A Reply to Hurricane Sandy Alarmists

A suggestion the Great Gale of 1821 was worse than Hurricane Sandy, and Alarmists are wrong to suggest otherwise.

Guest post by Caleb Shaw
While I am often humbled, when it comes to predicting the weather, I did correctly predict the fact that, when the inevitable happened, and a hurricane did clobber the East Coast, that certain individuals would use the event to promote their Global Warming Agenda.
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/08/21/hurricane-warning-mckibben-alert/

Graphic from the August 21st 2012 story

The chief fact used, in the Alarmist argument about Sandy, is the simple truth the tide which New York City experienced during Sandy “beat the record.” This gives Alarmists the chance to dust off their favorite word, “unprecedented.” They love that word, because by suggesting something is, “without previous instance; never before known or experienced; unexampled or unparalleled,” they somehow manage to convince themselves it means something has gone haywire; something is dreadfully wrong.


There are two good ways to calm such people down. First, it is helpful to explain to them that every newborn child is “unprecedented,” and “without previous instance; never before known or experienced; unexampled or unparalleled,” because each newborn has fingerprints like none ever seen before on Earth. Therefore, there is no reason to panic. In fact, a new baby, and newness in general, is actually a delightful thing. Without newness life gets pretty darn boring.

In fact, that is why it is so much fun to try to predict the weather, even though you are bound to be humbled. Weather is always producing things never seen before. Weather is forever fresh and new.

The second way to calm down Alarmists is to point out hurricanes have happened before, and have actually been worse. Alarmists will then, of course, state no storm has ever been as bad as Sandy, for none had such a surge in New York. At this point you need to pat the back of their hand, say “now-now” and “there-there,” (and a few other anxiety-reducing things,) and ask them how much they know about the 1821 storm that set the “old” record.
Most Alarmists fail to study history much. Unfortunately, most don’t want to. They have their minds made up, because they hunger for an impossible thing called “closure,” which has a side effect of creating a closed mind. However if you coddle them, and ask them to “listen just to humor you,” you might get them to look at the history of the Great Gale of 1821.

Unlike Sandy, that hurricane didn’t dawdle. It came ripping up the coast, and was in and out of New York in a matter of hours. The people of the time reported a tide 13 feet above the ordinary high tide, but the best studies put the peak tide at 11.2 feet. Sandy reached 13.88 feet.

(You cannot fail to notice how much more scientific we have become. Back in 1821 they only measured a surge in tenths-of-a-foot. Now we measure in hundredths.)
Simple arithmetic suggests the 1821 storm’s high water was 2.68 feet lower than Sandy’s. However the interesting thing about the 1821 storm is that it came barreling through at dead low tide. Tides in New York vary roughly 6 feet between low and high tides.
Therefore, to be fair, it seems you should add six feet to the 1821 storm, if you want to compare that storm with Sandy’s surge at high tide. This would increase the 1821 high water to 17.2 feet.

On top of that, you have to factor in the influence of the full moon during Sandy. That adds an extra foot to the high tide. Add an extra foot to the 1821 score and you have 18.2 feet.
Joe D’Aleo at WeatherBELL brought up yet another fascinating factor: 1821 was at the end of the Little Ice Age, when a great chill had cooled the oceans. Because water contracts when it cools, the seas were roughly a foot lower back then. Therefore, to be fair, we need to add yet another foot to the 1821 storm, which gives us a total of 19.2 feet.
Joe Bastardi, also over at WeatherBELL, can do better than that. All you need to do is shift the track of the 1938 “Long Island Express” hurricane, with it’s last minute jog to the northwest, eighty miles to the West-by-West-southwest, and you have a storm surge of well over twenty feet surging up the Hudson River. That is practically a tsunami, and likely would reach Albany.

In other words, Sandy wasn’t so tough. In some ways, Sandy was a Wuss, and an imperfect storm, compared to 1821, which had wind gusts toppling chimneys in Philadelphia, entire houses in New York City, and flattening forests up through New England.

In conclusion, things could get a lot worse for New York City, even if storms are not a bit “unprecedented.” Things could be worse even if they are ordinary!!!!!

It helps a lot if you get a bit wild-eyed, as you say this. Alarmists are better able to listen to wild-eyed types, than they are able to listen to dull, factual sanity.

It might help even more if you grab them by the lapels and repetitively hoist them up and slam them down, launching into a rave. You’ll have to make up your own rave, (and it helps a lot if you practice the wild-eyes in a mirror beforehand,) but my own rave would be something like this:

“You stupid, ignorant, son-of-a-Susquash! We have known for decades New York‘s subways would flood in a perfect storm. It was a real threat. Why didn‘t we build flood-gates, to close up the subways in the face of storm surges or even earthquake tsunamis? Why did we waste billions on windmills and Solyndra?…”

You can move on from there, but in some cases all your efforts will be in vain.
Never stop trying, for you never know when an idiot might be redeemed, but don’t be discouraged if you fail, for in some cases explaining Truth to Alarmists is preaching to the mire.

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116 thoughts on “A Reply to Hurricane Sandy Alarmists

  1. Come on Caleb, you KNOW that the extra tiny amount of CO2 caused the high tide and the storm surge to coincide.

    That’s how clever CO2 is !!! ;-)

  2. Thanks Caleb! I’ve been wondering about that “previous record” and how much we “beat” it by. Low tide, you say? That must be why it didn’t flood the subways! :)

  3. 35 year old climate catastrophist/crisisist- ‘I’m the tallest I’ve ever been this last last fifteen years so naturally I’m worried about getting too tall.’
    Now that’s what you’d call unprecedented except that there’s a helluva lot of them.

  4. Have great sympathy for those who have suffered from Sandy’s wrath and as is said above there are lessons to learn. Doesn’t have to be a hurricane.

    “The Floods of 1953″

    “The 1953 floods were caused by a major storm surge which coincided with a naturally high spring tide. Storm surges are caused when air pressure and strong winds push a volume of water across large distances. The result is an elevated body or ‘hump’ of seawater which can move towards the coast and overtop sea defences. Small changes in atmospheric pressure can result in large volumes of water being displaced. The storm surge that caused the 1953 floods resulted in sea levels rising almost 3 meters above normal high water marks. Most sea defences along the east coast of England were not designed for such events and most could not prevent the oncoming wave of water.Sadly, many of the deaths caused by the floods could have been avoided if an effective flood warning system had been in place and communities had been given sufficient time to evacuate.”

    http://thamesweb.com/1953-floods.html

    Also at-

    “North Sea flood of 1953″

    A combination of a high spring tide and a severe European windstorm caused a storm tide. In combination with a tidal surge of the North Sea the water level locally exceeded 5.6 metres (18.4 ft) above mean sea level.

    Duration: 31 January – 1 February 1953
    Fatalities: 2,551 killed
    Damages: 9% of total Dutch farmland flooded, 30,000 animals drowned, 47,300 buildings damaged of which 10,000 destroyed
    Areas affected: Netherlands, Belgium, United Kingdom

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Sea_flood_of_1953

  5. Isn’t the severity of a storm in direct proportion to the number of tweets, Facebook posts and media coverage? Sandy was the worst storm EVAH!!!! /sarc off

  6. Excellent article. Unfortunately the MSM has got hold of the AGW meme and are thrashing it to death now. You can’t blame politicians like Bloomberg and Gore for jumping all over this because that is their profession and they will never let a good crisis go to waste.

    The enemy of truth is the MSM. That has always been true and never more so than now. Most people just see a headline or two and that fixes things in their heads for ever really and they are quite happy to let others do their thinking for them as they have lives to get on with.

    The MSM has an ideology and it seems to be coordinated. They are left/liberal and that message transcends everything they report. You could be forgiven for thinking that they learn this bias at journalism school and have it reinforced daily by the corporate culture they operate in.

    As for “unprecedented” I call bollocks on that.

  7. Frank Kotler says:
    November 2, 2012 at 2:04 am
    Thanks Caleb! I’ve been wondering about that “previous record” and how much we “beat” it by. Low tide, you say? That must be why it didn’t flood the subways!

    And of course why it didn’t knock out the electricity.

  8. Do not hurricanes, cyclone, and low pressure systems in general rotate in a counter clockwise direction in the northern hemisphere? The graphic above appears to come from the southern hemisphere.

  9. (and a few other anxiety-reducing things)

    A 2×4 comes to mind…

    I’ve had a person berating me for being ‘heartless’ in my writing as to how Sandy is far from the worst storm to ever hit NY. I told him if he really wants to avoid the death and destruction of hurricanes, best to evacuate the entire East Coast, inland, for at least 100 miles.

  10. Just totally forget Irene.
    Next year, when a comparably record large system moves mildly into the area where that highway could never be flooded at cat 4 strength, just forget Sandy, too. Remember 1821? Of course!

  11. Seems the folks at SkS don’t want to learn history. I got banned for trying to teach them about it.

    Pffft. No loss to me.

