New Orleans to Pensacola at high risk from Katrina

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 04:05 PM GMT am 27. August 2005

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The Hurricane Hunters measured a central pressure of 949 mb at 11:14am EDT, up from the cental pressure of 941 mb measured at 7:07am EDT. Concentric eyewalls with diameters of 13 and 40 nm were reported, satellite images show that the eye has filled in with clouds and the cloud top temperatures have warmed. These observations indicate that an eyewall replacement cycle has begun. This was expected, since the 7:07am Hurricane Huneter report indicated that the eye diameter had shrunk to 9 nm, about the smallest diameter one gets before an eyewall replacement cycle begins.

The maximum winds may fall below 115 mph while Katrina undergoes this eyewall replacement cycle, as the inner eyewall collapses and a new outer eyewall forms. This would make Katrina a strong Category 2 storm, and indeed the maximum winds seen so far by the Hurricane Hunters were only 87 knots (100 mph) at 10,000 feet. This is a temporary affliction, since Katrina is in nearly ideal conditions for strengthening, and is expected to reach Category 4 status by Sunday. The convection and outflow are starting to look better on the north side of the hurricane, and Katrina should have a more symmetrical shape typical of Category 4 hurricanes by Sunday. As seen in the cumulative wind image below, Katrina has increased markedly in size the past 12 hours, and will deliver a widespread damaging blow wherever she comes ashore.



The favorable intensification conditions for Katrina are expected to last up until landfall, when some increase in shear may occur. Intensification forecasts are highly unreliable, though, and it would be no surprise if Katrina were a Category 2, 3, or 4 landfall. The track forecast is getting more believable, as Katrina's westerly motion shows that it has begun it recurvature, pretty much where NHC and the models were predicting. A landfall between New Orleans and Pensacola is on track for Monday morning or afternoon. I expect a Category 3 storm at landfall.

I'd hate to be an Emergency Management official in New Orleans right now. Katrina is pretty much following the NHC forecast, and appears likely to pass VERY close to New Orleans. I'm surprised they haven't ordered an evacuation of the city yet. While the odds of a catastrophic hit that would completely flood the city of New Orleans are probably 10%, that is way too high in my opinion to justify leaving the people in the city. If I lived in the city, I would evacuate NOW! There is a very good reason that the Coroner's office in New Orleans keeps 10,000 body bags on hand. The risks are too great from this storm, and a weekend away from the city would be nice anyway, right? GO! New Orleans needs a full 72 hours to evacuate, and landfall is already less than 72 hours away. Get out now and beat the rush. You're not going to have to go to work or school on Monday anyway. If an evacuation is ordered, not everyone who wants to get out may be able to do so--particularly the 60,000 poor people with no cars.

Dr. Jeff Masters

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131. Dragoon
5:18 PM GMT on August 27, 2005
Valence even if she had done that there is plenty of heat content in the gulf now. There wasn't when dennis came on over a month ago.. but the entire central and eastern gulf has plenty of energy available at the moment.
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130. Unlabled
5:16 PM GMT on August 27, 2005
deadmandancing: interesting, I was at an Environmental Quality meeting 6 months ago and talked to the head of Emergency Services in the city and he denied the city had extra body bags in case of catastrophy.

Gas stations are now packed here in NO, people I believe are finally getting the message, slowly but surely...

I am planning on leaving around 4-5 tonight. A couple of my friends plan on leaving around 2 AM SUN.
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129. snotly
5:05 PM GMT on August 27, 2005
Some of the models (NASA mm5) show Kat bumping up north and then continuing southwest out to the middle of the gulf as if the trough doesn't have enough punch to grab the storm Interesting scenario speaking of did anyone notice how well the ETA handled this storm? ETA takes the storm right over New Orleans in 60+ hours just after a stall and a backtrack north then north north east
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128. Valence
5:13 PM GMT on August 27, 2005
I stated a few days ago that the best thing that could happen would be for Katrina to strengthen very rapidly after coming off the coast, because I didn't believe the total heat content of the Gulf was enough to support a cat 4 / cat 5 for that long a period of time.

Instead, she took her time, went south to warmer water, and is now forming a HUGE outer eyewall, giving herself plenty of time to contract that eye and ratchet up the wind speed.

