Quote of the week – hype and hurricane force winds

Should Irene have been downgraded sooner?

Cliff Mass, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Washington and a popular blogger asks, “When Did Irene Stop Being a Hurricane?”

” … there is really no reliable evidence of hurricane-force winds at any time the storm was approaching North Carolina or moving up the East Coast.”

“I took a look at all the observations over Virgina, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, and New York.  Not one National Weather Service or FAA observation location, not one buoy observations, none reach the requisite wind speed.  Most were not even close.’

Cliff makes a clear, systematic and convincing argument that Irene should have been downgraded from a hurricane before it made landfall.

http://cliffmass.blogspot.com/2011/08/when-did-irene-stop-being-hurricane.html

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This is backed up by my observations here of surface windspeeds as Irene passed through North Carolina. While not at the 10 meter height, they still seem much lower than they should be.

h/t to WUWT reader “speed”

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118 thoughts on “Quote of the week – hype and hurricane force winds

  1. Irene goodnight, Irene goodnight
    Goodnight Irene, goodnight Irene
    I’ll see you in my dreams
    I love Irene, God knows I do
    I’ll love her till the seas run dry
    And if Irene turns her back on me
    I’d take morphine and die
    Irene goodnight, Irene goodnight
    Goodnight Irene, goodnight Irene
    I’ll see you in my dreams

  2. Help me to understand why what the storm is called is important? It seems like it was a pretty big storm, but if it wasn’t really a hurricane what would be affected? I don’t ask this question to be argumentative, but to better understand whether there was a reason to mislead us about this storm and if so what it might be.

  3. I live in the Baltimore Washington region so we were on the perifery of the storm. Irene was quite menacing as it approached but a major weather front from the Midwest came through on Thursday and when this front met up with Irene, it seemed to push it a bit more eastward and made it less organized. So it had a softer punch as it was more dispersed and we certainly got a lot of rain coupled with a long period of sustained winds but not the intensity everyone expected. Joe Bastardi spoke about his over on Steve Goddards blogs adminishing Steve that this is still a very powerful storm and can do (and did) a lot of damage. Joe maintains storms like this ought to be rated on the atmospheric pressure at their core, rather than on wind speed alone as this would better reflect their destructive potential.

  4. But if they had downgraded it before landfall, then no politicians could have claimed credit for avoiding the Katrina scenario. It’s unfortunate that weather has become so politicized.

  5. I went though both this in the DC burbs, and the 1991 “Perfect Storm” in Boston. Both times inland from the storm. In 1991 we had 40+ MPH sustained winds, and a ~100 year old oak broke in half and just missed my girlfriend’s car. Irene had lesser winds but a lot of annoying northwest rain. I saw quite a few downed large branches and a couple uprooted big trees near my home, probably due to the extended rain saturation.
    The Perfect Storm was a lot of wind. This one was a lot of rain. I suppose the question of whether both or either were actually hurricanes will bother weather pros for a long time.

  6. Irene might not have been one big tornado that flattened everything in it’s path, but it is still causing problems in my area. Flood waters are still rising with dams being threatened around the state. Major roads have been closed today, well away from the shore. Places such as Millville and Vineland are being threatened with flooding from nearby lakes. During the storm many roads around the barrier islands were under water, so I don’t know why people would have wanted to be there anyway. If it had strengthened at the last minute it would have been too late to get those people out. Wait til the end of the week and we will see that Irene was a slow train wreck, but a train wreck none the less.

  7. Much of what we see on TV is self-reinforcing, managed “news.” When the expected inundation of New York didn’t happen, the TV cameras moved to cover floods in rural Vermont. Now it is certainly sad when a 100 year old covered bridge gets washed away, but it was, after all, 100 years old.

  8. The NHC followed the same boring procedures they have had in place for as long as I can recall.
    The forecasters at the NHC should be left alone to do their jobs, which were performed just fine. Let the liberal media figure out who is the “Leader in Reporting Disasters”.
    The hurricane’s large-wind field and low pressure of 950 mb is confusing a lot of folks out there. I recall discussing the failed eyewall replacement cycle, dry air entrainment, and vertical shear prior to it hitting North Carolina. That stuff is NOT predictable that far in advance, even 12-24 hours.
    So, 36-hours prior to NC landfall, all indications were that that a major or at least category 2 hurricane was going to hit land. I Tweeted that the dry-air would infiltrate Irene and “poof” out the inner-core eventually, but even I was not expecting the large destructive effect of the dry air.

  9. j ferguson says:
    August 29, 2011 at 4:26 pm
    Help me to understand why what the storm is called is important? It seems like it was a pretty big storm, but if it wasn’t really a hurricane what would be affected? I don’t ask this question to be argumentative, but to better understand whether there was a reason to mislead us about this storm and if so what it might be.
    =================================================================
    Easy, it’s been over 1000 days since a real hurricane has made landfall in the U.S. Dr. Maue’s information shows us the ACE values of total cyclones are decreasing.
    The whole CAGW argument hinges upon our climate/weather events getting worse, not better. If a bit of warming is beneficial for us, (and it is) then the public doesn’t care. But, conversely, if they can show how hurricanes hitting the U.S. are increasing….. then they’ll correlate it to CO2 and CAGW.
    In this particular storm, there were a few other groups with a vested interest in it being worse than it was. The media hyped it like no tomorrow…… people even suggested we needed a new Cat6! The current administration also wanted it to be worse than what it was, for two reasons. One, they wanted to demonstrate and contrast between the last administration, and two, we’ve recently raised the debt ceiling and that money is burning a hole in their pocket, they’d like another stimulus package but, a rebuilding package would have worked for them, as well.
    Oh, and then there is that truth thingy that some people get sooooo hung up on.
    Hope that helps.
    James

  10. Aside from readily available political reasons, it could be claimed that Irene was left as a hurricane for social/safety reasons. To have downgraded it into it’s actual category may have led people to believe that the storm posed less danger, and thereby not take precautions. It’s an improper excuse, but an excuse none the less.

  11. Garry says:
    August 29, 2011 at 4:43 pm
    Water, all by itself, is a prime mover, especially since a lot had fallen just recently.
    Hurricane force winds would have exacerbated an already bad situation, so in that respect, the East Coast dodged a bullet. It could have been worse, a lot worse.

  12. j ferguson:
    It’s been almost 3 years since a hurricane made landfall in the US. This is an exceptionally long empty streak in an age when we are told by certain camps to expect an increase in frequency and intensity of these destructive storms.
    Landfalling hurricanes are the only consistent gauge we have to measure long term frequency and trends of Hurricanes. So it matters. Is the calm streak over, or it is continuing? By upgrading storms that would have been considered lessor by past standards, it is possible that artificial trends are being introduced.
    So as long as the weather has become political. It matters.

  13. I hope that when the season is done and the NHC does its post-mortem on the season, that they make a special effort to publicize what went wrong with Irene. I read that they noted a disconnect between the wind speeds aloft and those on the ground. This should be a real learning experience for all.
    That being said, it still was a massive rainstorm and area flooding will be a concern for many parts of Irene’s path for days to come.
    Irene also demonstrates what a fragile thing a hurricane can be as its winds quickly faded.

