The gusto that wasn't

I heard on my car radio a news report interviewing hotel and resort property owners on the East Coast that lost virtually all their bookings this holiday weekend due to warnings for hurricane Earl. A direct quote from one of the people interviewed was:

It was the storm that wasn’t

The Shelter Island Reporter in the Long Island area seems to like that phrasing too for their story:

Rain, heavy at times, is all the Island got from Earl, which was downgraded to a tropical storm by 11 p.m. Strong winds did not reach Shelter Island. The rain total on Shelter Island for Friday was 1.71 inches

About the same time, an email from my friend Jan Null, former lead forecaster for the NWS in San Francisco showed up on my phone. He’s railing on about the bad reporting in the media, which I can understand, because TV networks have been chomping at tghe bit to get a new hurricane lead story, and with the holiday weekend mixed in, it was a perfect media storm. Though, with not much actually happening inland, some reporters were perhaps stretching a bit.

Jan writes:

In watching and listening to coverage of Hurricane Earl, I have heard way too many “meteorologists” speak about “hurricane force gusts”!  There’s no such thing!  The amount of force of a gust is significantly less than the sustained winds that define a hurricane.

Here’s what I wrote for a piece in Examiner.com last year (http://www.examiner.com/sf-in-san-francisco/meteorological-pet-peeves-part-1-of-3 )

“Hurricane Force Winds” It seems that anytime there is a wind gust over about 60 mph the airwaves and other sources, including NWS statements, are rife with the expression “hurricane force” winds.  While this might be good for conveying that it’s windy and might be dangerous, it’s both bad meteorology and bad physics!  (And calling it a hurricane force gust doesn’t make it right either) Let’s start with some basics.  The threshold for hurricane winds is when the 1-minute sustained winds equal or exceed 74 miles per hour.

Please note the word “sustained”!  According to the NOAA Hurricane Research Division, peak 3 to 5-second gusts are approximately 30% higher than their associated sustained winds.  This means that a 74 mph sustained wind of a minimal hurricane has gusts in the range of 96 mph.  Quite a difference. But that’s just the wind speed.

What about the amount of force from the wind onto a surface that is perpendicular to the wind?  From high school physics we remember that the force associated with a given speed is proportional to the square of the wind speed. (For the overachievers out there, the formula to calculate this force is:  F = .00256 x V^2, where F is the force in pounds per square foot (psf), and V is the wind velocity in mph)

Consequently, the amount of force with a 74 mph gust is 14.0 psf, while the force from a 96 mph gust is 23.6 psf; or 69% higher.  The bottom line is that a gust to 74 mph is NOT even close to hurricane force!

Regards,

Jan

<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>

Jan Null

Certified Consulting Meteorologist

Golden Gate Weather Services

Webpage: http://ggweather.com

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81 thoughts on “The gusto that wasn't

  1. “It was the storm that wasn’t”

    There is a prediction I feel sure of. I predict there will be an unprecedented increase in “storms that aren’t” with this “global climate change”. ☺

  2. You mean to say; it isn’t worse than expected? Just think how many lives were saved or created by recklessly over-hyping this tempest!

  3. It seems to me that a lot of businesses aren’t losing money due to storm damage but to ‘media’ damage.

  4. With all the attention weather, climate, climate scientists, etc have been getting, they just wanted their piece of the attention….
    We have escalated climate scientists, hurricane specialists, meteorologists, etc way above their knowledge….
    Like someone mentioned on another blog, so what, they can predict the most bed wetting hysterical disaster,
    and when they are wrong, no one holds them accountable.

  5. Earl — the media but event. Even after Earl air-kissed North Carolina, the media would go on to report on the projected path for Earl, with a passing nod to proper reporting noting that its path might keep it well out at sea, but …
    Yes, but … if the path shifted west a hundred miles or so the devastation would be horrific. And then they would note how many major population centers might be in its path if it varied just a little. Everyone should flee for their lives. Blah, blah, blah …
    I had Earl pegged as a non-event before it got close to the Carolinas, kept describing it as a media event, and sure enough, the media responded true to form (and they can’t even sense all that egg on their faces). And for the Cape Cod snobs, they’ve still got two days of the holiday weekend to enjoy at the beach and on their sailboats.

  6. There’s a nice volcano up-chucking in Indonesia for the media to get all excited about.
    Plus, there’s a very good chance that La Nina will leave the barn door open this winter.

  7. 0.25 in of rain in Newton MA. I am glad it decided to go the way it should have gone and head out east. So far, so good for this season. I hope it sticks. It looks like the low UV on the solar cycle really does keep hurricanes out of the Gulf.

  8. “Like someone mentioned on another blog, so what, they can predict the most bed wetting hysterical disaster,and when they are wrong, no one holds them accountable.”
    If you really believe that, Mr. or Ms. Latitude, I urge you to read “Warnings: The True Story of How Science Tamed the Weather.” It will change your mind. Meteorology is now probably the most effective science at saving lives at a very low societal cost.

  9. I’d bet there’s plenty of media dissapointment this weekend. You know many of them were hoping for hurricane Katrina visits Long Island with video of Joey Buttafuoco getting blown out to sea by one of those hurricane force gusts.

  10. rbateman says–upchucking
    That volcano is scary because of it’s proximity to Toba- the mega volcano that up-chucked several thousand years ago and “scientist” say it probably wiped out all of man except maybe 10 thousand. Ash in India was 6 meters deep. As they say down my way-“It was a Bugger.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/toba

  11. We’re on the Delaware coast and we barely got any rain or wind. Nor’easters have been much worse in the three years we’ve been here. The problem seemed to be that there was a race between the storm and a trough moving across the US. If they were wrong, the steering currents wouldn’t have curved it out to sea and we could have had a direct hit. It also started falling apart about the time it past Cape Hatteras so the Cat 5 was no where near that when it past us.
    And Jan , where would the weather channel be without hurricane and blizzard hype?

  12. I live in western New Hampshire and I only got few rain drops out of Earl! Sheeesh. And my lawn needs the rain, too…

  13. the MET office will be back looking out the window for another storm . THIS time please open the shutters .

  14. Our beloved CBC Radio began non-stop coverage of the arrival of Earl from around 0600 until past 1300 (when I stopped listening). There was report after report from people around the Maritime provinces (New Brunswick Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island). The CBC staffers must have been disappointed, because Earl hung a right before reaching NS and skimmed along the S coast (as I understand it, anyway). Some downed trees and powerlines and very wet roads, but very little actual damage. Here in southern NB we got less rain and wind than I’d see in a good summer storm. (No complaints, mind you!!)
    The phrase that comes to my mind for these CBC excitathons is “wretched excess”. It’s not the first time that they’ve tried to make a mountain out of the traditional molehill.
    IanM

  15. We must not be fooled by such “rotten” gusts 😉
    Watching Mark Sudduth ( http://www.hurricantrack.com ) report faithfully and accurately from Kill Devil Hills and all along the Pamlico Sound, it was clear that Earl was a windy rain event only. Despite that, the ABC Nightline article that he was included in was chock full of doom-saying references.
    Take one media report, dilute at least 50% and then take slowly with long periods of calm in between. Only way to watch the “news”.

