Oil continues impacting Louisiana coast; storms for Caribbean and SE U.S. waters?

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:01 PM GMT on May 20, 2010

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Light southeast to east winds are expected to blow over the northern Gulf of Mexico today through Sunday, resulting in potential oiling of Louisiana shorelines from the mouth of the Mississippi River westward 150 miles, according to the latest trajectory forecasts from NOAA. Clouds over the Gulf of Mexico have cleared, and we should get a good view late this afternoon on how far south the oil spill has penetrated into the Loop Current. Statements from NOAA and Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) satellite data imply that most of the oil that was pulled southwards to the northern boundary of the Loop Current is now caught in a counter-clockwise rotating eddy just to the north of the Loop Current. Some oil has escaped this eddy and is on its way south towards the Florida Keys. This tongue of oil consists of "numerous light sheens with some emulsified patties and streams," according to NOAA. I wish they'd provide more information about what the sensitivity of various ecosystems may be to oil at these concentrations. It would also be good to have more information about what the concentration of the toxic dispersants are in the surface waters of the spill, but I expect no one knows. The oil will grow more dilute as it travels the 500 miles to the Florida Keys. My present expectation is that the oil entering the Loop Current this week will cause only minor problems in the Keys next week. However, there is a lot of uncertainty about what the oil may do to the fragile Keys ecosystem. SAR imagery from last night and this morning continue to show a large plume of oil being drawn southeastward from the oil spill location into the northern boundary of the Loop Current. With winds expected to remain light over the coming week, I expect oil will continue to be drawn southwards into the Loop Current and the counter-clockwise rotating eddy just to its north. Much of the oil caught in this eddy may circulate around the eddy in 3 or so days, and potentially enter the Loop Current early next week. As I discussed in my post Wednesday, the Loop Current is very unstable right now, and is moving chaotically 10+ miles in a single day, making prediction difficult.


Figure 1. Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) image of the oil spill taken at 7:56am EDT May 20, 2010, by the Canadian Space Agency’s (CSA) RadarSat-1 satellite. Image credit: Center for Southeastern Tropical Advanced Remote Sensing, University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. SAR images have a resolution of 8 - 50 meters, and can be taken through clouds and precipitation.


Figure 2. Latest oil trajectory forecast from NOAA for this Saturday.

Oil spill resources
My post Wednesday with answers to some of the common questions I get about the spill
My post on the Southwest Florida "Forbidden Zone" where surface oil will rarely go
My post on what oil might do to a hurricane
NOAA trajectory forecasts
Deepwater Horizon Unified Command web site
Oil Spill Academic Task Force
University of South Florida Ocean Circulation Group oil spill forecasts
ROFFS Deepwater Horizon page
Surface current forecasts from NOAA's HYCOM model
HYCOM ocean current forecasts from LSU

Potential serious rainfall threat to Haiti next week
Long-range forecasts from the NOGAPS model, and to a lesser extent, the ECMWF and GFS models, continue to predict an increase in moisture and decrease in wind shear over the Western Caribbean 4 - 6 days from now, leading to development of a tropical disturbance with heavy rains in the Western Caribbean early next week. A strong subtropical jet stream over the southern Gulf of Mexico will steer the disturbance to the north and east, and the potential exists for heavy rains of 3 - 6 inches to affect eastern Cuba, Jamaica, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic in the Tuesday - Thursday time frame next week. It is possible that a tropical depression could form from this tropical disturbance, though most of the models indicate that high levels of wind shear will make this improbable.

Southeast U.S. coastal storm next week could become subtropical
A region of cloudiness and showers just east of the Bahama Islands will develop into a strong extratropical storm over the weekend. This storm is expected to move slowly northwestward towards the Southeast U.S. coast Sunday and Monday, and could bring 20 - 30 mph winds and heavy rain to the coast of North Carolina by Tuesday. While the storm will initially form in a region of high wind shear and be entirely extratropical, it will move into a region of lower wind shear in a gap between the polar jet stream to the north and the subtropical jet stream to its south early next week. At that time, the low will be positioned near the warm waters of the Gulf Stream, and will have the opportunity to develop a shallow warm core and transition to a subtropical storm. The models are divided on whether the storm will eventually make landfall on the Southeast U.S. coast 6 - 7 days from now, and it is too early to offer odds on this occurring. The counter-clockwise flow of air around this low will probably lead to northeasterly winds over the oil spill region Monday through Wednesday, keeping oil away from the coasts of Alabama and the Florida Panhandle, but pushing oil westwards towards Texas. Wunderblogger Weather456 has a more detailed discussion of the potential development of this system in his blog this morning.

