A new world record wind gust: 253 mph in Australia's Tropical Cyclone Olivia

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 05:34 PM GMT am 27. Januar 2010

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The 6,288-foot peak of New Hampshire's Mount Washington is a forbidding landscape of wind-swept barren rock, home to some of planet Earth's fiercest winds. As a 5-year old boy, I remember being blown over by a terrific gust of wind on the summit, and rolling out of control towards a dangerous drop-off before a fortuitously-placed rock saved me. Perusing the Guinness Book of World Records as a kid, three iconic world weather records always held a particular mystique and fascination for me: the incredible 136°F (57.8°C) at El Azizia, Libya in 1922, the -128.5°F (-89.2°C) at the "Pole of Cold" in Vostok, Antarctica in 1983, and the amazing 231 mph wind gust (103.3 m/s) recorded in 1934 on the summit of Mount Washington, New Hampshire. Well, the legendary winds of Mount Washington have to take second place now, next to the tropical waters of northwest Australia. The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has announced that the new world wind speed record at the surface is a 253 mph (113.2 m/s) wind gust measured on Barrow Island, Australia. The gust occurred on April 10, 1996, during passage of the eyewall of Category 4 Tropical Cyclone Olivia.


Figure 1. Instruments coated with rime ice on the summit of Mt. Washington, New Hampshire. Image credit: Mike Theiss.

Tropical Cyclone Olivia
Tropical Cyclone Olivia was a Category 4 storm on the U.S. Saffir-Simpson scale, and generated sustained winds of 145 mph (1-minute average) as it crossed over Barrow Island off the northwest coast of Australia on April 10, 1996. Olivia had a central pressure of 927 mb and an eye 45 miles in diameter at the time, and generated waves 21 meters (69 feet) high offshore. According to Black et al. (1999), the eyewall likely had a tornado-scale mesovortex embedded in it that caused the extreme wind gust of 253 mph. The gust was measured at the standard measuring height of 10 meters above ground, on ground at an elevation of 64 meters (210 feet). A similar mesovortex was encountered by a Hurricane Hunter aircraft in Hurricane Hugo of 1989, and a mesovortex was also believed to be responsible for the 239 mph wind gust measured at 1400 meters by a dropsonde in Hurricane Isabel in 2003. For reference, 200 mph is the threshold for the strongest category of tornado, the EF-5, and any gusts of this strength are capable of causing catastrophic damage.


Figure 2. Visible satellite image of Tropical Cyclone Olivia a few hours before it crossed Barrow Island, Australia, setting a new world-record wind gust of 253 mph. Image credit: Japan Meteorological Agency.


Figure 3. Wind trace taken at Barrow Island, Australia during Tropical Cyclone Olivia. Image credit: Buchan, S.J., P.G. Black, and R.L. Cohen, 1999, "The Impact of Tropical Cyclone Olivia on Australia's Northwest Shelf", paper presented at the 1999 Offshore Technology Conference in Houston, Texas, 3-6 May, 1999.

Why did it take so long for the new record to be announced?
The instrument used to take the world record wind gust was funded by a private company, Chevron, and Chevron's data was not made available to forecasters at Australia's Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) during the storm. After the storm, the tropical cyclone experts at BOM were made aware of the data, but it was viewed as suspect, since the gusts were so extreme and the data was taken with equipment of unknown accuracy. Hence, the observations were not included in the post-storm report. Steve Buchan from RPS MetOcean believed in the accuracy of the observations, and coauthored a paper on the record gust, presented at the 1999 Offshore Technology Conference in Houston (Buchan et al., 1999). The data lay dormant until 2009, when Joe Courtney of the Australian Bureau of Meteorology was made aware of it. Courtney wrote up a report, coauthored with Steve Buchan, and presented this to the WMO extremes committee for ratification. The report has not been made public yet, and is awaiting approval by Chevron. The verified data will be released next month at a World Meteorological Organization meeting in Turkey, when the new world wind record will become official.

New Hampshire residents are not happy
Residents of New Hampshire are understandably not too happy about losing their cherished claim to fame. The current home page of the Mount Washington Observatory reads, "For once, the big news on Mount Washington isn't our extreme weather. Sadly, it's about how our extreme weather--our world record wind speed, to be exact--was outdone by that of a warm, tropical island".

