Right Opinion

Examples of History Beating Hysteria in Climate and Weather

Joe Bastardi · May 12, 2016

So what happened to the perma-drought?

Predictably, the drought in the Plains, like the 1950s, has reversed. The simple answer is that similar large scale patterns produce similar large scale results. The media does not bother to question those who were scaring the wits out of people in the Plains, Texas in particular, over a new dust bowl starting. The three-year period of 2010-2012 was very similar to 1952-1954. By March of 1955 and 2013, Texas was in dire straits. At WeatherBell, back in 2013, we were saying a reversal similar to the late 1950s would follow.

So let’s take a look at the Palmer Drought Index and what has happened.

The top left is March 1955, the top right April 1958. The bottom left is March 2013, the bottom right is April this year.

You cannot get any closer in terms of a reversal. And it was predictable if you understood what was driving the pattern and not interested in whipping people into a frenzy over climate change.

Our forecast was made based on known large scale drivers of the overall pattern. It is what we do. But I used past known weather events to debunk the idea that a CO2-driven new dust bowl was on the way. (By the way, why did we have the 1930s phenomenon if CO was much lower? Shouldn’t that immediately lead to questions as to why any drought or flood, a common event in the long term, is being caused by anything different than what it was caused by before?)

Another example of debunking hysteria. Look at this from a year ago:

This was last year. Denver had a rough April snow wise again this year, but as for the forecast from last year, not only is the Palmer Index back to normal, but it’s now wetter than normal!.

Here is the bottom line. The major large scale drivers of weather and climate are still the dominant forcing mechanisms that are in full control. We use that at weatherbell.com to give people an advantage. Another example: Look at the preseason hurricane forecast issued in March for where we though the greatest activity would be relative to averages, with particular emphasis on the Gulf.

Now look at what one of the models is saying, which as lead to quite a buzz among meteorologist (H/T: Tropical Tidbits):

This does not mean our forecast is right (the updated one will be out later this month), but it means using what we know about the climate and where it was headed, we beat the model on this idea. And by doing that we are giving our clients an advantage. If you can tell the agriculture industry a large scale drought is leaving or coming, or warn insurance and energy interests that a certain area could be a target, you are adding merit before the fact. But just as important, in a world gone mad over minuscule increases of a trace gas needed for life on the planet, and a media that refuses to question when obvious problems occur, you understand the value of knowing the past and how it can help you with the future.

In the end, one attempts to forecast based on the large scale knowns in the weather. Blaming the input of minuscule amounts of an unknown for events that are caused by known large scale forces is dubious methodology — and that is being charitable.

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

© Copyright 2016 The Patriot Post

Click here to show comments