Tornadoes and large hail pound Oklahoma
A significant severe weather outbreak occurred last night over Oklahoma and surrounding states, with 25 tornado reports, 8 reports of damaging winds, and 23 hail reports. Severe weather wunderblogger Dr. Rob Carver has the details in his wunderblog this morning. The Vortex2 field project had a perfect opportunity to intercept these tornadoes, since they were slow moving and occurred over relatively unpopulated regions. The University of Michigan students writing our Vortex2 featured blog will have an update when their schedule allows.


Figure 3. Baseball-sized hail pounds a suburban Oklahoma City swimming pool, making huge splashes, in this remarkable video. The action gets really intense about 90 seconds into the video.

I'll be back with a new post Friday.

Jeff Masters

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681. flsky
Fabulous!! Thanks for posting!

Quoting snotly:

awesome time lapse!
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
As a matter a fact no not really. The GFS 18z (If you can trust it) Shows a 1011 MB low 36 hours out, what models are indicating is that the system will be its strongest in 144 hours.



the NOGAPs image that Levi posted above shows the southern low being nasty over haiti 144hrs out.
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Quoting SouthALWX:
@0z
Who has the rights to the footage should you come to an unfortunate end...That would be worth alot of cash =P Seriously though? You're about as prepared as you can be. I think everyone is overlooking what you said yourself was one of your biggest fears: embedded "super gusts" and vorticies .... no telling how fast the wind can get from a very strong downburst or inside a tornado inside a cat 5 0.0
Trees in Grenada were stripped of bark during Ivan. They think that it was embedded tornados. Watch out there OZ!!
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Quoting gulfcoastdweller:
662..right, yes they move the location of the release but what does the oil spill have to do with the 2010 hurricane season? LOL
No idea.
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Quoting superpete:
Stormpetrol, looks like we are going to get some heavy rain here in Cayman tonight


True But don't we need it badly this is the driest May/year for that matter I can remember!
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Quoting HaboobsRsweet:
Still not sold on the models. I still dont think either will turn into a TD. The models are all over the place. Every night when I get on here it seems it is always 144hrs out. Also they models have changed strength and path everyday and pushed back time. Typical for transition season.

The important questions is how are the model veerifying on the current pattern? I know they will intialize ok but how about verification? So far not looking good to me.
As a matter a fact no not really. The GFS 18z (If you can trust it) Shows a 1011 MB low 36 hours out, what models are indicating is that the system will be its strongest in 144 hours.

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is it me or DID TWC did a big make overe
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Quoting SouthALWX:
absolutely 200+ .. just how much is the plus, I wonder...


Could be 20 -50 mph. =)
Member Since: August 11, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 2315
Quoting superpete:
Stormpetrol, looks like we are going to get some heavy rain here in Cayman tonight
East End has had .32" today already and very overcast. Looks like much more coming. Hallelujah !
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Someone was saying how the CMC is way better and not over forecasting like it used to. From what I looked at today, the CMC develops both lows and has them stronger than other models again. Seems like the trend may be back. Guess we will know for sure in about a week after these systems either pan out of fade away.
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OK guys!! LOL Thanks for the enlightened comments.
Back to the drawing board for me.........

(But yeah! It would give us something to look at LOL)
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CBS News released an extended interview with Williams today, in which he describes in detail the explosion, subsequent fire and his escape from the rig.


Watch CBS News Videos Online
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127673
Countdown to the start of the 2010 hurricane season:

11 Days
268 Hours
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Still not sold on the models. I still dont think either will turn into a TD. The models are all over the place. Every night when I get on here it seems it is always 144hrs out. Also they models have changed strength and path everyday and pushed back time. Typical for transition season.

The important questions is how are the model veerifying on the current pattern? I know they will intialize ok but how about verification? So far not looking good to me.
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absolutely 200+ .. just how much is the plus, I wonder...
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Quoting Weather456:


Should of clarified. the colors indicate the level and possibility of impact by said systems either rain, wind or wave based on the latest model run, objective and subjective thinking.

