Hurricane data from 1851 suggests #Matthew landfall on east coast of Florida is a longshot

Hurricane expert Dr. Philip Klotzbach (successor to Dr. Bill Gray) writes on Twitter along with this helpful chart:

klotzbach-landfall-plots-florida

0 hurricanes have made landfall along the east coast of Florida north of Miami in October on record (since 1851)

He adds:

 

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73 thoughts on “Hurricane data from 1851 suggests #Matthew landfall on east coast of Florida is a longshot

  1. Soooo, if Matthew decides to meander northward up the coast, then take a 20-mile jog to the left at Canaveral, will that combined with this chart prove that it’s all ACTUALLY worse than we thought? What if it hits an equally untouched section of coast, say from Hatteras, NC to Brooklyn, NY?? More importantly, is this the “smoking gun” proof of the weather modification program undertaken by the US government/DoD using the HAARP program to deflect hurricanes away from national defense assets (Canaveral, Norfolk) and economic centers (Savannah River, Chesapeake Bay, NYC)??? @_@

    /snark

    This just illustrates that east facing to northeast facing coastlines in the Northern Hemisphere aren’t conducive to intersecting tropical storm tracks, which typically are well on their way out into the Atlantic by the time they get that far north (weird to say “that far north” in reference to Florida, but there you are). I’d bet even a 1990’s GCM (not to say “a dartboard”) could have given us the same/similar map, and in the process have been just as effective at predicting where Matthew will end up.

  2. Before the 1938 Hurricane clobbered New England, it had been so long since a major hurricane hit New England that a noted authority stated “major hurricanes never hit New England.”

    The prior big blow was called the “Saxby Gale” in 1869, and that only clipped Cape Cod. http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~nbcharlo/saxby1.htm

    I suppose the moral is: Never say never, especially with hurricanes.

    • Indeed “never say never.” I grew up in Miami and had been through 5 huricanes by the time I was 10 years old. Have had a life long interest in them ever since. While our understanding of the things that determine the path of a hurricane has improved, hurricane paths are still not that predictable. And just because no strom has ever struck the Florida east coast in October doesn’t mean that this one won’t. I think it was unwise for the country’s top hurricane expert to even hint that it can’t.

  3. I’ve led a hurricane-free life so please forgive my ignorance.

    Hurricanes are big and yet, on the map, landfall is recorded as a relatively small dot. Is the location of the landfall really that obvious.

    • Landfall, per se, is the point on the coast where the eye of the storm goes from “feet wet” to “feet dry.” The storm itself will be felt for scores of miles to either side, of course.

      This is in line with the method used to track storms still out at sea, where a linear track is plotted following the center of circulation, rather than a broad swath covering every point that experienced tropical storm force winds or higher, for instance.

      • Two condo roof replacements in Daytona Beach. I agree the coast there parallels the typical tracks. There is too much attention to eye landfall and not the other effects. Big bend and the north gulf get some pretty spectacular storm surges.

        I don’t know if it ever happened but for years the weather channel would try to get Cantore to the eye landfall. After a few days of traipsing around south FL; he was the worse for wear. So we had the Cantore effect for eye avoidance. Was always some flunckey reporter “Jim we’re in the eye now”

    • Me thinks the “colored dots” on the map represents where the “eye” of the hurricane 1st touched shore or came ashore. Also, the “line” on a map that depicts a hurricanes potential path also represents the position of the “eye” of the hurricane,

    • If you’ve got a Weatherbell subscription, have a look at what Tom Downs has to say about this.

      Essentially, Matthew and Nicole start to interact and orbit a common center.

      • @Latitude,

        Fujiwhara

        There’s a phrase that’s not on Weatherbell or in Meteorology Today.

        Thanks!

      • I thought Latitude was joking. but, Google is your friend:

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fujiwhara_effect

        I just looked at Google Earth. It shows the storm centers as being 860 mi apart. The linked Wiki article says:

        “Extratropical cyclones typically engage in binary interaction when within 2,000 kilometres (1,200 mi) of one another, while tropical cyclones typically interact within 1,400 kilometres (870 mi) of each other.”

        Hmmmm?

    • I’m pretty sure Betsy (1965) did a loop off the coast of Florida before crossing the peninsula and ending up in New Orleans. Can’t seem to lay my hands on the exact track at the moment.

      • Just google “hurricane Betsy path”, or whatever you want to see, and then click on the images tab.

