Hurricane Irma Is NOT the Most Powerful Atlantic Hurricane Ever Recorded.

Guest post by David Middleton

Hurricane Irma is really bad.  It may be the worst storm to hit the U.S. since 1935… But it is NOT the most powerful Atlantic hurricane ever recorded.  So… Why do they have to lie about this?

Hurricane Irma Is Now The Most Powerful Atlantic Ocean Storm In Recorded History

Fresh off the back of the devastating Hurricane Harvey, the US is preparing for an even more dangerous storm – Hurricane Irma.

With wind speeds of 300 kilometers per hour (185 miles per hour), Irma now ranks as the most powerful hurricane in the Atlantic Ocean. It is the second most powerful in the Atlantic basin, which includes the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and the Gulf of Mexico, behind Hurricane Allen in 1980 that hit the latter two with winds of 305 km/h (190 mph).

[…]

IFL Science!

Does IFL stand for “I FLunked” Science?

Geography 101

The Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico are in the Atlantic Ocean, just as much as the Sargasso Sea is in the Atlantic Ocean.

 

Caribbean Seasuboceanic basin of the western Atlantic Ocean, lying between latitudes 9° and 22° N and longitudes 89° and 60° W. It is approximately 1,063,000 square miles (2,753,000 square km) in extent. To the south it is bounded by the coasts of VenezuelaColombia, and Panama; to the west by Costa RicaNicaraguaHondurasGuatemalaBelize, and the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico; to the north by the Greater Antilles islands of CubaHispaniolaJamaica, and Puerto Rico; and to the east by the north-south chain of the Lesser Antilles, consisting of the island arc that extends from the Virgin Islands in the northeast to Trinidad, off the Venezuelan coast, in the southeast. Within the boundaries of the Caribbean itself, Jamaica, to the south of Cuba, is the largest of a number of islands.

Britannica

 

Gulf of Mexico

The Gulf of Mexico is a smaller part of the Atlantic Ocean, but it is the ninth largest body of water in the world.

[…]

Deepsea Waters

Describing Irma as the most powerful Atlantic hurricane ever recorded is like calling Ted Williams the all-time American league home run leader because he hit the most home runs at Fenway Park.

Among the 24 most intense Atlantic hurricanes since 1924, Irma is currently tied for second in wind speed.

Maximum Sustained
Storm Year Winds (mph)
Allen 1980 190
“Labor Day” 1935 185
Gilbert 1988 185
Wilma 2005 185
Irma 2017 185
Mitch 1998 180
Rita 2005 180
“Cuba” 1932 175
Janet 1955 175
Camille 1969 175
David 1979 175
Andrew 1992 175
Katrina 2005 175
Dean 2007 175
“Cuba” 1924 165
Isabel 2003 165
Ivan 2004 165
Hattie 1961 160
Hugo 1989 160
“Bahamas” 1929 155
Floyd 1999 155
Igor 2010 155
Opal 1995 150
Gloria 1985 145

Wilma_01

And tied for 12th place according to atmospheric pressure:

Storm Year Minimum Atmospheric 
    Pressure (hPa)
Wilma 2005 882
Gilbert 1988 888
“Labor Day” 1935 892
Rita 2005 895
Allen 1980 899
Camille 1969 900
Katrina 2005 902
Mitch 1998 905
Dean 2007 905
“Cuba” 1924 910
Ivan 2004 910
Irma 2017 913
Janet 1955 914
“Cuba” 1932 915
Isabel 2003 915
Opal 1995 916
Hugo 1989 918
Gloria 1985 919
Hattie 1961 920
Floyd 1999 921
Andrew 1992 922
“Bahamas” 1929 924
David 1979 924
Igor 2010 924

Irma_02

“The Most Powerful Atlantic Ocean Storm In Recorded History” meme fits the narrative: Global warming is causing hurricanes to become more severe… Another lie.

Hurricanes are not increasing in severity

The National Hurricane Center’s hurricane climatology page has a handy list of Atlantic Basin tropical storms, hurricanes and major hurricanes from 1851-2014.  There is no statistically meaningful trend in hurricane frequency or severity.

Irma_05

While there might be a somewhat statistically significant increase in the number of tropical storms (R² = 0.2274), this could simply be due improvements in the detection and identification of storms at sea… There is no statistically meaningful trend in the numbers of hurricanes or major hurricanes.

There are also no statistically meaningful trends in the rates at which tropical storms are “blossoming” into hurricanes or major hurricanes:

Irma_04Irma_03

Records are made to be broken

Irma came very close to breaking a wind speed record.  So what?

The probability, pn(1), that the nth observation of a series xm= x1, x2, … xn has a higher value than the previous observations [pn(1) = Pr(xn > xi |i < n)] can be expressed as:

pn(1)= 1/n

provided the values in series are iid random variables.

(Benestad, 2003)

In 1941, Ted Williams had a .406 batting average.  He was the last major league baseball player to hit over .400.  While each at bat had its own independent probability, if Ted Williams had 5 at bats in a game, he probably had 2 base hits.  While Irma has less than a 1% chance of breaking Allen’s wind speed record, the sum of individual probabilities since 1924 indicate that it’s about time for that record to fall.

Irma_06

Y-axis is the sequential number of new records.

See sheet 1 of the following spreadsheet for expected record calculations:

AtlanticStormTotalsTable (1) 

How did we ever survive the Medieval Warm Period?

If warmer waters inevitably lead to more severe hurricanes… How did humanity survive the Medieval Warm Period?  Or the Minoan Warm Period?  There must have been Category 9 hurricanes every year in 1000 BC!!! (/SARC)

hadsst_s7

Sargasso Sea SST reconstruction  (Keigwin, 1996) and Major New England Hurricanes (Donnelly, 2001).   https://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/11/03/frankenstorm-itis-five-degrees-of-separation-from-reality-and-eleventy-gazillion-joules-under-the-sea/

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232 thoughts on “Hurricane Irma Is NOT the Most Powerful Atlantic Hurricane Ever Recorded.

  1. Camille is probably the most intense, but she broke the instruments. An anemometer at a USAF base recorded her wind at 200 mph before breaking.

    The most powerful Atlantic storm in the historic record was the Great Hurricane of 1780, which stripped bark off of trees, destroyed all structures in its path and killed some 22,000 people. Its winds must have exceeded 200 mph, at least in gusts.

    • Wasn’t this also the hurricane that had storm surge several feet higher than Sandy and a projected pressure much lower than anything ever recorded?

      • While there might be a somewhat statistically significant increase in the number of tropical storms (R² = 0.2274), this could simply be due improvements in the detection and identification of storms at sea… There is no statistically meaningful trend in the numbers of hurricanes or major hurricanes.

        David, you declare things not “statistically significant” without stating the criterion against which you are making that claim. Is it supposed to be a comparison to some random distribution? What is that distribution and what is the R² value that would be significant for this number of data ?

        The R² statistic does not tell you whether the slope is “statistically significant” over time, it tells you how well your straight line represents the data.

        A low R² here tells you that there is a lot of variability in the data which is not represented by a straight line. However, it is quite clear just by eye that there has been a long term increase in all three datasets in your “number of storms” graph.

        So even if a straight line is not a good model for the data, that does not mean that there has not been significant rise over time, just that there is a lot on non linear variability there too.

        We have a very poor level of understanding of exactly what triggers hurricanes and why there was a lull from 2005 to this year and probably a similar dip around WWII.

        Temperatures have been rising over the last 150 years and so has the energy of N. Atlantic hurricanes:

      • The R² statistic does not tell you whether the slope is “statistically significant” over time, it tells you how well your straight line represents the data.
        A low R² here tells you that there is a lot of variability in the data which is not represented by a straight line.

        An R² of 0.22 indicates that the linear regression “”explains” 22% of the time series’ variability. This coupled with a somewhat significant slope supports an assertion of a statistically significant trend in the number of recorded tropical storms.

        The R² and slopes of hurricane linear regressions aren’t even in the significance ballpark, particularly when expressed as percentages of tropical storms.

      • The post 2005 lull is clearly coming to an end. We can expect more active hurricane seasons a level with activity on a par with Y2K. This is probably an indication that the “plateau” part of the 60y cycle is also over.