  16. I was in Gulfport Ms. the night before hurricane katrina at an Air Nat. Guard reunion at a casino. I decided to leave around midnight and go back to my room and pack and go home to a town near Mobile Alabama. The casino I was at washed up on the beach when katrina hit. Nothing can describe the damage to Mississippi. I drove through the same area after after hurricane Camille in 1969. It was very bad also-but I think Katrina was worse. The media only reports about New Orleans. If you had seen the damage a hurricane can do-you would always respect them and never complain if you were spared or it appeared that the metrologists or someone had overstated what could happen. It could have. The Eastern U.S. was very lucky. I know the media is praying for a bad storm so they can gain attention-they are the lowest of humans.

  17. You can’t change the fact that this storm was a major category 4 storm and a large category 2 when it was threatening landfall in the outer banks. You have to treat these seriously since its difficult to predict exactly when weather patterns over the US will stall or develop in order to push hurricane tracks around. What I see looking at the hurricane paths are that we dodged a potential bullet — and steering winds really have nothing much to do with climatology.

  18. Visiting Boston (Newtonville) from the UK, I was almost looking forward to a real Tropical Storm, only to get less than many a summer thunderstorm coming across the Chanel from France to the East Sussex where I live…still, we had prayed it would miss us. I’m old enough to know better than trust the media, but still get seduced somehow – and meteorologists do need to warn of what might easily happen from such storms!

  19. We’ve reached the point in our society where the ‘powers that be’ will always assume the worst, just to cover their a$$e$. There’s a fetish for safety paired with the fear of responsibility that go together like bacon and eggs. Mandatory closing of restaurants on Martha’s Vinyard – one place stayed open two hours, and they came with guns and shut them down. Excuse me, but if I choose to risk my life eating broiled swordfish and pie, that’s my business. I am fully capable of determining the nature of risk to my well-being.

  20. Ten years ago, we started our pet friendly holiday rental business. This consisted of several modern houses where families could bring their kids and their dog (s). 4 star rated !
    Up until 2007, we were showing 90% occupancy for each year.
    The down turn started with the media hype, “expecting 14 tropical storms to form off the Queensland coast this season, of which 6 are likely to make land fall on the central Queensland coast, due to global warming.” . “ The storms are likely to be more severe than those of the past, because of global warming”. Every year, during our spring, we now get these alarmist pronouncements in the media, and to date, nothing much has happened.
    Two years ago, a “major” tropical storm, cyclone, tracked down the Queensland coast “Hamish” . Hamish stayed about 60 nm off the coast. The media was in “mad alarmist mode” and that panic spread to emergency services and they evacuated Fraser Island and people left Hervey Bay. This panic, whipped up by the media, destroyed our, what could have been, best season. The village of Rainbow Beach almost went broke, as they rely on the tourists going to Fraser Island.
    When “Hamish” finally passed by Hervey Bay (60 miles to the East), it was a fine sunny day with a light SE breeze, not enough to blow a candle out. And not a soul in sight !
    Up until 2007, Hervey Bay was a wonderful destination for a vacation and many large resorts were built and today most are lucky to have 20% occupancy. Five star accommodation 3 years ago was making $400 – $500 a night. Today, you can walk in off the street and get a 5 star, 3 bedroom apartment for $60 a night.
    The media and the Australian Bureau of Meteorology have a lot to answer for. Their predictions are rarely right, the wind speeds, tide heights, (I have a large boat in the marina) and storm direction and predicted track, are way off. It has got to the stage where few believe that the storms are anything to worry about. “The boy that cried wolf”.
    This last year, the media is again predicting a severe cyclone season for 2010- 2011, because of global warming, so with the expected low tourism trade, we have sold off several houses, and put permanent tenants in the remaining ones.
    Of course the GFC hasn’t been much of a help.
    Where do I claim compensation ??

  21. There was cause for concern, because it WAS, at its peak, a really intense hurricane, not only in the Saffir Simpson scale, but also using the Integrated Kinetic Energy scale, as Dr. Jeff Masters discusses in his blog.
    If you look back at the satellite presentations of Earl when he was at his peak, you will se a clear, round, stadium-effect eye, a la Katrina. This was the same time the pressure dropped to 932 millibars, 50 foot seas were recorded at a bouy, and a dropsonde recorded a 199 MPH gust [flight-level].
    A variety of factors….increasing wind shear, a huge blob of upper and mid level dry air that was forced into the system, decreasing SSTs….and the big unknowns whatever they may be…played into this.
    The initial danger of this storm was rather grave, but as it rapidly weakened and even then the center mercifully stayed well offshore at all times, there was minimal effect.
    Had it tracked 150 miles west, there would be a different story to tell. Because it had weakened so, it still would not be that bad, maybe an Isabel.
    [interesting the models corrected too far west, and then were not far east enough in the final track].
    It is doubly unfortunate because it puts the NHC in a difficult position: Run the risk of hype when it doesn’t happen or wait too late to warn when it does.
    Damned if ya do and damned if ya don’t.
    For those of us awed by nature’s mightiest display of meteorology, it is a lesson learned that sometimes we can dodge the bullet.
    But sometimes we don’t. Ask the residents on coastal whose communities were literally swept away from the likes of names of Rita, Ike, Ivan, etc…..in recent years.
    And so hopefully people will not become complacent just because this storm was a major bust.
    Chris
    Norfolk, VA, USA

  22. In some ways, Earl was a worst-case scenario for civil defense/crisis management folks.
    On one hand, you had a cat 4 storm and a track prediction cone that gave the storm a chance of coming inland. On the other hand, (speaking for New England here), the track predictions had been remarkably stable, and the forecasting easy enough so that you hardly needed a computer. By the time hurricanes reach New England, they’re weakening and accelerating. Each effect gives folks on the left side of the storm (all of us) weaker winds.
    Had the storm jogged westward in the last hours, and there are many examples of that happening, there would have been people on the right side in stronger winds, the eyewall would pass over several others.
    It’s a really tough call, and encouraging visitors to stay away for a day made sense. Amtrack shutdown, I’m not sure if that made sense. I guess it’s easier to rescue people from a blown over bus on an interstate highway than a train derailed by a washout miles away from good roads.
    At any rate, the next storm that comes calling is going to have to be a lot more threatening before anyone budges for it. Ultimately, that might be Earl’s tragic legacy.
    As for the hype, I’m not sure how to control that. Even NECN (New England Cable News) said they’d give us the news straight – but they had their entire met staff and more out in the weather. In general, the problem is the news director. I’ve heard Mets from other stations rant about the pressure to keep saying something new and more exciting every 10 minutes, even when it’s clear the event is more non- that Wow!
    Oh well – maybe we’ll get a big storm soon and people will have a chance to compare it with future risks and the MSM might offer more balanced assessments.
    As for me near Concord NH – no wind to speak of and all of 0.01″ of rain. I got 3400% more rain from a cold front that came through just before dawn – 0.35″.

