RIP Dr. William Gray – hurricane forecast pioneer, climate skeptic

Esteemed Hurricane Forecast Pioneer William Gray Dies at 86 photo -AP

William Gray Dies at 86 on April 16th, 2016 photo – AP

I knew this was coming, as I had a heads-up from Joe D’Aleo last week that the end was nearing. I knew Dr. Bill Gray through my work in climate, and from attending conferences. He always had a good word for me, and when I encountered him in person, he was fond of parodying the “Wayne’s World” skit where they meet Alice Cooper backstage and get on their knees and chant “I’m not worthy…I’m not worthy”. He’d actually do that with me. It was endearing, yet at the same time a little bit embarrassing, because I was the one who really should be doing that in his presence. I always found myself saying “please Bill, stop that!”, to which he’d get back on his feet and give me a chuckle with that toothy grin of his..

I remember in 2012 2008, I was at a conference, and we were talking about his climate skepticism, and he said to me (from memory) “I don’t care what they think, I’m going to keep doing this until they put me in a box”. A man of integrity and passion, he kept that promise. He will be missed greatly, and I was fortunate beyond words to be able to call him a friend.

UPDATE: Janice Moore points out in comments that my memory of this incident was a little bit off, as I had written about it years ago:

Day 3 of the International Climate Change Conference

“… Bill Gray delivered a wonderful presentation today at breakfast. Afterwards, I was able to meet him and I had a 4-way conversation with him, John Coleman (founder of the weather channel), and Peter Leavitt of Weather Services Corporation. Peter introduced me to Bill Gray, and I was amazed to find that when Peter described my project, Bill’s eyes lit up and he said, “Oh, you’re the fellow!”

It was nice to know that someone of Bill Gray’s stature knew about my work. … John Coleman asked him if he was ever going to retire from the work he was doing, to which Bill quipped, “…not until they put me in a box!” Anthony Watts

Source: (https://wattsupwiththat.com/2008/03/04/day3-of-the-international-climate-change-conference/ )

Meanwhile, there’s the typical ugliness from the left afoot already, as Robert Bradley reports today at Master Resource:


 

‘Hate Speech’ at Greenwire? William Gray, RIP

By Robert Bradley Jr. — April 18, 2016

Earlier today, the online subscription news service Greenwire published this item:

OBITUARY: Hurricane researcher-turned-climate denier dies at 86

William Gray, who pioneered hurricane forecasting tools as a professor at Colorado State University and voiced skepticism of climate change models, died Saturday.

The university said Gray, 86, died peacefully at home with his family.

Gray and his researchers were among the first to link the El Niño phenomenon to the formation of hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea in their predictions.

“He consistently issued these forecasts for over 30 years, a track record unparalleled for university predictions,” said Phil Klotzbach, one of Gray’s researchers.

Gray, a Washington, D.C., native and alumnus of George Washington University, questioned the science of climate change in his later years.

“How can we trust climate forecasts 50 and 100 years into the future (that can’t be verified in our lifetime) when they are not able to make shorter seasonal or yearly forecasts that could be verified?” Gray asked in testimony before a U.S. Senate committee in 2005 (Keith Coffman,Reuters, April 16). — SP

“Hurricane researcher-turned-climate denier” Really? Did Dr. Gray deny climate? Climate change? A human influence on climate?

Or did he just disagree with the human influence as the predominant climate forcing (still an open question), and that  anthropogenic warming is a negative and potentially catastrophic one at that? …

Dear SP: Choose a better title or tell your editor that even a Monday is no excuse to denigrate a true scientist in the title of an obituary.

And kudos to William Gray for a professional life well lived. And for having the integrity of thought that is extremely difficult for younger scientists in the fields of oceanography and meteorology who must fight for research grants and contend for favor in their university departments surrounded by Malthusian-driven science investigation and views.


Compare Greenwire’s headline with the Weather Channel:

Esteemed Hurricane Forecast Pioneer William Gray Dies at 86

 

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58 thoughts on “RIP Dr. William Gray – hurricane forecast pioneer, climate skeptic

  1. Condolences and kind wishes to his remaining loved ones. I hope I go the same way, and have at least as long as he did with mine. Losing the great ones as they age is an even deeper loss when the state of “science” is what it is today.

    • In the UK (and presumably elsewhere) it is common in news papers for the headlines to be written by another who “adjusts” the effect of the story in line with the policy of the paper.

    • The AP stylebook discourages use of “denier” in favor of “doubter.” WUWT had a thread on this.

