Tropical Storm Kirk marching across Atlantic toward possible collision with islands by end of next week

Tropical Storm Kirk

11 p.m. UPDATE: Kirk is about 425 miles south-southwest of the southernmost Cabo Verde Islands and moving west-northwest about around 16 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center advisory. Top sustained winds were still 40 mph.

STORM 2018: CHECK THE INTERACTIVE TRACKING MAP

A faster westward motion across the deep tropical Atlantic Ocean is expected Sunday through Tuesday. Some strengthening is forecast through Sunday night, with little change in intensity expected on Monday and Tuesday.

Meanwhile, poorly organized Tropical Depression 11 is creeping northwestward about 440 miles east of the Windward Islands with sustained winds of 30 mph.

The depression is forecast to dissipate on Sunday or early Monday.

5pm UPDATE: (Eliot Kleinberg)

Tropical Storm Kirk, which formed overnight, continued Saturday to cross the Atlantic Ocean, steering toward a possible collision with the islands of the eastern Caribbean by the end of next week, according to a 5 p.m. National Hurricane Center advisory.

At 5 p.m. Saturday, Kirk was about 430 miles south of the Cabo Verde Islands and was moving west-northwest at 15 mph, up slightly from its earlier 14 mph pace. Top sustained winds were 40 mph.

” A faster westward motion across the deep tropical Atlantic Ocean is expected Sunday through Tuesday,” the advisory said.

ORIGINAL POST: (Eliot Kleinberg)

Tropical Storm Kirk has formed out in the eastern Atlantic, and is expected to move quickly across the ocean and possibly threaten islands as early as Thursday, the National Hurricane Center said Saturday in an 11 a.m. advisory.

At 11 a.m., Kirk was far south of the Cabo Verde Islands. Top winds were 40 mph, just 1 mph over the minimum to be a tropical storm. It was moving west near 14 mph and was expected to speed up from Sunday through Tuesday.

“Some strengthening is forecast through Sunday, with little change in intensity forecast on Monday and Tuesday,” the advisory said.

The next advisory was set for 5 p.m. Saturday.

UPDATE: Florence plummets to Cat 1, expected to restrengthen next week

UPDATE 5 p.m.: Hurricane Florence is fighting wind shear that knocked it down to a Category 1 storm with 80 mph winds.

The storm, which just 24 hours ago was a powerful Cat 4, is about 1,050 miles east-southeast of Bermuda and moving northwest at 10 ,m.p.h.

The National Hurricane Center’s 5-day forecast has Florence restrengthening to a Category 3 hurricane early next week.

Forecasters shifted Florence’s track slightly to the south, but cautioned there is a discrepancy in track models after Sunday.

“The uncertainty in this forecast remains larger than normal,” hurricane center forecasters wrote in their 5 p.m. advisory.

While the path of a weakened Florence was still a puzzle Thursday, it’s expected regain Category 3 muscle as it nears Bermuda on Tuesday, putting meteorologists on edge that a powerful hurricane could be off the U.S. east coast late next week.

“It’s going to be a formidable storm,” said Weather Company meteorologist Dale Eck, who is head of forecast operations for the Americas. “We can cross our fingers our fingers and hope it will only be a close call, but it will definitely be some type of threat.”

 

A sheared Hurricane Florence drops to a Cat 1 with 80 mph winds.

 

 

Previous story: 

Hurricane Florence, which roared to a major tropical cyclone on Wednesday, could impact the U.S. coastline this weekend with large ocean swells that forecasters called “life threatening.”

Florence reached Category 4 power briefly Wednesday before easing back to a Category 3. This morning, the storm has maximum sustained winds of 115 mph and is moving northwest at 12 mph. It is about 1,100 miles east-southeast of Bermuda.

Some additional weakening is expected over the next few days as Florence is buffeted by wind shear, but the National Hurricane Center forecast has it restrengthening over the weekend.

Check the Palm Beach Post storm tracking map.

Category 3 Hurricane Florence is 1,170 miles east-southeast of Bermuda.

Where Florence will go is still a mystery. Forecast models are not in agreement as to the track, which is dependent on an area of high pressure in the central Atlantic that could move more westerly this week with Florence riding underneath of it.