  23. Chris: “Had it tracked 150 miles west, there would be a different story to tell.”
    Ric: “Had the storm jogged westward in the last hours, and there are many examples of that happening, there would have been people on the right side in stronger winds, the eyewall would pass over several others.”
    You are both talking about a low probability event and even if it did track that far west, it would still have been a glancing blow with the strongest winds parallel to the coast, not perpendicular. It would not have been pretty down there, but a hit like that would have also weakened the storm even more helping out the folks in New England.

  24. To build on what MarkB said – we have now reached the point in our society where all of our hyperventilating attempts to make everyone “safe” all the time actually cause more damage than we would suffer if we simply took the hit and quit trying to make everything better for everyone all the time.

  25. It seems that the hurricane beat a path towards that anomalously warm water around Newfoundland/Greenland.
    I suppose that was a coincidence, or was it?

  26. Eric (skeptic) says:
    September 4, 2010 at 8:20 pm
    You are both talking about a low probability event and even if it did track that far west, it would still have been a glancing blow with the strongest winds parallel to the coast, not perpendicular. It would not have been pretty down there, but a hit like that would have also weakened the storm even more helping out the folks in New England.
    ===============================
    Low probability on this storm, no doubt, Eric.
    But it has happened in the past, and will happen sometime again in the future.
    You might also benefit from reading of some significant storms that paralleled the coast or hit the SE US and moved up into the northeast.
    I give you but a few….there are many more.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hurricane_Hazel
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hurricane_Carol
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hurricane_Donna
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hurricane_Isabel
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1944_Great_Atlantic_Hurricane
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_England_Hurricane_of_1938
    There are many others, Eric.
    It’s not the wind, bud.
    It is the energy from the storm in the wind and rain, but especially in the storm surge.
    I am glad Earl was a bust. Hope we all dodge the bullet for many more years to come!
    Chris
    Norfolk, VA, USA

  27. No one enjoys poking fun at the media’s sensationalism and failed prognostications more than I do, but I can sympathize with their predicament somewhat in cases like these. Let’s face it, if they DON’T emphasize the potential dangers of a large hurricane skirting it’s way up the east coast and then it unexpectedly wobbles to the west and makes landfall with massive property damage and loss of life…well, everyone will be furious at them for not providing adequate warning. If they DO hype the potential threat and the hurricane stays harmlessly out at sea and becomes a non-event then everyone can have a good laugh at them for over-dramatizing things again. Better safe than sorry, and faced with such a choice I suppose they would rather be laughed at than despised. But it’s truly a shame the tourism industry lost so much business on a holiday weekend.
    The real danger is that each time a potential catastrophe fails to materialize a growing percent of the population will become complacent and ignore future warnings. Anyone who has lived through a direct hit knows all too well that even a Cat 1 hurricane is nothing to be trifled with, but many who lack such a life changing experience will have a cavalier attitude. Until the ability to predict the path becomes an exact science it’s better to err on the side of caution and give adequate warning to those who are willing to listen and take it seriously.

  28. Eric (skeptic) says:
    September 4, 2010 at 8:20 pm
    You are both talking about a low probability event and even if it did track that far west, it would still have been a glancing blow with the strongest winds parallel to the coast, not perpendicular.
    ==================================
    Glancing blow??
    If it had tracked that much farther west it would have put some big stretches of coastline in the right front quadrant of the cyclone.
    Hardly a “glancing blow.”
    Chris
    Norfolk, VA, USA

  29. wws says:
    September 4, 2010 at 8:24 pm
    To build on what MarkB said – we have now reached the point in our society where all of our hyperventilating attempts to make everyone “safe” all the time actually cause more damage than we would suffer if we simply took the hit and quit trying to make everything better for everyone all the time.
    =============================
    Extremely well said.
    Chris

  30. jack morrow: September 4, 2010 at 5:53 pm
    Nothing can describe the damage to Mississippi. I drove through the same area after after hurricane Camille in 1969. It was very bad also-but I think Katrina was worse. The media only reports about New Orleans.
    I was down there coordinating generator transfers from the Army to the local ARNG units. The folks in Mississippi had the common sense to evacuate, thus depriving the media of thousands of “horror stories.”
    Six months later, I was in Ft. Lewis, WA, coordinating the return and repair of those same generators — half the local motels still had “Katrina refugees” living in them…

  31. Concur – And now people – in Italy – are sueing because an earthquake wasn’t correctly predicted.
    News media hype//hopes (?) and their forecast thoughts for a disaster due to CAGW – and ratings from thehurricane coming up “their” neck of the woods.
    This wasn’t a “safely distance” Gulf coast or Florida or Mexican coast storm in largely unpopulated areas. This was in their backyard, and their backyard can’t be effectively evacuated because of the millions of people living right on the coast all the way up from Norfolk through Massachu.
    But – It was hyped. They don’;t know enough not to hype it. And their jobs depend on their hype. Not the calm rational “Let’s wait this one out … It won’t be too bad. You can survive this one, and you’ve seen worse. You’ll see worse in the future.”
    Say that? You’re fired.

  32. RACookPE1978 says:
    September 4, 2010 at 9:38 pm
    But – It was hyped. They don’t know enough not to hype it.
    =================================
    The crux of the matter. Did you catch that? They don’t know enough “not to hype it.”
    So very very true. Well said!
    With stupid people at the reins, who needs an enemy?
    Chris
    Norfolk, VA, USA

  33. Why do people have it in for the media?
    After all, – they have to make a living selling advertising space, – and if it requires a bit of alarmism at other peoples expenses, well that’s just too bad for them isn’t it.

