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Thread: What makes a good cold weather evaluation for a powder?

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    Default What makes a good cold weather evaluation for a powder?

    Please discuss, and follow the side trails, I would like to get this right the first time.

    What I have is A) a chronograph only rated down to +20dF B) a Redhawk in 45 Colt, and C) hangfires and squibs with H-110 between +30dF and 0dF.

    I noticed last year that I too have trouble lighting H-110 when I leave the ammunition in the trunk of my car for a few days to cold soak before I try to light it. I am trying some new powders this year, and I am especially interested in the +30dF to -30dF window. I would prefer to generate data that other shooters can easily duplicate and share, that we can all more or less take seriously.

    Question 1: How long should an ammunition sample sit in a truckbed tool box or the trunk of a car outdoors before it is considered cold soaked, cold all the way through, cooled to ambient temperature?

    I think twelve hours is plenty, eight hours maybe, four hours maybe/maybe not, but I don't have a way to measure. What do you think?

    Question 2: How long does a firearm need to sit in a truckbed toolbox or car trunk before it can be considered cold all the way through? What if the rifle is zipped into a soft case with a layer of soft foam around it to insulate it? Or a hardcase with foam block cutouts?

    I suggest 8 hours ought to be plenty for an unloaded revolver in a leather holster with just enough shop toweling wrapped around it to keep the gun from getting banged up. I will leave the shop towel in the tool box all winter so it only has to cool off the one time.

    I have no idea what to propose for a cased rifle, I just though of it just now.

    My best plan so far is to shoot one cylinderful of cold soaked ammunition from the cold gun, and then promptly while the gun is still warm a second cylinder of the same load, but the second cylinder of ammunition still warm from the house in the cab of the truck, looking for differences in perceived recoil and group size, ass/u/me-ing I get consistent ignition.

    Then I'll have to wait however many hours for the gun to cool off before I can collect another data point.


    Going up against H-110 at +15dF in the first round is going to be HS-6.

    Thanks

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    I guess I should have Question 3: What is a good method for data collection? I was thinking one cylinder cold in the cold gun, and then one cylinder of warm ammo in the warm gun. Would it maybe be better to load every other chamber in the first cylinder so the first round lighting off doesn't heat up the second one quite so much?

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    Well I was never that scientific about it, I just did my usual shooting and found H110 doesnít like to be cold at all. Then I tried a couple primer changes to be sure it couldnít be fixed easy. Since hammering lead back out of the barrel sucks I moved on to LilGun and found I like it better all around anyway.
     
    Quote Originally Posted by swmn View Post
    Question 1: How long should an ammunition sample sit in a truckbed tool box or the trunk of a car outdoors before it is considered cold soaked, cold all the way through, cooled to ambient temperature?

    I think twelve hours is plenty, eight hours maybe, four hours maybe/maybe not, but I don't have a way to measure. What do you think?
    Question 2: How long does a firearm need to sit in a truckbed toolbox or car trunk before it can be considered cold all the way through? What if the rifle is zipped into a soft case with a layer of soft foam around it to insulate it? Or a hardcase with foam block cutouts?

    I suggest 8 hours ought to be plenty for an unloaded revolver in a leather holster with just enough shop toweling wrapped around it to keep the gun from getting banged up. I will leave the shop towel in the tool box all winter so it only has to cool off the one time.

    I have no idea what to propose for a cased rifle, I just though of it just now.
    Iíd say you are about right but Iíd shoot for 24 hours if inside a car. I say that because I drive Powerstroke diesels, they will start fine after 12 hours at -10 but not so easy after more than 24. Tells me there is some residual heat in there after 12 hours. You donít have as much mass in a gun as a 7.3l V8 but the cased gun in a cab full of worm stuff will freeze slower. Iíve often forgot a travel mug of coffee in the cup holder overnight and there is still quite a bit of liquid in there after 10-12 hours but solid ice and busted cup after 24.