  2. It is disgusting beyond comprehension that anyone would use the term “denier” against a man whose entire career was the very embodiment of the search for truth using the scientific method.
    “Skeptic”? Yes! Absolutely, as every true scientist should be.
    The scum that belittle his contributions will pass away in ignominy, but Bill’s research contributions will survive the test of time. True of all good science.

  3. From the article:
    “Gray and his researchers were among the first to link the El Niño phenomenon to the formation of hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea in their predictions.
    “He consistently issued these forecasts for over 30 years, a track record unparalleled for university predictions,” said Phil Klotzbach, one of Gray’s researchers.
    Gray, a Washington, D.C., native and alumnus of George Washington University, questioned the science of climate change in his later years.”
    And they call Dr. Gray a “denier”. Instead, they should have been crawling to him on hands and knees and begging him to favor them with his learned opinion on Climate and Weather.

  4. I apologise in advance but can anyone point me in the direction of an appropriate description of his contributions?

  5. Hi Anthony,
    Sorry for your loss, and sincere condolences to Dr. Gray’s family and friends.
    Having written many articles over the years for the newspapers, I found that they usually do not change a single word of my text, but they always change the title – and usually make it much worse than the original.
    When Maurice Strong moved to Ottawa allegedly to become an advisor to Prime Minister Jean Chretien, I wrote a well-researched article entitled “Strong Reservations”. It was printed in a major Canadian newspaper with a truly embarrassing new title, something like “Maurice Strong is a dunderhead”.
    Best, Allan
    .

  6. We lost a valiant warrior for truth on April 16, 2016…

    Day 3 of the International Climate Change Conference
    “… Bill Gray delivered a wonderful presentation today at breakfast. Afterwards, I was able to meet him and I had a 4-way conversation with him, John Coleman (founder of the weather channel), and Peter Leavitt of Weather Services Corporation. Peter introduced me to Bill Gray, and I was amazed to find that when Peter described my project, Bill’s eyes lit up and he said, “Oh, you’re the fellow!”
    It was nice to know that someone of Bill Gray’s stature knew about my work. … John Coleman asked him if he was ever going to retire from the work he was doing, to which Bill quipped, “…not until they put me in a box!” Anthony Watts

    (http://wattsupwiththat.com/2008/03/04/day3-of-the-international-climate-change-conference/ )
    ***************************************************
    Four Scientists: Global Warming Out, Global Cooling In
    By Alan Lammey, Texas Energy Analyst, Houston:
    … Noted presenters, such as William Gray, Harry van Loon, Rol Madden and Dave Melita, signaled in the strongest terms that huge climate changes are afoot. Each weather guru, from a different angle, suggested that global warming is part of a cycle that is nearing an end. …
    Gray has taken quite a bit of political heat for insistence that global warming is not a man-made condition. Man-made carbon dioxide (CO2) is negligible, he said, compared to the amount of CO2 Mother Nature makes and disposes of each day or century. “We’ve reached the top of the heat cycle,” he said. “The next 10 years will be hardly any warmer than the last 10 years.”

    He was right.
    (https://wattsupwiththat.com/2008/07/12/four-scientists-global-warming-out-global-cooling-in/ )
    ***********************************************************
    Dr. Gray’s generosity with his resources was incredible. He contributed a considerable amount of his own resources to keep our project alive when research grants went dry a few years ago. … Even at the end, Dr. Gray was focused on his research. He gave me very clear instructions on various projects I should be conducting over the next few years. He was still sketching clouds using his legal pad and #2 pencils and discussing the intricacies of cumulus convection when I came to see him a few days before his death. He told me several times throughout my time at CSU: “The only immortality that you have as a professor is through your graduate students”. His graduate students, their students, and now even their students, are leaders in meteorological research around the globe. The incredible legacy left by Dr. Gray will last for generations to come. He will be sorely missed.
    (“Dr. Bill Gray – A Eulogy,” Phil Klotzbach: http://tropical.atmos.colostate.edu/Includes/Documents/gray_eulogy.pdf )
    **********************************************************
    He initially sought a career in baseball or basketball but a knee injury at age 21 prevented him from pursuing such. …(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_M._Gray )
    … joining the United States Air Force in 1953.[3][4] Over the next four years, he served as an overseas weather forecast officer … Gray remained active in the Air Force Reserves until 1974, at which time he retired as a Lieutenant colonel. (Id.)
    USAF Theme Song “Off We Go” –
    In honor of the invisible “wind beneath the wings” which is a dedicated meteorologist, Lieutenant Colonel William Gray


    (youtube)
    For Bill Gray, studying hurricanes was never about playing around with computer simulations of climate or adjusting data or, trying to blame human CO2 emissions: it was about human lives. If he could tell those who depended on him the truth about where danger lay, they would live. Live to fight to defend our freedom.
    Truth is life. Truth is freedom. And, thanks to strong fighters like Gray, truth will win.
    “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, … .” II. Timothy 4:7.