  14. Ryan Maue says:
    August 29, 2011 at 4:50 pm
    The NHC followed the same boring procedures they have had in place for as long as I can recall.
    ========================================================================
    Of that, I have no doubt. No one, or rather no one in their right mind would expect people to forecast a hurricane to the exact time, speed and location, and breadth. They just don’t cooperate like that.
    But, that brings us to another question or two. And I’m hoping you can shed some light……. They were still calling it a hurricane….. or someone was, when the wind speeds said differently, at least the wind speeds that were accessible to the public when it made landfall. I can’t think of a more appropriate time and place to say, WUWT!
    Any insights you have would be appreciated.
    James

  15. I monitored the winds from here in Toronto and for a moment I thought they had confusednmetric for imperial measurements. The warning should have been for heavy rains/flooding, winds to 50 mph, chance of tornado, from the time it hit NC.

  16. j ferguson says:
    August 29, 2011 at 4:26 pm
    “Help me to understand why what the storm is called is important? It seems like it was a pretty big storm, but if it wasn’t really a hurricane what would be affected? I don’t ask this question to be argumentative, but to better understand whether there was a reason to mislead us about this storm and if so what it might be.”
    In practical terms, hurricanes knock down things. They knock down trees, some buildings, and power lines. They bring torrential rain that causes flooding. When a hurricane is coming your way, the best solution is to leave town.
    The next level down is the tropical storm. Tropical storms bring torrential rain that causes flooding. If you are safe from floods, you do not have to leave town or even miss work.
    Big difference, wouldn’t you say?

  17. “When Did Irene Stop Being a Hurricane?”
    =====================================
    Not until their computer games tells them so……
    Don’t you know by now…there is no reality outside of the monitor……..
    The planes found winds where no one was….the pressure said it was…….
    They “adjusted” from that what the speed would be on land…..
    …so it had to be
    just like everything else, actual measurements be damned

  18. But if you downgrade it to early then how will CNN whip up hysteria to sell more advertising, how will the government talking heads get more airtime?
    If you downgrade to early, even if it is the truth, then the President can’t go to the Command Center for a cool photo op and Warmistas can’t make up ludicrous claims linking glowball warmin’ with fear of Hurricanes.
    Really quite simple

  19. Bill Nye the science guy was just on Fox Business news and Joe Bastardi was on Fox News discussing Irene and Global Warming. It was too funny watching them speak back to back. Bill Nye the science guy discussed it in terms of some racism analogy and Joe stated the Atlantic weather events are just weather doing what weather does — nothing to do with Global Warming.
    The video clips should be posed in a while on Fox. I will post the links later when I find them posted.

  20. As Toby Nixon states above “It’s unfortunate that weather has become so politicized.” Although Irene was a big storm, and it has done a lot of damage, and it has inconvenienced millions of people, I believe it was over hyped for political purposes. For example, was “Hurricane” Irene any worse than “Tropical Storm” Agnes? I don’t think so. But the media was doing its best to hype Irene and make the various and assorted government officials, including President Obama, look important. When politicians get involved, the theatrics ramp up.

  21. Ryan Maue says:
    August 29, 2011 at 4:50 pm
    “The hurricane’s large-wind field and low pressure of 950 mb is confusing a lot of folks out there. I recall discussing the failed eyewall replacement cycle, dry air entrainment, and vertical shear prior to it hitting North Carolina. That stuff is NOT predictable that far in advance, even 12-24 hours.
    So, 36-hours prior to NC landfall, all indications were that that a major or at least category 2 hurricane was going to hit land. I Tweeted that the dry-air would infiltrate Irene and “poof” out the inner-core eventually, but even I was not expecting the large destructive effect of the dry air.”
    I hope that you are not suggesting that each and every one of your theoretical considerations should be conveyed to the public.
    You and your colleagues have to get together and decide what the facts of a hurricane are, at least the facts that are relevant to hurricane decisions by ordinary people. Once you have done that, then you can educate the public about the meaning of hurricane warnings.
    In addition, being an intelligent citizen of American culture you know that it is a culture tortured by hype. You have a duty to fight the impulse to hype. Hype is evil even in the rare case that it accidentally saves lives. It is evil because it gives folks false beliefs about the world.
    Finally, there is the question to all meteorologists: Why was Irene not downgraded to a tropical storm the moment it made landfall? At that moment, NYC subways could have resumed operation.
    By the way, I do not mean to pick on you, Dr. Maue. I ask these questions of you because you are an expert and because you have some influence among your colleagues. But these questions are directed to all meteorologists. I do not expect you to answer them.

  22. Most hurricanes seem to peter out before they reach New York City. I would think that the forecast for New York city would have been more accurate than the forecast for North Carolina. Gov Christie and Mayor Bloomberg did seem to hype the extreme danger they were facing and committed to forced evacuations and closures.
    I would rather they discard their Global warming alarmists experts and sit in the kirk seat of their emergency operations center and communicate an accurate knowledge of the weather. if the leader isn’t in the EOC, he isn’t taking his roll that seriously.
    I believe there is a solid history of hurricanes turning into tropical storms as they move north. I didn’t hear any talking heads mention it pre landfall.

  23. Calling it a hurricane is just an alarmist dog whistle. CAGW believers are so bamboozled by their faith now that anything a little out of the ordinary is considered ‘proof’. The faithful see the hand of God in all things.

  24. This thing threw all kinds of curve balls. Witness the surge in CT. That was, to me, unexpected. Meanwhile, NC fared quite well versus what was expected.

  25. The bright side of the storm not living up to the hype is that millions of people now have first hand experience of how the media exaggerates every potential threat. Maybe a few more will connect that over-hype tendency with CAGW.

  26. John from CA says:
    August 29, 2011 at 6:17 pm
    To be fair, the clip is Bill Nye explaining what he thought Al Gore meant by the racism analogy. The use of dogs was pretty effective. ; )

  27. So….. if there are 40,000 traffic fatalities in the US in a year, prorating that over 2 days and the Altantic states…. it would appear that hurricane Irene actually SAVED lives. I am sure that the number of people travelling on highways was severly curtailed because of the hurricane, and thus those highway fatalities took a major downwards spike….. so, Irene actually saved lives. No?

  28. Guys, I thought there might be some bureaucratic distinction between a hurricane and a Big Wet Storm. Apparently not.

  29. As most on these threads know, honesty about uncertainty is the major shortcoming of the science/media community today. It cannot be streesed enough that while we are very good at forecasting the track of a storm, we do not have sufficient ability to forecast the landfall strength of a hurricane.
    It is prudent to have folks in low lying areas evacuate well in advance of any hurricane. If a weak strom is predicted and folks sit tight, a storm that suddenly strengthens prior to landfall could cause loss of life. There is not enough room on the higway to evacuate low lying cities on the Eastern Seaboard in less than 36 hours, so the best experts will err on the side of caution and order an evacuation a couple of days in advance if there is any possibility of strengthening. Science and media should be quite clear about the uncertainty, while stressing the ramifications of sitting out a storm which may turn ugly. That establishes the public trust for the next storm. Otherwise folks will ignore future warnings like they now ignore Al Gore.
    I chuckle whenerver I hear someone in a low coastal area say they will stay to “protect their property”. If you cannot afford to either insure or lose your property, you do not belong on the coast. Very few folks on the Eastern Seaboard have seen firsthand what a storm surge can do. Debris carried by a modest 5 foot storm surge is like a bulldozer, knocking down anything in its path. It’s very similar to what you have seen in the Japan Tsunami videos. How is a person going to protect his home from that? The answer is he cannot. There is no logical reason to stay unless one wants to risk losing the entire universe (aka life itself) along with his home.

