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 counterargument 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 to the debate.

Hurricane Irene was a case in point. The Left used the storm as a pin-up for global warming, but the Left is also most likely unaware of what occurred in the 1950s. The pattern then, 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 1950s from the Carolinas and points 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 counterargument 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 has become the seventh-costliest hurricane in U.S. history. Nor'easters don’t cause $15 billion in damage. Nor'easters don’t knock out power to five million people. Part of the reason for the expense of Irene is because more people are now living in harm’s way. As a result, hurricanes that make landfall in the present will cause more damage than hurricanes that made landfall in the 1950s. 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 skews the frequency upwards, the ACE is still low. The fact of the matter is that hurricane 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.

In summary, 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 naturally happened under similar conditions can and will happen again and should be expected. This has nothing to do with man-made global warming and everything to do with nature.

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

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