McKibben must have set some sort of record for the number of absolute lies in a single paragraph in this LA Times story:
Sandy was off-the-charts terrible, a storm that broke every record in the books: for storm surge, for barometric pressure, for sheer size.
The reality of history blows his “off-the-charts terrible” claim right out of the water:
1. Great Bhola Cyclone, Bangladesh 1970 Bay of Bengal 500,000 [deaths]
2. Hooghly River Cyclone, India and Bangladesh 1737 Bay of Bengal 300,000
3. Haiphong Typhoon, Vietnam 1881 West Pacific 300,000
3. Coringa, India 1839 Bay of Bengal 300,000
5. Backerganj Cyclone, Bangladesh 1584 Bay of Bengal 200,000
6. Great Backerganj Cyclone, Bangladesh 1876 Bay of Bengal 200,000
7. Chittagong, Bangladesh 1897 Bay of Bengal 175,000
8. Super Typhoon Nina, China 1975 West Pacific 171,000
9. Cyclone 02B, Bangladesh 1991 Bay of Bengal 140,000
9. Cyclone Nargis, Myanmar 2008 Bay of Bengal 140,000
11. Great Bombay Cyclone, India 1882 Arabian Sea 100,000
h/t to Tom Nelson
For the USA, the Galveston Hurricane in 1900 could be described as “off the charts terrible”:
On September 8, 1900, a hurricane struck Galveston. Winds estimated at 140 mph swept over the island, leaving devastation in their wake. After the storm surge of 15.7 feet subsided, Galvestonians left their shelters to find 6,000 of the city’s 37,000 residents dead and more than 3,600 buildings totally destroyed.
The 1900 Storm is still considered to be the deadliest natural disaster in U.S. history. After the storm, Galveston constructed a seawall and raised the grade of the island to protect it from future hurricanes.
Now, set’s look at the other three claims he made in detail:
…for storm surge – FALSE
The Bathurst Bay Cyclone, also known as Tropical Cyclone Mahina, which struck Bathurst Bay, Australia on March 5, 1899, is generally credited with the world record for storm surge. The cyclone’s storm surge is variously listed at 13 – 14.6 meters (43 – 48 feet). The Category 5 cyclone was a monster–with sustained winds in excess of 175 mph and a central pressure between 880 and 914 mb. Mahina killed at least 307 people, mostly on pearling ships, and was the deadliest cyclone in Australian history. The eyewitness account of Mahina’s record storm surge was provided by Constable J. M. Kenny, who journeyed to Barrow Point on Bathurst Bay to investigate a crime on the day of the storm. While camped on a ridge 40 feet above sea level and 1/2 mile inland, Kenny’s camp was inundated by a storm wave, reaching waist-deep. On nearby Flinders Island, fish and dolphins were found on top of 15 meter (49 foot) cliffs. However, an analysis by Nott and Hayne (2000) found no evidence of storm-deposited debris higher than 3 – 5 meters above mean sea level in the region. They also cited two computer storm surge simulations of the cyclone that were unable to generate a surge higher than three meters.
…for barometric pressure – FALSE
Hurricane Sandy had the lowest pressure ever recorded for any storm north of North Carolina at 943 millibars just before it came in from the sea on Monday afternoon and hit the New Jersey coast, however, it remained at the weakest level of hurricane throughout its tempestuous tirade through over 1,000 square miles of land.
|Most intense Atlantic hurricanes|
Source: National Hurricane Center National Hurricane Center; Hurricane Research Division; Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory (April 2012). “Atlantic hurricane best track (Hurdat)”. United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of Oceanic & Atmospheric Research. Retrieved 2012-04-19.and The Examiner
…for sheer size – possibly true, but only during the satellite record*
Below are the five largest hurricanes (by gale diameter) ever observed in the Atlantic basin.
|Sources:, , , |
* The satellite record only extends past TIROS1, launched in 1960. Prior to that, there was no way to gauge the diameter of hurricanes. Wind measurement transects to determine the breadth of gale diameter is also a recent technological innovation, hence the list is skewed to present day technology measurements.
As far as most intense hurricanes, here is the list, and Sandy isn’t in the top ten. But, that won’t stop emotional political activists like Bill McKibben from making false claims without looking at the real data first. He simply doesn’t care.