"A Lighter Shade of Gray"


Bill Gray at the ICCC9 conference at Las Vegas in 2014.

In WUWT’s announcement of the passing of Dr. Gray, Phil Klotzbach commented that he and a colleague were writing a post with their reminiscences of their times with Dr. Gray.  Phil and Brian McNoldy have posted it now, see it at the Capital Weather Gang’s blog.

A couple fragments confirmed my suspicion that working with Dr. Gray must have been both exhausting and exhilarating.

One of the things that Dr. Gray was most noted for was his unbridled enthusiasm. He would run up and down the halls to visit his graduate students’ office because he didn’t want to waste the time it took to walk. He also had a bell that he would ring loudly every Thursday prior to the department seminar, and every Aug. 20, to inaugurate the “peak” of the Atlantic hurricane season.

When I first came across Gray’s seasonal hurricane forecasts, I had two thoughts.  First, “you can’t do that.”   Second, “You can’t do that from Colorado.”  I quickly discovered that yes, you can make a defensible forecast, though I learned the most from the postmortem analyses of busted forecasts.  As for the latter:

When asked why hurricane forecasts were been issued from Colorado, Dr. Gray replied, “the storm surge can’t get us at 5,000 feet.”

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April 22, 2016 6:54 pm

Ahahahaha. Anyone who could answer that question “Because the storm surge can’t reach us at 5,000 feet” is my kind of guy.

Steamboat McGoo
Reply to  Geo
April 23, 2016 1:45 am

Dr. grey’s amusing common-sense response, “Because the storm surge can’t reach us at 5,000 feet” reminded me of John Dillinger’s response to a journalist’s question, “Why do you rob banks?” Dillinger said, “Because that’s where the money is.” LOL

Thomas Ryan
Reply to  Steamboat McGoo
April 23, 2016 8:08 am

It was Willie Sutton who said this.

Steamboat McGoo
Reply to  Geo
April 23, 2016 1:48 am

That would be “Gray’s”

Janice Moore
April 22, 2016 7:15 pm

Thank you, Phil Klotzbach and Brian McNoldy, for sharing your mentor, your colleague, your friend, with us.

He would run up and down the halls to visit his graduate students’ office because he didn’t want to waste the time it took to walk.

Life is short.
Bill Gray didn’t waste a second.
Oh, how hard to have such a lovely symphony come to an end, the last note fade into silence.
However! As Dr. Gray said (and Phil wrote of in his fine eulogy), his legacy is you … and you….. and you….. and you, too, his beloved graduate students… and their students…. and theirs….. and….
The song lives on!
At Sir Winston Churchill’s funeral service (planned by himself — of course!),
the bugler first played a solemn “Taps” …. followed immediately by
“Reveille” — Travis Air Force Base, CA

Keep your eyes on the skies!
The best is yet to come.

April 22, 2016 7:21 pm

Bill Gray could equally have said “The data don’t care where you sit. The data just are. Your interpretation stands or falls as it explains the facts and as it forecasts the future”
Bill was a scientist’s Scientist. We will miss him, especially as the Greeny Goons attempt to stifle scepticism, debate, and fact-based analysis.

April 22, 2016 7:48 pm

“When asked why hurricane forecasts were (been, sic) issued from Colorado, Dr. Gray replied, “the storm surge can’t get us at 5,000 feet.”
Indeed, when “Andrew” hit it ripped all the measuring instruments right of the roof of the “National Hurricane Center”.
So our “official eyes” where blind…
Glad we had an additional set of eyes in Dr. Gray, RIP.

David L. Hagen
Reply to  KevinK
April 23, 2016 7:30 am

Cyclone Resistant Construction
For those who can’t get to 5000 ft to avoid the storm surge.
Natural extremes in cyclones/hurricanes are far more serious than global warming hoopla.
Design for the worst – and adapt to the rest.
7 bolts per square meter to keep the siding on.
That’s the advice of a friend in Fiji who helped with emergency HAM radio service.
He knew the cyclone had reached 235 km/h – for that’s when the anemometer blew away.
One example I heard of for cyclone resistant housing in the South Pacific – build a very strong central safe space surrounded by coconut palm trunks. Let the outer portions of the house blow away and then rebuild them.
Formal advice:
Cyclone Resistant Houses for developing countries
Disaster resistant housing in Pacific Island Countries
Samoa looks to the past
The ten key principles of cyclone resistant construction
Bamboo houses stand up to earthquakes
For flood control, the Dutch have shown what can be done over a 1000 year time frame – with pragmatic plans of how to adapt for the future. – Far less expensive than “mitigation”!
Flood control
in the Netherlands

Joel O’Bryan
April 22, 2016 10:09 pm

Hurricanes was his thang.

April 23, 2016 3:07 am

Is this the same Dr Gray who did a lot of important work on ocean circulation and climate – or a different one?

Pat Frank
Reply to  Ric Werme
April 23, 2016 12:06 pm

Did Judith Curry ever apologize to Bill Gray for calling him senile for his skepticism of AGW, back when she herself was an outspoken alarmist?

April 23, 2016 4:28 am

It sounds to me as Dr. Gray was a scientist of principle with a great sense of humour.

April 23, 2016 6:16 am

interestingly Robin williams abc aus most strident and anti sceptic controller re media on anything challenging his concensus(ie hes a cRook fan)
managed to say a brief nice word about the gentleman
however I didnt hear a whisper re Bob Carter an Aussie.

Janice Moore
April 24, 2016 3:12 pm

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 )
One of the greatest things about Bill Gray’s generation, and boy did he live it out, was their ability to have fun. Many of their children and grandchildren take life far too seriously, do much less “clowning around,” laugh a lot less, nose-to-the-grindstone. They have forgotten the most important rule of every game: HAVE FUN. If you can’t have some fun doing it — do something else.
A message from “the other side,” where real life has finally begun,
a little reminder…

(youtube) — John Fogerty “Centerfield”
As from Bill Gray: Step away from those screens, boys and girls, run outside, and PLAY!
Life’s short.

Reply to  Janice Moore
April 24, 2016 4:32 pm

I never get tired of that John Fogarty video… Centerfield!

Janice Moore
Reply to  dbstealey
April 24, 2016 4:39 pm


Mumbles McGuirck
April 25, 2016 4:59 am

Not to be a wet blanket, but the reason Dr. Gray worked at CSU is that his mentor Herbert Riehl moved from the University of Chicago to Clorado State in the early 1960s to found the Atmospheric Sciences department there. Gray came along and eventually became a professor there. You can study tropical meteorology while lodged in the mountains, but Bill Gray was a frequent visitor to Miami and many of this grad students found employment here working on hurricanes.

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