New alarm book pushes the 'Weather is never just weather' idea

The “King of Cool” writes in our recent Open Thread

Weather is never just weather

Says Sophie Cunningham in her new book which she is promoting all over Australia at the moment warning us to be afraid, extremely afraid.

Why? Well, guess what – this year marks the fortieth anniversary of Cyclone Tracy which hit the city of Darwin on Christmas Eve 1974, killing 71 people, destroying 80% of the houses and leaving 41,000 of the 47,000 inhabitants homeless.

(Expect lots and lots more cyclone hysteria leading up to Dec 24)

Listen here to Sophie’s grave warning on the ABC (17.44 on the download audio):

“We can expect more Tracys unless we begin to take climate change seriously” Sophie tells us.

“In the last three decades the number of cyclones and hurricanes has remained constant, but the number of Category 4 and 5 cyclones has increased. Cyclone Tracy, the cyclone that wiped out Darwin on Christmas Day 1974, was a Category 4 cyclone”.

The number of Category 4 and 5 cyclones has increased? Really!

Hey, hang on for a minute Sophie; this is what the BOM actually says about cyclones:

“Trends in tropical cyclone activity in the Australian region (south of the equator; 90–160°E) show that the total number of cyclones appears to have decreased to the mid 1980s, and remained nearly stable since. The number of severe tropical cyclones (minimum central pressure less than 970 hPa) shows no clear trend over the past 40 years.

Ok it also says that:

“There is substantial evidence from theory and model experiments that the large-scale environment in which tropical cyclones form and evolve is changing as a result of greenhouse warming. Projected changes in the number and intensity of tropical cyclones are subject to the sources of uncertainty inherent in climate change projections. There remains uncertainty in the future change in tropical cyclone frequency (the number of tropical cyclones in a given period) projected by climate models.”

And if you go to the technical report link it does state:

“Substantial disagreement remains between climate models concerning future changes in tropical cyclone intensity, although the highest resolution models show evidence of an increase in tropical cyclone intensity in a warmer world”

(Wonder what the lowest resolutions say?)

Sorry Sophie, when am I going to build my cyclone shelter in Sydney?

When we see something different on this trend graph of the REAL world, not the imagined model one:


Cyclone Tracy damage:



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It is true that the modeled weather she writes about is not the weather she lives in so maybe in a creepy crazy blissful down under way she can rationalize she is not a loon because she’s not learned that model results are not data. Not so easy for the rest of us to think she’s anything but a fear mongering climate model-driven hysteric, bless her heart. We should challenge her to defend her book using observed vs modeled input.

john robertson

Douglas Adams springs to mind.’ Be very very frightened”.
The Hoodoo Gurus song, “Tojo never made it to Darwin”, was written to order for this hysteric.
Writer must have been a Climatologist.
Seems the real useless idiots are being trotted out now, is this a natural consequence or a planned distraction to cover the retreat of the moneymen?

I have to admit, I’m conflicted here. Not about Sophie’s article – it’s obviously complete bolleaux, as they say north of Buffalo, but there’s a deeper finer point to be considered here. It’s that statement the bloodless grammarian in me is agonising over – “We can expect more Tracys unless we begin to take climate change seriously.”
Should that “Tracys” be “Tracies”? “Tracys” is singular and there’s no possessive connotation but obviously Sophie is fumbling towards a plural, so on balance it shudda oughtta be Tracies.

John West

“We can expect more Tracys unless we begin to take climate change seriously” Sophie tells us.
We can expect more Tracys even if we begin to take climate change seriously; history, science, logic, and reason tells us.
We can expect more weather whether we begin to take climate change seriously or not; history, science, logic, and reason tells us.


Unfortunately, we can expect more Sophies, whatever we do/

Pete of Perth

Her website for those who maybe interested:

Her singular background in Travel Writing and Fiction clearly elevate her above most of the other Charlatans promoting our Impending Doom. I take back all of the bad things I’m still thinking about her latest foray.


