Climate Donkey

July 7, 2008

Bertha reaches Major Hurricane Status

Filed under: Hurricanes,Weather,Weather Briefing — climatedonkey @ 8:53 pm
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Update: as of 5 pm, Hurricane Bertha has continued to intensify and has reached 100 knots or Category 3 on the Saffir Simpson scale. NHC Discussion

BERTHA’S INTENSIFICATION TO MAJOR HURRICANE TODAY HIGHLIGHTS THE
DIFFICULTIES OF FORECASTING RAPID INTENSITY CHANGES.

The HWRF model has been the winner so far, correctly predicting Major hurricane status yesterday.
Yesterdays HWRF model at 06Z:

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Hurricane Bertha, rare for July.

Filed under: Hurricanes,Weather,Weather Briefing — climatedonkey @ 1:59 pm
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Bertha developed an eye overnight and was upgraded to hurricane strength this morning. The gradual but persistent intensification over the past several days will likely continue for another 72 hours until Bertha reaches cooler waters and less hospitable atmospheric shear.


Image: HWRF 126 hour wind speed forecast swath for July 7, 2008.

The storm is forecast to recurve out to sea and not bother land.

July hurricanes in the far Atlantic basin are rare. However, coincidentally, in 1996, Hurricane Bertha developed on July 7 as well and made landfall in North Carolina. Bertha tracked further south and encountered much warmer water allowing it to intensify to major hurricane status.

track
Bertha 1996 (wikipedia.org track)

There is no evidence and no one can make a scientifically honest statement that this storm’s strength is in any way related to global warming. Yet, it bears watching how the media and political scientists/opportunists will interpret this natural event.

Bertha nearing Hurricane Strength

Filed under: Hurricanes,Weather,Weather Briefing — climatedonkey @ 2:39 am
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Tropical Storm Bertha is continuing to race westward and slowly strengthen. As of the 11 pm advisory, Bertha’s maximum sustained winds were at 55 knots, just below the 64 knot threshold for hurricane strength. The satellite appearance has improved markedly with a burst of strong central convection.

image

A key to understanding Bertha’s intensity is the warmth or amount of fuel available in the ocean surface layer. The “heat content” map shows the track of Bertha towards a more favorable environment for intensification. However, it is still July, and there is a definite cap on maximum intensity possible, which would be at just under 100 knots or Category 3 strength. This would require perfect atmospheric conditions including very low shear but high relative humidity or “juice”. The likelihood of a US landfall is very low at this point in time, but not zero.

June 20, 2008

Consensus Report on North American Climate is full of Conjecture

Filed under: Climate Change,Hurricanes — climatedonkey @ 5:02 am
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From my post at Climate Audit:

NOAA has released a well-manicured and comprehensive report on observed and conjectured changes in North American weather and climate extremes.
cover
The Final Report of CCSP 2008 provides and up-to-date scientific collation of many peer-review studies along with a consensus interpretation like the UN IPCC AR4 reports. Some of the main findings are summarized in the handy “brochure” provided on the website:
I quote here from the NOAA press release

* Abnormally hot days and nights, along with heat waves, are very likely to become more common. Cold nights are very likely to become less common.
* Sea ice extent is expected to continue to decrease and may even disappear in the Arctic Ocean in summer in coming decades.
* Precipitation, on average, is likely to be less frequent but more intense.
* Droughts are likely to become more frequent and severe in some regions.
* Hurricanes will likely have increased precipitation and wind.
* The strongest cold-season storms in the Atlantic and Pacific are likely to produce stronger winds and higher extreme wave heights.

Along with attribution of the above observed changes to human activity, the report provides a likelihood estimate of future changes. Based upon model projections and expert judgment, it goes without saying that it is “very likely” that the extremes will continue into the future.

From the press release on the NOAA website, report co-chair Tom Karl of NCDC explains the motives of this report and goes on to answer the age-old question: is this flood or rain shower or hurricane caused by global warming? It is usually said as a matter-of-fact statement that one individual weather event cannot be attributed to global warming per se. However, it is likely that with global warming, we will see more of these events. Karl says as much,

This report addresses one of the most frequently asked questions about global warming: what will happen to weather and climate extremes? This synthesis and assessment product examines this question across North America and concludes that we are now witnessing and will increasingly experience more extreme weather and climate events.