  34. I live in Rhode Island so I can tell you firsthand about what was going on here, at least in the northern half of the state.
    I used Stormpulse.com to track the storm from when it began to approach the U.S. As it grew, I watched the track path and noticed inconsistencies from the reported path on StormPulse and the one on the local news – the news had it swiping us, but the website had it simply passing by. As the path remained nearly exact, they began running more and more scare tactics to get people to tune in “in case the path changes” and warned of disaster if Earl tracked more westward than they’d predicted.
    Since I’ve lived here my entire life, I know that you require well over our ocean temperatures to sustain a hurricane. When it began heading NNE, the cooler water began cooling it from 140 mph to 115, then 105, and so on. By the time it passed us it was a category 1 hurricane and then became extra-tropical. As far as the impact here on Friday? No wind. No 20-40 or 40+ mph gusts. We did receive some rain but even then, it wasn’t the excessive rain they had predicted. Earlier in the week they claimed a trough of colder air would be pushing it north and eastward away from us, and then suddenly they began changing their tune when the storm headed towards N.C although there was no proof to substantiate that.
    I am not saying that there isn’t danger, for sure, but a deadly hurricane hit attracts more viewers than a hurricane passing below us with some slight wind and rain. The media bias these days is absolutely unbelievable.

  35. Graeme says:
    September 4, 2010 at 10:14 pm
    Why do people have it in for the media?
    ===========================
    You are being sarcastic, right?

  36. Ric Werme says: September 4, 2010 at 7:55 pm
    I guess it’s easier to rescue people from a blown over bus on an interstate highway than a train derailed by a washout miles away from good roads
    Ric, I’ll forgive you, being up there in the wilds of New Hampshire with the constant threat of Huron raids out of Canada…. but in civilized Southern New England the New York to Boston rail line is never more than a mile from good roads and is often far, far less. The roadbed may have been improved since the late sixties when I was a brakeman for the old NYNH&HRRC, but it hasn’t been changed. Canceling the trains was stupidity.
    All that being said, I’d resent a “don’t frighten the peasants” approach. The Weather Channel and Fox News both hyped the storm. Here in Southern New England we had (no, zero zilch, nada) rain, wind or storm surge. Damned if you predict, damned if you don’t.

  37. The BBC as part of its reporting yesterday on Earl said there are another 2 Hurricanes following and it is expected to be a record Hurricane season.
    DOH!!!

  38. Ric Werme says: September 4, 2010 at 7:55 pm
    I guess it’s easier to rescue people from a blown over bus on an interstate highway than a train derailed by a washout miles away from good roads
    Robert E. Phelan says:
    September 4, 2010 at 11:13 pm
    Ric, I’ll forgive you, being up there in the wilds of New Hampshire with the constant threat of Huron raids out of Canada…. but in civilized Southern New England the New York to Boston rail line is never more than a mile from good roads and is often far, far less.
    =================================
    So you think you are invincible??
    There were major rail disasters and yes, by the 1938 hurricane.

    OK try not to laugh at the dated melodrama. But just look at the real disaster at hand.
    And let’s not even talk about 1935.
    Point is….major hurricanes happen.
    Just because this one did not happen….does not mean…in any way shape or form, that another 1938 might not again occur.
    Or a 1954. Geez that was a bad year for New England.
    Chris
    Norfolk, VA, USA

  39. All that being said, I’d resent a “don’t frighten the peasants” approach. The Weather Channel and Fox News both hyped the storm. Here in Southern New England we had (no, zero zilch, nada) rain, wind or storm surge. Damned if you predict, damned if you don’t.
    ============================
    Just because you did not have it (hurricane conditions), does not mean it has not occurred in the recent past….or will not occur in the recent future.
    For people that are stupid enough to be “frightened peasants” and who can not discern the times and the weather….then I say big bl**dy deal. I really don’t care about their stupidity or the negative net effect that their stupidity brings upon the rest of us.
    If the peasants are frightened….who really cares??
    In more clear, succinct words: Only the strong survive.
    Chris
    Norfolk, VA, USA

  40. They should be called “a politicians outburst” force gust of wind- very strong but very short lived and not doing much after the first outburst.
    The met office in the UK got loads of stick for their predictions of hot summers for the last few years as their computer is programmed to find them. This year they didn’t bother to save themselves another kicking. It is sad to see an organisation that was at the forefront of weather research and forecasting become a laughingstock because those in charge have a fixed agenda.

  41. The ability of commentators here to be wise after the event really is something to take note of, no doubt about that.
    But, given the views expressed here, I don’t recall a WUWT post here saying ‘Hurricane Earl is no threat’. Perhaps I missed it?

  42. Better to be warned of a really bad storm and not get it than not be warned and get it!
    Meanwhile, there’s apparently bad flooding in Guatamala and Mexico that we aren’t hearing much about…
    Why have I not heard anyone say, “They often call me Speedo…”?
    Best,
    Frank

  43. The rule is that hurricanes roll around the edge of the Azores (“Bermuda”) high, which hooks them out to sea. The exception-to-the-rule has a hurricane “phase” with low pressure to the west, and slices the storm inland. The exception-to-the-rule makes a huge difference, for if the eye passes just to your west you experience a true hurricane, which can spoil your hurricane-party with a flood or tree through your living room.
    The last real exception-to-the-rule in New England was Carol in 1954. That means that for fifty-six years meteorologists have been on guard, awaiting what hasn’t reoccurred. (Carol was actually forecast to hook out to sea, as was the 1938 hurricane.)
    I think meteorologists did a good job with Earl. The ones I watched never predicted the eye would get west of the outer banks of North Carolina, or Nantucket in Massachusetts. You could tell they were on the edge of their seats, keenly watching the maps for any sign Earl might “phase” with the approaching front to the west, but signs of “phasing” never occurred, so they never forecast the hurricane would slice inland.
    The hype and hysteria therefore is due to the media. I can see only three reasons for this.
    1.) There is a wierd over-reacting going on which seems designed to ruin the economy. Closing down the east coast on Labor Day Weekend seems a bit like closing down oil rigs in Alaska due to the Gulf Oil Spill.
    2.) The media puts ratings over reason.
    3.) People fear lawyers. (Many slides and swings have vanished from playgrounds, and in some cases recess is forbidden, not because children are less inclined to scratch their knees, but because people fear being sued by a lawyer for a child’s scratched knee.) In the same way people practically evacuate all land east of the Missisippi at the slightest hint of a hurricane. The true danger is not hurricanes, but lawyers.
    Remember in November.

  44. To criticise the use of the term ‘Hurricane Force’ gusts solely on the basis that “The threshold for hurricane winds is when the 1-minute sustained winds equal or exceed 74 miles per hour.” is somewhat disingenuous as it confuses definitions from two different measurement systems. The definition of a Category 1 hurricane on the Sahhir-Simpson Scale does, indeed refer to a sustained wind of 74 mph with gusts up to 95 mph. However, the definition of Force 12 (‘Hurricane Force’) on the Beaufort Scale does not include the same requirement for a sustained wind and a report of ‘Force 11, gusting 12’ (i.e. gusting to hurricane force) is perfectly in order.