      • We do not have to go back very far to find looping hurricanes.
        In 2004, I was living in Deerfield Beach when Jeanne formed. It started moving south at one point, and the weather forecasters basically ignored it, saying that models showed it moving north and out of the picture.
        This went on for day after day, and no explanation was given for the (to me) jarring disconnect between what it was doing and what they were saying. Eventually it had looped south (which was thought to be nearly impossible at this latitude) and was heading straight for where I lived. It took forever for that storm to pass to my north, but I did lose power for the longest and hottest week I can remember.

        That same year, Ivan did a much larger loop:

    • Bill-san:

      Hurricanes and typhoons can be quite bizarre.

      Around 2002, I was in Okinawa on business when a big Cat 4 Typhoon hit Naha, then reversed course and hit Naha a second time, then swung North east following the Kuroshio along the East coast of Japan.

      After the the typhoon passed Naha, I quickly flew back to Tokyo and the next day, the same damned Typhoon hit me a 3rd time at my house in Shonan (a little south of Yokohama)….

      It was like the gods had me on permanent smite mode..

      • “… like the gods had me on permanent smite mode.” I like to call it the Joe Btfsplk effect (from the Li’l Abner comic strip). I have had times, sometimes lasting multiple days, where Joe Btfslk’s little black cloud just won’t quit following me.

  4. without too much racking of my brain I can recall Hurricane Isabel which came ashore at Kitty Hawk NC (winds 105) – not on this chart. Any other omissions?

    • Isabel (2003) was only a tropical depression when it hit NC; only hurricanes are plotted on this chart, which is why Sandy (2013), et. al., are not visible here either.

      Although in support of your overall point, I do think I “see” a missing dot in the displayed section of Nova Scotia (Juan, 2003). Hmm…

      • Nope. Isabel was Cat 2 at landfall in NC. And it tore hell out of us here in Richmond VA, I was without power for 8 days.

      • Well here come the corrections for my off the cuff responses:
        1) Sandy was 2012, not 2013
        2) Nova Scotia is NOT a part of the U.S.A., which is important given the title of our chart here: “U.S. Hurricane Landfall Locations (1851-present) – includes Hermine (2016)”

        Still haven’t found any actual hurricanes-at-landfall which have been left off the list, so I’m gonna call this chart accurate as far as I’m concerned. Still doesn’t really help anyone know where Matthew’s going. The points brought up earlier by Bill & Neil are fascinating though. The only thing remotely like that predicted loop-de-loop track for Matthew that I can find from recent years was Hurricane Ophelia (2011), which did a 360 just off Antigua & Barbuda before continuing on past Bermuda, and Hurricane Hannah (2008) which did a larger 360 deg. loop over the southern Bahamas before tracking up the US coast.

      • SO the lesson here is, “Never trust your first three sources, especially if the first two are your own memory & that of the guy in the room with you.”

        After much research, chris & Eustace have the right of it, and we are in fact missing a blue dot around the Kitty Hawk, NC area. I no longer trust that we aren’t missing more dots, even though as I said earlier, I haven’t found any over the last 20 years.

        Isabel degraded so quickly from its height at CAT5 that, iirc, it surprised people with its ferocity when it picked up forward speed & came ashore still at CAT2 strength? It then went to depression status pretty quickly like most hurricanes do, and although there was some rain & wind over Northern Va — where a lot of my family is/was — it was really just a media-driven hype by that point as far as they were concerned (although western PA & other parts north even into Canada dealt with ridiculous amounts of rain & wind). As a result, when I quickly looked at a log of storms from that year with all the tracks on it I misread Isabel’s track as being a depression prior to landfall, rather than immediately after.

      • Isabel did not do as much damage with hurricane force winds in the mid Atlantic north of the damage Eustace noted in southern VA. However, its path drove north up the Chesapeake, leading to severe flood damage in Annapolis and moderate flood in Baltimore (plus assorted other locales on the Chesapeake, including the eastern shore of MD. Winds were still gusting well into tropical force and combined with 2-5 inches of rain, brought down trees and caused power outages….there have been stronger winds in derecho events.

        Another tropical depression strength storm in that area was Agnes in 1972, which caused huge amounts of rain to fall (7-15 inches) on the mid Atlantic, forcing the re-do of many flood plans and maps in Maryland and Pennsylvania. Irene in 2011 made a second landfall as a weakening tropical storm around NYC (it clipped NC as a category 1) and caused massive flooding in the NYC subway and lots of flood damage in New England. Sandy in 2012 was already mentioned.