This is a landmark document coming from NOAA, which has been lambasted in the past for allegedly censoring or silencing its scientists. Yet, it is an amalgamation of differing viewpoints on such issues as hurricanes and climate change, the obvious hot-button concern going forward into the 2008 Atlantic hurricane season. With the terrible Midwest/Iowa flooding (not seen since 1993) ongoing, the report will get plenty of publicity in the same way that Emanuel’s 2005 Nature paper received after Hurricane Katrina. However, before attributing all observed phenomena to unnatural climate changes, we must not forget that natural climate variations exist and generate extremes all the time including plenty of weather systems. For instance, the tornado numbers as well as the Midwest flooding were largely expected from the record La Nina conditions seen in late 2007 to early 2008. With the continued negative values of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) and large uncertainty in future ENSO conditions, natural climate variations are providing plenty of climate extremes all on their own.

table

June 17, 2008

Ozone hole recovery and climate change: An “unholy” alliance

ozone hole

A recent Science Magazine article concerning the Southern Hemisphere (SH) Ozone hole has received little attention in the news media considering it mentions “global climate change”. One must assume that if the new research is not trumpeted in the mainstream media or on the left-wing alarmist blogs, then it must be contrary to the template/agenda/talking points assembled during the past few years. I believe we have an instance of research that introduces “uncertainty” into the “debate” which is toxic to the media.

A couple example headlines from a Google News search:

Mending ozone hold to create more climate change worries?

Ozone threat to India

Computer models show major climate shift as a result of closing ozone hole

So, even from the headlines, there is implied uncertainty. The official Science Magazine press release or news item titled UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES has some key quotes that are worth discussing.

Healing Antarctica’s ozone hole has a possible downside

Via a complicated cascade of effects, a full recovery of the ozone hole over Antarctica in the coming years could significantly boost warming of the atmosphere over and around the icy continent….In one sense, however, the ozone hole is somewhat beneficial: It has kept Antarctica cooler than it otherwise would have been, says Seok-Woo Son, an atmospheric scientist at Columbia University.

So, the ozone hole was a Good Thing.
martha

It turns out that of the IPCC AR4 climate models, 9 out of 19 did not include the impacts of stratospheric ozone recovery in the climate change simulations/scenarios. In this upper part of the atmosphere near Antarctica, as indicated by the Columbia scientist, greenhouse gas warming as been largely mitigated by the presence of the ozone hole through atmospheric circulation impacts. Through including a competent ozone chemistry scheme into their climate model ensemble, it was discovered that the ozone hole recovery will have the related impacts:

Warming of the lower stratosphere would tend to slow the circumpolar westerlies but strengthen winds at lower latitudes, a combination that would significantly shift weather patterns…

This result indicates that the effect of ozone-induced warming overwhelms that of greenhouse induced cooling in the lower-stratospheric polar cap…(Science, p. 1488, Son et al.)

This can all be summarized as follows:

Above where we perceive weather, in the layer of atmosphere where only the tallest thunderstorms reach, a complex battle is taking place in the Southern Hemisphere. Carbon dioxide emissions and ozone molecules are allying in a battle to destroy the planet. However, they cannot seem to get their guns pointed away from each other. With this new research, considerable uncertainty exists in determining the exact impacts of ozone recovery + greenhouse gas emissions will have on the climate system. Uncertainty also means doubt. Is anyone out there “alarmed” that trillion dollar policy decisions are going to be made on global warming based upon climate change computer model scenarios that admittedly are missing such a huge component of the system (ozone). Time to fire up the air conditioners and start spewing freon to battle those greenhouse gases.

freon

May 30, 2008

McCain Raises Hurricane-Climate Link. Flashback to 2004.

