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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Quoting Msdrown:


The cady shack priest with his best game. Bill Murrey just walked away. Ha!

Just saw a piece on ABC about some scientist with special equipment chasing lightening storms to photo and gather data. He's got a 1600lb gadget that does this. Can you imagine if man could tap into the energy of lightening? We would have all the power anyone could ever need.
oh yes, amazing how much voltage is in one bolt..whew
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Quoting JLPR2:
Winds up to 30mph with gusts to 40mph. Definitely a tad stronger than yesterday.



Winds don't really say anything about the structure though.
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Quoting GeorgiaStormz:


maybe u type name wrong...lol its ok, were u trying to tell me what kori said?


No. It says paying members can send people a free 1 year membership to WU. I tried to do it, but I guess they didn't want you to have it. Lol.
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Quoting JLPR2:


Depends, it keeps lowering in its area and now it seems the worst it could feel are 20knots as the 30knots area has retreated northward.



If it keeps retreating northward and with less dry air the Lesser Antilles could get a surprise.



umm, are you sure about retreating northward ?

take a look at this Link
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Quoting GeorgiaStormz:


maybe u type name wrong...lol its ok, were u trying to tell me what kori said?


What Kori said, doesn't work, and thats just the way it is. Right KORI?!
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
Quoting VAbeachhurricanes:


Thank god you posted this, I hadn't seen it yet.
..yes we have time to watch this storm, so far so good with its track, the islands need the rains
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Quoting LargoFl:
..wow your so rig ht..can be very dangerous alright


The cady shack priest with his best game. Bill Murrey just walked away. Ha!

Just saw a piece on ABC about some scientist with special equipment chasing lightening storms to photo and gather data. He's got a 1600lb gadget that does this. Can you imagine if man could tap into the energy of lightening? We would have all the power anyone could ever need.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
Quoting MississippiWx:
I dunno, GeorgiaStormz. It said that it sent. Oh well.


maybe u type name wrong...lol its ok, were u trying to tell me what kori said?
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486. JLPR2
Winds up to 30mph with gusts to 40mph. Definitely a tad stronger than yesterday.

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Afternoon!
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Quoting KoritheMan:


Actually, you can change it by acting as nice as Kori. It's a neat little security override that hopefully wont be fixed .


well shut up about it you big dummy :P

THX....maybe that is what mississippiwx was trying to tell me in the mail that never arrived
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Quoting VAbeachhurricanes:


Kori... can I see you in the dark alley over here?


Maybe.
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I dunno, GeorgiaStormz. It said that it sent. Oh well.
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Quoting VR46L:


First off thats the first time anyone has referred to me as mate ...as its a male way of speaking to another male.
Secondly I wasnt forecasting, I just stated, I wondered if the season was pretty much a bust ..as it has with the exception of Ernesto , been very Quiet since Debbie added to the thoughts of it being in a neutral stage going into el nino.

Cheers...


Very quite? I wouldn't call having 6 named storms by August 10th quite at all, with two hurricanes, a hurricane landfall, and two US landfalls. Florence was the third earliest 'F' storm ever recorded.

This season by far isn't a "bust" in the regards to inactivity.
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Quoting LargoFl:
00
WTNT42 KNHC 102033
TCDAT2

TROPICAL DEPRESSION SEVEN DISCUSSION NUMBER 5
NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL AL072012
500 PM AST FRI AUG 10 2012

DEEP CONVECTION HAS INCREASED SINCE THIS MORNING...BUT THE OVERALL
STRUCTURE HAS NOT IMPROVED. IN FACT...THE LOW-LEVEL CIRCULATION
MAY BE ELONGATING...AND IT IS HARD TO TELL IF THE CENTER IS
EVEN CLOSED ANYMORE. THE CYCLONE IS BEING KEPT AS A 30-KT
DEPRESSION BASED ON DVORAK ESTIMATES OF T1.5 FROM TAFB AND SAB.
THE EVIDENCE APPEARS TO BE MOUNTING THAT SIGNIFICANT
INTENSIFICATION WILL NOT TAKE PLACE. THE DEPRESSION WILL BE MOVING
INTO A HIGHER-SHEAR ENVIRONMENT SOON...AND THE LGEM AND SHIPS
MODELS SHOW VERY LITTLE CHANGE IN STRENGTH FOR THE FIRST 48 HOURS
OR SO. THE GFS AND ECMWF HAVE ALSO BEEN IN CONSISTENT AGREEMENT
THAT THE CYCLONE WILL DEGENERATE INTO AN OPEN WAVE IN 2 TO 3 DAYS
OVER THE EASTERN CARIBBEAN SEA. GIVEN THE CURRENT FRAGILE STATE OF
THE DEPRESSION...AND THE UNFAVORABLE CONDITIONS THAT LIE AHEAD...
THE NEW NHC FORECAST BRINGS THE CYCLONE TO A 35-KT TROPICAL STORM
BEFORE IT REACHES THE LESSER ANTILLES AND THEN SHOWS DISSIPATION
INTO A TROUGH OVER THE CARIBBEAN SEA BY DAY 3.

