Monday, September 03, 2007

Hurricane Felix a Glimpse Of The Future?


WILLEMSTAD, Curacao (Reuters) - Hurricane Felix became an extremely dangerous Category 5 storm on Sunday as it swept through the southern Caribbean on a path toward Central America and Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, U.S. forecasters said.

From wikipedia:

Only four times — in the 1960, 1961, 2005 and 2007 hurricane seasons — have multiple Category 5 hurricanes formed, and in only one season — 2005 — have more than two formed.

About halfway through the '07 season, and we're gunning for a new record! Whoo Hoo! From the good Eli Rabbett's Blog (comments):

Now that the 2nd major hurricane of the season has occurred 23 days ahead of the climatological average, and there have been 2 category 5s (compared to the 1951-2000 average of 0.34 per year), making a total of 9 in the last 10 years, I wonder if all those who kept referring to this season as 'inactive' will apologize.

And from Judith Curry's work showing an increase in category 4 and 5 hurricanes over the last several decades due to (or at least correlated with) rising sea surface temperatures:

Someone is looking pretty stupid.


Ti-Guy said...

Shorter The Shotgun on everything:

Yeah, right...and...Goreacle!... Dr. Fruitfly! Citoyen Dion...Dhimmis!...AWK!

Those studying the vector for the "Rightwinger Endumdening Virus" need to concentrate on The Western Standard.

Steve V said...

A couple weeks ago, you already started to hear the denier crowd mocking the hurricane predictions, as some delusional evidence of the global warming fraud. Not that one year means anything in particular, nor do you wish to see such massive storms, but it has quieted the peanut gallery. Back to the hockey stick I suppose for another year.

Anonymous said...

Felix strengthened from a tropical storm into a Cat 5 hurricane in 51 hours. No hurricane has ever done that so fast.

Also has treated some of the sounding equipment and hunter aircraft pretty badly.


Dave said...

As a part of the work I do, I've been tracking every developing low pressure area from mid-Atlantic since the start of the heating cycle in early August.

We're now up to 98 invested storms with westward tracks from the Equator to 20 North - almost a record.

The reason most haven't developed into gargantuan hurricanes is because of the local wind shear and the particular weather pattern either side of each storm. In short: LUCK.

The sea surface temps in the Caribbean are at record highs and now, even a disorganized tropical depression has the ability to suck up water vapour making them potential monsters.

But it's nice to see the Western Standard and the National Center yapping off wildly.

Good post... thanks!

bigcitylib said...

Dave, if they break that record, it might be good for you to post on it. Or point me in the right direction.

Dave said...

BCL, if the record cracks I'll post on it. If I don't have the time I'll send you the data and a link and you can go with it.

Anonymous said...

and the relationship between your much beloved human caused global warming is what ??


The hurricane expert who stood up to UN junk science
The Deniers -- Part III
Lawrence Solomon, Financial Post
Published: Friday, February 02, 2007

December 8, 2006

You're a respected scientist, one of the best in your field. So respected, in fact, that when the United Nations decided to study the relationship between hurricanes and global warming for the largest scientific endeavour in its history -- its International Panel on Climate Change -- it called upon you and your expertise.

You are Christopher Landsea of the Atlantic Oceanographic & Meteorological Laboratory. You were a contributing author for the UN's second International Panel on Climate Change in 1995, writing the sections on observed changes in tropical cyclones around the world. Then the IPCC called on you as a contributing author once more, for its "Third Assessment Report" in 2001. And you were invited to participate yet again, when the IPCC called on you to be an author in the "Fourth Assessment Report." This report would specifically focus on Atlantic hurricanes, your specialty, and be published by the IPCC in 2007.
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The series

Statistics needed -- The Deniers Part I
Warming is real -- and has benefits -- The Deniers Part II
The hurricane expert who stood up to UN junk science -- The Deniers Part III
Polar scientists on thin ice -- The Deniers Part IV
The original denier: into the cold -- The Deniers Part V
The sun moves climate change -- The Deniers Part VI
Will the sun cool us? -- The Deniers Part VII
The limits of predictability -- The Deniers Part VIII
Look to Mars for the truth on global warming -- The Deniers Part IX
Limited role for C02 -- the Deniers Part X

Then something went horribly wrong. Within days of this last invitation, in October, 2004, you discovered that the IPCC's Kevin Trenberth -- the very person who had invited you -- was participating in a press conference. The title of the press conference perplexed you: "Experts to warn global warming likely to continue spurring more outbreaks of intense hurricane activity." This was some kind of mistake, you were certain. You had not done any work that substantiated this claim. Nobody had.