  30. Don’t forget that the wind speeds should be higher on the east and lower on the west side of Irene because of the 14MPH northward velocity of the eye. Places on the east should have had sustained windspeeds over 88MPH if Irene was a hurricane.

  31. I think a story broadcast yesterday by the ABC in Australia is relevant in the context of the media’s Irene coverage, if only because I’m still chuckling about it …
    Climate change linked to mental health problems
    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2011-08-29/climate-change-linked-to-mental-health-problems/2860150
    The totally credible, unbiased Australian Climate Institute has issued a report that “draws a direct link between inaction on climate change and long-term social and mental health problems”.
    It seems there’ll be far more depression, suicide, anxiety, substance abuse and general community stress, while “continuing catastrophic weather events are creating anxiety and insecurity for children at levels not seen since the Cold War”.
    From which we must assume that as they huddled in their caves, mud huts, wooden houses or whatever primitive shelter they could find, previous generations weren’t in the least bit stressed about surviving their droughts, cyclones, floods, storms and other climate events that dwarfed what we’ve seen recently.
    And all of this psychological turmoil is happening because of CO2, not the media, right? If the Climate Institute is correct, I’d say more people are dying from stress-related illnesses caused by believing the media than are dying from climate change itself.
    My advice to anybody suffering climate change depression … turn the TV off, go outside and get a bit of sunshine.

  32. John from CA says:
    August 29, 2011 at 6:17 pm
    Fox — August 29, 2011:
    “Bill Nye the Global Warming Guy”
    http://video.foxbusiness.com/v/1134689231001/bill-nye-the-global-warming-guy/
    ——————————————
    Ha ha, I could only stand watching it until 2:30, but it sure looked to me like Bill Nye the turd-rate science guy got his ass handed to him – by a news reporter.
    Hey, but his Mom thinks he’s a real scientist, I’m sure.

  33. The bottom line is…we do not know what this tropical cyclone or that…will bring.
    Ike was well forecasted as a “2” but yet had also the well-forecasted disastrous storm surge of a “4” that completely leveled the Bolivar Peninsula in Texas.
    They were using the Integrated Kinetic Energy measurement, or the (ironically) the I.K.E. in terrajoules.
    The problem when you get to higher latitudes is that you have to deal with cooler waters and frontogenic forcing which caused the real problem with Irene.
    She totally lost her tropical characteristics when she approached NC and began behaving like a really bad bad nor’easter.
    The real threat to the Mid Atlantic…someday…will be a TRUE tropical cyclone in all its fury.
    It will happen. But could be days…weeks….or decades.
    In the meantime….the “nanny state” weather warnings from Big Brother Bloomberg and Christie and others sadly like them….run the risk of crying some significant wolf.
    Chris
    Norfolk, VA, USA

  34. Considering I didn’t have power for 50 hours and a 150 year old oak tree flat on the ground I think you guys need to SHUT THE FU#$ UP!!! I live 75 miles from the ocean (more than 80 from the track) and we had >40 mph sustained winds for more than 10 hours and gusts exceeding 70 mph and it rained steadily for almost 24 hours. Irene was a ligit storm for NC and VA.

  35. steve salter says:
    August 29, 2011 at 6:32 pm
    So….. if there are 40,000 traffic fatalities in the US in a year, prorating that over 2 days and the Altantic states…. it would appear that hurricane Irene actually SAVED lives. I am sure that the number of people travelling on highways was severly curtailed because of the hurricane, and thus those highway fatalities took a major downwards spike….. so, Irene actually saved lives. No?
    ——-
    Well, if you go on the basis of 2009 stats — 33,808 fatalities and 11 deaths per 100k — it would appear that way if you were correct in the belief that that 60 million people stopped driving for 2 full days. (Thirty seven storm related deaths, last I heard, versus 36 traffic fatality deaths saved.)
    Then again how many more people were driving than normal in preparation for or to escape the path of the storm. For that, I suppose, it would be better to use the deaths per million miles traveled.
    Appearances can be deceiving.

  36. savethesharks says:
    August 29, 2011 at 7:37 pm
    ————–
    Chris, I think Christie cried wolf, and it was only a coyote that showed up, but it was actually a pretty nasty coyote in some neighborhoods (re. flooding mostly).
    I don’t think his directions were climate disruption BS. I’m hugely glad he made people I know there sit up and take notice in advance.

  37. That is a damning assertion…. Which leaves one to wonder about the purpose of the report: to alert the public or satisfy some narrow drop sonde technical requirement?

  38. Theo Goodwin says:
    August 29, 2011 at 5:51 pm
    [to Dr. Maue]
    You and your colleagues have to get together and decide what the facts of a hurricane are, at least the facts that are relevant to hurricane decisions by ordinary people. Once you have done that, then you can educate the public about the meaning of hurricane warnings.
    In addition, being an intelligent citizen of American culture you know that it is a culture tortured by hype. You have a duty to fight the impulse to hype. Hype is evil even in the rare case that it accidentally saves lives. It is evil because it gives folks false beliefs about the world.
    =============================
    Yeah come out of your blog ivory towers, “Theo” and talk about that “hype” to the citizens of Joplin MO.
    Why don’t you discuss that hype with them…or perhaps the citizens of Tuscaloosa?
    On the other hand, the complete opposite of the quote unquote hype is evil [to use your words], on the other hand makes people complacent and non-reactive.
    Sort of like Galveston, 1900.
    And don’t [for a freaking minute in time] do not think that the Rita worst case scenario could not have occurred in one of the biggest GDPs on the planet, the republic of Texas.
    Rita chose to vent her fury on the easternmost parts of TX / LA but it was extraordinarily bad ALA Audrey and worse.
    Houston with all its many many millions, could have been ground zero.
    Now, in light of all that…..just WHOM is engaging in hype here?
    Chris
    Norfolk, VA, USA

  39. To those that would believe the alarm is justified because of the “better safe than sorry” posit.
    It is true, better safe than sorry. But there is a point of diminishing returns. Every time there are warnings as such, there is a cost. Always. Today, I know FEMA was despairing because they’ve no money. Why don’t they have money to manage emergencies? Does it have anything to do with the constant paralysis of America every time there is a noise? How much did it cost? We’ll never know, but what we do know is that FEMA didn’t gain any funds last weekend. We shut down the entire eastern board for how many days? And they don’t have any money to help? I can’t figure it out?

  40. Simple explanation.
    The reported figures were from aircraft. From station data it was just wet blow.
    This poses many problems as well as leading to inconsistent datasets, again.
    I think a good question is how much experience we have of forecasting based on aircraft only data? At one time we would have had little or no idea it had an eye offshore.

