Tutorial Weather tutorial for Japan

Discussion in 'Weather' started by Nozawaman, Nov 26, 2013.

  1. Nozawaman

    Nozawaman Addicted Member
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    I look at the Japan posts regularly , but for the life of me I can't work out a lot of it , there are so many lines and numbers floating around I get lost in it all . I tend to look at this one a lot and look for the speckled clouds coming from NW http://www.jma.go.jp/en/gms/smallc.html?area=0&element=0&time=201311252300
    Could someone maybe do a tutorial thing with lines and notations drawn (a la VSG's drawings ) ?
    I'm sure there would be others that would appreciate it also .
     
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  2. freddy

    freddy Dedicated Member
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    yes please.
     
  3. Sandy

    Sandy Dark Sith Lord of the Pool Room
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    Ok, let's start with some basics.

    Orographic lift is is very important in Japan, particularly central Japan. Air rises, it cools and moisture condenses to form cloud. How high it rises and and over what distance is important. If it rises too quickly, it doesn't cool or form as much cloud. If it's blocked by other mountains, the other mountains get most of the snow, so the terrain profile is important.

    This means that the DIRECTION is important. As Nozawaman and others have observed, sometimes Hakuba gets a big dump while Nozawa gets just a few cm, and sometimes it's exactly the opposite. Here is an example for Hakuba.

    [​IMG]

    The wind directly from the north blows through a gap, and Cortina gets MUCH more snow than on a NNW wind.
     
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  4. Nozawaman

    Nozawaman Addicted Member
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    Good start Sandy ...thank you , but for me I want to get into those maps and charts .
    Donza is a guru , so is Smitty , and Crispy seems to know a lot , a bit from everyone would have us reading like champions (hopefully)
     
  5. Sandy

    Sandy Dark Sith Lord of the Pool Room
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    The most important thing in Japan is the production of large amounts of cloud due to the "lake effect". Very cold winds (say, -30 degrees) blow off the Asian mainland, from the N - NW, and across the Sea of Japan. (which is around 3-6 degrees) There is a large temperature differential, which causes to form within around 200km of the Asian coast. This cloud hits the Japanese Alps, and dumps huge amounts of snow. The air dries after dumping the snow, so the SE coast of Japan is clear and sunny!!! In this example, you can see the same "lake effect" on the Pacific coast of Japan reestablishing itself.

    These are the wind directions we are looking for. If the winds are too far from the west, it's rakes the coast but doesn't penetrate far inland.

    [​IMG]
     
  6. Sandy

    Sandy Dark Sith Lord of the Pool Room
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    Yes, patience ;)

    In order to understand the charts, we need to know what we're looking for

    I like the satellite picture here, and the video
    http://weather.is.kochi-u.ac.jp/index-e.html
     
  7. Sandy

    Sandy Dark Sith Lord of the Pool Room
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  8. Sandy

    Sandy Dark Sith Lord of the Pool Room
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    What we don't want:
    A low in the Sea of Japan drags warm air up the eastern flank of the low, making it warm and producing rain. we get snow afterwards, but it makes the base bullet proof until it snows a lot.

    [​IMG]


    I'll find a better example later, but this is more like want we want:

    [​IMG]
     
  9. Donza

    Donza Pool Room

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    [​IMG]

    current chart
    see the slight offshore wind from siberia...
    starting to stream
     
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  10. Avon_Barksdale

    Avon_Barksdale Active Member

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    The JMA radar and nowcast gives a good idea of what has just gone through and what is about to go through.

    http://www.jma.go.jp/en/radnowc/index.html?areaCode=207

    Push play and you can clearly see the wind direction as the areas of precip move. The grids show direction i.e. North is up.

    I've noticed in previous years that if it is a westerly wind Hakuba will do a lot better than Nozawa. Not sure what the comparison would be like for Myoko or Shiga with a westerly. Over the next few days it looks like there will be sustained periods of westerlies so it will be interesting to see if my theory holds true.
     