Filed under: Hurricanes,Politicians and Climate — climatedonkey @ 7:06 am
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mccain
During Hurricane Jeanne’s meandering trip around the western Atlantic, a certain Senator from Arizona on lashed out at the Bush administration on climate change. This was September 22, 2004, not 2008, but before Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth and Leonardo DiCaprio’s garbage flick. The media was lapping up tons of negative news from all angles in an effort to win the election for John Kerry. So, it is ironic that 4 years later, McCain is running on a climate change / environmental change platform, which is a clear departure from Bush’s reticence on the issue.

As relayed by Andrew Freedman and Darren Samuelson, Environment & Energy Daily reporters,

Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John McCain (R -Ariz.) lashed out at the Bush administration’s climate change policies yesterday while raising questions about whether the large number of major hurricanes to make landfall in the United States so far this season may be an early manifestation of unchecked global warming.

Holy cow, talk about foreshadowing a whole mess of a controversy. But first, as with all politicians-wannabe-scientists (Khrushchev thought he was a genius in scientific areas as well), McCain regurgitates some talking points that some flunky aid provided:

In an interview after the hearing, McCain said there is a growing body of science that says the strength of hurricanes will intensify because of global warming, bringing to mind the scorching summer of 1988 when climate change first became a mainstream issue. During that summer, many started to connect heat and drought with man-made emissions, and some have compared those events to this year’s hurricane season.

Some who — some what — some, some, some. Some names would be helpful. Journalists and politicians love to create straw men to further their agendas. And growing body of science — what a important and legitimizing phraseology.

McCain has been pushing for legislation, S. 139, cosponsored by Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.), that would force major energy, transportation and manufacturing companies to cut their greenhouse gas emissions to year 2000 levels by 2010. The McCain-Lieberman bill was defeated last October, 43-55, and the senators have since been pressing Senate GOP leaders to schedule another vote on the legislation. In a series of six hearings before his committee this session, McCain has sought to link human activities with environmental changes such as Arctic ice cap melting and degradation of coral reefs.

Great, another bipartisan McCain-(insert favorite liberal) piece of legislation. Can’t wait for 4 years of this — seeking linkages between human activities and environmental changes like global warming.

McCain said a combination of extreme weather conditions, as well as melting polar ice caps, drought and other phenomena, could help convince the public to support his bill, though it still has a long way to go. But he added that lawmakers are so far reluctant to draw a link between greenhouse gas emissions, climate change and weather events. “I don’t think they’re making that close of a connection,” he said.

At least McCain is honest, he was whoring out disasters for this legislation back in 2004. This methodology has been practiced since by a whole slew of special interests on both sides of the aisle. Seems like a “call to action”. Trent Lott provided some sanity to the situation:

Asked if extreme weather might lead to passage of legislation such as McCain-Lieberman, Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) said, “I certainly hope not.”

So, the finale of the article in Environment and Energy Daily pretty much sums up McCain’s motives: Talking points begin in 3, 2, 1 …

McCain did not appear satisfied. “Any scientist who has appeared before this committee can tell you there’s a lot more that can be done, and the administration is doing very little,” he said, adding that he was particularly angered by the administration’s refusal to endorse his bill. McCain called S. 139 “a modest proposal,” one in which future generations will pay a “very heavy price” if it is not enacted into law.

This very heavy price must be the high price of gasoline and fuel we are paying already due to the strangulation of domestic energy production by the left-wing environmental lobby. So before Al Gore was on the climate change bandwagon and becoming extremely wealthy in the process (with considerable help from MoveOn.org for publicity), John McCain was in the vanguard of the hurricanes and climate change search for linkages.

Now flash forward to May 29, 2008 — the bill is called Lieberman-Warner and Washington is in stitches from an anticipated rejection by McCain… Wall Street Journal — McWavering: What’s the Deal-Breaker for Lieberman-Warner?

Atlantic Hurricane Seasonal Forecasts — Politics and Hype Part II

Filed under: Hurricanes — climatedonkey @ 3:27 am
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May 17, 2004 – Hold the presses, NOAA forecasts another active hurricane season. — Also CNN.com

If you want to pinpoint the beginning of the Hurricane and global warming linkage hysteria, the release of The Day after Tomorrow on May 28, 2004, Memorial Day weekend is probably a good place to look.