  45. Alarmism of any type is unacceptable – whether it be of potential storm strikes or global warming. But people should be told the facts and be trusted to make their own conclusions. Earl was a big storm at one point and there was a chance that it could have caused a lot of devastation had its course changed a little. But the main prediction was for exactly what did happen.
    Personally, living on the Bay of Fundy, I expected a whole lot more than I actually got. At one point most of the tracks were pointing straight at my house, but in the last 12 hours they veered off to the east giving us just 22mm of rain and max winds of 30km/h. Nevertheless, I put my outdoor furniture away, made sure I had enough gas for the generator etc. But in the end, never having experienced a hurricane, I was disappointed!
    I do believe that alarmism is unacceptable, and could occasionally be even criminal – eg causing deaths by stampede after shouting “fire” – which I believe has happened. What irritates me almost as much, is the way that simple everyday weather reports have “value-laden” words attached. Such as – “we can expect MISERABLE weather this weekend”. Hey, I like rain! If i t makes you miserable, then fell free to do some wallowing, but don’t assume that we all feel the same!
    Malcolm

  46. My wife and are vacationing in Bar Harbor, ME and I can tell you that the storm was far less than a Nor’easter. There was very heavy rain overnight with around 2″ of rain locally and up to 3.5″ in some surrounding counties but the maximum wind gusts were less than 35 MPH. Our whale-watching excursion was cancelled due to rough seas. The locals were happy to get the rains – they really needed it around here.

  47. Who here has actually lived through a hurricane? These storms are not to be taken lightly. Places on the east coast were rightfully evacuated. The problem with these monster storms is that it is impossible to predict its exact path. In 1996, I went to bed expecting Hurricane Fran’s center to come over me, instead it went much further west and where I lived did not get the brunt of the storm. Another problem with hurricanes is people forget that wind is not the only thing you have to worry about. In 1999, I went to bed expecting Hurricane Floyd to be like Hurricane Fran in that I was only expecting wind damage. When I woke up, I saw places underwater. I met people who said they only had time to save themselves and nothing else from the rising water. Hurricanes also spawn tornadoes.
    Hindsight is always 20-20. The only people who say evacuations were unwarranted are people who have yet to live through a hurricane or people suffered financially because of a near miss. Those same people later on will be crying and wondering why they ignored the warnings. There is much uncertainty with hurricanes. Having lived through several, I know the evacuations were the right move to make.

  48. Earlier today I ran into a small furry animal complaining that Hurricane Earl damaged its holiday business situated along the coast.
    Funny if you think about nature, which shooed away all the holiday-goers who would have otherwise been driving up and down the US East coast emitting all that CO2. Funny how the furred creature did not appreciate the natural mitigation – the CO2 which has thus been sequestered in people’s car fuel tanks
    Maybe 389.60 ppm is the ideal level of CO2 which creates numerous Earls every long weekend, which look menacing on radar but never make landfall. This reduces weekend and holiday CO2 emissions keeping CO2 at this ideal level which produces more Earls and so forth.
    And note, since I thought up a “feedback loop”, I am therefore proven to be of superior intellect.
    🙂

  49. Hey its only a downgraded tropical storm dumping 1.71″ of rain in 48 hours. Come on down to the East Coast and party!
    Come again?

  50. RE: Wade says:
    September 5, 2010 at 5:19 am
    “…I know the evacuations were the right move to make.”
    Sad to see you think so little of other people’s freedom.
    What disgusted me most was Governor Patrick of Massachusetts milking the politics of the situation, turning it into a photo op, striding about with his tie off and his shirt sleeves rolled up, like he was going to single-handedly turn back the tide. Then, of course, there’s the itty bitty fact that, with Obama declaring a state-of-emergency as well, certain funding can flow directly into Massachusetts, just before an election. What’s a little money, fresh off the printing press, between chums?
    The word “mandatory,” in the phrase “mandatory evacuation,” is opposed to the word “freedom.”
    It assumes you are too stupid to listen to the actual forecasters and heed them, and make wise choices.
    Wade, I think you’d be singing a different tune if the government began to speak of “mandatory” this and “mandatory” that, concerning writing a computer blog, or using certain computer programs, claiming “National Security” came before “Freedom of Speech.”
    Don’t get me wrong. I am definitely an Alarmist, when it comes to being fearful of what a repeat of the 1938 hurricane would do.
    For example, Boston skyscrapers are designed to withstand winds 125% of the highest wind recorded in Boston. I think the highest recorded wind, at the surface, was around 100 mph, during the 1978 blizzard. Therefore the skyscrapers are designed to withstand winds of 125 mph.
    During the 1938 hurricane winds were only to 78mph, at the surface, in Boston. But up 500 feet? Atop the Blue Hills the winds gusted over 180 mph, and there was a sustained wind over 130 mph for something like five minutes.
    I think the tops of some Boston skyscrapers poke up that high. Alarmed yet? No?Imagine windows blown out, glass flying, office desks and filing cabinets raining down on the buildings below. Were those lower buildings engineered to withstand office desks hitting them? What happens to windowless buildings when rain falling at five-inches-an-hour jets against the side at 100 mph? Waterfalls down stairwells, anyone? Alarmed now? Can the basement pumps keep up? What happens to the structural integrity of a skyscraper when the foundation floods. (If you’re not alarmed yet, I quit!)
    I believe the public should be educated to what worst case scenarios might bring. However, once educated, people are better off when free to decide for themselves.
    Or at least that is the attitude in Live-Free-Or-Die New Hampshire.

  51. Any significance in the eastern track of this hurricane? Any corelation between similar tracked storms, and resulting winter weather patterns?

  52. Ancient Mariner says:
    September 5, 2010 at 4:04 am
    “To criticise the use of the term ‘Hurricane Force’ gusts solely on the basis that “The threshold for hurricane winds is when the 1-minute sustained winds equal or exceed 74 miles per hour.” is somewhat disingenuous”
    Definitions of hurricanes are tied to building codes and disaster planning. A tropical storm gusting to hurricane force doesn’t tie to the common usage Safir-Simpson scale.
    In some small communities the person in charge of ‘disaster response’ may be the head of the volunteer fire department. Using less then the exact definitions isn’t particularly helpful. Does the head of the volunteer fire department know whether of not the disaster response plan for a tropical storm already takes into account that winds may gust to hurricane force? Or does he implement the Cat I hurricane disaster response plan?

