The High Cost Of Weather

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

I saw a few headlines today that got me to thinking. One said:


The second said:


The third said:


Two dead? Two? I was reminded of a joke from my younger days, that went like this:

Did you hear the Third-World hurricane report?

26,413 dead … ten dollars and thirty-six cents in property damage …

So … what is the difference between those two situations, thousands dead versus two dead, in the developed and the developing world?

Two things. Money and fossil fuel.

As a young man, I spent a couple of nights sleeping on the sidewalks of New York in the winter. There’s an art to it. You put on every piece of clothing that you own. You line your pants and your shirt with old newspapers. You find a piece of cardboard to keep the cold of the concrete from seeping through to your bones. If you don’t have a hat you wrap a t-shirt around your head. You sleep with your hands in your pockets.

And doing all of those things makes about as much difference as you might imagine to how cold you get.

I don’t recommend it … not a good party. For some folks in that situation, a few degrees colder in winter may make the difference between living and dying.

But these days, I don’t care if it is a few degrees colder in winter. Why not? Because I have money with which to buy propane for my home furnace. Money and fossil fuel …

Money and fossil fuel are what insulate us, not just from cold winters, but from all of the vagaries of the weather. Air conditioning keeps us from frying in the summer. Coal and heating oil warm our houses. Gasoline in our cars lets us drive away from hurricanes … and we drive on roads paved with fossil-fuel-derived asphalt by machines that run on … yep, fossil fuel.

Now, the UN IPCC, the United Nations Incredibly Patronizing Climate Catastrophists, have just told us in their most recent report that to solve the “climate problem” we need to have a “carbon tax” on gasoline rising by 2100 to $240/gallon in today’s dollars.

And Eric Holthaus, a meteorologist and Grist staff writer who describes himself as an “ecosocialist”, just let us know his interpretation of what the IPCC says to do about “climate change”. He refers to the latest IPCC recommendations as follows

If you are wondering what you can do about climate change:

The world’s top scientists just gave rigorous backing to systematically dismantle capitalism as a key requirement to maintaining civilization and a habitable planet.

I mean, if you are looking for something to do.

… protip—if you are “looking for something to do”, don’t ask an “ecosocialist” …

Both of these UN IPCC ideas have the solution totally backward. Both of those “solutions” will make people poorer and make fossil fuel more expensive … and that, of course, will make the world more vulnerable to the weather, not less vulnerable.

Here’s what a lot of folks forget. Everything that the climate catastrophists are warning us about, droughts, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, heat waves, and all the rest, every one of those dangers are with us today. We’ve been doing battle with them for millennia. So there’s no need to wait for 2100 to do something about them. We can do something about them today.

And the very best thing we can do about them, the thing that will make the most difference in the shortest time, is to increase the amount of money and the amount of fossil fuels that are available to the poor.

Finally, if the economic history of the planet has taught us one thing, it is that the very best way to do those things, the most efficient and effective way to lift the poor out of poverty, is capitalism.

Money and fossil fuel. Keep’m coming …

Best to everyone, with wishes that you stay safe and warm in the inevitable storms of the future,


PS—As always, I ask everyone when you comment to quote the exact words you are referring to, so that we can all be clear about exactly what you are discussing.

146 thoughts on “The High Cost Of Weather

  1. Lesson 1: Do not build in low lying areas near a coastline where hurricanes have historically hit with a moderate frequency

    Lesson 2: If you choose to build in risky areas a) be prepared for losses and b) build to withstand the storms.

    • Where is the precautionary principle when you really need it? If AGW proponents really believe the world is damned, why aren’t they screaming for governments to condemn the current land around the coasts and move the people away. A simple solution to a simple problem.

      • Looking at the pictures of the wreckage of Mexico Beach, I’m astonished anyone ever thought of a sandbar as a place to build a house. I blame the insurance companies–refuse to insure any structure in a floodplain or below a certain height above sea level. The beach is fine for sunbathing–millions of dollars of assets, not so much. ANIMALS know better.

        • But, you get the “we draw in tourists” mantra thrown back at you every single time. Meanwhile, insurance rates through out the state keep climbing so they can live in their high priced beach getaways.

        • Insurance companies used to charge for flood insurance based on the risk. It was too expensive for some of the people who lived in areas that flood when there is a storm. The Feds stepped in and offered flood insurance. They distorted the market to help out the poor people, and now everyone buys it if they are below the 100 year flood line and our taxes make the payout. As usual, the free market had already fixed the problem. Government wanted to save the little guy who could not afford flood insurance for his house on the bayou. Now we have no incentive to not build in areas that flood. This program started in 1968 and had exactly the opposite of the intended effect.

          • When will people ever understand that the federal government can not go bankrupt and it doesn’t need to tax or borrow to have money. Simple thought experiment. When the government mints a quarter does it have to borrow or tax to do it? No. It just mints the metal to make a coin and that is its only cost. The tax and borrow racket is due to the banks who want to be in on the money issuing racket.

            Any government that cannot print or mint money does have to borrow and tax and does have to budget like a household. But not the federal government.

            So don’t worry about the feds paying for flood insurance. When you can print all the money you want, the feds can afford it.

      • There is plenty such screaming…stuff like “don’t let people rebuild,” “get rid of flood insurance programs,” etc.

        There was an article something in the past year or two about how poor people in Miami would need to be subsidized to relocate to higher ground as the seas rise.

      • As Michael Jankowski they are indeed saying people should move and not be allowed to rebuild. There was a whole push to actually get whole areas marked as such via planning laws in many countries.