Comparison with other wind records
Top wind in an Atlantic hurricane: 239 mph (107 m/s) at an altitude of 1400 meters, measured by dropsonde in Hurricane Isabel (2003).
Top surface wind in an Atlantic hurricane: 211 mph (94.4 m/s), Hurricane Gustav, Paso Real de San Diego meteorological station in the western Cuban province of Pinar del Rio, Cuba, on the afternoon of August 30, 2008.
Top wind in a tornado: 302 mph (135 m/s), measured via Doppler radar at an altitude of 100 meters (330 feet), in the Bridge Creek, Oklahoma tornado of May 3, 1999.
Top surface wind not associated with a tropical cyclone or tornado: 231 mph (103.3 m/s), April 12, 1934 on the summit of Mount Washington, New Hampshire.
Top wind in a typhoon: 191 mph (85.4 m/s) on Taiwanese Island of Lanyu, Super Typhoon Ryan, Sep 22, 1995; also on island of Miyakojima, Super Typhoon Cora, Sep 5, 1966.
Top surface wind not measured on a mountain or in a tropical cyclone: 207 mph (92.5 m/s) measured in Greenland at Thule Air Force Base on March 6, 1972.
Top wind measured in a U.S. hurricane: 186 mph (83.1 m/s) measured at Blue Hill Observatory, Massachusetts, during the 1938 New England Hurricane.

References
Buchan, S.J., P.G. Black, and R.L. Cohen, 1999, "The Impact of Tropical Cyclone Olivia on Australia's Northwest Shelf", paper presented at the 1999 Offshore Technology Conference in Houston, Texas, 3-6 May, 1999.

Black, P.G., Buchan, S.J., and R.L. Cohen, 1999, "The Tropical Cyclone Eyewall Mesovortex: A Physical Mechanism Explaining Extreme Peak Gust Occurrence in TC Olivia, 4 April 1996 on Barrow Island, Australia", paper presented at the 1999 Offshore Technology Conference in Houston, Texas, 3-6 May, 1999.

Jeff Masters

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Quoting Jeff9641:


Could be all ice or snow 50/50 right now. Western NC will diffently get hammered.


Yeah, it's a close call for us. The local mets are thinking it's mostly going to be snow here in the Triad
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282. BtnTx
..
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Whoa!! Looks like we're going to get a LOT of snow here in Greensboro, NC!!
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Quoting hydrus:
Intense indeed. It has happened more than once on this good Earth. It is an established fact.


There is a 121 mile wide crater in the GOM (and partly on the Yucatan) from an impact some 65 million years ago
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 9922
Quoting Jeff9641:
It's been since 1998 that I've seen the models depict this much rain for February. During that year a F4 tornado hit near my high school in Sanford FL and killed many of my classmates at 12:30am on 2/23/98. I fear a similar situation maybe on the way in Central Florida in the coming weeks. Some of my friends remember cows dropping out of the sky just after the tornado passed. Many houses in the Lake Jessup area were destroyed with nothing but brick foundations left.
I remember that. I am so sorry about your classmates.
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Quoting tornadodude:
261

that sounds a bit intense :P haha
Intense indeed. It has happened more than once on this good Earth. It is an established fact.... I believe it is going to be slippery and frigid around here soon.
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Conservationists urge Gordon Brown to create 'Britain's Great Barrier Reef'

This week the 10,000th person joined a campaign to create the Earth's biggest marine protected area in the Chagos archipelago
The Chagos archipelago (map here), part of the British Indian Ocean Territory, is a group of 55 tropical islands over half a million square kilometres of Indian Ocean that have belonged to Britain since they were captured from France in 1814 during the Napoleonic Wars. The islands include Diego Garcia, the site of a controversial joint British-American military base.

The archipelago boasts the world's largest coral atoll and the world's cleanest, most pristine waters, that are home to at least 220 coral species and more than 1,000 species of fish. The underwater landscape of 6,000m deep trenches, oceanic ridges and sea mounts, is also a refuge and breeding ground for large and important populations of sharks, dolphins, marine turtles, rare crabs, birds and other vulnerable species. It is Britain's greatest area of marine biodiversity.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/jan/27/gordon-brown-britain-great-barrier-reef


'Big freeze' makes this year's Big Garden Birdwatch more important than ever

By taking part, you will be contributing valuable data that over the years has raised awareness of some shocking declines in garden bird numbers

This weekend is the RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch. We're we're asking you to count the birds that you see in your garden for one hour over the two days and let us know your results. At dawn or dusk, while you're eating your lunch or during a quiet hour in the afternoon - it doesn't matter when. This year the results should be even more interesting than usual, following the "big freeze".