Red stands for high possibility of being affected by system, purple is medium and yellow is low.


Oh ok thanks. :)
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Quoting stormpetrol:
WOW! just notice that impressive little spin SE of Cozumel, if it wasn't for the sheer well it might get going fast in my opinion, might be a player yet for the Caymans, SE Cuba, Haiti and parts of the Bahamas even if just heavy rains and squalls.
Stormpetrol, looks like we are going to get some heavy rain here in Cayman tonight
Member Since: October 10, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 636
Quoting Levi32:
18z NOGAPS out to 144 hours, a bad day for Haiti:



Tropical Storm strength system there, hope that doesn't happen.
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Quoting gulfcoastdweller:


no not till the 27th.......dont ask why, no one knows the answer
I do. They changed it due to the immediate concern of the the oil spill. The conference was changed to Washington D.C, btw.
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If it didn't show earlier, getting used to these link, images lol.. My forecast for the POTENTIAL Subtropical/Tropical system. Even mentioning a bit on the Tropical POTENTIAL after the first storm.

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Quoting SouthALWX:
@0z
Who has the rights to the footage should you come to ab unfortunate end...That would be worth alot of cash =P Seriously though? You're about as prepared as you can be. I think everyone is overlooking what you said yourself was one of your biggest fears: embedded "super gusts" and vorticies .... no telling how fast the wind can get from a very strong downburst or inside a tornado inside a cat 5 0.0


I heard of winds in the 200 mph range easily.
Member Since: August 11, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 2315
Quoting HurricaneSwirl:


I'm confused. What does all this mean? Key please? Where is this from, or did you make this?

Usually red stands for warning, yellow for watch, idk about purple. But there's obviously no warnings or watches issued so I'm confused to what these colors stand for..


Should of clarified. the colors indicate the level and possibility of impact by said systems either rain, wind or wave based on the latest model run, objective and subjective thinking.

Red stands for high possibility of being affected by system, purple is medium and yellow is low.
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076


Immaculate creation: birth of the first synthetic cell
17:55 20 May 2010 by Ewen Callaway

For the first time, scientists have created life from scratch – well, sort of. Craig Venter's team at the J. Craig Venter Institute in Rockville, Maryland, and San Diego, California, has made a bacterial genome from smaller DNA subunits and then transplanted the whole thing into another cell. So what exactly is the science behind the first synthetic cell, and what is its broader significance?

What did Venter's team do?

The cell was created by stitching together the genome of a goat pathogen called Mycoplasma mycoides from smaller stretches of DNA synthesised in the lab, and inserting the genome into the empty cytoplasm of a related bacterium. The transplanted genome booted up in its host cell, and then divided over and over to make billions of M. mycoides cells.

Venter and his team have previously accomplished both feats – creating a synthetic genome and transplanting a genome from one bacterium into another – but this time they have combined the two.

"It's the first self-replicating cell on the planet that's parent is a computer," says Venter, referring to the fact that his team converted a cell's genome that existed as data on a computer into a living organism.

What can you do with a synthetic cell?

Venter's work was a proof of principle, but future synthetic cells could be used to create drugs, biofuels and other useful products. He is collaborating with Exxon Mobil to produce biofuels from algae and with Novartis to create vaccines.

"As soon as next year, the flu vaccine you get could be made synthetically," Venter says.

Ellington also sees synthetic bacteria as having potential as a scientific tool. It would be interesting, he says, to create bacteria that produce a new amino acid – the chemical units that make up proteins – and see how these bacteria evolve, compared with bacteria that produce the usual suite of amino acids. "We can ask these questions about cyborg cells in ways we never could before."

For the complete article go to Link.