If the high pressure weakens, Florence could be little more than a fish storm heading away from the U.S and out to sea.

RELATED: Four hurricane graphics to know before a storm hits

“However, if the high pressure area remains strong, then Florence may complete a 3,500-mile-long journey over the Atlantic and be guided right into the U.S. East Coast somewhere from the Carolinas to southern New England sometime during Wednesday or Thursday of next week,” AccuWeather forecasters said.

Behind Florence, the National Hurricane Center is watching two tropical waves it is giving medium to high chances of development over the next 3 to 5 days.

The first wave has been given a 90 percent chance of development and is expected to become a tropical depression by Monday.

The second wave, which will leave Africa tomorrow, has been given a 50 percent chance of development.

The next names on the 2018 storm list are Helene and Isaac.

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UPDATE: Tropical Storm Gordon makes landfall along Gulf, Florence becomes category 2 hurricane

11 p.m. UPDATE: Hurricane Florence strengthened into a Category 2 hurricane as Tropical Storm Gordon made landfall Tuesday night, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Gordon made landfall just west of the Alabama-Mississippi border, according to the Hurricane Center, with maximum winds at about 70 mph. The storm is expected to weaken as it continues over land.

LATEST NEWS: Gordon slams Gulf Coast with tropical-force winds, rain

Florence, currently in the open Atlantic Ocean about 1,250 miles from the Northern Leeward Islands and 1,500 miles from Bermuda, has maximum winds of 100 mph, according to the Hurricane Center. The hurricane is heading northwest at about 12 mph.

Continue reading “UPDATE: Tropical Storm Gordon makes landfall along Gulf, Florence becomes category 2 hurricane”

UPDATE: Tropical Depression Six forms, expected to strengthen tonight

Tropical Depression Six has formed in the far eastern Atlantic with forecasters expecting it to become Tropical Storm Florence tonight.

The system is 70 miles south-southwest of the southernmost Cabo Verde Island with maximum sustained winds of 35 mph. It is no threat to the U.S.

Early forecast models had the system strengthening to a Category 1 hurricane in the five-day forecast window, but  have since backed off, keeping it a 70-mph tropical storm.

 

Previous story: 

Tropical Storm Florence is expected to form today in the far off eastern Atlantic, but South Florida should be watching a disturbance closer to its shores for a potential Labor Day washout.

A tropical wave near Hispaniola has a 10 percent chance of becoming a tropical cyclone over the next five days, but regardless of formation is expected to dump rain Sunday through Tuesday.

RELATED: Safest places to live in Florida to avoid a hurricane

Meteorologists at the South Florida Water Management District are predicting the heaviest showers on Monday and Tuesday with some areas seeing between 5 and 10 inches of rain.

Heavy rain is forecast for South Florida beginning Sunday into Tuesday from a tropical wave that could develop in the Gulf of Mexico next week.

“We’re forecasting excessive rainfall. It could be an average over the entire water management district of about two inches but really what that means are there are locations that could receive up to 5 to 10 inches of rain,” said John Mitnik, chief engineer for the South Florida Water Management District.

Mitnik said the district is lowering its primary canal systems in anticipation of larger volumes of water coming from the local water control districts.

RELATED: Official wind gauges went dead during Hurricane Irma

Although the rain is expected to be concentrated south of Lake Okeechobee, it affects discharges to the northern estuaries if water conservation areas south of the lake fill up.

The lake was at 14.6 feet above sea level on Thursday, higher than the Army Corps of Engineers prefers it to be during the rainy season when one tropical system could push it quickly into the danger zone.

Last week, the Army Corps of Engineers increased discharges to the St. Lucie Estuary and Caloosahatchee River, saying the lake continued a “dangerous rise” into the peak of hurricane season.

RELATED: Top 15 Hurricane Irma moments

Concerns about the integrity of the aging Herbert Hoover Dike mean the lake is closely monitored during the rainy season, but a record-wet May forced intermittent discharges to begin June 1.

Forecast rain accumulation Friday through Monday.

The dike protects Glades-area communities from life-threatening flooding, but can suffer breaches if the water level is too high.