    Quote Originally Posted by swmn View Post
    My best plan so far is to shoot one cylinderful of cold soaked ammunition from the cold gun, and then promptly while the gun is still warm a second cylinder of the same load, but the second cylinder of ammunition still warm from the house in the cab of the truck, looking for differences in perceived recoil and group size, ass/u/me-ing I get consistent ignition.

    Then I'll have to wait however many hours for the gun to cool off before I can collect another data point.
    If you sit a revolver on a frozen bench or tail gate in shade all open where the air can move I bet in an hour it will be pretty dang close to the air temperature. I was shocked one breezy New Years Eve by the bon fire watching fireworks when my JD and Coke froze solid in half an hour sitting on the table . . . granted it started out with ice cubes in it but there was also 4 fingers of JD in that red Solo cup!
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    I'd suggest not wasting time testing H-110 at all. It has been pretty conclusively determined that it sucks in the cold. Time would be better spent determining conclusively that other powders ARE good in the cold, rather than reiterating that H-110 is not.
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    Quote Originally Posted by iofthetaiga View Post
    I'd suggest not wasting time testing H-110 at all. It has been pretty conclusively determined that it sucks in the cold. Time would be better spent determining conclusively that other powders ARE good in the cold, rather than reiterating that H-110 is not.
    Not to worry. I sold off my old Xframe in .500 Smith in April 2012, right as I bought the Redhawk. Hard to light H-110 was the last straw, but really for me I had to let it go because I couldn't draw it fast enough to feel safe with it in a suprise bear situation.

    The first one pound cannister I emptied when I started loading 500 Smith was Lil Gun, and I just didn't like it; i had four or five other cannisters open before I finished that first pound. I am happy for those of you that do like it, I don't have anything both objective and negative to say about it, I just didn't like it.

    My hunting buddy talked me into practicing failure drills or stop drills last fall, gosh, just over a year ago. For those that don't know already, you start with a holstered sidearm and wrists above shoulders in the surrender position. The drill is to draw, deliver a rapid double tap to the chest of the target followed by a carefully aimed head shot. Time is starting beep to third report.

    I like this better than practicing double taps, because it includes an evaluation of whether or not the target is still standing after the double tap (the paper ones always are) before delivering the head shot. Practicing doubles I am not the only one who realized I was drawing, delivering a "controlled pair" and re-holstering without first evaluating if the target was down.

    So I realized how slow I was with the Xframe, my buddy let me try it with both his .44 Redhawk and some Glock thingy and I started shopping for a new sidearm last November. I was way faster with both the N-frame sized Redhawk and the Glock using his holsters than I was with my own Xframe.

    So already shopping, a few months after that I finally had H-110 fail to light for me too, and I ended up with a .45LC Redhawk in April 2012. I have a couple ounces of H110 left in stock, and a couple boxes of .45Colt with 270-SAA bullets in front of max published H-110 with magnum primers for whenever I go dipnetting. Not too worried about lighting H-110 if it is warm enough to dipnet.

    If I am not at the coast in the summertime I am getting fine velocity for the interior out of both the 270gr RCBS SAA keith style bullet and 255gr Keith Style with both HS-6 and Titegroup. I am also burning a bunch of Universal Clays under the 230gr truncated cones I shoot in steel target matches over the summer. I haven't tried driving 255s to 950-1000ish fps with Universal yet, though I probably should.

    So long story shorter, I am not shooting H-110 in the wintertime anymore. I am looking to see if i can get good cold weather results with the other powders I have in stock, and if those don't work there are still Hercules and Red Dot and who all knows what else I haven't tried yet.

    S

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    Missed the edit cutoff again. Addendum to post immediately above:

    EDIT: What I am planning to compare is one batch of ammunition cold soaked in cold soaked gun versus same batch of ammunition warm in the house and warm in the truck fired in the still warm gun immediately after the cold soaked test.