As perplexing, none of the participants in that press conference were known for their hurricane expertise. In fact, to your knowledge, none had performed any research at all on hurricane variability, the subject of the press conference. Neither were they reporting on any new work in the field. All previous and current research in the area of hurricane variability, you knew, showed no reliable upward trend in the frequency or intensity of hurricanes. Not in the Atlantic basin. Not in any other basin.

To add to the utter incomprehensibility of the press conference, the IPCC itself, in both 1995 and 2001, had found no global warming signal in the hurricane record. And until your new work would come out, in 2007, the IPCC would not have a new analysis on which to base a change of findings.

To stop the press conference, or at least stop any misunderstandings that might come out of it, you contacted Dr. Trenberth prior to the media event. You prepared a synopsis for him that brought him up to date on the state of knowledge about hurricane formation. To your amazement, he simply dismissed your concerns. The press conference proceeded.

And what a press conference it was! Hurricanes had been all over the news that summer. Global warming was the obvious culprit -- only a fool or an oil-industry lobbyist, the press made clear, could ignore the link between what seemed to be ever increasing hurricane activity and ever increasing global warming. The press conference didn't disappoint them. The climate change experts at hand all confirmed the news that the public had been primed to hear: Global warming was causing hurricanes. This judgement from the scientists made headlines around the world, just as it was intended to do. What better way to cast global warming as catastrophic than to make hurricanes its poster child?

You wanted to right this outrageous wrong, this mockery that was made of your scientific field. You wrote top IPCC officials, imploring: "Where is the science, the refereed publications, that substantiate these pronouncements? What studies are being alluded to that have shown a connection between observed warming trends on the earth and long-term trends in tropical cyclone activity? As far as I know, there are none." But no one in the IPCC leadership showed the slightest concern for the science. The IPCC's overriding preoccupation, it soon sunk in, lay in capitalizing on the publicity opportunity that the hurricane season presented.

You then asked the IPCC leadership for assurances that your work for the IPCC's 2007 report would be true to science: "[Dr. Trenberth] seems to have already come to the conclusion that global warming has altered hurricane activity and has publicly stated so. This does not reflect the consensus within the hurricane research community. ... Thus I would like assurance that what will be included in the IPCC report will reflect the best available information and the consensus within the scientific community most expert on the specific topic."

The assurance didn't come. What did come was the realization that the IPCC was corrupting science. This you could not be a party to. You then resigned, in an open letter to the scientific community laying out your reasons.

Next year, the IPCC will come out with its "Fourth Assessment Report," and for the first time in a decade, you will not be writing its section on hurricanes. That task will be left to the successor that Dr. Trenberth chose. As part of his responsibility, he will need to explain why -- despite all expectations -- the 2006 hurricane year was so unexpectedly light, and at the historical average for the past 150 years.

- Lawrence Solomon is executive director of Urban Renaissance Institute and Consumer Policy Institute, divisions of Energy Probe Research Foundation.

Next: The polar denier


Christopher Landsea received his doctoral degree in atmospheric science from Colorado State University. A research meteorologist at the Atlantic Oceanic and Meteorological Laboratory of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, he was chair of the American Meteorological Society's committee on tropical meteorology and tropical cyclones and a recipient of the American Meteorological Society's Banner I. Miller Award for the "best contribution to the science of hurricane and tropical weather forecasting." He is a frequent contributor to leading journals, including Science, Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, Journal of Climate, and Nature.

Anonymous said...

Hurricane expert says nature to blame for more storms
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Nature, not mankind, is to blame for a period of increased hurricane activity that could last for another 20 or 30 years, tropical weather expert William Gray said Thursday.
William Gray at the National Hurricane Conference
By Judi Bottoni, AP

The Colorado State University professor, known for his annual predictions, will be the closing speaker Friday at the 27th annual National Hurricane Conference. He's expected to give his latest prediction for the 2005 hurricane season, which begins June 1.

Hurricane activity began increasing in the mid 1990s after a slack period of about 25 years.

"We think it's ocean circulation patterns," Gray said in an interview. "It's not human-induced global warming. It's related mainly, as we see it, to the global ocean conveyor belt circulation."

The "conveyor belt" refers to the "thermohaline circulation" that includes the Gulf Stream, which brings warm water from the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico north into the Atlantic.

Thermohaline is from the Greek words for heat and salt. As the North Atlantic Drift, the northern extension of the Gulf Stream, brings water to the ocean around Greenland, the water cools and also becomes more salty as water evaporates leaving salt behind. This makes the water heavy and it sinks. As the water sinks, more flows north to replace it.

How fast the water sinks controls the speed of the Gulf Stream and other ocean currents, both at the top of the oceans and deep below.

