10 Atlantic hurricanes so far this season, but so were there in the past

There is much wailing and gnashing of teeth about Hurricane Ophelia , which gained Category 1 hurricane status on Wednesday, [October] 11th.

Ophelia becoming Cat1 means that 2017 became the first year in more than a century in which 10 Atlantic storms in a row reached hurricane strength. Here are the names of all ten hurricanes so far in 2017:

Franklin, Gert, Harvey, Irma, Jose, Katia, Lee, Maria, Nate, and Ophelia.

But here is the kicker: This is the fourth time on record that we have had 10 Atlantic hurricanes. This is nature doing business as usual, with her swings between boom and bust. The last time there were 10 Atlantic hurricanes was in 1893, as seen in this tracking map below:

This map shows the tracks of all tropical cyclones in the 1893 Atlantic hurricane season. The points show the location of each storm at 6-hour intervals. The colour represents the storm’s maximum sustained wind speeds as classified in the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale (see below), and the shape of the data points represent the type of the storm. source: Wikipedia

Here is something else to note.  Back then, satellite, radar, and even ship to shore radio communications didn’t exist. So, there was not the same level of reporting we enjoy today. Therefore it is possible some weak tropical storms even an 11th hurricane may have gone unreported that year.

There were also 10 Atlantic hurricanes reported in 1878 and 1886. But since modern records began in 1851, there has never been an 11-hurricane stretch that we know of, though without the modern weather technology we enjoy today, it’s quite possible storms were missed in the past.

And, for those that want to blame global warming/climate change for what is going on on 2017, they should probably explain why there were three 10 hurricane event years in a short span of time when the planet was noticeably cooler between 1850 and 1900:

BEST-land-and-ocean-summary-large

Source: Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature (BEST)

Right now, Ophelia is very far out in the Atlantic from the United States, and no threat. But it looks like it could affect Ireland and part of the UK:

And that’s causing the usual social justice warriors to have a cow. Of course there’s evidence of past hurricanes hitting the Ireland and UK area as extratropical cyclones, the end-stage of a hurricane.

A report in LiveScience in 2011 says:

From 1851 to 2010, only 10 extratropical storms, typically the tail ends of tropical cyclones, have hit within 200 miles (322 kilometers) of Ireland, Feltgen said. Hurricane Debbie was the only tropical hurricane to make landfall in that area, clipping the far northwest of the British Isles in 1961.

By the time storms make it across the Atlantic they are no longer getting their energy from the warm water, and they are similar to the winter storms that blow across the ocean, Feltgen said. Also, the strongest winds are no longer confined to the storm’s core as they are in a tightly wound hurricane. Katia is expected to bring winds of up to 80 mph (129 kph).

Sometimes they just form on their own, without a hurricane starter, such as the Great storm of 1987:

The Great Storm of 1987 was a violent extratropical cyclone that occurred on the night of 15–16 October, with hurricane-force winds causing casualties in England, France and the Channel Islands as a severe depression in the Bay of Biscaymoved northeast. Among the most damaged areas were Greater London, the East Anglian coast, the Home Counties, the west of Brittany and the Cotentin Peninsula of Normandy which weathered gusts typically with a return period of 1 in 200 years.

I won’t get too worried about all the alarmist caterwauling over Ophelia remnants.


Note: within 15 minutes of publication, some minor formatting issues were corrected, with some additions to enhance readability. A typographical error was also corrected, changing July to October.

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60 thoughts on “10 Atlantic hurricanes so far this season, but so were there in the past

  1. The last time there were 10 Atlantic hurricanes was in 1893…without the aid of their handy dandy little algorithm that estimates surface wind speed…from Mars

    • Please Latitude.
      Men are from Mars, or so they claim.

      Given that it’s NOAA’s odd algorithms estimating wind speed from estimated pressures from space… How about “from Uranus”?