        Can I also say the precautionary principle in such a situation is a logical falacy. The chances of something bad happening at your current location would be indistinguishable from the chances of something bad happening to where you move to even if the worst of CAGW scenarios was true. You could for example move out of the flood plain to a hill only to have the hill have a slip event because of the unprecedented rain.

        In Australia this has all actually been tested at law in “Telstra Corporation Limited v Hornsby Shire Council”. Essentially a council tried blocking new Mobile Towers on the basis of precautionary principle that the EMF might do harm. The answer was it is just as likely the lack of a tower will cause deaths and damage as the EMF radiation might.

        A few Australian councils especially on the coast where considering changing planning provisions for climate change and were threatened to be taken on under the same ruling with owners seeking damages. As far as I know all councils folded and have simply offered advice and accepted that in climate change there is no place that is safer than another.

      • Simple Solution: stop paying for rebuilding, & stop offering federal flood insurance in high risk areas.

        Pay one to relocate.

        Moral Hazard creates many problems—you pay for what you want more of.

        • More interesting, what happens if you pay for them to move and a climate event happens where you paid them to move. Sets an interesting legal case up.

          • Sorry, but there are no “climate events” – it’s just weather. And there definitely ARE areas where natural WEATHER hazards are greater. Hurricane-exposed coastal areas, marsh areas, and flood plains of rivers immediately come to mind.

            The problem is that self-dealing politicians in concert with self-dealing “developers” allowed/encouraged development of such areas without the requisite building standards. They allow construction of essentially “regular” houses in places where they will be easily be destroyed by flooding/storm surge/wind every time a major storm or rainfall/flooding event occurs.

            The attraction of “cheap” land (read: SWAMP or FLOOD PLAIN somebody allowed to be developed against all sense in order to line their pockets) or “the beach” results in lots of houses being built, and in cases of beach areas, often very expensive homes. But since it is very expensive to build housing in a manner that would survive the local weather extremes, the right palms get greased and “regular,” unelevated, matchstick houses get built which are guaranteed to be significantly damaged if not completely destroyed by each major weather event.

            This is then FURTHER compounded by people who move in to such areas whining about how expensive their insurance is (or BECOMES after some weather events provide the insurers a rude awakening), and the local politicians (or in some cases the federal government) pandering to them with government-backed “pools” or other subsidies to reduce their insurance cost (at everyone else’s expense). The National Flood Insurance Program, Wind Pools, Coastal Pools, Florida’s “Citizen’s (sounding eerily like “people’s” socialist hell) Insurance Co.” are all part of the governments, both state and federal, pandering to whining from those who choose to live in high hazard areas but who can’t or don’t want to bear the actual COST of living there (i.e., the true “actuarially sound” insurance cost, plus the additional out of pocket costs like deductibles and excluded items).

            The only types of houses that should be built in such areas are (1) highly elevated (on steel-reinforced concrete piers strong enough to survive storm surge water forces or flood water forces, as the case may be) high enough to place the living space above the water/waves, and a steel reinforced concrete structure (ICF or monolothic dome) house which won’t be blown apart or washed away. Such homes would of course be very expensive to build (cue the whining about “injustice” because only folks with lots of money could afford them), but the passing of a storm would not wipe them out. People could probably even bunker down in them and ride out the storms/floods/what have you, since their homes would be built to survive structurally AND keep the living space (certainly the upper floors) above water.

      • Well said Willis! Thank you!

        When governments drive up the cost of energy, all they really do is kill off the elderly and the poor.

        Best, Allan


        Energy is my area of expertise and I have a very successful predictive track record. I have two engineering degrees and have studied this subject for many decades.

        Fully 85% of global primary energy is fossil fuels, and the rest is hydro and nuclear. Green energy would be near-zero except for massive wasted subsidies and use mandates. Only a few places have enough hydro to provide their needs, and greens hate hydro. The only practical alternative is nuclear, and the greens hate nuclear too.

        Without fossil fuels, most people in the developed world would just freeze and starve to death. This means you and your family.

        There is strong evidence that climate is relatively INsensitive to increasing atmospheric CO2 and there is no real global warming crisis. The only major impact of increasing CO2 is greatly-increased plant and crop yields – and any resulting warming will be mild and net-beneficial.

        Earth is colder-than-optimum for humanity at this time – Excess Winter Mortality totals about 2 million souls per year.

        By Joseph D’Aleo and Allan MacRae, September 4, 2015

      • Jim: You’re spot on! Our National Flood Insurance Program should be structured to do just that. If you live in an untenable area and your home / business gets destroyed, the government should have the option to buy you out (as part of your insurance claim) to ensure that no one builds there again.

        • The cost of government flood insurance should also included the costs of replacing the land with a like parcel outside the 100 year flood plain. Then if your home is destroyed by flood the government pays you the amount you insured for and now owns the flooded parcel. If the premium were then calculated on an individual parcel basis rather than the general area approach high risk areas would just be too expensive to build.

    • Exactly. We all want to live near the beach, but no one wants to do anything about the hurricanes that hit there.

      • Not all building construction is equivalent. Techniques have been learned that make a structure much more resistant to wind damage (and to flooding if you build on a beach). Its more expensive, which is why few wish to build that way. Sometimes we pay more for going on the cheap.

      • Exactly. We all want to live near the beach,

        define “near”. Because, I think you’ll find, that many of us don’t want to live too close to the beach.

        • David, I’m a big fan of modern nuclear. When I worked in the Solomon Islands I tried to get the Japanese to install a nuclear power plant there, but no joy. It was an interesting proposal. I actually proposed that they provide two of them as foreign aid. The money would have gone to Toshiba, so it was all upside for Japan. They were interested, but in the end they decided not to do it. Rats.