That’s a lot of aluminum and tin. Are the homes in Darwin still built this way?
(In Florida they call that a ‘trailer park’.) And no, trailer parks do not fare well in Cat 4 storms.

John M

She’s obviously outside the mainstream.
Doesn’t she know that the official ClimateScienceConsensus™ is “Weather is never just weather…except when we say it is.”

Pete of Perth

Not any more Barbee – at least according to the local building codes.

Richard Sharpe

I was there that night in 1974. Unfortunately, I was outside in a vehicle during the second half and it became rather eventful.
The video brings back memories. The police shot stray dogs once things got organized. There was a bit of looting as well, but nothing like Ferguson. I stuck around for about a month working in my civil service (public servant) job until it was time to go south to college (university).
I was only nineteen.


Of course, the severe weather events in 1974 like Cyclone Tracy in Australia, major flooding in Pakistan, and a huge tornado season in the US were taken as evidence for global cooling, with demands that governments must do something to prevent it.
When the 2011 year provided many of the same severe weather events, alarmists cited them as evidence of global warming and demanded that governments must do something to prevent it…


Such tactics are all that the climate alarmists have left, since the Pause continues. Not one climate alarmist, to my knowledge, has dared to predict when the Pause will stop. It has to be predicted in a peer reviewed scientific paper to be valid, so I am told.

I wonder if she is aware of her status as a ‘Willfully Ignorant F**kstick’? Or has CNN’s Bill Weir not read her book yet? Which means President Obama has no knowledge of the impending multiple Tracy Tragedy… good Lord… we’re all going to die a painstakingly slow, unserious, warmer, lush green death.


Sophie’s first novel, Geography, is advertised on her website with a blurb from the Sunday Telegraph saying, “Genuinely erotic…a compelling journey.” (Nothing says “erotic” to me like the word “geography.”) Perhaps she is enhancing her qualifications so she can show how well she does “climate porn” in a bid to replace Pachauri as IPCC Chairman in the future.


Just visited Sophie’s webpage and see she is an author who focuses on advocacy for a number of agenda topics. If she got the science so wrong regarding climate what might she be doing to women’s, etc., issues? Everyone tome she has put pen to is now open to scrutiny and doubt.


“The Government must do something about it!” ( the weather) now if that is not the top dog oxymoron….
And Barbee, Darwin is now the most cyclone proof city on the planet – as it should be, standing where it is ” Where hurricanes hardly ever happen”..but cyclones sure can…


Until people with as much access to the bully pulpit stand up to serial deceivers like Sophie, nothing will change. Until journalists regain their professional standards and actually fact check wild claims by rent seeking fear mongers it will be difficult to have real progress. Until then it is very lucrative for the Sophie’s of the world to (profitably) push their reactionary ignorance on the public.

Bill H

I remember going out after a tornado in Nebraska in the early 70’s and seeing straw protruding from 8 x 8 posts in the barn. It did major roof damage to the barn and the house as it was a long summer rebuilding them. I have always respected the power of mother nature as it did major damage but did not take either structure, but those pieces of straw I can still see in my mind as if it were yesterday. Grand-dad told us its not generally the tornado that kills, its the derbies thrown out from them at high speed.
I am now looking at alarmists in a similar manner. They go off like a tornado but its the stuff they are spewing that can do the real damage. She is spinning without facts and throwing off debris. If she can get just one or two little things to stick in peoples minds she will have won. Just like the straw could not take down the building, it is meaningless drivel, yet the low information public will grasp on to them..
The alarmists are truly grasping at straws to keep their religion alive.. and they will lie to give them straws to grasp on to.

Ron C.

Weather is what happens, and climate is the average of events that have already occurred.

Bill H

Weather = Short term Climactic event
Climate = The cumulative of many short term climatic events creating a pattern.
Weather is climate and climate is weather the only difference is TIME…


Climate: The framework within which weather happens and wherein the average weather is centered.

