FEMA loses the global warming plot on hurricanes

Federal Emergency Management Agency

Federal Emergency Management Agency (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From the we’ve been telling you so department, comes this honest briefing to the White House:

(CNSNews.com) – Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Craig Fugate said the frequency of tornadoes and hurricanes is cyclical, and he doesn’t know if global warming has anything to do with it.

“If you look back for the amount information we have going back to about 1850s, you’ll see a cycle, and it’s over decades of increased activity and decreased activity,” Fugate said. “And so that cycle has been there. As far anything driving that, I’d really defer to climate scientists.”

“Well, I’m not a meteorologist. I’m not a climate scientist, and hurricanes are cyclic,” Fugate responded. “I do know history, and if you look at history and you look at hurricane activity, there are periods of increased and decreased activity that occurs over decades,” Fugate said. “Throughout the ‘60s, ‘70s, early ‘80s, up until about ’95, the Atlantic was actually in a period of below-average activity, even though you had significant storms like Andrew, Frederic, and David.”

“Beginning about 1995, we saw an uptick in activity that has been sustained, and about the only variation is whether or not we’ve had El Niños or La Niñas, depending upon that for a factor,” Fugate continued. “But if you look back for the amount information we have going back to about 1850s, you’ll see a cycle, and it’s over decades of increased activity and decreased activity. And so that cycle has been there. As far anything driving that, I’d really defer to climate scientists.”

“But the reality is the history says we’ve had this period of activity, we’ve had a period of quiet,” Fugate said. “We’ve had a period of activity; we’ve had a period of quiet. And so what we’ve seen is not what we — we’ve seen this in history before.”

Fugate spoke Wednesday at a White House press briefing on the 2012 hurricane season that begins June 1.

h/t to Climate Depot

Appropriate to view this again:

Figure: Global Hurricane Frequency (all & major) — 12-month running sums. The top time series is the number of global tropical cyclones that reached at least hurricane-force (maximum lifetime wind speed exceeds 64-knots). The bottom time series is the number of global tropical cyclones that reached major hurricane strength (96-knots+). Adapted from Maue (2011) GRL.

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29 thoughts on “FEMA loses the global warming plot on hurricanes

  1. He’s talking about the Atlantic, of course. I’m not sure if the last “inactive” period was as long as he says (ie from the sixties on) but it’s definitely true that these storms have a tendency to be more frequent for decades at a time and less frequent for decades at a time. The current “active period” in the Atlantic since 1995 has been characterized by above average major hurricanes and hurricanes and well above average storm numbers, but the last is highly inflated, or more accurately the past numbers are highly deflated from lack of satellites. With regard to landfalls, sometimes an active season means lots of landfalls, but lately it hasn’t. The trend in landfalls since 1900 (when the coasts are probably adequately people to know this) is down. If you account for marginal storms in the present that could almost certainly only be identified with modern technology and missed non-marginal storms in the past, the trend since 1850 is flat in over all activity.

  2. I can’t believe that the Obama administration specifically, and progressives in general will allow little things like a lack of supporting data, indeed, data that show the opposite of what they claim to get in the way of their narrative. Progressives BELIEVE!!! Little things like reality are irritants that must be explained away. This is easily demonstrated by how angry they get when presented with facts that challenge their beliefs…

    1. AGW believers: Show me the hot spot, or admit your fail.
    2. Keynesian economists: Show me a single successful example. Robert Mugabe’s new gig as a tour guide does not count.
    3. Progressives: How’s that War on Poverty working out for you? Yes, I know you have insured generations of progressive voters on the dole, was that the goal? What happens when you run out of rich people to loot? Things are likely to get ugly. Look to Greece and the rest of the PIIGS followed quickly by France to see what happens when Progressives are running the show… Two years should tell the tale.

  3. “Beginning about 1995, we saw an uptick….”

    An in the hottest decade on the record we were all blown away.
    / Pun intended with sarc.

  4. “Beginning about 1995, we saw an uptick….”