  2. A $240/gallon tax on gasoline by 2100 is liberals new version of their original KKK plan to keep the people suppressed. One giant thumb under which to keep the masses under control. Another is Planned Parenthood – kill the unborn of the unemployed.

    • . . . and to get that astronomical tax rate, they are disingenuous by using “undiscounted” values.

  3. What is not so explicit is the part of the plan having to do with wealth transfers. They don’t see the poor as being made more vulnerable and dying because you and I are going to be picking up the tab. The government is going to direct everything, remember?

    I wonder if these smart people have factored in the lower emissions we’ll have when we all live like those in Venezuela, or if that’s taken as an upside. If they came out and said we need mass starvation to save the masses. from the weather, it might reduce the persuasiveness of their message.

  4. It would be much cheaper in the long run to realize that storms are not single events but recur. We should change the building codes to reflect this and learn from the Dutch how to avoid floodding.

    • Do you believe that dikes can be built to keep out 14 foot storm surge topped by 10+ foot waves. Not to mention several feet of rainfall?

      Do you believe all buildings should be built to withstand Cat 5 storms, rather than Cat 3 as is the current code?

      • The “save the turtle” crowd will hhave you swinging by the neck if you berm/seawall the beaches. If not them, the “nesting shorebird” group will get ya.

    • And Phil Donahue is an economic genius? Maybe Friedman should have taken on someone his own size. The simple thing is that we need some kind of government for trade and business to work. As George Washington famously said: “Government is force.” And the Ford example is kind of dumb. Ford would have never been able to do what he did without a corporation which is a creature of the state. It takes a government charter to make a corporation. Without all the protections and advantages given corporations by the state, Ford and his company would have never been what he was.

      Most of so called capitalism, is really due to a state created entity, called the corporation.

  5. Willis

    I was both astonished and grateful that only two people lost their lives in what was presented again as the most catastrophic of catastrophes that could possibly hit the east coast of the US. Imagine my surprise when it was reported here on the BBC the only two deaths were caused by falling trees! Seriously? Don’t people stay indoors when hurricanes are so bad?

    But of course the climate screws are being turned as the public gradually drifts away from climate change as an issue. The shouting about how bad it will be becomes louder and more shrill as folks gradually drift back to the picnic in the sun they were having with their kids

    So the claims become more exaggerated, more incredible, in an attempt to attract people back to the lectern of the devoted. And the more the catastrophic consequences of inaction are exaggerated, the more the happy picnickers begin to chuckle, then laugh, then guffaw at the fool at the lectern screaming, red faced and frothing, his religious certainties to the few remaining devoted cultists in the frustrated expectation that a display of foot stamping rage will attract people back.

    This IPCC report is just that. Perhaps not quite the last roll of the dice but very near it. They somehow imagine that ratcheting up the financial implications of climate catastrophe will impress the general public when in fact, that’s the very thing that turn people off dealing with their claims of climate change.

    Two or three thousand dollars would see many families go to the wall anyway, so why should they worry about climate change when the enormous sums quoted must be borne by the ‘wealthy’ west alone.

    The stupid privileged elite of the IPCC and innumerable academic institutions have failed to learn the lesson of Brexit and Trump. Fewer and fewer people are listening to them because they don’t trust the regurgitated alarmist campaigns to line the pockets of socialist leaders whilst leaving the rest of us destitute.

    People smell. They smell the stench of corruption, manipulation and dishonesty. They also smell the sense of panic amongst the elite as their voices grow shriller.

    The revolution might not be soon, but it’s coming, when some young ambitious politicians also smell blood in the water and begin to circle. When the first meaningful bite is taken, and the rest pile in for what they can get it will be a political blood bath.

    The financial waste and profligate spending on useless technology, laws, research, and public money will be too much for them to resist as a means to further their own careers.

    And like everything else, it will be our millennials and snowflakes who undertake the blood letting, just as we have done in our lifetimes to our political predecessors.

    The youth of today are tomorrows political reactionaries and they always go after the entrenched beliefs and systems that are making them suffer. And guess what the climate change movement is becoming? Yep, an entrenched belief.

    You couldn’t make it up, had it not happened so many times in the past.

    • Michael ranks third in low pressure among US hurricanes (after the 1935 Labor Day Storm and Hurricane Camille of August 1969), but fourth in wind speed (behind Andrew of August 1992, which helped elect Clinton). Michael beat Katrina’s (August 2005) landfall pressure by just one mb. The 1920s are the only decade with two hurricanes in the top ten, unless 1960 be attached to the ’60s rather than the ’50s:

      Thanks to Dr. Philip Klotzbach.

      • Mr Tillman, where do those values for Michael come from?
        Can you point to the Land Based Weather Station that measured them please?
        Satellite and Aircraft based values are not compatible.

          • At last, someone’s commenting on the wind speed which only caused two deaths. It is possible that some anemometers broke because the wind was too strong, and that some anemometers were taken out of service because the weather alarmists didn’t want people to see actual readings. Yeah, I tend to be a conspiracy theorist on this one – it’s my only weakness.

            But barometers shouldn’t break because of the wind, or does the NWS not have enough nouse (British word?) to protect them properly. Where did the barometer reading come from? If you show me it was on land near Mexico City I’ll say fair enuff.


    • I found it fascinating that after all the “Most unprecedened EVAH!” ravings yesterday, the hurricane was not even a headline story on the Fox News website this morning; and the networks all seem to be re-showing the barrier island footage, nothing much inland. Then I heard that the top winds were in the 65-kt. range once it moved inshore? Pretty hard to get full-context, “unmanaged” news these days . . .

