Right Opinion

Hurricanes and Climate Change

Joe Bastardi · Aug. 31, 2012

Hurricanes have become a focal point in the climate change debate. The assertion that every problematic storm is a sign of global warming is absurd. However, the counter argument that storms are less than what they actually are is incorrect as well. While it seems to be a knee jerk reaction to the falsehoods generated by AGW propagandists, it is not helpful in the AGW debate.

Hurricane Irene was a case in point. The left used the storm as a pin-up for global warming, but they are most likely unaware of what occurred in the 1950’s. The pattern of the 1950’s, with a cold Pacific and warm Atlantic, has been a mainstay of my overall pattern ideas since 2007. Eight MAJOR hurricanes struck the East Coast in the 1950’s from the Carolinas north:

The bottom line: Storms like Irene are to be expected in this cycle, yet AGW propagandists wont acknowledge this fact. The knee jerk reaction to counter their statements is to try to downplay Irene, calling it a strong nor'easter. This counter-argument is also incorrect and not helpful to our cause. It is important to fight back with the truth. There are many nor'easters every year, and none of them have become the 7th costliest hurricane in US history. Nor'easters don’t cause 15 billion dollars in damage. Nor'easters don’t knock out power to 5 million people. Part of the reason for the expense of an Irene is because more people are living in harms way now. As a result, hurricanes that make landfall in the present will cause more damage than hurricanes that made landfall in the 1950’s. It has nothing to do with storms being stronger.

In fact, the ACE index (Accumulated Cyclone Energy) is much lower in past several years:

Even with Irene and a warm Atlantic, the ACE index for 2011 was significantly lower than previous years. Despite the fact that the National Hurricane Center names more storms, which biases the frequency upwards, the ACE is still low. The fact of the matter is, hurricanes frequency and strength are a result of natural variability, not global warming.

When the great hurricane of 1938 drove 15 feet of water into Providence, nobody was shouting that global warming was the cause.

To sum up, there will be a lot of disinformation on hurricanes and climate change with each storm, but more so in the coming years of a naturally enhanced cycle. The facts are clear: What happened before with similar natural conditions can and will happen again and should be expected. This has nothing to do with AGW and everything to do with nature.

Joe Bastardi is chief forecaster at WeatherBELL Analytics, a meteorological consulting firm.

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