      • Greg, Its not hard to calculate an uncertainty for the slope to use as guide as to whether its significant or not, but a little too much work to bother with when the slope for hurricanes (rather than storms) is 0.013 per year, something that could be negative for a different start date but also one less hurricane per year spotted by ships 100 years ago.

      • The R² and slopes of hurricane linear regressions aren’t even in the significance ballpark

        So rather than address the question of what criterion you are using you just double down on ignorance by saying it’s not even ballpark of the unspecified criterion.

        Your blue line “storm count” starts around 6 and increases by 6.5: ie more than doubles over the range of the record, your grey line “major hurricanes” triples. In what world is that “not significant” and ” not even in the significance ballpark” ?

      • That’s why I stated that might be “a somewhat statistically significant increase in the number of tropical storms.” However, the annual variability is about 4x the magnitude of the trend.

        Hurricanes and major hurricanes exhibit about 1/4 to 1/3 the slope and 1/4 to 1/2 the R². The annual variability of hurricanes is about 17x the magnitude of the trend. The annual variability of major hurricanes is about 6x the magnitude of the trend. Linear trends only “explain” about 6% and 14% of the variability of each time series.

        Furthermore, when hurricanes and major hurricanes are analyzed as percentages of tropical storms, the slopes and R² values become totally insignificant.

        Major hurricanes: Slope = 0.0005, R² = 0.0274

        Hurricanes: Slope = -0.0012, R² = 0.1096

        If warming SST’s in the were increasing the intensity of tropical storms, it should show up in the rate at which they are “blossoming” into hurricanes.

        Now, there is a somewhat significant correlation between N. Atlantic hurricane season SST and ACE… R² = 0.1924. If I cross plot decadal averages (11-yr avg.), I get R² = 0.4639. And, visually, the two curves seem to correlate fairly well.

      • RobertB

        Greg, Its not hard to calculate an uncertainty for the slope to use as guide as to whether its significant or not, but a little too much work to bother with when the slope for hurricanes (rather than storms) is 0.013 per year, something that could be negative for a different start date but also one less hurricane per year spotted by ships 100 years ago.

        1.3% per year * 160 years = 20.8 ie it is sufficient to cause a doubling over the length of the record.

        since that line fit starts at 0.789 per year an increase of 1 is more than a doubling and that was major hurricanes.

        If you live in Texas “one more per year” may not sound so insignificant as you try to make it sound.

    • Advancements in technology continue to allow more rapid, more repeatable and more accurate measurements at many more locations. And early storms didn’t have the benefit of Hurricane Hunter aircraft.
      Like sports it is difficult to compare different eras – but the media will always hype the present.

      • There was some under counting during WWII due to disruption of shipping which was a key source of storm reports at the time. Pre-1900 data is also very uncertain. However, a lot of work has been done to try to complete the early 20th c. part of the record from a number of sources. See the HURDAT documentation for details.

      • Oh 30 papers , that must be a consensus then.

        Does that in some way refute what I have shown: that both SST and ACE have followed a very similar way?

        BTW, I said nothing about “global warming” I pointed out a clear correlation between N. Atl SST and ACE. I also pointed out an anomalous drop just when SST is in its “warmest ever” decade which underlines that there is not a simple one-to-one relationship.

    • I don’t think they said Hurricane Irma was the FASTEST hurricane ever.
      Just the most powerful…

      I suppose that with 185 mph sustained, & 215 mph gusts, they are also considering the immense size of Irma into the equation, which is a good deal larger than Hurricane Andrew for example.

      Think of it this way.

      You may be a good deal stronger than a house cat.
      But the house cat would be a good deal faster than you.

      When you consider the power of a thing, you do more than factor in the speed.
      Just a thought…

      • And they would be wrong, on multiple levels, about Irma being the most powerful Atlantic hurricane ever.

      • You might be right on that.

        It’s official:
        No storm on record, anywhere on the globe, has maintained winds 185 mph or above for as long as Irma.

        A 190 mph 200 mile across storm would be incredibly weak compared to a storm 400 miles across with 215 mph gusts and 185 mph sustained winds for 24 hours or so.

        Takes a lot of power to do that.

    • When I lived in Guam as a child we had a number of typhoons of which the most powerful was Typhoon Karen. The Naval Air Station instrument blew out at a recording of 209 mph but this reading is not considered reliable.

      • The mass media’s addiction to superlatives, headed by The Weather Channel’s hype that frames every rainy day as a State of Emergency, has led to many people tuning out the warnings altogether. EVERY storm now is “unprecedented,” “strongest,” “biggest ever,” etc. Crying wolf about everything and nothing is now resulting in people’s failing to heed the officials’ evacuation orders when they really ARE threatened with death by weather. But remember, folks, it’s all about ratings . . . and advertising revenue!

      • No Mosher it isn’t. News organizations are run as business units, not news departments. Ratings are their top priority. This has been known and documented.

        So they are addicted to hype. Make PT Barnum look like an amateur.

    • The BBC decline is now embarrassing. Their lanky weather guy on the main 9 0’Clock News yesterday said that Irma was the most powerful Atlantic hurricane there had ever been. Even if he meant the most powerful ever recorded – even that, now, is apparently not the case – what he said to the BBC’s largely ‘useful idiot’ viewers was the most powerful ever. Given the age of the earth and Man’s relatively recent appearance it’s just more obvious BBC bunkum.

    • Irma is indeed the most powerful storm on record in the Atlantic ocean itself. The MSM aren’t claiming it’s the most powerful hurricane in the whole basin. A few are saying most powerful Atlantic Ocean hurricane on record, which is a little different from most powerful Atlantic hurricane on record which I am not hearing much. When they say the ocean, they mean not including the Carribean or the Gulf and most people know that. Many of the media are making it clear they mean excluding those anyway.

      • Irma achieved major hurricane status further east in the Atlantic Ocean than any previously recorded Atlantic hurricane.

        All of those hurricane tracks are entirely within the Atlantic Ocean.

      • @David Middleton

        Donald L. Klipstein September 7, 2017 at 5:30 pm
        Irma is indeed the most powerful storm on record in the Atlantic ocean itself. The MSM aren’t claiming it’s the most powerful hurricane in the whole basin. A few are saying most powerful Atlantic Ocean hurricane on record, which is a little different from most powerful Atlantic hurricane on record which I am not hearing much. When they say the ocean, they mean not including the Carribean or the Gulf and most people know that. Many of the media are making it clear they mean excluding those anyway.

        Did you miss the part where he said they aren’t taking into account the Caribbean or the Gulf? That is what the media is talking about. Most people seem to grasp that knowledge.

        UPDATE: NOAA’s #GOES16 shows #HurricaneIrma, the strongest hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic — outside the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico.

  2. Does it matter what the wind speed is?

    Most hurricanes and cyclones and typhoons happened before records were kept
    in the centuries before instruments were available to measure wind speed.

    “Why do they have to lie about this?”

    Because liberals lie about everything,
    why should hurricanes be different?

    They don’t even realize cyclones and hurricanes
    are the same weather patterns, so just talk about
    hurricanes when looking for records.

    Liberals start with conclusions based on their feelings,
    almost never read conservative / libertarian media,
    so suffer from confirmation bias “big time”,
    as Trump might say.

    And if you don’t agree with them on just about anything,
    they will character attack you,
    or if they are very sophisticated,
    they will cleverly change the subject.

    This is not a new behavior pattern.
    You should expect it.

    My climate blog for non-scientists:
    http://www.elOnionBlioggle.Blogspot.com

    • You were going just fine until you wrote “Liberals”. It’s not a question of Liberals or not Liberals. It’s just stupidity. Do not put politics on it please. Generalizations are always wrong.

      • Looks like you’re wrong too, JN

        The world of “climate change” is 99% left-wing politics.

        There is no science behind the wild guess predictions of a coming global warming catastrophe.

        That’s why the predictions have been so wrong for the past 30 years!

        Real science can be falsified — “modern” climate science can not.

        CO2 is a false boogeyman used by politicians to gain more power.

        There is minimal science behind the false claim that CO2 controls the temperature
        and no science at all behind the water vapor, positive feedback, tripling the warming caused by CO2 alone, crackpot theory.

        Liberals trust their government, and professors.

        They accept anything without question from a liberal president as a fact, or from the liberal deep state bureaucrats.

