This article was originally published in American Thinker on October 7, 2017. I see that in AT’s archive, my article has lost its graphics – which were a major part of the story. I am reprinting the article now (Sept. 28, 2022) because of the recent Hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico and the unprofessional, unscientific and untruthful reporting of same by the Global Warming Press.
You will see story after story in the news about how hurricanes are stronger and more frequent. They will tell you that Harvey and Irma are the worst-ever storms and are unprecedented. They will scare up the looming threat of “Global Warming” as if it were a proven fact. They will say that Al Gore predicted this a decade ago in his movie An Inconvenient Truth (2006).
Do not be fooled. That is all a lie. While Harvey and Irma were devastating, they were far from “the worst”. Global Warming has proven to be a myth. Al Gore was dead wrong then and now. What Gore predicted was the exact opposite of what happened. Hurricanes are right now less frequent and milder on average than they were when Vice President Al Gore made that movie.
The data on hurricanes is widely and freely available. So, there is no excuse for the panic-mongering regarding this subject.
The “Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE)” index is calculated by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Accumulated Cyclone Energy — An index that combines the numbers of systems, how long they existed and how intense they became. It is calculated by squaring the maximum sustained surface wind in the system every six hours that the cyclone is a Named Storm and summing it up for the season. It is expressed in 104 kt2.
This is basically a measure of seasonal hurricane strength as it varies from year to year and should definitively answer the question of whether hurricanes are stronger and more frequent, or not.
The chart below shows the data for 1985 to 2016:
Accumulated Cyclone Energy 1985 to 2016
While there was indeed a peak in 2005, the index has been substantially less – not only in the actual year of Al Gore’s movie debut, but also in every year since then.
To address the frequency of hurricanes, let us examine another NOAA dataset.
The graph below shows the number of days between major hurricane landfalls in the United States. Major Hurricanes are defined as category 3,4 or 5.
Days Between Landfall of Major Hurricanes in the U.S. Credit NOAA
You see that the dates of the original graph (produced by Roger Pielke Jr.) were from 1900 to June 15, 2017. A new record gap between storms had occurred at that time. This author has added (the orange parts) the intervening time to show the end of the Great Hurricane Absence. You see that this gap (nearly twelve years) is almost twice as long as the previous record in 1900. The “trend” (red line) is now toward slightly longer gaps between storms. i.e., Strong hurricanes are less frequent now.
The IPCC’s website defines their purpose:
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the international body for assessing the science related to climate change… The main activity of the IPCC is to provide at regular intervals Assessment Reports of the state of knowledge on climate change. The latest one is the Fifth Assessment Report which was finalized in November 2014.
With that in mind, here is the IPCC’s statement on hurricane frequency:
IPCC AR5 (2013) Working Group I, Chapter 2
Current datasets indicate no significant observed trends in global tropical cyclone frequency over the past century … No robust trends in annual numbers of tropical storms, hurricanes and major hurricanes counts have been identified over the past 100 years in the North Atlantic basin.
The deadliest hurricane in American history was the 1900 storm in Galveston, Texas. Speaking from my own family’s oral history:
My great-grandfather Ben was visiting his brother in Galveston when all were trapped by a rising storm surge that reached the attic of the two-story house before it broke apart. Ben was washed across Galveston Bay to Hitchcock, Texas in the midst of that devastating tempest. By then, Ben had lost his brother and all his brother’s family, who died along with six to ten thousand others on the island and the mainland (Galveston had less than 38,000 inhabitants at the time). Ben barely survived by clinging to a wooden bedstead while being torn by building debris with lots of exposed nails.
Ben told his tale and showed his horrible scars to his little granddaughter who later told her son – that’s me. This makes the 1900 storm very real to this author.
Now that you have the real story, read and watch as the alarmists try to tell you that Harvey or Irma is the worst storm ever and these hundred-year storms are happening every year.
You can tell them of the “Great Hurricane Absence” and show them these graphs. You can quote the IPCC, a group founded to study (allegedly objectively) the idea of manmade climate change. You can tell them that the deadliest hurricane in American history was the 1900 storm in Galveston, Texas.
When you tell the alarmists, they will not believe you because it does not fit their narrative of “Global Warming.” To them, nothing that happened before they were born was real. And nothing since then that does not fit their myth, is fact.