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 weathermanwannabe:
NHC should be issuing TS watches and/or warnings for the Lesser Antilles at the 5:00 pm advisories and discussions.

I was under the impression - perhaps mistaken - that National Governments issued Watches/Warnings, as opposed to the NHC.
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Look at that eye...

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Quoting scott39:
Wind shear and dry air seem to be an ongoing current theme for the last 4 hurricane seasons...including this one.
Right! Thought we were in an active period?
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Quoting Msdrown:


TWC just put out they were giving Guadelupe TD warnings.


Yup. Been a very long week at work (and Ernesto wise) so on that note, gonna head home and relax and watch TV for the evening.

Everyone enjoy your weekend as much as possible and I will check in. As much as we all like tracking storms, and seeing the awe of Mother Nature, always a good thing when a storm does not intensify to the point of risking lives and property as it passes through or over heavily populated areas. Guess we have to see, as a few have already noted, as to whether TD7 is going to stick to the Official forecast or not.......... :)
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.................................warnings up for the whole area up there..stay safe folks, real bad storm for sure
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Quoting JrWeathermanFL:
What happened to 93L?

Cold SSTs and dry air.
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Hello everyone! I how is everyone fairing with these severe thunderstorms? Be careful everyone they are some intense ones.
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Quoting wunderkidcayman:

no they are flying tomorrow morning

I. ATLANTIC REQUIREMENTS
1. SUSPECT AREA EAST OF ISLANDS
FLIGHT ONE - TEAL 70 --
A. 11/1200Z
B. AFXXX 01BBA INVEST
C. 11/0915Z
D. 13.8N 56.0W
E. 11/1130Z TO 11/1800Z
F. SFC TO 10,000FT

hopefully the HH can get some sense into the NHC lol
I am not sure if it will survive the caribbean but we will see.
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One thing about this "tornado-warned" storm is that it could be either a weak tornado OR very strong wind events. 100 mph is being reported over Connecticut and Rhode Island right now.
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Quoting Bluestorm5:
You're very lucky. Hook like that is typical of EF2+ tornadoes.


It does look rather impressive!
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Quoting Bluestorm5:
This base velocity is showing that there could be a tornado on the ground.

..gee thats one bad storm huh
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Quoting hericane96:
looks like it went right over hardford.
I don't think so. About 5-10 miles to east of it.
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Tornado warning for areas in MA that were hit by an EF3 tornado last year... Confirmed extensive damage with this storm, not sure if by tornado or straight line winds.
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Quoting BahaHurican:
I'm back.... LOL

[extremely big grin]



Congrats bigger than your Grin!!!
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looks like it went right over hardford.
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Quoting Bluestorm5:
Holy Hook Echo in Connecticut!!! Take a shelter if you're in Central Connecticut!




If I didn't know that that was a tornadic thunderstorm I would have thought it was like a Marco-sized tropical storm or a reincarnation of Erin..

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TORNADO WARNING
CTC003-013-MAC013-015-102145-
/O.NEW.KBOX.TO.W.0005.120810T2100Z-120810T2145Z/

BULLETIN - EAS ACTIVATION REQUESTED
TORNADO WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE TAUNTON MA
500 PM EDT FRI AUG 10 2012

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN TAUNTON HAS ISSUED A

* TORNADO WARNING FOR...
NORTHEASTERN HARTFORD COUNTY IN NORTHERN CONNECTICUT...
NORTHWESTERN TOLLAND COUNTY IN NORTHERN CONNECTICUT...
THIS INCLUDES THE CITY OF VERNON...
EASTERN HAMPDEN COUNTY IN WESTERN MASSACHUSETTS...
EXTREME SOUTHEASTERN HAMPSHIRE COUNTY IN WESTERN MASSACHUSETTS...

* UNTIL 545 PM EDT

* AT 458 PM EDT...NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DOPPLER RADAR INDICATED A
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM CAPABLE OF PRODUCING A TORNADO NEAR VERNON...
MOVING NORTH AT 30 MPH.

* SOME LOCATIONS IN THE WARNING INCLUDE...ELLINGTON...SOMERS...EAST
LONGMEADOW...HAMPDEN...MONSON...WILBRAHAM...LUDLOW AND PALMER.

WHEN A TORNADO WARNING IS ISSUED BASED ON DOPPLER RADAR...IT MEANS
ROTATION HAS BEEN NOTED ABOVE THE GROUND AND HAS THE POTENTIAL TO
EXTEND TO THE SURFACE. TAKE COVER NOW! MOVE TO AN INTERIOR ROOM ON
THE LOWEST FLOOR OF A STURDY BUILDING. AVOID WINDOWS. IF IN A MOBILE
HOME...A VEHICLE OR OUTDOORS...MOVE TO THE CLOSEST SUBSTANTIAL
SHELTER AND PROTECT YOURSELF FROM FLYING DEBRIS.

A TORNADO WATCH REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 900 PM EDT FRIDAY EVENING FOR
NORTHERN CONNECTICUT AND MASSACHUSETTS AND CENTRAL RHODE ISLAND.