  11. Sandy

    Sandy Dark Sith Lord of the Pool Room
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    Westerlies in Nagano & Niigata don't do very well. It rakes the coastal ranges and doesn't penetrate far inland.
    You may have thought that north-westerlies were westerlies.
     
  12. Avon_Barksdale

    Avon_Barksdale Active Member

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    No, it was westerlies. Pretty clear on the nowcast if the clouds are going left to right and on the isobar map the isobars are aligned west to east.

    I'm not saying the ideal wind is a westerly. I agree with you that the big dumps come from the North or Northwest. Was just commenting on one of the scenarios where Hakuba would get more than Nozawa.
     
  13. Sandy

    Sandy Dark Sith Lord of the Pool Room
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    Ok, fair enough.
    It's true that Hakuba gets more snow on a westerly because the tall mountains behind induce a lot of orographic lift (and Hakuba gets the blow over), while Nozawa doesn't get any on a westerly because it's in a shadow there.
    I just wanted to make it clear that westerlies in general don't produce much snow IMO.
     
    #13 Sandy, Nov 26, 2013
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2013
  14. Stratus

    Stratus Addicted Member

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    So if most of the East coast remains dry from these typical westerlies, what systems work best for areas such as Hakkoda/ Zao ? For a Westerly type system, I suppose Hakkoda would pick up drier snow?
     
  15. Sandy

    Sandy Dark Sith Lord of the Pool Room
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    Westerly systems usually don't provide the best snow. In central Japan, the winds rake the coast, and the moisture(snow) doesn't penetrate far inland.

    However, from around Yamagata northwards (so Zao and Hakkoda), Japan aligns more north/south, so the mountains face more to west. Japan also narrows there. This means that northern Honshu will do better out of a westerly than around Nagano/Niigata. However, a westerly is generally not as cold.

    As for specific places you mention:
    Zao Onsen. As far as I can tell, the best direction is a NNW wind. There's a plain around Sakata & Tsuruoka that pushes about 20km inland. NNW winds across that area will go straight over the top of Mt Gassan (the lifts there don't open until April, because there is too much snow!!) The peak is about 2000m, but much of the high ground there is about 1400m or less for about 20km. Then the valley where Yamagata is located provides another gap until the winds (still with moisture) hit Mt Zao.

    Hakkoda is quite different. It's far north Honshu, and is more affected by northerly low pressure, and a little less by the lake effect. The further north you go, the more effective a westerly becomes, provided that it is bending around from the north across Siberia.
     
    #16 Sandy, Dec 1, 2013
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2013
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  16. hatto

    hatto Dedicated Member
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    Hi All
    just learning all this weather stuff, it takes alot to follow.
    Following on precipitation, how does that convert to snow depth EG 5mm rain equals how much snow. I understand that there are alot of variables but is there a guide to use.

    hatto
     
  17. Born2ski

    Born2ski Part of the Furniture

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    Rough guide, 5mm rain = 5cm of snow, but the colder the temp drops below zero the less moisture content in the snow so you get more snow for less moisture.

    A short explanation. http://www.theweatherprediction.com/habyhints/346/
     
  18. hatto

    hatto Dedicated Member
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    Thanks b2s. That gives a start. There is alot to this weather stuff

    hatto
     
  19. skichanger

    skichanger Dedicated Member
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    I think Sandy has only just got started! I am still processing the stuff he told me last year. He has put a lot of thought and research into this stuff so I am sure there will be more!
     
  20. Sandy

    Sandy Dark Sith Lord of the Pool Room
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    Yes, I've been working on a wind direction map..... ;)
     
  21. Olgreg

    Olgreg Dedicated Member
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    This is good teaching Sandy et al. Really helping me understand where the goodness comes from.
     
  22. Sandy

    Sandy Dark Sith Lord of the Pool Room
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    More information about wind direction and snowfall.
    Firstly, Hakuba:

    [​IMG]

    Resorts in bright red as shown. The pink/light brown line is about is about 1800m. Grey/pink line is about 2200m, grey/white is about 2600m. The sea is off to the NW & north.