    Oh, and since they like to come here and stalk the “deniers” and make lists of who to burn “when the truth is accepted”, they can add me to the list. I don’t want to live in a world run by them where history is rewritten and the truth suppressed.

  12. Sure, the coincidence of landfall timing and high tide was big problem. 3ft of tide on top of almost 14ft of swell makes a _lot_ of difference to the resultant flooding.

    Now hurricane energy IS related to surface temperature:

    We also see , immediately, that the current high AMO temperatures have little to do with anything that can be called AGW and are part of NORMAL climate variations.

    Maybe current temp peak (and hence cyclone energy) is a bit higher than the last one and to be objective, this needs to be recognised and looked at. However, the biggest factor by a long way, is the fact that we are at the peak of a natural variation.

    This is not “weird weather” , it is normal climate variation.

  13. A quick back-of-the-envelope: The AWEA says we have 50 GW of wind generating capacity (as of August; the NMWA says each MW of turbine needs about 500 tons of stuff, mostly steel and concrete. That means we’ve done 25 million tons of heavy/high-tech construction that could have been used to build seawalls or otherwise harden infrastructure.

  14. Thanks for the information. The information will be quite useful as part of a graphic discussing Hurricane Sandy. Would you provide a simple reference for the information. Unfortunately citing WUWT is not desirable when presenting to other geoscientists. No slur intended Anthony. WUWT is my first stop in the morning and last at night.

  15. Highest wind speed ever recorded anywhere in the Northern Hemisphere was at Mount Washington, New Hampshire in 1931. Wind speed was a sustained 231mph! This was not a tropical cyclone – but it was a real “Frankenstorm” born from two frontal systems.

    Of course the highest sustained regular winds are not related to tropical cyclones at all, but tend to occur nearer to the poles. The Scottish islands regularly experience wind speeds >90mph. Antartica rgularly experiences winds >110mph. I would fear the coming ice-age far more than any possible warming.

  16. So Caleb,

    You admit that CO2 is now also affecting the tides and the moon? That is also unprecedented! ;)

  17. Good piece. The “unprecedented” bit is the size of the storm hitting such a high population. US only, we aren’t concerned about the rest of the world. It is terrible that the storm happened and I do feel for the folks involved. However, if you live near the ocean, tidal estuaries or rivers then you need to expect something like this every now and then. I’m pretty sure that the elected leadership will hype “unprecedented” to cover that, like New Orleans, they hadn’t prepared for something like this with flood gates and other protection. On the other hand, if the expected frequency is several decades, do you really prepare? And will the leadership be honest enough to admit they made the economic decision not to prepare?

  18. It’s madness. Heard here in Oz, ” … the death toll from the hurricane is at least 87 and is not expected to increase unless more bodies are found”.
    Whatever happened to education, use of English language, locig?

  19. Years from now, when the average temperature of the Earth has plummeted from its high of 288 point something to a more climate friendly 288 point something a little lower, and after having spent 35 trillion dollars to do so, Parents will be able to bring their children to the scene of a natural hurricane disaster and gaze upon the billions of dollars of destruction and tell their children:
    “See that children, none of that destruction can be blamed on us, its all natural”
    [As you can imagine, you can fill out this storey with perhaps the children looking up at their parents and wondering about their delusion and how that 35 trillion dollars could have been better spent. Go ahead and create more storeys like this, I have a lot of work to do developing software related to tools for climate science researchers and enthusiasts that I hope to have available over the next few years. More details sometime next year, maybe :-) ]

  20. Thanks, a much more sensible post than one I got sucked into dickering over whether Sandy was a hurricane, tropical storm, or extratropical at landfall….

  21. a reminder, i have no horse in your presidential race and believe your choice of candidates is laughable. however, here is the narrative of the day being built:

    Bloomberg says Bloomberg endorsement has given Obama a boost:

    2 Nov: Bloomberg: Julie Hirschfeld Davis/Henry Goldman: Bloomberg Post-Sandy Backing Gives Obama Unexpected Boost
    Republican strategist Matthew Dowd, a Bloomberg Television analyst: “There just feels like there’s been a shift, and I think Mayor Bloomberg endorsing — and in the way he did it — I think just gives more of an impression that that shift is happening” in the presidential race in Obama’s favor.
    That narrative “can be powerful going into an Election Day where this thing was dead even,” Dowd said…

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-11-02/bloomberg-post-sandy-backing-gives-obama-unexpected-boost.html

    Ground Zero for the carbon cowboys – Reuters Point Carbon:

    2 Nov: Reuters Point Carbon: Valerie Volcovici: NY mayor cites climate stance in endorsing Obama
    Climate change was catapulted to the forefront of the U.S. general election on Thursday after New York’s independent mayor threw his weight behind Democratic President Barack Obama, citing his stance on climate change..

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/11/02/us-climate-obama-idUSBRE8A10CV20121102

    David Karoly is on the Science Advisory Panel for the Climate Commission. Murdoch’s newspapers in Australia are reporting exactly the same nonsense and including the Bloomberg endorsement:

    3 Nov: Age, Australia: Ben Cubby: This is the new normal, warn climate scientists
    HURRICANE Sandy was a bigger, fiercer and more damaging storm because of human-induced global warming, an analysis produced by Australia’s Climate Commission has found.
    The burning of fossil fuels had made a material contribution to the atmospheric conditions that bred and sustained the storm, the report said, echoing international studies produced over the past few days.
    On Thursday the mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg, endorsed Barack Obama in the US presidential election, citing the urgency of tackling climate change…
    ”This requires urgent action on carbon dioxide emissions.”

    http://www.theage.com.au/environment/weather/this-is-the-new-normal-warn-climate-scientists-20121102-28phb.html

  22. We have a version of all this in the UK, it’s called: ‘the closer the weather happens to London, the more catastrophic it is!’

    I was brought up around London but lived in Scotland for 7 years in my 20s. For those that no anything of these parts, you will understand that the concept of ‘wind’ in Scotland is more vivid than in London, since each and every autumn and winter you will see close to hurricane force winds in the NW, on the mountain tops and on the Orkneys/Shetlands/Western Isles. Not for nothing are most houses in Northern Scotland only a single storey high……

    When the 1987 hurricane came, it was dreadful because it minced up half the trees in the South East of England. It was no worse than a bad day on the top of Cairngorm in Scotland. But all the media hacks live in the SE, so they were affected.

    In 1991, Western Scotland was treated to two weeks of snowfall in the mountains which created a quite magnificent snowbase for those that like winter mountaineering. We’re talking 6 – 12 feet depending on aspect on the mountain. No-one reported it in the SE. If you ever get 20cm in London, it’s a national disaster requiring ‘the world to be saved’ by investing billions in snow-clearing gear which, had it been present in the 1970s, would have lain completely unused between January 1971 and September 1979 (I know this because, bar one morning in May, our toboggan lay completely unused during my growing up years).

    The first thing scientists need to do is to correlate the apocalyptic nature of the weather with the number of media newshounds who are affected by it. The formula for the apocalypse is as follows:

    1. If it happens in Yellowstone Park, multiply by 0.7. Multiply by 10 if some idiotic preppy brat backpacking without proper gear gets snowed in as a result.
    2. If it happens in Colorado, multiply by 1.0. Unless Mile High Stadium has to cancel the football game on NBC, in which case multiply by 50.
    3. If it happens in Texas, Florida or California, multiply it by 3. If 15 feet of snow fall in Mammoth, who cares, if 6 inches fall in LA, wall-to-wall coverage on the news.
    4. If it happens in the President’s home state or in the NE of the USA, multiply by 7. If it affects New York City, multiply by 750.
    5. If it happens anywhere else, does anyone give a shit?

  23. If you build your house 3 m above sea level you can expect to be flooded a few times in your lifetime. I’m surprised that people are allowed to rebuild in these low lying areas, often replacing bungalows with glass covered mansions. Who even offers flood insurance in these areas?

  24. I object to this part of your post:

    “…Joe D’Aleo at WeatherBELL brought up yet another fascinating factor: 1821 was at the end of the Little Ice Age, when a great chill had cooled the oceans. Because water contracts when it cools, the seas were roughly a foot lower back then. Therefore, to be fair, we need to add yet another foot to the 1821 storm, which gives us a total of 19.2 feet…”

    Adding to the 1821 record by going from low to high tide, and also by allowing for the extra tidal surge due to lunar position in its orbit is definitely OK, but it does not make sense to add another foot due to the rise in sea level from 1821 to now. Clearly these storm-surge records have the understood qualifier that they are taken with respect to the average sea level — so tidal changes and extra strong lunar effects are valid adjustments but a centuries long change in average sea level is not.

  25. “You stupid, ignorant, son-of-a-Susquash! We have known for decades New York‘s subways would flood in a perfect storm. It was a real threat. Why didn‘t we build flood-gates, to close up the subways in the face of storm surges or even earthquake tsunamis? Why did we waste billions on windmills and Solyndra?…”

    Because adult, er, rational leadership is so hard to find nowadays.