    Looking at the graph I’d his statement was a bit misleading and incomplete. True, there was an uptick starting in 95, but it appears there was a ‘downtick’ around 2006 htat contiunes today

  5. This guy must want a new job – he is soooo off-message there HAVE to be consequences for him! Ha ha ha! Good job Mr Fugate! ;-D

  6. The one prediction that is still standing (and is confirmed by Maue’s plot) is that the % of major hurricanes (relative to total hurricanes) is increasing. Hypotheses linking hurricane activity to warming ONLY discuss an increase in intensity, NOT an increase in overall frequency.

  7. If anything they have to do with cooling (maybe global cooling, for sure, North Pacific cooling). This is especially true of tornadoes.

  8. The convective weather that is required for hurricanes to form will only organize into hurricanes if the ocean heat content is high enough to provide the energy to drive them. The current Atlantic sea surface temperatures (see the Unisys anomaly map http://weather.unisys.com/surface/sst_anom_new.gif this will update) are looking surprisingly low for a few weeks before midsummer. If the Atlantic around the Cape Verde islands remains cool then there will not be much in the way of severe storms this season. (I am sure Joe Bastardi will provide a far more detailed forecast)
    Of course if the Northern Hemisphere SST anomalies remain as low as they are into the start of winter things could be a little cool next winter.

  9. The graph looks incorrect to me. It looks like the line for major hurricanes should start heading downward after 2007. Perhaps I’m missing something . . .

  10. Maybe he is trying to keep a semblance if integrity for FEMA. Look what happened to the National Hurricane Center with regards to Irene. NHC don’t want to talk about it and neither would I. Well … actually I would.

  11. Looks a lot like a plot of the AMO to this guy. I could think of some reasons why it should.

  12. curryja says: ………
    ————
    It would have been interesting to see the graph going back 60 or 90 years. But then today’s better observational technology would not have been around. I don’t know whether the “prediction” is only correlation, just like the recent (halted) warming might just have been correlation.

  13. curryja says:
    May 31, 2012 at 10:15 am

    ==================

    Would you consider the overall increase in frequency of monitoring of every hurricane to have an effect on the strength category rating? Lots of money, lots of planes, lots of focus, etc. and possible upgrading category of storm even if it crossed the threshold for only a very short time period that could be considered a ‘blink’.

    When a storm makes landfall wind speed can be measured. When it’s at sea, we are forced to rely on what we are told. I have come to question what we are told in the recent years. Lots of hype? Political? Irene?

    By the way, when Irene came ashore with 50 mph +- winds and hyped as hurricane, is it still classified as a hurricane? Hasn’t been discussed AFAIK. Family and friends living north of Wilmington, NC and 3 miles from the beach (~20 miles from landfall) said there was no hurricane where they were. 2 shingles blew off one of the neighbor’s house. Power was out 2 hours.

    I live a bit further away and had to water my garden the next day. But I’ll never forget “hurricane” Irene!

  14. curryja says:
    May 31, 2012 at 10:15 am
    ”The one prediction that is still standing (and is confirmed by Maue’s plot) is that the % of major hurricanes (relative to total hurricanes) is increasing. Hypotheses linking hurricane activity to warming ONLY discuss an increase in intensity, NOT an increase in overall frequency.”

    Perhaps, – I’d agree that the apparent number of major hurricanes is increasing, although it is possible that some of this is down to increased monitoring? I’m not going to look into precisely how they change a definition of minor to major, but I guess it’ll be something to do with windspeed etc? And I’m also guessing that a ‘station’ could miss peak windspeed as a hurricane passed? However, increasing the number of wind measuring stations would obviously increase the likelihood of seeing ‘peak’ winds for longer, etc, etc. So, although I do think there is a possibility of an increase in major hurricanes from the graph shown in the post; without a detailed look at the available data, I’d hazard a guess that increased monitoring and data may account for some of that?
    On the warming/intensity front – the link is entirely plausible, of course, as increased heat energy could be expected to cause increased intensity – but at the same time – if we note that the frequency has decreased, then perhaps the net ‘total’ energy has remained the same?? Ergo, the net energy input/output from hurricanes is perhaps unchanged?

