Discovery News Category 6 hurricanes – 'batshit stupid'

Hurricane expert Dr. Ryan Maue pulls no punches when it comes to putting John Abraham of the Climate Science Rapid Response Team in his place:

Here’s what Abraham has to say at Discovery News

But wind speeds don’t tell the whole story, said John Abraham, a thermal scientist at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn. The size of a storm, the amount of rain it dumps, and the size of the wave surges it produces also determine how damaging a hurricane will be, even though the category scale doesn’t take those details into account.

“The hurricanes that really matter, that cause damage, are increasing,” Abraham said. “What scientists have been saying would happen for decades is now happening. There’s an economic cost to not doing anything about this problem.”

Umm, no, when you look at the frequency and accumulated energy in hurricanes at Dr. Ryan Maue’s Tropical web page, you find it trending down:

Historical Tropical Cyclone Activity Graphics

Figure: Global Hurricane Frequency (all & major) — 12-month running sums. The top time series is the number of global tropical cyclones that reached at least hurricane-force (maximum lifetime wind speed exceeds 64-knots). The bottom time series is the number of global tropical cyclones that reached major hurricane strength (96-knots+). Adapted from Maue (2011) GRL.

Figure: Last 4-decades of Global and Northern Hemisphere Accumulated Cyclone Energy: 24 month running sums. Note that the year indicated represents the value of ACE through the previous 24-months for the Northern Hemisphere (bottom line/gray boxes) and the entire global (top line/blue boxes). The area in between represents the Southern Hemisphere total ACE.

1970- July 2012 monthly ACE Data File (Maue, 2010, 2011 GRL) [–] 1970-2011 global tropical cyclone frequency monthly Data File

Dr. Patrick Michaels points out last Friday in this excellent essay on hurricanes:

It’s been 2,535 days since the last Category 3 storm, Wilma in 2005, hit the beach. That’s the longest period—by far—in the record that goes back to 1900.

Quite a drought. He adds:

Aren’t there more whoppers—the powerful Category 4 and 5 monsters that will mow down pretty much anything in their path?  As is the case with much severe weather, we simply see more than we did prior to satellites and (in the case of hurricanes) long-range aircraft reconnaissance. As the National Hurricane Center’s Chris Landsea (with whom I have published on tropical cyclones) has shown, if you assume the technology before satellites, the number of big storms that would be detected now is simply unchanged from the past.

There’s a pretty good example of this spinning in the remote Atlantic right now, which is Hurricane Kirk, far away from shipping channels, land, and nosy airplanes.  Kirk is compact enough that it would likely have been completely missed fifty years ago. If it spins up into a Category 4 (which is currently not forecast), that would be another biggie that would have gotten away, back in the day.

There’s another reason that the increase in frequency is more apparent than real: “shorties”.  That’s what Landsea calls the ephemeral tropical whirls of little consequence that are now named as storms more because of our detection technology than anything else. There’s also probably an overlay of institutional risk aversion in play, as it is now recognized that seemingly harmless thunderstorm clusters over the ocean can spawn decent floods when they hit land.

There is another driver for an increase in Atlantic hurricane frequency that isn’t operating elsewhere.   In 1995, a sudden shift in the distribution of North Atlantic temperatures increased hurricane frequency.  Landsea predicted—at the time—that the Atlantic would soon fire up from its hurricane doldrums of the previous two decades, which it did.  This type of shift has occurred repeatedly in the last century, both before and during (modest) global warming from greenhouse gases.

The influence of technology on storm reporting is something I’ve talked about in great detail before:

Why it seems that severe weather is “getting worse” when the data shows otherwise – a historical perspective

Abraham is clueless. Freelance writer Emily Sohn, judging by some of her other articles, might well fit into the label Maue applies to the hurricane story.


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There’s an economic cost to not doing anything about this??? Maybe we could have Superman fly around the eye of the hurricanes in the opposite direction of the winds to break ’em up? We should build big hurricane baffles? …. Or…..
Maybe we should pay higher insurance rates, which is what the hurricane alarmism is all about in the first place. As found in the AIG funded hurricane studies that resulted in higher insurance rates for Florida that got everyone’s panties in a knot?

Frank K.

This is the most B.S. stupid statement by Mr. Abraham…
“There’s an economic cost to not doing anything about this problem.”
What he means, of course, is that we should fund the construction of the universal climate control device so the climate scientists can control the climate at will. Where DO they find these people?? [yikes]

“There’s an economic cost to not doing anything about this???”
Again, the first question we should ask is……..
“What can we do????”