By taking part, you will be contributing valuable data that over the years has raised the alert about some shocking declines in garden bird numbers. In previous years the birdwatch has highlighted the massive reduction in numbers of song thrushes, house sparrows and starlings which we've subsequently been able to act upon and do our utmost to start reversing. And the survey has also given us happy news over the years, for example, showing increases in collared dove and blackcap numbers, which are beautiful additions to any garden.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/cif-green/2010/jan/27/rspb-big-garden-birdwatch

Holocene extinction
The Holocene extinction is the widespread, ongoing extinction of species during the present Holocene epoch. The large number of extinctions span numerous families of plants and animals including mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and arthropods; a sizeable fraction of these extinctions are occurring in the rainforests. Between 1500 and 2009 CE, 875 extinctions have been documented by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources.[1] However, since most extinctions go undocumented, scientists estimate that during the 20th century, between 20,000 and two million species actually became extinct, but the precise total cannot be determined more accurately within the limits of present knowledge. Up to 140,000 species per year (based on Species-area theory)[2] may be the present rate of extinction based upon upper bound estimating.

In broad usage, Holocene extinction includes the notable disappearance of large mammals, known as megafauna, starting 10,000 years ago as humans developed and spread. Such disappearances have been considered as either a response to climate change, a result of the proliferation of modern humans, or both. These extinctions, occurring near the Pleistocene–Holocene boundary, are sometimes referred to as the Quaternary extinction event or Ice Age extinction. However the Holocene extinction may be regarded as continuing into the 21st century.

The Golden Toad of Costa Rica, extinct since around 1989. Its disappearance has been attributed to climate change.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sixth_mass_extinction
Member Since: September 22, 2005 Posts: 11 Comments: 2032
Rumours of my death have been greatly exaggerated

A response from Mr. Wattsup with that relating to yesterdays blog.

Its only fair./ Please feel free to ignore it :)



Member Since: Juni 12, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 8183
Quoting winter123:
I was at mt. washington this summer. Lucky enough to get a sunny afternoon. Truly beautiful place. Especially the two lakes on the very top of a neighboring ridge. But I don't see the issue, already they were saying something odd like "fastest straight line winds ever recorded" now they just have to change it to "Top surface wind not associated with a tropical cyclone or tornado".


I love that area up there. I was up there a couple summers ago. My parents used to live in the Glens Falls New York area, in fact I flew up there over Christmas break
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I was at mt. washington this summer. Lucky enough to get a sunny afternoon. Truly beautiful place. Especially the two lakes on the very top of a neighboring ridge. But I don't see the issue, already they were saying something odd like "fastest straight line winds ever recorded" now they just have to change it to "Top surface wind not associated with a tropical cyclone or tornado".
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261

that sounds a bit intense :P haha
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Quoting drg0dOwnCountry:
tornadodude im from germany.


oh wow, thats cool
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tornadodude im from germany.
Member Since: September 22, 2005 Posts: 11 Comments: 2032
Quoting Patrap:
U betcha..
Well, you wont need any lighter fluid for the cook out.
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Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:
How many oreos t-dude? :)


haha probably a row :P

Quoting drg0dOwnCountry:

The last couple of hours we had up to 2-3 inch drifting snow which covers now cars and already iced (up to 8 inch) sidewalks.


where are you from?
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Quoting tornadodude:
So not gonna lie, sitting on the futon, watching tv, eating oreos and milk while watching the snow fall is pretty nice

The last couple of hours we had up to 2-3 inch drifting snow which covers now cars and already iced (up to 8 inch) sidewalks.
Member Since: September 22, 2005 Posts: 11 Comments: 2032
U betcha..
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Quoting Patrap:


Thats called a landslide tsunami,..but they are local save for one in a million.