If her forward speed matched up with the shrinking of that eye, she could make landfall at Camille / Andrew intensity. No matter what, I think we're going to have a hisotric hurricane on our hands.
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127. caymanray
5:14 PM GMT on August 27, 2005
New orleans has been lucky so many times that they appear to be downplaying the risk- they should call for a mandatory evacuation- too much downside to waiting until Sunday morning
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126. weatherboyfsu
5:13 PM GMT on August 27, 2005
I agree that the models are all in good agreement so that does make for more confidence in the path but where is the northerly motion.....I was going to south florida, but im glad i didnt because katrina moved south of her projected path and moved quicker than forecasted...i would of missed her......im going to look at the radar and satellite for a northerly component.....if anyone sees it, let me know where........
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125. PascMississippi
12:16 PM CDT on August 27, 2005
Hey bigpoppapascagoula,
How close to the beach are you?
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124. butterflymcb
5:15 PM GMT on August 27, 2005
wow...Selu, you answered my question as I was asking it...thanks! :)
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123. bigpoppapascagoula
12:14 PM CDT on August 27, 2005
Everyone took a break at once? LOL
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122. butterflymcb
5:11 PM GMT on August 27, 2005
deadmandancing...now that was educational. When will they issue an evacuation order? What is taking so long?
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121. Selu
12:08 PM CDT on August 27, 2005
NEW ORLEANS (AP) Low-lying Louisiana parishes called for evacuations Saturday and lines formed at gas stations in New Orleans as Hurricane Katrina appeared to be taking aim at the region while gathering strength over the warm water of the Gulf of Mexico.

"This is not a test," New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin said at a news conference. He said he would probably ask people to leave at daybreak Sunday, and said the Superdome could be pressed into use as a shelter of last resort for people who do not have cars.

Katrina threatened to strike land again as early as Monday after ripping across southern Florida and killing seven people.

The National Hurricane Center posted a hurricane watch for the eastern half of the Louisiana coast, including New Orleans. The watch was likely to be extended to other areas, which could extend from Louisiana to the Florida Panhandle.

Katrina was a Category 3 storm with 115 mph sustained wind Saturday, but the hurricane center said it was likely to get stronger over the Gulf, where the surface water temperature was as high as 90 degrees.

"Right now, it looks like Louisiana is in line for a possible direct hit," Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco said. "It does not bode well for southeastern Louisiana."

[b]Mandatory or voluntary evacuations were called on Grand Isle, Louisiana's only inhabited barrier island, and in the parishes of St. Charles, Lafourche, Terrebonne, Plaquemines and St. Bernard.[/b]

Much more here.


The Superdome may be opened as a shelter for people without transportation (homeless, indigent, elderly).
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120. Valence
5:09 PM GMT on August 27, 2005
I think the NHC is aslo focusing the track on NO (I say also because the models do point to that area) becasuse the city has been so slow to react to this storm.

Everyone has said it takes 60-72 hours to properly evacuate the ciy. Yet Katrina, if she takes the center of the cone, is only about 48 hours until hurricane force winds are in the area. And thats assuming she doesn't pick up speed (which I think she will).

JV
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119. icebear7
5:09 PM GMT on August 27, 2005
Snopes.com has nothing about 10k bodybags either as fact or fiction
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118. leftyy420
5:11 PM GMT on August 27, 2005
weather watcher. i think it might nappen. the sat images are scary looking.
Member Since: August 24, 2005 Posts: 35 Comments: 1987
117. leftyy420
5:10 PM GMT on August 27, 2005
i don't knowe about you but the second eye wall is gettign very well distinct in sat img. i have never seena conetric all wall this distinct. i am getting a sick feeling a really sick feeling here is a link

Link
Member Since: August 24, 2005 Posts: 35 Comments: 1987
116. boiredfish
5:04 PM GMT on August 27, 2005
StormJunkie, don't want it here either......lol. Alicia and some TS/Cat. 1's are enough for me. My parents sat through Carla 2 blocks off the seawall in Galveston in a garage apt., and mom was 7 months pregnant with me and my twin bro. Heard enough stories from that I don't want to see a bigger storm than Alicia was.

Halfway between Corpus and Brownsville would be a good place for it, if it has to go somewhere.
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115. Weatherwatcher007
5:04 PM GMT on August 27, 2005
Here is a link that shows the huge second eyewall.