“With continued paramount focus on Herbert Hoover Dike safety throughout 2018, we need to make increased discharges to slow the still dangerous rise in lake levels,” said Col. Jason Kirk, the Corps’ Jacksonville District commander, in a press release.

National Weather Service meteorologists said there is still some question about whether the tropical wave will pass through the Florida Straits or to the north of the straits, which could affect which areas get the heaviest showers.

BOOKMARK The Palm Beach Post’s storm tracking map

Forecast for West Palm Beach.

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BREAKING: Tropical system may develop close to Florida

UPDATE 1:51 p.m.: A tropical wave in the Caribbean was given a 10 percent chance over the  next five days of developing into something more by the National Hurricane Center in its 2 p.m. advisory.

Forecasters were already predicting a wet weekend in South Florida from the wave, which could mean a Monday washout with a slight chance of flooding rains.

National Weather Service meteorologist James Thomas said more than 2 inches of rain are possible through Monday, but cautioned that forecast models differ on timing and location with one taking the tropical through the Florida Straits and another moving it north of the Straits.

RELATED: Safest places to live in Florida to avoid a hurricane

“There’s a rather wet pattern setting up with the showers and storms coming really at any part of the day,” Thomas said. “I wouldn’t say there will be an overall washout Saturday and Sunday, but that could come Monday and Tuesday.”

Forecast rain accumulation through Monday.

Rain chances increase from 40 percent Friday to 50 percent Saturday and 60 percent Monday through Wednesday.

Hazards, including a slight risk for flooding and a moderate risk for rip currents, are expected Sunday through Tuesday. A high risk for lightning is also in the forecast for the same time period.

“If anything it will be Monday and Tuesday we keep our eyes open for flooding,” Thomas said. “Sunday the rain will be more hit or miss.”

RELATED: Official wind gauges went dead during Hurricane Irma

If the wave makes it into the Gulf of Mexico, it will have plenty of warm water to “feast on,” said Jeff Masters, co-founder of Weather Underground.

At 86 degrees, the Gulf is running 1.8 degrees warmer than normal.

“The total amount of heat energy in the Gulf right now is at near-record levels for this time of year – similar to last year’s levels, and much higher than observed during the awful hurricane season of 2005,” Master’s wrote in his Cat 6 blog.

Peak hurricane season

RELATED: Top 15 Hurricane Irma moments

UPDATE 10:52 a.m.: The National Hurricane Center is issuing advisories on Potential Tropical Cyclone 6, which is forecast to strengthen to Tropical Storm Florence and then a hurricane by Sunday.

It would be the third hurricane of the 2018 season, following Beryl and Chris.

The potential tropical cyclone is in the far eastern Atlantic, about 425 miles east-southeast of the Cabo Verde Islands with maximum sustained winds of 30 mph.

UPDATE 10:15 a.m.: The National Hurricane Center said it will begin issuing advisories for Potential Tropical Cyclone Six at 11 a.m.  The bundle of showers and thunderstorms is east-southeast of the Cabo Verde Islands.

The center started identifying “potential tropical cyclones” in 2017 so it could issue advisories to people before the system actually forms.

Previous story: A strong tropical wave about to hit the main development region of the Atlantic basin has a 90 percent chance of development over the next five days, and is likely to become a depression or tropical storm by the weekend.

The system would be named Florence if it becomes a tropical storm.

RELATED: Will a hurricane be named after you this season? 

Sea surface temperatures have warmed from their unseasonably cooler status earlier this year and the dry Saharan air, which is known to discourage tropical development, is north of where this system is about to emerge.

BOOKMARK The Palm Beach Post’s storm tracking map

“All of the models show some development of this wave in the waters near the Cabo Verde Islands off the coast of Africa as early as Saturday,” said Weather Underground co-founder Jeff Masters in his Cat 6 blog.

Saharan air concentrations appear in deep oranges and reds.

Of more immediate concern to South Florida is whether Labor Day weekend will be a washout.

The NHC is showing no tropical development near Florida over the next five days, but a tropical wave near Puerto Rico will be making its way west late this week.