Pull My Finger

News alert, if it is a hurricane, it is going to rain… alot. Cat 1 or Cat 5. Just in Cat 1 that’s probably the worst of your worries. This is just politic-metorologically sour grape, nothing more the green establishment would have loved than a Cat 5 monster hitting New Orleans (well, no, Tampa I guess) right as the Rep Convention started. Time to right the agenda by twisting the science.

Pull My Finger

Wonder what changed in the 30s that caused so few hurricanes to hit the N.E.? There are many reports of Cat 3-5 hurricanes hitting from Maryland to Maine from 1810s to 1930s, including ones large enough to wipe out towns and break barrier islands in half.


Looking for an admittedly small silver lining in Abraham’s statements let me ask this: since hurricane flooding can be as bad as wind damage, is there any measure of rainfall equivalent to ACE? Is it possible that landfalling hurricanes are dumping more water now than in the past?


If such a problem exists, the remedy would be the same even if there were no increase: Build better.
Stronger levees, for example, than the ones Katrina overwhelmed. Or don’t put housing below sea level in the first place, nor on primary floodplains. Or build structures that can withstand strong winds without critical damage.

Dodgy Geezer

I don’t think that Hurricane expert Dr. Ryan Maue completely understands the problem. Yes, hurricane energy is trending down – in the RAW data.
In the data corrected for Global Warming, it’s off the scale. As are all the catastrophes and deaths associated with the changing climate. After correction…
And that, in a nutshell, is where the real problem is…

Joseph Bastardi

Dodgy Geezer. That is pure nonsense a) there are many more people living in the coastal areas b) there is much more development c) HURRICANES WERE WORSE IN THE 30S THROUGH 50S. 28 MAJORS IN 30 YEARS, 21 MAJOR HITS IN 20. are you kidding me?? If any thing one can argue the distortion of temperatures occurring now and the lowering of pressures in the summer further north than normal is REDUCING the convergence in the tropics. I opined that in ICCC7 that there is a way to argue the temp profiles caused by the cyclical warmth of the oceans and lag has lead to less activity since the deviations from normal of temp and pressure are adjusted north. If its warming as you say ( its not as the past 13 years show,
and the raw data is trending down, how does that compute to global warming causing more damage. Its simply absurd
Ever hear of Agnes 1972. Connie and Diane 1950, Juan 1985 Camille in Va 31 inches of rain in SIX HOURS. Of course you havent. As for Ryan, he is spot on right, and your up is down and down is up world is not where reality lies
Amazing less activity and it means more.

Notice the pattern. When real world data conflicts with the dogma, there follows the invention of some new metric that would be consistent with it, if only it could be found and measured. But it never is. Whether it is mysterious but unmeasured hurricane waves, or deep ocean missing heat, or trends in the Palmer drought severity index, the proof is always unobtainable. This endless invention is the stuff of astrology, not science.

Pull My Finger
Good fun stuff. Only one hurricane landfall in all of the 1860s and the NE really got hammered in the 1950s.

Joe B, I think dodgy geezer was being sarcastic 🙂

We need something akin to the Fujita scale for hurricanes (& other devastating, globally aware, intentional, Rovian, buzzword-laden wind-thingies) that attempts to quantify the number & volume of Warmist tears shed as a result of Republican- & SUV-caused wind-thingies over & above what would have normally been shed.
So we compare Katrina (2005) (c1800 deaths, 7 years of blaming Karl Rove’s hurricane ray, millions of lines of tears running down faces) with the Galveston hurricane of 1900 (c8000 deaths, zero tears even though it was obviously McKinley’s fault) to create the scale with Katrina (2005) being 1 & Galveston (1900) being 0. This gives us a solid 0.8 for Isaac (millions of lines of tears, few deaths, fatuous claims of God’s judgment upon Tampa, etc), 0.85 for Irene (fear, screaming, 67mph wind-speeds at landfall, a couple of deaths, mostly from flooding in Vermont), & <0.01 for anything before 1970 (since those were normal hurricanes that only killed a few tens of thousands of people who didn't even own SUVs).

Pull My Finger

Hmm, only one of the 15 stormiest Typhoon seasons has occured since 2000. Don’t talk about that much do they?

Bloke down the pub

Joseph Bastardi says:
September 4, 2012 at 10:41 am
Dodgy Geezer. That is pure nonsense
I think Dodgy Geezer may have added a sarc tag for simplicity sake.
As for the post. it’s simply a case of the warmists moving the goalposts to fit the situation. The lack of powerful hurricanes making landfall has been getting a bit embarassing for them, so they try to make out that cat1 storms now are actually more damaging than cat3 storms were in the 30’s. In purely financial terms this may be true, though it has nothing to do with global warming. In any case, I don’t see from their logic that cat1 storms of the past wouldn’t have been just as wet as they are today. All in all 0/10 must try harder.