        If you say the right liberal / progressive words, then almost anything you say is accepted as a fact by a liberal. Try it — just make up some climate horror story and they’ll believe you.

        Liberals start with conclusions, and trust their feelings — that means facts, data, and logic are unacceptable unless supporting their pre-existing conclusion.

        I generalize based on my experience as a libertarian.

        Conservatives will debate you if they disagree.
        Sometimes they quote the bible, which means nothing
        to this atheist.
        They consider character attacks to be rude.

        Liberals will not debate beyond spitting out a few memorized talking points
        that they don’t understand.
        And they consider character attacks to be an important debate strategy.
        Sometimes launched so cleverly you don’t realize you were “hit”.

        Climate blog for non-scientists:
        http://www.elOnionBloggle.Blogspot.com

      • America’s Left is not “liberal”, they’re anti-liberal….

        The proper terms to use for America’s Left are: Statists, Leftists, Socialists, Marxists, Totalitarians and Progressives…

        “Progressives” is an oxymoronic Newspeak term the Left coined in the 1890’s to hide their true nature and intent.

        “Regressives” is a more accurate term for the Left as Totalitarianism has been the true nature of governments since the evolution of complex civilizations.

      • 2013 study showed the liberals left leaners) do not do empathy well. Lefties tend to be more emotional than right wingers, and so tend to emotionalize most topics So, yes, generalizations are valid, just not to extremes.

        PS: first 3 discussions on Gorebull warming I had, was with right wing believers:-))

      • noaaprogrammer : “Generalizations are always wrong.” — talk about irony!

        Yes, my favourite version is : “you should never generalise”, which people often say quite seriously.

    • Richard Greene

      thank you mate. Just read your whole blog, the most passionate appeal to rational thought I have ever seen.

      Refreshing; when everyone else chips in their tuppence worth of scientific knowledge, which invariably serves to simply muddy the waters.

      What I think most people today, and especially contemporary scientists miss altogether, is that man exists because of passion, be it survival, sexual, financial, moralistic or, indeed scientifically motivated. It can’t be measured or canned, so it’s suppressed by the appliance of ‘logic’.

      When I had a fist fight in the 1960’s with a kid in the playground because he singled me out on the basis of my religion, we both reacted with passion for a single minute. Then it was over, and we were best mates for the rest of our lives. We responded with passion. Responding with argument and debate would have prolonged and festered a hatred lasting into adulthood.

      Passion drives humanity, not science, climate change, the sun, or the moon.

      Keep your blog going mate, and promote it as best you can.

      • Dear Hotscot. If that is the sort of religious differences that that I suspect and the passion it provoked. It took the lives of 4000 in the troubles. And you should kow that. Let us hope that peace and reason prevail.

      • Ron

        the troubles were fought over financial corruption. drugs, arms and political control. Don’t ever kid yourself they were about anything else.

        Religious differences at any time in human history have been a cover for financial and political gain.

        ISIS (for one) isn’t about religious dominance. Both you and I know that, it’s about money and control.

        And whilst I’m at it, my childhood ‘religious’ punch up wasn’t because my friend and I were of different religions, we were of the same faith. It was because I returned to the UK from a life as an ex pat and my mother accidentally bought me the wrong colour of school uniform.

        It was religiously bigoted Glasgow of the 60’s and I went to a Protestant school with the wrong coloured trench coat.

        I suspect you have no idea the abuse I suffered on my first day at school. It is seared into my memory, and possibly why I despise religious sectarianism and understand it’s drivers.

        So please, recalibrate your humour compass. My initial remark was flippant, I stated that clearly in my last comment.

        I’m not about to conduct a philosophical, religious and moral discussion with you over an ill interpreted jape.

      • Thank you HotScot
        I’ve read about global warming for 20 years, and only wrote two articles about it in my economics newsletter in the first 17 years.

        After the flat temperature trend that started in the early 2000s I expected the “panic” over global warming to fade away … but it got worse!

        There is lots of pollution in China, India and other Asian countries.
        Environmentalists used to care about real pollution.
        Now they don’t.

        Now they attack beneficial CO2, which is at an historically low level,
        and we would benefit from a lot more CO2 in the air.

        Passion, by the way, was a good song by Rod Stewart

    • Your link reports back –

      “Blog not found

      Sorry, the blog you were looking for does not exist. However, the name elonionblioggle is available to register!”

      It is indeed unfair, and quite unscientific, to lock ALL liberals into your text.

    • Spouting off that Liberals do this or that, you are doing exactly what you claim they are doing. You automatically jumped to the conclusion and labeled “Liberal.” I have been to many sites where those of the far right were the aggressive ones, name calling and attacking people character, even the Pope for crying out loud. I mean to attack and slander the Pope?

      Anytime anything is said that contradicts what Trump in “all his infinite wisdom” (tosses in some sarcasm for effect), they are jumped on, name called, labeled liberal, told to go back to their country, etc. So please, do not spout off the claim that it is only Liberals that do this. Don’t forget that the POTUS made fun of peoples’ looks when he didn’t like what they said and made fun of someone who was handicapped just to name a few. Following your logic, that would make him a liberal.

      Think before you spout off false info.

  3. Whatchu talkin’ bout, Willis? Mayor Philip Levine is calling Irma a “nuclear hurricane.” Has there ever been a nuclear cane before? Nope.

    • No, see, what makes it “nuclear” is all the hiroshimas worth of energy going into the oceans because of our “carbon” emissions. Science.

      • This hurricane season’s frequency and power are making me cringe because if we’d had a weak or non-existent season the CAGW hype would no longer have even one leg to stand on. But because we’ve got a couple of doozies and maybe more to come, you can bet the NYT and the Gargoyle tomorrow will be blaming it all on Trump for pulling out of Paris. Because Gaia’s retribution, doncha know.

  4. Since when does the MSM ever check history or statistical records. That would require ‘some’ intelligence and effort.

    • Allen and Wilma were both measured by both Aircraft and Satellites. Allen and Wilma were both more powerful Atlantic hurricanes than Irma.

    • Correct. There is a discontinuity in the categorisation of hurricanes and cyclones right around the time they substituted computer modelling of wind speeds in the place of actual anemometer measurements. And as they say people live on or near the ground.

      The standard category descriptions don’t really apply any more either due to improvements in the building codes. Cat 5 cyclones used to reduce nearly all the buildings in town to match sticks and kill lots of people. Modern buildings do not fall apart so easily in the face of winds of the same strength.

      Worst storm EVAH!

  5. Part of the increase in named storms over time was due to “name ’em and claim ’em.”

    At some point, Nor’easters that drifted into warmer water, strong warm fronts, mid latitude cyclone that dipped down into the Gulf, started getting named.

      • Goldie – thanks.

        Did I miss the /Snark! ?
        There was a phantasm of a cloud – barely bigger than a fingernail – last Tuesday week, that I haven’t seen formally given a Naming Ceremony.
        And a couple in May . . .

        Auto.
        Mods – yes – a little tiny bit /Snark.

  6. “Recorded history” of hurricanes, at least to the extent that we can measure them far out at sea is a pretty short history. Who knows how many were stronger than Irma at their maximum? Probbaly more than a few. Now, as far as strength when making landfall in the U.S. is concerned, we are talking something else – Camille at landfall was 175MPH, gusts over 200 MPH, pressure 900MB.
    As opposed to Irma, estimated to have 145 MPH (Cat 4) winds at landfall, which means it doesn’t join the group of storms that were Cat 5 upon landfall in the U.S., of which there are 3, I believe.

  7. David — nice to see a historical statistical perspective but as I mentioned last night I’m still having a hard time understanding the methodology of the raw measurement data.

    I invite all interested to download the recon flight data and dropsonde data to see if we can determine what adjustments are being made to arrive at the NHC MSW values.

    Biggest items that leap out at me are using 10 second peak measurement from 2500m flight level as the maximum sustained wind instead of the dropsonde measurement at surface level or even the averaged value as the dropsonde passes through last 150 m. which are substantially lower.

    The quality flags on the data gathered in their 30 second observation windows as the plane punches through the eyewall is also triggered about half the time as having suspect parameters or values. No idea if that data gets thrown out or used as is.

    Use of the stepped frequency microwave radar (SFMR) to measure surface emissivity due to foam on the ocean surface to infer surface wind speeds also seems to be out of line with the dropsonde information and there doesn’t appear to be any official numbers that apply any corrections.