&&

LAT...LON 4221 7248 4215 7219 4179 7242 4183 7259
TIME...MOT...LOC 2059Z 198DEG 26KT 4186 7248

$$
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This base velocity is showing that there could be a tornado on the ground.

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Quoting hurricanehanna:
if I'm not mistaken the HH were scheduled to fly into TD7 on Sunday...given the anticipated dissipation by the models, would they still investigate?

no they are flying tomorrow morning

I. ATLANTIC REQUIREMENTS
1. SUSPECT AREA EAST OF ISLANDS
FLIGHT ONE - TEAL 70 --
A. 11/1200Z
B. AFXXX 01BBA INVEST
C. 11/0915Z
D. 13.8N 56.0W
E. 11/1130Z TO 11/1800Z
F. SFC TO 10,000FT

hopefully the HH can get some sense into the NHC lol
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What happened to 93L?
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Quoting allancalderini:
Do you think it will reach ts status?and if yes when?

See post #150.
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224. Zappy

332
WFUS51 KBOX 102100
TORBOX
CTC003-013-MAC013-015-102145-
/O.NEW.KBOX.TO.W.0005.120810T2100Z-120810T2145Z/

BULLETIN - EAS ACTIVATION REQUESTED
TORNADO WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE TAUNTON MA
500 PM EDT FRI AUG 10 2012

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN TAUNTON HAS ISSUED A

* TORNADO WARNING FOR...
NORTHEASTERN HARTFORD COUNTY IN NORTHERN CONNECTICUT...
NORTHWESTERN TOLLAND COUNTY IN NORTHERN CONNECTICUT...
THIS INCLUDES THE CITY OF VERNON...
EASTERN HAMPDEN COUNTY IN WESTERN MASSACHUSETTS...
EXTREME SOUTHEASTERN HAMPSHIRE COUNTY IN WESTERN MASSACHUSETTS...

* UNTIL 545 PM EDT

* AT 458 PM EDT...NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DOPPLER RADAR INDICATED A
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM CAPABLE OF PRODUCING A TORNADO NEAR VERNON...
MOVING NORTH AT 30 MPH.

* SOME LOCATIONS IN THE WARNING INCLUDE...ELLINGTON...SOMERS...EAST
LONGMEADOW...HAMPDEN...MONSON...WILBRAHAM...LUDLOW AND PALMER.

WHEN A TORNADO WARNING IS ISSUED BASED ON DOPPLER RADAR...IT MEANS
ROTATION HAS BEEN NOTED ABOVE THE GROUND AND HAS THE POTENTIAL TO
EXTEND TO THE SURFACE. TAKE COVER NOW! MOVE TO AN INTERIOR ROOM ON
THE LOWEST FLOOR OF A STURDY BUILDING. AVOID WINDOWS. IF IN A MOBILE
HOME...A VEHICLE OR OUTDOORS...MOVE TO THE CLOSEST SUBSTANTIAL
SHELTER AND PROTECT YOURSELF FROM FLYING DEBRIS.

A TORNADO WATCH REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 900 PM EDT FRIDAY EVENING FOR
NORTHERN CONNECTICUT AND MASSACHUSETTS AND CENTRAL RHODE ISLAND.



LAT...LON 4221 7248 4215 7219 4179 7242 4183 7259
TIME...MOT...LOC 2059Z 198DEG 26KT 4186 7248
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Probably better organized than TD7. Lol.

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Quoting Bluestorm5:
Another image of the hook in Connecticut... just one of the best looking hook this year.



And the wind velocity is showing a LARGE tornado in Connecticut.


It's a large meso-low that has developed in association with the storm. Probably not even a tornado on the ground right now. Very broad and weak rotation.
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

If you think it can survive an abundant amount of dry air and strong wind shear while moving at 25 mph, go right ahead. I guarantee you'll be proven wrong.
Do you think it will reach ts status?and if yes when?
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Td 7 will be dry toast in 3 days.
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219. Zappy
A possible tornado was reported in South Glastonbury, CT, where winds were recorded at 100 mph.
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Quoting weathermanwannabe:
Wow; possible TS (iffy) entering the Antilles and the forecast track dead ends (possible dissipation).....I suppose we now have official permission to gloat over every frame of the loops for the next two days for clues and to which way the coin will flip.

Not going to post the full discussion but here is the nutshell:

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.




TWC just put out they were giving Guadelupe TD warnings.
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Another image of the hook in Connecticut... just one of the best looking hook this year.



And the wind velocity is showing a LARGE tornado in Connecticut.

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Quoting AllStar17:
Watch TD 7 burn the NHC and not struggle as much as Ernesto. LOL.