    :)

  26. It doesn’t help when your rebuttal has some significant flaws. You should rethink a few things.

    Tides in New York vary roughly 6 feet between low and high tides.
    Even the spring tides at The Battery are typically under 6 feet. http://www.saltwatertides.com/cgi-local/newyork.cgi

    “On top of that, you have to factor in the influence of the full moon during Sandy. That adds an extra foot to the high tide. ”
    No, that “extra foot” is ALREADY figured into your (slightly exaggerated) 6 foot tides. It does not need to be added again. In fact, since the 1821 storm was a neap tide, you need to add a foot to the LOW tides.
    So, by rounding up the tides, double counting the effects of the spring tides on the high end and skipping the effects of neap tides on the low ends, you end up with an estimate several feet too high for the 1821 storm.

    “…which had wind gusts toppling chimneys in Philadelphia [referring to the 1821 storm]“
    That doesn’t sound quite so alarmist when restated “where winds of over 40 mph (60 km/h) downed trees and chimneys” [wikipedia]. Sandy brought higher winds than that to Philly.

    As for “unprecedented” ..
    * This area has been hit two years in a row by hurricanes, which IS unprecedented.
    * This area has never (since records have been kept) been hit by a hurricane this late in the year, which is ALSO unprecedented.

    Both of those do indeed suggest something odd with hurricanes lately (although random statistical fluctuations can and do occur).

  27. All good points except for the flood gates. A system that fails for a few weeks every 108 years is acceptable. Especially if that failure only results in inconvenience rather than any actual hazard to life.

  28. Sandy may be unprecedented. It’s surge reached all the way across the Atlantic to the shores of Tripoli -washing away the inconvenient truths of Benghazi (and much else besides) from American television screens. You can fool most of the people some of the time and there’s not much time till the election. The Democrats are hoping that Sandy’s surge will become Obama’s surge. [It has more force than the 'Prairie Fire' metaphor of Obama's old 'Weather' buddies.] It is much easier for Mayor Bloomberg to blame the damage and disruption to his city on smokestacks in China and cow farts in Nebraska than on his own administration’s lack of preparation. And a compliant press is milking this for all it is worth. In that, MSM et al. are no different from some Minister of Mufti taking advantage of a natural disaster -‘God/Allah/Gaia is punishing mankind for its sins’. Sandy may be unprecedented because it may be the first storm to sweep a candidate back into the White House.

  29. In August 1893 NY was hit by a Hurricane that took out Hog Island with a storm surge that flooded everything below Canal Street.. it was reported that the only thing that saved the city was the storm hit at low tide. BTW a few days later another Hurricane hit Savannah Georgia killing 2000 people, the Red Cross was delayed in getting to the disaster as they were still recovering from the hurricane that hit in that area in June of that year. With today’s population density of NY and Savannah if those storms hit today the devastation is beyond comprehension.

    Blaming AGW only takes the focus off of our need to prepare for major storm surge in hurricane prone areas with improved sea walls, levies, and surge barriers.. Subsidizing flood insurance is an incentive to build in high risk areas.. more building without adequate infrastructure to mitigate flooding is a formula for disaster..

  30. Thanks Caleb!

    It’s good to see that someone has put together a summary of a ‘running of the numbers’ and shown how equalizing (or ‘handicapping’) for environmental/meteorological/climatic (e.g. end of LIA and a ‘compensated’ sea level owing to temperature) and celestial conditions (e.g. tide cycle) that existed during past storms would have changed their affects dramatically.

    Now, if an op-ed can get inserted into the ‘paper of record’ just for full effect …

    .

  31. Philip Finck says November 2, 2012 at 3:54 am

    Thanks for the information. The information will be quite useful as part of a graphic discussing Hurricane Sandy. Would you provide a simple reference for the information.

    Referencing primary source(s) is ALWAYS a good thing. It also removes the focus from the presenter to the facts … ‘building on the work of others’ is a time-honored tradition and has enabled us to make the technological progress we have (the phrase * ‘… standing on the shoulders of giants’ comes to mind.)

    .
    .
    * nani gigantum humeris insidentes – the metaphor whose contemporary interpretation means “One who develops future intellectual pursuits by understanding and building on the research and works created by notable thinkers of the past“.

    .

  32. eyesonu clarified some attribution about Sandy for me in this post-

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/tips-and-notes-3/#comment-1132974

    “It shows tide, moon, and wind related effects of Battery NY. Looks like the actual wind related part of the surge resulting from Sandy was five (5) feet above what the tide would have been without the wind and low pressure bulge. I spent quite a bit of time to find this because a 13 foot storm surge sound high.”

  33. My minor addition to the rant: We have known for decades New York‘s subways would flood in a perfect storm. It was a real threat. Yet by your actions you think getting salt out of our resturants is more important than keeping salt-water out of the subways.

  34. vboring says November 2, 2012 at 6:34 am

    All good points except for the flood gates. A system that fails for a few weeks every 108 years is acceptable.

    There may be more to it than that; inundation by highly corrosive, conductive sea water which upon removal results in a semi-conductive ‘residue’ presents the real problem; we are going to get to know EXACTLY the time required to get the system back ‘in service’ going forward … that may be more than just a few weeks. Juxtaposition that with the fact the NYC is not going away anytime in the next probably 200 years and it might be economically justifiable (replacement costs of ‘ruined’, required system-operational equipment could tip the economic balance toward flood gates.)

    .

  35. Re: David Ross (shores of Tripoli).

    Hurricane Sandy might or might not have been the perfect storm. But 2011’s Hurricane Irene was the perfect dry run for New York preparations. With Irene, New York got lucky on timing and path. Just as there are memos and cables leaking out of Washington warning of impending doom and pleading for actions to reduce the threat, there must be memos and proposals after Irene to reduce the threat of storms to New York.

  36. And the reason for that full moon? YEP! You guessed it, CO2. Too much CO2 is why Obama loaned money to Fisker Car company and too much CO2 is why their engineers screwed up the circuitry that allowed the batteries to overheat in a short circuit and catch fire when submerged in salt water from Sandy’s surge which was because of CO2. The real reason Bloomberg limits the size of soft drinks? YEP! To limit the CO2 coming from them.

  37. pat says November 2, 2012 at 5:25 am

    a reminder, i have no horse in your presidential race and believe your choice of candidates is laughable.

    Please pat, (1) an examination of objective accomplishments in each man’s past tells volumes, as does their selection of past associates, (2) don’t believe all of what you hear vis-a-vis campaign rhetoric or ‘the news’.

    .

  38. Here is a nice article from 1888 that describes the discovery of an entire forest of ancient cedars in New Jersey that were felled by a cyclone of unimaginable intensity:

    http://bassriverhistory.blogspot.com/2010/09/mining-cedar.html

    Oh if only we could examine some cores….

    From the 1888 article:
    According to Clarence Deming and Dr. Maurice Beasely, eminent geological authorities in Southern New Jersey, the sea either broke in upon the swamps or the land subsided and the salt water reached the trees. This destroyed the life of many of them, and subsequently some prehistoric cyclone swept over the forest and leveled it to the earth.

  39. The word “unprecedented” is not just popular among alarmists. There wasn’t one Olympic event in London that I watched that didn’t have something that had never happened before that the announcers weren’t hyping strongly. It gets a bit tiresome when they’re noting that no two women of the same nationality have ever finished 1 and 3, although back in 1956 two women from another country did finish 1 and 4 – but even then this event was played under different rules that didn’t have as stringent requirements for the shoes. Same principle as when everyone is special.

    Next weekend, my stepson willl be getting married for the second time, which will be unprecedented for him and possibly even in the building the ceremony will be held in and certainly never before involving this particular woman.

  40. peterg says November 2, 2012 at 3:18 am

    Do not hurricanes, cyclone, and low pressure systems in general rotate in a counter clockwise direction in the northern hemisphere?

    … notably, this is the same (incorrect for northern hemisphere) direction as shown on Algore’s movie cover ‘inconvenient truth’

    In this case, we are building on the shoulders of man-bear-pig …

    .

  41. Rhys Jaggar – Here in Oregon substitute “Portland” for “London” and we have the same problem.
    Oregon coast gets 75kts to 100kts of wind fairly regularly. I’d love to see some MSM “Hurricane
    Studs” stand on Cape Blanco in the middle of a fair Sou’ Wester…

  42. The damage from Sandy could easily have been paid out of the mind-boggling billions spent on alarmist advocacy science.

  43. @ Tim Folkerts
    I think 1954/55 beats 2011/12:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_New_York_hurricanes

    1954 — Hurricane Hazel – wind gust of 113 mph at Battery Park, highest ever recorded in New York City.
    August 31, 1954 — Hurricane Carol makes landfall on Long Island and produces wind gusts of 120 miles per hour (190 km/h) on Montauk Point.[3] On eastern Long Island near where Carol made landfall, a pressure of 960 mbar is recorded.[28] Winds on the island gust to 120 mph (195 km/h). The hurricane’s storm surge covers the Montauk Highway in Montauk, effectively isolating eastern Long Island for a period of time. Due to the compact nature of the storm, most of Long Island is largely unaffected by the hurricane.[28] Specific damage totals for New York are unknown, although the storm in its entirety causes $460 million (1954 USD) in damage.[28]
    September 10, 1954 — Hurricane Edna tracks to the east of Long Island producing 9 inches (230 mm) of rain.[3] Prior to the storm, New York City orders an emergency standby for the majority of its hospitals, and subways.[29]
    August 13, 1955 — Hurricane Connie produces 13.24 inches (370 mm) of rain in Southeast New York, although damage is unknown.