    Cooling off in the truck bed tool box now is some of my steel target load. My Redhawk will go into the truck bed tool box tomorrow morning. On my reloading bench is more of my steel target load at ambient garage temperature that will stay warm in the truck at the range while I warm up the cold Redhawk with cold soaked ammunition. It's 7.8gr of Universal Clays under a .454" 230gr truncated cone with a Remington 2 1/2 primer yada yada... same ammunition, different temperatures.

    With my chrono out of service in ambients this cold i think all I can evaluate is perceived recoil and possibly moving group center. When i find something that works about the same under experimental conditions as it does in the summer time, I have a load to pack in my sidearm while I am out looking for small fuzzy things. With Varget in my rifle.

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    I might suggest the AA line of pistol powders; AA5,AA7,AA9. I'm not sure of their cold weather performance but they work well in the fall.
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    Let us know how the Titegroup works in the cold.

    I missed what chrono you're using. I have an older PACT with the "brains" & battery box seperate from the screens. I would think in the cold the "brains" & battery box could be kept in a small cooler with some warm paks of some type (hot water bottles?) with just the wires coming through the lid. Don't know if the screens are cold sensitive.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LeonardC View Post
    Let us know how the Titegroup works in the cold. I missed what chrono you're using.
    Titegroup is on the list. I like it a little bit better than Universal Clays in powder puff strength 45Colt loads for steel target shooting. I find Tite Group burns a leetle bit cleaner, is still very economical, and I have found Tite Group to be quite insensitive to powder position in the case, that is it burns about the same all the time.

    My chrono (I have the RCBS one shapped like an artillery shell) is only rated down to +20dF, so I am leaving it at the shop and not taking it to the range. I looked briefly into getting a couple shooting blinds and a couple propane heaters last winter, btu it just isn't worth it to me.

    Two data points so far. One, I left the house with a cup of hot tea and tossed the very hot and saturated wet teabag into the snowbank in my truckbed. After about two hours, the edges were frozen but the center was still wet. After about 16 hours it was frozen solid. I tried it with a second tea bag and made a point to check at 12 hours, the second wasn't frozen quite solid yet at 12 hours, this is outdoors in my truckbed. Temps have only been running +15F to +20F local to me, I am sure that time will get faster as the nights get longer.

    I did gather one legitimate data point. I had a box of my steel target load in the truck tool box for 36+ hours. I found a bare spot on the floor, so the layers from outside air were aluminum tool box floor, plastic ammunition box, flat point bullets, and then the powder charge. So I shold have pretty good conduction that way to get all the components cooled off, and 36 hours I think should be enough.

    I put my unloaded Redhawk in a leather holster, and put the holstered Redhawk in the tool box 7 hours and 15 minutes before I got to the range. The Redhawk was pretty cold to the touch, though I would prefer longer soak times for the firearm I think.

    I loaded three rounds of my steel target load every other one in the six shot cylinder and lit them off. My first, second and third impression was this load seemed a little bit hotter than I remember it being over the summer, I have shot at least a thousand of them, 7.8gr of Universal Clays behind a 240gr soft cast truncated cone with rem 2 1/2 primer.

    So I loaded three more steel target loads, only these three had been kept in the house before I put them in the warm cab of the truck, and I loaded them into the three chambers that were freshly dirty. Total time between groups of three was under two minutes. My fourth, fifth and sixth impressions were the cold soaked steel target load was a little bit hotter than the warm one.

    Finally I put three more of the cold soaked rounds into the three clean chambers left in the Redhawk (less than two minutes again) and let fly another group of three. My seventh, eighth and ninth impressions are the cold soaked round was giving me a little bit more recoil then the warm ones.

    Overall point of impact didn't move enough to matter. Judging by perceived recoil and my experience with a chronograph over the summer getting this load dialed in I would estimate I was getting ~~maybe~~ another 25-50 fps muzzle, average. Not much, but I am now completely comfortable running Universal Clays down to +20dF.

    What I don't know is how much of the perceived recoil comes from maybe the cold weather making the lube more sticky. Once I got home to good light on my workbench I see that barrel leading is pretty good to about average compared to summertime use, so the lube was still working for me.