    There is at least one resource I found that suggested the emissivity readings might be affected by more than just wind speed alone and that in comparisons to dropsonde data below 60 mph winds there is a measurable positive bias. That dataset didn’t show anything beyond 60 mph but it wouldn’t surprise me if higher wind speeds result in greater uncertainties.

    One final thought on those wind readings is the current flights through the storm are gathering hundreds of observations and the SFMR on the current NOAA planes was put in to service after 2005. Observation bias and measurement uncertainties should be accounted for somewhere but I haven’t found a good resource on what happens to the raw data to arrive at their conclusions.

    Disclaimer: I’m not a meteorologist just interested in the data and how it is used.

    • NHC claims of tropical cyclone surface wind speeds have been inflated for years. At first the wind inflation was numerically small, then larger discrepancies with time. Now the NHC is calling a Category 3 storm a Category 5. There is no way that Irma 2017 is in the same class of storm as Andrew in 1992.
      Aircraft based GPS dropsondes and SFMR data have been compared to true surface based wind measurements and posthoc damage photos long enough to understand how to interpret the data. The AMS paper by Uhlhorn published in 2003 is a good starting point.
      The Irma eyewall passed directly over NDBC buoy BARA9 on Barbuda with 103 knots sustained winds. At exactly the same time the NHC reports for Irma were 175 mph which is about 150 knots. Time plots of pressure readings clearly show the symetrical response of the BARA9 instrument for long enough to show the eyewall peak to center of the eye minimum. Some minutes later the readings stopped due to power failure, not damage to the station. Scattered photos and videos of palm trees on the island show Category 3 type storm response.
      Irma was not Category 5 over Barbuda as claimed by NHC. In reality the winds were category 3.
      The stupid mass media have no choice but to believe the NHC. The fact is that Irma is nowhere near the storm that most people now think.
      The conclusion is that the NHC has a deliberate political bias to create more news with the aim of self-aggrandizement.
      The people of Florida should be prepared for any hurricane, but they deserve to be told the facts. Some day a true Category 5 may come along and then God help them.

      • I quite agree with the dangers of reporting that a cat 5 had hit when in fact it was a cat 3. Especially with modern building codes people are very likely to think that they survived with last cat 5 with nothing worse than a few trees down and power going off for an hour or two.

        A REAL cat 5 will then find them complacent and underprepared.

    • bw September 7, 2017 at 1:30 pm
      The Irma eyewall passed directly over NDBC buoy BARA9 on Barbuda with 103 knots sustained winds. At exactly the same time the NHC reports for Irma were 175 mph which is about 150 knots. Time plots of pressure readings clearly show the symetrical response of the BARA9 instrument for long enough to show the eyewall peak to center of the eye minimum.

      103kts (118mph) sustained winds, gusts to 155mph then destroyed, pressure continued to drop for some time afterwards.

      Some minutes later the readings stopped due to power failure, not damage to the station.

      No, the weather station was able to transmit temperature and pressure data so it wasn’t just the power.

      Scattered photos and videos of palm trees on the island show Category 3 type storm response.

      Virtually every tree on Barbuda has gone as have most of the buildings, a transmission tower was completely trashed. The airport runway has been damaged and they’re trying to fix it to evacuate the residents before the next hurricane gets there (Jose is forecast to hit Barbuda).

    • Irma was not Category 5 over Barbuda as claimed by NHC. In reality the winds were category 3.
      Some of the footage I just saw of Barbuda showed tree trunks with the bark stripped off, I would say more than cat 3.

  8. This is a ridiculous post.

    You’re arguing over geography and semantics. The statement as actually used this week is that Irma is the most powerful hurricane measured in the Atlantic Ocean, and not which spawned or operated in the Gulf of Mexico, which is a warmer body of water as compared to the open Atlantic. Most everybody knows that hurricanes are fed energy by warm oceanic waters, and if a body of water has higher temperatures than other bodies of water, they are more likely to produce more intense hurricanes.

    The fact that Irma is more intense than any other measured hurricane while it was still in the cooler waters of the open Atlantic Ocean is indeed a significant event. It is also totally meaningless in terms of the global warming argument, pro or con, warmist or skeptic. Irma is “weather” not climate.

    These kind of posts are what make skeptics look like junior high school debaters and idiots.

    I am a skeptic, and I am on board with the skeptics argument. Stop making us look like infantile morons with moronic posts like this

    • The Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea are in the Atlantic Ocean.

      Irma’s track isn’t significantly different than historically similar hurricanes…

      It just reached Cat 3/4 further east than any other Atlantic hurricane on record.

      • Remember also that the “history” requires the means and ability to look, see and record accurately. Since WWII, maybe?

    • It is not only the water temperature it is also the effect of humidity at height (the wet and dry lapse rates) windshear and other weather patterns troughs and fronts that provide ‘steering’ to the storm. This diverse set of start parameters leads to a chaotic system that will occasionally spawn extreme hurricanes if all are ‘just right’.

    • Duane,
      You had it right with your first sentence, “This is a ridiculous post.”, because all the rest of you comment was certainly ridiculous.
      You took David Middleton to task over a semantic point, yet you tried to deflect from the blatant and well- known media hype of “largest/strongest/biggest/most powerful”, which evince no semantic subtleties whatsoever, despite your claim to the contrary.

      I can’t help but notice that you also used a left- handed semantic trick which associated skeptics with “infantile morons”.
      Despite your claims that you are on board with the skeptic points of view, etc., I find your comment to be exceedingly disingenuous.

      • Alan, The article by David does not define most powerful yet claims that I’m a is not the most powerful because it is mot the fastest, I agree with Duane.
        Ps speed andOwer are not the same thing.
        Think of a tractor plowing at 4mph and a child running at 8 mph. Which is the most powerful?
        Speed is only a factor in power

    • Duane, when ” news reports” throughout the media are hyping Irma as the worst ever… and blaming CO2, while not even mentioning as strong or stronger Atlantic ocean basin storms or the relative shortness of satellite observations and even flight observations, then this post is both accurate and cogent for correcting the hype.

      Due to the long open waters this is an ” annular, hurricane, which gives it it’s power. These occur in even cooler waters. As the storm brushes PR and then Cuba you will and are seeing less symmetry in the water vapor wrap around the eye. ( the eye is less centered)

    • Duane
      September 7, 2017 at 11:40 am

      This is a ridiculous post.

      You’re arguing over geography and semantics. The statement as actually used this week is that Irma is the most powerful hurricane measured in the Atlantic Ocean, and not which spawned or operated in the Gulf of Mexico, which is a warmer body of water as compared to the open Atlantic. Most everybody knows that hurricanes are fed energy by warm oceanic waters, and if a body of water has higher temperatures than other bodies of water, they are more likely to produce more intense hurricanes.

      The fact that Irma is more intense than any other measured hurricane while it was still in the cooler waters of the open Atlantic Ocean is indeed a significant event. It is also totally meaningless in terms of the global warming argument, pro or con, warmist or skeptic. Irma is “weather” not climate.

      These kind of posts are what make skeptics look like junior high school debaters and idiots.

      I am a skeptic, and I am on board with the skeptics argument. Stop making us look like infantile morons with moronic posts like this

      —————————————–Worth reprinting——————————————

      When your own team needs to slap you back into reality its time to take a good hard look at yourself. Same goes for the owner of the site.

      Focus on semantics, distractions, red herrings, manufactured doubts, misaprehensions, shiny things and glue it all together with click-bait; anything but the reality of a steadily warming world and the species responsible for it. Talk about deluded and that is giving you the benefit of the doubt.

      If this storm disects Florida (the way it looks now) what it will be is the most destructive and expensive…evah.
      Is that the point you’re trying to make David? Anthony? SMFH

      Last post
      No, you couldn’t fly from Svalbard to the north pole this year without seeing ice as I predicted and bet would be possible. Well done Bob, you have the trophy for a whole twelve months.

      • “tony mcleod

        September 7, 2017 at 4:41 pm

        Last post
        No, you couldn’t fly from Svalbard to the north pole this year without seeing ice as I predicted and bet would be possible. Well done Bob, you have the trophy for a whole twelve months.”