Masters is predicting a tropical depression to form early next week in Florida waters, but he said anything that forms has a better chance of doing so in the Gulf of Mexico, affecting the west coast of the state. But he notes that none of the major weather models predicted the wave to develop into a cyclone by Saturday.

A tropical wave near Puerto Rico will be moving west over the next few days and could affect Florida over the Labor Day weekend. GOES-16 satellite image valid 7:15 a.m.

RELATED: Cape Verde is now Cabo Verde, here’s why

The National Weather Service in Miami said models differ on location, timing and rain chances with the wave’s arrival still a few days away. But a strong tropical wave would “more directly impact the region with precipitation chances that could be enhanced just about any time of the day.”

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New hurricane forecast released as peak season approaches

The official hurricane season begins June 1, but Mother Nature really turns up the heat beginning in mid-August when tropical cyclone activity typically spikes.

But Colorado State University has some reassuring news today in its August updated forecast that continues to call for a below normal season.

RELATED: The El Niño forecast has changed, what it means for hurricane season

Hurricane season typically begins to peak in mid-August.

CSU is predicting nine more named storms through November, three hurricanes, and one major hurricane of Category 3 or higher.  Today’s forecast does not include sub-tropical storm Alberto, or hurricanes Beryl and Chris.

A normal season has 12 named storms, six hurricanes and three major hurricanes.

STORM 2018: Hurricane Central

Phil Klotzbach, the lead author of the forecast, said an unusually cool tropical Atlantic and increasing chances of an El Nino forming during the fall or winter influenced the updated forecast.

The CSU forecast is intended to provide a best estimate of activity to be experienced during the upcoming season – not an exact measure.

Hurricane Chris sits nearly stationary off the Carolinas on July 10, 2018. 

Michael Bell, associate professor in the Department of Atmospheric Science at CSU and co-author of the report, cautioned coastal residents to take proper precautions.

“It takes only one landfall event near you to make this an active season,” Bell said.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will issue its updated seasonal forecast Aug. 9.

ELATED: How El Nino boosts winter storms in Florida.

Today’s prediction comes on the heels of a report from the National Hurricane Center that showed July was an unusually active month for tropical cyclones with hurricanes Beryl and Chris.

Based on 30-year climatology, one named storm typically forms in the basin in July.

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Above normal tropical cyclone activity occurred in July, but the 2018 season overall is forecast to be below average.

Another heartbreaking video of a dead manatee, but it’s not what some people think

Another jarring video of a dead manatee on Florida’s west coast has surfaced on social media as red tide and blue-green algae continue to plague the area.

The disturbing images, taken near the Cape Coral Yacht Club, show a female manatee tied to a dock with a smaller manatee clinging to it. In some videos, other manatees can be seen hanging out nearby.

But this is not a baby manatee desperately trying to stay with its dead mother.

RELATED: What killed this baby manatee? Manatee mortality highest since 2013

As unpleasant as it may be, the smaller manatee is trying to mate with the dead one, which is tethered to the dock so that the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission can pick it up to perform a necropsy.

FWC veterinarian Martina deWit confirmed this morning that the video was of a mating attempt.

“It is not uncommon for male manatees to do this, as the female still has an attractive scent to them, even after she has passed away,” deWit said.

Just because it’s not a baby and a mother, doesn’t mean it’s not a terrible sight to see a dead manatee.

Wildlife on the west coast is suffering with fish kills in the thousands, a dead whale shark on Sanibel and dead manatees.

This year, 484 manatees have died in Florida through July 20.

That’s the highest number for this time of year since 2013 when 694 manatees died through mid-July. By the end of 2013, more than 800 manatees were dead, topping the previous record of 766 set in 2010 during a lengthy cold snap.

Just eight of the deaths were in Palm Beach County, with half related to boats or other human interactions. By far the highest number if manatee deaths were in Lee County where 109 died, 52 of which were ruled natural. Red tide-related deaths are categorized as natural.

RELATED: Quick fix for Lake O algae woes uses land now roamed by cows

Of the deaths this year, 29 were red tide-related with another 51 suspected to be from red tide.

“The worst we’ve had so far for red tide was 2013,” de Wit said. “Right now, the numbers are above baseline, and what is unusual, is it’s lasted through the summer.”