CBS News (where I originally heard the story - 15 minutes ago) reported the discovery could also lead to producing organisms that eat oil...
Member Since: October 18, 2005 Posts: 4 Comments: 3052
18z NOGAPS out to 144 hours, a bad day for Haiti:



Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26564
@0z
Who has the rights to the footage should you come to an unfortunate end...That would be worth alot of cash =P Seriously though? You're about as prepared as you can be. I think everyone is overlooking what you said yourself was one of your biggest fears: embedded "super gusts" and vorticies .... no telling how fast the wind can get from a very strong downburst or inside a tornado inside a cat 5 0.0
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WOW! just notice that impressive little spin SE of Cozumel, if it wasn't for the sheer well it might get going fast in my opinion, might be a player yet for the Caymans, SE Cuba, Haiti and parts of the Bahamas even if just heavy rains and squalls.
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12z. I think we will see some sort of shading over the Bahamas low in the 18z map.

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NOAAPRODUCT CHANGES FOR THE 2010 HURRICANE SEASON
Effective May 15, the National Hurricane Center will implement important changes in some of its text and graphical products. It will also make some additions to its Web site and experimental products. This is part of a continuing effort at the National Hurricane Center to expand and enhance its level of service.
Changes:
1)
Watches and warnings for tropical storms and hurricanes along threatened coastal areas will be issued 12 hours earlier than in previous years. Tropical storm watches will be issued when tropical storm conditions are possible along the coast within 48 hours. Tropical storm warnings will be issued when those conditions are expected within 36 hours. Similar increases in lead-time will apply to hurricane watches and warnings.
2)
The format of the Tropical Cyclone Public Advisory is changing. The most significant changes are:
o
The Public Advisory will be organized into sections. Within these sections, keywords will be used to assist the human eye and computer software to find specific information more readily.
o
The summary section of the advisory will move to the top of the product, immediately following the headline. The summary section will contain more information than it did previously.
o
Watch and warning information will be organized differently and be presented in list or bullet form.
3)
A summary section, identical to the one found in the Public Advisory, will be added to the Tropical Cyclone Update whenever storm information (e.g., position, intensity, movement, pressure, etc.) changes from the previous Advisory.
4)
The genesis forecasts for the risk of tropical cyclone development will be provided to nearest 10 percent, in both the text and graphical Tropical Weather Outlooks. In previous years, only risk categories (low/medium/high) were given.

5)
The National Weather Service and its National Hurricane Center will begin using the generic term "post-tropical" to refer to any system that no longer possesses sufficient tropical characteristics to be considered a tropical cyclone. Post-tropical cyclones can continue to carry heavy rains and strong winds. Some post-tropical cyclones will go on to become fully extratropical, that is, derive their energy from the temperature contrast between warm and cold air masses. Another type of post-tropical cyclone is the "remnant low", a weak system with limited thunderstorm activity and winds of less than tropical storm strength.
6)
The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale will become operational. The scale keeps the same wind speed ranges as the original Saffir-Simpson Scale for each of the five hurricane categories, but no longer ties specific storm surge and flooding effects to each category.
7)
The size of the tropical cyclone forecast cone will be adjusted. The cone represents the probable track of the center of a tropical cyclone, and is formed by enclosing the area swept out by a set of imaginary circles placed along the forecast track (at 12, 24, 36 hours, etc.). The size of each circle is set so that two-thirds of historical official forecast errors over a 5-year sample fall within the circle. The circle radii defining the cones in 2010 for the Atlantic and eastern North Pacific basins are given in the table below.

Link
Member Since: August 11, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 2315
Quoting JamesSA:

It would be an interesting little science experiment, wouldn't it! ;-)
Acually if i am right its waht blew it up in the first place a tiny air bubble
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I have a really good retort for "twins" but Im gonna restrain myself..
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127673
Quoting SouthALWX:

just giving you a hard time. A "low" can be 1020mb or whatever, if surrounded by higher pressures, it's all relative =P
Lol, no prob.
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Quoting SouthALWX:
did NOAA release their outlook today?
Nope.
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646. xcool



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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Yup, there is a surface low there, it's on the 18z surface analysis, and as per those analysis I am just right with the location.


just giving you a hard time. A "low" can be 1020mb or whatever, if surrounded by higher pressures, it's all relative =P
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Quoting belizeit:
How about causing a tsunami because imagine a small bobble at that depth is a huge monstrous bubble by the time it reaches the top

It would be an interesting little science experiment, wouldn't it! ;-)
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My outlook for the next few weeks. I'm confident that ALex will form out of one of these disturbances next week. Seems like the Carribean system, if it forms,will form after the Subtropical system.


Potential Tropical Troubles Map

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did NOAA release their outlook today?
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Quoting JamesSA:


Yes. Assuming they had the capability of compressing about 15 more volume of air than there is oil coming out to about 2,300 psi continuously... and assuming there were no ROV's, hoses, pipes, cables, ships in harm's way the oil could be ignited underwater at depth.

But there would be a lot more than a few bubbles coming up. That would release a tremendous amount of energy in the form of superheated black sooty water and steam.

It would be pretty spectacular to watch from a safe distance, actually. :)
How about causing a tsunami because imagine a small bobble at that depth is a huge monstrous bubble by the time it reaches the top
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640. DEKRE
Quoting JamesSA:


>It would be pretty spectacular to watch from a safe distance, actually. :)


With the help of the boiling water, do you think the plume might reach the stratosphere?
LOL
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21:00 UTC-5:00 PM EDT
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Quoting MrstormX:
This current Caribbean low, is it warm cored?


Sort of. It isn't cold-core, and it isn't being driven baroclinically, but the only reason it's there is because of dynamic forcing aloft from the upper shortwave overhead. So far the low center has not been directly associated with any significant convection, and thus it is not strongly warm-core or able to sustain itself without the disturbance aloft.

Technically though, it is warm-core, just not impressively so.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26564
Quoting NttyGrtty:
Yep you did, and you must have missed my suggestion to contact the Mythbusters...I think they would jump all over a "myth" that a double layer of kevlar can withstand any high wind debris...


It's not designed to stop "any" high-wind debris.

It's designed to stop a particular type of high-wind debris... glass and sheet-metal type material.

For wood beams, I wear other stuff.

For storm surge, I wear other stuff.

For nails and other ground effect nasties, I wear other stuff.

Maybe one day, "I'll" be an episode of Mythbusters...LOL!
Member Since: August 26, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 3620
Quoting SouthALWX:
@MH09:given standard pressure is 1013.25 .. can you really place a big "L" there? ... and your off by a couple ... hundred... miles =P

Yup, there is a surface low there, it's on the 18z surface analysis, and as per those analysis I am just right with the location.

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Quoting NttyGrtty:
Yep you did, and you must have missed my suggestion to contact the Mythbusters...I think they would jump all over a "myth" that a double layer of kevlar can withstand any high wind debris...


The only worry will be brunt force trama, from the impact itself. Unless you add a layer of say foam to lessen the impact. Just like a bullet vest the bullet might stop, but your ribs are broke, but your alive.
Member Since: August 11, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 2315
Quoting Weather456:
Potential tropical system



I'm confused. What does all this mean? Key please? Where is this from, or did you make this?

Usually red stands for warning, yellow for watch, idk about purple. But there's obviously no warnings or watches issued so I'm confused to what these colors stand for..
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Quoting pottery:

VERY good point (this is one of the reasons I am not in charge LOL)
But, apart from the bubbles coming up -which would cause flotation problems- do you think the fire could be lit?
We just talking theories here.


Yes. Assuming they had the capability of compressing about 15 more volume of air than there is oil coming out to about 2,300 psi continuously... and assuming there were no ROV's, hoses, pipes, cables, ships in harm's way the oil could be ignited underwater at depth.

But there would be a lot more than a few bubbles coming up. That would release a tremendous amount of energy in the form of superheated black sooty water and steam.

It would be pretty spectacular to watch from a safe distance, actually. :)
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632. DEKRE
Quoting JamesSA:
Don't you think if they pumped oxygen down there and ignited that huge ball of oil and NG that it might present a problem for the drill ship working directly above? That would create a small non-nuclear Hiroshima. Yes, with anywhere near the correct ratio it would burn explosively.

I don't think they want anther burned out hulk of a drill rig on the bottom of the ocean.
Quoting pottery:

OK. I am out of my depth with fires under water. But it sounds like you know about that.
Any merit in the idea?


It would work and at this oxygen concentration it would even ignite on it's own.
1 gallon of fuel would produce abot 27 lb of CO2, which at the bottom takes up 140 liters. Coming up, this would expand to 22000 liters - quite spectacular!!

Also, it would take about a minimum of 120 lb of oxygen for each gallon of crude, better twice that.
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Gulf really warming now.

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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.