Now a GOM or Pacific Meteor Impact of say a Kilometer or a Mile wide,..impacting at 8.78 Kilometers a sec,
Or a 6 mile wide asteroid weighing 14,560- million tonnes moving at 60,000 mph lands in the Pacific which has an average depth well over 10,000 feet would still slam through the ocean and the earths crust in a split second causing a 100 mile high tidal wave and explode planetary debris into ballistic orbit around the earth then gravitate back to the world in the form of giant fireballs causing conflagrations on all the land masses while darkening the atmosphere to the point of black ruining all of our plans for that day...:)
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Hey Aussie!
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Quoting Patrap:
The wunderground server is Located in San Francisco


In running an IP locator the current physical location for the IP address for the Wunderground server is Washington DC...every other IP I've run through the software is correct; is it possible that there is a re-direct in place?
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 9922
Can it be that the NAO anomaly causes a major shift in precipitation? Meaning that the seasonal ice extend at the poles is effected - shifts more to the equator regions of the planet(siberian deep freeze express).
Limiting the seasonal natural ice extend at the poles.
Yesterday someone posted a NAO forecast which showed an extending negative NAO anomaly for the upcoming month.
Member Since: September 22, 2005 Posts: 11 Comments: 2032
So not gonna lie, sitting on the futon, watching tv, eating oreos and milk while watching the snow fall is pretty nice
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Wowza!

GFS storm #1, February 7:



Storm #2, February 12:

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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
all good but what if when a large land area slides into the sea they create the mother tsunami some as high as an 80 story building


Thats called a landslide tsunami,..but they are local save for one in a million.



Now a GOM or Pacific Meteor Impact of say a Kilometer or a Mile wide,..impacting at 8.78 Kilometers a sec,
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Quoting GrtLksQuest:


I've been empathizing with AstroHurricane001 - He has complained (more than once) about Texas getting more snow than where he lives in Ontario. I'm in SW Michigan. We got a couple of feet of snow earlier this month but most of it melted with the recent rain/thaw. I'm happy to see it snowing again. We get a lot of lake-effect snow here.

The timing of the new snow is great. I'm a volunteer at Fernwood Botanical Garden and we are taking local school kids on a hike in the woods on Friday to look for and identify animal tracks. (Predicted high is 17F - better dig out my long underwear.)


Wow, that sounds like fun! I love working with kids, and looking in new fallen snow for animal tracks? Absolute coolness...
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 9922
The former northeast storm appears to be drifting southward in the Mid-Atlantic, and strengthening.

Member Since: August 30, 2008 Posts: 8 Comments: 2834








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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
all good but what if when a large land area slides into the sea they create the mother tsunami some as high as an 80 story building
Thats surf-able if the break is right. Maybe a nice tube.
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Quoting Patrap:



Tsunamigenesis Earthquake Prediction and its Mechanism Through Seismic Signals
Chew, S.-; Wang, Y.-; Kuenza, K.-
American Geophysical Union, Fall Meeting 2006, abstract #S21A-0134


One of the key causes of tsunami is underwater earthquake of sufficiently large magnitude. However, not all underwater earthquakes with large magnitudes produce tsunamis. December 2004 Sumatra earthquake produced one of the deadliest tsunamis while March 2005 Sumatra earthquake, which has comparable magnitude and similar epicenter, did not result in the formation of any major tsunami. The generation of tsunamis with significant magnitudes is a complex phenomenon as its mechanism is strongly linked to fault structure and rupture mechanism. The frequency content of the seismic signal may provide a clue to the tsunamigenic nature of the earthquakes. Seismic wave (4000-6000 m/s) travels 20 to 30 times faster than tsunami wave (200 m/s). Thus, a tsunami prediction based on seismic signals instead of tsunami waves could deliver warning without much time delay. This study investigates the method of predicting tsunami by analyzing the frequency content of the seismic waves and relating it to the possible mechanism of tsunami generation. This paper presents the result of a research study which uses the method of Fast Fourier Transform (FFT) to extract the frequency components from the seismograms of a number of tsunamigenic and non-tsunamigenic earthquakes. The results indicate that tsunamigenic earthquakes have higher amplitude in the low frequency range (f < 0.15 Hz) and lower amplitude in the high frequency range (f = 0.15-0.3 Hz) compared to the non-tsunamigenic earthquakes. The observation supports the proposed mechanism of slow fault rupture in view of the long period nature of the tsunamigenic earthquakes. The frequency content of the seismic signal was also explored with Wavelet Analysis. These techniques, which utilizes frequency component of the seismic signals, have a great potential to be an effective component of the Tsunami Warning System, which at present mainly relies on the magnitude and location of earthquake as the determining factor in predicting the generation of tsunami.
all good but what if when a large land area slides into the sea they create the mother tsunami some as high as an 80 story building
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This is what did a large percentage of the damage in hurricane Charley:


tornado-scale mesovortex
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Quoting atmoaggie:

Ahhh, but we have fiber optic NICs and switching we could use...

Even more fun, our HPC system, currently building, has QDR Infiniband...40 Gbit/s and ~140 nanosec latency...