  41. The low pressure of 950 mb was mentioned. However do we not need at least two components to be able to deduce a projected wind speed? My understanding is that the closeness of isobars indicates how fast the winds will blow. So having 950 mb at the center and 1000 mb 50 miles away will have a vastly different effect on wind than having 950 mb at the center and 1000 mb 500 miles away. As we we know, Irene was huge. Is it possible this hugeness made the 950 mb reading less relevant?

  42. I live in Nevada, so I really don’t care what happens on the East Coast. However, Irene had an impact on me personnally. She made her first landfall in Humacao about 20 miles SW of where my boat lies at anchor.and on a mooring ball. In that bay in Eastern Puerto Rico, Irene sunk two boats in slips, and broke the anchor line of another sailboat which ended in the mangrove and mud at the end of the bay, my boat walked its mooring anchor concrete about 75 feet North where it was perceived as a threat by other boat owners. I have spent the last several days rectifying this situation. Irene was a big and powerful storm in this area.. As I flew down here a few days ago, I saw widespread destruction in the Bahamas. Granted I was viewing this from 35,000 feet but I could read the signs of wind and water well enough Those poor people will spend weeks or months getting their lives back together if they ever do..
    Hurricanes are not to be trivalized. I don’t watch tv especially the weather channel. I do follow the NHC information on the Internet. Although I think NOAA is leaning on the NHC to produce more storms in order to better hit NOAA projections. Consider this year, we have had 9 little things plus Irene so far. I give little credence to the GCM’s which tend to produce amazing amounts of destruction always 10 days in the future but I follow their reports and the coordinates of CV storms as they begin to cross the Atlantic as these are real events that I must consider seriously. All I can say is “thank God Irene was slow to develop”.

  43. Have learned that Al Gore is right. When people are told about how such hurricane was caused by global warming, they really laugh at you and tell “stop it.”
    Exactly as he described, well, a little bit different …

  44. During the storm many roads around the barrier islands were under water, so I don’t know why people would have wanted to be there anyway. If it had strengthened at the last minute it would have been too late to get those people out.

    The Atlantic City Expressway was not and would not be underwater as it was intentionally built 9 ft above mean high tide.

  45. Bill Beach days….
    “Considering I didn’t have power for 50 hours and a 150 year old oak tree flat on the ground I think you guys need to SHUT THE FU#$ UP!!! I live 75 miles from the ocean (more than 80 from the track) and we had >40 mph sustained winds for more than 10 hours and gusts exceeding 70 mph and it rained steadily for almost 24 hours. Irene was a ligit storm for NC and VA.”
    Well I was without power for 72 hours this past winter, hundreds of trees were downed in my neighborhood, along with dozens of power lines and poles. But it was heavy snow, not a hurricane, and neither, apparently was Irene. Doesn’t mean it’s not destructive, it most certainly was.
    What is in question is people proclaiming Irene to be some sort of hurricane anomaly, never seen before, proof positive of global warming. The fact that they are so invested in their narrative that they cannot look at the facts objectively. I’ve seen articles claiming that New York was hit by a hurricane, only happened twice since 1821 don’t ya know.
    There is a world of difference my friend of 40 mph and 125mph winds. Don’t trivialize it.

  46. Regardless of wind speed, Irene will probably be listed as a land-falling hurricane from now on, thanks to the hype.
    Last year in Australia, there was a big cyclone (Yasi). As it approached, almost every new bulletin gave its wind speed as 290-300 km/hr (180-190 mph), potentially catastrophic, maybe even the mythical “Category 6”. The figure, it seems, came from models. However, the highest wind speed actually recorded was 180 km/hr, (about 110 mph), an order of magnitude less damaging.
    Nevertheless, Yasi is still officially graded as Category 5, and called as one of the most severe ever to hit the continent (and, as such, useful evidence of climate change). Once again, computer projections trump real-world observation.

  47. “The Atlantic City Expressway was not and would not be underwater as it was intentionally built 9 ft above mean high tide.”
    When a hurricane nearing shore goes from cat 2 to cat 4, millions of people suddenly heading for the expressway would result first in a massive traffic jam. A cat 4 storm can carry a storm surge higer than 9 ft. Picture that.
    I agree that attempting to counter global warming does not carry a good cost/benefit analysis.
    I do not agree that evacuating low lying coastal areas for a few days is not worth the temporary cessation of economic activity. In fact, those who are wise enough to retreat tend to spend lots of money cleaning up the mess when they return. Those who stay to “protect their property” often take up residence in a much smaller slice of real estate known as Forest Lawn, and never spend another cent.

  48. Obama called it an “historic” storm. Maybe we need Standard and Poor’s to start monitoring the weather.
    The first hurricane I lived through was David in 1979, and it had already been downgraded to a tropical storm by the time it reached New Jersey. That didnt make it seem less ferocious. But back then we didnt have meteorology infused with politics.
    If I recall correctly, it was Lawton Chiles, governor or Florida, who tried to blame George H.W. Bush for Chiles lack of preparation. Nagin and Blanco stole Chiles’ playbook. I read the entire National Response Plan and it was clear that local authorities were the first responders to all disasters.

  49. Hurricane Andrew 1992 wasn’t officially changed to a category 5 until 2004. Maybe Irene will be downgraded at future date.
    Hurricane Mitch came ashore as a minimial category 1 in Honduras 1998 and was the deadliest Atlantic Storm since at least 1780, possibly deadliest Atlantic Hurricane of all time. Around 20,000 died.
    So how do you rate Hurricane/T.S.’s? Deaths/Property Damage/Size of area affected/wind speed/pressure/storm surge/flooding

  50. Theo Goodwin says:
    August 29, 2011 at 5:51 pm
    Finally, there is the question to all meteorologists: Why was Irene not downgraded to a tropical storm the moment it made landfall? At that moment, NYC subways could have resumed operation.

    Because it would have embarrassed Mayor Bloomberg (IMO).
    (Bus lines needn’t have been completely shut down to begin with.)
    ———–
    I don’t think we critics of the NHC are implicitly calling for less “alarm” on the part of the public. The public could have been warned repeatedly by the media that a large tropical storm will drop lots of rain, leading to flooding, and that its winds can drop lots of trees, particularly since there’s been no similarly large windstorms for years, meaning that weak, vulnerable trees near power lines haven’t been thinned. There could be an in-depth explanation of why evacuation is a good policy, even if ones home isn’t vulnerable to flooding or tree-fall: because electricity and phone service can be lost for many days, causing a crisis situation in isolated homes if emergency service (e.g., medical, fire) is needed by them.
    There is plenty of time available on the media for this sort of educational material. I suggest the government prepare a half-hour educational video for TV stations–and make it available on the Internet as well. (It should contain hints that local power companies should thin trees near their power lines as routine maintenance.)
    But it’s very bad for just-the-facts reporters like the NHC to spin their reporting even slightly in order to produce these desired effects, due to the loss of credibility that can result, not just among the public (the crying-wolf effect) but among people who are suspicious of what the government has to say. It gives them a case-study with which to convince others that official predictions and “facts” aren’t trustworthy, but are mostly propaganda.
    I think the NHC put its thumb on the scale just before and after landfall in NC:
    Shortly before landfall, it predicted it would occur as a Category 2 storm, when it barely qualified as a Category 1.
    Just after landfall, it claimed that hurricane force winds (of 75 MPH, maximum) extended for hundreds of miles, when the number couldn’t have been more than half that.
    And it predicted at that time that Irene would still be a hurricane as it progressed far to the north–i.e., to NJ, NY, and NE.
    It should have been impartial about reporting such matters, regardless of what it perceived their public impact to be (complacency) and regardless of how much it would have made their previous predictions look bad. In the long run, this would have been the better course. If it wanted to make the case for the public’s Taking Precautions, it should have done so in a separate section of its Advisories.