Fox spokesman Jeffrey Godsick says, “The real power of the movie is to raise consciousness on the issue of (global warming).”

From Patrick J. Michaels’ commentary in USA Today

This film is propaganda designed to shift the policy of this nation on climate change. At least that’s what I take from producer Mark Gordon’s comment that “part of the reason we made this movie” was to “raise consciousness about the environment.”

day after tomorrow

Question to ponder…how did the producer or spokeshole for Fox know anything about the dangers of climate change? This is prior to the media onslaught — who at this point are wrapped up in the 2004 campaign season (Swiftboat). Anyways, the picture of the giant hurricane in the movie highlights the media’s playing fast and loose with the facts (why let these get in the way your agenda).

Look at this delicious tidbit and how 4 years ago it rings so true today:

Will Godsick and Gordon get their way? They’re sure being aided and abetted by MoveOn.org, the liberal advocacy group and billionaire George Soros’ policy toy. They’ve got Al Gore front and center, plumping the film. They’ve got their Web site using the movie to drum up support for legislation by Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions, which only failed by 12 votes last fall. There’s a huge drought out West, which a New York Times editorial blamed on global warming. The issue is hot enough to influence votes out there.

Anyone want to chime in and remind us what MoveOn.org is exactly supposed to have us move on from? Why yes, it is the Clinton scandals, which is not shocking considering their rabid, Messiah-like adoration of Barak Obama. Even back in 2004, Pat Michaels rightly presages the connections between the far left including a kabal of Hollywood, Al Gore, and George Soros.

Okay, now back to Betty.

Betty, who was introduced to us in Part I, lives in Bradenton in a trailer with polyester curtains and a redwood deck. She tells her neighbors: well hell’s bells Gladys, y’all hear about those gov’ment forecasters talking ‘bout a whole crapload of hurricanes? Gladys is late for Bingo and could care less about hockey. Yet, the 2004 season ended being one of the most active since 1950, with an Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) of 226, about triple of so-called normal.
NOAA’s 2004 seasonal forecast is also based on the likelihood that an upswing in the number of hurricanes that began in 1995 will continue. Every year since then, except 1997 and 2002 — both El Niño years — has seen an above average number of hurricanes…The current period seems to be much like the 1940s into the 1960s, which saw large numbers of Atlantic Basin storms, followed by a lull in hurricanes from the late 1960s through the early 1990s.
Notice, we didn’t read anything about global warming or climate change, but actually see some hint of cycles. There are peaks and valleys in hurricane activity…hmmm…who’d a thunk that?
NOAA says 12-15 tropical storms will form, 6-8 hurricanes, with 2-4 being major. The odds are 50% of an above-normal season, 40% of normal, and only 10% of below-average activity. Huh? Where do these odds come from – perhaps a vote of the forecasters/experts in the fancy weather bureau? Now we are given an uncertainty estimate of the seasonal forecast. What do we do with that?

NOAA: May 19, 2004 11-15 TROPICAL STORMS – 6-8 HURRICANES – 2-4 MAJOR — ACE 95-155
GRAY: May 28, 2004 14 TROPICAL STORMS — 8 HURRICANES — 3 MAJOR

OBSERVED: 15 TROPICAL STORMS – 9 HURRICANES – 6 MAJOR – ACE 226

The May forecasts should look familiar again, they are about the same as 2002-2004. However, Betty in Bradenton was scared out of her wits by the criss-crossing tracks of Charley, Dennis, Frances, Jeanne, and Ivan around/across Florida. After Charley forced her to think about evacuating, Betty began wondering if she should have taken that seasonal forecast more seriously.

hurricane tracks

Dr. Gray downgraded his forecast slightly in August, clearly not in the right direction. NOAA did the same to their ACE forecast (decreased), but rightly increased their predictions of hurricane numbers. Bottom line, mixed bag prediction, clearly not anticipatory of the record high ACE and 6 major hurricanes.

“The 2004 season was one to tell your grandchildren about,” said Max Mayfield, NOAA’s National Hurricane Center director. “I believe, and stress at every opportunity, that residents should have a plan, stay informed and act when told to do so by their local officials. We should mark November 30th not as the end of the 2004 hurricane season but the beginning of the six months we have to prepare for next season.”