  7. Dr. Bill was an old school gentleman. He’s long been one of my scientific heroes. I first met him five years ago at a conference. I walked up to him and said “Dr. Gray, I’m so honored to meet you.” He looked at my nametag and said “Oh, you’re Willis Eschenbach, I’ve been hoping to meet you, I love your work on Watts Up With That”, and to my immense shock, he gave me a large bow.
    I was mortified. I said “Stand up, stand up, I’m the one who should be bowing to you! You’re my long-time scientific hero, you can’t bow to me”, and in best Japanese fashion I bowed to him, only much deeper, and we both laughed.
    He was very supportive of me at a time when I was relatively unknown in the field, and I will always be grateful to him for his encouragement and his kind words. I offer my sincerest condolences and best wishes to his family. The world has lost a great scientist, and his family has lost a great man. When I grow up I want to be like Dr. Bill.
    w.

  8. Anthony et al May I suggest including a link to a reliable biography that would constitute a happy portion of this eulogy? I don’t know much about him and I am loathe to rely on wikipedia. I want to left with a sound impression of this apparently good man.

    • Maybe WUWT should have a Hall of Fame section. We shouldn’t forget the great ones who have gone on, both for their contributions and their characters.
      John L. Daly, Bob Carter, and William Gray come to mind as stellar candidates.

      • JM: Second.
        DH: We have a motion on the floor… all in favor?
        All: Aye!
        DH: Opposed?
        All: (silence)
        DH: The motion for a new WUWT “Heroes Row” carries unanimously.
        AW: Ahem! Folks, this is still my blog… . No “Heroes Row” or “Hall of Fame” or “In Memoriam” or casual Fridays or anything ELSE unless I DICTATE that. Okay?
        All: Okay, Anthony!
        #(:))

  9. Some are not aware of the names that have genuinely added to the genuine science in a field that impacts us all.
    The Greenwire obit gives a glimpse of the ethics(?) behind the Greens.
    Kudos to whoever wrote and approved TWC’s obit.
    To his family, I have and will pray for you when you come to mind.
    Thanks to Dr. Spencer (I saw this news there first.) and Anthony for bringing his name and family to mind.

  10. Phil Klotzbach’s eulogy is well worth reading, please do. http://tropical.atmos.colostate.edu/Includes/Documents/gray_eulogy.pdf

    Even at the end, Dr. Gray was focused on his research. He gave me very clear instructions on various projects I should be conducting over the next few years. He was still sketching clouds using his legal pad and #2 pencils and discussing the intricacies of cumulus convection when I came to see him a few days before his death. He told me several times throughout my time at CSU: “The only immortality that you have as a professor is through your graduate students”. His graduate students, their students, and now even their students, are leaders in meteorological research around the globe. The incredible legacy left by Dr. Gray will last for generations to come. He will be sorely missed.

  11. Did not know him. My father may have, as commander of the USAF 409th Typhoon Chasers based on Guam back when, with AF provided double masters in meteorology and early weather radar, and as a pilot of refitted B-29s. But from all accounts from reputable sources, Bill Grey was an outstanding meteorologist and pioneer cyclone forecaster. RIP.
    First Bob Carter, now Bill Grey. We skeptics need to hurry up our counter offensive, with Ma Nature on our side.

  12. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia for those who like lies, manipulation and a totally crooked organization. With a gang of scumbags like William M. Connolley, what a stoats arse!
    William M. Connolley is a British Wikipedia editor known for his fanaticism in promoting the anthropogenic global warming theory (AGW) and in censoring the views of critics and skeptics. He is the ringleader of the infamous global warming cabal at Wikipedia, a powerful pro-AGW group that has an iron grip on global warming-related articles. Any editors that attempt to introduce factual information that is against their point of view are ceaselessly harassed until they are forced to quit or are banned.

  13. RIP Dr. Gray
    May you live on in the hearts of your loved ones and friends, those who study your work, and those who were fortunate enough to make your acquaintance.

