New AMS draft policy statement links Hurricane Katrina and climate

Logo of the American Meteorological Sociecty (AMS)

The American Meteorological Society is offering up an opportunity to submit comments on a draft policy titled: AMS Policy Statement on National Weather and Climate Priorities which you can view as PDF at the AMS draft statements web page.

In the first paragraph they start with:

The United States faces growing environmental challenges stemming from weather and climate impacts. Hurricane Katrina, the current East coast drought, the 2007 California wildfires, this winter’s storms, and other recent events are shaping nearly every aspect of American life.

My first reaction was that they’ve been listening to too much op-ed from Al Gore regarding hurricanes and climate, particularly since any link between hurricane frequency, hurricane damage, and climate change has been unproven.

In fact I find the statement totally political, and not at all reflective of the lessons we’ve learned from recent scientific papers on the subject, or even the last two hurricane seasons. Both 2006 and 2007 were widely predicted by some alarmists to be troublesome. But in the case of 2007, it morphed from lion hearted pronouncements of a very active hurricane season to lamb-like actuality of a season that was well below normal. Even beleaguered FEMA got into the act by claiming “forecasters say this hurricane season could be nearly as destructive as 2005“. Of course, that didn’t happen.

This came of the heels of NOAA making predictions on the 2006 hurricane season “that a very active hurricane season is looming” where they also raised the spectre of Katrina. Lots of media outlets got in on that looming threat action, but in the end, even CNN had to admit that the 2006 hurricane season “bowed out quietly“.

Did any of these organizations, AMS included, stop to think that maybe we just don’t fully understand what drives an active hurricane season just yet? For example, when we look at hurricanes that have made landfall in the last 150 years, there appears to be no discernible trend, and none that seemingly coincides with observed warming trends.


On top of that, just last month, NOAA issued a press release saying that “There  is nothing in the U.S. hurricane damage record  that indicates global warming has caused a  significant increase in destruction along our coasts.” The source of the press release was the National Hurricane Center, from Chris Landsea, one of the researchers for the scientific paper that spurred this pronouncement as well as the NHC science and operations officer. They “get it” at NHC, it appears.

So when I read the first paragraph of the new draft AMS policy statement linking Katrina and climate in the same paragraph, I had to wonder, are they paying attention? Or is this just another attempt at scaremongering to make the problem sound worse than it really is? And when we see them comment on “…this winter’s storms”, again, preceded by the word “climate”, while we are in the middle of a deep La Niña, I have to wonder if the comment is again more about wording for political gain than an affirmation of the science.

Then there are the recent wildfires in California. Many of those fires were the result of arson or as one agency calls it “domestic terror“, and not global warming. The conditions that cause the Santa Ana winds commonly associated with these fires in Southern California are seasonal, and well understood.

In my opinion, at the minimum, the Katrina-climate connection needs to go. If you feel the same way, you can email comments on the language in the draft document to the AMS at

Now as for the rest of the draft, I’m pretty much OK with it. It appears they are suggesting that the infrastructure used to measure and monitor our planet has been falling into disrepair, and is in need of more attention and funding. Given the recent study by John Goetz that shows a number of weather stations worldwide have been closed, and with my project finding stations placed in sub-optimal locations like parking lots, rooftops, sewage treatment plants, and copper mines for lack of better locations, I’d have to agree with the AMS statement that:

…investment have been based on prior year allocations rather than future needs. As a result, they have not kept pace with evolving demands.

I also wholly agree with the need to keep our satellite monitoring at the top of the game. where they say:

Congress and the incoming Administration should also work together to identify and develop the funding needed to support the coming new generation of operational polar orbiting and geostationary satellites, surface radar networks, etc.

But please, let’s leave Katrina out of the policy statements, lets not have the AMS sounding like FEMA at a news conference by raising the spectre of a hurricane that clearly has nothing to do with climate change.