        No! Your prediction was that it WOULD BE ICE FREE, same as Griff.

    • Duane, Your comment is ridiculous.

      The ONLY purpose of the media’s articles is to create alarm about CAGW. The fact that Irma is more intense than any other measured hurricane while it was still in the cooler waters of the open Atlantic Ocean is NOT a significant event. It is totally meaningless in historical climate change context. It’s only significance is how it will effect people today, but these articles want to imply some sort of wider general nebulous alarm about how humans are causing climate change and an increase of “extreme weather”. That is why it is on WUWT.

      Your claim that “weather” is not climate makes you look like a junior high school debater and idiot. Weather is of course climate, it is the definition of climate over an extended period often defined as 30 years or more. An infrequent event such as a major hurricane that only happens a few times a year would of course make up around 1% of the 30 year climate history of major Atlantic hurricanes. In fact, each and every day would make up around 1/10,000th of a 30 year climate. Each and every day of “weather” makes up a part of climate.

      You do not appear to be a skeptic, or on board with the skeptics arguments. Stop making yourself look like an infantile moron with moronic comments like this.

  9. Williwaw up in Alaska (Aleutians particularly https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Williwaw) can be amazingly destructive. When a cyclonic storm blows over a snowcapped mountain the cold, dense air then rushes down the lee side and is focused in valleys or other geography into locally intense winds. It blew the anemometer clean off the mast in October of 1977 or 1978 but was reading over 180 knots (I think it was knots) before it blew away. That particular storm was exceptional; a 2 inch drop in mercury in two hours, bottoming out at 27.9 or something; not exactly sure since it went below the calibration on the dial.

    The force of wind is not linear with velocity, it’s approximately the square of the increase in velocity. Double the windspeed, increase the pressure on something (wind load) by x4. http://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/wind-load-d_1775.html

  10. Thanks David for bringing down the media nonsense. I always like these WUWT articles which mass media histeria is compared with facts. And I congratulate you for putting the links to the original data as it should always be. Cheers

    • I’m pretty sure it has got a lot to do with Hurricane Donald, much pretend dismay at the damage it did to Paris, but in reality it injected enormous energy into the unprecedented, catastrophic, cataclysmic, etc deluge of AGW hype in the MSM.

    • Because it’s this week’s Big Story, lots of “jep,” and distracts attention from the rocks now being lifted up shining light on Hillary Clinton’s shenanigans during the recent election. Etc.

  11. You can debate the “whose got the bigger one” all you like, but when was the last time we saw two such significant devastating hurricane events within two weeks of each other? I would have thought that alone is cause for serious concern.

    • Simon, you are right. Showing updates, with webcams, airborne camera systems from every possible angle, hundreds of teams in the field and hundreds of commentators in the studios, etc, etc, etc, with updates each minute, probably never. I was not alive 50 years ago to be able to compare. I do think that there’s a lot of media amplification of an already very dangerous phenomena. Be also aware that it’s logical that the level of destruction is bigger nowadays. You only need to check what was build in the path of this Hurricane 50 years ago and nowadays. Vulnerability to hurricanes increases with the increase of land use for building.

      • “Vulnerability to hurricanes increases with the increase of land use for building”
        Yes… to a certain extent. It also depends on how well your city is designed and maintained. There is much more capital in downtown Houston compared to New Orleans. However the city of Houston is not built below sea level, and below the level of a nearby lake, and protected from both by poorly maintained levees. Ike brought substantial winds, and so did Harvey – but look at the number of roofs ripped off compared to Hugo.
        As drainage is improved in the future, buildings raised in flood prone regions, and other hardening performed you will see less damage. Tropical Storm Allison somewhat crippled the Houston med center in 2002, but Harvey (undeniably more water) only really bothered the infrastructure at Ben Taub (the least maintained hospital in the med Center). Why was there less flooding when there were unarguably more flood waters? Better infrastructure. Expect continued improvements and for even more “devastating” storms of the future to actually be less “devastating.”

      • Maybe we ought to seriously rethink housing something like 75% of the U.S. population within a few miles of coastlines prone to hurricanes, subsidence, erosion, flooding, mosquitoes . . . nah! (yes, snark).

    • Hurricane Carol and Hurricane Edna struck New England less than two weeks apart in 1954 when CO2 levels were much lower than today.

      • That pair, the “Long Island Express” of 1938 and other big New England hurricanes convinced Providence, RI to build a surge barrier in 1962. NYC didn’t follow suit, over concerns for the Bay environment. Hence, the destruction wrought by Sandy, a tropical storm which hit at high tide. Its cost was greater than would have been the expense of building a surge barrier.

      • What monster(s). Irma is the only Cat 5. Harvey was only briefly (if that) a Cat 4. Most of Harvey’s monstrous behavior came after it was downgraded to a tropical storm.

    • Yes, 2005, since no major hurricanes at all have hit the US since then, which demonstrates that “climate change” has nothing whatsoever to do with this season any more than those of 2006 to 2016.

      In 2005, Katrina, Rita and Wilma all hit the US, but more than two weeks apart. Two other major hurricanes battered Mexico, as did Wilma as well.

      But then eleven seasons passed without a Cat 3 or greater Atlantic hurricane hitting CONUS.

      • I should have said “hit” rather than “have hit”, since obviously Harvey struck last month, ending the long major hurricane drought.

      • NHC claims that Harvey was a major hurricane are false. Photos of wind damage on the ground show Category 1, except for a narrow band of Category 2 type damage near the point of landfall and Rockport. No surface based anemometers show any Category 3 sustained winds for Harvey.

    • You would have thought wrong, as usual. We are having an active hurricane season, after a 12-year drought of major hurricanes. The fact that two happened to occur within two weeks of each other is simply bad luck. It is completely meaningless, IOW.

    • Simon

      You can debate the “whose got the bigger one” all you like, but when was the last time we saw two such significant devastating hurricane events within two weeks of each other? I would have thought that alone is cause for serious concern.

      No, no change since earlier seasons many years ago when CO2 was substantially lower. The 1934-35 hurricane season had two Cat 5 hurricanes strike the US within weeks of each other, and five Cat 5 storms over the whole season. Harvey has struck the US coastline – the first in 12 years, which IS unprecedented! – but Irma is still at sea. (She may strike the FL coast certainly, but has not yet. And Irma has many projected tracks well east of the FL east east coast.)

      • “The 1934-35 hurricane season had two Cat 5 hurricanes strike the US within weeks of each other”

        That is not true. Name them?

      • David Middleton

        You just trying to make my point for me. Those earlier ones didn’t have the wind speed of Irma.

        And anything that has happened this century just reinforces that hurricanes are getting stronger.

      • Go back and read the post, particularly the graphs. There is absolutely no evidence that hurricanes are getting stronger, more intense or occurring more frequently.

        If major hurricanes were a random time series, Allen’s wind speed record would have been broken years ago. Hurricane records are being broken at a slower rate than would be expected in a random time series.

      • simon doen’t know what he’s talking about

        in 1935 you had hurricane two, three, and five. Three and five did hit the US where hurricane five has still a debatable statute: it is listed as category 4 based on the readings but it is listed as “lower the 945 mb” so the category 4 is certain with a good possibility that makes it a five.

        what is hurricane Three? The most intense landfalling hurricane ever at 892 mb Maybe it rings your bell with it’s more common name:

        the Labor day hurricane.

        learn your hurricane history Simon naming only begun in 1947 first by the military and common naming lists started in 1953.

      • The only “record that Irma broke is that it is the hurricane that reached category 5 status is the it is the most eastern one to reach it.

        but regarding it’s pressure, windspeed and size it is “just a plain normal category 5 beast”

        it’s a pity they don’t send hurricane hunters into all cyclones. i am sure that by doing that the picture of tropical cyclones would be more complete

      • The easternmost attainment of Cat 3, 4 and 5 for an Atlantic hurricane just doesn’t “”sing” like “the most powerful Atlantic hurricane in recorded history.”

      • Simon.

        Sorry; I mis-remembered: Three Cat 4 storms (not Cat 5!) hit the US shores in 1933 (not 1935). The Labor Day storm was the worst. (And, to be technically correct, Irma has not yet hit the US as any measure of a storm – much less a Cat 4 – and is no longer a Cat 5 storm, so the 1933 record remains far above 2017. Its track certainly forebodes substantial damage, but it may yet stay east off of FL’s coast. )

    • Simple!
      Simon should have looked up hurricane history before making such a silly comment. Duo and triple hurricanes following each other within days over the same path is common, not rare.