    • Yesterday Cyclone Title crossed the cost — it is very severe cyclone with winds reaching as high as 160 km/hr and tidal waves reaching 4 to 5 mm. The death toll was less than 10. The forecasts given few days ahead of the real attack, Disaster Management groups shifted people away from the cyclone fury. This is also true even with Hudhud of October 12, 2014. 1999 Orissa cyclone killed more than 15,000 people. The basic point is improved forecasting and timely disaster management reduced the human casualties but nobody can do anything relating to property loss, agriculture loss, animal husbandry/birds, electricity, roads/rails, etc. In 2017 Miami – Florida Hurricane, people moved away in their cars and came back after the fury dead.

      Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy

      • Correction – in the above post of mine, it is not 4-5 mm but it is 4-5 m (meters)

        Yesterday I was invited for a panel discussion by an English TV channel based in New Delhi studio – two from Delhi and myself from Hyderabad studio of TV channel] for 9-9.30 PM [AM for San Francisco time] on 11th October 2018. This is with reference a report from UN “Economic losses, poverty and disasters 1998-2017” [released on the occasion of International Day for Disaster Reduction on 13 October 2018]. This is discussed with reference Cyclone Title that affected the East Coast of India and few other severe cyclones of India.

        The report states that climate related disasters account 91% of all 7,255 major recorded events between 1998-2017 – Floods 43.3% and Storms 28.2%. Economic losses [billions of $]: USA 944.8, CHINA 492.2, JAPAN 376.3, INDIA 79.5, PUERTO RICO 71.7 — MEXICO 46.5. 56% of the total deaths [1.3 million people] or 747,234 lives lost de to 563 earthquakes including tsunamis.

        The moderator while presenting his introductory observations, he brought in the global warming and UN report [current IPCC report] and observed the cause for such severe cyclones. I brought to the notice of viewers that global warming has nothing to do with the cyclonic activity. During May to November 1891 to 1990 around 1212 cyclones attacked the east coast of India. Depressions and deep depressions are confined to southwest monsoon [June to September – a warm period]; and cyclones and severe cyclones, very severe cyclones and super cyclones are confined to northeast monsoon [October to December – colder period] – with few exceptions that occur in summer [April-May]. In the month of October cyclonic storms of 44 and severe cyclones [that includes higher categories also] 34; in November thay are 42 and 53; in December 23 and 19. Northeast monsoon rainfall followed 56 year cycle. The cyclones also followed this pattern [1944 to 2000 and 2001 to 2056]. 1737 severe cyclone affected Catcutta; 1970 Bhola cyclone, 1977 AP Cyclone, 1991 Bangladesh cyclone, 1999 orissa cyclone and Hudhud of AP cyclone of October 12, 2014 are few severe cyclones affected the east coast. West coast received very few cyclones and yet they cause severe damage due to Western Ghats – heavy rainfall.

        In the UN report, flood causing the losses: here the main component is human created component caused the most of the losses. For example: 2000 Hyderabad floods, 2013 Uttarkhanda floods, 2014 Srinagar floods, 2015 Chennai-Nellore floods, 2018 Mumbai and Kerala floods.

        Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy

        • Interesting post, Dr. Reddy.

          Speaking of historic weather patterns, I heard Joe Bastardi say the other day that he had predicted Hurricane Michael back in December 2017 (see you in October, he said then), and he made this prediction based on a similar weather pattern and hurricane occurence (Lilly) in the year 2007. Fascinating stuff!

  6. I went to the beach today,
    by George Costanza

    “I went to the beach.”
    “It’s just not working Jerry.”
    “Every decision I have ever made in my entire life….
    has been wrong.
    My life is the complete opposite of everything I want it to be.

    Every instinct I have, in every aspect of life…
    something to wear, something to eat…
    It’s all been wrong.”

    -George Costanza talking to Jerry and Elaine,
    Seinfeld, episode 86, 1994.

    Every society, in every time, has always had them…
    Eric Holthaus and the Eco-socialists are the tragic-comedy George Costanza’s of this world.

  7. Something that is not discussed enough is the vulnerability of wind and solar installations to severe weather.

  8. While Michael was a very damaging storm, and the flooding has caused billions of dollars worth of damage, the fact remains, sustained wind speeds on the ground were at least 60 mph lower than the reported NWS/NHC speeds of 155mph sustained.

    What is up with that?
    The highest gust I have seen reported is 119 mph at Tyndall AFB.
    I posted in the earlier Hurricane Michael thread that I would eat my hat if any ground locations reported sustained wind speeds greater than 110mph (Cat. 2 wind speed)

    Prove me wrong, make me eat that hat.

    • Tyndall did not receive the right quadrant of the eye wall so your info is lacking. In fact it was on the back side of the storm where winds are almost always less.

      Perhaps it is time to once again go over the wind fields of hurricanes.
      Maximum winds are in a tiny portion of the eye wall, mostly in the northeast quadrant.
      Maximum winds are just that, maximum winds. They are NOT an average wind speed, they are NOT the wind that is all around the eye. They are NOT the winds under all those clouds. When looking at a satellite picture there is a tendency to think that the entire storm is swirling around at top wind speeds but that is far from the truth.
      Hurricane winds tend to band, that is a few hundred feet can make a difference at any one time.
      Winds drop off quite quickly outside the eye wall. A few miles can and will make the difference.
      (Example, when Charley hit in 2004 with 140 mph winds and the eye passing a mere 25 miles south of me, I only experienced winds of around 50-60 mph.)

      So as I commented on the other thread, you want fries with that hat?

      • Hey Tom,
        Have we not engineered an anemometer that doesn’t self-destruct at wind speeds greater than 129 MPH ??
        Or was it the tower it was attached to ??

      • See my comment above, please provide the weather station and not Satellite or aircraft based data.