Pull My Finger

How are those Global Warming Induced Tornados going this year?

Tell me something new!!


The record I’m reading claims Wilma reached Cat 3 and made landfall on Oct 24th, 2005. As of today (Sep 4th, 2012) that has been 2507 days ago.

Jeff D.

With stupid like this they really wonder why Skeptics exist?
How has the ” Climate Science ” failed me? Let me count the ways.
1. Fewer Hurricanes.
2. Sea Level is not rising.
3. No increase in Global Temps for 12 years. (While CO2 marches on up)
4. Polar Bear populations is alive and doing well.
And the list goes on, and on, and on.

@Pull My Finger
So far, a possible record low. That is why you haven’t heard about it.

Pull My Finger

But Jeff, when I normalize the data I find that Polar Bears are drowning by the hundreds due to Cat 5 Hurricanes battering the North Pole where it is now 85 degrees and all of Canada North of Saskatoon is underwater.

keith at hastings uk

@ Jeff D. says:
September 4, 2012 at 11:13 am
“How has the ” Climate Science ” failed me? Let me count the ways.”
The worse problem is that science has little to do with it now. There is a Global Warming Industry with loads of jobs and $bn at stake. Nevertheless, shooting down the science must help, albeit the real denouement will be when everyone can see mother nature isn’t cooperating. Wooly sweater time….


@ Pull My Finger
The Global Warming Induced Tornadoes (TM) are hanging out with the Global Warming Induced Hurricanes (TM), down in the deep with the Global Warming Induced Missing Heat (TM).


Isn’t there some generally agreed hurricane energy score that is seen as more appropriate to activity than Category? ACE or something? How is that trending?

Larry Geiger

Easy solution. All those people along the coastlines can move to Kansas. Or Nebraska or Wyoming. PROBLEM SOLVED!
Oh, wait. All those people don’t want to move, even though it’s safer over there? What, in the world, is wrong with these people? For some reason, even with the possibility of tropical windstorms, they don’t want to move to someplace where it’s winter (real winter I’m talking about here) from October to May. Go figure.
Hurricanes would have to blow my house away just about every year before I would choose to move to someplace with REAL winter. Period.

Adam Gallon

Shades of Spinal Tap? Turn it up to 11!

Andrew Newberg

It seems there is a high correlation between hurricanes and stupid…
‘Batshit stupid’ is pretty good, almost on par with ‘Stuck on stupid’, nice job Dr. Maue!


oops, ignore or delete my previous comment – I just spotted ACE later in the post

Pull My Finger

John Stossel did a report many years ago on the billions of dollars that are wasted on coastal mansions that are destroyed and rebuilt, funded by your dollars through increased insurance premiums, for the rich and famous to gallavant in a few weeks a year even though it is almost a certainty that these places will be destroyed or severely damaged every 15-30 years.
There is no sensible reason for people to live in N.O. at this point.


“The hurricanes that really matter, that cause damage, are increasing,”
I am almost tempted to agree with this statement ONLY on the basis that resorts, high-end communities, luxury homes, etc are being built in seaside locations that include spectacular views and hurricanes. If developers insist on expanding into areas that get clobbered by hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, landslides, etc, why should one be shocked when the inevitable happens?
So, perhaps, yes, damaging hurricanes are, perhaps, increasing but only because of what is being placed in their path.
You cannot control the weather, but building permits are another story.

Jeff D.

keith at hastings uk says:
September 4, 2012 at 11:36 am
@ Jeff D. says:
September 4, 2012 at 11:13 am
“How has the ” Climate Science ” failed me? Let me count the ways.”
“The worse problem is that science has little to do with it now.”
I am in total agreement. One of the reasons i denoted “Climate Science”. I am a geek at heart and really do enjoy Science. To see what the idiots have done to it really just pisses me off.


lazy teenager;
Hurricanes would have to blow my house away just about every year before I would choose to move to someplace with REAL winter. Period.
Yes, you’d risk death and the certain loss of all your personal possessions on an annual basis rather than move. You must be some kind of genius.


When the data doesn’t back you up lie, the depressing thing is even when you show people that they are lying they still believe the liar.
‘But storms of Category 3 and above are likely to become more common. In fact, scientists have already observed an uptick in intense hurricanes since 1970, according to an upcoming report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which Abraham has reviewed. And a rating of Category 3 is enough to destroy lives.’ – Oh sorry it’s that bastion of scientific integrity the IPCC.

Joseph Bastardi

If Dodgy Geezer was sarcastic, my apology. With the way things are today in this matter, one can never tell as the absurdities that come out of the AGW camp defy reality
My loyalty gene got the best of me too ( Ryan works with us at Weatherbell now)

Ken Harvey

Dodgy Geezer. This is a truly great site but it seems that many of its readers don’t recognise satire or lampoonery too readily. You are free to add the quite dreadful ‘sarc’ tag but only if you are prepared to give Jonathon Swift another turn in his grave.

My family moved to Florida just in time for Donna in ’60. I have watched hurricanes ever since as you can imagine. There have been few category 5 hurricanes on record and now some bozo wants a category 6? Bizarre. By the way, any long time Florida resident knows we have had less strikes in recent years than in the past — and we are thankful for that.
Counting swirls out to sea! What a racket!


That’s all right. As someone from a place with a real winter, we like it because it keeps folks like lazy teenager out of our backyards.
It’s depressing that this sort of thinking seems to be catching on. Was it The Weather Channel or Shepard Smith who spend so much time during Isaac remarking that even though it was only officially Cat 1, it should be labeled higher because of all the damage it was going to do?

Jim Strom

Ken Harvey: nice! And if I recall correctly quite a few people thought Swift was being serious.

James Ard

The amount of water hurricane Isaac dropped had everyrhing to do with the storm stalling out half on land and half over the Gulf. My town, just east of Baton Rouge, got socked with eighteen hours of tropical rain.


Pull My Finger,
I don’t think you know much about New Orleans. It is not on the coast. It has not been directly hit by very many hurricanes. And it has not flooded from the river very often. The oldest parts of the city rarely flood and housed built before 1940 were often built high enough to avoid flooding. N.O. did not flood in the great flood of 1927 when dozens of other states had huge amounts of flooding. Every few years there are cities in the midwest that get flooded and NO does not. Should all those people leave St. Louis and Des Moine, etc?


Category Six? Is that akin to Category Eleven?

stephen richards

David M Hoffer said:
Yes, you’d risk death and the certain loss of all your personal possessions on an annual basis rather than move. You must be some kind of genius.
He has proven that on many occasions David (do I need a sarc tag here?)

Pull My Finger

New Orleans is below sea level (and water level) and most certainly is on the coast of the Mississippi and Lake Ponchitrain and needs flood walls and levies to fend off the deluge. Not to mention, NO is hemmed in and very difficult to evacuate, which is not the case in the midwest. And the gulf coast is regularly hammered with hurricanes and now N.O. luck is back to normal with two Hurricane hits in 7 years. If you look at the rate of return of hurricanes all along the gulf coast it is 7-8 years. N.O. has just got real lucky… until now.

Tom in Florida

davidmhoffer says:
September 4, 2012 at 12:21 pm
“Yes, you’d risk death and the certain loss of all your personal possessions on an annual basis rather than move. You must be some kind of genius.”
It doesn’t matter where you live. There will always be a weather related chance of losing everything. Ice storms in the NE, tornadoes in the Midwest, earthquakes and landslides on the west coast, flooding around every river and along the sea shore, the list goes on and on. It’s all part of living, you do the best you can to prepare and then you stop worrying. Life is more enjoyable that way and it’s a whole lot more interesting than hiding in a cave your entire life just to die of old age.


“Every few years there are cities in the midwest that get flooded and NO does not. Should all those people leave St. Louis and Des Moine, etc?”
If they want to rebuild using other peoples money (i.e. tax dollars / tax subsidized flood insurance) then yes, they should be required to re-locate outside the flood zone.
If they are willing to rebuild entierly out of their own pocket, then they can live where they want.
Note: I didn’t find this out until I bought a house, but you can’t buy non-subsidized flood insurance any more and you can’t get the subsidized insurance unless you live in a recongnized food plain.

lurker, passing through laughing.

Nearly anyone can buy flood insurance. If you are not in a flood plain, it is very inexpensive.

Jim Clarke

If I was bat shit, I would be offended by Ryan Maue’s comment!

Physics Major

Pull My Finger
New Orleans exists in part because we need a deep-water port at the mouth of the Mississippi.

“It doesn’t matter where you live. There will always be a weather related chance of losing everything. ”
California’s Central Valley is almost an exception:
* No Hurricanes
* No major seismic fault near enough to do major damage
* Only a few funnel clouds ever develop here… An “F” anything is truly rare
* Snow is a once every 15 to 25 year rarity
* We don’t have any major rivers, so there are no major floods to speak of.
On the downside…. It gets pretty HOT. We do have streets that can flood due to heavy rains. But we don’t get much of that here either. 🙂


@ Tom In Florida
Earthquakes are not weather related.