July 2012: hottest month in U.S. history

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 7:16 PM GMT on August 10, 2012

During the 1930s, a series of epic heat waves gripped the U.S., drying up the soil in an unprecedented drought that brought about the great Dust Bowl. The most intense heat hit during July 1936, which set a record for hottest month in U.S. history that stood for 76 years. That iconic record has now fallen, bested by 0.2°F during July 2012, which is now the hottest month in U.S. history, said NOAA's National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) this week. So far in 2012, we've had the warmest March on record, 3rd warmest April, 2nd warmest May, and warmest July. These remarkably warm months have helped push temperatures in the contiguous U.S. to the warmest on record for the year-to-date period of January - July, and for the 12-month period August 2011 - July 2012. Twenty-four states were record warm for that 12-month period, and an additional twenty states were top-ten warm. The past fourteen months have featured America's 2nd warmest summer (in 2011), 4th warmest winter, and warmest spring. The summer of 2012 is on pace to be a top-five warmest summer on record, and could beat the summer of 1936 as the warmest summer in U.S. history.


Figure 1. When the temperature peaked at an all-time high of 108° in Minneapolis, Minnesota on July 14, 1936, the want-ad staff at the 'St. Paul Daily News' was provided with 400 pounds of ice and two electric fans to cool the air in the press room. Photo from the Minnesota Historical Society.


Figure 2. Year-to-date temperature, by month, for 2012 (red), compared to the other 117 years on record for the contiguous U.S., with the five ultimately warmest years (orange) and five ultimately coolest years (blue) noted. The 2012 data are still preliminary. The year-to-date period of January - July was the warmest on record by a huge margin--1.0°F. Image credit: NOAA/NCDC.


Figure 3. For the fourth consecutive month, a new U.S. record for hottest 12-month period was set in July 2012. Five of the top-ten warmest 12-month periods in the contiguous U.S. since 1895 have occurred since April 2011. Image credit: NOAA/NCDC.

Most extreme January - July period on record
NOAA's U.S. Climate Extremes Index (CEI), which tracks the percentage area of the contiguous U.S. experiencing top-10% and bottom-10% extremes in temperature, precipitation, and drought, was 46% during the year-to-date January - July period. This is the highest value since CEI record-keeping began in 1910, and more than twice the average value. Remarkably, 83% of the contiguous U.S. had maximum temperatures that were in the warmest 10% historically during the first seven months of 2012, and 74% of the U.S. of the U.S. had warm minimum temperatures in the top 10%. The percentage area of the U.S. experiencing top-10% drought conditions was 20%, which was the 16th greatest since 1910. Extremes in 1-day heavy precipitation events were the 24th greatest in the 103-year record.


Figure 4. NOAA's U.S. Climate Extremes Index (CEI) for January - July shows that 2012 has had the most extreme first seven months of the year on record, with 46% of the contiguous U.S. experiencing top-10% extreme weather.

Little change to the U.S. drought during the past week
The great U.S. drought of 2012 remained about the same size and intensity over the past week, said NOAA in their weekly U.S. Drought Monitor report issued Thursday, August 9. The area of the contiguous U.S. covered by drought dropped slightly, from 63% to 62%, and the area covered by severe or greater drought stayed constant at 46%. The area of the country in the worst drought categories (extreme to exceptional drought) doubled from 10 percent last month to 22 percent this month. The extreme dryness and excessive heat devastated crops and livestock from the Great Plains to Midwest. During July, the area of the U.S. covered by moderate or greater drought was 57%, ranking as the 5th largest drought in U.S. history:

1) Jul 1934, 80%
2) Dec 1939, 60%
3) Jul 1954, 60%
4) Dec 1956, 58%
5) Jul 2012, 57%



Video 1. This is Not Cool: Peter Sinclair's July 2012 video from the Yale Forum on Climate Change and the Media couples historical footage with contemporary clips and news segments. In one of the latter, for instance, NBC anchor Brian Williams opens the network’s flagship news program with the words: “It’s now official. We are living in one of the worst droughts of the past 100 years.” NASA scientist James Hansen is featured testifying about risks of “extreme droughts” in the nation’s breadbasket, and I'm featured in a few clips talking about the drought of 2012.

I'll have a new post by noon Saturday.

Wunderground's weather historian Christopher C. Burt has a post looking back at the great Heat Wave of July 1936.

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

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Trade winds are not screaming as ive seen some bloggers post!! Although there are a few pockets of 20 mph!! Western Carrib looks quite conducive for development!!

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1094. hydrus
Quoting Grothar:


TD 7 seems to have been able to grab some moisture from the south. Even though there is dry to the North, I am not willing to write it off yet. Shear tendency also looks like it may be dropping a little.


