITH AN EASTERLY FLOW
THIS MEANS LATE NIGHT/EARLY MORNING ACTIVITY E WITH MAINLY INTERIOR
AND W AFTERNOONS.


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458. IKE
144 hr 6Z GFS.....


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Receipt from tornado-hit Joplin turns up a record 845 kilometres away

A RECEIPT from a tyre store in the tornado-devastated Missouri town of Joplin has turned up 525 miles (845km) away on the front porch of a home in Indiana, a tornado expert at Purdue University revealed today.

The slip of paper made a record journey for a piece of tornado debris, with Ernest Agee, a professor of earth and atmospheric sciences, calculating it would have been sucked into the tornado then carried by the jet stream for 12.5 hours.

"This paper travelled more than twice as far as the longest distance recorded for debris from a storm," he told the university's news service. The previous record was a cancelled check that travelled 210 miles (338km) after the 1915 tornado in Great Bend, Kansas.

A couple from Royal Center, in north central Indiana, discovered the receipt from Joplin Tire -- dated May 13 -- on their front porch Wednesday. Royal Center is about 45 miles (72km) from Lafayette, where Purdue University is located.
"The distance paper travels is directly proportional to the intensity of the tornado. This paper's journey is a testament to the strength of the EF5 tornado that struck Joplin and what that city went through," Agee said.

There were still 156 people listed as missing in Joplin on Friday, with the death toll from the tornado confirmed at 132.

The twister that savaged the town was the single deadliest tornado recorded since the National Weather Service began tracking such information in 1950.

The US is experiencing one of its worst tornado seasons in decades.
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456. IKE

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455. IKE
144 hr 00Z NOGAPS....


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453. IKE
144 hr 00Z ECMWF....








144 hr. 00Z CMC.....


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Quoting PcolaDan:
Two comments on tornado warnings.

1. First of all, don't forget we are a bunch of weather geeks who keep up with it all the time because it fascinates us. The average person may take a quick peek to see if they need an umbrella, otherwise it's simply "Hmm, looks like rain" or "Wow, that's a black cloud". Is there a better way to inform the masses when they are not sitting at a computer or television? Possibly, some being mentioned previously like alert system for car radio/sat radio based on geography. Is it feasible or practical? Don't know, but worth looking into.

2. I REALLY wish they would change the warning system. I have said it before and I'll say it again. It used to be when there was a tornado WARNING, that meant a tornado was on the ground, or at least a funnel had been spotted. Now there are many warnings where nothing actually touches the ground. I believe this leads to the complacency which we see. "Oh, another warning with no tornado. I'll wait until I see it myself." I think a 3rd level would be better. Watch, (something here), and warning, with (something here) being the precursor to a warning, with warning meaning TAKE COVER IMMEDIATELY.

just a thought
The problem with #2 is there isn't always someone to spot these tornadoes making landfall. So, while I agree with what you're saying, idk if its really a practical/realistic solution.

On another note, I support the funding and the addition of new radars. While I am not too confident it will drastically decrease tornado related deaths, (since there will always be people who ignore the warnings for whatever reason) improved forecasting will help reduce tornado related deaths to an extent. That extent-no matter how small-is entirely worth the funding imo.

Additionally, newer radar would allow for the advancement of meteorology as a science, which i am all for
Member Since: August 24, 2010 Posts: 19 Comments: 4358
hmmmm...

MARINE WEATHER DISCUSSION
NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
235 AM EDT SAT MAY 28 2011

MARINE WEATHER DISCUSSION FOR THE GULF OF MEXICO...CARIBBEAN SEA
AND TROPICAL N ATLC...AND SOUTHWEST NORTH ATLC S OF 31N W OF 55W.

GULF OF MEXICO...
A SURFACE RIDGE EXTENDS E-W ACROSS THE NORTHERN GULF ALONG 27N.
BUOYS OVER THE NW GULF INDICATE THAT SE RETURN FLOW IS STARTING
TO INCREASE TO 15 TO 20 KT...BETWEEN THE SURFACE RIDGE AND LOW
PRES DEVELOPING OVER THE SOUTHERN PLAINS. LIGHT TO MODERATE FLOW
PERSISTS ACROSS THE REMAINDER OF THE GULF PRESENTLY. WINDS
ACROSS THE WESTERN GULF WILL INCREASE THROUGH LATE TODAY AS THE
RIDGE BUILDS OVER THE SE UNITED STATES. E TO SE WINDS WILL
INCREASE INTO EARLY NEXT WEEK THROUGHOUT THE GULF IN RESPONSE TO
LOWERING PRES OVER THE WESTERN CARIBBEAN. WINDS WILL SHIFT MORE
NE BY MID WEEK AS AN AREA OF LOW PRES IN THE FAR SW CARIBBEAN
SHIFTS INTO THE N CENTRAL CARIBBEAN.
THE INCREASING FETCH AND
DURATION OF THE FRESH E TO SE FLOW WILL ALLOW SEAS TO BUILD TO 8
FT IN THE FAR WESTERN GULF BY MON...ALTHOUGH THIS WILL SUBSIDE
THROUGH MIDWEEK AS WINDS BACK MORE NE TO E ACROSS THE GULF AND
DIMINISH SLIGHTLY OVER THE WESTERN GULF AS THE LOW PRES N OF THE
AREA SHIFTS FURTHER TO THE N. MOST OF THE LATEST REPORTS FROM
OIL PLATFORMS AND LAND BASED OBSERVATIONS OVER THE WESTERN GULF
SHOW UNRESTRICTED VISIBILITY WITH A COUPLE OF EXCEPTIONS WHERE 4
TO 5 NM IN HAZE WAS REPORTED. SMOKE FROM SOUTHERN MEXICO COULD
STILL BE AN ISSUE OVER THE WESTERN GULF...BUT THIS MAY BE
STARTING TO ABATE.