A faster-moving thermohaline circulation produces more major hurricanes than slower currents, although they don't seem to have much effect on less powerful storms, Gray said.

"It's sort of a back and forth thing," Gray said.

Gray is uncertain exactly how long the present active period will last but historically such periods have gone on for 20 to 40 years.

Although the number of major hurricanes — Category 3 through 5 — has been up during the past 10 years, only three of those bigger storms reached the United States from 1995 through 2003.

During that time and the low activity period before it, the southeastern United States has seen dramatic growth, meaning more people and property are at risk.

"You can say for sure that the hurricane-spawned damage to the U.S. in the next quarter century is going to be much more than it was in the last quarter century," Gray said.

Gray's initial 2005 season forecast, released in December, was for 11 named storms including six hurricanes, three of them major. Gray also predicted a 69% chance that at least one major storm would make landfall in the United States.

"There is a chance we might up our numbers a little bit," Gray said.

Among the things that cannot be predicted are steering currents that last year drove five hurricanes ashore in the United States, but the odds are against Florida getting struck four times again, he said.

"Last year was kind of a freak year," Gray said. "However, they could be affected by one or two or so."

Anonymous said...

Meteorologist William Gray may be the world’s most famous hurricane expert. More than two decades ago, as professor of atmospheric science and head of the Tropical Meteorology Project at Colorado State University, he pioneered the science of hurricane forecasting. Each December, six months before the start of hurricane season, the now 75-year-old Gray and his team issue a long-range prediction of the number of major tropical storms that will arise in the Atlantic Ocean basin, as well as the number of hurricanes (with sustained winds of 74 miles per hour or more) and intense hurricanes (with winds of at least 111 mph). This year, Gray expects more activity, with 15 named storms, including 8 hurricanes. Four of them, he says, will be intense.

How did you get involved in predicting hurricanes?

G: It was an outgrowth of my teaching. We always wanted to know when we went to Florida whether the Atlantic basin would have an active season or not, because it has the most variable season of the global basins. There are some years with very few storms and other years with a large number of them. Twenty-five years ago, there was no way to tell. We tried studying local variation in the sea surface temperatures in the western Atlantic, the surface pressures, the wind shears, and various other things, but we could not develop a scheme that worked very well. Then I discovered that the secret was to look globally. I found that if there is an El Niño in the Pacific, the Atlantic seasons tend to be rather weak; if there is not an El Niño, they tend to be stronger. Then we found that if the global stratospheric winds blow from the west, we tend to have more storms. We looked at West African rain—we hadn’t been doing that—and found that had a precursor signal to it too. The more we learned, the better the predictions got.

How can you predict hurricanes six or nine months in advance but not the weather next week?

G: We don’t say where or when the storms are going to occur. We give a number for the season. It is a different prediction.

What is the point in predicting the severity of the season if you can’t say where a storm will hit, or when?

G: People want to know what the odds look like, and we can say something about that by looking at the conditions that existed before the active season in prior years and comparing those to what we see now.

A few years ago when there were quite a few light seasons in a row, you said Florida had just been lucky—and that it was going to end.

G: They’ve been extremely lucky. The last major storm to come through Florida, before hurricane Andrew hit in 1992, was hurricane Betsy in 1965, which went through the Keys. Eight of the last 10 years have been very active—in fact, we’ve never had as much activity on the records, going back to about 1870 or so, as in the past 10 years—and yet we went from 1992 until last year with no hurricanes coming through Florida. If we look back earlier, from 1931 through 1965, Florida was hit 11 times with major storms. The major storms, the category 3, 4, and 5 hurricanes, only account for about 25 percent of the number of named storms, but they cause about 80 to 85 percent of the damage.

There was a lot of devastation last year. That doesn’t seem very lucky.

G: Although last year was a terrible year for them, it could have been worse because none of the four storms that affected the Florida region went into a highly populated area.

What do you expect over the next few years?

G: Our feeling is that the United States is going to be seeing hurricane damage over the next decade or so on a scale way beyond what we have seen in the past.

Is there a reason so many storms reached land last year?

G: What made last year so unusual were the steering currents. In 9 of the previous 10 years from 1995 through 2003, we tended to have this upper-level trough—or low-pressure area—off the northeast United States, and that brought the westerly winds down into the tropics, where they curved the storms out to sea before they could hit the United States. On average, about one in 3 major Atlantic storms hits land, so by all reckoning we should have had 9 or 10 major storms hitting the United States since 1995. We only had 3 because of this trough. Last year, the thing changed. Instead of a trough off the northeastern United States, we had this high-pressure ridge, and that kept the westerly winds far north of the tropical Atlantic storms. The storms didn’t curve away; they just kept coming westward.