When they hit tropical storm strength, they usually can slurp up enough warm ocean water to keep them alive. Ernesto took a beating, and it still became rather impressive. I think he was a cat-2 when making landfall on the Yucatan. Another day over the Western Caribbean could have put Ernesto up with the bigtime storms.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
Quoting CaribBoy:
TD7 is finally making the so awaited WNW turn ?

Link


dude its not moving WNW and not expected to do so for a while


Quoting BahaHurican:
Looks like the person who said 7L would pass right over Barbados was right...

??

Quoting xtremeweathertracker:


Correct and if we remember, Ernesto was forecast to dissipate by the GFS and not even recognized by the Euro for most of its life!! Im not buying dissipation in 72 hrs just yet!!

yes yes very true I remember too well

so sofar we have what 4/5 people total that don't buy the disipation well that good atleast we can have something that we ca agree on


plus note the NHC put TD 7 to dissipate further W and I got a feeling that somewhere in the NHC's head does not buy the dissipation as well
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1092. scott39
Quoting JLPR2:


Makes you wonder what's wrong with the trade winds, right?
They seem pretty normal to me. Unless they are forecast to strengthen.



thats just it about weather enviroments....they can change very quickly. Ive never been a big fan of being able to forecast wind shear or trade winds.
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Quoting sunlinepr:





Bermudian Shark Liver Oil & Weather Prediction

The use of shark oil is a method of weather prediction which has been in use for at least a few hundred years. And I am glad to say Bermuda shark liver oil is sourced from sharks which are eaten.

Shark is traditionally cooked as a hash at Easter on the Island. But because it has a strong smell, it is either liked or not liked.

Bermuda has strict rules to regulate fishing around the Island - and since the Island is isolated, sitting on a dormant volcanic shelf in the Sargasso Sea situated in the Atlantic Ocean, and has a land area totalling 22 square miles, it does not have the capacity to over fish the shark. There is a shallow coral shelf around Bermuda, longer at its Northern end and shorter on the Southern side, which is actually the top of the volcano, and on the sides of this, there is an immediate drop off into the wider Atlantic Ocean, where some of the worlds' deepest waters can be found. Bermuda has a temperate climate, and although the weather is relatively mild, this also means that it has all of the seasons.

Sharks' oil has traditionally been used in Bermuda, to predict the weather - though the relatively small amount of shark oil is usually kept within a bottle, the size of a small drinks bottle outside of the back door of many of the old houses. It is usually suspended or hung by a rafter of the roof or fixed in some elevated position where it can be easily seen.


The shark oil is a by-product of the shark, and so it seems to behave as it does within the shark. And as the weather changes - there is a very distinct change in the shark oil within the bottle. Generally, if the shark oil is clear, then the weather will be clear. Before there were accurate satellite images of the weather, when there were hurricane predictions, the old people on the Island, who could read the shark oil, would argue that according to the shark oil’s clarity, cloudiness or what have you, there would be no hurricane coming, although there would be bad weather. On at least a few occasions they have been right. The problem with hurricanes hitting Bermuda, is that the land mass is so small, a small change in direction to the right of left, could easily mean that a hurricane that was heading directly for the Island would miss it.

Most people view the sea as a luxury or exotic, but in Bermuda there is water almost everywhere you look, and with this comes the reality of the sea. And to be that exposed, it is no wonder that anything which could predict the weather was seized upon and viewed in high regard.

It's understandable that most people have never heard of this. The Bermudian population totals about 50-60 thousand, and unless you are a more affluent traveller, means likely you would have never travelled to Bermuda - which is a British Overseas Territory and a functions largely as a tax haven.


Link

-------------------------

While meteorologists are predicting the arrival and path of Igor, some Bermudians have their own way of predicting the storm. Shark Oil Barometers are natures way of predicting a hurricane. The shark liver oil (normally clear) turns white and forms peaks as the storm approaches within 200 miles of the oil. It has been theorized by Jacques Cousteau's son Philippe (according to the Bermuda Sun Newspaper) that during stormy weather sharks get sick to their stomach and descend to the sea bed. I am not sure how the shark oil outside of a living shark can change, but a Bermudian with a shark oil barometer will say it is always accurate. Now if Joyce and I can just get our hands on some shark oil!

Link


very interesting!
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1090. sdswwwe
Quoting sunlinepr:


This would be incredibly easy to scientifically test. If it is true then they need to prove it. My gut feeling tells me that a shark's "barometer" wouldn't be in their liver...
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Finally uploaded the best pictures I've taken while stormchasing with my friend... Some mammatus and a handful of other storm clouds. Oh, and a rainbow.








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1088. scott39
It looks like to me that TD7s biggest obstacle right now, is that it is elongated.
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sunlinepr,
Bermuda is a beautiful island. I loved it there, but I would not want to be there for a hurricane!
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1086. JLPR2
00z GFS initialization is a bit high. (1012mb)

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1085. JLPR2
Quoting scott39:
What resource do we have to know how strong the trade winds are?


Makes you wonder what's wrong with the trade winds, right?
They seem pretty normal to me. Unless they are forecast to strengthen.



Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
I think the 00Z Canadian model track is quite reasonable!!
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Bermudian Shark Liver Oil & Weather Prediction

The use of shark oil is a method of weather prediction which has been in use for at least a few hundred years. And I am glad to say Bermuda shark liver oil is sourced from sharks which are eaten.

Shark is traditionally cooked as a hash at Easter on the Island. But because it has a strong smell, it is either liked or not liked.

Bermuda has strict rules to regulate fishing around the Island - and since the Island is isolated, sitting on a dormant volcanic shelf in the Sargasso Sea situated in the Atlantic Ocean, and has a land area totalling 22 square miles, it does not have the capacity to over fish the shark. There is a shallow coral shelf around Bermuda, longer at its Northern end and shorter on the Southern side, which is actually the top of the volcano, and on the sides of this, there is an immediate drop off into the wider Atlantic Ocean, where some of the worlds' deepest waters can be found. Bermuda has a temperate climate, and although the weather is relatively mild, this also means that it has all of the seasons.

Sharks' oil has traditionally been used in Bermuda, to predict the weather - though the relatively small amount of shark oil is usually kept within a bottle, the size of a small drinks bottle outside of the back door of many of the old houses. It is usually suspended or hung by a rafter of the roof or fixed in some elevated position where it can be easily seen.


The shark oil is a by-product of the shark, and so it seems to behave as it does within the shark. And as the weather changes - there is a very distinct change in the shark oil within the bottle. Generally, if the shark oil is clear, then the weather will be clear. Before there were accurate satellite images of the weather, when there were hurricane predictions, the old people on the Island, who could read the shark oil, would argue that according to the shark oil’s clarity, cloudiness or what have you, there would be no hurricane coming, although there would be bad weather. On at least a few occasions they have been right. The problem with hurricanes hitting Bermuda, is that the land mass is so small, a small change in direction to the right of left, could easily mean that a hurricane that was heading directly for the Island would miss it.

Most people view the sea as a luxury or exotic, but in Bermuda there is water almost everywhere you look, and with this comes the reality of the sea. And to be that exposed, it is no wonder that anything which could predict the weather was seized upon and viewed in high regard.

It's understandable that most people have never heard of this. The Bermudian population totals about 50-60 thousand, and unless you are a more affluent traveller, means likely you would have never travelled to Bermuda - which is a British Overseas Territory and a functions largely as a tax haven.


Link

-------------------------

While meteorologists are predicting the arrival and path of Igor, some Bermudians have their own way of predicting the storm. Shark Oil Barometers are natures way of predicting a hurricane. The shark liver oil (normally clear) turns white and forms peaks as the storm approaches within 200 miles of the oil. It has been theorized by Jacques Cousteau's son Philippe (according to the Bermuda Sun Newspaper) that during stormy weather sharks get sick to their stomach and descend to the sea bed. I am not sure how the shark oil outside of a living shark can change, but a Bermudian with a shark oil barometer will say it is always accurate. Now if Joyce and I can just get our hands on some shark oil!

Link
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
1081. scott39
What resource do we have to know how strong the trade winds are?
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Quoting hericane96:
to me 7L has become much better organized tonight.

you ar not the only one to think that

it does look a little better but stiil need work I think by the time D-MAX kicks in that should be fixed

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Quoting wunderkidcayman:

ok so your with us then

as I said earler I am going with full track no dissipation untill tomorrow whne HH fly in #1 when TD 7 has passed through and would now be in the E caribbean let us see what the conditions are like and see if TD7 had any major problem with its orginisation and core after the windwards

however I think td7 should not have a problem after it come into the windwards as that small area of 30kt shear is after all is small and E of the windwards
after that it has pretty much a clear way to strengthen thereafter


Correct and if we remember, Ernesto was forecast to become an open wave by the GFS and not even recognized by the Euro for most of its life!! Im not buying dissipation in 72 hrs just yet!!
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Quoting alexhurricane1991:
im not on the dissipation bandwagon just yet but it could very well dissipate. just have to watch it and see what recon finds if the mission is still a go for tommorrow.