THE DEPRESSION CONTINUES TO MOVE RAPIDLY TO THE WEST...NOW WITH AN
ESTIMATED MOTION OF 270/21 KT. A FAST WESTWARD MOTION IS EXPECTED
TO CONTINUE OVER THE NEXT FEW DAYS WHILE THE SYSTEM LIES TO THE
SOUTH OF THE SUBTROPICAL RIDGE. THE GFS AND ECMWF SOLUTIONS ARE IN
BETTER AGREEMENT THAN THEY HAD BEEN...AND THE NHC TRACK FORECAST IS
NEAR A CONSENSUS OF THOSE TWO MODELS UNTIL DISSIPATION IN 72 HOURS.

THERE IS STILL A LOT OF UNCERTAINTY REGARDING WHETHER OR NOT THE
DEPRESSION WILL EVEN BECOME A TROPICAL STORM. THE VARIOUS
GOVERNMENTS IN THE LESSER ANTILLES HAVE THEREFORE DECIDED TO ISSUE
TROPICAL STORM WATCHES FOR THEIR RESPECTIVE ISLANDS...EVEN THOUGH
TROPICAL STORM CONDITIONS WOULD REACH THOSE LOCATIONS WITHIN THE
NEXT 36 HOURS.

FORECAST POSITIONS AND MAX WINDS

INIT 10/2100Z 13.7N 51.9W 30 KT 35 MPH
12H 11/0600Z 13.9N 54.8W 30 KT 35 MPH
24H 11/1800Z 14.2N 58.5W 35 KT 40 MPH
36H 12/0600Z 14.5N 62.3W 35 KT 40 MPH
48H 12/1800Z 14.7N 66.3W 35 KT 40 MPH
72H 13/1800Z...DISSIPATED

$$
FORECASTER BERG/BRENNAN


Thank god you posted this, I hadn't seen it yet.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
00
WTNT42 KNHC 102033
TCDAT2

TROPICAL DEPRESSION SEVEN DISCUSSION NUMBER 5
NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL AL072012
500 PM AST FRI AUG 10 2012

DEEP CONVECTION HAS INCREASED SINCE THIS MORNING...BUT THE OVERALL
STRUCTURE HAS NOT IMPROVED. IN FACT...THE LOW-LEVEL CIRCULATION
MAY BE ELONGATING...AND IT IS HARD TO TELL IF THE CENTER IS
EVEN CLOSED ANYMORE. THE CYCLONE IS BEING KEPT AS A 30-KT
DEPRESSION BASED ON DVORAK ESTIMATES OF T1.5 FROM TAFB AND SAB.
THE EVIDENCE APPEARS TO BE MOUNTING THAT SIGNIFICANT
INTENSIFICATION WILL NOT TAKE PLACE. THE DEPRESSION WILL BE MOVING
INTO A HIGHER-SHEAR ENVIRONMENT SOON...AND THE LGEM AND SHIPS
MODELS SHOW VERY LITTLE CHANGE IN STRENGTH FOR THE FIRST 48 HOURS
OR SO. THE GFS AND ECMWF HAVE ALSO BEEN IN CONSISTENT AGREEMENT
THAT THE CYCLONE WILL DEGENERATE INTO AN OPEN WAVE IN 2 TO 3 DAYS
OVER THE EASTERN CARIBBEAN SEA. GIVEN THE CURRENT FRAGILE STATE OF
THE DEPRESSION...AND THE UNFAVORABLE CONDITIONS THAT LIE AHEAD...
THE NEW NHC FORECAST BRINGS THE CYCLONE TO A 35-KT TROPICAL STORM
BEFORE IT REACHES THE LESSER ANTILLES AND THEN SHOWS DISSIPATION
INTO A TROUGH OVER THE CARIBBEAN SEA BY DAY 3.