What will happen this year?

G: We think that this year we probably won’t curve all the storms, but we are not as confident of that as we are that this will be a pretty active year—a lot like last year.

How accurate can hurricane prediction get?

G: There are two types of prediction. The type we do is with climate, where we don’t say when and where but we say the number. I think that will get slightly better if we keep working on it. The critical prediction is in the short range, 12 to 48 hours, of the track of the storm and of its intensity. Track prediction is getting a little better because researchers have been flying planes around the outside of the storm, measuring the steering currents. The errors in three-day track prediction now are equivalent to the errors you used to see in two-day predictions. But the skill at intensity predictions is still very small. That is a tougher nut to crack because it involves the complexity of the inner core of the storm.

You don’t believe global warming is causing climate change?

G: No. If it is, it is causing such a small part that it is negligible. I’m not disputing that there has been global warming. There was a lot of global warming in the 1930s and ’40s, and then there was a slight global cooling from the middle ’40s to the early ’70s. And there has been warming since the middle ’70s, especially in the last 10 years. But this is natural, due to ocean circulation changes and other factors. It is not human induced.

Anonymous said...

Long winded waste of time; and don't you have anything more up to date? Old articles about old denialists don't cut it. Science marches on.

Ti-Guy said...

The longer the cut 'n paste, the more convoluted the bullshit...not that that the cut 'n pasters understand exactly what is it their cut 'n pastes, mind.

The more they cut 'n paste, the more desperate they seem.

Anonymous said...

Get a grip on reality guys, you are probably going to die of a sexually tranmitted disease before the bogeyman global warming can catch up to you and snuff ya.

Dave said...

Actually Gray is quite correct. The thermohaline circulation is a part of the problem.

What he didn't explain at all is what a vast majority of oceanographers have determined to be the problem with the THC- carbon loading.

The existence of hurricanes is not something to point at and declare anthropogenic global warming. Hurricanes are simply the globe's air conditioning system.

In that sense, it's how high up the A/C gets cranked and what causes it.

Hurricanes develop due to a series of factors but the basis of their strength comes from heated surface water.

We already know, without dispute, that the carbon load in the world's oceans has risen to levels which are causing thermohaline anomalies and is responsible for threatening marine life.

What's the origin of that increased carbon load? Not volcano activity.

Quoting Christopher Landsea is risky. He has a view, which I share to a certain extent, that hurricanes are not the poster-child of AGW. But he is NOT a denier. He acknowledges that sea temperature rises are a direct result of greenhouse effect.

I would be happy to hear him explain why a tropical depression moved to a Cat 5 cyclone with severe wind shear in a two day period. Taking all factors into account, the single most significant factor is the sea surface temperature.

Back to Gray: If you're going to quote him, get the whole thing.

When Gray was questioned on his thermohaline circulation theory he was forced to admit that he had not published any peer reviewed work. In fact, when oceanographers challenge him on THC anomalies with water column content data his answer was, "I'm working on it." In short: He has no substantive theory.

Anonymous said...

Wow, are your stats cherry-picked or what? How many years of hurricanes are you completely ignoring?

Dave said...

Anonymous 12:28 pm, if you are responding to me, state your case.

I didn't cherry-pick one goddamned thing. Unlike at least three others ahead of my last comment.

As far as the strength of Felix, it is a new record for speed of development. That doesn't mean that there haven't been stronger hurricanes prior to the keeping of records. There surely have been.

Sea surface temps are not cherry-picked. They are established fact. The surprizing thing is that you don't even have to believe in global warming to know it's happening. It's all right there in front of you. You simply have to look.

But if you want to discuss "cherry-picking" The Western Standard sets the bar. No one publication can ignore facts quite like they can.

Anonymous said...

Wow! Almost 40 years. Looooong time for weather cycles.

Dave said...

Wow! Almost 40 years. Looooong time for weather cycles.

Despite what you may think, weather is cyclic over the short term. Long term is "climate".

Oceanographic evidence is epochal, not that I would expect you to know that. It would require doing some actual reading.

I'm done with you. Go back to your comic book.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Whatever happened to the predicted banana tree wipe-out we were told about years ago? What about all those times we were told we'd run out of oil, you know, back in the '30s, and in the '40s, the '50s, next in the '60s, no it would happen for sure in the '70s, and we'll never get through the '80s. All of our precious metals were to have been mined out. The world population was to explode and our food system come crashing down. Global viruses would wipe us out, too.

I'm just so glad that they've got it right THIS time.

Anonymous said...

Good. Let's wipe out the last bit of N'awlins once and for all to convince them it's a stupid place to build a city. Let it return to wetland delta.