    WNW wind:
    [​IMG]

    The extreme height of the ranges produce a lot of orographic lift. Since Happo & Goryu/47 are quite near to the peaks, they get a lot of blow over snow. The stronger the wind, the more snow there is and the further out into the valley it blows. The size of the arrow head gives the approximate comparative amount of snow.
    e.g. Happo & Goryu/47 get more, Iwatake gets very little.
     
  23. Sandy

    Sandy Dark Sith Lord of the Pool Room
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    [​IMG]

    On a NW wind, Tsugaike, Norikura & Cortina get more snow, because Happo, Goryu/47 are block to some degree by the peaks.


    NNW wind:
    [​IMG]

    Tsugaike, Norikura, Cortina & Iwatake do best on a NNW wind.


    On a north wind, Cortina cops the mother lode, because it's the first high ground:
    [​IMG]



    I will follow up with other resorts in central Japan later. (it's quite time consuming to do this!!!!!)
     
  24. dr80

    dr80 Well-Known Member
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    Thanks Sandy. very easy to understand.
    Looking forward to the next maps:thumbs:
     
  25. Sandy

    Sandy Dark Sith Lord of the Pool Room
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    To further explain that, here is some info on orographic lift.

    [​IMG]

    In the previous posts, I was showing the effect of wind direction. The effects in play are direction, orographic lift, how it lifts (which i will discuss later), terrain profile (which includes lift and blocking/rain shadow). Also, the distance from the coast comes into play (I will also discuss this later)

    The above describes orographic lift. If we assume that the temperature is close to freezing at sea level, then the factors are moisture (discussed a lot earlier when talking about "lake effect")..... we assume the same amount of cloud and elevation.

    The 1st shows a lower elevation with a fresh to strong wind. Orographic lift produces snow. This is more like the profile at Niseko, and because of reasonably constant N/NW air flow, it produces consistent snow most of the time, with the occasional storm with higher speed winds and low pressure troughs producing larger snow falls.

    The 2nd shows a similar wind speed, but with larger elevation. This might be a WNW wind at Hakuba (Happo on the right, with the high peaks on the left). Notice how the larger orographic lift produces much larger snowfall. Happo in this case gets the residual cloud and snowfall(sometimes substantial), but the bulk of it falls on the windward side of the peaks. This is consistent with the 20m depths we get near Kurobe dam.

    The 3rd shows Happo, but with a lighter wind. While orographic lift produces substantial snow on the peaks, Happo gets much less. This explains why Happo often can get reasonable snow on the top half, while in the valley, it's sunny!!!!! Many people here have seen the cloud "pillows" that come over the peaks behind Happo & Goryu/47, viewed from a sunny Iwatake, Tsugaike or Norikura.
     
    #26 Sandy, Dec 26, 2013
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2013
  26. Avon_Barksdale

    Avon_Barksdale Active Member

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    Great stuff. Thanks Sandy. Looking forward to a Nozawa analysis.
     
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  27. BobGnarly

    BobGnarly Dedicated Member

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    Sandy for PM.
    Easily the most helpful person on this site
     
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  28. Yardsale

    Yardsale Part of the Furniture
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    I find it interesting that in Japan, they seem to position resorts based on where you can get the good weather and sunshine. Completely the opposite thinking to Australia. Are there any resorts on the windward sides of the japanese alps? I'd imagine if you got 20m accumulations - it would be pointless to even install a lift... it would be buried all winter!
     
  29. BobGnarly

    BobGnarly Dedicated Member

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    Telescopic lift poles. Patent pending
     
  30. Sandy

    Sandy Dark Sith Lord of the Pool Room
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    At Kagura, there are telegraphic lift pylons, I kid you not. And also, seasons up until now, the peak chair is closed until the end of February, due to it being buried!!!!

    Also, Gassan mountain is closed until April, when they dig it out, because you can't get to it until then, so somebody got it wrong!!! LOL

    I suspect there may even be a few resorts that WERE built in a bad place, got buried and abandoned!
     
  31. BobGnarly

    BobGnarly Dedicated Member

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    There is a chair at rusutsu that gets buried early on. It starts in a gully that just fills up with snow.
    Kurodake chair lift only runs early and late season.
    Nakayama toge is also closed all of winter due to too much snow.
     