    • One thing people are ignoring is that even if there were 150 mile/hr winds, they would be in a tiny, tiny area. The overwhelming majority of damage from a hurricane comes from storm surge, also in a tiny area. People see the awesome pictures of the large wheel of a whirling storm, and think that the wind and storm surge is in the entire whirling wheel of the hurricane.

  9. The winds didn’t look that bad on the Weather Channel last night, but it was way worse that I thought. It even turned over a freight train and that was from the wind. Death toll is probably going to climb because there are some people who just can’t believe what mother nature can do when she’s riled up. They said Mexico Beach FL had 180 people vying for a Darwin Award staying put during the storm. Roads are totally blocked with downed trees so that can’t even get to them.

    Never going to get here to the level you’re describing in the third world though. The mind boggles when you talk about death tolls that are factors of 1,000 or even 100,0000 more than we see in the US.

    Of course the fanatics are going to claim this is proof of CAWG while ignoring that we set a record for the length of time between major hurricanes making landfall in the US. They’re also going to ignore that the storms that were stronger were 1935 and 1969 before CAGW was supposed to have kicked in. And who knows how strong earlier hurricanes actually were such as the 1900 Galveston storm.

    • The Galveston storm was credited with maximum wind speed sustained for one minute of 145 mph, but I think that was just before landfall. Pressure was 936 mb.

    • Fact. FLDOT measured an exodus of 195 vehicles moving north on SR71 leading from the Port St Joe area during the two days before landfall. Given the population of port st joe, you would had to have 16 people per vehicle to have fully evacuated the town. Per an interview with the mayor, he guessed they had 250 residents riding it out, or 7%. Based on 4 people per vehicle, it was probably closer to 77%.

  10. Approx 5 deaths per day occur on Florida roads each day. In reality did Hurricane Michael save lives?

  11. Below is a chart of the Saffir-Simpson scale for hurricane strength. I think any fair reading of the chart, along with a review of reported damage and video from the affected areas will show that this storm was, at worst, a Category 2 storm. The NHC called this a Category 4 storm. If it truly were a Category 4 storm, just about most trees in the region would be blown down, and most wood frame structures would have sustained major damage to the basic structure. This simply did not happen.

    Category Sustained Winds Types of Damage Due to Hurricane Winds

    1 74-95 mph 64-82 kt 119-153 km/h

    Very dangerous winds will produce some damage: Well-constructed frame homes could have damage to roof, shingles, vinyl siding and gutters. Large branches of trees will snap and shallowly rooted trees may be toppled. Extensive damage to power lines and poles likely will result in power outages that could last a few to several days.

    2 96-110 mph 83-95 kt 154-177 km/h

    Extremely dangerous winds will cause extensive damage: Well-constructed frame homes could sustain major roof and siding damage. Many shallowly rooted trees will be snapped or uprooted and block numerous roads. Near-total power loss is expected with outages that could last from several days to weeks.

    3 (major) 111-129 mph 96-112 kt 178-208 km/h

    Devastating damage will occur: Well-built framed homes may incur major damage or removal of roof decking and gable ends. Many trees will be snapped or uprooted, blocking numerous roads. Electricity and water will be unavailable for several days to weeks after the storm passes.

    4(major) 130-156 mph 113-136 kt 209-251 km/h

    Catastrophic damage will occur: Well-built framed homes can sustain severe damage with loss of most of the roof structure and/or some exterior walls. Most trees will be snapped or uprooted and power poles downed. Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas. Power outages will last weeks to possibly months. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months.

    5(major) 157 mph or higher 137 kt or higher 252 km/h or higher

    Catastrophic damage will occur: A high percentage of framed homes will be destroyed, with total roof failure and wall collapse. Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas. Power outages will last for weeks to possibly months. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months.

    • They claimed it was only 2mph below Cat5. If that was the case, “Well-built framed homes” should have no roof left, many with exterior walls down. I think it is time someone calls BS on NHC. This has been happening since at least “Super Storm Sandy”, maybe earlier.

    • Plenty of video of damage. Tyndall AFB maybe Category 2 at most. Many trees remain upright and have leaves. Palms are undamaged. Definitely not major hurricane.

      The photos of damage are mostly consistent with Category 1, photos are biased to show damage.
      Look in the background, most trees still have leaves and palms undamaged. Most houses look intact with no roof or window damage.
      Metal road signs, stop signs consistently show no damage or erosion. A major hurricane would have flattened those signs.

      Recorded sustained wind speeds are consistently below hurricane threshold. Gusts are not part of the Saffir-Simpson wind scale.
      Tyndall AFB was in direct path of the highest winds, confirmed by post storm photos. The Tyndall AFB tower station SGOF1 is a few miles offshore with anemometer at 35 meters above sea level. That shows a smooth increase in sustained winds reaching 61 knots at the peak of the storm. Hurricane threshold is 64 knots.

      Tyndall station is not exceptional, all other land based stations near the landfall, such as Panama City Beach, Apalachicola, etc all recorded sustained winds consistent with SGOF1.
      Watching the Tallahassee airport station was in direct path of the storm, a few miles inland.
      Recorded sustained winds in real time show 40 knot range, significantly less than at shore.
      At the same time, the National Hurricane Center was saying the storm was Category 3, which is rediculous.
      Winds monitored by Windfinder also show no hurricane winds anywhere during the storm.
      Offshore NDBC buoys show lower winds than at landfall.

      Anyone comparing this storm to Andrew in 1992 is insane. I directly observed the damage path a few weeks after Andrew, as part of a survey. The destruction was total. Stumps and steel I-beams were all that was left above the height of street curbs. It looked like an Atomic Bomb had hit.
      Anyone who has anything to say about that needs to look at the photos of the aftermath of Andrew.