THE DEPRESSION CONTINUES TO MOVE RAPIDLY TO THE WEST...NOW WITH AN
ESTIMATED MOTION OF 270/21 KT. A FAST WESTWARD MOTION IS EXPECTED
TO CONTINUE OVER THE NEXT FEW DAYS WHILE THE SYSTEM LIES TO THE
SOUTH OF THE SUBTROPICAL RIDGE. THE GFS AND ECMWF SOLUTIONS ARE IN
BETTER AGREEMENT THAN THEY HAD BEEN...AND THE NHC TRACK FORECAST IS
NEAR A CONSENSUS OF THOSE TWO MODELS UNTIL DISSIPATION IN 72 HOURS.

THERE IS STILL A LOT OF UNCERTAINTY REGARDING WHETHER OR NOT THE
DEPRESSION WILL EVEN BECOME A TROPICAL STORM. THE VARIOUS
GOVERNMENTS IN THE LESSER ANTILLES HAVE THEREFORE DECIDED TO ISSUE
TROPICAL STORM WATCHES FOR THEIR RESPECTIVE ISLANDS...EVEN THOUGH
TROPICAL STORM CONDITIONS WOULD REACH THOSE LOCATIONS WITHIN THE
NEXT 36 HOURS.

FORECAST POSITIONS AND MAX WINDS

INIT 10/2100Z 13.7N 51.9W 30 KT 35 MPH
12H 11/0600Z 13.9N 54.8W 30 KT 35 MPH
24H 11/1800Z 14.2N 58.5W 35 KT 40 MPH
36H 12/0600Z 14.5N 62.3W 35 KT 40 MPH
48H 12/1800Z 14.7N 66.3W 35 KT 40 MPH
72H 13/1800Z...DISSIPATED

$$
FORECASTER BERG/BRENNAN
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Quoting KoritheMan:


Actually, you can change it by changing the "6" in the URL to 40. It's a neat little security override that hasn't been fixed yet.


Kori... can I see you in the dark alley over here?
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
Quoting VAbeachhurricanes:


Any butter though?


Not until I go to work tomorrow.
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.
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Quoting AegirsGal:
Ft. Meyers IS the lightning capital of the states, maybe the world. Not a good place to play golf.
..wow your so right..can be very dangerous alright
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Quoting KoritheMan:
Just churned out another blog.


Any butter though?
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Quoting JLPR2:


Depends, it keeps lowering in its area and now it seems the worst it could feel are 20knots as the 30knots area has retreated northward.



If it keeps retreating northward and with less dry air the Lesser Antilles could get a surprise.


Yeah but look at the increasing band of shear right in front of it
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471. JLPR2
We also need to take into account TD7's little anticyclone.

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Just churned out another blog.
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Quoting LargoFl:
..looks like ft.meyers or sarasota is getting the lightning action right now
Ft. Meyers IS the lightning capital of the states, maybe the world. Not a good place to play golf.
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Quoting jascott1967:


Nobody here, that I know of anyway, has a personal vendetta against TD7 and wants to kill it. If the conditions were favorable we'd be writting about that instead of the obstacles, many of which the models and professional mets are picking up on.

1) there's an ULL racing from north of TD7 which will increase the windshear to 30+ knots.
2) there is the dry air mass in front of it.
3) the trade winds.

If it can survive all that it may have a shot but that is no small task.

A minor hurricane would have difficulty with these conditions. This is a tiny TD.

Now it's time for you to convince us, using sound logic, why you think TD7 will survive.


Because its on track towards the caymans thats why
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................................see it may go to tropical storm when it gets to the islands..not now,after the weekend
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466. JLPR2
Quoting WeatherfanPR:



but wind shear is getting higher and higher!

Link


Depends, it keeps lowering in its area and now it seems the worst it could feel are 20knots as the 30knots area has retreated northward.