    For now I am going to be doing well to test one load cold versus warm each week, it is just the way my schedule works out. My plan is to kind of rotate around between Universal Clays, Tite Group and HS-6, varying bullet weights as I go hoping that at least one of those will be consistent down to -30F.

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    I went to the range this morning and duplicated the data collection in post #9 above, the only difference being that my Redhawk was in the house overnight and stayed warm in the truck on the way to the range. I have had a partial box of steel target loads in my truckbed for over a week now, and another box on my workbench in the garage.

    Same as before, I loaded three rounds of cold soaked every other chamber in my sixgun cylinder, lit them off, then loaded three warm of steel target load in the dirty cylinders, and then three more cold soaked loads in the three chambers that were still clean.

    I couldn't tell the difference, they were all pretty much the same. I wasn't expecting that, but it is a data point.

    The bank thermometer down on Van Horn near the Cushman Street range said +18dF going in and +16dF when I was coming out.

    I have one load each in Universal Clays, Titegroup and HS-6 been in the truck bed over 24 hours now, next trip Monday, I'll be sure to cool the gun off before I go.

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    First, a word about lubes. I am done fooling with the hard "crayon" typed lubes from commercial bullet casters at temps below freezing. I find in general they suck at velocities below 1000fps muzzle in any weather, at velocities under 1000fps muzzle in temps below freezing, they suck more.

    Pictured are the five lubes I have. I put the cardboard scrap out in the cold under my boat a few hours ago and will get back to it in a day or to.

    The glob in the bottom left corner is my homemade mix of 45% beeswax, 45% crisco shortening and 10% olive oil by weight. The middle two piles are crayon type lube that i scraped out of cast bullets with a jeweler's screwdriver. The pink blob upper left is my homemade 45-45-10 lube pink from the red crayon I didn't get scraped out of the lube groove, every time I lubed another pan of bullets, my lube got pinker and pinker. Last, the yellow worm over on the right is T/C Bore Butter.

    Also in the pic, bottom right is my "Kake cutter" (hits on Google) for cutting lube bullets out of the pan after the lube cools. Just a fired but not sized 45Colt case with the head cut off, and a spent primer carrying .38Spec case for a plunger.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    So today I tested the 270SAA bullet at BHN 15 from Rim Rock, scraped kinda clean and pan lubed in my 45-45-10 (white not pink, these were in the first pan), over 8.5gr of TiteGroup motivated with a Remington 2 1/2. Mixed brass. Should be good for about 24k chamber pressure and 1000fps muzzle, perfectly adequate I think for anything likely to happen in the interior anytime year round, good match between BHN and chamber pressure, good match between velocity and lubricity. Fairly easy shooting too.

    I left the gun out in the cold for eight hours before I went to the range, the ammunition has been in my truck bed all weekend.

    I am very very happy with this combination at the +18dF I saw at the bank going to the range, and the +16dF I saw at the bank driving home. The cold soaked TtiteGroup might have been a tiny bit hotter than the same ammunition that went from warm house to warm truck to warm gun, but not more than 25fps. Really, they were virtually indistinguishable. POI/POA looks fine, and the bore looked sweet, cleaner after I shot those than it maybe was when I started.

    After that I lit off 12 rounds of blue crayon lubed 255gr over some HS-6 that I already know works good at this temperature, and I have a mess. Based on past experience I can get the worst of the fouling out by maybe Wednesday night and finish up with my Lewis de-leader. Just a nightmare.

    So the lube blobs under the boat, I went out and touched them after they had been out there about four hours. The crayons are still crayon-ny, but not brittle yet. The pink blob is quite crunchy. The white blob started softening under my fingertip just from my fingertip touching it. The Bore Butter was slippery to the touch and left a smear of something oily in the cardboard when I pushed it.

    I have test loads lubed with Bore Butter (which we can buy in Fairbanks at Sportsmen's), and another load motivated with Pyrodex ready to go out to the truck bed.