Link

Look closely, I hope this helps

Another thing, I wouldn't be surprised if Katrina did become a doughnut cyclone. It looks to me that this storm will become a cat 5. (I hope I'm wrong)
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114. GetReal
5:06 PM GMT on August 27, 2005
Water vapor loops indicate that sw flow has now reached the TX coast and is working way into gulf. This is the flow that will turn Katrina NW and north toward s coast. The question now is when will they meet. very crucial.
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113. Hawkeyewx
12:04 PM CDT on August 27, 2005
I would add that if Katrina gets a huge eye like Isabelle that would likely greatly expand the wind field and cause Isabelle and Ivan-like damage even if there is weakening just before landfall as is usual for the north gulf coast. As we know Dennis was similar in eyewall strength to Ivan but Dennis' core wind field was so small it kind of got the reputation as a dud.
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112. StormJunkie
5:05 PM GMT on August 27, 2005
I feel you 007. I have said all along that Katrina has not played her hole cards yet. No telling what they are though. Either way a direct NO hit should be preparred for now. So what if we waste some money and she stays W or turns NE. The lives lost in NO would be huge. I hope her trick is not to pick up forward speed and head for NO. THat would be the worst case. Land fall 12 to 24 hrs early would be awful. That is why people need to get out now.
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111. deadmandancing
5:01 PM GMT on August 27, 2005
Unlabled: I googled the 10,000 body bags thing because it did sound like an urban legend to me, but the Wash Post has it as fact. Here's the link
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110. leftyy420
5:06 PM GMT on August 27, 2005
a curve to the ne when she gets to no is a real possibilty and would be a blessing. we will see though casue she does have something still up her sleeve
Member Since: August 24, 2005 Posts: 35 Comments: 1987
109. Selu
12:01 PM CDT on August 27, 2005
Bobbie.

My suggestion to anyone who's on the way out is for them to look at their EMA website, which will list shelters as they open.

The way shelters open is a very complex thing, done on a schedule. Shelters to the north will begin opening first, and as the hurricane nears landfall, shelters closer to NOLA will begin opening. The only way evacuees can keep up with where they need to stop for a shelter is for them to have the MEMA or other EMA phone number, or to visit the MEMA website, and to get phone numbers of as many shelters as they can write down, and to start calling as they travel.

I've already reported that there are no major chain hotels with vacancies from Houston, TX, to Greenwood, MS, to Oxford, MS. Anyone who's evacuating now has at least a nine to ten hour drive before they find a room...unless they were smart enough to make reservations before they left.

I've been updating on hotels in my area of the state. They are all booked now. I would hope that anyone who's evacuating has already made lodging reservations unless they plan to stay at a public shelter.
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108. txweather
5:05 PM GMT on August 27, 2005
Hawkeye, that wouls be cool if it stayed over water. But rememebr such a large eye cat5 while rare(it has happened several times before) is also incredibly stable in strength and might well last longer.
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107. caymanray
5:06 PM GMT on August 27, 2005
Excerpt from Steve Gregory's new post

Right now, Katrina is in a low shear environment (which is of course has to be) but, there will be a period of
time on Sunday when the shears will approach zero, and, the outflow to the NNW of the storm will be enhanced
by the high level, southwesterly winds ahead of the developing TROF. This 12-18 hour period of 'perfect' environmental
conditions winds, including even warmer waters associated with the loop current, and the semi-permanent 'pool' of warm
water in the Gulf south of Louisiana -- will provide ideal conditions and the opportunity for Katrina to rapidly intensification,
and the ability to attain strong CAT 4 if not CAT 5 intensity. A lot depends on the exact timing of this as it relates to any
eye wall cycling process that may be going on -- which is impossible to predict. I must emphasize - again - that intensity
forecasts are prone to major errors -- and though Katrina seems to be 'playing along' with my intensity forecasts for the past
48 hours -- the odds are against me for getting it right for much longer! :-( The latest NHC forecast shows Katrina reaching
CAT 5 intensity (125ktG150KT) Monday Morning - about 8-10 hours prior to landfall. And their internal discussions are now
right in line with what I am saying as well.
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106. weatherboyfsu
5:05 PM GMT on August 27, 2005
Im not sold on any one location, thats all....when i see a consistent northerly movement then i will heed the NHC's projection...
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105. pseabury
5:00 PM GMT on August 27, 2005
Anyone who lives or has lived in NO knows that getting out is a very tricky proposition. I-10 becomes a parking lot VERY quickly....especially when all it takes is 1 vehicle to break down or have an accident and all bets are off. NOLA is like Galveston...there are very few, narrow ways out.

I think Orleans and Jeff parish want to see a turn or tendency of Katrina to the North, or at least get another agreeable model forecast before beginning evacuation orders. I don't agree that's the right thing to do, but it's an expensive proposition and they have to weigh all the risks with the benefits. Crying wolf never helps in the next potential disaster. Me personally, if I still lived there I'd already be on my way. I'm worried that my 90 year old Grandpa won't want to budge.
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104. weatherguy03
5:04 PM GMT on August 27, 2005
True valence that is why they are in the cone. I know we focus on one point like N.O, but we are still a few days out and if you are in the cone be aware of the situation.
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103. leftyy420
5:03 PM GMT on August 27, 2005
dude would u believ she watches the weather channel with me for hours. she loves the weather though we had a storm couple weaks ago beyond any t-storm i have been in and it was to much for her. she normally likes the sound of thunder but she was scared and when the power went out for 6 hrs it did not help the situation
Member Since: August 24, 2005 Posts: 35 Comments: 1987
102. Skyepony (Mod)
4:56 PM GMT on August 27, 2005
Lefty, it seems this storm has followed the more storm condusive areas of the continental shelf since it formed in the bahamas (following general areas of weakness), not that I'm sujesting every one in NO shouldn't run for their lives, but the shelf does a curve to right just before NO. Is this why so many have turned in the past? Would a larger storm that would tend to normally move straight (affecting the weather around it, as apposed to being affected by the surronding weather)still make a jog to stay in deeper water? Here's a self link. you may need to zoom out a little.
Link
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101. weatherboyfsu
5:04 PM GMT on August 27, 2005
Thank you mr VALENCE, i beginning to think that i was crazy.....
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100. Valence
5:04 PM GMT on August 27, 2005
Jim's back on, giving correct evac info.

And my, does he have a following!
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99. Valence
4:57 PM GMT on August 27, 2005
Lefty-

Dont forget, the models were in consensus when she exited FL, all pointing to a landfall in the panhandle. The Katrina decided to stay on the WSW heading much longer than any model predicted.

Now that she is so far south, there is a change that she gets to make the turn to the NNE or even NE before she hits land, instead of after landfall. AL and MS and even pensacola are still in danger of hurricane force winds or even a potential landfall.
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98. leftyy420
5:01 PM GMT on August 27, 2005
and a doughnut cyclone would begin with the first eye wall or secodn eye wall cycle. so the chances are higher than normal for this to happen cause as the pressure has fallen the storm has grown in size. but its still a remote possibiloity and only mentioned it cuase u rearley see the cesond eye wall that huge but it happens and with the visble it appears the second eye wall might be stronger than the first and is really pronounced. once again this is a remote possiblity
Member Since: August 24, 2005 Posts: 35 Comments: 1987
97. Weatherwatcher007
4:57 PM GMT on August 27, 2005
An eyewall replacement cycle as a cat 3. This storm will be a monster. I think Katrina has another terrible surprise but I don't know whether it will be the track or the intensity. There is something else to this storm than everyone sees. I don't know. . .
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96. HurricaneParty
12:00 PM CDT on August 27, 2005
I've been told Contraflow in New Orleans will start at 4PM. Both directions on the Interstate heading out. Finally, they are paying attention.
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95. MScane
11:54 AM EST on August 27, 2005
Hi Valence--I saw when Jim C siad that--is he crazy?! Well, that mayor that told him that is too--if Kat goes up the MS river, BR would be a terrible place to be anyway...not to mention that as of 4 pm today no one will be able to go W on I-10 due to contraflow...I am still in disbelieve he said that people shouldn't go N...
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94. Hawkeyewx
12:01 PM CDT on August 27, 2005
Katrina has definitely looked ragged this morning, but the latest visible loop is darn cool. You can easily see the concentric eyewalls, probably moreso than any sat loop I've seen before. This is not wishcasting, but wouldn't it be darn cool if the inner eyewall collapsed and we ended up with a storm looking like Isabelle did with an incredibly huge and distinct eye(again, only over the open water while it is harmless)? With this particular loop you can get 30 frames with each frame separated by only 5 to 10 minutes.... again, very cool. This NASA site rocks for hurricanes threatening the US.