      Even tainted wiki list multiple land falling hurricanes at the same locations from long before people started treating hurricanes as deranged pets with names.

      Meaning, open ocean hurricanes that didn’t landfall are not represented.

      Similar conditions.
      Similar weather patterns.
      Storms follow similar paths.
      Duh!

      • Duh ATheoK . These two hurricanes will go down in history as…. if not unique ….close to it. To have two this destructive (one wind one rain) is a rare thing. Duh!!!!!

      • lol they don’t beat the season of 1886

        then a record 7 hurricanes hit the USA where 3 did hit the same region on just 100 miles apart
        of course intensity and category is not entirely known and their tracks before landfall are incomplete….

      • You’ve got a recurring echo there in that empty chamber of yours, simple simon.

        Storms following each other are not unique, definitely not rare, not even uncommon.

        Now listen carefully simple. Similar weather conditions, blocking highs, lack of sheer, etc., the storms that form follow the same weather effects steering the storms.

        All it would take is a few minutes of your time, reading the hurricane and tropical center dates and landfalls and you will note multiple occurrences of double storms and even triples.

        Destructive is what hurricanes are, even multiples in a row. Which is why the 1926 Miami hurricane is still the most destructive hurricane, by far.

        But, then you prefer abject ignorance in favor of your empty echo chamber.

  12. Here’s what I find amazing – 4′ of water in a region with ~4M people and there are ~50 deaths. Compare that to the Galveston hurricane of 1900 with 6,000-12,000 deaths in a city of ~35,000. In the last hundred years we have made so much progress in terms of building codes and infrastructure that major hurricanes have effectively turned into major inconveniences. In five days Texas lost as many lives to Hurricane Harvey as would be expected from traffic accidents.
    Let’s grant the arguments of global warming (more storms, stronger storms blah blah blah) a relatively minor improvement in Houston infrastructure (expand drain capacity by 20%) would completely negate any effects of climate change.

    • For the reasons you describe, it’s unlikely there will ever again be a death toll as high as the 20,000+ from the Hurricane of 1780. Or the 10,000 in Galveston in 1900.

      • “For the reasons you describe, it’s unlikely there will ever again be a death toll as high as the 20,000+ from the Hurricane of 1780. Or the 10,000 in Galveston in 1900.”

        True.. But the damage reckoned in $$$ will be greater as building expands.

    • There are no valid arguments relating hurricane frequency or intensity to “global warming” or “climate change”.

      • As Joel has pointed out, hurricanes tend to form at night, when the difference between air and sea surface temperature is greatest. During the day, the tropical Atlantic is similar in temperature to the air above it. Even if the air has indeed warmed by a degree C since AD 1850 there, which I doubt, that should actually retard hurricane formation, by reducing the differential.

        A one degree air warming would have virtually no effect on SST, given the enormous difference in heat capacity of air v. water, and the fact that in that region, SST is often higher than air T anyway.

      • But don’t take my word for it. Just read Bill Gray, the “Father of Hurricanology”, and even the IPCC on the topic of global warming and tropical storm formation.

    • Most important is advance notice and tracking/prediction ability. The people of Galveston were told it probably would not hit them and they had little notice compared to today.

  13. Nor the deadliest Huricane +27,000 deaths in 1780…..

    Although specifics on this hurricane’s track and strength are unknown, forecasters and historians believe that the Great Hurricane of 1780 initially formed near the Cape Verde Islands on October 9, 1780. The hurricane strengthened and grew in size as it tracked slowly westward, first affecting Barbados, the western most Caribbean island, late on 9 October. The worst of the hurricane, with winds possibly exceeding 321.9 km/h (200 mph), passed over Barbardos late on 10 October 10 before moving past Martinique and St. Lucia early on 11 October. The hurricane passed near Puerto Rico and over the eastern portion of the Dominican Republic (at the time known known as Santo Domingo) on 14 October, causing heavy damage near the coastlines. Ultimately, the system turned to the northeast, passing 258 km (160 mi) southeast of Bermuda on 18 October. The hurricane was last observed on October 20, 1780, southeast of Cape Race, Newfoundland, Canada.

    Thousands of deaths were reported on each Caribbean island over which the cataclysmic hurricane crossed: 4,500 deaths occurred on Barbados (nearly every building on the island was leveled), 6,000 lost their lives on St. Lucia (where the island was essentially flattened), and approximately 9,000 died on Martinique. Over 27,500 total fatalities were estimated across the Lesser Antilles Islands as a result of this storm, making the Great Hurricane of 1780 the deadliest Atlantic hurricane on record.

    http://www.hurricanescience.org/history/storms/pre1900s/1780/

    • As noted, this hurricane was stronger than any since. No other Atlantic hurricane has ever stripped bark off of trees.

      • Take a look at post-Andrew photos. I was there in 1992 a few weeks after. There was no living thing in the damage path for about 10 miles. Almost a moonscape, similar to photos of Hiroshima. No wood standing anywhere. One residence that looked like it was constructed of steel reinforced concrete remained standing. I could not see the windward side. Most commercial buildings were steel skeletons such as gas stations. Where the roof and walls were blown away only twisted steel beams sticking out of the ground.
        A modern motel of several stories steel reinforced concrete construction looked ok with superficial damage and blown out windows except on the lee side. Open ground looked like mud, the grass sod was not covered in mud, it was gone, totally scraped away. A few tree stumps that may have been palms.
        No person who has seen the damage of a Categoy 5 will ever forget such sights.

    • That season was one of two on record, with the 1998 Atlantic hurricane season, when four Atlantic hurricanes were active on the same day.

      The 1998 season was like this one, in that it followed a big El Nino.

  14. What I have mostly been hearing in the MSM is that Irma is the most powerful hurricane in the Atlantic, with notation of meaning only the ocean itself and not the whole basin. Some say excluding the Gulf and Carribean, some others say east of Florida and north of the Carribean, and some say “open Atlantic.”

    • The Atlantic Ocean and Atlantic Basin are the same thing. The Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea are sub-oceanic basins within the Atlantic Ocean/Basin.

      Irma became a Cat 3/4 further east in the Atlantic Ocean than any other hurricane on record… This is not alarming enough. So, the most powerful Atlantic hurricane ever recorded became the headline. The “outside of the Gulf of Mexico or Caribbean Sea” qualification is sometimes buried in the bodies of articles.

    • How about we settle this right now. Irma is the most everything for a storm named Irma in 2017. End of discussion.

    • How about we settle this right now. Irma is the most everything for a storm named Irma in 2017. End of discussion.

    • Is Irma now unprecedented in being downgraded from a Cat 5 to a Cat 3 further east in the Atlantic Ocean than any storm on record? /Sarc

      • According to NHC, it’s still a Cat 5. Some articles predict that it will be a Cat 3 or 4 when and if it makes landfall in Florida or a tropical storm when and if it makes landfall in the Carolinas.

      • With all chatter going on it is possible that the Sky made a mistake, if so lesson the learned: “Vuk always check with an alternative source.”

    • Most likely they looked at the update for Jose which has MSW of 120 mph.

      Irma still being reported as MSW of 175 mph but that appears to be based on one 10 second peak reading at 2500 m altitude when the recon goes through eyewall.

      Dropsondes still showing surface winds at the eyewall in the 120 kt range.

  15. It is a dangerous storm because of it’s track, not anything special about it. It will be strong enough, for long enough to develop a large surge, and have large waves riding on top of that surge. If it continues on this track, there will be widespread damage from this surge. The winds are far less dangerous, and we can effectively limit the damage due to wind. We are not there on storm surge defenses, and sooner or later we are going to get a direct hit on a major population. Let’s hope for a turn to the east that spares South Beach, and more time to think about how ready we are for a direct hit.

  16. Eye is about 30 miles from Cockburn Town (‘Coburn’) Grand Turk, max wind speed recorded there so far about 82m.p.h.

  17. Duane, when ” news reports” throughout the media are hyping Irma as the worst ever… and blaming CO2, while not even mentioning as strong or stronger Atlantic ocean basin storms or the relative shortness of satellite observations and even flight observations, then this post is both accurate and cogent for correcting the hype.

