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Predicting hurricanes. Not! [Part Two]

By Alan Caruba
web posted October 9, 2006

This nation of ours is home to some of the best meteorologists using some of the best technology available. This does not mean they have any idea what the weather will be two weeks from now. With this in mind, I offer you part two of my April ruminations on the 2006 hurricane season.

In April I reminded people that hurricanes have been showing up off the East and Gulf coasts for millennia. It wasn't until millions of people started jamming themselves together in those scenic areas that the damage wrought by hurricanes became a problem. The ocean views are wonderful, but not when they're in your living room.

Dr. William Gray of Colorado State University has gained a reputation as a predictor of hurricanes and I pointed out that in 2005 he had concluded there would be 13 named storms with 7 becoming hurricanes. In 2005, there were 28 storms and 15 of them became hurricanes. One of them flattened New Orleans and a huge swath of Mississippi for good measure.

In April 2006, however, Dr. Gray was back, predicting 17 storms powerful enough to be named, of which 9 would become hurricanes. By early October, he downgraded his forecast predicting only one more hurricane this year and two more named storms. He did not anticipate any intense hurricanes like Katrina.

So far, the Atlantic basin has seen 9 named storms and 5 hurricanes. None have represented a significant problem to coastal residents. Dr. Gray says he's less worried about a really big, bad hurricane. Call me a cynic, but I would say it's probably time for everyone on the East and Gulf coasts to buy an inflatable rubber boat.

Okay, I admit it, I am picking on this distinguished scientist, but I am also amused and informed by the way Mother Nature pays no attention to his calculations, computations, informed assumptions, and ultimately his predictions.

Why did he downgrade his 2006 prediction? A weather cycle called El Nino in the central and eastern Pacific Ocean. Turns out that November activity during El Nino years is very rare, thus reducing the prospect of more storms and hurricanes.

Meanwhile, in the headquarters of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), a big fight broke out over a position paper authored by some of its scientists suggesting a link between hurricanes and global warming. Conrad Lautenbacher, the administrator, did not want NOAA associated with the paper because it contained, in his words, "no new science."

Considering that the "science" surrounding global warming has been taken out behind the shed and spanked for being very bad, one can only congratulate Conrad for not wanting NOAA to contribute to the stinking pile of pseudo-science that keeps insisting the Earth is doomed when in fact it has warmed barely one degree Fahrenheit between 1850 and 1950, and not at all since then.

The paper the NOAA administrator resisted reportedly "conveyed a consensus opinion that global warming could lead to more intense hurricanes." Return now to Dr. Gray's most recent downgrade of his predictions. Not global warming, but the El Nino cycle. Not more and worse hurricanes, but less this year.

As they say, "Who you gonna believe? Global warming advocates or your lying eyes?" The endless blather about global warming should be consigned to a thick file in the same cabinet as the Piltdown man and other famous hoaxes. ESR

Alan Caruba writes a weekly column, "Warning Signs", posted on the Internet site of The National Anxiety Center. His new book, "Right Answers: Separating Fact from Fantasy" has just been published by Merril Press. © Alan Caruba, 2006

Other related essays:

  • Predicting hurricanes. Not! by Alan Caruba (May 22, 2006)
    Alan Caruba is going to make a stunning prediction: the southern and east coasts of the United States will be hit by hurricanes this year. You read it here first


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