  44. It’s interesting that a mild El Nino brought this tropical storm further up the coast, the tropical storm seemed not to have as much energy in the form of high winds but grew larger and less intense as it reached landfall meeting a large cold front as it quickly dissipated. As far as I can tell this was a typical storm, It was a very complex storm with many factors mentioned above such as High tides etc…
    While watching the footage of the aftermath I noticed the majority of the damage was to timber framed housing and various other timber framed structures from strong winds, large storm surge in coastal areas typical of any storm, also fire was a destructive factor, maybe future storm preparation could involve securing mains gas supply in an evacuation area, also the construction of homes and other structures in coastal areas should always consider using a stronger material than timber, an investment in a brick home on a solid foundation would have easily survived this storm with maybe some water damage, people who will need to rebuild should get a good construction engineering company with a team of bricklayers. Oh! and the moral of the story about the three little pigs should be taught in schools, along with the little boy who cried wolf and chicken little.

  45. “Blaming AGW only takes the focus off of our need to prepare for major storm surge in hurricane prone areas with improved sea walls, levies, and surge barriers…”

    No, blaming AGW accentuates our focus to prepare for major storm surge in hurricane prone areas with improved sea walls, levies, and surge barriers.

    To paraphrase pastor Martin Niemöller, in the Northeast two years ago the eye of Hurricane Earl passed 15 miles to the east of me in Nova Scotia, but I didn’t speak out because Earl was downgraded to a tropical storm, after crossing the Gulf of Maine. Last year the eye of Hurricane Irene passed over my head in New Jersey, but I did not speak out because it wasn’t so bad a storm. This year the eye of Hurricane Sandy passed 100 miles to the south of me, but I didn’t speak out because the folks at WUWT said that 1821 was worse. Next week a Northeaster is going to hit me, but I won’t speak out because this week’s Hurricane Sandy was worse. This summer the arctic ice melted, but the folks at WUWT found a way for me not to speak out, something about the Vikings during the holocene, I recall. Next year… and the year after that…

    WUWT will always have sandbag brigades ready to shelter from the gathering storms.

  46. John West says: November 2, 2012 at 8:02 am
    “@ Tim Folkerts
    I think 1954/55 beats 2011/12:

    Those two certainly do give these past two years a run for the money. Hard to say which pair “wins”. So maybe the “worse pair of years” is not quite so “unprecedented”.

  47. Tim Folkerts says:
    November 2, 2012 at 6:33 am

    As for “unprecedented” ..
    * This area has been hit two years in a row by hurricanes, which IS unprecedented.

    Nonsense.

    Aug. 21, 1954: Hurricane Carol, a compact, but powerful, borderline Category 3 battered New England, killing 68. With 100 mph winds, gusting up to 135 mph, Carol caused over $460 million in damage, destroying 4,000 homes, 3,500 cars, and over 3,000 boats. This was arguably the most destructive storm to hit Southern New England since 1938.

    Aug. 17-19, 1955: Hurricane Diane dropped up to 20 inches of rain, setting flood records throughout the region. Diane was recognized as the wettest tropical cyclone to impact New England and was blamed for nearly 200 deaths.

    http://www.berkshireeagle.com/ci_21881164

  48. Politicians have said Sandy was not a hurricane when it came ashore. That way the homeowners insurance pays more.

  49. Thomas T. says:
    November 2, 2012 at 8:20 am

    “No, blaming AGW accentuates our focus to prepare for major storm surge in hurricane prone areas with improved sea walls, levies, and surge barriers.”

    Thomas, one major flaw in your argument is that AGW proponents are driving up energy and fuel prices in the name of preventing such storms (laughably) by reducing CO2 through carbon trading schemes and expensive unreliable alternative energy programs, Paying a higher price for energy will make the cost of raw materials and labour rise that will make the construction and improvement of sea walls, levies, and surge barriers much more expensive, possibly to a point where it would be uneconomical for any construction.

  50. Imagine if those in the path of Sandy were subject to the visionary energy sources that some desire to impose on us all.

    Think of it,,,,,

    Where are the large scale windfarms and massive solar power generation plants after a storm like this?

    They are Gone.

    How long would people be without electricity in that environment ?

    I look at the news and the biggest problem seems to be the lack of energy to run things that are necessary to assist in this recovery process. No gas or electricity to power the chain saws, trucks, pumps, and on and on, is proving to be a huge handicap to the process.

    The exposure to the down side of alternative energy should be part of the learning experience and discussion after something like this.

    Where is my solar powered chain saw or wind powered bulldozer ?

    Think about it…….

  51. peterg says:
    “November 2, 2012 at 3:18 am
    Do not hurricanes, cyclone, and low pressure systems in general rotate in a counter clockwise direction in the northern hemisphere? The graphic above appears to come from the southern hemisphere.”

    The lower part of the storm rotates counter clockwise, but the exhaust, or top part of the storm is a relative high pressure area (an anti-cyclone) and the air comes out in a clock wise direction. If the spikes are meant to represent the cirrus outflow, the graphic is correct. If they are meant to represent feeder bands in the lower part of the storm, it is incorrect. I will give the artist the benefit of the doubt.

  52. RE: Tim Folkerts says:
    November 2, 2012 at 6:33 am
    Thanks for fact-checking my data about NYC tides. What I did was check my “Old Farmers Almanac,” which instructed me to subtract five feet from Boston tides to arrive at tides in NYC. Boston tides vary between 8.5 feet and 12.2 feet.

    I went beyond Wikipedia, researching the Gale of 1821. The problem is they had few if any anemometers back then, and there is no objective record of the wind speed. Wikipedia has no business pretending authority, stating the winds were 40mph in Philadelphia. The fact of the matter is we have nothing but subjective first hand accounts. If you Google the 1821 gale, sit back, and spend a couple of hours reading all 1250000 results, (I am one heck of a speed reader,) you come across some very impressive descriptions of wind damage. At the very least, there were gusts well above 40 mph.

    I recommend looking at the hurricane season of 1893.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1893_Atlantic_hurricane_season

    Not only did the 4th storm directly hit NYC, in August, but a few days later the remnants of the terrible Sea Island Hurricane passed over. In October that year you had the Cheniere Caminada Hurricane clobber New Orleans with force 4 winds on October 2, (actually the second hurricane to hit there that year,) and then raking through the south before heading back out to sea south of NYC. A hurricane clobbered Myrtle Beach with 120 mph winds on October 13 and then took a track very much like Hazel’s in 1954, (and though Hazel was far west of NYC the city still got some strong winds. However what is most interesting to me is the eleventh storm, which hit the Delmarva peninsula October 23. Though it “only” had 60 mph winds, its track was very similar to Sandy’s. (And if that was not enough, a final storm that year headed right at the Northeast around November 10, before veering out to sea; If that happens again this year people will go nuts for a day or two.)

    Considering the northeast was under the gun so much that 1893 October, I’m not sure this year is as rare as some suggest.

    RE: Art Wannlund says:
    November 2, 2012 at 6:39 am

    One odd thing about that 1893 hurricane that hit NYC is that it somehow slipped through the cracks, when people collected records of bad storms. It is only recently that people noticed Hog Island pretty much vanished from maps, scratched there heads, and muttered, “Sheesh; that must have been quite a storm.”

    “The only thing new under the sun is the history you haven’t read.” (And a baby’s fingerprints.)

  53. “Dale says:
    November 2, 2012 at 3:40 am
    Seems the folks at SkS don’t want to learn history. I got banned for trying to teach them about it.”

    SkS is a site that is not worth going to anymore. Dogma trumps any scientific literature. It is impossible to have a conginitive discussion with most folks there. They have a mind set that man is the cause of all warming, sea level rise, etc etc.

    A total waste of time to go there as they have nothing valid to add to the discussion.

    Sandy hit at high tide, and with normal adjustment factors, was not what one would consider an outlier storm. The storm of 1938 had wind speeds twice that of Sandy. Thankfully, Sandy was a small blurp in weather history when all is said and done.

  54. Thomas T. says:
    November 2, 2012 at 8:20 am

    “No, blaming AGW accentuates our focus to prepare for major storm surge in hurricane prone areas with improved sea walls, levies, and surge barriers.”

