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Predicting hurricanes. Not!

By Alan Caruba
web posted May 22, 2006

Why is it that hurricanes are always treated as unexpected events? The news reports always have someone saying, "We haven't had one around here in such a long time…" or "We never expected it to be this powerful."

Hurricanes have been showing up off the East Coast for millennia. In the last century alone, the earliest in 1900 killed more than 8,000 people in Galveston, Texas. Routinely throughout the first half of the century, hundreds died from hurricanes that hit Florida, Texas, the northeastern States, and -- yes -- New Orleans in 1915 when 275 died.

Hurricane Hugo off the coast of South Carolina
Hurricane Hugo off the coast of South Carolina

Even when we put weather satellites in outer space to warn us of hurricanes, in 1992 Hurricane Andrew, a category 4, caused an estimated $26.5 billion in damage to parts of Florida and Louisiana. Others like Hugo and Camille have etched their names into history.

The ability to accurately predict how many hurricanes are going to show up in any given year is dubious at best. Despite using all manner of computer climate weather models, studying the records, and trying to deduce trends, last year the most esteemed predictor, Dr. William Gray of Colorado State University, concluded there would be 13 named storms with 7 becoming hurricanes. In 2005, there were 28 storms and 15 became hurricanes.

This year he is predicting 17 storms powerful enough to be named. Of these, he says 9 will become hurricanes. If we use his predictions from last year as a baseline, we are in for 18 hurricanes this year! But it just isn't that easy. Indeed, forecasting hurricanes is akin to counting cards at the blackjack table. Neither Mother Nature nor Lady Luck is going to cut you a break.

There is one thing you can bet on. Environmentalists will declare that the increase in hurricanes this year is the result of the dreaded global warming. Anticipating that, the chief climate control negotiator for the U.S., Harlan Watson, recently told the Associated Press that the Bush administration does not blame global warming or climate change for extreme weather, including the hurricanes that trashed the Gulf States in 2005. Well, that is so nice to know.

Why, indeed, does the State Department need a "climate control negotiator"? And why does another government agency, the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predict the increase in hurricanes is a trend "likely to continue for years to come"? The answer to the former question is that all the deceptions and manipulations coming out of the United Nations regarding global warming requires the U.S. to have a negotiator. We need someone to explain why, by a unanimous vote, the U.S. Senate wisely refused to sign onto the UN Kyoto Climate Control protocol.

We need someone to explain that neither China, nor India, two major contributors to so-called greenhouse gases, are not signatories to the Kyoto protocol or that those European nations that did sign up have always exceeded the limits to which they agreed. The Kyoto protocol is a farce,

As to NOAA's prediction, there's something called the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO). Man, I love these scientific terms! The AMO cycle, according to meteorologists, run in cycles that last anywhere from 25 to 45 years. They are based on increased or decreased salinity in the Atlantic Ocean, as well as sea-surface temperatures. An increase in salinity and warmth is associated with severe storm activity during a cycle. The last such cycle began in 1926 and ended in 1969.

Scientists report that, in 1995, another cycle of increased salinity and warmer sea-surface temperatures began. If the AMO theory holds true, the Gulf and East Coast of the U.S. will continue to be subject to more severe storms.

Where does global warming fit into this? No where. This doesn't stop scientists desperate for a big, fat government or foundation grant from predicting global warming and attributing everything from hurricanes to hangnails for this dread phenomenon. That has never stopped Time or Newsweek from publishing utter rubbish on the subject.

What you rarely will read is any scientific study that disputes global warming. However, in April, the Washington Times reported that "Using temperature readings from the past 100 years, 1,000 computer simulations, and evidence left in ancient tree rings, Duke University scientists announced today that 'the magnitude of future global warming is likely to fall well short of current predictions.'" Published in the journal, Nature, the report concluded that "Ancient and modern evidence suggests limits to future global warming."

So, while global warming is not going to be all that warming, we are still left with those nasty hurricanes. The hurricane season begins officially on June 1 and goes to November 30.

Move over, Dr. Gray, I am going to predict that -- yes -- there will be hurricanes this year and, further, they will occur somewhere on the East Coast and in the Gulf. Because that's where they always occur, starting as a nasty bit of weather off the coast of Africa and gaining momentum as they cross the Atlantic and then, despite the best satellite information available, going wherever the hell they want.

Impress your friends. Tell them it is all due to the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation.

Alan Caruba writes a weekly column, "Warning Signs", posted on the Internet site of The National Anxiety Center © Alan Caruba, 2006


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