    I do want to try some SPG (a popular lube for black powder bullets). I have a request open in the ammo dump, if not I'll get some from Midway next time I order.

    back to bore scrubbing...

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    I went a little crazy today, all my data so far was between +15dF and +20dF; now we are at -7dF, and I got nothing for data in between. So, warm pistol today, I didn't take time to chill it.

    1. Bore butter works pretty good at room temp and cold soaked. It smokes a little less than the homemade 45-45-10 lube I have been using, but I don't think it smokes enough less to justify the expense.

    2. Pyrodex lights just fine at -7dF. I loaded, maybe 20 rounds? a while back, all R-P brass trimmed to the same length and I measured everything pretty careful to get 5% compression, it was right at 37.5 grains by volume I think. Couldn't tell the difference between the cold stuff and the house temperature stuff, I estimate I was getting probably 900ish fps muzzle with a 250gr cast bullet.

    3. Universal Clays lit just fine. I must append that I have a fifth lube not pictured above, "soft" red crayon from the vendor I get my steel target bullets from. Today the powder lit just fine, but the lube gave up the ghost somewhere between +15dF where it was working OK and -7dF today. I would estimate it's consistency about the same as RCBS soft green.

    4. HS-6 runs about the same down to -7dF.

    5. I did not have any cold soaked TiteGroup in the truck bed to light off today, but I have some cold soaking now.

    For my next data point I want to have a known load in each of Pyrodex, HS-6, Universal Clays and TiteGroup ready to go at -20dF, all bullets lubed with either my homemade or borebutter. Haven't placed my midway order to bring in any SPG lube yet.

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    Looks real through. You have an interesting thread going here. Someone else has had some problems with H-110 and cold weather. I shoot that powder in my 500. I have not had that problem yet but I am expeting to anytime. The only times I have shot in real cold is at the range with the ammo and gun from the house to the car and then to the range. No cold soak. Have you tried any Longshot. From what I have read on the internet this powder is not temp sensitive. Just a thought. Keep the info comming. I am glad and thank you for the info and all your hard work.

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    Quote Originally Posted by redale View Post
    The only times I have shot in real cold is at the range with the ammo and gun from the house to the car and then to the range. No cold soak.
    http://forums.outdoorsdirectory.com/...ght=cold+H-110

    Quote Originally Posted by redale View Post
    Have you tried any Longshot? From what I have read on the internet this powder is not temp sensitive.
    I have not tried Longshot. I remember seeing it as a frequent contender on the Hodgdon tables for .500 S&W, I see it is still there. It shows up on the Ruger only tables for .45 Colt up to 300gr JFP, 1100ish fps at 29.9k pressure. Probably worth a try, right now I am feeling really good about Titegroup and pretty OK about HS-6.

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    I understand others are having problems that is why I said I expected to have the same problems. So I call Hodgdon today and they agreed that H 110 was not good in real cold weather. They also said that ball powders were harder to light when cold. Then went on to suggest Tightgroup at 14.5 grains. I don't have the tight group but after talking to Hodgdon I got to thinking it was also a ball powder. There are a bunch of rifle powders I have seen listed somewhere from John Ross for the big boomers. I'll copy it if I can find it again.

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    -3dF going in, -2dF coming out. I ran both HS-6 and Titegroup with no trouble. Exactly what I expected after the colder weather last Monday, but I am glad to have the gap in my data filled in.

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    Well TiteGroup did fine today at -20df, 8.5gr under a 255 cast SWC.

    I loaded three warm from the house and three that have been in my truck bed for weeks, every other one and let six go double action at a quart sized gatorade bottle at ten yards. If the burn rate changes, or if the temp is making a difference in the lube, I still had angle of gatorade bottle.

    I went back tot eh lube samples under my boat (see post 11 above) a few days ago. The waxy commercial lubes were brittle, i could literally break the strings into small pieces. The polluted pink was stiff to the touch, but left a smear of something on the cardboard under light un-gloved fingertip pressure. The white lube and bore butter both did fine, the bore butter is somewhat softer than my 45-45-10.