        As you get north and inland in the US, it is not the wind but the rain (and surge on the waterfront) that does the damage….although some severe non-tropical nor’easters can produce similar if not worse damage.

      • Smokey –

        As noted, Isabel made landfall in September and the chart above is October.

        Dot is not missing, it is simply on the September chart.

      • Well crud. Who has two thumbs and really wasn’t paying attention to details?

        THIS GUY. *points at self*

      • @ Smokey (CDATAW): Your comments have been terrifically helpful. You framed the issues in such a way that you enabled a fine discussion, here, and you put out far more accurate information than atinybitoff information!

      • Isabel came ashore at Kitty Hawk NC as a cat2 hurricane (105mph). It still had winds of 75mph when it reached Richmond. I had a beach place at Kitty Hawk at the time and a place in Richmond. My Richmond power was out 12 days.

    • A big hurricane called Ester did a big loop off Cape Cod in 1961. As a boy I recall all the excitement as it came up the coast, the let down as it curved out to sea, and then all the wonderful hoop-la and the screaming headline “She’s Coming Back!”

      Actually the delay was fortunate, for if it had hit on the first go-round damage would have been severe, but Ester weakened and was just a tropical storm when she returned.

  5. ‘While the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s prediction of a “near-normal” Atlantic hurricane season is still on track, scientists have pointed to Hurricane Matthew as the sort of fierce lashing that will become more common due to climate change.
    There was previously far more certainty amongst climate scientists over the increase of temperatures than trends in hurricanes, but government officials are now confident enough to say there has been a “substantial increase” in Atlantic hurricane activity since the 1980s, with the destruction set to ratchet up further as the world warms.
    “We expect to see more high-intensity events, category 4 and 5 events, that are around 13% of total hurricanes but do a disproportionate amount of damage,” said Kerry Emanuel, a climate scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “The theory is robust and there are hints that we are already beginning to see it in nature.”’

    Well you didn’t really expect the usual suspects to let an opportunity go by did you?
    http://www.msn.com/en-au/news/world/hurricanes-will-worsen-as-planet-warms-and-sea-levels-rise-scientists-warn/ar-BBx0ZYP?li=AA5249&ocid=spartandhp

    • You should have heard Kerry Emanuel after the busy 2005 season. Then Bill McKibben wrote a thing in the National Geographic in 2006 treating Emanuel as a guru. It’s been rough on those two “authorities”, stuck with continuously beating a dysfunctional drum, as nearly 4000 days passed without a major hurricane making landfall in the USA. What would be funny is if Matthew stayed five miles off shore, pounding the coast, but not counting as a “landfall.” I’m rooting for reaching 4000 days. It’s such a nice, round number.

      I got fed up with them beating their lame drum, and took them to task way back in 2012. But I guess I didn’t slow them one bit. The drum thumps on.
      https://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/08/21/hurricane-warning-mckibben-alert/

      • 4K would have been nice, but Hermine’s already put the period to that streak at 3966 days, hitting Florida last month on 02SEP16. It was the first land-falling hurricane since Wilma on 24OCT05.

      • Smokey –

        Hermine was a Cat 1 when it made landfall, and I believe the 4000 days is for a “major” hurricane of Cat 3 or above, is it not?

      • Here was a year when CO2 levels were far lower, and we were barely out of the Little Ice Age…over 120 years ago in 1893:

        (From Tony’s blog)

      • CO2 inhibits hurricanes it would seem from a glance.
        And Florida wears hurricane repellant in October.

      • In my mind, we have already shattered the 4k mark. Officially, Wilma is listed as the last landfalling major hurricane to hit the US, but good luck finding an actual measurement of category 3 winds as the eye of Wilma crossed the coast of Southwest Florida. Listing Wilma as a category 3 was the product of modern day interpolations and finagling that didn’t exist a few years before.

        Regardless, the drought in major landfalling US hurricanes has been unprecedented in our (brief) hurricane history, but it is happening. Hurricanes hitting the East Coast of Florida north of Miami in October is also unprecedented in that history, but it could happen. Folks along the Florida East Coast cannot rely on a statistical analysis of such a short period of data to determine their actions. The storm is moving towards them, and whether that path is statistically unusual or not, is irrelevant.