    • Mr. Bastardi, I don’t know if this is William Gray, the subject of this post, but, I’m pretty sure it was. Here is a lovely note he left you on the thread about your leaving Accuweather in February, 2011:

      Good Luck to my buddy ‘Jumpin Joe Bastardi’, whose father led him in the only direction he could go – weather forecasting. Nobody that I know is more enthusiastic about forecasting than Joe. If only we could package and sell his enthusiasm.
      Over the years Joe and I may have had a few small differences about hurricanes, but on the subject of AGW Joe and I are 100 percent on the same track. And we’re both going to be proven right. Keep saying it ain’t so, Joe! I’m with you all the way.
      Warmest regards,
      Bill Gray

      (Comment link: https://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/02/21/joe-bastardi-resigns-at-accuweather-after-32-years/#comment-605057 )
      Yes, indeed. You are BOTH being proven right!
      (btw: if you ever need a self-esteem boost, read that thread, well, MOST of that thread…. always a few lemon suckers)

  14. Very sorry to hear this. A great loss.
    Greenwire rightfully deserves to be slammed for their insulting and banal obituary.

    • Thank you for sharing that fitting tribute, Mr. Lakely. Indeed, Bill went where the data led him, …. And it took him into the rabid rat-infested territory of the enemies of science. They snarled and bit his boots. He did not hesitate. To the very end.

  15. I probably met Bill at a hurricane seminar in our home state of Colorado perhaps 35 years ago. I immediately liked his straightforward approach, preferring data and reality over models and fantasy. His back-and-forths with modelers were a wonder to behold. I recall him using the words “model” and “hogwash” in the same short sentence.
    A few months ago Bill said to me,
    Oh how the historians are going to have such a great time in 20-30 years pointing out how crazy the word went over such foolishness.
    So very sad he won’t be around here for that judgement day, but I’m sure he’ll tip one of those colder beers “on the other side” when it happens.
    On a lighter note, Bill was a hoot to be around. He wasn’t shy about poking fun at those who deserved to be poked, and even in their presence.
    Lots of us will miss the guy. He’s the best.

  16. There are tears in my eyes. Bill was a hero. Condolences to his family. He fought the bad science of CO2 as the super green house gas behind a run away climate change. He fought with passion and great knowledge. He will be deeply missed. Please young men and woman of climatology come forward to follow in his foot steps. There is no better way to honor Bill Gray’s memory.

  17. I attended a talk he gave to the Miami chapter of the AMS a few years ago. The seminar was on some of the flaws in the climate models. It was very specific, almost ‘in the weeds’, but also very reasoned. Yet, there were scientists attending that were determined that anything he had to say was ‘bunk’. During the Q&A they didn’t want to address any of the points he brought up, only to criticize him and his skepticism. It was a clear demonstration that the AGW folks can’t answer the arguments presented against their beliefs only engage in ad hominem attacks.
    Bill will be missed by me and all of his colleagues in Miami, where he was a frequent visitor since the 1950s. At least now he and Joanne Simpson can resume their debates.

  18. Thanks so much for the kind words about Dr. Gray. As someone who was privileged to work with him for the past 16 years, I can truly say that he was a one of a kind human being. He was, in my view, one of the most brilliant tropical meteorologists of the past 50 years. He was also incredibly humble, had a great sense of humor and was one of the most generous individuals that I have ever met. I hope to be able to just fill a tiny portion of his shoes and continue the hurricane research legacy that he started. It’s a good thing that he had over 70 graduate students, as it’s going to take all of us to fill his shoes!
    Dr. Gray also brilliantly predicted a return to an active era for Atlantic hurricanes in a Science magazine article published in 1990. This forecast proved accurate, as the active Atlantic hurricane era began in 1995. He was also one of the few who diagnosed that this return to an active era and an associated strengthening of the meridional overturning circulation would lead to a suspension of global temperature increase – the so-called “warming hiatus” that has been discussed so much in the literature.
    I’m working with a colleague of mine right now on a post for Capital Weather Gang on the more humorous side of Dr. Gray. It should be posted by later this week if you’re interested in more details on just how much of a character Dr. Gray was!

    • Dear Phil Klotzbach,
      Thank you for sharing so candidly and generously with us in your eulogy about Bill Gray, one of those rare individuals, like Abraham Lincoln (alluded to in jorgekafkazar’s echoing above the words Edwin Stanton uttered upon Lincoln’s death), for whom the term, “great,” was simply accurate.
      You have been and will be in my prayers in the days to come. This is a deep loss for you. You were more than a colleague, you were family.
      And your determination to keep on running with that baton slapped into your outstretched, back-reaching, highly competent (yes — you KNOW he would say so!), hand (you and each of you), is the highest honor you can pay Dr. Gray. Go, Team Gray! You are going to win.
      Looking forward very much to reading your next biographical sketch of this fine man — “If you’re interested…, ” — as if we could not be (smile),
      Janice
      P.S. If you cannot re-publish that next post on Dr. Gray on WUWT, please at least alert Anthony so he can alert us — not many will remember to check Capital Weather Gang’s site (or whatever site you will publish it on). Thanks!

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