David in Cal

I was in Darwin 20 years ago. it’s a jumping off point for Kakadu National Park. Darwin has been completely rebuilt with far sturdier structures. One reason Tracy did so much damage is that most of the buildings were simple frame. If (or when) another Tracy hits Darwin, there will be far less damage.
BTW it says something about motivated reasoning that the lack of a big cyclone in Darwin during the last 39 years is somehow taken as evidence that cyclones are getting worse.


Here’s another spectacularly fine piece of alarmist claptrap from a post on JC’s latest blog.
Horrific Methane Eruptions in East Siberian Sea
A catastrophe of unimaginable propertions is unfolding in the Arctic Ocean. Huge quantities of methane are erupting from the seafloor of the East Siberian Sea and entering the atmosphere over the Arctic Ocean.
Aargh – “A catastrophe of unimaginable propertions”!
Doom! Doom! We’re all doomed!
The unfortunate spelling of ‘proportions’ detracts somewhat from the impact IMO.


Sophie’s a sophist, methinks. And not the good kind.

Berényi Péter

In 1974 atmospheric CO₂ concentration used to be 330 ppmv, well below the level considered safe. Therefore BOM is wrong, Cyclone Tracy never happened. Profound Minitrue action is urgently required.

Bruce Cobb

Climate Alarmism can be quite lucrative. So can robbing banks.

Pointman says:
August 16, 2014 at 8:02 am
Should that “Tracys” be “Tracies”?
She should have written something like ” ….events similar to Tracy will occur…”, or “…Tracy like events will occur”. Her phrase is just poor grammar. When I started blogging 6 years ago, I was very surprised at the many grammatical errors which could be seen almost anywhere I went.

Ron C.

Weather consists of events in real world. Climate is a statistical framework derived from weather events.

Richard Sharpe

BTW it says something about motivated reasoning that the lack of a big cyclone in Darwin during the last 39 years is somehow taken as evidence that cyclones are getting worse.

And as far as I recall a cyclone had not hit Darwin for something 50 years before 1974 as well. That is why we were so uninspired to do any serious preparation thinking that it just wouldn’t hit.
I went to a Christmas party that night and drove home in worsening conditions. Not as memorable as what happened a little later though, nor the sight when the sun came up at around 5AM.


Thanks Pete.
Glad to see that’s not the the case anymore. Esp. after such an awful disaster.


This is from just one strip of the Pilbra coast, less than 100 km (62 miles) wide from 1879 to 1925. I think we can all agree this was not due to rampant cAGW attack.
I lived in Roebourne for a few months when a small boy and it got hit by a another cat 4 while we were there. The above book’s author has no clue.
Tropical Cyclones Affecting the Karratha/Dampier/Roebourne region
24-25 Dec 1870 – A cyclone passed near Roebourne on Christmas morning, the pressure falling to 956 hpa. The cyclone caused damage to buildings and boats. Trees were so thoroughly denuded of foliage that the landscape was described as similar to that in winter in England.
6-7 Jan 1881 – Sixteen people died as all but one large schooner either foundered or was washed ashore. Parts of the coastline were completely changed and two lines of sand hills were eroded away, indications of a significant storm surge.
7 March 1882 – A severe cyclone passed Roebourne and Cossack in the evening causing damage to every building in the settlements. Cossack recorded a minimum pressure of 942 hPa. Despite the extensive loss of sheep from surrounding stations it was considered fortunate that only one person suffered an injury.
1 March 1889 – Flooding was considerable at Cossack where the cyclone coincided with high tide. All crew aboard the Waratah were lost off Cape Preston and one man drowned in the river at Roebourne.
4-9 Jan. 1894 – Within the space of five days two cyclones crossed the Pilbara coast. The first caused damage to many buildings at Roebourne and Cossack. The second cyclone caused more significant damage to the area completely washing away the previously damaged sea wall at Cossack. Over forty lives were believed to have been lost as twelve luggers and the steamer Anne were destroyed. Altogether the damage was estimated at 15000 pounds and the loss of some 15000 sheep. Flooding was also substantial.
2 April. 1898 – A cyclone was described as causing more damage at Cossack than had ever been experienced before. Tramway, rails, road and bridges were destroyed and telegraph line downed. Houses collapsed and all boats slipped their moorings. The damage was estimated at over 30000 pounds. Whim Creek registered 747 mm of rain in 24 hours, the highest daily rainfall ever recorded in WA.
4 Jan. 1911 – A cyclone affected the Pilbara coast between Cossack and Onslow. The Glenbank was wrecked off Legendre Island with the loss of all but one of its crew. The cyclone crossed near Mardie station where nearly every outbuilding was levelled to the ground and 6000 gallon tanks were blown away.
21-22 March 1912 – This cyclone crossed the coast just west of Balla Balla, the port for the copper mines of the Whim Creek district, early on the 22nd. Damage extended more than 200 kilometres along the coast. A large, iron sailing ship, the Crown of England, was wrecked on Depuch Island; a similar vessel, the Concordia, was driven ashore nearby. Several lighter vessels and pearling luggers were sunk or wrecked. The Koombana was lost at sea off Port Hedland with none of the 140 people aboard surviving. In total the cyclone claimed well over 150 lives.
21 Jan.1925 – Only a very small portion of the land end of the Point Samson jetty was left intact. Almost 5 km of the tramline was washed away and the Pope’s Nose Creek bridge was badly damaged. At Cossack the sea in the creek rose 7.2 m, covering the road and surrounding country for about a mile (1.6 km). Seven luggers and a schooner which had sheltered in Cossack Creek were lifted 100 m into the mangroves by the storm surge. Not a building was left unscathed in Roebourne. Residents sheltered in more substantial stone buildings as the timber houses were razed. The Jubilee Hotel was unroofed and the other two hotels badly damaged.
That sort of repeated destruction can come back at any time, and it definitely won’t have anything to do with CO2 rise.