0 0 vote
Article Rating
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
John B
March 12, 2008 8:05 pm

You didn’t touch on the wildfires of California. I was under the impression that many of those fires were the result of arson and not global warming.
Perhaps if they allowed Californian’s to clear out some of the brush then there wouldn’t be the fuel for the fires, but environmentalists influenced the law enough to prevent it.
“Brush management is not allowed in coastal sage scrub during the California gnatcatcher nesting season, from March 1st through August 15th. This small bird only lives in coastal sage scrub and is listed as a threatened species by the federal government. Any harm to this bird could result in fines and penalties.”
REPLY: Thanks, I meant to, but got distracted. I’ll make use of what you provided, thanks so much.

Evan Jones
March 12, 2008 8:39 pm

I had to wonder, are they paying attention?
You don’t suppose this could be in any way related to funding? Bureaucracies gotta eat too, you know. And with all that chum in the water . . .

Jeff Alberts (was Jeff in Seattle)
March 12, 2008 9:15 pm

This is why appeals to authority should and must be ignored.

March 12, 2008 10:19 pm

In a policy statement on weather and climate, it’s perfectly acceptable to talk about weather. The only ‘link’ is they were used in the same paragraph. You could just as easily ‘linked’ them to weather.
Also, it was Gray’s group who predicted an active hurricane season. I’m not sure I’d classify him as ‘alarmist’.
REPLY: I think the message is clear when you evoke “Katrina” in a statement, as it has become permanently linked to climate issues thanks to Gore’s famous and improper use of it in that context. If the wanted to talk “weather” they could have chosen “Andrew” or simply “gulf hurricanes” to avoid the issue altogether. Or they could have not used the word “climate” and concentrated on weather, since it appears much of the statement is focused on meteorological infrastructure. Measurement of meteorological parameters becomes a measure of climate by a simple extension of data over time.
I agree with you that William Gray is not an alarmist by any measure, but he also doesn’t embellish his forecast with worrisome adjectives, and you won’t find the word “Katrina” in his 2007 forecast.

March 13, 2008 1:48 am

I too would like to see you get deeper into Katrina/Rita/Wilma et al, as more of a environmental Contributor rather than a Resultant, with regard to the considerable Cabon Footprints all across the Gulf of trees downed:
Needless to say I hung you onto today’s Ladder.
Thanks again,
ediotr~New Orleans News Ladder

Robert Wood
March 13, 2008 2:05 am

This “styatement” was just a bare naked plea for even more government funding.
I suggested their statement should concentrate on improving the weather station network as it is in depolorable condition, as shown by work on this site.

Bruce Cobb
March 13, 2008 4:12 am

The use of the word “growing” is clearly alarmist, as is mention of Katrina, and the wildfires. Also, in lines 28-29 there is the alarmist phrase “coming severe weather”. Severe weather has always happened, and will continue to. So, why do they feel the need to say “coming”?

March 13, 2008 4:56 am

I don’t see much in the statement about a strong commitment to making the data and its collection/processing methods publicly and easily available. Although there’s a statement about collaboration of the public, governmental, and private sectors in the initiative, citizens shouldn’t have to struggle to get access to the information.

March 13, 2008 8:56 am

It is a statement on WEATHER and climate impacts. Katrina was a weather event that had a significant impact. Maybe the statement could clearly catagorize the list of examples. These are weather events. These are climate events.
My parents run a dairy farm in Minnesota. Wouldn’t it be great if they could get a heads up if a drought is expected this summer? They would plant more drought resistant forms of crops (if available). I think the policy statement touches on this indirectly. The state of the science is not yet to this point yet, but if such a point is reached, then the positive economic impact that it would have on our country would be tremendous.
We need better predictions of Pacific SSTs to improve climate prediction. We need more ocean observations, research, and modeling improvements. It would pay for itself via resulting economic growth because of better climate forecasts.

Bruce Cobb
March 13, 2008 10:21 am

Climate is long term, so there is no such thing as a “climate event”, though the climate alarmists like to posit that “Hurricane Katrina, the current East coast drought, the 2007 California wildfires, this winter’s storms, and other recent events” are all due to AGCC. The very fact they included the California wildfires, which had to do with arson is proof positive they are pushing the AGCC angle.