    Due to the long open waters this is an ” annular, hurricane, which gives it it’s power. These occur in even cooler waters. As the storm brushes PR and then Cuba you will and are seeing less symmetry in the water vapor wrap around the eye. ( the eye is less centered)

  18. Dave, you seem to have completely missed the point of your essay. You also seem to need a refresher course in school physics.

    You state that Irma is not the most powerful hurracane recorded.

    First you give a list of wind speeds for a number of hurracanes. The dimensions of speed are distance/time for me is m/s
    For you miles per hour OK thats good

    You then have a list of measured pressures. Dimensions are in milibars which for me become pascal, or newtons per meter squared.

    Now then you talk about the most powerful hurracane. Now power is measured in watts not miles per hour or milibars. Watts up with that

    Bad science. That is a fail for schoolboy science project. Sorry no proof of supposition presented.

    Speed is not power. Pressure(or really in this case pressure difference)is not power.

    • The “power” of tropical cyclones is expressed through maximum sustained wind speed (mi/hr, kts or km/h) and/or minimum atmospheric pressure (inches of Hg, milibars or hectopascals). The Saffir-Simpson index is based on wind speed.

      A more physics-oriented meaurement is Accumulated Cyclone Energy, which is derived from wind speed.

      The claim that Irma is the most powerful Atlantic hurricane ever recorded is based on its Saffir-Simpson rating… which is based on wind speed.

      This is how the severity, intensity and powerfulness of hurricanes are expressed.

    • And… the word, “power” does not appear in my post.

      Definition of “powerful”…

      B1 having a lot of strength or force:
      She’s an extremely powerful runner.
      The picture quality is bad because the TV signal isn’t powerful enough.

      B2 having a very great effect:
      a powerful drug
      Her speech about cruelty to children was very powerful

      http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/powerful

      Irma is a very powerful hurricane.

    • There is also the size of Irma as it compares to other hurricanes. It’s 785 miles across, roughly the size of Texas. I don’t know how that compares to prior hurricanes, but it’s quite large.

  19. Thanks for the reply. No power is measured in watts.
    A low calibre bullet can be faster than a say a bunch of buckshot but there may be more power in the buckshot. That is not to say which is the most destructive.
    Accumulated energy is closer to power as I assume that it is power times time. It fails to represent the power since a short lived powerful cyclone would come lower than a a less powerful but long lived one
    It’s sloppy science and sloppy writing.

    Power is power. Energy is energy. Speed is speed. Pressure differences are pressure differences.

    If you are going to present a thesis please be accurate and precise.

      • Daventry Websters says Powerful –having great power, see I have a dictionary.
        Stop being petty. My point is that you are taking intensity and passing it off as power.

        Intensity, the quality or state of being intense Webster’s
        Ps Cambridge says having lots of power,

  20. Good thing those 250,000 people that died in Indonesia were poor. At least Irma has a shot at the most costly natural disaster in all of history.

  21. Wind speed and pressure are measures of intensity of a storm . Camille was very intense.But it was not very extensive. Katrina fell to a cat 3 on US landfall yet it was much more extensive and from what I gather more destructive. Now as to power I do not have the figures for either storm . But at a guess I would put Katrina being more powerful. You are measuring intensity not POWER.

    I’ve got a dictionary.

    Intensity is only an indication of power.A 10 watt bulb will be a far more intense source of energy than a 1000 watt room heater. You can tell that because the black body radiation has gone into the visible whereas the room heater is emitting in the infra red.

    Sorry you have got power wrong.

    • “Powerful” is an adjective. It is not synonymous with “power” as it is used in physics.

      Every appearance of the word “powerful” in the post was in quotes of media headlines and articles. Apart from the assertion that Irma was the most powerful Atlantic hurricane ever recorded, the use of powerful was grammatically correct.

      Quote the exact passage from the post where I misused the word “power.”

      • Perhaps the media are more on the ball than you give credit to. Or they are repeating what the scientists are telling them. Power is a measure which takes into account the extent. The keep on telling this storm is big and intense. Therfore this is pretty close to the scientific power.

    • Correct:
      A joule is a measurement of energy (or work). watts/sec
      A watt is a measurement of power.

      As I tried to explain earlier in this thread hurricane Irma was earlier today at 100 TJ (100xE12). In comparison Katrina was at 120TJ at landfall. I suspect Irma will gain energy prior to landfall.

      • Another problem with the category system is that a storm’s wind speed may jump by just a few miles per hour, but can be boosted into a new category level.

        In recent years, scientists have been developing other metrics for measuring storm damage potential. One such scale is the Integrated Kinetic Energy (IKE), which looks at the whole envelope of the storm’s winds and estimates the entire amount of energy the storm contains. “This number can reveal when a storm may not have a high peak wind but is very broad and can bring damage to vast areas,” [Neal Dorst, a meteorologist with the Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory, part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration] told Live Science.

        However, there are problems with this scale as well, and for now, the NHC has decided to stick with the familiar categories people know, Dorst said. In other regions of the world, scientists may use different scales, but those scales all rely on maximum sustained wind speed for now, Dorst said.

        https://www.livescience.com/60308-hurricane-irma-what-category-5-means.html

      • please get your concepts right: power is energy per unit of time, so Watt is Joule/second, or equivalently Joule is Watts * second, i.e. the time-integrated power.

  22. It must be remembered that a post such as this is not meant to lessen the weather event. (A category doesn’t sound like much…but if it hits your house, you don’t care.)
    This is to counter the CAGW-generated “hype”.
    Man didn’t cause it. Mann didn’t stall Harvey over Houston (though he tried 8-).
    Irma is bad but not “unprecedented”, even with Jose behind her.

  23. Typo…yet again…
    “(A category doesn’t sound like much”
    Should be:
    “(A category1 doesn’t sound like much”

  24. Dave, one can always get a dictionary to give a layman’s definition. Powerful having power.

    Power is energy per unit time. For scientists that watts.

      • Merriam-Webster

        powerfulplay
        adjective pow·er·ful \ˈpau̇(-ə)r-fəl\

        Definition of powerful
        1
        : having great power, prestige, or influence a powerful leader
        2
        : leading to many or important deductions a powerful set of postulates

        Examples of powerful in a Sentence
        The country is becoming more and more powerful.
        powerful drugs that attack cancer cells
        The cash bonus provides a powerful incentive to workers.
        The perfume has a powerful smell.
        It’s a very powerful movie.
        The dog has a powerful body.
        She has a powerful voice.
        The weapons are very powerful.
        The aardvark uses its powerful claws to dig for food

        https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/powerful

        Dictionary.com

        powerful
        [pou-er-fuh l]

        adjective
        1.
        having or exerting great power or force.
        2.
        physically strong, as a person:
        a large, powerful athlete.
        3.
        producing great physical effects, as a machine or a blow.
        4.
        potent; efficacious:
        a powerful drug.
        5.
        having great effectiveness, as a speech, speaker, description, reason, etc.
        6.
        having great power, authority, or influence; mighty:
        a powerful nation.
        7.
        Chiefly South Midland and Southern U.S. great in number or amount:
        a powerful lot of money.

        http://www.dictionary.com/browse/powerful

        Cambridge English dictionary

        powerful
        adjective US ​ /ˈpɑʊ·ər·fəl/
        powerful adjective (STRONG)


        strong:
        The picture quality is bad because the TV signal isn’t powerful enough.