Hmm… 1974 was in a period of global cooling. We seem to be currently in a cooling period. It is claimed severe climate events INCREASE during periods of global cooling. Maybe Sophie had her tongue in her cheek? 🙂

Two disasters in 1974
There were two disasters in 1974, one was Cyclone Tracy which hit the city of Darwin killing 71 people and destroying much of the town, while the other was I got married that year shortly before the Cyclone.
As I look back on both events, they don’t seem to suggest CO2 related global warming was the cause even though I got married in a fever hotter than a pepper sprout ( ) and it is said to get very hot at times in Darwin. In fact, since CO2 seems to have been “safe” back in those days of the scare of a new “ice age” (we are in an ice age now of course, they meant a new glacification) I sort of think that both these horrific events may have been due to natural causes.
(the wife never looks at what I am typing thank the gods)


Her blog says she is a writer of Fiction. That says it all.

It is worth noting that if her book had been a skeptical one instead of an alarmist one, she would be damned by the alarmist camp, Skeptical Science would run an article bemoaning the lack of science education among the public, and her lack of scientific qualifications would be highlighted repeatedly.
But because she agrees with the alleged scientific consensus, the requirement of scientific qualifications is magically waived.


What happened to “climate is what you expect; weather is what you get”?


Apart from the fact that Darwin was the only major town in 10,000km of coastline and had no decent building standards, if Tracy had passed 15km to the East or West the damage would have been minimal and Gough wouldn’t have had to interrupt his holiday.


Tracys is shorthand for cyclones – fairly clear I would think – so not a grammatical error. The silly thesis ,however is not so readily forgiven.

Climate Heritic

I was fifteen and sat on the toilet seat all night and I was not scared at all. So bring on the rest of the Tracy’s. In addition I also worked on plans (draftsperson) 6 years later and you had to follow the building code or else the building was not approved to be built. So yeah One Tough Town.
Media Watch needs to be told about Sophie and see if they can do something about this propagandist.
Climate Heritic


Oddly enough I have been told that the weather is (WAS) not the same as the climate. Then I was told that the weather was now the climate. I was also told about CATASTROPHIC ANTHROPOGENIC GLOBAL WARMING, then I was called a ‘CLIMATE DENIE*’. I no longer know ‘weather’ to laugh or cry.
Here they are in action. There are so many examples of this kind of duplicitous behavior.