Screenshot from video taken in Cape Coral on Tuesday of deceased manatee tied to a dock so Florida Fish and Wildlife could pick it up for a necropsy.

JUST IN: Storms closing in on Wellington, West Palm, Palm Beach Gardens

A significant weather advisory has been issued for Central Palm Beach County as thunderstorms are tracked near South Bay moving east at 20 mph.

Wind gusts up to 50 mph and funnel clouds are possible with this storm.

Cities affected include Wellington, West Palm Beach, Palm Beach Gardens, Belle Galde, South Bay and Royal Palm Beach.

The advisory is in effect until 3 p.m.

Check The Palm Beach Post’s live radar map

Previous story: Palm Beach County was thrashed by a deluge of showers and rapid-fire lightning Sunday as a rush of rain cooled air from thunderstorms north of Lake Okeechobee clashed between themselves and afternoon sea breezes.

Robert Molleda, the warning coordination meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Miami, said in just a 2-hour period between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. Sunday an estimated 2,500 lightning strikes hit Palm Beach County.

“I would say certainly, that’s a lot and a lot more than your average thunderstorm day,” Molleda said.

The National Weather Service is compiling rain totals from stations throughout South Florida and should have those ready before 11 a.m.

The official weather gauge at the Palm Beach International Airport does not tell the full story.

STORM 2018: Hurricane Central

Although it recorded wind gusts as high as 30 mph, the airport rain gauge reads that just 0.65 inches of rain fell Sunday. I live about a mile from the airport and my rain gauge collected 2.5 inches.

South Florida Water Management District measurements were as high as 2.29 at the Corbett Wildlife Management Area in western Palm Beach County.

Below are some other measurements:

Jupiter, 1.47

Jupiter Farms, 1.34

North Palm Beach, 1.33

Royal Palm Beach, 1.30

Forest Hill School, 0.85

Boynton Beach, 0.55

Delray Beach, 0.60

Arlena Moses, a meteorologist with the NWS in Miami, said the storms focused on Palm Beach County as the outflow boundary from stronger systems to the north rushed into the area.

Check The Palm Beach Post’s live radar map

An outflow boundary is a flush of rain-cooled air that spreads across the land like a flood. They can interact with each other, forcing more storms to develop, or can intercept other boundaries such as South Florida’s familiar afternoon sea breezes.

Rain totals in the Kissimmee basin north of Lake Okeechobee were nearly 3 inches in many areas as the storms rolled through. It was an unusual situation for South Florida to see during this time of year when a low pressure system pushes a trough into the Sunshine State.

Weather map valid for 1 p.m. today.

Moses does not think today’s storms will be as robust as what was experienced Sunday, but the Storm Prediction Center does have Palm Beach County at a marginal risk for severe weather.

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Palm Beach County residents fear loss of favorite beach after new access law

Oceantree condominium on Singer Islands marks its beach with signs on July 20, 2018.

Some Singer Island residents fear they are losing access to their favorite beach following a new law that requires judicial approval to keep a privately-owned swath of sand open to the public.

The statute, which went into effect July 1, says local governments must get a judge’s approval to enforce a rare “customary use” law that refers to the general right of the public to use dry sand areas in Florida for recreation.

Sen. Kathleen Passidomo, R-Naples, who sponsored the Senate version of the bill, said it simply spells out a process for municipalities to follow to keep beaches open to the public rather than making up their own rules when a private beach owner wants to restrict access.

But the law has caused widespread confusion and angst, forcing Gov. Rick Scott to issue an executive order urging state attorneys “to protect Floridians’ constitutional rights to beach access” and doing one thing opponents feared most — emboldening private beach owners to cut off the public.

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Nancy Sweeney, who owns a condominium on the west side of Singer Island’s Ocean Drive, said since 1996 she has used a well-worn path between Marriott’s Oceana Palms hotel and the under-construction Amrit Ocean Resort to get to the beach.

Property records show there is a 99-year lease on a 7.5-foot-wide easement for public beach access, but whether the beach is open to the public once people get there is less clear.