    Obviously, this is not really my field (geologist), I’m just saying what I thought of the data….in relation to your comment.
    regards
    Kev

  15. The trend for majors is probably going down after 2005, possibly even after 2003 and might be negative or at least flat after 1992. So, I don’t think this is strong evidence, even for the % of majors increasing.

    Did Ryan correct this for satellite coverage? I know he usually does things that way. And the very low numbers in 1978 – is that before satellites? I know most majors will be seen w/o satellites but a few may not. There was one last year that seemed like it was only a 4 for a few hours.

  16. Bill Marsh says: “Looking at the graph I’d his statement was a bit misleading and incomplete. True, there was an uptick starting in 95, but it appears there was a ‘downtick’ around 2006 htat contiunes today”

    That’s because he is almost certainly speaking exclusively about the Atlantic Basin. The graph you see above is global, the description he gave matches with the Atlantic:

    If you look at the East-Central Pacific Hurricanes, the activity tends to move in opposition to Atlantic activity, so they tend to cancel out leaving the overall global trends since the Atlantic inactive period and the East Pacific active period basically flat.

    By the way I wouldn’t put too much stock in the Major Hurricanes/Hurricanes or Storms factor, at least not until late enough in the record that relative homogeneity of each basin’s estimates can be assured. Everything I’ve seen indicates it’s an issue with the data quality before about the mid to late 80’s. I’d like Maue’s opinion on it though.

  17. Bill says: “Did Ryan correct this for satellite coverage?” AFAIK, he uses IBTrACS, so no, it’s not a homogeneous record.

    “And the very low numbers in 1978 – is that before satellites?”

    Depends which ocean. There was not complete global coverage until more recently IIRC. It’s also worth noting that, even then, there are always going to be increases in the technologies capabilities and more accurate intensity estimates.

    “I know most majors will be seen w/o satellites but a few may not.”

    The issue is not whether they’d be seen but whether you would correctly identify them as category 3 or above. It appears, to me anyway, that the intensity estimates are way off for many storms, or at least different than they would be now. Since about 86, I believe, the West Pacific relies entirely on satellites, no aircraft, which may be worse. Also, the Northern Indian reported in nonstandard time intervals before the early 90’s I think, but that change is certainly an improvement. But improvements create false changes in the data, as do degradations.

  18. So, when will the State of Florida haul the property insurance companies to court over their proprietary loss program that rips off the home owners? The program is based by their own admission on AGW being the driver of hurricane loss estimates and therefore higher insurance premiums than justified by actual losses.

    If I remember correctly, AGW was initially pushed by European Property Insurance companies as a means to justify higher premiums back in the 1980s. I demand a rebate of those premiums. You know in Florida, the premium on property insurance is actually higher than property tax. It’s outrageous and now is demonstrated to be a financial fraud.

  19. This is unique. Not only is Fugate heretical, he’s running wildly against the grain of normal bureaucracy. Parkinson’s Laws require every agency to create a set of facts that will guarantee exponential increases of its own budget and manpower. AGW has always been a perfect set of facts, just as it is for the re-insurance companies mentioned by dscott.

    By skipping AGW and sticking to REAL facts, Fugate has skipped the CRITICAL URGENT NEED for more money.

    He’s a hero. Nothing less.

  20. curryja

    Is the upward trend in the frequency of major storms statistically significant though?

  21. By the way, whatever the prediction of “Climate Science”tm with regard to intensity, the only thing that should matter to people is what kind of storms will make landfall. A category five that stays at sea is of no greater consequence to people than a mere named storm that stays at sea. Is there any indication that the storms making landfall are stronger, globally? No!

    Weinkle, J., R. Maue, and R. Pielke, Jr., 2012: Historical global tropical cyclone
    landfalls. J. Climate. doi:10.1175/JCLI-D-11-00719.1, in press.

    “Our analysis does not indicate significant long period global or individual basin trends in the frequency or intensity of landfalling TCs of minor or major hurricane strength.”

  22. Global warming does have something to do with it but global warming, and cooling, are both cyclic and rely on solar output/changes some of which we are just becoming aware of.

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