Well, prior to that obvious statement about preparation, the left-wing media was in its full glory:

Washington Post: Warning in the Winds

Watching storm after powerful storm plow into the U.S. coastline this year, I can’t help wondering if the world’s weather is actually trying to tell us something. Perhaps it was only coincidence that Hurricane Frances was covering the whole of Florida with blinding winds and torrential rains just as George W. Bush climbed the podium in New York to speak to the Republican National Convention (while poor brother Jeb was forced to stay home in Tallahassee). But to someone like me, who has been tracking global warming and its effects around the world for several years, it almost seemed as though the storm was trying to deliver a forceful reminder of the reality of climate change and the need to act now to address it.

This is such a retarded comment and akin to some of the stupid things that Sharon Stone (China earthquake karma) and various evangelical preachers (i.e. New Orleans punished by Katrina for gays, Gay Disney and hurricanes in Florida) have said. The weather is trying to tell us something? You don’t have to be a high-minded bi-coastal elite to figure out that the author of this piece, Mark Lynas, is an environmental activist, global warming alarmist. Lynas also picks up on a highly publicized climate modeling study by Knutson and Tuleya (J Climate 2004). “According to Tom Knutson and Bob Tuleya, tropical climate modelers at the Princeton, N.J.-based Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, we can expect a 20 percent increase in rainfall, and damage due to increased wind speeds might rise as much as 10 percent.”

So, as an example of Cascade Information Theory (cross reference John Tierney’s Lab at the NY Times), Lynas takes a study that agrees with his position and then immediately applies it to the current situation — as if we are seeing global warming effects on hurricanes in front of our eyes. Here is the lame anecdotal evidence:

Already this year, as the NOAA graph suggests, the additional warming effect may be making itself felt. Although it’s statistically impossible to isolate a tiny change among the sheer volatility of hurricane behavior, that all becomes rather academic to those in harm’s way once the storms come onshore. After all, just a 2 percent increase in hurricane strength — my rough guess for global warming’s impact this year — means that many more people in Port Charlotte, Fla., lost the roofs to their houses last month thanks to Hurricane Charley. An inch of extra storm surge might not sound like much, but that just might be the inch — coming on top of a total 15 feet of higher water — that overtopped coastal embankments and flooded large areas of vulnerable low-lying Gulf coastline during the passage of Hurricane Ivan. It would certainly have made a major difference to me driving along the North Carolina Outer Banks during the height of Tropical Storm (later Hurricane) Gustav two years ago. I remember streamers of sand blowing off the tops of the dunes and a combination of torrential rain and horizontal spray reducing visibility to almost zero at times.

The clownish implications of this type of statement are rarely understood by journalists and it reoccurs over and over again. We can’t detect the changes in the data with ‘dem fancy statistics, but just ask Betty in Bradenton and she will tell you that she don’t need no more convincin’.

And the finale:

With only 4 percent of the Earth’s population, the United States is responsible for a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions. Hence the quiet hope expressed by many on this side of the Atlantic that Alex, Charley, Frances and Ivan — and possibly Jeanne — might help open Washington’s eyes to the increasingly urgent need to confront climate change.

A busy hurricane season is used for agenda purposes, lovely. Again, Pat Michaels is a lonely voice in the wilderness to combat these silly assertions, especially those made by former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Just after Ivan Michaels states, ” And so, British Prime Minister Tony Blair was just in Washington to visit Senator John Kerry, where he conflated Hurricane Ivan with dreaded global warming.” He continues, “I like just about everything about Blair. He’s smart, affable and a real friend to a nation that needs some. But he’s way off on global warming, and advising Kerry to bail out his campaign with apocalyptic climate hype invites a grilling by the climate truth squad, a rather large body of weather nerds in a weather-fixated country.”

Well, in Part III, I will discuss some more headlines from the 2004 season and the reaction by tropical cyclone scientists to the Knutson and Tuleya (2004) study. It is very interesting to read the quotes from these same scientists 4 years later as Knutson et al. (2008) was published and highly publicized by NOAA.