“One of my neighbors went down…READ THE REST OF THE STORY AT MYPALMBEACHPOST.COM and find out which Palm Beach County beach is already heavily patrolled to keep the public from planting their umbrellas in the sand. 

Private beach owners can restrict access to sand landward of the mean high tide line, while the public has access to “wet” sand seaward of the mean high tide line. This has always been the case in Florida, but a new law is bringing more attention to the private vs. public beach issue.

The El Niño forecast has changed, what it means for hurricane season

Tropical Storm Chris on June 10, 2018.

An El Niño watch issued last month will continue after the latest forecast for the global climate pattern increased its chances of appearing this fall or winter.

The Climate Prediction Center is now forecasting a 65 percent chance El Niño conditions will be in place by the fall, and up to a 70 percent chance by winter.

That’s up from a June forecast that predicted a 50 percent chance of a fall arrival, and 65 percent chance of a winter arrival.

For Florida, the periodic warming of the equatorial Pacific Ocean can mean a less active hurricane season with fewer powerhouse Cat 5 tropical cyclones.

But it also leans toward stormier days during the darkest part of the year when the Sunshine State typically enjoys its dry season.

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“The issue for the hurricanes is does El Niño develop in time and with sufficient strength to suppress the later part of the season,” said Gerry Bell, the lead seasonal hurricane forecaster for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, in a June interview. “Conditions are evolving more toward an El Niño right now, but there is still a long way to go.”

Typical El Nino influence.

 

Hurricane researchers are considering El Niño in their updated forecasts.

NOAA’s May 24 hurricane forecast for this season called for between 10 and 16 named storms, five to nine hurricanes and up to four major hurricanes of Category 3 or higher.

An average hurricane season has 12 named storms, six hurricanes and two major hurricanes.

STORM 2018: Hurricane Central

Bell said the low end of the NOAA forecast reflects the idea that El Niño was a possibility but that the clues weren’t strong enough in May to base the prediction on it.

Colorado State University reduced its July 1 forecast to 11 named storms, four hurricanes and one major hurricane of Category 3 or higher.

The team’s start-of-season forecast on May 31 had called for 14, six and two, respectively. The historical average is 12, 6 1/2, and two. The 2017 season saw 17, 10 and 6.

Phil Klotzbach, CSU hurricane researcher and lead writer of the forecast, said an unusually cool tropical Atlantic, paired with the possibility of a weak El Niño led to the reduced forecast.

“A colder than normal tropical Atlantic provides less fuel for developing tropical cyclones but also tends to be associated with higher pressure and a more stable atmosphere,” CSU’s July 1 forecast notes. “These conditions tend to suppress Atlantic hurricane activity.”

RELATED: How El Nino boosts winter storms in Florida.

The onset of El Niño occurs in tandem with the relaxation of the trade winds – those Earth-skimming easterlies that have guided sailing ships across the world’s oceans for centuries.

With the trade winds reduced, warm water that has piled up in the western Pacific Ocean and around Indonesia rushes back toward the east. That movement of warm water shifts rainfall patterns and the formation of deep tropical thunderstorms. The exploding storms whose cloud tops can touch the jet stream disrupt upper air patterns so winds come more out of the west.

This GOES-East infrared image shows the remnants of Beryl in the lower right west of Puerto Rico with Chris off the coast of the Carolinas on July 9, 2018.

The west winds create shear in the Atlantic, which can be deadly to budding hurricanes.

Still, with three named storms, including two hurricanes – Beryl and Chris – already come and gone, this season is coming out of the gate strong.

On average, there are only 1.3 named storms through July 17 and no hurricanes, according to CSU.

Related: Watch funeral for the Godzilla El Nino 

Also, accumulated cyclone energy this season stands at 14.4 when the average for this time of year is 5.1. Accumulated cyclone energy, or ACE, is a way to measure the strength and longevity of tropical cyclones.

“So in terms of ACE, we are at 326% of normal activity for the date,” said University of Miami senior research associate Brian McNoldy in a column last week. “Another way to frame it is that the ACE is currently what it climatologically would be on August 14. And as I mentioned yesterday, the last time we had two hurricanes so early in the season was 2005.”

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