  32. Yardsale

    Yardsale Part of the Furniture
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    I may have to go take a look at that place on day. I need a snorkel first tho.
     
  33. Sandy

    Sandy Dark Sith Lord of the Pool Room
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    Just head up to Cortina on a "strong northerly" day, and you'll need a snorkel
     
  34. Yardsale

    Yardsale Part of the Furniture
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    So is there a valley between Hakuba and the main range. I thought that Happo was a spur than came off the main spine?
    Would it be fair to say that most of the weather comes out of squally storms, and on the other side of the hill, it is more or less unrelenting snow?

    Is it the fluctuations in the temperature that cause the instability and slides out of bounds? There is sooo much epic terrain around Hakuba - but a lot of it looks very slide prone.
     
  35. Sandy

    Sandy Dark Sith Lord of the Pool Room
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    The tops of the mountains I've made white(as in snowy peaks), so Happo is on a spur off the main range.
    When it snows hardest, there is no storm, squally or otherwise. Pure and simple, it's just a constant wind with moisture and orographic lift climbing up 2800m of mountain range that produce all that snow.
     
    #36 Sandy, Dec 27, 2013
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2013
  36. Yardsale

    Yardsale Part of the Furniture
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    So the snow accumulation forecasts are made through Sea Surface Temp, expected air temp, wind strength and wind direction? So where we go looking for cold upper air, jetstreams and air moisture content - you're looking for something different in Japan.

    Just looking at wxmaps (because it is familiar), a strong siberian high and a low hanging out in Sea of Okhotsk (sp?) looks like it brings in the goodies - would that be a fair assumption?
     
  37. Sandy

    Sandy Dark Sith Lord of the Pool Room
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    Yep, you're getting the hang of it!!!

    We really don't need to know the SSTs, or expected temperature, just the wind strength and wind direction.
    This is because the SST in the Sea of Japan you can expect to be between 4-8 degrees, but it's the temperature differential with the air that produces the "lake effect". (e.g. difference of say, -10 to -25 degrees) This differential generates moisture (see my second post) within 200km of the Asian coast.
    The expected temperature on a northerly wind is low (around freezing at sea level) so this is not an issue that needs to be looked at.

    Even a big low out on the Sea of Okhotsk is not needed as long as a big high is out over Mongolia/Siberia (1040hPa)
     
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  38. guy

    guy Active Member

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    Hi Guys,

    I am a snowboarder from Holland, ye sour highest elevation is 340m.. Dispite our flatness I am very passionate about freeriding and gave been doing that for the last 17 years al lover the globe, even in NZ.

    Last year I went to Japan, an man that was insane! Next January I am allready planning to go there for another 2 weeks in Hokkaido.

    The Alps being my backyard, i understand all of teh wetter patters, fit for every region. You have the western Alp, Southern Alps and the Northern alps. Judging form where a storm is coming, I know where to go to score the goods. We vae fgood forecasters in Europe and detailed weather sites.

    Last year in Japan I noticed that nobody really could give me a good answer on how to oredict the weather. there must be a better way instead of opening the curtains and observing the snow fall.

    From what i understand, there is a predominantly north/nortwest flow form Siberia. this means that all the resorts in the north west/west get dumped on.

    But what about the resorts more inland, Tomamu, the south like Hidaka Kookusai or east like Nukabira and Koketsu Akankohan. Can the storm hit form those directions like the south or even east?

    I am aware of the basics allready discribed in this thread.

    Next year i just want to make the most of it, so predicting where the snow will fall wont be such a hassle!


    Thanks!
     
  39. skichanger

    skichanger Dedicated Member
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    A friend for Sandy to play with!
     
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  40. guy

    guy Active Member

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    Hope to hear from her/him!
     
  41. skichanger

    skichanger Dedicated Member
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    Don't stress. He must be busy but I am sure he will be along soon.

    Sandy has educated himself about predicting where the snow is going to fall because he wanted to knows the best places for powder to ski. Generally, the rest of us are just happy with the snow in Japan. By comparison with Aus it is amazing.
     