    • Does anyone know how much money Kerry Emanuel has received from the U.S. government (NSF, NASA, EPA, etc.) to peddle his incorrect theory that hurricane intensity will increase because of global warming. I recall him huffing and puffing about stronger hurricanes as Patricia (the “strongest” hurricane ever) approached Mexico and then going silent when Patricia only caused a few trees to lose their leaves.

      • That has to be the strangest thing ever, or proof of some BIG LIE.
        It completely defies explanation that Patricia was the strongest anything ever, and did not even muss anyone’s hair or knock the tin off of the shanties in her direct path.

  6. In September the waters in the northern sector begin to cool. How many former hurricanes that dropped in intensity to tropical storm level made landfalls there in October?

  7. What constitutes hitting the US? Does the eye of the hurricane have to hit the coast? Or do we just count hurricane force winds..IE does 75mph+ winds recorded on land count as a hit?

    • Yes, for these purposes “Making land-fall” means the eye crosses the coastline; simply raking the shore with strong winds, rain & so forth is not enough to “count,” thus Joaquin last year does not count as a “land-falling” hurricane, even though its outer bands did lots of damage to South Carolina.

      • Thanks, I didn’t want to assume I was right…the eye actually hitting land. It doesn’t look like a landfall will happen, but then hurricanes can be unpredictable.

    • It depends. If you are a scientist, the hurricane makes landfall it hits, if not it doesn’t. If you are a warmist, can see the storm it is a hurricane and it has hit.

  8. this layman prefers looking at the real world as opposed to the models…..what i see on the east coast is a very strong push of DRY air, the real world looks to me as if this storm cant get much closer than 100 miles from the coast and with so much dry air to its west it wont have much impact along the coast………

  9. I well remember when another braindead member of the Kennedy family (Bobby Kennedy JR) suddenly apointed himself amexpert on climate (having never set foot inside a science classroom) and proclaimed that “We ain’t seen nothing yet” after Katrina struck, predicting more and stronger hurricanes to come, and probably had some influence on those insurance companies who withdrew fom Florida’s home insurance
    business, which hit State Farm very hardm, since many who had their State Farm coverage end at the next
    payment date cancelled their State Farm auto insurance as retaliation. Worst decision any insurance company ever made, since many years passed with hardly a claim due to weather. Meanwhile, after RFK JR made his silly prediction, hurricvane experts were questioned as to the effect of a rise in water temps
    and they basically said that hurricanes are created by factors other than just water temps and they estimatted that an increase in water temps of 2 degrees or so might increase max winds by a few miles per hour. In other words, global warming would not have any massive efect on either the number or intensity of hurricanes.
    Having followed hurricanes for years on the Weather Channel (the ONLY tme I ever tune in that channel)
    I see a consistent bias in their reporting, towards exaggeration in order to increase viewership (“Come here to stay safe” from this”monster deadly storm: etc) . I note that when Matthew increased its barometric pressure and reduced its wind speeds, the channel only said that Mathew is now a Cat 3 storm, almost as an aside. But now that its speed is picking up after leaving Cuba, they have big red headlines that “Mathhew is increasing in strength” (wind speeds increased 5 MPH). For their supposed monster deadly storm, I’d like to hear them explain why the number of deaths in those Carribean islands, whose buildings are flimsy, etc, was only 8 people, which is likely less than the number of deaths during a like period of time due to murders and traffic accidents. Sounds like Mathew may have reduced the number of deaths
    for the period by its passage.

  10. My guess is that if we had dots for the past several hundred years, it would be a much more continuous and even distribution.
    There will always be outliers, and also years and decades where one path or set of paths is more favored.

  11. Yes…it’s a long shot. So is the recent drought in major land falling hurricanes striking the US. Long shots happen. Latest model runs continue to shift the forecast track to the west, and the GFS, one of the more reliable models, is definitely indicating a landfall near Port St. Lucie Thursday night, with a continued trek towards East Orlando on Friday. (It is just one model run and doesn’t mean much, but the trend to the west has been happening for the last few days, and that is significant.)

    Matthew is recovering rapidly from its trip across Cuba and is looking very impressive on satellite imagery. He looks like he will soon regain category 4 strength, and has a good chance of maintaining that strength into Thursday night!

    I hope the trend to the west reverses and Matthew stays off shore. If it doesn’t, it could be one of our worst hurricane disasters in terms of damage.