  51. IMHO, keeping it as a “hurricane” during the storm was fine even if it didn’t technically meet that criteria so that the public realized it was a serious storm at that time. However, I also would suggest that all the data should now be looked at in retrospect & correct classification should be made for studies such as the ACE index or any other scientific study of tropical weather. Although I have not examined all the data it sure seems to be a case that Irene was a tropical storm not a hurricane for most if not all it’s life on the east cost

  52. Just an little note to most people, the storm directly hit North Carolina and that was it until it ended up hitting around New York City. The rest of the time it was over the sea and this was where the truly large winds were at. Considering the fact that the winds in this storm were stronger on the eastern side (And rather weak especially on the Western side), the highest winds barely hit land at all if you look at the movement of the eye area.
    So yes, of course the wind speeds on land did not match what the storm was actually doing. This is the result of mis-information from the media as much as anything else as they put people on camera who frankly had no business being on camera for this incident and those same people put out frankly disgusting words that scared and made people panic instead of being informative and teaching people what they would face honestly.
    The politicians were no better. They attempted to guilt trip people who would not evacuate certain areas. These areas ended up not going under-water, so what do you all think is going to happen the next time a storm hits but is actually a real hurricane….?

  53. I note this
    http://imgur.com/Ln44y
    If the hurricanes have a consistency in the shapes of their logarithmic spirals, then Irene is no exception.
    http://homepages.woosh.co.nz/zanzibar/
    I’d contend the hurricane spirals are not of golden mean proportion, but the basic idea of there existing a constant spiral shape throughout the universe is still correct. It isn’t fibonacci, but the Inverse Square Law may pertain.

  54. I made this point earlier, when NOAA’s data couldn’t validate the storms’ status.
    After discussing this with some friends who had been involved in governmental “mass casualty” planning, they admitted that even though it would be nice to use facts in managing potential crisis situations, the better good was served by using terminology that was perceived to be understood by the most common denominator to be of significantly important as to achieve the desired goals.
    While beneficial in intent, this is still propogandic in design.

  55. AGW aside, there were many cases when people got sued for not providing “strong enough warning”. I’m not surprised the situation went the other way and people rather go over the top.

  56. Dave Worley says:
    August 29, 2011 at 9:12 pm
    “The Atlantic City Expressway was not and would not be underwater as it was intentionally built 9 ft above mean high tide.”
    When a hurricane nearing shore goes from cat 2 to cat 4, millions of people suddenly heading for the expressway would result first in a massive traffic jam. A cat 4 storm can carry a storm surge higer than 9 ft. Picture that.

    What Category 4 storm landed in the North East? Category 3’s are next to non-existent in the NE. The AC Expressway has 6 lanes that all are converted west-board during an evacuation. It is enough to handle the local year round population. The tourists would likely leave early or stay in the Casinos which are designed to take a beating.

    I agree that attempting to counter global warming does not carry a good cost/benefit analysis. I do not agree that evacuating low lying coastal areas for a few days is not worth the temporary cessation of economic activity. In fact, those who are wise enough to retreat tend to spend lots of money cleaning up the mess when they return. Those who stay to “protect their property” often take up residence in a much smaller slice of real estate known as Forest Lawn, and never spend another cent.

    What you just stated is the typical broken Window fallacy and makes no economic sense. The Atlantic City casinos lost $40-45 million in revenue because of the hysteria. There should never be a mandatory evacuation as people should be able to make this decision themselves. I am disappointed in Gov. Christie.

  57. It was a manufactured crisis, planned and scripted in advance to provide photo-ops of Obama “on the spot, taking command”. The New Yorkers in Mr.V’s video above don’t seem at all shocked; it’s practically business as usual. I love it when a bike rider calmly pedals by as the reporter is making like he can hardly stand up in the wind. Ever ride a bike in a strong wind?

  58. Hype/crying wolf kills. Consider Joplin.
    Rain storm Irene was overhyped for political purposes, and the result will be greater loss of life the next time a real hurricane comes to shore.

  59. Tropical storms can be very destructive, but hurricanes are not categorized by how much rain they produce, how “destructive” they are, or what some people forecast them to be. They are determined by sustained wind speeds of 74 MPH near the surface. Irene didn’t meet that criteria in the US and it is nonsensical to call her a hurricane.

  60. The BBC only downgraded it to a tropical storm yesterday (Mon), shortly before the US downgraded it to a non-tropical storm. They can’t use any excuse about “making people think it was less serious”, either, because it wasn’t affecting the UK at all (until the cooled Gulf Stream reaches us … brrr). No, it was just another chance to pump up their GW alarmism.

  61. They do realise if you keep screaming ‘Wolf’ but the sheep field is empty then people stop listening. That’s what the story is about and why the story is told so people don’t cry wolf all the time, it appears that man cannot learn.
    And the adults have been trying to teach us kides for more then 500+ years
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Boy_Who_Cried_Wolf

  62. The difference is really simple. Irene was the Mother Of All Storms because it threatened Wall Street, the Center Of All Universes. An identical storm that caused six months of flooding in, let’s say North Dakota or Missouri, would get minimal media attention. Correction, DID get minimal media attention. Still flooding in Missouri, but you’ll never hear about it.
    Wall Street exists. NOTHING ELSE exists.

  63. One thing I noticed while looking at various blogs during the ‘hurricane’ landfall was this: lots of people were misreading the little icons on the WeatherUnderground maps. You know, those little musical note shape things with a number in the circle, a stem with little flags hanging off.
    People were reading the numbers (e.g., 78 or 81) as wind speed! They of course are temperature. The little flags are obviously graphic shorthand for wind speed. I don’t know how many people got that wrong.
    Now, would the alarmist media possibly screw that up also? I’ll bet money they did. After this fiasco I’m even wondering if hacks at NOAA and other agencies could also do the same.
    One thing for sure, we can truly call this a political hurricane. And it is because of the destruction of the scientific community by the AGW cult. Someone above asked why does it matter if it was a hurricane or tropical storm? It matters because it is (was) a scientific distinction. Allowing this latest dumbing down of a specific scientific definition only can lead to greasing the skids to accepting the entire AGW hoax and all the attendant science fiction, no questions asked.