March 13, 2008 10:35 am

The Junkscience graph of US landfalling hurricanes is a bit deceptive in that the last column is for years 2001-2005, the previous ones for whole decades. It is always annoying to see such sloppiness.

March 13, 2008 11:31 am

“Ok thanks for the laugh. Now, back on track. It’s ‘meteorology. As is study. We’re not freakin’ engineers.
We’ve had our fun, now get back to work. I want to know when this damn snow is gonna melt!”
[Ok, one more diversion: Go Warming!]

March 13, 2008 2:34 pm

I agree with Anthony that the statement on Katrina should go. This is in part because it has been inappropriately linked to global warming, and as Anthony points out, it only serves to charge the statement politically. But the main reason is that the policy statement recommendations have nothing to do with Katrina’s devastation. The bottom line is that everyone knew it was coming and where it was going, and the government messed up the response.

Kristen Byrnes
March 13, 2008 4:20 pm

The global warming believers have tried to blame every event listed in that paragraph on global warming.

March 13, 2008 5:59 pm

Here are some thoughts on linking hurricane numbers or intensity to CO2>.. This page includes links to seven journal articles which contridict the idea that there is a strong link.
While we are at it, here is a sample of extreme climate hyperbole featuring a gigantic “future hurricane.”
Tom Moriarty

March 15, 2008 9:40 am

For some support for the suggestions in the AMS statement, I refer you to the following –
especially comments 68 through 70.
“Mankind fiddled while earth burned.”
REPLY: Alright that does it. Your comments there have nothing to do with the AMS statement, you are just trolling for traffic and putting out your own brand of snark.
You get your wish as you’ve hinted from day one. As others say, you are indeed a crackpot and you are the first and only person to be permanently banned from this forum. Congratulations. I’ve been patient, I’ve tried to help you understand, I’ve tolerated your constant need for confrontation. No more.
And by the way Dr. Davison, the reason I closed the other thread is that you are so “web inept” I didn’t want you to accuse me of deleting your posts when they didn’t show up right away. Because, I’m traveling this weekend, so posts wouldn’t show up for hours, as has been the case today. I’m writing this from laptop on a WiFi hotspot at a Starbuck’s. But you took exception to that note also, scribbling some insinuations on your blog, then baiting people here to go look at them. So since I’m damned if I do and damned if I don’t with your reasoning, the choice was simple. Nothing gets through to you, and from the trail you’ve left, it appears most others on the Internet that have encountered you agree. Your inability to grasp fundamental concepts of physical processes or to carry on a rational discussion without confrontation is your downfall. I don’t have the time to coddle you anymore, be gone.
I’m sure you’ll copy all this into your blog then claim how terribly mistreated you’ve been. That’s your MO, go for it.

Jeff Alberts
March 15, 2008 5:19 pm

Bravo, Anthony. Though I wouldn’t have let him go on this long, lol. I would have banned him from the very first post.
REPLY: Well I’ve found a stable connection now, so I’m back on awhile.
I really tried to reach this man, but he’s now spouting that the Atlanta tornado is a direct result of AGW, like our friend John Kerry did a couple of weeks ago. Davison has this bizarre claim on his scribbleblog that the “weather today is fundamentally different than even less than 50 years ago”. But the Palm Sunday tornado outbreak apparently is something he never heard of, or maybe the super tornado outbreak of April 3-4 1974 with 148 tornadoes is lost to him as well. In fact there is an entire list of tornado outbreaks going back to the 1600’s in North America.
If he’d just look beyond Tim Flannery’s book he might actually learn something, but it appears that is his total bibliography on the subject of weather and climate change.

Jeff Alberts
March 15, 2008 8:33 pm

If he’d just look beyond Tim Flannery’s book he might actually learn something, but it appears that is his total bibliography on the subject of weather and climate change.

I don’t think he wants to. He’s said more than once that he thrives on such “abuse”, which is why he entered the way he did. Such people don’t deserve respect. You have to give it to get it.

May 19, 2008 11:09 am

[…] Will the American Meteorological society abandon their draft policy statement which links Hurricane Katrina and […]

%d bloggers like this: