Spencer in USATODAY: Hurricane Florence is not climate change or global warming. It’s just the weather.

By Dr. Roy W. Spencer

Even before Hurricane Florence made landfall somewhere near the border of North and South Carolina, predicted damage from potentially catastrophic flooding from the storm was already being blamed on global warming.

Writing for NBC News, Kristina Dahl contended, “With each new storm, we are forced to question whether this is our new, climate change-fueled reality, and to ask ourselves what we can do to minimize the toll from supercharged storms.”

The theory is that tropical cyclones have slowed down in their speed by about 10 percent over the past 70 years due to a retreat of the jet stream farther north, depriving storms of steering currents and making them stall and keep raining in one location. This is what happened with Hurricane Harvey in Houston last year.

But like most claims regarding global warming, the real effect is small, probably temporary, and most likely due to natural weather patterns. Any changes in hurricanes over 70 years, even if real, can easily be part of natural cycles — or incomplete data. Coastal lake sediments along the Gulf of Mexico shoreline from 1,000 to 2,000 years ago suggest more frequent and intense hurricanes than occur today. Why? No one knows.

Unusual things happen in nature sometimes

The Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1635 experienced a Category 3 or 4 storm, with up to a 20-foot storm surge. While such a storm does not happen in New England anymore, it happened again there in 1675, with elderly eyewitnesses comparing it to the 1635 storm.

Until 2017, the United States went 11 years without a major hurricane strike — something that is statistically very improbable. Nine years into that 11-year hurricane drought, a NASA scientist computed it as a 1-in-177-year event.

My point is that nature varies, and unusual things happen sometimes.

Full story here

104 thoughts on “Spencer in USATODAY: Hurricane Florence is not climate change or global warming. It’s just the weather.

  1. Dr. Spencer, you are a voice of reason. I live in NE and can say how rare it is to be affected by hurricane landfall. Nor’easters, that’s another matter.

  2. “With each new storm, we are forced to question whether this is our new, climate change-fueled reality, or whether we are simply suffering from more of the dreaded climate change derangement syndrome, one feature of which is to continually confuse and conflate weather with climate.”
    There, fixed.

    • Well done, back around the time ALGORE was accepting Nobel Prizes and Academy Awards for Global Warming, I was reading, consistently that if your winter weather was cooler or snowier than usual or rainier that only idiots conflate weather with climate. Now that the hockey stick has been broken the bitter clinging alarmists are all in on the weather.

  3. Every generation wants to believe they are living through exceptional times. By extension, then the natural ego driven conclusion is that we are then exceptional for getting through it. A corollary to the Lake Wobegon Effect where every parent wants to believe their child is above average. A subjective lack of perspective.

    Enter now the climate hustlers and their exploitation of this human weakness on lack of historical perspective. And then do a little data manipulation to erase inconvenient blips like the heat waves and record high temps of the 1930’s, and “voila!” They claim We are living through exceptional times in climate. The hustlers warn with every drought, flood, polar vortex, heat wave, or hurricane that it is going to get worse unless we stop our sinning and hand over our money and individual liberties so they can manage them for us.

    We don’t need to invoke Chinese conspiracy theories or Russian manipulation stories to the motivations of these hustlers. They are among us and they call themselves Democrats. Vote appropriately in November.

  4. Now now Dr Roy, just you stop that. Bringing sane logic and clear reasoning to a climate debate is just not on. The whole thing needs to be framed in hyperbolic hysteria and the use of judiciously cherry picked data, this will simply not do.

    CNN is showing how catastrophic the whole thing might possibly be. Swirly red things on a radar map, a choppy sea, leaves trembling, anxious faces. It is obviously hell on Earth, probably, and it is raining quite a bit. None of this would be necessary if it wasn’t caused by us burning stuff, in fact it would be weather. Instead it is The Storm of a Lifetime ®, or a Cat 1 hurricane if you prefer.

      • It is really amazing. North Carolina has had many close calls with category 4 hurricanes, but only one has made landfall as such.

        I personally never once believed it would make landfall as a cat-4. That far north it would have to have a rocket behind it because there isn’t enough deep warm water. I always thought it would be a cat-3 because of the models kept the thing strong. But the models failed to see wind shear. Tore the thing apart.

        Now the storm just made landfall a few minutes ago (when I wrote this) between Wrightsville Beach and Carolina Beach as a category 1. This is a very crowded area, I don’t like driving through it because of how crowded it is. However, there is an nice small aquarium just south of there at a place called Fort Fisher. When the Confederate Army built Fort Fisher during the American civil war, it was next to the ocean; now it is a good half mile from the ocean. When the Confederates lost Fort Fisher, they lost their last deep water port from Wilmington and thus lost any means to finance the war.

      • How about AGNES in 1972 devastated Pennsylvania and recently in 1999 THREE hurricanes hit NC. And yee of poor memory a 10 year hiatus prior to HARVEY, just sayin.
        I guess you guys got nailed by Google yesterday as we now have to fill out our information again in order to post.

      • Watching CNN will rot your mind. I have a subscription but only watch it for laughs. Mostly when Trump scores a victory over socialism and globalism. Their consternation is priceless! Like right after Trump won election. I liked watching CNN and MSNBC then! Lots of wailing and gnashing of teeth! Delicious! 🙂

        • sadly a part of our merger at work is a change in our info monitors
          Fox was a crawl under the screen and half the time you got no info, because it is poor click-bait headlines (she couldn’t believe this happened), not actual news headlines.
          But they recently changed it and now it is a CNN crawl under the screen.
          I thought Fox had bad headlines! CNN might have less click-bait crap, but everything is transparently biased, stupid takes on any story

  5. Saw an article on the Forbes website that infered that never had such a low pressure storm occured so far north.

    I guess that 939 mb at 50.8°N entry in the HURDAT2 file never occurred.

    • Anyone that says “never before” or “unprecedented” without qualifiers when speaking of the weather, is just plain stupid.

      • And WITH qualifiers, is generally meaningless and also just plain stupid. Like I said in another related thread, things will eventually get to how the time of day a storm makes landfall is declared to be “unprecedented.” LOL

        • Yup. Anyone who doesn’t know how to find a new “record” somewhere in the plethora of data doesn’t even merit being called a journalist these days.

          It disturbs me rather more that a generation of so called “climate scientists” has apparently been taught that this is their first priority.

  6. Let’s suppose that in some part of the Carolinas, Florence manages to generate 24 inches of rain in 24 hours. You can already hear the claims of “unprecedented” impact. But the other side of the same phenomenon, by definition, would be record heat rejection upward from the surface to high altitudes. The atmosphere is demonstrating its overwhelming power to move heat, not to “trap” it. Just measure the rate of condensate formation from the steam-powered heat engine. One inch per hour is about 16,000 W/m^2, and you can see on radar that the precipitation tops are in the range of 40-50,000 feet. These easily observed numbers are nowhere to be found in the toy climate simulators running on expensive supercomputers.

    • Remember in the late 90’s when the Southeast was suffering from a terrible prolonged drought and the evening news was full of dry lake bed video and end of days scenarios all attributable to Global Warming? I think I still have VHS tapes of that reporting. .

  7. “supercharged storms”

    They SO wanted Florence to be a Cat 4 or 5. That’s kinda sick, when you think about it.

    • And now, the BBC is asking if the present classification of hurricanes is correct; ie, not ecomentalist enough because it might ONLY be a CAT1 (bad as that can be for the people who have to suffer it!). ‘Might’ only because the BEEB has reported it as ‘a devastating’ hurricane since 6am (UK) today so the great British public still believes it is CAT4 or 5 {sic}. Shame that Nature doesn’t follow their script…

  8. The sainted H. L. Mencken labelled the U.S. “A commonwealth of morons.”

    Judged by MSM climate reporting, he was right.

    • We need to figure out how many of the commonwealth are morons and how many voted for Trump. If we are lucky, the Trump voters will outnumber the morons. They did last time we had an election.

  9. “My point is that nature varies, and unusual things happen sometimes”

    I would go further and say unusual things happen all the time.

    And in a specific since it is rigurouslly true. Every day a 1 in a 100 years event is occuring somewere. You just need to looo at regional statistics of regions of about 4000 km2. Aproximally 1/(100×356) of the continental surface of Earth.

    Earth is a very big place.

    • “I would go further and say unusual things happen all the time.”

      Umm, if they happened all the time they wouldn’t be unusual.

      • For any given area or region, they certainly would be. If if snows in July in Antarctica, that’s not unusual, but if it snows here in northern Illinois in July, that most assuredly would be unusual.

    • This isn’t even unusual. It is a Category 1 hurricane making landfall in a hurricane zone. This is the definition of “Normal”.

  10. “Why? No one knows.”

    I like a scientist who speaks like a scientist. Recognizing what we do not know is as important as recognizing what we do know. Admitting we don’t know is vital.

    • And that is the cusp of the matter – the “since we can’t identify a different cause, it must be CO2” mentality. As if the “climate scientists” have a complete, unassailable knowledge of the Earth’s climate and all the forces that drive it. IOW, their arrogant refusal to admit that there is actually a lot they simply don’t know.

  11. And it’s hyped weather. I’m sure the danger is real for many folks, wind, storm surge, flooding and all but I have not found a sustained wind over land over 50mph yet. Gusts to 75 in Wilmington when the eye wall supposedly went through. I’m just looking at the interactive weather on my dish tv. It would seem that at some point the sensationalism of these disasters might be dangerous in itself.

    • Way more dangerous. The Propaganda Press are leading us down the “primrose path” of Government Salvation where we will all be sucked in and drowned by the swamp

      • Bill,

        There is always that, but I was thinking of car accidents and other accidents, heart attacks, looting etc that go along with hysteria.

          • What gun deaths? Guns don’t just jump up and kill someone without any assistance. People are the problem, not guns.

          • You are conflating gun deaths with gun murder. The majority of gun related deaths are suicides. The majority of gun murders in the US (67% in L.A. County) are gang-related homicides.

          • Reg Nelson,

            Your comment on gun deaths being mostly suicides reminded me of reports that when the stock market crashed in 1929 there was a surge in the number of tall building deaths.


          • I think everyone should own a gun or two or three as long as proper steps are taken, Background Checks ,etc. I believe it would help cut back on the overall crime rate ,murders, crazy mentally unstable lunatics , Islamic Terrorists , etc. And if we are lucky all the libtards will leave this Country , The Best Country In The World ( USA ) that they hate so much to Iran , Iraq , Egypt, Algeria , etc. and never come back ! Don’t forget to take these Radical Islamist with you !!!

    • National Data Buoy Center shows Florence passing over Johnny Mercer Pier, station JMPN7.
      The surface anemometer height for that station is 15 meters above sea level.
      Winds speeds recorded show the eyewall and eye passing directly the station.
      Maximum sustained winds on the leading edge of the storm were 52 knots at 5.36 AM, followed by the eye with low winds at 7am, followed by the trailing eyewall winds of 56 knots at 8am.

      Several NDBC stations in the region, both on the shore and offshore, confirm that Florence never produced sustained winds reaching hurricane threshold, which is 64 knots.
      Recorded winds using anemometers at 10 meters above the local site are part of the definition of the Saffir-Simpson scale. Actual heights of anemometers may be at different heights above the surface, with higher instruments showing higher winds.
      For example, the offshore NDBC station 41037 at Wrightsville Beach records maximum sustained winds of 50 knots with anemometer height of 3 meters.\
      The Cape Lookout station CLKN7 anemometer height is 16 meters, and is located well to the North of the storm center on a dune that seems to produce a Bernoulli effect for winds originating offshore. That anemometer shows sustained winds reaching 71 knots. But the nearby station BFTN7 at Beaufort, NC showing only 51 knots hours later.
      All other surface stations are recording sustained winds in the 50 knot range, with only the Cape Lookout station as an outlier.

      • I agree with your comment. The Cape Lookout (NDBC) was an outlier (single hourly reading) but I used it in replying to a commenter claiming sustained winds of 90 mph and 120 mph gusts. I tried to form another comment using every other available source but the stations (NDBC) are now down (power outage ? ). NWS showed no hurricane force winds that I could find. Careful review and there may have been no hurricane force winds on shore.

        Has been the norm for several years now. Screenshots are now required, unfortunately.

  12. CNN had a headline last night that Florence was the “Storm of a Lifetime.” Depends on your lifetime, but will the next one be the 500 year storm?

  13. Way to spoil the party Roy….next you’re gonna tell us there is no Santa Claus…

    It’s like the Nike folks say now, Just Believe in Something….

  14. Statistics say that extreme weather events are becoming less extreme.

    Fewer, less powerful tornados and hurricanes, fewer wildfires, less drought.

    If you go by statistics, there’s nothing to see here. Things are moderating, not becoming more extreme.

    The Doomsayers have it all wrong.

    • The doomsayers have it OPPOSITE of reality. And opposite of logic, for that matter. In a warmer climate, the temperature differentials between the poles and the equator shrink (remember that “polar amplification” thing?), which reduces atmospheric turbulence. Less stormy weather should be expected as the Earth warms, not more stormy weather.

      “According to any textbook on dynamic meteorology, one may reasonably conclude that in a warmer world, extratropical storminess and weather variability will actually decrease.” – Richard Lindzen

  15. New England was hit by at least four major hurricanes, between 1300 and 1650 AD. But our temperature records only go back to about 1850.

    Fortunately, there are little critters living in the oceans called “Foraminifera,” or Foram’s as we tend to call them in oil exploration. Foram’s have the capacity to act as geochemical thermometers. Globigerinoides ruber is a particularly good geochemical thermometer. Back in 1996, Lloyd Keigwin of WHOI published a really good paper in which he reconstructed a 3,000-yr record of the sea surface temperature of the Sargasso Sea.

    Keigwin was able to calibrate his proxy temperature series to a 50-yr long instrumental record (Station S). Station S also matches the HadSST NH quite well.

    If we add in the Foram proxy record, we can get an idea how warm the Atlantic Ocean was back when those pre-1650 monster storms hit New England…


    The 1351 AD (±56-yr) storm occurred when the Atlantic was most likely a bit cooler than today. The 1425 (±21-yr) storm occurred when the Atlantic was most likely a bit warmer. The 1635 and 1638 storms occurred when the Atlantic was a lot cooler. And the 1815 storm occurred when the Atlantic was a bit cooler than today.

    It appears to me that the climatological state of the Atlantic Ocean hasn’t really been a controlling factor in the frequency of major storms hitting New England. If a climatologically warm Atlantic was the cause of these monster storms, the Medieval Warm Period must have been a veritable hurricane nightmare…


    How did our pre-human ancestors ever survive the Miocene and Pliocene?


    • Dave Middleton

      How did our pre-human ancestors ever survive the Miocene and Pliocene?

      Our ancestors didn’t survive the Pliocene.
      They all died. /sarchasm
      Question is, will we survive the Ohmyoscene?

  16. I was struck by the distinctive difference between Roy’s column and what we generally read or hear in the media today. First of all, Roy has a bizarre air of humility around his writing. He presents facts and good arguments, but also admits that much is still unknown. He doesn’t tell us what to do or think! How unusual. His humble, thoughtful, logical prose is refreshing, and strikingly rare in print media today.

    Roy writes like a scientist.

    The quote Roy includes from Kristena Dahl is a completely different form of writing: “With each new storm, we are forced to question whether this is our new, climate change-fueled reality, and to ask ourselves what we can do to minimize the toll from supercharged storms.” In her state of unfathomable ignorance, she speaks with god-like authority. Her words are fueled with righteous fury and contain and angry indictment on all mankind.

    Kristena writes like the worst kind of preacher!

    Is it possible that the media thinks of itself as the new church? Do all of the reporters and anchors think of themselves as high priests, disseminating the ‘holy’ word of ‘PROGRESSIVISM’?

    They certainly write that way!

    • I like the way Dick Cheney once put it (in a slightly different context) : “stuff happens” (including a few thousand casualties… so?). Wait and see for the results of North Carolina HB 819, aka King Canute’s Law.

  17. This is the weaselly tactic. We aren’t SAYING it’s global warming. We are just ASKING a question,

    Sure ya are Kristi baby.

  18. The comments on the USA Today website to Dr. Spencer’s op-ed are infuriating. Not even the IPCC claims that storm intensity and frequency are increasing statistically. That is not difficult information to find. Why would anyone hold so tightly to arguments and theories that are so easily refuted by empirical evidence?

  19. So the increase of the global average temperature by a degree or more has no effect on weather according to Spencer?

    Utter BS.

  20. shep smith on fox claimed there will be a huge storm surge on MONDAY and beyond……the media have LIED about this storm all week and getting worse now

  21. The left have decided that storms and weather events are there to be monetized.
    Roy Spencer’s measured voice or reason threatens to take that away form them so they howl with rage.

    • Speaking or Roy’s “measure voice”, I saw Roy interviewed on Fox News Channel tonight and I thought he did a very good job of injecting a little reason into the hyperbole around Hurrican Florence.

      Roy even managed to mention Anthony Watts during the interview!

      Good job, Roy! 🙂

  22. “The theory is that tropical cyclones have slowed down in their speed by about 10 percent over the past 70 years due to a retreat of the jet stream farther north, depriving storms of steering currents and making them stall and keep raining in one location.”

    According to the paper linked to this statement, it is a weakening of summertime tropical circulation patterns that fuels the decrease in translational speed. I don’t see anything about the jet stream retreating – are the two linked?

    Another question: If hurricanes are moving slower, could that in itself lead to a decrease in landfall rates?

    • Kristi,
      Hurricanes can grow rapidly while in regions with favorable conditions, and can also lose power rapidly when entering an area that has unfavorable conditions. The hurricane has very little lag in its response to changing conditions. It cannot “buck up” and push through bad conditions.


      • If Donald Trump was complicit in hurricanes, they could easily “buck up” and push through bad conditions… 😎

  23. We should all be hoping for the best for anyone caught in the path of such a storm. Modern technology has given us the ability to minimize the loss of life, but property damage and loss of power cannot be prevented.

    Sitting here watching rescue efforts on TV, the boats are gasoline driven, chain saws gasoline driven, emergency vehicles, power generators, you name it, all impossible without the fossil fuels that created our modern society in the first place.

    How are all those Tesla’s doing for you? Ask your local “fossil fuel” alarmist to imagine their world without gasoline right now, and to sit tight wherever they are until their sun and wind power is restored so the chainsaw can be plugged in/charged and the tree can be removed from their roof…

  24. A little off topic. I recall an article from (I think WUWT) that showed how a hurricane path had cooled the water behind it where it had tracked. I think it was a satellite or aerial thermograph picture.

    Anyway, I think it would be informative to see a thermograph picture of a metropolitan area and the surrounding country side to see how UHI looks. Would also be informative to see an aerial thermo picture on just a city, one that would show if roads, for example, were red hot colored.

  25. “Nine years into that 11-year hurricane drought, a NASA scientist computed it as a 1-in-177-year event.”

    To be fair, said scientist assumed that landfalls in each year are independent events, which is a pretty stupid assumption when it comes to the climate. It’s like those climate scientists who calculate p-values for temperature trends while ignoring the autocorrelation in the temperature series. GIGO and all that.

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