  42. guy

    guy Active Member

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    Sweet! does he post on this board on somewhere else?

    In Europe we have Wepowder.com, our own forecaster for the alps ( and the US and Canada ). He is pretty spot on!
     
  43. BobGnarly

    BobGnarly Dedicated Member

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    sandy is actually in hibernation. In order to supply this forum with his wealth of knowledge he must sleep for 3 months straight
     
  44. skichanger

    skichanger Dedicated Member
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    I know how to get him to appear, stray way off topic and then he will have to give us a "stay on topic" ROFLROFL

    And we need a really good pick of him so guy knows who he is dealing with. :p:p

    Must stop laughing.
     
  45. Sandy

    Sandy Dark Sith Lord of the Pool Room
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    Hello Guy, welcome t the forums!!!! :D

    If we are talking about central Japan (Nagano/Niigata/Gifu/Gunma), then it's not so difficult. Wind direction and strength is all you really need to know, because of the unique location of Japan, and the combination of Lake effect & orographic lift.

    In Europe in the Alps (and most other places like Rockies & Sierra Nevada in the US, Andes, and in Australia/NZ, etc) you need an actual storm. (low pressure trough and cold fronts). Japan only needs the wind direction and strength.

    In Hokkaido, the lake effect is less pronounced, because the Sea of Japan is not as wide there. However, Hokkaido is hit regularly by low pressure troughs, so it derives much of its snow from these. Since the lows rotate anti-clockwise, they still tend to bring the snow in from the north & northwest, because they approach from the north. Because of where its is and the lake effect, the western side of Hokkaido tends to get many consecutive snowy days, even if there is no storm. So you will often get days at a time in Dec/Jan/Feb when you get 20-25cm top ups every day in Niseko. Couple that with regular storms, and you get consistent snow that you probably don't need to predict!!!!

    There are things happen for Hokkaido as well:
    1. Low pressure troughs (storms) through the Sea of Japan (see my 3rd post)
    2. Low pressure troughs pushing through southern Japan (drags in more warm air from the south than #1)
    3. Low pressure troughs that move across from China, but don't "mature" until just near Tokyo. Since these are not strong to begin with, they do not drag as much warm air in. We got a series of these last winter, and two of them were responsible for big snow in Tokyo, including some record falls nearby. They then "wind up" after passing Tokyo, and move along the east coast and up towards Hokkaido. THESE are the systems that produce good snow for eastern Hokkaido, because the wind comes from the East or SE, but are still cold.
     
  46. guy

    guy Active Member

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    Wow, thans a bunch!

    Which sites do you use for your data? And where do you make your forecasts?

    Thanks!
     
  47. Sandy

    Sandy Dark Sith Lord of the Pool Room
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    There is a thread during winter, which will be called "The Japanese season 2014-2015 weather". I will start it around early November, and will contain news, analysis & predictions.

    Check some of the links above. It will be easier to see where the data is coming form when people start posting maps, etc, when the first systems start rolling in.
    In the mean time, there is a thread called "The coming Japanese snow season 2015". That will show the progression towards winter, and when the systems start coming, the new thread will be posted. It's good to see it getting colder again, but it's still full summer.... heat, typhoons, heavy rain!!!!
     
  48. guy

    guy Active Member

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    Ok, I think I got the hang of it now.

    The only thing we need for hokkaido is a northernly/north westernly wind. Judging by the air temperatures the intensity will be established.

    This applies for all of northern/north western hokkaido.

    More inland and to the east, snow is less distributated because all of the resorts to west will receive the precipitation.

    They are more likely to get the goods due to easternly winds. Do the occur often?

    Another question; where can I find data on the net for forecasting the wind directions?

    Also, can the winds come from a purely northernly direction? In that case everything around Daisetsuzan will get more than Niseko or rusutsu and Hakodate Nanae?

    Thanks for the effort, all if this is very helpfull!!
     
  49. dr80

    dr80 Well-Known Member
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    Based on your experience in Europe, I guess you can read weather maps?