Guardian – 15 February, 2005
George Monbiot
It is now mid-February, and already I have sown 11 species of vegetable. I know, though the seed packets tell me otherwise, that they will flourish. Everything in this country – daffodils, primroses, almond trees, bumblebees, nesting birds – is a month ahead of schedule. And it feels wonderful. Winter is no longer the great grey longing of my childhood. The freezes this country suffered in 1982 and 1963 are, unless the Gulf Stream stops, unlikely to recur. Our summers will be long and warm. Across most of the upper northern hemisphere, climate change, so far, has been kind to us.
Guardian – 6 January 2010
Leo Hickman & George Monbiot
Britain’s cold snap does not prove climate science wrong
Climate sceptics are failing to understand the most basic meteorology – that weather is not the same as climate, and single events are not the same as trends
…Now we are being asked to commit ourselves to the wilful stupidity of extrapolating a long-term trend from a single event….
Guardian – 20 December 2010
George Monbiot
That snow outside is what global warming looks like
Unusually cold winters may make you think scientists have got it all wrong. But the data reveal a chilling truth


I have also been told that anything less than 30 years is just the weather. Even the IPCC and the WMO tell me this very same thing. They do say climate can be months to millions of years with the classic period being 30 years or more of weather data. So there you go, the weather can be the climate whenever you REALLY NEED IT.


The heatwave in Russia was a sign of climate change (less than 1 month), while increasing Antarctic sea ice extent over a decade (still weather) is just the weather. Weather and climate should both be argued now. This is very easy for me, but I think they will try to set the rules on a DAILY BASIS (weatherclimatechange or not).


Ron C. says:
August 16, 2014 at 10:43 am
Weather consists of events in real world. Climate is a statistical framework derived from weather events.

Nice that we agree.

Pointman says:
August 16, 2014 at 8:02 am
I have to admit, I’m conflicted here. Not about Sophie’s article – it’s obviously complete bolleaux, as they say north of Buffalo, but there’s a deeper finer point to be considered here. It’s that statement the bloodless grammarian in me is agonising over – “We can expect more Tracys unless we begin to take climate change seriously.”
Should that “Tracys” be “Tracies”? “Tracys” is singular and there’s no possessive connotation but obviously Sophie is fumbling towards a plural, so on balance it shudda oughtta be Tracies.

Ah, a comment inviting grammatical pedantry. I think I can respond without being accused of being an Internet ‘grammar Nazi’.
Others may differ, but the convention I observe is this: If ‘tracy’ were a common noun, then more than one would be ‘tracies’. But since Tracy is a proper noun, the proper plural is ‘Tracys’.
So there.
/Mr Lynn


Sophie Cunningham talks crap. I live in Darwin. Over the 12 months in each year, Darwin probably has the most stable weather in all of Australia. We don’t get extreme weather. Cyclone Tracy was a one-off. As for Cunningham, here in Darwin we have never heard of her or her book.
What I find strange is why nobody is talking about the unusually cold temperatures currently being experienced in Darwin. Then again, it doesn’t suit the dangerous human-caused global warming agenda to talk about it.


Great thread, thanks to all who contributed their stories.
Especial thanks to Unmentionable with the history of devastating cyclones on the Pilbara coast. Boy, the people who lived there were tough and resilient. Today’s wusses have a nervous breakdown if the power is off for a day or two. The inhabitants in the late C19th – early C20th, not to mention the many mariners who perished at sea, had a lot more tribulations to deal with.

Krudd Gillard of the Commondebt of Australia

Soapy Cunningham – another one suffering from climate change desperation syndrome. Give her a powder, someone, please.


I’m with Tim on this Sophie that you need to take your medication regularly-


Mind you Sophie it would be better if you tried some self-help therapy first-


And note in particular from that Onslow cyclone graph the disclaimer-
‘The accuracy of wind gust values early in the record are usually less reliable than those in recent times’
But never let the bleeding obvious facts in one particular area of weather/climate science and monitoring get in the way of fiddling old temp records when it suits eh folks?