ok so your with us then

as I said earler I am going with full track no dissipation untill tomorrow whne HH fly in #1 when TD 7 has passed through and would now be in the E caribbean let us see what the conditions are like and see if TD7 had any major problem with its orginisation and core after the windwards

however I think td7 should not have a problem after it come into the windwards as that small area of 30kt shear is after all is small and E of the windwards
after that it has pretty much a clear way to strengthen thereafter
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to me 7L has become much better organized tonight.
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

Never ever?
you are right never I should never but it looks nearly impossible with the trade winds.
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1067. Bahahurrican
Now you know how we feel in the US watching it! It is that bad anyways looks like TD 7 is continuing to struggle.
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Quoting alexhurricane1991:
im not on the dissipation bandwagon just yet but it could very well dissipate. just have to watch it and see what recon finds if the mission is still a go for tommorrow.

I guess we have to ask why does GFS dissipate 7? It never disd Ernesto and he had all manner of hurdles: debilitating trade winds, sudden cutoff from ICTZ moisture, a few hundred miles of dry air, yet the GFS foresaw every center reloc far in advance. Is there some unknown feature looming that we can't see?
Modify: it did open-wave Ernesto but never zapped him.
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Quoting allancalderini:
If td 7 doesn`t strength to ts tomorrow it will never be.

Never ever?
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1071. hydrus
Quoting Patrap:

Southwest Quadrant and Filament (Friday) - By Ron Cottrell

www.solarham.net
Awesome picture Pat..Our Sun is cool....lol
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Quoting wunderkidcayman:
moisture field seems to be building around TD 7 like I said it would and is being helped as TD7 drags moisture from its WSW-SW

Looks like the person who said 7L would pass right over Barbados was right...
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TD7 is finally making the so awaited WNW turn ?

Link
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1068. JLPR2
Out of the oven OSCAT of 93L:

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Sorry to be OT for just one post... but it is really depressing to watch the Olympics on NBC when you are a Bahamian and your team wins the 4x400 men's relay... no interview, no chance to view the victory lap... a cutaway to a team not even in the medals... and then excuses that the Americans weren't at their best rather than credit to the winners for a job well done.

Sad.

[Rant off]
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If td 7 doesn`t strength to ts tomorrow it will never be.
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I say not going to happen the dissipation in 72 hours

my track following the 00Z models would be a mix of the SHIPS, the DSHP, the BAMS
but first can someone please post the text data for the 00Z SHIPS model thank you in advance
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Quoting wunderkidcayman:



ok so far us three
im not on the dissipation bandwagon just yet but it could very well dissipate. just have to watch it and see what recon finds if the mission is still a go for tommorrow.
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Quoting c150flyer:


Yes, we just moved to Oakland Park from Texas back in June... And we bought a house that has a very lush, tropical backyard. Everything is covered in whitefly...mpositively disgusting!!!!!


Oakland Park here as well. welcome to the neighborhood.
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Quoting huntsvle:
Sooooooo....for some reason I'm not buying the dissipation...anyone else?!

Quoting JLPR2:


I'm not 100% sold, but it could happen.


ok so far us three
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Quoting huntsvle:
Sooooooo....for some reason I'm not buying the dissipation...anyone else?!

I'm with you
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More color over NW Bahamas and west of Jamaica

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Quoting Grothar:
Anybody in South Florida experiencing the infestation of the spiraling white fly. It is virtually killing everything. First the ficus, now the palms and black olive trees. In the mornings, cars are covered with them and our pool has a white layer of film from the wings. No eradication plan for them either. Nothing kills them.


Yes, we just moved to Oakland Park from Texas back in June... And we bought a house that has a very lush, tropical backyard. Everything is covered in whitefly...mpositively disgusting!!!!!
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1057. JLPR2
Quoting huntsvle:
Sooooooo....for some reason I'm not buying the dissipation...anyone else?!


I'm not 100% sold, but it could happen.
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Quoting sunlinepr:
Death toll in Mexico from storm Ernesto rises to six
Posted on August 10, 2012
August 10, 2012 – MEXICO - The death toll attributed to the storm Ernesto rose to six on Friday although it continued to weaken as it passed through Mexico’s eastern Veracruz state. Three members of one family were killed on Thursday night when a tree fell on their pick-up truck about 60 miles southwest of Veracruz City, according to a state civil protection official. A fourth family member, a six-year-old child, was also injured in the accident. Ernesto is blamed for causing torrential rains and flooding in nearby rivers. According to local officials, three other people died earlier on Thursday — one in Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz, after falling while working on home repairs; and two more who drowned in next-door Tabasco state. Three major oil-exporting ports in the Gulf of Mexico were re-opened on Friday morning as the storm no longer posed a risk to ships leaving installations in Coatzacoalcos, Cayo Arcas and Dos Bocas, which ship most of Mexico’s crude oil exports. Flooding could damage agriculture in southern Veracruz, a major corn producing area, according to Federico Assaleih, president of the state’s agriculture council. “We have received reports that some (corn) plantations were flooded yesterday,” said Assaleih, but he added that the extent of crop damage would not be known for several days.” Ernesto, which the U.S. National Hurricane Center said dissipated on Friday morning, made landfall on Mexico’s Yucatan coast late on Tuesday as a Category 1 hurricane. –Reuters