CARIBBEAN SEA AND TROPICAL N ATLC W OF 55W...
SCATTEROMETER DATA SHOW AREAS OF 20 KT EASTERLY WINDS ALONG THE
COAST OF COLOMBIA...BETWEEN HIGH PRES N OF THE AREA AND
DEVELOPING LOW PRES OVER NW COLOMBIA AND THE SW CARIBBEAN. A
TROPICAL WAVE IS ALSO MIGRATING INTO EASTERN VENEZUELA ENHANCING
SURFACE WINDS TO 20 KT OFF THE NE COAST OF VENEZUELA W OF
TRINIDAD. ELSEWHERE LIGHT TO MODERATE E TO SE WINDS PREVAIL
ACROSS THE AREA FROM 55W THROUGH THE NW CARIBBEAN. SW MONSOON
FLOW FROM THE EASTERN PACIFIC IS AIDING DEVELOPMENT OF THE LOW
PRES IN THE SW CARIBBEAN. GLOBAL MODELS ARE IN BETTER AGREEMENT
WITH THIS FEATURE. IT IS EXPECTED FORM TODAY...DEEPEN TO AROUND
1007 TO 1008 MB AND STAY OFF WESTERN PANAMA INTO EARLY NEXT
WEEK. IT WILL MIGRATE INTO THE W CENTRAL CARIBBEAN SW OF JAMAICA
BY THE MIDDLE OF NEXT WEEK...ALTHOUGH NOT DEEPEN MUCH FURTHER
GIVEN STRONG SHEAR ALOFT AND THAT SUPPORTING SW FLOW REMAINS
FAIRLY LIGHT.
THE MAIN IMPACT WILL BE TO ENHANCE E TO SE FLOW
OVER THE EASTERN AND CENTRAL CARIBBEAN BY EARLY NEXT WEEK. SEAS
WILL REACH AS HIGH AS 10 FT WITH WINDS 20 TO 25 KT BY LATE MON.
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
it remains relatively stationary in the middle of the Caribbean.
That seems a little odd for June.
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
00z ECMWF develops a broad area of low pressure in the southern Caribbean at 120 hours. Keeps the system as one entity and relatively weak throughout the run (through 240 hours) as it remains relatively stationary in the middle of the Caribbean.


Yep. Saw that. CMC the only one Ive seen really move it at all and of course they pick now not to show the 240hr. Lol. At least not on any site I could find. Ah well, they're just models but hey, not much else to talk about yet. Soon it would seem tho. :)
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00z ECMWF develops a broad area of low pressure in the southern Caribbean at 120 hours. Keeps the system as one entity and relatively weak throughout the run (through 240 hours) as it remains relatively stationary in the middle of the Caribbean.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
447. xcool
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Both pretty aggressive.


The 00z CMC does something very different with that system tonight as compared to last night. Look where it ends up at 216.

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Quoting Levi32:
0z NOGAPS 180 hours:



this is very bad for me very bad, Levi32 do you see where the system is at, at that time. you know where I am
Member Since: June 13, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 12697
Its my bedtime. Hopefully the intensity models show up by tomorrow.
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Quoting Levi32:
0z NOGAPS 180 hours:

Quoting Levi32:
0z CMC 144 hours:

Both pretty aggressive.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
0z NOGAPS 180 hours:

Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26686
0z CMC 144 hours:

Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26686
One of those flares over C America, will turn out to be an invest, soon....Bed Time...


Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9874
Residents at ground zero of tornado recall terrifying moments. This is in Bush,LA not Joplin.Link
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Quoting sunlinepr:


During those years....Did you considered Frank Zappa's music career?
Who is Frank Zappa?
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Quoting FrankZapper:
Yes I have proudly obtained much of my knowledge from 24 years of reading The Farmer's Almanac and Reader's Digest.



jk


During those years....Did you considered Frank Zappa's music career?
Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9874
Quoting hurricaneben:
Poll on the total named storm activity of this season...

a)Under 8 named storms
b)8-12 named storms
c)13-17 named storms
d)18-21 named storms
e)22+ named storms

I'd pick c, anybody who'd like to vote be free to do so.
c

14-18 seems to be the avg range of most people. I'm thinking 15-16
Member Since: August 24, 2010 Posts: 19 Comments: 4358

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About

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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