  53. Lived through 3 hurricanes, eye over the house, all within 15 mo’s, in Jupiter, FL. Extremely scary and very dangerous. That said, I believe NHC can do a better job of advising the public of storm intensity forecasts. Go back and actually read the NHC “Discussion” element on its public website. These descriptions form the basis of media coverage of each tropical storm/cyclone as it develops. The storm track stuff is very good. NHC has mastered this part of the science, IMHO. But the storm intensity analysis seems to always error on the high side. Thus causing higher ground level windspeed estimates throughout the forecast period. A few mph gets the category designation from ‘tropical storm’ to ‘hurricane’ early in the storm’s history. As it progresses, NHC continues its habit of estimating intensity ‘on the high side’, or ‘a generous reading ‘ of intensity data, as the staff likes to say in their public dicussions. Again, a few mph moves the category designation ever upward. That’s all the media needs. Their scare mongering terrorizes goverment officials and mandatory evacuation is ordered, followed up with the boot-jack boys always alertly on the lookout for a freespirit to beat into submission. In short, NHC needs better, more straight-forward people to both formulate and write the ‘discussion’ element of their forecasts. A team approach would be much better that the apparent single forecaster approach used by NHC. (See Discussion section of forecast; only one name appears.Most are extremely poor writers, which is unconscienable, given the significance of their reports.) More honest detail is required, with better description of intensity issues so local goverments have better information before closing businesses, ordering extensive evacuations, and sending the dogs of war out on the streets to roundup the freespirits ‘for their own good’.

  54. More calamity, massive storms, Global Warming is real we tell yuh. CBC is desperate for some kind of affirmation from mother nature, if she does not come thro soon they might have to drop the cult and … sorry what were the 5 stages again? Note the desperation of the reporting, Earl was constantly refferred to as a hurricane long after it dropped to a tropical storm. CBC is a waste of a billion dollars of tax payer money every year.

  55. Remote Reporter: ” Tiffany, I’m here on Shelter Island, and we’re reporting that Hurricane Earl is producing house-flattening winds, a fifty-foot storm surge, and hail the size of watermelons!”
    Anchor: “My God, Tom, you’ve actually seen all that devastation?”
    Reporter: “Well, no, Tiffany, but that’s what we’re reporting.”
    Apologies to “South Park”.

  56. Ralph says:
    September 5, 2010 at 8:43 am
    Any significance in the eastern track of this hurricane? Any corelation between similar tracked storms, and resulting winter weather patterns?

    That’s what I would like to know. Seems to me that the hurricane was attracted to the Anomaly rather than the Absolute.
    It hooked and swung towards Newfoundland/Greenland, where the waters are most assuredly colder than the Gulf, but relatively warmer than normal.
    Can we learn something here, or are we whistling in the MSM wind?

  57. I have lived through three hurricanes. Their names were Carla, Alicia and Ike. Thrown in amonst them were a dozen or so tropical storms, near misses and tornado outbreaks. It was Carla that introduced a Houston local newsman, standing out in the blowing rain, to the network audience. He later became a network news anchor. Reporters all over the Gulf coast, and I suspect the Atlantic, take hurricanes as their chance at glory. They fight to find dramatic backdrops and water to stand in for their breathless “on-the-scene” reports, hoping for that network gig. I call it the “Dan Rather Effect”- for that then-unknown Carla reporter.
    The bottom line is if someone in authority tells you to evacuate for high water, you should. Otherwise, stay home and hide from the wind. Rita caused a great big traffic jam-panic around here when people, scared by the headlines, evacuated without any call to. The storm missed us, pretty much.
    In New Orleans (much of it below sea level and surrounded by a lake and a river) they were told to evacuate and many did not. The mayor and governer bear responsibility for that – which they successfully sloughed off on the Feds.
    Expect no help from anybody for 4 days after the storm – you should have that much food and water stashed. Transportation will generally be crippled for that long. Debris on the road (like biillboards, truck trailers, upside down cars), traffic lights blown down, bridges and rails washed out, boats sunk in the channels, etc.
    You are on your own after these things and if you were told to leave and didn’t, then you’ve done a very stupid thing.

  58. Hurricanes can be very dangerous, and don’t always listen to the forecast tracks of the weather “experts.” Consequently, folks need to carefully monitor forecasts and take reasonable precautions as storms, especially those as big and strong as Earl once was, approach. Often there will be less time than you need to evacuate or batten down the hatches. I recommend avoiding the reporting of major news outlets, since they tend to border on the hysterical. Even some private professional services tend to overhype. Dr. Jeff Masters, whose Weather Underground site offers great technical information, often let’s his AGW bias show in the blog that accompanies the models, etc. It’s not uncommon for Dr. Masters to blog about how a storm is going to “roar” into a location, or focus on the “potential for catastrophic destruction.” Joe Bastardi on Accuweather similarly seems to lose objectivity when major storms threaten. His forecasting seems routinely biased to predictions of storm strengths and paths that could cause the most damage. As an example, in 2005, Mr. Bastardi continually insisted Hurricane Rita would shift west and go up the Houston/Galveston I-45 corridor resulting in the greatest hurricane disaster in North American history. His recent Earl comments seemed, at least to me, a bit histrionic as well, as he kept predicting Cat 5 status even as Earl began to wind down. For my money, people should monitor the National Weather Service’s Tropical prediction center for what appears to be the most dispassionate reporting on storms. The TPC gives folks more than enough info to make rational decisions in reponse to a storm’s approach, while avoiding the hype.
    To Caleb and his worries about the effect of hurricane force winds on skyscapers, I would suggest reading up on Hurricane Alicia in Houston in August 1983. That storm broke the windows out of half a dozen or so skyscapers on Houston’s Louisiana St. While the resulting mess was enormous (the glass in the street was a meter deep in some places), the buildings did not suffer structural damage either from the wind or rain infiltration. I think this is a good real world example of the strength of these types of buildings.

  59. I thought up another reason to be an utterly freaked out Alarmist, concerning a repeat of the 1938 hurricane.
    The 1938 hurricane actually zipped up the Connecticut River. The Connecticut River is roughly ninety miles west of Boston. Therefore we only need shift the track of the hurricane around seventy miles east to bring the eyewall right over Boston. This will also keep the hurricane further out to sea and more over the warm gulf stream, as it charges up the coast.
    Now we’re talking some real wind, funneling between the sky scrapers. (Remember, those buildings didn’t exist in 1938.)
    Another thing that didn’t exist in 1938 was Boston’s underground system of tunnels known as “The Big Dig.” Anyone who has lived around Boston the past thirty years knows those tunnels are a complete embarrassment, and an example of corruption gone berserk. It is truly frightening to think of how much of the Big Dig’s cement used sub-standard ingredients, (while the American tax-payer was charged for cement of the highest quality.) Even in fair weather a chunk of the roof fell and killed a passenger in a car, (fortunately it fell at 2:00 AM and not at rush hour.) Also the tunnel leaks so badly the pumps are running at full blast just to keep it dry.
    Now, just for the sake of panic and hysteria, let us bring a storm surge of fifteen to twenty feet into Boston Harbor, such as occurred during the Saxby Gale or The Great Colonial Hurricane. How much extra weight does all that water press down onto the roof of the Big Dig? What are the odds the roof collapses, or the pumps give out (especially if the power goes out and the pumps are running on back-up generators)??? Want to wait in the tunnel, to see?
    Actually, if Governor Patrick really cared, he would have evacuated all the skyscrapers and closed all the tunnels, rather than strutting and preening in front of TV cameras. He would have appeared on TV with his eyes bulging and screamed, “Run! Run for your lives!!!”
    That’s what I would do, if I was governor, and a full-time Alarmist. Fortunately, I’m only a part-time Alarmist, for the fun of it, on weekends. Also I’m not governor of Massachusetts, which is very fortunate for me.