In addition to the eyewall replacement attempt it is also very obvious the outflow is getting better each hour. It is good to the north, but in recent hours the outflow is really beginning to shoot outward toward the southwest.

Several people mentioned how Katrina had turned wnw, but that appears to have only been a wobble for now as a due west movement of the eye has resumed. The eye will be leaving the Key West radar range in the next couple hours so it is satellite only until it approaches landfall.

Link
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93. StormJunkie
4:59 PM GMT on August 27, 2005
boired-I hope it does come your way, no offense. NO should be evacuating, but we should all pray that the NHC has it wrong. This is not likely though. We will all feel the heat from this one in one way or another. Damn the gas prices.
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92. hookedontropics
4:58 PM GMT on August 27, 2005
HA HA! Lefty, you can tell them to kiss your you know what.. You are also teaching your daughter how to be passionate about something.. (weather).. Some people just need to turn off their computers.

Link

CHECK OUT THE STORM DAMAGE....
This is what causes our passion and anxiety. We are often the first people to tell folks to get the hell out before it is too late.
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91. Selu
11:59 AM CDT on August 27, 2005
lefty, don't let the jerk get to you. What do you mean that he probably doesn't have children? I'd bet he is one.

Totally immature, insulting remarks on a weather board are uncalled for. Those of us in the path of Katrina don't appreciate posts like his one bit.
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90. Unlabled
4:59 PM GMT on August 27, 2005
Sorry Jeff but the 10,000 body bags is a major rumor that has been present in New Orleans for many years. I have personally confirmed that that is not the case.
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89. bobbielou
4:47 PM GMT on August 27, 2005
Hi folks,
How about this idea: using this blog to help these poor people who need to evacuate (and stop the bickering?) if you have a place to stay or know of one why not post it here. it is easy to get an email chain going too. the info can be passed along by phone to anyone in need of a place to land. my sis is a longtime nola resident and she is on her way OUT. 2 hours ago she told me the gas lines were getting out of hand. any suggestions for getting this going?
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88. weatherguy03
4:57 PM GMT on August 27, 2005
The NHC made a few changes yesterday, which was going to happen, the storm just entered the Gulf. They seemed to have zoned in on an area. The models have also zoned in on an area. until that changes i feel pretty confident with there forecast.
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87. GetReal
4:56 PM GMT on August 27, 2005
NOGAPS has had the best handle on this system since it struck FL east coast.
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86. weatherboyfsu
4:57 PM GMT on August 27, 2005
Weatherguy look at the verification models and then talk to me.....dont get me wrong,,im a big fan of the NHC....A BIG FAN>>>>>>........look at the models and talk to me
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85. leftyy420
4:56 PM GMT on August 27, 2005
well the eye would have such a striong eye wall she would fight off the centrifilce forces casuing it to shrink and collapse. its called a doughut cause usually the storm will be really round with little feeder bands and a huge center eye. usually we see this in intense cat5's higher than 165 mph. they can than sustain that intensity for days. isabele was a doughnut cyclone for 5 days and had winds estimated at 165 but probly alot higher
Member Since: August 24, 2005 Posts: 35 Comments: 1987
84. boiredfish
4:56 PM GMT on August 27, 2005
I'm on Galv. Bay and I won't feel we're completely out of the woods until I see this change in motion we've all been expecting.
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83. Dragoon
4:56 PM GMT on August 27, 2005
Doughnut as in the one you eat. What he means is a large storm with a big hole in the middle. A large eye with room to shrink may end up meaning no more eyewall cycles. Hence strengthening all the way to the coast.
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82. weatherguy03
4:52 PM GMT on August 27, 2005
Weatherboy how can you say the NHC has been completely off!!! That is totally not true. As lefty said earlier they were off by 15 miles on landfall!! There margin of error at landfall is 100 miles. 15 miles looks like a winner to me!!
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81. leftyy420
4:54 PM GMT on August 27, 2005
yeah i just ignore 27 windows. i doubt he has kids and he has no idea what kind of child my duaghter is. my 4 yr old can read radr images and can locate her location on a map of the state so to me she is as asmart as a 10 year old. i have always pushhed her to her limits. she will be a great adult because of this
Member Since: August 24, 2005 Posts: 35 Comments: 1987

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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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