    • I read the essay too quickly. At first I read it as this was the first year since 1893 we had 10 Atlantic Hurricanes. What actually it says is this was the first time since 1893 there were ten tropical cyclones in a row that became hurricanes. Of course 2005 had 31 tropical cyclones, 28 became tropical storms, 15 became hurricanes and 7 major hurricanes. The 2005 was basically the peak of the last up cycle of tropical storm activity in the Atlantic Basin. The rest of the article does make the point that before good ship communications, satellites, etc it is probably that storms in the middle of the Atlantic or short lived storms were never documented.

      • Yes…”Back then, satellite, radar, and even ship to shore radio communications didn’t exist. So, there was not the same level of reporting we enjoy today. Therefore it is possible some weak tropical storms even an 11th hurricane may have gone unreported that year.”

        This us a very large understatement.
        24-7 monitoring is a recent satellite era only phenomena. Now if a system becomes a hurricane or TS FOR MINUTES it is named. It is absurd to claim an increase from satellite monitored and modeled, compared to ship and land readings.

    • From Wikipedia – hurricanes in southern Spain, once every 150-200 years. I was in it.

      “Hurricane Vince was an unusual hurricane that developed in the northeastern Atlantic basin. Forming in October during the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season, it strengthened over waters thought to be too cold for tropical development. Vince was the twentieth named tropical cyclone and twelfth hurricane of the extremely active season.

      Vince developed from an extratropical system on October 8, becoming a subtropical storm southeast of the Azores. The National Hurricane Center (NHC) did not officially name the storm until the next day, shortly before Vince became a hurricane. The storm weakened at sea and made landfall on the Iberian Peninsula as a tropical depression on October 11. Vince was the first tropical system to do so since the 1842 Spain hurricane. It dissipated over Spain, bringing much needed rain to the region, and its remnants passed into the Mediterranean Sea.”

  2. Hurricanes are more frequent and stronger during cold spells than warm. During LIA, especially its depths of the Maunder Minimum, they were two to three times more numerous and more powerful than now. Hence the many sunken Spanish treasure fleets.

  3. One of the favorite bits of unreason by the “We all gonna die right soon now” advocates is the cut-off-graph .Nothing ever happened before, lets say, 1980 in the case of arctic ice, so the decline shown is dreadful.

  4. ” Hurricane Ophelia , which gained Category 1 hurricane status on Wednesday, July 11th.” and still growing stronger!!! WOW that is one long-lived storm!

      • A typo is like hitting the wrong key or missing a letter. Writing July instead of October is an error. Kudos for documenting changes. Most outlets just sneak an change in a pretend it never happened.

        [Our practice is placing sq brackets around every correction. Most often, they border pruned or punned comments, but edits and typo’s as well – when the writers point out an error or misleading phrase that must be fixed. .mod]

  5. Proof positive! Binary stars gobbling up all kinds of celestial grist and now a long lived, two day old, Category Catastrophic hurricane heading for a never before seen destination….it’s all proof that the Chicago Cubs, current reining Major League Baseball World Champions are gonna do it it AGAIN!!! Prepare yourselves.

  6. The BEST temperature chart is nonsense as far as the width of its 95% error bar is concerned. Before the digital era, all temperatures were only recorded to an accuracy of +/- 1 degree F (0.55 degree C) …. the error bar MUST be at least that wide — certainly the lack of standardization and calibration of thermometers, poor spacial coverage, etc adds a great deal more uncertainty early on.

    • Not only that, but they only recorded the daily high and low. Anyone who believes that you could calculate a daily average from those two numbers alone must work in climate science.
      Don’t get me started on the lack of quality control and the extreme paucity of working weather stations.

    • Kip, this blog post attacks the BEST database in several ways:

      Berkeley Earth Super Duper Exposed

      “Over the past week I have spent a lot of my spare time examining the Berkeley Earth temperature data to a greater depth than ever before. What I have found is shocking. It is unbelievable just how bad the dataset they are using truly is. There is no science here. This is fraud at worst, gross incompetence at best. Perhaps the best way to explain what I found is to explain how I went about examining and organizing their data.

