Common Sense on Hurricanes

The coincidence of hurricanes Harvey and Irma striking in rapid succession has naturally caused global warming hysterics to react hysterically. As usual, Ken Haapala of the Science and Environmental Policy Project contributes a dose of common sense and scientific knowledge:

Last week’s TWTW discussed Hurricane Harvey, which ended a lull of almost 12 years without a major hurricane making landfall in the US. A major Hurricane being defined as category 3, or above, on the Saffir–Simpson hurricane wind scale used by the National Hurricane Center, with sustained wind of 111-129 mph (96-112 knots, 178-208 km/h) or greater. The lull in hurricanes hitting the US was simply good fortune and had nothing to do with increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide.

The twelve-year lull between category 3 hurricanes was the longest in the historical record, which goes back several hundred years. We have been living in a time of unusually little hurricane activity, which, as Haapala says, is merely lucky.

Unfortunately, Harvey stalled around Houston and inflicted major damage not by winds but by major flooding from about 50 inches of rain over a few days. Even before the relatively flat area was urbanized, flooding from heavy rains was a problem. Contemporary newspaper accounts describe the extensive damage to the cotton fields during the floods of April and May 1929, before hurricane season. The population was less than 5% of the population today. The December 1935 flood exceeded the 1929 floods. Afterwards, US Rivers and Harbors Act of 1938 enabled the construction of a storm management system featuring two major reservoirs. Unfortunately, the rainfall and its runoff were beyond the design capacities of the reservoirs and floodgates had to be opened, compounding the flooding problems.

Many critics of Houston sermonize that the city should not have been built, or should have been built differently, but that can be said about any human structure that is damaged by natural events. No doubt, the same sermonizing will occur after those in Florida experience the destructive force of Hurricane Irma, currently a Category 4 storm, crossing the Florida Keys. According to forecasts, Irma will go up the west coast of Florida. Our best wishes go to those who have been damaged and will be damaged by this storm.

What the climate hysterics never do is offer any quantitative analysis to substantiate their claims of increased hurricane activity. They don’t, because they can’t.

To better measure the destructive force of hurricanes and all tropical cyclones, NOAA developed the accumulated cyclone energy (ACE) index, which measures wind energy and can be summed over the entire season. ACE includes number, strength, and duration of all the tropical storms in the season. ACE is a better indicator than comparing individual hurricanes, if the intensity of tropical storms is increasing over time. ACE is not increasing globally or in the northern hemisphere as atmospheric greenhouse gases, mainly carbon dioxide (CO2), are increasing. These measurements directly contradict claims by many political commentators, and some scientists, who assert that these storms are proof of CO2-caused climate change.

Unfortunately, scientific evidence will not stop the climate vultures from trying to capitalize on every weather-related disaster.


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