        Things that are powerful have a strong effect:
        a powerful drug
        powerful adjective (CONTROLLING)


        having a lot of power:
        He’s in a powerful position as an adviser of the president.

        http://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/powerful

        Collins English dictionary

        powerful
        (paʊərfəl )
        1. adjective
        A powerful person or organization is able to control or influence people and events.
        You’re a powerful man – people will listen to you.
        …Russia and India, two large, powerful countries.
        2. adjective
        You say that someone’s body is powerful when it is physically strong.
        Hans flexed his powerful muscles.
        powerfully adverb [ADV with v]
        He is described as a strong, powerfully-built man of 60.
        3. adjective
        A powerful machine or substance is effective because it is very strong.
        The more powerful the car the more difficult it is to handle.
        …powerful computer systems.
        powerfully adverb [ADV adj]
        Crack is a much cheaper, smokable form of cocaine which is powerfully addictive.
        4. adjective
        A powerful smell is very strong.
        There was a powerful smell of stale beer.
        powerfully adverb [ADV after v]
        The air smelled powerfully of dry dust.
        5. adjective
        A powerful voice is loud and can be heard from a long way away.
        At that moment Mrs. Jones’s powerful voice interrupted them, announcing a visitor.
        6. adjective
        You describe a piece of writing, speech, or work of art as powerful when it has a strong effect on people’s feelings or beliefs.
        …a powerful 11-part drama about a corrupt city leader.
        powerfully adverb
        It’s a play – painful, funny, and powerfully acted.

        https://www.collinsdictionary.com/us/dictionary/english/powerful

        Thesaurus.com

        Synonyms for powerful
        adj strong, effective
        dominant impressive capable influential forceful persuasive dynamic potent authoritative mighty compelling vigorous robust energetic able almighty authoritarian cogent commanding competent controllingstar convincing effectual efficacious forcible omnipotent paramount preeminent prevailing ruling sovereign stalwart strapping sturdy supreme telling upper hand weighty wicked puissant all-powerful in control in the saddle overruling strengthy wieldy

        http://www.thesaurus.com/browse/powerful

        Now… Quote the exact passage in the post where I misused either the word power or powerful.

  25. Dilbert’s Salary Theorem (why engineering won’t make you rich)

    Knowledge is power and Time is money

    Power = Work/Time

    Hence

    Knowledge = Work/Money and Money = Work/Knowledge

    So, the less you know , the more you make.

  26. ,Dave you quote powerful in the title and then spend the rest talking about intensity and have a pecking order on these. There that is your misquote. As I stated in my first post you do not work out the power of any of these storms.

    You only define powerful after the article when challenged.
    Three dictionaries state in their first definition that powerful is having great power.
    Not one states intensity.
    Power is measured in watts for a very good reason because it measures extent and speed.

    You have only quoted intensity and have missed the point of your own title completly

    you are getting personal and insulting, looks like you now see your mistake.

    (You have been repeatedly asked to provide the quote,but you do not.) MOD

      • Quote the exact passage from the post where I misused either power or powerful. Try to comprehend the fact that “powerful” is an adjective. It is not synonymous with the word “power,” which I never used in either post.

        Furthermore, almost all of the uses of the word “powerful” were quotations from media reports. However, the use of the word “powerful” as an adjective was 100% grammatically correct.

        Here endeth the remedial grammar lessons.

    • Mod just read the title that is the quote, mod I suggest that you censure someone is iliterate and read a dictionary but you won’t.

      [As soon you write a legible sentence, we will consider whatever request it is you are trying make. -mod]

  27. There are a number of papers that look at prehistoric proxies for hurricanes such as sediment dispersal. They find that there are ‘wreckers” far worse than anything seen in the historical record. These papers have caused periodic soul searching among insurance execs every time we have an active hurricane year.

    When the Spaniards came to the Gulf Coast they found few if any indians living near the coast.

  28. Thanks for posting this. I was remembering back to Gilbert in 88 and I thought at least that one was stronger. I distinctly remember watching on the news where at one point it had two eye walls. Never saw that before and I dont think i’ve ever seen it since. A central pressure of 888 also means to me that the winds were probably stronger than what they officially have listed.

  29. I think the most relevant comparison is the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935. It’s pressure was much lower than Irma being the third lowest in history, and it winds were calculated to have been between 186.4 mph – 188.7 mph. Not only did it hit the US as a cat 5, it was the most intense hurricane to make landfall in the US ever. Also it hit Florida while still a cat 5, which made it 1 of 2 cat 5s to hit that state. But most important it happened in 1935. May Florida not see its like again.

  30. The beauty of the fossil fuel industry and the even more pathetic doubt science that produces pages like this is nothing left of ridiculous. Like the people that believe the bible is real the same morons seem to think that we are having no effect on this planet. Has anyone ever noticed that the biggest doubters are usually uneducated backwater hillbillies that have traveled little further than there local Walmart however have such informed and god dammit definitive proof, like the stupidity of religion that we are all subjected to putting up with have to have websites like this pile of dog excrement to enjoy as well.

    Burn burn burn baby. Keep going as the planet will outlast all of you and hopefully will swallow your house first so you can crown believing you played no part in this. Who cares about a 5mph difference in wind speed or a label. The simple FACT is that the warmest temperatures are not made up. Nor will be the dead bodies of the doubters floating into the swamp hopefully as soon as possible. Gee i wonder of there is also a way to u explain the death of 30% of the great barrier reef. However i imagine that 90% of the idiom that thinks there worldly and educated don’t even know about that or think it will come back just for them.

    Pathetic.

    (You are waaaay off topic) MOD

  31. I think that Greg above has a point. If you make a plot of y=EXP(x) over a range of 1 to 50 you get a monotonically increasing series with an overall increase of 25 orders of magnitude. If you do a linear regression, you get an R squared of 0.134. This is less than the number for the hurricane data. But there is clearly a steady and massive increase. You can drive R squared as low as you like by extending this series. So R squared goes down as the increase in the series rises

    Common sense tells me that there is a real and significant increase in this data. I don’t know what formal statistical test would be applicable, but I don’t think R squared is it. Not as excel calculates it in any case.

    • @morgs640 No. Take your petulance down about 5 notches, put down the torch and change the diaper. This isn’t another excuse for you to get in a tissy about “America trying to claim everything” so hush, take your bottle and listen.

      Even though Typoons, Hurricanes and Cyclones are the same thing, they are absolutely not the same thing at the same time. Sure, yes…maybe Typhoon Tip was the most powerful TYPHOON of all time, but TYPHOON Tip was NOT the most powerful HURRICANE of all time. Typhoons develop in a specific area of the ocean on a very specific area of the world. Hurricanes develop in a specific area of the ocean on ANOTHER very specific area of the world.

      So, you see…Pacific Typhoon is not Atlantic Hurricane. Typhoon is to Hurricane as Watermelon is to Ford Pinto. Your statement is completely incorrect.

  32. IFL is more like “Imbeciles Fostering Lies”. I’ve never seen a “scientific journal” (LOL!) so skeptical about anything that is not either harshly slanted left on the political spectrum or some sort of anti-conservative/anti-Trump/anti-Christian mouthpiece. They push ridiculous hypotheses, and flat out lie in an effort to advocate their ultra-left political agenda.

    That said, the Great Hurricane of 1780 is technically “before recorded history” because there was not an established weather consortium tracking, labeling and studying hurricanes at that time. When hurricanes sprung up, people knew that they were mega storms, but since they didn’t watch, record and study much at that time, I think it could be considered “before recorded history”.

    But in any case, I agree. Irma is the most powerful hurricane to ever exist int his lifetime, but is not the most powerful hurricane ever formed. Chances are mankind wasn’t even sailing the seas yet when the most powerful of all time raged.

  33. It’s sad that somewhere around 95% or more of the world’s leading experts in climate, and virtually every scientific organization in the world, agrees with the man-made global warming statement. If only they listened to people like you! Have you considered writing a paper refuting their main arguments and emailing the PDF to these people? Given your obvious brilliance, I am sure they would be convinced.

    Of course they have an argument which is quite logical and in accord with science, but that just shows how devilishly clever these tree-hugging types are. “Atmospheric CO2 tracks fossil fuel use. Average global temperature tracks atmospheric CO2.” Sure. Accurate temperature readings from all over the world since at least 1880. Right. The increase in atmospheric CO2 tracks human activity. Whatever. We all know your game, libtards. Next you will be telling me that the earth really does revolve around the sun and that scientists are clever enough to figure that out.

    The big problem is that those idiot liberals are too busy trusting scientists to study the great works of right-wing talk radio hosts and various bloggers such as your brilliant self.

    Oh well. One day maybe they will wake up and realize science is just a NWO plot to take away our guns.

    [Should the readers assume you are being sarcastic? .mod]
    [Is Moe’s email address a real email address? .guest author]

    • The readers should assume that Moe didn’t read the post… not that Moe could understand it if he or she did. When I stop laughing, I’ll catalogue all of the logical and factual fallacies in his or her hilarious comment.

      [Is Moe’s email address a real email address? .guest author]

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