  60. I never cease to be amazed at how the media pushes the worst case scenerios. One national weathercaster routinely shows the outlier track predictions-in this case showing Earl heading directly for the Carolina coast. When Earl briefly showed sustained winds of 145 MPH, I heard him say “Only five more miles per hour and it will be a Category V storm!” One almost gets the impression that they are lusting for another Coastal weather disaster.
    G.

  61. Disaster sells. Watch the storm with some caution but only after there is a real threat start talking about once a century events.

  62. Ralph says:
    September 5, 2010 at 8:43 am
    > Any significance in the eastern track of this hurricane? Any correlation between similar tracked storms, and resulting winter weather patterns?
    I don’t think so, Earl’s track was pretty much “normal” (however that should be defined). Many more storms have tracked east, but that’s simply because a lot of storms that would have tracked to the west lost tropical cyclone status due to their inland route.
    As for correlation with the upcoming winter, there probably isn’t too much. Given that there was a hurricane, that suggests a warm AMO and no El Niño, and those have implications for the winter, but I don’t know offhand of any rules of thumb between hurricanes and the upcoming winter.

  63. People living in target areas need to be responsible for keeping an eye on the hurrican and not be totally dependent of any media. When Opal was approach our coast they over estimated the amount of time that it would take to hit. There was a paniced evacuation of the island and coastal areas and Eglin AFB d*mn near lost their airplanes. One of my co-workers was caught on an overpass in a massive traffic jam and ended up stuck there for the entire duration – along with her two kids and dog. Never EVER depend 100% on what the forecasters are saying. Keep situtational awarness and trust your own instincts.

  64. To Caleb @ September 5, 2010 at 7:02 am:
    There is much unpredictability with hurricanes. For example, take Hurricane Floyd which caused massive flooding in eastern North Carolina, especially on the Tar-Pamlico River basin, which is where I live. Hurricane Floyd was originally forecast to strike around Daytona Beach, Florida. The people in Florida evacuated. My aunt’s husband’s parents came from Florida to North Carolina to escape the storm. Yet the storm did not make landfall in Florida. It made landfall near Wilmington, NC.
    The point is this: nobody knows with absolute certainty what these things are going to do. Forecasts are much better today than in 1999 when the original landfall forecast was off by several hundred miles. But tropical cyclones can and do make abrupt changes that cannot be predicted. If Earl was just 25 miles to the west, there are many things that would have been different. There are many variables that cannot be accounted for. Hurricanes have can weaken and strengthen at times that cannot be predicted. And yet you are suggesting that people should throw caution to the wind because of freedom! Well, lets get rid of tsunami warnings because most of those are false alarms too. How dare we limit the freedom of people by telling them of potential danger! I guess those laws which ban texting and driving at the same time are also a bad idea because they limit freedom.
    Please understand that when lives are at stake, it is better to err on the side of caution. Hope for the best, plan for the worst. This is different than the constant cries of man-made global warming because, unlike AGW, hurricanes have decades of observable and provable data behind them. A hurricane can have more power than a nuclear bomb, we should also treat them with respect.

  65. Phil Nizialek says:
    September 5, 2010 at 12:13 pm
    ============================
    Excellent post. And a razor-sharp intellect.
    Chris
    Norfolk, VA, USA

  66. I’ll gladly trade a week of warnings for two days without electricity. Earl pretty much tracked past southern New England as predicted, going a few miles more east as a cold front helped it move along. It was the intensity prediction that was less accurate and stronger than what actually occurred.

  67. Of course, if you take your forecast mainly from the media – what do you expect then ?
    A media is only there to put up news, events. If there’s no event, then there’s no news. And when they don’t have news to show, then they build one with ”if”s.
    Still, if you took your forecast from the NWS, and Earl’s situation from the NHC, then you knew it was going elsewhere. Next time, stick with the NWS and NHC – they knew there was no news beside some coastal areas (that’s where they’ve raised warnings, not inland).

  68. To Henry saying Looks like so far the warmistas prediction of many fierce hurricanes this year is off.
    Please review all that has been said for this hurricane season – those who said it would be the biggest are (in order)… J. Bastardi, then C. Monckton – and it was not based on GW , but the undisputable AMO and PDO cycle theory they put up out from past statistical and anecdoctical events – very scientific… Ya sure..
    Choose your target next time – these are no GW proponents at all, unless there was a miracle i have’nt heard of. LOL.

  69. Earl was kept from getting to Cat 5 and started fading earlier than he would have if it were not for the close timing of the upcoming Synod conjunctions of Jupiter and Uranus.
    The hurricane season is not over, it is just on hold, when we get to the post conjunction (after September 21st) and nature does “press resume” on the TS cruise control, the cyclones will be back globally and in a big way.
    Be smart cover you own a$$ nobody else will do it for you, be ready for the worst, and hope for the best. Seems to be the operative word here. I have no video data sets for the GOES satellites, so I cannot forecast the most probable storm tracks, only the best timing for there occurrence and probable strength, based on my limited knowledge on the electromagnetic mechanism, that seems to be driving the outer planet’s ability to influence severe weather occurrences.