    • Sustained winds are the measure used up to, but not including Cat-1.

      Contrary to common understanding, once you get above Cat-1, the gusting-winds are what gets used to define the category of cyclonic storms. Yes, I know, you learned differently, but in reality, that’s what occurs.

      The Saffir-Simpson scale is a scale of damage to human structures that identifies the wind speed ‘points’ (category bounds) where the damage goes to a new level. But in cyclonic storms that are strong enough to earn a category the real damage to human structures is done by heavy (even explosive) gusting, not usually by the continuous wind pressure. Hence gust speeds are what get actually used to define category bounds, and not constant wind speeds.

      You could say it isn’t so, you could quote all sorts of gear that says this is just wrong, but that’s how it actually gets delineated, regardless.

      And frankly, if you’ve been through the eye-wall of a cat-4 (I have, a 925 mbar eye) you’d most likely agree that it’s the better way to define category boundaries for reasons apparent to people who have seen such wind. The constant winds are mostly not the main problem, for us humans, but those explosive gusts sure are.

  12. Could someone please direct me to a 100-mile square area where no disaster has ever occurred or is unlikely to occur. I will wait.

  13. The human race adjusted to the Holocene Transgression without the benefit of much technology…

    Civilization adjusted to this…

    Industrial society adjusted to this…

    Despite the fact that sea level isn’t behaving any differently now than it did in the early 20th Century…

    People of the high technology 21st Century are panicked because of this…

    Because fraudulent RCP8.5 models predict a physically impossible rise in sea level over this century…

    And they’re blaming it all on the reason we have a relatively prosperous world…

    The maddening thing is that humans and human civilization coped with far more severe climate changes before anyone figured out how to burn coal, petroleum and natural gas.


  14. Only two deaths? give it a few weeks and a “study” will conclude the death toll is in the thousands.

    • You are so correct. Some of the “fatalities” attributed to Katrina were refugees who died in Texas. That is why President Trump called B.S. on the inflated figures from Puerto Rico a few weeks back.

      • My understanding of the Puerto Rico fatality count is the inflated numbers were derived from a computer model, not an actual body count. It was an estimate based on number of deaths in other natural disasters. It’s not a definitive number.

  15. Capitalism based solution to property damage from Hurricanes:
    1) Limit building permits in “tropical storm areas” to, Storm-proof, Removable, or Hybrid.
    2) Storm-proof would have to meet standards for withstanding wind, water, and flying debris.
    3) Removable would be based on container sized living areas, that can be loaded onto a flatbed truck, and transported to a rail head, for loading and transporting out of the storm path.
    4) Hybrid homes would have to comply with both requirements for the section of the home, that will either stay or go.

    The insurance rates are the driving factor of making this happen. They could spread the cost across the areas at risk, and give an economic incentive to prepare for the inevitability of someone getting hit most years.
    The value in any land is the location, the structures, and utility access. In this scenario we protect what is the most expensive to replace, instead of rebuilding it.
    The container sized homes could be attached to a waterproof underground living area, to increase home size. Or attached to a reinforced concrete section. Or multiple containers could be combined in a single home.
    It would take decades to implement, but it provides a solution that takes advantage of the advances in forecasting that give days of warning.

    • Interesting how a “capitalism based” solution consists of government regulations.

      Nothing is stopping insurance companies from implementing the type of policies that you think are a good idea.

      Underground housing in an area prone to flooding. If you can’t imagine why insurance companies are reluctant to go that route, you really need to stop and think a bit more.

      • Nothing is stopping insurance companues…

        Bullshit. State regulatory commissions are. Much like the State of Hawaii requiring insurance companies to write policies for homes built in an active volcanic rifting area or they can’t do business in the state, the regulators require them to cover homes built on sand bars.

        • All it would take is the insurance companies all saying “fine, we won’t do business in your state due to your ridiculous mandates that require us to insure what any sane person would consider uninsurable” for the state regulators to change their tune when none of their residents can get any kind of insurance.

    • PS: If you think the traffic jams during evacuations are bad now, just wait until half the people are also hauling their homes with them.

      • Real estate has always had to comply with zoning regulations. It protects you, from me building on my property, that negatively impacts the value of your property. If I choose to dam up a stream that deprives you of the stream, you are negatively impacted. And many more activities I can engage in that would cause the value of your land to be impacted.
        The idea is that the people who are CHOOSING to take the risk, should pay for that risk. If we wait until the community is destroyed, the cost will be exported to all of us. I had no choice in where they chose to build, but am burdened with re-building costs coming from taxpayer funds.
        The only method to enforce that taxpayers will not be left holding the bag, is enforcement of insurance as a requirement of financing. If you don’t want insurance, pay in cash, you are on your own, and will not get help.
        Capitalism is based on the government enforcing the “fairness” of free markets. Part of that process is ensuring that everyone plays by the same rules. If I use third world slave labor to produce my widgets, and then sell them in the free market, I am violating the fairness of the free market, because everyone else will be at a competitive disadvantage, and will be forced to do the same or go out of business.
        Underground housing can be made water tight. It is appropriate in some areas and not in others. In tropical areas it can be very efficient to cool. But this is not a “one size fits all” solution. And it shouldn’t be.
        Roads are a problem, when the evacuation direction is the same for everyone. That is why rail is the preferred solution. It would require additional lines, and additional spurs. But that is where additional capacity comes in to play. This would be a 24/7 operation, that moves the containers the minimum safe distance. Container ships could also be rented to move large volumes of containers out of the areas of highest risk.

        • We need to have the common sense to differentiate between people of means building in foolish places, and the poor who live in the swamps because they can’t afford better places.