      The first thing I realized was Excel was just not powerful enough to handle the complexity and size of the task of data analysis. So I imported the information into an Access database. Access is capable of handling far more records than Excel. It is also far more powerful.

      The very first thing I did was to examine how complete the records were. I want to look at annual averages. So I ran a query to order all the records by station and by year. Then I looked at how many readings each station had for each year. What I found were thousands of incomplete years. Some had only one month. Obviously, you can’t compute an annual average for a year when there are not 12 months recorded. Considering how the temperatures vary in one year, a missing month can skew the average by quite a bit. It is certainly an inaccurate record which can not be used.

      I also found dozens of records with more than 12 readings in one year. In fact I found as many as 99 monthly averages recorded for one station in one year. These are obviously duplicate records.

      After I extracted from the original dataset only those years with complete records and eliminated all the duplicate records the number of stations dropped from over 4600 to 3127. In other words some 32% of the stations were eliminated because they consistent of incomplete or duplicate data. That is a really high casualty rate.

      The final step was to create the program to generate the information I wanted to extract from the set of complete annual data. Based upon a start date and an end date, the program extracts every station with a complete record for each year in the date range, and then reports the annual average temperature of all stations for each year. Secondarily, the program also provides a count of stations.

      Below is a screen grab of the program output for 1975 through 1980.”

      http://bubbaspossumranch.blogspot.com.es/2017/07/berkeley-earth-super-duper-exposed.html

      Lot more in the link with charts too.

    • Kip Hansen

      The BEST temperature chart is nonsense as far as the width of its 95% error bar is concerned. Before the digital era, all temperatures were only recorded to an accuracy of +/- 1 degree F (0.55 degree C) …. the error bar MUST be at least that wide…

      These are annual averages though. Shouldn’t we expect averaging to reduce error bars, irrespective of instrument accuracy? This is true even for a single temperature station over the course of a year. Individual monthly standard deviations (SD) are always greater than the combined annual one.

      I used data from my local station (Belfast/Aldergrove). The SD per month ranged between 0.9 and 1.5C, average 1.2C; whereas the annually averaged SD was just 0.5C.

      I added data from nearby Malin Head. This had a similar range to Aldergrove: a monthly SD spread of 0.8 to 1.3 (avg. 1.0C) compared to 0.5C again in the annual data.

      Averaging both annual data sets caused the SD to fall again, to just 0.44C. I added Dublin next: the SE fell again, to 0.42C. The more stations I averaged the lower the SE became. This is just a property of statistics. It’s independent of instrument quality.

      • Just out of interest, when reading an old manual thermometer is there any risk that looking down on the scale that parallax may have made the reading look lower. Then with digital reading they’d appear to have been a temperature rise. Or when the old readings were taken and the mercury looked somewhere in between was there a predominance of rounding down or rounding up?

      • Accuracy will not improve as much as you think when stations are constantly changed, added, subtracted, homogenized, and environments around stations constantly changed as well.

  7. Why is it so important to anyone that the hurricanes be in a row. I would still consider 2005 to be a worse year with 14 hurricanes, 4 of which were cat 5’s and one was a cat 4. Seems silly to worry about whether there was something smaller in between

    • “Why is it so important to anyone that the hurricanes be in a row”
      Indeed so. But is it important to anyone, and if so, who? The article introduces the statistic, but doesn’t attribute it (or concern about it) to anyone.

      It makes those pre-1900 statistics dubious. It is indeed possible that hurricanes were missed. It is even more likely that tropical storms not reaching hurricane strength, which would have broken the sequence, would have been missed. But does it matter?

  8. Regarding: “From 1851 to 2010, only 10 extratropical storms, typically the tail ends of tropical cyclones, have hit within 200 miles (322 kilometers) of Ireland, Feltgen said.”:

    This can’t possibly be anywhere near true, unless these extratropical storms are some specific subset of extratropical storms. Ireland gets many extratropical storms every year.

    • I believe he was limiting the discussion to extratropical storms that hit near the British Isles and had their origin as tropical hurricanes.