Fun world I live in over here.


Wow, how cool is it to be you? I loved working for the larger corporations with fairly unlimited resources in the IT department...
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Quoting AwakeInMaryland:

A couple of the WU members have addressed it on their individual blogs. Just go to "member blogs" at the top, if you'd like to look.


OK, Thanks
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Hey all.

My round trip is 191ms. I think this is because my ISP runs up through Canada before hitting the rest of the world...

Watching the potential Southern Hemisphere ramp-up with interest....
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Quoting Orcasystems:


8000 km of fibre optics...and numerous connections will do that :)


that is true.

oh hey Aussie,

I might be going to Sydney to study abroad this summer, depending on how much financial aid I can get. I think it is from May 8th through July something
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Quoting natrwalkn:
Surprised people aren't talking about the developing major ice storms poised to hit Oklahoma and Arkansas. Looks like it will be a VERY destructive one with heavy ice accumulations.

A couple of the WU members have addressed it on their individual blogs. Just go to "member blogs" at the top, if you'd like to look.
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Olga is splitting into five main areas of convection, it seems:

Member Since: August 30, 2008 Posts: 8 Comments: 2834
Thank you, Orca.
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Quoting tornadodude:
235

so when it jumps from Los Angeles to Sydney it slows way down


8000 km of fibre optics...and numerous connections will do that :)
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Surprised people aren't talking about the developing major ice storms poised to hit Oklahoma and Arkansas. Looks like it will be a VERY destructive one with heavy ice accumulations.
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235

so when it jumps from Los Angeles to Sydney it slows way down
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To an Australian web site. Notice the slowdown once it hits Australia at hop 11 of the trace route.

C:\>ping www.thewoodworks.com.au

Pinging server.bisshop.biz [202.125.168.160] with 32 bytes of data:

Reply from 202.125.168.160: bytes=32 time=268ms TTL=49
Reply from 202.125.168.160: bytes=32 time=250ms TTL=49
Reply from 202.125.168.160: bytes=32 time=256ms TTL=49
Reply from 202.125.168.160: bytes=32 time=247ms TTL=49

Ping statistics for 202.125.168.160:
Packets: Sent = 4, Received = 4, Lost = 0 (0% loss),
Approximate round trip times in milli-seconds:
Minimum = 247ms, Maximum = 268ms, Average = 255ms

C:\>tracert www.thewoodworks.com.au

Tracing route to server.bisshop.biz [202.125.168.160]
over a maximum of 30 hops:

1 1 ms 1 ms 1 ms 192.168.2.1
2 8 ms 7 ms 7 ms 10.16.128.1
3 9 ms 7 ms 7 ms ip68-1-11-1.at.at.cox.net [68.1.11.1]
4 7 ms 9 ms 10 ms 68.1.10.222
5 28 ms 29 ms 30 ms 68.1.1.121
6 31 ms 29 ms 29 ms ae-1-51.edge4.Atlanta2.Level3.net [4.68.103.14]

7 75 ms 42 ms 43 ms 4.68.62.22
8 45 ms 42 ms 42 ms 0.ge-2-2-0.XT2.ATL4.ALTER.NET [152.63.82.106]
9 77 ms 77 ms 82 ms 0.so-6-0-0.IL2.LAX9.ALTER.NET [152.63.48.61]
10 83 ms 77 ms 79 ms 0.so-2-0-0.IR2.LAX12.ALTER.NET [152.63.48.70]
11 248 ms 247 ms 245 ms 0.so-1-0-0.XT4.SYD4.ALTER.NET [210.80.48.98]
12 246 ms 253 ms 243 ms 0.so-7-0-0.GW4.SYD4.ALTER.NET [210.80.33.254]
13 244 ms 246 ms 244 ms nextgen-syd4-gw.customer.alter.net [210.80.189.4
2]
14 244 ms 243 ms 243 ms s-br1-sydn-1.pr2.sydn.nxg.net.au [121.200.224.86
]
15 307 ms 269 ms 269 ms c-20388-VAIES-200-014.cust.nxg.net.au [121.200.2
27.22]
16 246 ms 246 ms 245 ms vl101.EFAST.syd1.bluecentral.net.au [116.213.10.
4]
17 245 ms 245 ms 247 ms secure.webjini.biz [202.125.168.160]

Trace complete.

C:\>
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AOI

AOI

AOI

AOI

Humor in Comments
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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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