    A few more weeks I hope to have decent data on all three powders down to -30dF, and my inventory cleaned up. Coming out the back side of winter I hope to have all sized bullets all in homemade white lube so I can shoot actual groups as the mercury rises and look for moving POI. I do not yet have data for HS-6 and Universal Clays at -20dF.

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    -31dF going in this afternoon, -32dF coming out according to the thermometer at the Denali State Bank branch on Van Horn down between Cushman and Lathrop.

    I lit off 6 each of 7.8 Universal Clays under a 240TC, 8.5 TiteGroup under a 255SWC and 12.5 HS-6 under a 270SAA. Everything lit fine with Remington 2 1/2 standard LP primers.

    With ambients below about -20df and shooting barehanded, my best group is my first shot, but I managed to hold angle of bad guy for 18 rounds.

    I think I am going to fool with Bore Butter a little more. The waxy crayon lubes stopped ringing my bell around +20dF, my homemade 45-45-10 as above is good down to about -15dF, and I have been dealing with some leading lately.

    The leading seems worse when I run cold soaked ammunition in a warm from the house gun, I dunno if maybe the bullets are shrinking more than the gun barrel? Any road, knowing I am going to have good ignition is a good thing to depend on while I try to figure that out. I suppose it is cold enough to get plain old olive oil to gel up in lube grooves, but I am not sure i wanna go there.

    Cliffs:

    All of Universal Clays, TiteGroup and HS-6 seem to work just fine with standard primers down to -30dF. Lubes, not so much.

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    So I hot soaked some stuff last week. I am running each of Pyrodex, FF 777 and FFF 777 lately, I have plenty of it and the smoke cloud is cool. Ran 230 gr bullets since I have a bunch of them, I have found I can fit 42.5 grains by volume of the above powders under the 230gr CT bullet - if I am willing to wrinkle one piece of brass in every 50 or so. Gotta have that bullet sitting on there just right when you pull the handle...

    So I loaded up some and turned the box over, these were as cast bullets pan lubed in 45-45-10 as above and custom sized, with a "lube cookie" about 0.010" thick between the bullet and powder charge, and then stored bullet side up in the cab of my truck with the windows rolled up in bright sunshine for five days during the heat wave. Briefly, ~~most likely~~ the lube cookie softened and slowed down the powder, for whatever reason the hot soaked bullets didn't cross the chronograph as fast as the samey-same loads stored bullet side down in my +60 to +70dF garage for the same days.

    All of these loads are mixed trimmed to length Colt .45 brass, 230gr TC (truncated cone) bullet, 45-45-10 lube, Remington 2 1/2 primers, 42.5gr Volume 777 powder. I ran it with both FFg and FFFg.

    Hot is stored bullet end "up" in my truck for five days, "cold" is stored in my garage on the north side of the house, bullet down for the same five days. I asked my wife if we could summer in Barrow and then come back south to Fairbanks for the winter. She wasn't amused.

    HOT 777 FF 766, 747, 772 fps muzzle, average 762 fps muzzle.
    COLD 777 FF 954, 992, 883, 889 muzzle, average 929 fps muzzle.

    HOT 777 FFF 727, 826, 835, 727, 727, 525(?srsly? 525? dafuq), 871. Average 797 fps outlier dropped, 752 average outlier included.
    COLD 777 FFF 986, 910, 887, 969 average 938 fps muzzle

    So basically if I leave my ammunition in the cab of my truck for days in the sun I am giving away 150-200fps using black powder subs. Mind you these are -packed- charges. I think with the BP subs all the cookie had to do was soften and then flow.

    I shall repeat this using all same components but small charges of smokeless powders instead. With 7.8 gr (weight) of Universal Clays (and no cookie) there is plenty of room in the case for lube to drip down the side of the case without polluting the powder charge. Supposed to be south Alabama hot again later this week too...

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