  64. Ted Dooley’s got it. Calling it a hurricane gets everyone’s attention. We anchored our 36 foot trawler up Rondout Creek, near Kingston NY. it seemed a nice placid stream, good depth, excellent wind protection from adjacent cliffs, good holding. The marine charts stop about 3 miles west of the Hudson so we didn’t discover that this “creek” is the drain for an 1,100 square mile watershed conveyed to it by a RIVER and many other creeks. Rain was heavy, current increased from little to 6 knots, then later 10 after Irene had gone to Canada. We got out when current went past 6 knots because we wouldn’t have been able to pull our anchors in much more.
    We would have been better off behind an island in the Hudson, but “hurricane” means WIND and we set up for wind. We were in Miami for Andrew, Tampa for the March 1993 “Storm of the Century” Miami for Floyd (not much excitement there) and NY for this thing.
    The guys that understand these things may have been able to foresee that it wouldn’t reform and strengthen northbound from Virginia Beach, but at that point the evacuation commitments had been made, everyone who had given it any thought in its projected path had prepared and there was nothing to do but wait it out.
    Given the media’s propensity to exaggerate, why is anyone surprised that they did here?
    As Brian Williams so pithily stated in his remarks on the passing of the inventor of the teleprompter, “This invention can make a guy with a bag full of rocks for a head sound intelligent.”
    Did anyone else see the shots of Cooper Anderson during Katrina arguing with his director that standing out in the wind was stupid.

  65. I’m aware that the Atlantic City Expressway is well constructed. It’s probably the best road in South Jersey. Unfortunately it would only serve to evacuate a few towns, not a hundred miles of shore towns. If people had waited until the last moment to evacuate, then they would be dealing with choke point traffic jams, hazardous weather conditions, power failures and fuel shortages. The point is that they have to give “advance” warning of the storm, not wait until the day it hits.
    Yes, the wind intensity wasn’t as strong as they predicted and it seemed that in an effort to drive ratings, certain channels were all but trying to “will” the storm to become a Category 4. However the storm was still very destructive and continues to be destructive days after it’s departure. In the end it will probably go into the record books for the damage it has caused.

  66. Ok, I’m sorry. The reality is that I have been off topic. Was Irene still a hurricane when it made landfall? The data suggests that it was a tropical storm based upon the recorded sustained winds. Was Irene hyped by the media? Yes, it most definitely was, as almost every storm is hyped these days. Especially after having gone 3 years without a hurricane making landfall in the USA. It is all about the ratings. People love a disaster, when it happens to other people. In the EMS/Fire business we often call accidents and fires the “world’s greatest spectator sport.” Does it damage future credibility for when a large storm finally makes an appearance? Yes it does. People along the shore will remember that Irene wasn’t a big deal, and therefore there is no need to listen to the dire warnings.

  67. Hurricane or not, Vermont and upstate NY got its ass kicked by this storm. Some amazing pictures coming out of there today. Luckily very few people live up in that bucolic area. Worst disaster to hit my part of PA was Tropical Storm Agnes (nee hurricane, although barely and way south in FLA) in 1972. Killed 129 people and was the most destructive hurricane to hit the US to that point, even though as noted, it was barely a hurricane by technical definition.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hurricane_Agnes
    There was a lot of hype, because anyone who lived in the NE for any amount of time knows that hurricanes/T.S. do come our way occasionally, and dump tons of rain. We also know that every once in a while they do severe damage and should not be taken lightly.

  68. Well, I agree it was pretty feeble as hurricanes go. But it still caused a surprising amount of damange in central Jersey. A good number of homes and shops flooded, many secondary roads were closed yesterday, many people remain without power–some won’t get it until the 4th or later–and New Jersey transit is still not running trains on the Northeast Corridor line.
    So wind damage to houses seems minimal; a fair but not excessive number of tress came down; flooding was bad, but not as the Great Flood of ’07. But a fair sized mess overall.

  69. So I was defending a non hurricane. According to FOX it did not decrease in intensity and maintained 85 mph winds as it traveled just inside the edge of NC/Southern VA and then north. I ignored the little voice that said it should have decreased in strength when it hit land, especially after learning the ‘eyewall’ had collapsed before landfall in NC. So. Was FOX (and the TWC) not reporting any decrease or was the NHC not reporting accurately?

  70. Not reportng the dynamic and changing nature of this storm seems to be the problem. Most people hear hurricane, they are thinking high winds and rain at the coastal areas. What we got was devastating floods and power outages inland in some areas, more typical with a large scale tropical storm, and exactly what this evolved into after a weakened landfall in NC.

  71. Steve Schaper says:
    Calling it a ‘rain storm’ is just as destructive as over hyping it. It was a hurricane until it lost its punch just before hitting NC. It should have been downgraded then to a Tropical Storm. That status still carries a lot weight because of the rain a TS dumps.

  72. It’s interesting to read the comments about our “weather event” on the East Coast. Seems like the old parable about the three blind men meeting an elephant for the first time. Each had a wildly different “perception” of the animal. The ironic thread through all of this is that forcasters couldn’t determine what a localized weather event could or would do just a few hours before it reached a location. OK, I can deal with that, I can’t forcast what my cat will do moment to moment either.
    And yet many of these folks believe they have the iron-clad answer to world climate in the far future? The expressed inability to forcast the actions of a bounded weather system in the next few hours flys in the face of those to say they clearly see what’s going to happen in the far more complex global system years in the future.
    Ya can’t have it both ways…
    Mike

  73. In the UK there was a classic parallel to Irene. Someone from France telephoned the BBC Met off to say that the french had forecast a huricane (ourigan) for the following day. Michael Fish said, in his forecast, don’t worry there will not be a huricane. The next day the UK was hit by winds over 110mph (huricane force on the Beaufort scale). Technically it was not a huricane. It was a fast deepening depression which was also a fast moving on and a fast filling one. All three phases were violent and hence the winds. Irene was a huricane at one time, became a tropical storm and then depression. Is it important if NWS calls it a huricane when it’s a tropical storm. Well yes if they are to be the technical experts of weather in the US. For the purpose of informing the public NO. If it’s dangerous, it’s dangerous. Dangerous means, will there be fast approaching floods, will there be a storm front carrying extreme winds (no time to react), will there be loss of power for significant periods. If yes then it’s dangerous. BUT the weathermen and the authorities (no hope for the media), in my opinion, should just be honest and say “this is a dangerous storm so take all the usual precautions. It’s not as if the US hasn’t had huricanes before, but the UK, now that’s different.

  74. To see how damaging Cat 1 or Tropical Storms can be, see Hurricane Agnes in 1972. It was barely a hurricane when it hit Fla., was on a TS as it made its way north killing 129 people and $3 billion in damages, the most costly hurricane ever at that point and the first Cat 1 to have its name retired. I remember as a kid our little Conacagigue Stream, usually no more than 20 feet wide and 3 feet deep swallowing an entire valley in 3 feet of water and the Susquehannah River rising to the 2nd story of buildings in Harrisburg. 18 inches of rain central and east PA.
    Sorry if this is a repeat as my first post went through the ozone hole into the ether I guess.

  75. Poptech says:
    August 29, 2011 at 4:52 pm
    “… Saint George, 70 mph, Tuckerton, 69 mph, Ocean City, 66 mph…”
    This is consistent with with a measurement of a rain cell in the eyewall that I clocked at 82.4 mph via NexRad. At an elevation between 2500 and 3600 feet (0.5° beam at 50 to 70 miles), that reduces to about 62 to 66 mph at 33ft elevation using the generic NHC eyewall wind curve.