    The hell it does! Blaming AGW steals the necessary funds and focus from a very much needed adaptation response to tropical cyclones. Check the hurricane record. Rising CO2 in the atmosphere has had no impact on Atlantic tropical cyclones. Cutting emissions will be expensive (hundreds of billions of dollars) and equally have no impact on Atlantic tropical cyclones. For a fraction of that cost, we could make our coasts much more hurricane resistant. But no one in the MSM is talking about that. No…it is all about global warming. I guess it is a lot more fun and entertaining to blame someone else, than to do the required work to make homes and communities safer.

    Blaming Sandy on AGW is completely anti-productive, and disparaging WUWT for having the cuts to point that out is completely irrational!

  55. Presumed poster up-thread:

    Blaming AGW only takes the focus off of our need to prepare for major storm surge in hurricane prone areas with improved sea walls, levies, and surge barriers…

    Thomas T. says November 2, 2012 at 8:20 am

    No, blaming AGW accentuates our focus to prepare for major storm surge in hurricane prone areas with improved sea walls, levies, and surge barriers.

    _Jim:

    A supposed/proposed-AGW cause may be the basis upon which this is ‘sold’ to the public; the bottom line remains that you have a ‘susceptibility to hurricanes’ (and all that come with them e.g. surge + heavy rains that inundate below-surge-level infrastructure) problem.

    Thomas T. says November 2, 2012 at 8:20 am:

    This year the eye of Hurricane Sandy passed 100 miles to the south of me, but I didn’t speak out because the folks at WUWT said that 1821 was worse.

    _Jim:

    Man[kind] builds below MSL (and below grade!) and what do you expect when a surge occurs due to a natural ‘phenomenon’ (yes, hurricane is natural although not an everyday occurrence) in combination with other contributing factors (e.g. the confluence of several rivers into the bay, strong offshore winds plus the full-moon tide)?

    Don’t want exposure to earthquakes, avoid CA, don’t want exposure to tornadoes, avoid OK (et al), don’t want exposure to destructive coastal ‘storm’ factors (incl ‘storm surge’): avoid a whole list of states within 40 – 50 miles of the coast including NJ, NY, etc.

    .

  56. ” Bruce says:
    November 2, 2012 at 8:51 am

    Politicians have said Sandy was not a hurricane when it came ashore. That way the homeowners insurance pays more.”

    Not just the politicians. The NHC was at odds with itself. The Discussion group had pretty much evidenced that while big and strong, the hunter aircraft data and storm morphology had dropped Sandy below hurricane status as much as a day before it got to landfall, and that before landfall it had truly become a post-tropical cyclone. Now, PTCs can have higher windspeeds than the Saffir-Simpson categories and not be called hurricanes – they simply remain cyclones.
    The Public Advisory group held up the viewpoint that even though the data was sparse, the sheer size made the case that there was likely cat 1 hurricane force winds somewhere in the storm. (these different viewpoints were actually in the published bulletins). The reason this was problematic for the NHC is built into the responsibility structure for advisorys and warnings. Once the storm goes post-tropical, the NHC drops out of the public advisory game and weather warnigs fall back to the NWS, which are local and not effectively co-ordinated.o a large scale. In short – the Public Advisory group kept the “hurricane” classification on the storm for a period after it became post-tropical in order to keep the integrated hurricane warning structure together.as it came ashore. After that, they could no longer support the storm because it now unequivocally became post-tropical, and out of their mandate. It was quite telling to follow the divergence of view in the public advisory bulletins, and the at-time contrary views being written into the Discussion reports. Sandy hadn’t really been a hurricane for the last 24-36 hours of its pre-landfall life, dumping its energy outwards, instead. It certainly had a low pressure core, but even it was fairly diffuse for most of its life.

  57. Over here in the UK, it is noticeable that, apart from the snow in W Virginia, the only media coverage has been on areas close to the water.

    I assume, therefore, that the amount of damage more than a few miles inland is nothing exceptional.

  58. Don’t forget the Storm of 1938 that devasted New England. Also back then they didn’t have the communication and warning systems.

  59. Paul Homewood says:
    November 2, 2012 at 12:01 pm
    Over here in the UK, it is noticeable that, apart from the snow in W Virginia, the only media coverage has been on areas close to the water.

    I assume, therefore, that the amount of damage more than a few miles inland is nothing exceptional.

    You assume incorrectly. The damage in central NJ has been exceptional, extensive tree falls, power lines down and road blockages. My power went out at 5pm on Monday and came back on today (ahead of schedule), many here still without power. The unusual feature of this storm was its size and direction, most hurricanes here slide up the coast and we don’t get the full impact inland. This one approached from the east and made landfall exposing the NJ/NY coastline to sustained winds and storm-surge. A friend from Ohio told me that there were 15′ waves on lake Erie as the storm moved further inland. Many large trees here were ripped out of the ground like this one (at least 12 in our neighborhood alone):

  60. Tim Folkerts says:
    November 2, 2012 at 6:33 am

    Caleb says:
    November 2, 2012 at 9:26 am

    @Folkerts
    It doesn’t help when your rebuttal of the rebuttal has some significant flaws. You should rethink a few things.

    You appear not to know that the tidal datum is an arbitrary thing and that the lowest astronomical tide is not necessarily 0 feet with reference to the tidal datum. In the case of The Battery in NYC, the tidal range is 7.5 feet, from 1.3 feet below the tidal datum to 6.2 feet above the tidal datum so the statement that Tides in New York vary roughly 6 feet between low and high tides is patently false.

    Your hit two years in a row by hurricanes was demolished pretty promptly by someone else so overall your post did not contain much of any note.

  61. I’m afraid you guys are on the wrong side of history. You will argue that this is all natural or climate sensitivity is low for ever. That’s why you aren’t ‘skeptics’. You are trying to argue against fairly basic laws of physics and you lost the scientific argument in about 1896. Now, with Sandy, you are losing the political argument too and Sandy may just have cost the Republicans the White House.

    The Germans have a great word for this. It’s schadenfreude.

  62. Monty says:
    November 2, 2012 at 12:56 pm

    Fairly basic physics that the warmer the planet, the less temperature difference between the poles and the tropics so hurricanes become fewer and weaker?

    Decsribe the basic laws of physics that determine the difference between a natural hurricane and a AGW one.

  63. By the way, I agree with you that we shouldn’t use the term ‘unprecedented’ unless it really is (and we can prove it). This is why it’s not a scientific term and I would be intrigued to hear if any scientists have actually used the term (rather than, say, journalists). However, whether a storm is as big or bigger than one in the past is utterly irrelevant. It’s the recurrence interval that is important.

    By the way, to all the ‘skeptics’ who thinks we are going into a renewed glaciation (and there’s always one or two on every WUWT blog) may I suggest they aquaint themselves with the concept of orbital forcing? Reading Tzedakis and Berger and Loutre may also be instructive. Thanks.

  64. Geoff Sherrington says:
    November 2, 2012 at 4:28 am

    It’s madness. Heard here in Oz, ” … the death toll from the hurricane is at least 87 and is not expected to increase unless more bodies are found”.
    Whatever happened to education, use of English language, locig?

    We speak ‘murican over here, and logic has been banned in many schools (in public schools it is considered not PC. Religious schools – except Catholic – regard it as a – ah, fundamental – threat.

  65. No one mentions the jet stream, which played Irene one way and Sandy the other. The jet stream has natural variability.

  66. Monty says:
    November 2, 2012 at 1:17 pm

    “However, whether a storm is as big or bigger than one in the past is utterly irrelevant. It’s the recurrence interval that is important.”

    Monty, you are digging yourself in a deeper hole, hurricanes that have hit the USA have been weaker and the interval less frequent over recent decades than virtually all the time since the 1850’s.

    Calling us not skeptics is also a joke, you ignore all the data and questions presented to you.

  67. Monty says:
    November 2, 2012 at 1:35 pm

    No I don’t think that’s how they work, it is a lot more complicated than that. I am waiting for my question to be answered.

    “Describe the basic laws of physics that determine the difference between a natural hurricane and a AGW one.”

  68. Keith AB says:
    November 2, 2012 at 3:00 am
    Unfortunately the MSM has got hold of the AGW meme and are thrashing it to death now.

    How right, just watched CNN’s Amanpour and guest, former NY Governor Elliot Spitzer tell me Sandy is the future. She did mention afterwards that “although global warming didn’t cause Sandy, it made the effects worse.” Huh?? Of course the governor thinks things like cap and trade and Obama standing atop the statue of liberty with his back pocket full of tax dollars facing down the tempest, shouting “be still – though shall not pass” will avert any such future event. I actually used to like her, now, sadly if they tell me the time, I check my watch for myself.

  69. Monty answer it,

    “Describe the basic laws of physics that determine the difference between a natural hurricane and a AGW one.”

    I’ll give you the basic physics, so answer the above question.