  70. RE: Phil Nizialek says:
    September 5, 2010 at 12:13 pm
    Thanks for reassuring me.
    However the pessamist in me immediately wonders if they build better in Houston than in Boston, and if they built better in the 1970’s and early 1980’s than they do now.
    FYI 1.) Most of the windows were broken by Alicia because the tall buildings were roofed with loose gravel, which flew in the wind. The code was of course changed, and gravel is no longer allowed.
    2.) Assuming the codes are the same, buildings likely must be engineered to be stronger in Houston, for the “highest recorded wind” is likely higher, so close to the Gulf and Galveston. 125% of Houston’s 150 mph is obviously more than 125% of Boston’s 100 mph.
    3.) Winds in Alicia were around 115 mph at the coast. I’m not sure what they were up at the upper floors of Houston’s skyscrapers. Did they reach the 180 mph reached atop the Blue Hills near Boston in 1938?
    4.) Reading how the Trade Towers were able to withstand jetliners crashing into them (and only fell due to the heat of the fires) has made me aware architects and engineers didn’t cut things as close to the minimum-engineering-limit in the 1970’s and 1980’s as they now do. They were not so sure of themselves, and simply didn’t dare save money by cutting the amount of material used to keep the buildings rigid.
    5.) Alicia moved slowly and weakened rapidly. The 1938 hurricane was charging north at over 60 mph, and simply didn’t have time to weaken as much as most New England Hurricanes do.
    6.) Something like 9 inches of rain fell in Houston in Alicia, over a day. I wonder what the water damage was in those skyscrapers. However Houston is so low and flood-prone I’m sure the skyscrapers were engineered to take it. The 1938 hurricane dropped 10-20 inches of rain in a matter of hours. It came and went so fast a lot of New Englanders hardly knew what hit them. I’m less sure the foundations of Boston’s skyscrapers are built to take it.
    7.) People in Houston seem saner and less corrupt than people in Boston (and New Orleans.) I think they have likely recieved far less tax-payer money than Boston (and New Orleans,) but have built a sounder infrastructure.
    Regarding another bit of my Alarmism: I have been reassured that the pumps in Boston’s leaky “Big Dig” are not running “at full blast,” as I stated. This is not so much due to fixing the leaks, as it is due to installing bigger pumps. For some reason I find this less than reassuring.
    When I am in the mood to be a Alarmist I can also create the perfect track for Perfect Storms that clobber New York City, or pound Philadelphia, and completely stress out their infrastructures. The most reassuring thing is that, while such tracks are possible, they are highly unlikely. Boston (and New Orleans) are a little more likely, but haven’t been hit by a Perfect Storm in my lifetime. (Katrina actually “missed” New Orleans.)
    Anyway, thanks for responding.

  71. Wade,
    Thanks for responding and making me think.
    Regarding: “…And yet you are suggesting that people should throw caution to the wind because of freedom! Well, lets get rid of tsunami warnings because most of those are false alarms too. How dare we limit the freedom of people by telling them of potential danger! ”
    I’m not saying people shouldn’t be warned. I’m not saying people shouldn’t be given good advice on what to do, or how to respond. Rather I am suggesting we should be very careful about making things “mandatory.”
    I recall reading about a man who refused to leave his home in the face of a wild fire. His house was the only house in the neighborhood that didn’t burn down. He fought the fire by constantly wetting his house down with a dinky little garden hose.
    I have also read of a wild fire during a drought in Minnesota that killed more than half the people in a small town. The only survivors waded out into a lake and lay mostly submerged. In that situation a garden hose was utterly useless.
    Every situation is different. The question then becomes who is best in the position to assess the danger. The person on the spot? Or some bureaucrat far away?
    In most situations I have far more faith in the common man than in the bureaucrats. I also believe a man has a right to fight for his own life. To die, if need be.
    In World War 2 it was still a disgrace for a captain NOT to go down with his ship. In certain situations captains had to be ordered to leave their sinking ships, to “transfer the flag” to another ship.
    Churchill gave Roosevelt advice on how to convince MacArthur to NOT stay and die with his troops in the Philippines. You see, in the minds of some, there is this thing called “honor, ” and it is better to die with “honor” than live in disgrace.
    You reduce things to a far less grand, and far more petty, level, when you state, “I guess (you believe) those laws which ban texting and driving at the same time are also a bad idea, because they limit freedom.”
    In principle, yes. I like to believe my fellow Americans have the brains, when educated, to not be idiots. Of course, in reality I watch my daughter do things (such as text while driving) that causes me to doubt whether my fellow Americans are wiser than idiots. Just the other day a man in front of me was obviously texting, and wandered across the double line in the center of the road, and only the blaring of an oncoming horn and a frantic swerve avoided a head-on crash with a Mac truck. “What a &%@#& idiot!” I thought to myself.
    So we have to create some laws, because we agree some behavior is idiotic. For example, we have speeding laws. Does that mean we never speed, just a little, very carefully?
    We may soon have the technology to put governors in cars, and devices by highways, which prevent anyone from ever speeding. So, if my daughter is about to have a baby, I will have to putter to the hospital at thirty-five. I will have no freedom to say, “In this situation that law no longer applies.”
    Either that, or we will find ourselves drawn into a hideously complex tangle of rules, exceptions-to-the-rules, and exceptions-to-the-exceptions-to-the-rules. It will make no one happy but the lawyers.
    Perhaps, in the future, our cars will have an override switch that allows us to speed, but a light will automatically flash atop the car announcing we are speeding, (even if we are only speeding very briefly, to pass a slow tractor.) Afterwards we will have to fill out six forms and send them to the Department Of Speeding Infractions, because our in-car computer will automatically report that we have broken the law.
    You see, once you make a law, you need to employ people to enforce it. If you put up a no parking sign, you need to hire a meter maid.
    I know we have to have some laws, but I feel the fewer the better. (Lawyers would disagree.) I love our freedom to make our choices, (despite evidence to the contrary provided by my own daughter at times.) I feel we are better off as a pack of free idiots than a pack of idiotic slaves.
    The only thing worse than a free people is the alternative.

  72. Chris of OZ:
    You said:
    “The media and the Australian Bureau of Meteorology have a lot to answer for. Their predictions are rarely right, the wind speeds, tide heights, (I have a large boat in the marina) and storm direction and predicted track, are way off. It has got to the stage where few believe that the storms are anything to worry about. “The boy that cried wolf”.”
    You seriously need to study meteorology to understand the complex science that it is. And if you really believe that the BoM are “rarely right”, you must be living on a completely different planet to the one I am. The forecast for Brisbane over the past week has been spot-on, and it was a reasonably complex set-up with a trough triggering a rain event. The forecasts of the BoM get better and better with each passing year, and if they didn’t, the government would not continue to fund them, because it would not save money for society in the long term. It irritates me to no end when people criticise meteorologists about “always being wrong” when they’ve never actually done a proper statistical analysis to prove such statements. Instead they just use anecdotal, highly subjective and selective reports to prove in their minds how “inaccurate” mets are. I have done the statistical analyses, and I can tell you that forecasters, at least in Australia, can be uncannily accurate at times, and the number of false alarms are very low for most events. As for tracking, and I assume you refer here to thunderstorms or cyclones — please, I urge you to study meteorology and fluid mechanics and you might then have some appreciate of WHY it is so damn hard to do. Despite this though, their tracking ability improves all the time. Tide heights and swell forecasts are also very accurate in most parts of the country, so once again I don’t know what planet you live on. And also bear in mind that there has been increasing pressure on the BoM over the last several years due to staff shortages, so it’s a wonder they do as good as job as they do.

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