  9. And that’s causing the usual social justice warriors to have a cow.

    And here I thought they only had a cow when a glacier calved.

    And there is what the SJW’s don’t seem care enough to ask the question, “Just how did Man cause this? And just how?”
    Their curiosity seems to always stop at “Man causes (fill in the blank)” and then accept what some other man or woman or in-between tells them is The Answer to the, usually, imagined or exagerated problem.

  10. “Back then, satellite, radar, and even ship to shore radio communications didn’t exist. So, there was not the same level of reporting we enjoy today.”

    Yes this is the problem since modern forms of observation and reporting. Levels of observation and reporting are more accurate and widespread than they were in 1880.

  11. Somebody over there tell Donald that Ophelia looks like she might be checking into his hotel in Doonbeg around Monday lunchtime!

    Let’s hope that sea wall got planning permission ;-)

  12. “But here is the kicker: This is the fourth time on record that we have had 10 Atlantic hurricanes. This is nature doing business as usual”

    The other thing to keep in mind is what climate science and model experiments say about the impacts of climate change on tropical cyclones. (Knutson 2007 and 2010).
    1. The impact of AGW can be assessed only in global averages of all six cyclone basins and NOT in any specific basin. Therefore the NA data alone contains no information about AGW impacts.
    2. According to the models the total number of tropical cyclones globally that reach Cat1 or above will decrease due to AGW by 6 to 30% per century.
    3. According to the models the strength of the strongest cyclones globally will increase by 2 to 11% per century.

    In light of the above a high count in the NA basin does not in itself contain information about agw impacts and if it did it would be the opposite of the expected impact.

    As a footnote: I looked at the best tracks data for all six basins 1945 (beginning of aircraft reconnaissance) to 2014 and found no trends in total decadal global ACE. Please see
    https://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2630932

    • Should also mention that model results imply that the impact of agw on tropical cyclones cannot be measured at an annual time scale because of large year to year variability. A 10-year or at the least a 5-year time scale is needed.

      • 10 years is not enough. The Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation affects the number of Atlantic Basin tropical cyclones, and its period is about 60 years. There are also Pacific multidecadal oscillations.

    • Chas says…”The impact of AGW can be assessed only in global averages of all six cyclone basins and NOT in any specific basin. Therefore the NA data alone contains no information about AGW impacts…”

      Yes indeed!!

  13. the west of Brittany and the Cotentin Peninsula of Normandy which weathered gusts typically with a return period of 1 in 200 years.

    12 years later in 1999 December we were hit by 2 severe storms in week. Taking out cathedral wheel windows, power pylons, forests and killing several people. One man reported lost his head in paris when a corrugated sheet of iron was blown through the streets.
    The first storm arrived unannounced and went through Bretagne across paris and into Alsace. The 2nd went further south across La Rochelle central france and southern Germany. Tidal surges over 7 metres were recorded and wins in excess of 180km/hr.

  14. “From 1851 to 2010 only 10 extratropical cyclones have hit within 200 miles of Ireland”

    “Hurricane Debbie is the only tropical hurricane to make landfall in that area.”

    Mr Watts the storm of October 1859 is reckoned to have been a cat 2 or cat 3 when it passed through the Irish sea that within 200 yards of Ireland and caused some 800 deaths, indeed it is one of the earliest major storm to have its wind force been measured by instruments in L’pool and that’s a landfall and its within 200 miles of Ireland so was Pembroke and Anglesey and they are within some 80 miles of Ireland. OK we do not know of its exact origin but it was moving from south to north, so that is a big clue. so much so that we can be pretty certain that Debbie was not the only hurricane to clip Ireland.

    Indeed this storm was the impetus to start weather forecasting, you should not have missed this one.

  15. Really? Prior to the satellite age just how accurate a count could man keep of tropical cyclonic storms? I call BS. In the centuries before satellite tracking, and even before transatlantic-pacific air travel, keeping count of tropical storm systems would have been hit or miss at best.

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