May 29, 2008

Atlantic Hurricane Seasonal Forecasts — Politics and Hype Part 1

Filed under: Hurricanes — climatedonkey @ 5:01 am
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With the focus on climate change and media fascination with natural disasters, considerable coverage has recently been afforded to seasonal forecasts of Atlantic hurricane activity. However, when NOAA holds a press conference to announce their forecast, as they did on May 22, 2008, weather weenies come out of the woodwork to react to the prognostications. In general, the mainstream media will report the typical preparation entreaties by Conrad C. Lautenbacher, NOAA administrator, somewhere in the middle of an article. First, you have to get past the haunting and daunting headlines, which during the past 7 years have been exasperating in their portents for destruction. Then, for 2008, the numbers came fast and furious, 12-16 tropical storms, 6-9 hurricanes of which 2-5 will become intense or major. What you get is an inch deep and a mile wide in terms of precision – and also accuracy. Yet, seasonal forecasts, with all of the examples of ineptitude, are still official government issued products, with a bunch of other competing outfits.

Rather than bore the pants off of everyone with fancy correlations and confidence testing, we can simply look at the forecasts themselves and judge them based upon how a few end-users will react. These end-users can include Big Oil, the State of Florida, the tourism industry, and Betty who enjoys her retirement in a Bradenton trailer park.

Since 1995, hurricane activity when measured using the Accumulated Cyclone Energy Index, or known affectionately as ACE, has been above the previous 50-year historical mean/median/whatever. Some claim a multidecadal signal while others blame global warming or climate change; the wordage depends on the season. Whatever the reason, the Atlantic has been active since 1995, while the Eastern Pacific has been depressed (no need for Zoloft).

ACE ATL

By 2001, climatologists experienced with hurricane activity and the Atlantic’s history expected a prolonged period of “enhanced activity”. This is endemically referred to as “above normal” activity. This is a bad description since a quick look at North Atlantic hurricane history shows peaks and valleys; normal really is not a state that exists for a long time period (10-20 years). Generally the situation is feast or famine, 1997 or 2005, depressed or enhanced. You get the picture.

Above average activity is now the forecast for the next decade or maybe longer because we have entered the “enhanced activity period”. Okay, Betty in her trailer does not care about the next 10-20 years, but wants to know about this year – not if the season is going to be above normal, but is she going to get blown sideways in September? We’ll get back to this in a bit…

The following information is a compilation of several sources including archived online articles, seasonal verifications from NOAA, Dr. Bill Gray’s group, as well as Tropical Storm Risk.

2001: 15 TROPICAL STORMS – 9 HURRICANES – 4 MAJOR – ACE = 108

Look at those big numbers! Out of those storms, a grand total of zero, fortunately made landfall in the US as a hurricane (most hurricanes without a US landfall in 50 years).
Dr. Gray’s outfit in April, June, and August predicted 10, 12, and 12 tropical storms, with 6, 7, and 7 hurricanes, with 2, 3, and 3 being intense. While the prediction was considerably underdone, no harm no foul – no hurricane landfalls.

2002: OBSERVED 12 TROPICAL STORMS – 4 HURRICANES – 2 MAJOR – ACE = 68
Yet, the next May, “federal experts” at NOAA unleashed their seasonal forecast. Headlines presaged a “heavy hurricane season ahead” with a “bit above average” activity.

NOAA: May 20, 2002 9-13 TROPICAL STORMS – 6-8 HURRICANES – 2-3 MAJOR
GRAY: May 31, 2002 11 TROPICAL STORMS — 6 HURRICANES — 2 MAJOR

Here we see an example of headline writers in the media totally blowing out of proportion what scientists or experts are telling them – for whatever reason. Throughout the hurricane season, which runs from June to November, the forecasters get a chance to “amend” their predictions or “hedge their bets”. Maybe the activity is gangbusters or perhaps non-existent: time to update that forecast midstream. Now, if the forecast change is in the right direction, meaning a true refinement, can we really say that is “adding skill” to the previously made forecast? Not really – but if the forecast goes in the wrong direction, now that looks bad!

UPDATE August 8, 2002 CNN STORY

El Nino’s reappearance in the United States will reduce the number of estimated Atlantic hurricanes from eight to six this year, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. NOAA revised its outlook for the 2002 Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to November 30, to include between seven and 10 tropical storms with four to six developing into hurricanes.

NOAA Aug 8, 2002 7-10 TROPICAL STORMS – 4-6 HURRICANES – 1-3 MAJOR
GRAY Aug 7, 2002 9 TROPICAL STORMS — 4 HURRICANES — 1 MAJOR

El Nino’s unexpected emergence highlights a reality in long-term seasonal predictions: the autumn phase of El Nino is poorly predictable in the spring. The forecasts were rightly downgraded but did not anticipate a record 8 storms that developed in September. Betty is happy. Big Oil is happy. Insurance underwriters did good. However, the overly excited headlines may have scared a few tourists from piling into their station wagons and driving down to Florida. The sense of urgency for hurricane preparedness and expectation of a major disaster likely is at the lowest point — until the 2004 season changes the rules of the game.

First, 2003 …

OBSERVED: 14 TROPICAL STORMS – 6 HURRICANES – 3 MAJOR – ACE = 168

This season had a couple of long lasting and intense storms, which fortunately did not affect the US at anywhere near their maximum strength. Fabian and Isabel traveled for more than week criss-crossing the far Atlantic, with one making landfall in the Carolinas (Isabel). NOAA’s press release predicted above normal activity on May 19, 2003

NOAA 2003

James R. Mahoney, assistant secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and deputy NOAA administrator said, “This year the Atlantic hurricane outlook calls for a 55 percent chance of an above normal season, a 35 percent chance of near normal, and only a 10 percent chance for a below-normal season such as last year.”


NOAA: May 19, 2003 11-15 TROPICAL STORMS – 6-8 HURRICANES – 2-4 MAJOR
GRAY: May 30, 2003 14 TROPICAL STORMS — 8 HURRICANES — 3 MAJOR

Forecast look familiar? Well it is basically a repeat of 2002’s. It would be hard to take either of those forecasts without knowledge of what happened and predict whether 2002 or 2003 would see more activity. So, Betty has a good memory, especially when it comes to clipping coupons and her neighbor’s business. She remembers than 2002 wasn’t too bad, and sees no reason to really believe the 2003 seasonal forecast. Perhaps, when Betty reads the USA Today at Denny’s, she notices that the hurricane season is “racing along” as reported July 18, 2003 (USA TODAY).
Fortunately, Max Mayfield, National Hurricane Center director is reassuring —

…Max Mayfield, says he isn’t worried.
“It certainly doesn’t mean the world is coming to an end,” he says.

Whew…

The August update keeps the activity at about the same levels: slightly overdone but not too bad.


NOAA: Aug 7, 2003 12-15 TROPICAL STORMS – 7-9 HURRICANES – 3-4 MAJOR
GRAY: Aug 6, 2003 14 TROPICAL STORMS — 8 HURRICANES — 3 MAJOR

NOAA also predicts the ACE for the season, and expected 95-155 in May and 103-146 in August as the likely range of 2003 activity. An ACE of 168 was observed, well outside their expected range, which highlights the longevity and intensity of Fabian and Isabel. This metric is very hard to get right because you need to know how long the storms will last, at what intensity, and of course, how many. Pretty tough standard.

So, Part I discusses 2001-2003. During the first three years of the Bush administration, the focus has hardly been on hurricane activity, climate change, or seasonal forecasts. The media publish the articles as “a matter of fact” and really do not exasperate the coverage for any agenda purposes. The run-up to the war in Iraq has led Katie Couric to bemoan the media’s acquiescence to the Bush Administration’s intelligence as a “one of the most embarrassing chapters in American journalism“. Part II and following posts in this blog will take this nugget of wisdom from the “Perky One” and extend the logic to coverage of Katrina and global warming. There is an agenda at play here, and it all is part of a neatly woven together amalgamation of “scientific experts”, disasters, Bush Derangement Syndrome, and a new technocratic ideology of environmentalism, which some have described as a new Stalinism.

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