        • “Container ships could also be rented to move large volumes of containers out of the areas of highest risk.”
          These will be needed at short notice – perhaps FIVE DAYS OR LESS. Nothing on the other side of th Atlantic could get to the Gulf in time.
          However, many box boats are on regular runs, earning their keep every day.
          Some of those are not close to the Gulf of Mexico.
          consider instead, an equivalent of the US Reserve Fleet – standing by, at, perhaps, 24 or 48 hour readiness, manned and maintained (and maintained in Class) – and then review the cost. Especially if their use is only two or five times a decade!

          “Container ships could also be rented to move large volumes of containers out of the areas of highest risk.”
          Yes, but it needs some careful consideration of the costs.
          Oh, and the fuel will soon need to be lo-sulphur . . . .


        • Good hurricane- and storm surge-resistant house designs abound. They need not even cost more than conventional designs. If you can afford to live in an expensive, popular, but hurricane-prone area, then you can afford to build a hurricane-proof house, if codes permit.

          Your insurance rates should be less.

        • “…Underground housing can be made water tight. It is appropriate in some areas and not in others…”

          It is appropriate in cemeteries and in the navy. Nowhere else.

          • I am in my basement right now. It is watertight on 4 sides and the bottom. It is not too difficult to make it watertight on the top. Now would I bet my life on it? No, but it is much less likely to sustain substantial or catastrophic damage.
            My point is that the beach is a wonderful place to be. But when the eventual hurricane comes, it is better to be prepared. We should encourage people to prepare, before it is too late, instead of continually clean up the mess, and rebuild the same structures that can’t withstand what is eventually going to happen.

  16. Mr. Holthaus (and others like him) seems to be out of the reality that the very thing he despises – capitalism – is what allows him to have his cushy lifestyle and the expensive toys he keeps with him (made in China at a great cost in pollution impact). This “out of touch with reality” is an infestation is every corner of the spaces that those people occupy. More and more, I believe they are all showing signs of mental illness when they deny their own use of the system that supports them, which is capitalism.

    The more they yap, the more we see this separation in them. Thanks for including those quotes, Mods.

  17. I tracked the eye wall by city and zip code on weather channel down load and on my computer and after land fall never saw a sustained wind of even category 1.

    • The Mexico Beach area was supposedly one of the hardest hit places, and I was just looking at video on tv of Mexico Beach and there are many buildings still standing, many with their roofs still attached, and yet they claim Hurricane Michael was almost a Cat 5 hurricane. A real Cat 5 would have wiped the landscape of Mexico Beach clean. Previous Cat 4 hurricanes have completely destroyed entire areas including huge buildings. Mexico Beach looks bad but its not complete devastation like there would be if a strong Cat 4 hit it.

      I was watching tv and they were showing Hurricane Michael’s vital statistics in boxes on the tv screen and they would show Michael’s top winds at 145mph and then they would switch to showing local windspeeds for various areas and those would be 60mph or 80mph and the highest one I saw was 109mph. I didn’t see any local readings anywhere near 145mph.

      In this era of Fake Climate Science it makes one wonder about what is going on here.

  18. Two Dead==> The average heavy rain and wind storm in NY State usually is credited with more than TWO dead — as it always includes any automotive deaths during the rainy period.

    Warnings and advanced planning save lives from weather events.

    Most lives lost due to rain and flooding involve motorists intentionally driving into moving water (flooded by streams or rivers) — despite almost continuous radio and TV warnings to NEVER drive into a flooded road or attempt to cross flooded roads.

  19. I have been around, in, and mostly ran from hurricanes since 1960. Just down the street is a badly damaged, still mostly untouched church from Harvey. While the US is unmatched in their generosity, some incentives seem dangerous. In south Rockport, at Cove Harbor two several story well over half damaged boat barns were recently completed with great fanfare. This did not sit very well with many residents, especially since they looked as fragile as previously and many worse problems remain. After the storm local political leaders did a fantastic job, but we are afraid that they are too rapidly getting back to normal.

    A geologist friend just suggested as to how many newer structures seem to have been getting steadily less resilient, even as many are properly strengthened. In Rockport the newer jail and the old schoolhouse did very well, other government buildings, including schools, not so well. Architects and engineers may not be what they used to be. Too many buildings look like Anytown, USA.

    There is a ghost town, Frenier, at the lower end of Lake Pontchartrain, destroyed by an hurricane long ago before much government assistance. How many, or parts thereof, like this are we foolishly saving. It takes a great subsidy. Rockport, unlike Mexico Beach, had a great barrier island to partially protect it.

    • Rockport, Texas?
      I visited with my wife a friend of hers who lived there one block from the water in a old home built of wood from before WW2 and the interior floor walls and ceilings were tongue and groove solid wood flooring lumber. The House was on 3 foot stone piers so I imagined it would just float away like a bobber if a big storm surge came through.

      • Most of those are still there. However, the original town, not very high, has not had a bad storm surge since 1919. Looking at the damage does not say a lot for modern construction, but some of it is chance.

        Big government funded study on it. We will see, but not encouraged about what I read so far.

  20. One of the “two dead” was a kid who died in a car accident as his parents were evacuating.

    Poor kid but seems stretching it to blame his death on Michael.

  21. Once again Willis Eschenbach has gotten to the fundamental concept; it is the availability of cheap and accessible power that protects people from the effects of weather. This is in the form of heating, cooling, construction or protection, but it is always based on cheap and reliable power.

  22. I am always thankful to see Willis bring us back to earth. I’ll bet it is the last position he ever expected to be in, around forty-five years ago, when being down-to-earth was not one of his chief concerns.

    The hype surrounding hurricanes does get tiresome, but the only sensible response is to, over and over and over again, remind people of the facts.