    • A move right up to and then along the coast would likely be a worst case scenario in terms of damage to property.
      Such a path might rake the entire coastline with storm surge and winds, while keeping the intensity intact.
      And I agree that no one should use statistics of past occurrences to justify not taking proper precautions.

  12. What’s up with showing only one landfall on Long Island and none on the south coast of New England? Which of the following hurricanes is shown? What happened to the other three of these?

    * The 1938 “Long Island Express” / New England hurricane?
    * The 1944 Great Atlantic hurricane?
    * Hurricane Donna of 1960?
    * Hurricane Gloria of 1985?

    And why are are Hurricane Edna of 1954 and Hurricane Bob of 1991 (hitting the south coast of New England east of Long Island) not shown?

    Are any hurricanes hitting the East Coast south of Long Island also missing?

    • Oops, I missed the part about the map showing only October landfalls. I don’t think that it’s helpful to show that large chunks of the USA East Coast had their post-1951 hurricane landfalls so far only in months other than October.

  13. GREAT analysis, Dr. Klotzbach, thank you for sharing. The COOLEST thing about it? You (and Bastardi) are relying on data.

  14. It seems to me that by the time October comes, the connection with West Africa is gone, interrupted by cooler water so that Hurricanes basically develop in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico, swing, meander, loop and fizzle out more quickly afterwards. Earlier in the year with warm water from West Africa right across the Atlantic, tropical storms develop in the eastern Atlantic, scud westerly picking up strength and moving comparatively more rapidly and swing up northwesterly (coriolis effect) hitting the US Atlantic coast. I’m a geologist and mining/metallurgical engineer so what do I know?

  15. You young whippersnappers can’t forecast like the oldsters could. Heck, back when me and George Washington used to chop down cherry trees together, we thought nothing of forecasting storms years in advance. Why, as late as 1868 a Limey named Lieutenant Stephen Martin Saxby published a forecast, on Christmas, in the “Standard of London”, and it began…“I now beg leave to the state, with regard to 1869, that at seven a.m., on October 5, the moon will be at that part of her orbit which is nearest to the earth…”

    Now I reckon you so-called scientists got your noses in the air, because you can’t figure out how to read the moon, but Saxby nailed his forecast. You fellows keep changing yours, every time your computer goes “urp.”

    Up in the Bay of Funday the fog burned off on October 4, 1869, and it was a surprisingly warm day for October, even called “oppressive” by some. Then the south winds began to pick up, and the skies to the south grew dark and threatening, and by sunset it was raining and the winds were starting to howl. The tides were high, due to the new moon, but once the dark fell the wind went mad. In Moncton some farmers headed out to the flats to get their livestock in the dark, and then the thirty-foot-tall dykes protecting those lowlands were topped by a storm surge like none ever seen before, and sea waters came roaring across the flats, drowning lots of livestock, and farmers as well, though one fellow survived by riding a haystack that slowly got more and more waterlogged, sinking lower and lower until the fellow thought he was a goner, because not only was the stack sinking but the outgoing tide was sucking him out to sea, but luckily the stack sunk so low it grounded on the submerged top of the dyke, and there he stayed as the waters drained away, revealing a shattered landscape. Over in the state of Maine, entire forests were flattened, and the floods were so bad not a bridge survived in the north.

    Now, when you young fellows can forecast a storm like that, ten months in advance, come back and maybe we’ll talk about naming a storm after you.

    (On a side note, the hurricanes that clobber New England don’t dawdle on their way north, for in such cases cold waters weaken them swiftly. The ones to watch out for accelerate to amazing forward speeds of 50-60 mph, (and some nit-pickers might say they are no longer truly and purely “tropical”, but they have unholy power at their cores). So forecasters to the north should be wary of swiftly developing jets, that can suddenly suck a storm north.)

    • Dear Caleb,

      What FINE writing. Such an engagingly dramatic style (with high-value content, too).

      Thank you for sharing your talents with us yet again. Time for another Caleb main post, I think! And when you do that, let that style (and your emotional/thought impressions) FLOW (don’t let “Hm, I wonder if that is too flamboyant” or “gotta keep this dry and all-business” (or the like) thoughts cramp those ingeniously creative typing fingers of yours).

      Remember (as to choosing a topic) “gee whiz” stuff is always “on topic!”

      With admiration,

      Janice

  16. The highest sustained wind speed I’ve seen reported on land today was 48 mph. Lucky the track didn’t take it inland last night or it would have been much worse.

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