  76. I continue to think NHC/Noaa needs to review their 20 year old technology regarding forecast of
    surface (30 ft )wind speeds, and also rethink their entire report format.The 6 hour time interval between updates should also be reviewed. Go back and read the cryptic conclusory ‘discussion’ sections written by apparently one individual instead of a team. These one page, three paragraph reports generate more questions than they answer regarding wind speeds. More technical discussion is needed with opposing views and probabilities also described. Let the public know about the uncertainties, and explain the differences between estimated wind speed and actual ground level measurements. Give the public the facts; they don’t need government spin because the public is irresponsible and can’t protect themselves from uncertainty.

  77. Judging a tropical-type storm by pressure would be problematic. The potential winds are determined by the storm-center pressure, but also by the ambient pressure fields surrounding the storm. The lower the surrounding “high” pressure, the less the potential wind speeds.

  78. j ferguson says:
    August 29, 2011 at 4:26 pm
    “… but if it wasn’t really a hurricane what would be affected?”
    Staying away from a cheeky response, the answer is PUBLIC OPINION of the reliability of the forecast and what they will actually see when it gets to them. For many years people were warned of storms and hurricanes along the Gulf Coast, and saw nothing more dangerous than a lot of rain and a bit of wind. It got to be common place for people to have hurricane parties… such as the one at Richelieu Manor Apartments in 1969. Allegedly the only survivor floated out the window on a mattress and wound up in a tree about 12 miles away.
    If the news service had any integrity, they would have called this what it was. A massive tropical storm shorty after landfall and a hurricane up until that point. A lot of people are going to take away the impression that a hurricane is just a big rain event with some wind. That will work fine until they spend the night huddled in the hallway as 115 mph winds tear through the neighborhood for 2 hours or get caught out on the interstate as it makes landfall.

  79. ******
    Pull My Finger says:
    August 30, 2011 at 7:17 am
    I remember as a kid our little Conacagigue Stream, usually no more than 20 feet wide and 3 feet deep swallowing an entire valley in 3 feet of water and the Susquehannah River rising to the 2nd story of buildings in Harrisburg. 18 inches of rain central and east PA.
    *****
    Sounds like you were close to where I lived at the time. If your “Conacagigue” stream is the same one that runs from east of Chambersburg, PA southwest to the Potomac River, I think the correct spelling is “Conococheaque”. But the way you spelled it actually sounds like how it’s pronounced. 🙂

  80. 340,000 customers without electricity in RI. I’m well into a third day without it. Does it really matter that the sustained wind speeds were less the 75mph? Enough nit-picking already.

  81. Tropical Storms and Hurricanes should be designated by both a number and a letter. The number would designate the usual wind speed and the letter would designate the expected ocean surge and rainfall. It was these latter elements that caused most of the Irene damage.

  82. Beng, that’s the one. I knew I spelled it wrong, but was too lazy to look it up. Darn Indians don’t know how to spell. We lived in Spring Valley at the time, not surprisingly near the spring where the creek orginated. Spent many a lazy summer day floating down the creek in intertubes and fishing off one of the many bridges. Lived near Chambersburg until 1991. Looking at Google Maps it’s nice to see the area is still mostly farm land as far as the eye can see.

  83. Gary says:
    August 30, 2011 at 8:19 am
    “340,000 customers without electricity in RI. I’m well into a third day without it. Does it really matter that the sustained wind speeds were less the 75mph?”
    Actually, it does matter. Someone is going to walk away from this with an erroneous idea of what a Hurricane is.
    Third day without power? Get back to me when it’s been four weeks. I’ll be impressed then.
    Bad storm? Yes. I agree. Hurricane? No. Not in Rhode Island. You’ve had Nor’Easters worse than this.

  84. Tom in South Jersey says:
    I’m aware that the Atlantic City Expressway is well constructed. It’s probably the best road in South Jersey. Unfortunately it would only serve to evacuate a few towns, not a hundred miles of shore towns. If people had waited until the last moment to evacuate, then they would be dealing with choke point traffic jams, hazardous weather conditions, power failures and fuel shortages. The point is that they have to give “advance” warning of the storm, not wait until the day it hits.

    All it could possibly evacuate is Absecon Island (Longport – Atlantic City) and Brigantine (aprox 12 miles). My point was that people who live in those areas had a viable and safe evacuation route that had no chance of flooding with Irene. I have no problem with “warnings”, I have a problem with dictatorial mandatory evacuations that are unnecessary.

  85. Regardless or whether or not Irene was a hurricane or not, it was very destructive. So the question is, what more can be done to prevent or mitigate crippling disasters? Will the money spent be worth it?
    NOAA is claiming 725 billion in damages for natural events of all types since 1980, half of that credited to tropical storms and hurricanes. Earthquakes are not included.
    http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/img/reports/billion/state2010.pdf

  86. Bing,
    Another reason that evacuations are made mandatory is because if it’s not mandatory, criminals tend to stay and rob the homes of those who wisely choose to leave. Making the evacuation mandatory gives police the authority to pick up criminals taking advantage of the empty homes. It just works better this way.
    Sorry if that smacks of socialism, but if you think about it, any form of government is socialistic by its very nature. IMHO our job is to limit “governing” to a reasonable level.

  87. Theo Goodwin says:
    August 29, 2011 at 5:33 pm
    In practical terms, hurricanes knock down things. They knock down trees, some buildings, and power lines. They bring torrential rain that causes flooding. When a hurricane is coming your way, the best solution is to leave town.
    The next level down is the tropical storm. Tropical storms bring torrential rain that causes flooding. If you are safe from floods, you do not have to leave town or even miss work.
    Big difference, wouldn’t you say?

    Indeed, by your practical definition it was certainly a hurricane when over NJ.
    Many trees, power lines and some buildings knocked down. I had 5 hours of tornado watch during the night, 30 hr loss of power (minor compared to many who are still waiting for it to be restored).
    Of course the flooding was legendary, ~10″ of rain onto already saturated ground led to the worst floods in 100 years. Most people missed work yesterday because it was impossible to get anywhere.
    Tornado damage: http://media.nj.com/star-ledger/photo/9945996-essay.jpg
    Flood and fire (Jersey shore): http://media.nj.com/star-ledger/photo/9945982-essay.jpg
    Big thing knocked down: http://media.nj.com/star-ledger/photo/9945980-essay.jpg

  88. Water knocks stuff down real good. In fact, in the long run, there is very little on earth that knocks down stuff as effectively as moving water.
    You can get a lotta water from a Tropical Storm, or even a good old thunderstorm, as I experienced last week. Thunderstorms knock stuff down real good too even though they rarely produce 70mph gusts.

  89. They are in a world of hurt in parts of VT and NJ. Look, I am the self crowned king of critiquing the NHC (National Hysteria Center) and have accused them frequently of count padding. but all things considered, this storm ended up being quite a pain in the rear. I think the forecasting and warning management was reasonable in this case.