If it keeps retreating northward and with less dry air the Lesser Antilles could get a surprise.
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Quoting wunderkidcayman:
Look if and when TD 7 passes through the windwards and is on the verge of death beyond death they I will call hime dissipating until that time and for the time being I will leave my forecast as is

you guys like to go with things too quickly what would happen if TD 7 enters the caribbean and is decently developing so stop being so quick to kill it as I said wait till it passes the windward the let look at the conditions and then we will go on from there


Nobody here, that I know of anyway, has a personal vendetta against TD7 and wants to kill it. If the conditions were favorable we'd be writting about that instead of the obstacles, many of which the models and professional mets are picking up on.

1) there's an ULL racing from north of TD7 which will increase the windshear to 30+ knots.
2) there is the dry air mass in front of it.
3) the trade winds.

If it can survive all that it may have a shot but that is no small task.

A minor hurricane would have difficulty with these conditions. This is a tiny TD.

Now it's time for you to convince us, using sound logic, why you think TD7 will survive.
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Quoting scott39:
I have to admit TD7 is fighting the dry air better than I anticipated.
we will have the whole weekend and into next week with this storm,My guess is it will blow up once it passes the island chain, especially if it slows down some,moving way too fast now to rebuild
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...................well finally SW florida is getting some action and rain, for awhile now its been central and north florida with the rains
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I have to admit TD7 is fighting the dry air better than I anticipated.
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Quoting JLPR2:
Water Vapor loop shows TD 7 is clearing its path, the line of dry air is getting thinner and thinner.




but wind shear is getting higher and higher!

Link
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Quoting MississippiWx:


Check your e-mail.


whatever you sent it hasnt made it yet...
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..looks like ft.meyers or sarasota is getting the lightning action right now
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Quoting MississippiWx:


Check your e-mail.

Uh-uh...it's WUmail.
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Quoting GeorgiaStormz:



ow wow, cool....i wish i had the 40frame radar...


Check your e-mail.
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Quoting Grothar:



Yes, I've been there many, many times.


Sorry, my bust. I haven't quite got the hummor on here yet.
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NYC area tornadoes?
probably a spin-up
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Quoting GTcooliebai:
Sigh...I tried I guess asking for a little rain is just too much. I believe in fairness.
..ours may be sunday and monday GT
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Quoting MississippiWx:


He'll always be Ernesto to me. :-)



how about an encore actII partII

07L/TD/XX/CX
MARK
13.53N/53.14W
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Quoting hurrtracker1994:
Ugh... here we go again. WW3 is gonna break out on the blog. Let me know when its over and we can go back to actually forecasting.

It's over, you can come back now. :P
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Quoting MississippiWx:





ow wow, cool....i wish i had the 40frame radar...
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Quoting JLPR2:
Water Vapor loop shows TD 7 is clearing its path, the line of dry air is getting thinner and thinner.


SATCON, ADT, and AMSU support TS intensity. We shall see what TAFB and SAB show in an hour.
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Quoting MAweatherboy1:
Hey all... Had to get off for a while, had some pretty rough weather come through, the rain was incredible.

94E should go to 90% at 8PM... It looks like a tropical cyclone already, which I guess shouldn't be surprising since it already was one.

real glad you made it thru that..some real nasty weather up there
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Hey all... Had to get off for a while, had some pretty rough weather come through, the rain was incredible.

94E should go to 90% at 8PM... It looks like a tropical cyclone already, which I guess shouldn't be surprising since it already was one.

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Look if and when TD 7 passes through the windwards and is on the verge of death beyond death they I will call hime dissipating until that time and for the time being I will leave my forecast as is

you guys like to go with things too quickly what would happen if TD 7 enters the caribbean and is decently developing so stop being so quick to kill it as I said wait till it passes the windward the let look at the conditions and then we will go on from there
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
446. VR46L
Quoting CybrTeddy:


Good forecasting skills mate, calling a season a bust by a single tropical depression.


First off thats the first time anyone has referred to me as mate ...as its a male way of speaking to another male.
Secondly I wasnt forecasting, I just stated, I wondered if the season was pretty much a bust ..as it has with the exception of Ernesto , been very Quiet since Debbie added to the thoughts of it being in a neutral stage going into el nino.

Cheers...
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Quoting Grothar:


Was that from High Anxiety?


Quote from the soup Nazi on the Jerry Seinfeld show.
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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