    Factors

    Waves in the trade winds in the Atlantic Ocean—areas of converging winds that move along the same track as the prevailing wind—create instabilities in the atmosphere that may lead to the formation of hurricanes.
    The formation of tropical cyclones is the topic of extensive ongoing research and is still not fully understood.[39] While six factors appear to be generally necessary, tropical cyclones may occasionally form without meeting all of the following conditions. In most situations, water temperatures of at least 26.5 °C (79.7 °F) are needed down to a depth of at least 50 m (160 ft);[40] waters of this temperature cause the overlying atmosphere to be unstable enough to sustain convection and thunderstorms.[41] Another factor is rapid cooling with height, which allows the release of the heat of condensation that powers a tropical cyclone.[40] High humidity is needed, especially in the lower-to-mid troposphere; when there is a great deal of moisture in the atmosphere, conditions are more favorable for disturbances to develop.[40] Low amounts of wind shear are needed, as high shear is disruptive to the storm’s circulation.[40] Tropical cyclones generally need to form more than 555 km (345 mi) or 5 degrees of latitude away from the equator, allowing the Coriolis effect to deflect winds blowing towards the low pressure center and creating a circulation.[40] Lastly, a formative tropical cyclone needs a pre-existing system of disturbed weather, although without a circulation no cyclonic development will take place.[40] Low-latitude and low-level westerly wind bursts associated with the Madden-Julian oscillation can create favorable conditions for tropical cyclogenesis by initiating tropical disturbances.[42]

  70. Monty says:
    November 2, 2012 at 12:56 pm

    I’m afraid you guys are on the wrong side of history. You will argue that this is all natural or climate sensitivity is low for ever. That’s why you aren’t ‘skeptics’. You are trying to argue against fairly basic laws of physics and you lost the scientific argument in about 1896. Now, with Sandy, you are losing the political argument too and Sandy may just have cost the Republicans the White House.

    The Germans have a great word for this. It’s schadenfreude.
    Monty, Monty, Monty. Whatever shall we do with you?
    Arrhenius predicted a 1.6C warming effect from a doubling of C02. It was his fervent hope that this would stave off another ice age, as well as create a climate that was a bit warmer, and more life-friendly. All things being equal, he was correct, and noone here disputes the basic physics. The trouble is that with climate, not all things are equal. If you were actually the climate scientist you claim to be, you would know this. You need to aquaint yourself with the negative feedbacks. Climate just isn’t following along with the climate models, and it’s a travesty for the true Believers such as yourself.
    Whether or not Sandy costs Romney the election is highly questionable, and a moot point anyway. All of the palaver and hype about it by the MSM is just as likely to galvanize Republicans as well as cause Independents to vote for him.

  71. I’m OK with the thousands of climate changers and progressers who lost their homes and everything they had in Sandy, not having the right to rebuild on the land they own, and having to give it all back to mother earth without compensation.

  72. Matt G: isn’t Google wonderful! Warm waters are required aren’t they. I wonder why ocean surface waters are warming?

    Bruce: negative feedbacks? Which ones are these then? Forget about cloud iris effects….they probably don’t exist. If the feedbacks were negative then we couldn’t get into an ice age, nor out of one. No serious scientist disputes that feedbacks to C02 warming are essentially positive. You can’t explain the paleo record with low S or negative feedbacks. You ‘skeptics’ are always arguing for a global MWP and LIA and conveniently forget that this would suggest higher rather than lower sensitivity. Talk about holding two mutually contradictory ideas in your heads! Any you accuse people like me of being unscientific!

    I understand that it must be ‘inconvenient’ for you but that’s just the way it is. If you think all the feedbacks are negative then why don’t you publish your ‘research’? It’s all right…I’m not going to wait!

    Anyway, your minds appear to be closed. At least Sandy looks like it will have helped scupper the climate skeptics in the Republican party.

  73. Ask the people from North East US if they feel like a threat to the planet this week. This planet will eventually shake us all off like a bad case of flees. We all need to learn to be more self sufficient and not depend on the government to take care of us. Just ask those people who live on Staten Island NY, how well big government is working out for them this week.

    SurvivalBlog.com
    The Daily Web Log for Prepared Individuals Living in Uncertain Times.

    George Carlin – Saving the Planet

  74. Monty says:
    November 2, 2012 at 2:57 pm

    It’s saves me time then trying to remember them and typing them out, but you can’t even answer the question so your view on hurricanes that AGW caused it is completely down to ignorance. I wonder why you have not even read the basic physics that I have even presented. The reason is because hurricanes need a lot more than just warm water to occur, so again that shows your ignorance.

    re Negative feedback’s, look up the water cycle. The rest of this is nonsense, if feedback’s were negative we couldn’t get into an ice age or out of one? Please do explain that one. So if feedback’s are positive we couldn’t get into a hot house or out of one? The feedback to CO2 requires water vapor and you can’t have water vapor in the cycle without some negative feedback. Unless you think low clouds don’t cool the planet when blocking the sun?

  75. Billy Liar says:
    You appear not to know that the tidal datum is an arbitrary thing and that the lowest astronomical tide is not necessarily 0 feet with reference to the tidal datum. In the case of The Battery in NYC, the tidal range is 7.5 feet, from 1.3 feet below the tidal datum to 6.2 feet above the tidal datum so the statement that Tides in New York vary roughly 6 feet between low and high tides is patently false.”
    While all this is true, I don’t think it has much affect on my statements about the tides.

    Specifically, the top post said “On top of that, you have to factor in the influence of the full moon during Sandy. That adds an extra foot to the high tide.”
    The predicted tide at the Battery on the evening of Oct 29 was only 4.7 feet , not 6 feet + 1 more foot.

    And since the 1821 hurricane hit at low tide AWAY from a spring tide , then the low tide was probably somewhere near 1 foot, which would subtract a foot from the top post’s estimate.

    Certainly the 1821 had an impressive and dangerous storm surge, but there is no reason to be an “alarmist” about that hurricane and overplaying the severity by 2 ft or more in comparison with Sandy this year.

    **********************************************
    And yes, I have dialed back the “two hurricanes in one year” from “unprecedented” to merely “very unusual”.

  76. Matt G: warmer ocean waters impact hurricanes. Other things are also clearly important (ENSO, wind shear etc) but warm waters are too. Why are the oceans warming?

    Sea level rise is important. How often do you think we will have overtopping events with 1-2m slr by 2100? Do you think they will be more or less often than now? Do you agree that rising SST will make hurricanes more or less powerful?

    If you think negative feedbacks dominate then explain how glacial-interglacial transitions work.

    Honestly, this is isn’t even Climate Science 101. I’m amazed at your inability to understand how the carbon cycle works during glaciations. Isn’t this supposed to be a science website?

  77. Rhys Jaggar says:
    November 2, 2012 at 5:26 am

    We have a version of all this in the UK, it’s called: ‘the closer the weather happens to London, the more catastrophic it is!’

    Absolutely right, but I would like a warning in the future since my nose is not well built for hot coffee. :)

  78. Since Bronco Bamma promised to lower the sea level all this hot air about AGW and hurricanes could backfire on him as a broken promise.
    This rush to restore power and gasoline supply is inconsistent with the warmy rhetoric. FEMA should be issuing solar panels and bicycles. Ban cars and gasoline. A perfect opportunity to move NY to a sustainable off-grid utopia is being wasted. It is irresponsible to return to emitting CO2 now that the proof is in as to what caused the damage.

    As Monty says, simple physics.

    /sarc

  79. Monty says:
    November 2, 2012 at 3:40 pm

    Why are the ocean warming?

    The sun heats the ocean more when there are less low level clouds globally.

    “Sea level rise is important. How often do you think we will have overtopping events with 1-2m slr by 2100? Do you think they will be more or less often than now? Do you agree that rising SST will make hurricanes more or less powerful?”

    Warming global SST’s have had little influence on more powerful hurricanes since 1850’s so far. The only exception seems to be with the AMO for frequency of them, but this is also sketchy at best. The jet stream has more influence on hurricanes than SST’s generally, but this is not clear either. Over the next 2 or so decades I do think hurricanes will increase, down to the general position of the jet stream changing. Also the period has been the quietest over recent decades since the 1850’s so only a matter of time until it picks up again.

    “If you think negative feedbacks dominate then explain how glacial-interglacial transitions work.”

    The evidence shows that neither positive or negative feedback’s dominate for too long, they tend to complement each other eventually mainly down to the sun. The negative feedback’s dominate for longer periods than positive due to the major ice ages lasting roughly 6 times longer than inter-glaciers over the recent 3-4 millions of years. The sun giving enough energy keeps the planet from becoming one constant negative feedback and wakes the planet up from ice ages roughly about every 100,000 years. Overall there are both negative and positive feedback’s, but the sun determines which one becomes more dominate over long periods.

  80. I’d like to thank all for their comments, even those who were less than flattering. I’ve spent the day hurrying to cut and load the back of my pick-up with firewood, due to the chance winter may start early next week, (according to Joe Bastardi.) It is really nice to sag in front of my computer and see so many have taken the time to respond.

    One interesting confusion seems to involve tides and the “surge.”

    Although I now live in the hills, I spent a large part of my youth on and beside the sea, in Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts; Casco Bay, Maine; Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; Galveston, Texas (briefly;) and Santa Cruz, California. I also sailed from Boston, with big tides, to the Bahamas, with much smaller tides. So I do know a thing or two about tides.