  90. That’s silly really. This tropical storm/hurricane was damaging – it killed people, it made others homeless. I dislike it when tradegies become political footballs for whatever purpose.
    Wind was never going to be such a huge problem – we get 80 mph gales in UK easily few times per year without it being called catastrophic. The storm surge on the other hand…

  91. Frederick Michael said at August 29, 2011 at 7:02 pm:
    “Don’t forget that the wind speeds should be higher on the east and lower on the west side of Irene because of the 14MPH northward velocity of the eye. Places on the east should have had sustained windspeeds over 88MPH if Irene was a hurricane.”
    Qualification as a hurricane includes forward speed assisting 1-minute-sustained winds in the right side of the eyewall achieving 73-plus MPH.
    A borderline hurricane moving at 14 MPH would have 1-minute-sustained windspeeds of only
    61 MPH in the eyewall over its path ahead of it, and as low as 49 MPH in the left side of the windiest radius of the eyewall.
    Irene was officially barely a hurricane at 8 AM Sunday, 1 hour before reaching NYC, and officially a 65 MPH tropical storm at 9 AM Sunday when it was over NYC.
    And since it appears to me that at most the left half of the eyewall got over anywhere in NJ, it appears to me unlikely that anywhere in NJ got 1-minute-sustained winds much past 61 MPH or peak gusts much past 75-80 MPH – even if Irene was actually a hurricane then.

  92. HurrIcane Lili was a cat 1 storm which landed near here, and it caried a 12 foot storm surge. This particular bulldozer had a blade about 120 miles wide. A grazing storm like Irene is less likely to pile up a surge than one coming in perpendicular to shore, but you never know when such a storm will decide to loop around and come in perpendicular. I’ve lived in coastal Louisiana all my life and seen several dozen big storms firsthand. You want to be at least 20 feet above sea level when they come near, regardless of strength. I find them exciting to watch from a safe elevation. The power is intriguing. The sounds haunting and eerie. Gives you a sense of perspective, a respect for nature.
    If you think evacuation of large populations is simple, take a look at this picture of Houston prior to Hurricane Rita (and this is with contraflow in effect!) http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/2c/RitaHoustonEvacuation.jpg

  93. SteveSadlov says:
    They are in a world of hurt in parts of VT and NJ.

    The only people in a world of hurt in NJ are those who foolishly live in natural flood planes. If the government would stop providing them with flood insurance or funds to rebuild they would move out of these areas.

  94. If you think evacuation of large populations is simple, take a look at this picture of Houston prior to Hurricane Rita

    Population:
    Atlantic City – 39,958
    Houston – 2,144,491

    I think evacuating a small population is simple.

  95. Speaking of AGW causing mental illness (as some have been), I am prompted to comment that this particular blog is a fine source of wisdom. If I were a doctor and had a patient call me, obsessing about AGW and the latest scare, I’d be tempted to say, “Get on WUWT, take in two threads, and call me in the morning.”

  96. Alan the Brit says:
    August 30, 2011 at 5:20 am
    BBC Lunchtime News declares that “Hurricane Irene” casued worst floods for 75 years …

    In areas where the ground was already saturated. The flooding level wasn’t a pure indication of Irene’s strength.

  97. Poptech says:
    August 30, 2011 at 8:41 pm
    ” The only people in a world of hurt in NJ are those who foolishly live in natural flood planes. If the government would stop providing them with flood insurance or funds to rebuild they would move out of these areas.”
    By that logic people should not be allowed to live in areas that are prone to tornadoes, ice storms, floods, hurricanes, wild fires, avalanche, earthquake or any other kind of natural disaster.

  98. Tom in Florida says:
    August 31, 2011 at 5:41 am

    Poptech says:
    ‘… If the government would stop providing them with flood insurance or funds to rebuild they would move out of these areas.’

    ” By that logic people should not be allowed to live in areas that are prone to tornadoes, ice storms, floods, hurricanes, wild fires, avalanche, earthquake or any other kind of natural disaster.”

    ORLANDO — January 09, 2011
    Despite several years without a hurricane hit in Florida, insurance rates for many Florida homeowners are going up again.
    State regulators have approved $718 million in rate increases. which will affect more than four million Florida homeowners.
    It’s all because of a model being used to set rates based on the 2004 and 2005 storm seasons.
    And it’s not just people living along the coast.

  99. “By that logic people should not be allowed to live in areas that are prone to tornadoes, ice storms, floods, hurricanes, wild fires, avalanche, earthquake or any other kind of natural disaster.”
    They should not be provided with government subsidized flood insurance. That encourages bad behaviour.
    You can build a home anywhere you want, just don’t ask me to rebuild it when it is washed away.

  100. Tom in Florida says:
    August 31, 2011 at 5:41 am
    Poptech says:
    August 30, 2011 at 8:41 pm
    ” The only people in a world of hurt in NJ are those who foolishly live in natural flood planes. If the government would stop providing them with flood insurance or funds to rebuild they would move out of these areas.”
    By that logic people should not be allowed to live in areas that are prone to tornadoes, ice storms, floods, hurricanes, wild fires, avalanche, earthquake or any other kind of natural disaster.

    You did not read what I stated. I made no statement about preventing preventing anyone from living in these areas but rather making the risk equal to the cost. If the government did not subsidize flood insurance it would be on the homeowners to find private insurance or foot the bill themselves. Those who could not afford it or did not want to take the risk would not live there. The government is making these disasters worse by subsidizing insurance and providing funds to rebuild.

  101. Poptech says:
    August 31, 2011 at 12:07 pm
    What’s the difference if I have “government subsidized” flood insurance of which I pay a good portion and those who received federal aid after a natural disaster and pay nothing in advance.
    I have long called for a National Natural Disaster Insurance that all property owners pay into in order to receive federal funds after a natural disaster. No pay, no federal funds. Until the playing field is level for all of us, stop crying about flood insurance.

  102. “I have long called for a National Natural Disaster Insurance”
    Careful what you ask of government.
    Why not just no federal funds for uninsured individuals? If they don’t care enough about their property to insure it, why should I?
    We need government to handle basic infrastructure, law enforcement.
    No need for a government insurance agency…there are plenty of carriers in the private sector.

  103. Tom in Florida says:
    What’s the difference if I have “government subsidized” flood insurance of which I pay a good portion and those who received federal aid after a natural disaster and pay nothing in advance.
    I have long called for a National Natural Disaster Insurance that all property owners pay into in order to receive federal funds after a natural disaster. No pay, no federal funds. Until the playing field is level for all of us, stop crying about flood insurance.

    Because the insurance premium you pay does not equal the insurance payments issued. The difference is made up with tax money that you do no deserve and have no right to take from the rest of us who responsibly choose to live outside of natural flood plains.
    The government should not be involve in ANY form of insurance. You’re only option for insurance should be to pay what ever the market rate is for flood insurance in your area from a private company. If the premiums are too high (hint) don’t live there.
    I do not believe anyone should get federal aid after a natural disaster. All federal aide and federal insurance does is encourage bad behavior and redistribute wealth to those who partake in it at the expense of the responsible.

  104. Heh, heh. Irene was the setup for Katia. See, it simultaneously softened up the target area with huge rains and flooding, and discredited the forecasters, so that when Katia comes screaming in, everyone will just say, “Yeah, yeah. Now pull the other one!” and the consequences will be gargantuously gory!
    You read it here first.

  105. I too wondered why Irene was still a hurricane when “Tides on Line” a NOAA site showed non-hurricane winds from Wrightsville Beach, NC all the way to Delaware. This was before the lights went out on Sat. for 4 days. The NJ insurance commisioner declared that for the purposes of insurance claims, Irene was not a hurricane, but that was when it was all over.

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