This excerpt from Dr. Roger Pielke Jr. on his blog likely will cause Bill McKibben and the McKibbenites at 350.org to ramp up the rhetoric over the post Sandy “new normal” yet again, because as we’ve learned, new factual information doesn’t dent their resolve.
Earlier this year, Jessica Weinkle, Ryan Maue and I published a paper in the Journal of Climate on trends in global landfalling hurricanes (a PDF can be found here as well). At the global level the data is good from 1970. Our analysis covered through 2010. With 2012 almost in the books I recently asked Ryan if he could provide an initial tabulation of the 2012 data (note that the data could be revised from these initial estimates, and 2012 is still not quite over). [...]
Below is the dataset from 1970 first presented in our paper, updated with 2011 and 2012 included. In short, 2012 is just about an average year with 14 total landfalls (15.4 is average) of which 4 (initially, but could change, 4.6 is the average) characterized as major.
Here are some updated factoids summarized from the data:
- Over 1970 to 2012 the globe averaged about 15 TC landfalls per year (Category 1-5)
- Of those 15, about 5 are intense (Category 3, 4 or 5)
- 1971 had the most global landfalls with 30, far exceeding the second place, 25 in 1996
- 1978 had the fewest with 7
- 2011 tied for second place for the fewest global landfalls with 10 (and 3 were intense, tying 1973, 1981 and 2002)
- Five years share the most intense TC landfalls with 9, most recently 2008.
- 1981 had the fewest intense TC landfalls with zero
- The US is currently in the midst of the longest streak ever recorded without an intense hurricane landfall
- The past 4 years have seen 12 major landfalling hurricanes, very low but not unprecedented — 1984-1987 had just 11. The most is 35 (2005-2008).
- The past 4 years have seen 51 total landfalling hurricanes, on the low end — the least is 41 (1978-1981) and the most is 80 (four periods, most recently 2004-2007).
- There have been frequent four-year periods with more than 25 landfalling major hurricanes, or more than a 100% increase of what has been observed over the past 4 years.
Anyone who’d like to argue that the world is experiencing a “new normal” with respect to tropical cyclones is simply mistaken. Over the past 4 years, the world is actually in the midst of a very low period in tropical cyclone landfalls — at least as measured over the past 43 years.
Read his full post here