    In my experience full moons and new moons give you high high tides and low low tides, while half moons give you rather boring tides. For example, right after the half moon on November 6 Boston will have a high tide of 8.7 feet, while after the New Moon on November 13 gives Boston a high tide of 12.4 feet on November 15. That’s nearly two feet of difference, without any storm involved.

    I recall, as a boy, being warned not to look at the sun during an eclipse over Cape Cod, and the amazing height of the tide after that eclipse. Also the low tide was amazingly low, and I was able to explore places usually covered by water. The weather was calm and cloudless.

    Officially, the “surge” is the mathematical discrepancy between the level the water “should” be, according to your local tide charts, and the level the water actually is.

    If a storm hit at dead low tide in Boston, a storm surge of twelve feet would only amount to an ordinary full-moon, high tide. However if it hit at high tide you’d have a tide twelve feet above an ordinary high tide, which would be an utter disaster for waterfronts.

    I think a confusion arises because most people don’t care about tide charts and mathematics. All they care about is how high the water gets. Their definition of “surge” is not the same as the truly scientific definition. They just have a stick driven into the beach, with numbers on it, or a wall on Main Street, with a line painted on it. They simply say, “This is how far the water came up in 1821, this is how far it came up in the 1938 hurricane, this is how far it rose during Hazel in 1954, and this is how far it came up a couple of days ago, during Sandy.”

    While it may be true such people don’t understand the rhythms of the tide, and the mechanics of a “surge,” you have to admit they are dealing with a fundamental reality. Who really cares why or how the water gets as high as it does, and about the phase of the moon and the status of the tide? What really matters is the yacht approaching your picture window, and the fact your Toyota is floating away.

    My assumption is that, when I read the surge in 1831 was 11.2 feet and Sandy’s surge was 13.88 feet, it was not a measurement of the scientific and mathematical “surge,” but rather was a line drawn on the side of an old building on Staten Island.

    We could skip a lot of our bickering if we could agree that this common-tongue definition of “surge ” is the one currently in use, and not the more scientific definition.

  81. This is a slightly off-topic sideline, but I’ve been wondering about how far the storm surge moved up the Hudson River. After all, the Hudson River is tidal past Albany to Troy. If you have a surge hit in New york, shouldn’t it continue up the river? Or is it choked by The Narrows and dispersed by the width of the river at Tappen Zee?

  82. Caleb says:
    November 2, 2012 at 7:29 pm
    I’d like to thank all for their comments, even those who were less than flattering. I’ve spent the day hurrying to cut and load the back of my pick-up with firewood, due to the chance winter may start early next week, (according to Joe Bastardi.) It is really nice to sag in front of my computer and see so many have taken the time to respond.

    One interesting confusion seems to involve tides and the “surge.”
    =================================================================
    I haven’t commented on your post yet but I’ve enjoyed and respect what and how you’ve put your post and comments that I’ve seen. You have a nice way of “putting things in neutral” while still going forward.

    Tides and surges. Tides are what gravity (other than the Earth’s) does to water and surges are what weather does to water. (Maybe seismic stuff also.) Most people only notice a surge when the water level is higher than high tide so lots of surges aren’t noticed or noteworthy. Is that about right?

  83. Another thing people don’t seem to comprehend is what a “surge” actually is.

    Various things cause the ocean to rise. The gravity of the moon and sun cause the tides, which slosh to and fro in the ocean basins, and are accented by funneling shorelines in certain places.

    Also, if the wind blows strongly onshore for a long period, it can “pile up” the water.

    However a “surge” is a quite different thing. The best way to envision it is to stick a straw into your favorite beverage, and thoughtfully suck. You mouth is creating low pressure, which causes the beverage to rise up the straw. In the same way, the eye of a hurricane is a mouth of low pressure, sucking water upwards. However, in the case of a hurricane, the “straw” is many miles wide, and the “beverage” is the mighty sea, and a hurricane sucks the liquid higher than you ever possibly could.

    If you don’t believe me, just get a straw thirty feet long, and climb up a ladder thirty feet tall, and attempt to suck up a mouthful of your favorite beverage. You’ll be blue in the face before you get the liquid half way to your mouth. Yet a hurricane can lift the sea thirty feet, in the case of extreme Force Five storms.

    What you then have is a big mound of ocean, traveling along under the hurricane like a big wave. One thing which has recently become apparent, due to our increased scrutiny of such storms, is that the mound of water does not shrink as swiftly as the storm weakens. Therefore, even when a storm such as Katrina weakens from Force Five to Force Three, the mound of water it brings may be a Force Five wall of water.

    The people down on Staten Island need to be forgiven for not understanding what a surge would be like. It is something which defies human understanding, because it is outside our ordinary experience. The oceans simply starts rising. It keeps rising. And rising.

    The next time you are lolling on a towel on a beach, just imagine the water came up thirteen feet over a short period of time. It wouldn’t just wet your towel. It would float away your car in the beach parking lot. And that is without the howling wind and pelting rain.

    A “surge” is something you can’t really imagine until you learn about it first hand. Until you see it, you can’t believe it.

  84. Before I conk out for the night, I’d like to make a final comment about the feasibility of waterfronts.

    Hurricanes like Katrina and Sandy make waterfronts seem like a very bad idea. All sorts of structures are built with the assumption that the sea level is what the sea level is, and then are ruined because the sea level is abruptly thirteen or thirty feet higher, for a few hours.

    However the logical conclusion, which is that we should ban waterfronts, is even a worse idea. The simple fact of the matter is that our commerce and economy is hugely dependant on waterfronts. All sorts of things, from the fish we eat to the fuel in our cars, are dependant on waterfronts.

    The sane response is not to ban waterfronts, but rather to make them more resilient and able to recover from the occasional superstorm. In other words, build thoughtfully.

    One thing struck me, when I revisited my old stomping grounds in Myrtle Beach after Hurricane Hugo. As I headed down the Grand Strand south of Myrtle Beach the damage got worse and worse, until I arrived at a stretch down near Merrill’s Inlet where there was nothing left of the shorefront properties but piling poking up towards the sky. But there was one exception to this rule; one lonely cottage standing alone on its pilings, with its staircases swept away, but still bravely a habitable structure.

    Of course I became very curious and inquired, and what I discovered was that the owner of that particular cottage had gone the extra mile. While all his neighbors had build cottages on pilings twelve feet high, he spent a few extra bucks and built his cottage on pilings fourteen feet high.

    In other words, build thoughtfully.

  85. Phil. @ November 2, 12:19 pm

    Good to hear you survived Sandy OK Phil, but gosh, you say at least a dozen trees blown down in your neighbourhood! Did you ever hear about the big European storm in 1987 mostly wreaking southern coastal areas in England? It was reported that an estimated fifteen million trees were blown down, at a time near the start of the recent warming period. (the worst such storm since 1703).

    An interesting account in Wikipedia is here:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Storm_of_1987

    It seems that the high winds were the problem rather than spring tide, high population density, and tidal funneling etc

  86. Good morning. Checking over various sites I’ve noticed there is some concern about what the nor’easter next week might do to unprotected shorelines. However after big storms the coast is not as unprotected as some imagine.

    When I used to live along beaches I noticed that, during the winter, the beach’s sand gets eaten away, but an off shore sandbar gets built up. The off shore sandbar breaks waves further out, protecting the beach from further erosion. Then, during the summer, that off shore bar melts away and the beach builds back outwards. It is a natural cycle. Coastal geology is very mobile.

    However I hope the nor-easter doesn’t happen. I think folk can use a long dose of sunshine.

  87. ****
    Monty says:
    November 2, 2012 at 2:57 pm

    Bruce: negative feedbacks? Which ones are these then? Forget about cloud iris effects….they probably don’t exist.
    ****
    Evidence?

    If the feedbacks were negative then we couldn’t get into an ice age, nor out of one. No serious scientist disputes that feedbacks to C02 warming are essentially positive. You can’t explain the paleo record with low S or negative feedbacks. You ‘skeptics’ are always arguing for a global MWP and LIA and conveniently forget that this would suggest higher rather than lower sensitivity.

    Of course there’s regional positive feedbacks (the N hemisphere) — ice/snow albedo effects. The lower the latitude of the snow/ice, the greater the effect. That’s why the climate is so variable/unstable during glacial compared to interglacial (IG) periods. Seen the ice-core records? The variability of interglacials are much smaller. Why’s that? Pretty clearly, ice-albedo positive feedback is relatively subdued during IGs — the remaining glaciers are too far poleward to reflect much light. The slightly declining temps during the IGs correlate nicely w/declining N hemisphere summer insolation, so there’s no evidence of significant positive feedback.

    So the question becomes — what about the overall global feedbacks? One would think positive feedbacks would keep the earth in a LGM-state (20 kyrs ago) forever, or even lead to an ice-ball. But no, it routinely, at ~100kyr intervals, overcomes that and briefly returns to an IG, correlating w/maximums of Milankovitch parameters. So even during the last 2 mil yrs, the climate is “cycling”, warm and cold, around a relatively constant mean. That’s the classic pattern of an overall negative feedback system.