I think it will burn the NHC so much that everything will turn to ashes

TD7 is doing so so well in the face of unfavored conditions dry air shear and trade winds wow NHC GET READY TO BURN


wow
the models dissagree with dissipation and dissagree with track wow I say this will be the biggest imbarisment to the NHC

18Z models tracks


18Z intensity models


I'll post my forecast soon
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ernesto.in.the.s.w..flooding
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Quoting wunderkidcayman:
ok still a TD watches up for the windwards and that is a really small cone I truly think that Td7 will last way longer that was on forecast I do not for see dissipation or it opening up to a wave how ever I do see it weakening a small bit after it passes the windwards

If you think it can survive an abundant amount of dry air and strong wind shear while moving at 25 mph, go right ahead. I guarantee you'll be proven wrong.
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Quoting Zappy:

luckily, the danger has passed for the moment for me.
You're very lucky. Hook like that is typical of EF2+ tornadoes.
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Wind shear and dry air seem to be an ongoing current theme for the last 4 hurricane seasons...including this one.
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Okay, lol, I ate dirt on my ideas of where Ernesto was headed after the Yucatan. Still expect Texas to see hurricane or strong tropical storm activity this year though.

BTW,...it looks like some sort of circulation going on off the southern, western end of Cuba, just SW of Havana. Is that anyways related to the storms over Florida presently...or the storms just south of Cuba in the Caribbean? Any thoughts or info on that?
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SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING
CTC013-015-MAC013-027-102130-
/O.NEW.KBOX.SV.W.0084.120810T2045Z-120810T2130Z/

BULLETIN - EAS ACTIVATION REQUESTED
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE TAUNTON MA
445 PM EDT FRI AUG 10 2012

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN TAUNTON HAS ISSUED A

* SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING FOR...
SOUTH CENTRAL WORCESTER COUNTY IN CENTRAL MASSACHUSETTS...
TOLLAND COUNTY IN NORTHERN CONNECTICUT...
THIS INCLUDES THE CITY OF MANSFIELD...
NORTHWESTERN WINDHAM COUNTY IN NORTHERN CONNECTICUT...
THIS INCLUDES THE CITY OF WILLIMANTIC...
SOUTHEASTERN HAMPDEN COUNTY IN WESTERN MASSACHUSETTS...

* UNTIL 530 PM EDT

* AT 440 PM EDT...NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DOPPLER RADAR INDICATED A
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM CAPABLE OF PRODUCING DAMAGING WINDS IN
EXCESS OF 60 MPH. THIS STORM WAS LOCATED NEAR COVENTRY AND
MANSFIELD...AND WAS MOVING NORTHEAST AT 35 MPH.

* SOME LOCATIONS IN THE WARNING INCLUDE...TOLLAND...CHAPLIN...
WILLINGTON...ASHFORD...EASTFORD...STAFFORD...UNION ...WOODSTOCK...
WALES...HOLLAND...BRIMFIELD...SOUTHBRIDGE...STURBR IDGE...DUDLEY AND
CHARLTON.

SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS PRODUCE DAMAGING WINDS AND LARGE HAIL...AS WELL
AS DEADLY LIGHTNING AND TORRENTIAL RAIN. GET TO SAFE SHELTER NOW...
INSIDE A STURDY BUILDING OR IN A VEHICLE. DO NOT SEEK SHELTER UNDER
TREES. IF YOU CAN HEAR THUNDER...YOU ARE CLOSE ENOUGH TO BE STRUCK BY
LIGHTNING. DRIVERS SHOULD BE ALERT FOR PONDING OF WATER AND AVOID
FLOODED ROADS.

A TORNADO WATCH REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 900 PM EDT FRIDAY EVENING FOR
NORTHERN CONNECTICUT AND MASSACHUSETTS AND CENTRAL RHODE ISLAND.

&&

LAT...LON 4223 7214 4210 7185 4167 7218 4171 7224
4170 7225 4170 7226 4177 7244
TIME...MOT...LOC 2044Z 209DEG 32KT 4181 7227

$$
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209. Zappy
Quoting LargoFl:
..gee that looks real bad huh

luckily, the danger has passed for the moment for me.
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Quoting Bluestorm5:
Holy Hook Echo in Connecticut!!! Take a shelter if you're in Central Connecticut!

..gee that looks real bad huh
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if I'm not mistaken the HH were scheduled to fly into TD7 on Sunday...given the anticipated dissipation by the models, would they still investigate?
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Holy Hook Echo in Connecticut!!! Take a shelter if you're in Central Connecticut!

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Quoting BahaHurican:
I remember u from last year...


thanks for the nod! :)
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Quoting GTcooliebai:
Post 195: One of the ensemble members bring it towards us Largo.
..oh yes, something to watch closely this weekend huh
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Looks like Earl 2004 td 7 if the NHC track verifies and intensity looks like Gordon will be a very week system hard to believe a name like that will be use for a weak system.
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ok still a TD watches up for the windwards and that is a really small cone I truly think that Td7 will last way longer that was on forecast I do not for see dissipation or it opening up to a wave how ever I do see it weakening a small bit after it passes the windwards
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Quoting LargoFl:
Post 195: One of the ensemble members bring it towards us Largo.
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000
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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94E is ridiculous in size:

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Quoting Msdrown:


Get ready for somemore tonight, there is another training your way fromm MS.


I was just looking at that. There is quite a bit more coming this way. On the plus side there is a nice cool breeze outside.
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Quoting AllStar17:
Watch TD 7 burn the NHC and not struggle as much as Ernesto. LOL.

That would be so effin hilarious. XD
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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