But the photo...just what are they doing?! trying to save their possesions or essentially beachcombing?!

Sad to those who perished, but as we know, it could have been so much worse with a slight tweak of direction
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Quoting weatherh98:


I HAVW SEEN MASSIVE ANT PILES

Well, the forecast for the (currently) N-to-S Ridge from CO to TX is that a Canadian strong trough is coming down to flatten it out, and the (now weaker) ridge will extend from CA to FL.

And so, all the Gulf states will be equally penetrable from anything that does try to come here. Maybe it's bugs don't feel directly threatened by cyclonic lows, but rather directly unprotected by high pressure.
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Sooooooo....for some reason I'm not buying the dissipation...anyone else?!
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Quoting tennisgirl08:
What's with all the doomsday stuff being posted tonight??


Ha! Oh, the Sun stuff gives me heebiejeebies! I don't like mother nature's wrath but I even more don't like Sun wrath LOL I tend to be fascinated with things that terrify me (tectonics, weather, space) but really, I have enough to worry about on a mundane level!! haha
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1052. Hugo5
My guess with all the Ant discussion is that the ants are trying to get better access to a water source. If you look on the internet you can see a wide varity of ant behavior and very few studies as to why this is. The few that I have found suggest that most ant actvity is for food and/or water access, which makes sense in a drought.
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1051. docrod
Quoting Grothar:
Anybody in South Florida experiencing the infestation of the spiraling white fly. It is virtually killing everything. First the ficus, now the palms and black olive trees. In the mornings, cars are covered with them and our pool has a white layer of film from the wings. No eradication plan for them either. Nothing kills them.


My white fly infestation in the middle Keys FL ran it's course a couple months ago. The worst was a gumbo limbo tree. I did not want to do it but I resorted to a systemic with several oil applications.

- good night - in for a quick check!! - I'm in the midwest now driving back from Montana - long way to go yet.
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Link


Once TD7 gets to about 57W we should be able to start to see what the structure looks like on Barbados Radar. Should be in that general area by 7am if it keeps its forward speed.
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Quoting CaribBoy:
If there's a trough digging to the north of TD7, the ridge would weaken allowing it to move NW..

dude there is nothing to weaken the ridge per say until it would reach around 75W and it would cause a WNW movement not NW
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Quoting Grothar:
Anybody in South Florida experiencing the infestation of the spiraling white fly. It is virtually killing everything. First the ficus, now the palms and black olive trees. In the mornings, cars are covered with them and our pool has a white layer of film from the wings. No eradication plan for them either. Nothing kills them.


Haven't seen anything but I better look closer tomorrow. I did find info online for the "gumbo limbo" spiralling white fly (link below) but it isn't as evasive as the "ficus" white fly.
ficus white fly LINK

This link is for the Gumbo limbo whitefly
This new whitefly is a large, slow moving insect capable of infesting a wide range of landscape plants such as:
%u2022 gumbo limbo
%u2022 banana
%u2022 black olive
%u2022 mango
%u2022 palms
%u2022 live oak
some shrubs such as copperleaf, cocoplum and wax myrtle Adults on the underside of a palm leaflet.
%u2022 and other plants
But DON'T panic. This whitefly is different from the ficus whitefly. So far, the gumbo limbo spiraling whitefly is not causing severe plant damage such as plant death or severe branch die-back.
What
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11pm advisory is out I still dissagree with the dissipation in 72hours and I think I'll still dissagree till TD7 passes by the Windward islands into the E caribbean sea the we'll look at the state of TD 7/TS Gordon (forecasted to be) when it gets there and how are the conditions around the storm
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Quoting tennisgirl08:
What's with all the doomsday stuff being posted tonight??


12-21-12

You have 133 days
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Just blame the animal and insect behavior on the sun fillament
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Cat 6 lead authors: WU cofounder Dr. Jeff Masters (right), who flew w/NOAA Hurricane Hunters 1986-1990, & WU meteorologist Bob Henson, @bhensonweather