    I’m not convinced there’s any net CO2/water-vapor positive feedback. For positive feedback, more H2O vapor has to get up high. and that means more convection, clouds & greater albedo. There’s no evidence of significant positive feedback except the well-known ice – albedo effect.

  88. Went to Dr. Mann’s FB page, saw reference to an interview by Alan Colmes on FOX. Listened to interview – Mann says Sandy’s effects were worsened by the 1 foot increase in sea level. I went back to FB, posted a question how sea level rising millimeters per decade could exacerbate a storm surge, and something to the effect that I was not aware of any recent one foot sea level rise. Mann replied (Flattered!) but says :
    Michael E. Mann comment byThomas L. Bowden Sr. “How does sea level rise measured in millimeters per decade relate to storm surge measured in tens of feet?” Response: Thomas–sea level rise at NYC past century was > 1 foot. More than 1 foot of the record-breaking 13ft coastal surge was arguably therefore due to SLR. Its the difference between a bad flood and a disastrous flood.
    Then he revises response:
    [Thomas L. Bowden Sr. claims hasn't seen any mention of 1 foot of SLR anywhere] Response: Thomas, then you need to read up a bit more: http://www.skepticalscience.com/hurricane-sandy-climate-connection.html
    That’s a helpful, (albeit patronizing) link that explains his frame of reference – If Sandy happened 100 years ago, maybe the subways would not have flooded. OK
    But then he hides my initial question, and blocks me from further comments. Apparently, he “knows” I am not worth his time. Related the event and posed the question why I would be blocked over in the SkepticalScience thread and another blogger tells me “Dr. Mann is very busy – post your questions in a relevant topic discussion” HELLO this is the one he sent me to!
    I know this is trivial and all, but it’s interesting to experience the smugness first hand. Maybe I was ignorant to ask the question – as no one seems to contest the 1 foot rise over the last 150 years or so, but that’s not really what I was asking and I think he was disingenous in the Colmes interview because in the context of the question, his response seemed to suggest he was talking about a recent AGW driven 1 foot increase. I guess if you are a paleoclimatologist, a hundred years is “recent” but it still seems a bit extreme to block me just for misunderstanding (or trying to clarify) his frame of reference.
    Maybe it had something to do with posting this excerpt from the IPCC statement:
    “The prize was awarded to the IPCC as an organization, and not to any individual associated with
    the IPCC. Thus it is incorrect to refer to any IPCC official, or scientist who worked on IPCC
    reports, as a Nobel laureate or Nobel Prize winner. It would be correct to describe a scientist
    who was involved with AR4 or earlier IPCC reports in this way: “X contributed to the reports of
    the IPCC, which was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007.”

  89. Monty says; negative feedbacks? Which ones are these then? Forget about cloud iris effects….they probably don’t exist. If the feedbacks were negative then we couldn’t get into an ice age, nor out of one. No serious scientist disputes that feedbacks to C02 warming are essentially positive.
    I understand that it must be ‘inconvenient’ for you but that’s just the way it is. If you think all the feedbacks are negative then why don’t you publish your ‘research’? It’s all right…I’m not going to wait!
    Anyway, your minds appear to be closed. At least Sandy looks like it will have helped scupper the climate skeptics in the Republican party.

    The Iris effect is one negative feedback. Sure, it hasn’t been “proven” definitively, but why “forget about it” – unless, of course, your mind is already made up. That’s it, isn’t it? Others include clouds – specifically fewer high thin ones and an increase in low, thick ones, all types of storms, particularly t-storms, cyclones, and hurricanes.
    No one said anything about the feedbacks being all negative, so that’s a strawman. By “serious scientist”, you must mean folks such as yourself -you know, the ones whose minds are already made up.
    I wouldn’t get my hopes up too high on Sandy delivering the political result you want, which would be the one keeping your CAGW gravy train rolling along for just a bit longer – at least until you retire, right?

  90. What is going to happen in the discussions on Sandy’s “unpresidented storm surge” when someone posts documentation that the effect of Sandy was only 5 feet above what the tide level would have been without the effect of Sandy?

  91. Well done article…. especially liked that ‘preaching to the mire’ ;-)

    On the nightly news one set of folks were moaning about several days without power and running out of food after 2 days… I can only wonder at them. Growing up ‘in the boonies’ we expected to have food on hand for a week, or two, or more. Having the power go out was common. We kept candles and Coleman Lanterns on hand. On person moaned about needing to throw out all the food in the Fridge…. They could have: Eaten it in a big party day one, used a camp stove to cook and preserve it, canned it, dried it, salted it (use water softener salt if needed), smoked it, etc etc etc. Of course, that takes the mind set of someone who doesn’t live in Manhattan…

    What I keep ‘around the house and in the car':

    https://chiefio.wordpress.com/2009/05/27/crisis-kits-and-preparedness-packs/

    Used in various storms, one 7.1 quake, and sometimes the food was used ‘between jobs’.

    Oh, and all the folks in a panic over electricity could just plug this into a car:

    http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2011/02/17/minimalist-emergency-power/

    Or just one of those rechargeable ‘car jumper packs’ that sell for about $40 and have a cigarette lighter outlet on them too. Mine also has a nice built in light…

    With an LED bulb, one of those packs would give a few WEEKS of lighting. Just leave it plugged into the wall to charge once a week while waiting for the “aw shit” to happen….

    Yes, it takes a tiny bit of thinking ahead, and about $400 for the deluxe kit (or about $200 going cheap) and you, too, can have a disaster hit and just cruise right on through it…

    In the (roughly) 30 years I’ve had these kits, I’ve used them about once per 5 years for one thing or another (not counting the day to day use of a tool, food, or money out of a kit ‘for convenience’ reasons). On one occasion, we could not get a hotel and at about midnight stopped the car in a KOA Campground instead. Used the ‘minimal’ car kit for everyone to stay warm sleeping in the car and have snacks and water. ( It was along the coast near Oregon and what wasn’t dead empty was booked solid). Space blankets work surprisingly well.

    So while I have a lot of sympathy for the folks who lost so much, and hate to see the suffering involved; a little bit of preparation goes a very long ways. So “for next time”, maybe the folks there could stock up a bit on food, water, “camping” equipment…

    BTW, as in a fit of “none to bright” it looks like several of the high rise buildings have their electrical switch rooms in the basements… that are flooded… even getting the power back on to lower Manhattan will not cure the residents power issues. (Per a local on the nightly news). They have to pump out, dry, and test / repair the electrical closet in the basements… and that is going to take a long while. Were I designing for such an area, I’d have put the electrical and switch gear on the 13th floor… but they didn’t ask me ;-)

    If you live within a mile of the shore in hurricane country, expect to be flooded and hungry in the dark at least once per lifetime, and probably more…

  92. Re : DesertYote says:
    November 2, 2012 at 5:59 pm
    “WOW the trolls are sure getting desperate. Most of them aren’t even close to making any sense.”

    Perhaps the problem is not one of trolling, but understanding what people accused of trolling are saying. Do you need some help with clarifying some claims that have been made that you don’t understand yet?

  93. RE: fujirider says:
    November 3, 2012 at 2:25 pm

    I think it is good you asked Mann questions and were polite. While I do enjoy going nose to nose at times, it tends to get me excluded from discussions, except on sites like this. I have learned it is better to at least begin by being polite. Also questions are a great form of subtle debate. You just have to expect to sometimes get the “baffle them with b—sh–” answers. When you do get b—sh–, you can sometimes continue the discussion by playing dumb, and asking further questions beginning with, “I ‘m sorry, but I don’t understand how…” Eventually you may get some denigrating response about your low IQ, and how only Climate Scientists understand, However you have had an effect, and perhaps have caused a silent lurker witnessing that site to think more deeply.

    I think it is important to hit the Alarmist sites. Not that I myself do so all that often, but in theory we should be constantly wearing them down.

    It is wrong to assume all scientists working for the government are moochers and willingly involved in fraud. In my curiosity about the ice up at the north pole I have emailed various government departments, and received some wonderfully polite and detailed responses.

    Long ago my Mother used to tell me, “You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar,” when I was crabby. Of course I would always respond, “Flies should be swatted.” However it doesn’t hurt all that much to be polite, and sometimes it can even be more satisfying than curses, especially when it gets the person you are debating knocked off balance, because he or she was insulting because they expected you to explode.

    Regarding Mann stating the ocean rose ” > foot in NYC in 100 years,” my source was Joe D’Aleo over at WeatherBELL, and he commented it had risen roughly a foot since 1821, which is closer to two hundred years. (191 years to be exact.) I think I’ll inquire of him about his source.

    There. Did it. I’ll tell you if he sends me his source.

  94. When talking about ‘Sea Level Rise,’ it is important to be able to distinguish between that due to an actual increase in sea-water volume and those due to tectonic or ground level changes in the land used as a reference.

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