    I dislike being so cynical, but I feel I need to remind people that some of the Alarmists who produce some of the most demented hype actually have no interest in saving lives, and instead have publicly proclaimed the planet needs to get rid of 90% of its population. That is their idea of “problem solving”. They are defeated to begin with.

    I personally believe the planet’s population could stabilize at ten billion, and all the people could live in relative harmony, relatively well off. The more the merrier. But, for this to be achieved, people need to be down to earth, and not so prone to barf ludicrous hype which is utterly disconnected from Truth.

    Thank you, Willis, for a step in the right direction.

    • No need for the appeal to authority… seems like your plans are well laid out.
      Just don’t try to implement them here, and we can be friends.

    • Caleb Shaw October 11, 2018 at 4:34 pm

      I am always thankful to see Willis bring us back to earth. I’ll bet it is the last position he ever expected to be in, around forty-five years ago, when being down-to-earth was not one of his chief concerns.

      Thanks, Caleb, that made me spit all over my computer screen … for those wondering what he’s talking about, it’s likely my last two posts over on my blog:

      Another Tale of Derring-Don’t


      The Makena Munch

      Best wishes to you all,


  23. After 10,000 years of human history, the immoral institutions of slavery, endentured servitude, and child labor ended when man learned to enslave the hydrocarbon molecule rather than other humans…

    When 1 gallon of gas (or 11 lbs of coal) burned in a steam or combustion engine equated to 500 man-hours of work, slavery simply became both economically unviable and morally reprehensible.

    A quantum leap occurred when man enslaved the atom, where 1 lbs of Thorium or Uranium equated to 90,000,000 man-hours of work, but rather than embracing the atom, megalomaniacal Leftist government hacks decided to enslave people again by stealing the fruits of their labor to pay for a pathetic energy gruel of wind and solar power, while demonizing fossil fuels..

    Leftists have gone completely insane…

    • I think they have always been insane hence the term leftist crazies. On the right you tend to have to add the word far in before you reach the crazies.

      One could argue what has happened is all that has happened is the left crazies have all concentrated in media jobs and are now so far out of touch with the general population 🙂

    • This leftist (I guess I would be called that by most people here) has been pushing LFTRs on this forum since 2011. As far as I know, no one beat me to it.

      • David-san:

        Good for you!

        I’m always delighted to hear from the rare Leftist that supports nuclear power.

        The global cost of switching to LFTR power from fossil fuel power generation would “only” cost about $4 trillion, compared to IPCC’s dire and insane $122 TRILLION, which they predicted would be required to keep fictitious manmade global warming below 1.5C by 2100 (which will never happen).

        This reality is just one example of why Leftists are, respectfully and generally, completely nuts…


  24. Most people don’t quite understand the era before the Oil age, cheap mass produced fertilizer and birth control…. Human beings are just like any organism on this planet. We as a species will breed to our maximum food supply and then just boom and bust with the vagaries of natural environmental cycles…. and it is a brutal way to exist.

    The industrialized societies of today and the people who live in them are not shackled to our biology and they are no longer prisoners of the natural environment….. We are free for the first time in human existence from the Tyranny of Nature….. and the Ecofascists would drag us back into that circle of hell…. Do not let them.

  25. Two dead? Not to minimize it, but just pointing out that occurs from gang/drug violence alone every hour, 24/7 in any big city.

    • Latest report I saw has it up to 7 dead now. As I mentioned previously, just wait a few weeks and a “study” will have it in the thousands. sadly, I’m not joking.

  26. Science Project:

    Hypothesis: Gigantic carbon taxes guarantee fewer hurricanes and none above Cat 3.

    Need to test: None.

    • Not only that but not having gigantic carbon taxes will guarantee many hurricanes all of hem above cat 5. Again, need to test is none.

  27. Michael was ONE OF THE WORST STORMS IN US HISTORY. The financial costs are an indicator of what the US is going to experience as it encounters more of these extreme weather events. Why – because rising co2 levels are warming the earth’s atmosphere. Solution – reduce CO2 levels in line with UN IPCC recommendations to 1.5 C (NOT 2.0 C).

    • Oh, please. There is NO evidence that there is any increase in extreme storms. Nor is there even a scrap of evidence that either CO2 or warming is related to storm strength. The globe has warmed since about 1800, but there has NOT been a corresponding increase in storm strength.

      Here is some actual data. First, global hurricane frequency.

      Next, ACE, accumulated cyclone energy.

      As you can see, the warming since 1950 has NOT led to either increased numbers or increased strength of hurricanes.

      You are decreeing a solution before you have even shown that a problem exists … and as it turns out, the problem doesn’t exist.

      Next time, please actually find some evidence before you post. We’re not all that much into “science by assertion” here …

      Best regards,


  28. According to Ryan Maue, the maximum sustained winds measured on shore from Hurricane Michael was FSU Panama City station which reported 100 mph / Gusts 116 mph. That would put it at a Category 2 on the Saffir Simpson scale, which has winds from 96 – 110 mph.

    Also, Ivan, your BBC article shows the effect of the storm surge, not of the wind …

    Just sayin …



    In the region affected by a hurricane or big storm, with several million inhabitants, how many people suffer accidental death, per day? On average?

    When the “death toll” from an event like a hurricane is reported – an event which might last 3-5 days – there should be a kind of “signal to noise ratio” of deaths. How many folks died? How many accidental deaths happen on average in the same area and number of days? How do they compare?

  30. The 1900 Galveston CAT4 hurricane took the lives of 12,000 Texans…

    Leftists’ revisionist history propagandize that Michael and Florence were the worst hurricanes evaaa…. not so much…

    BTW, here is how Glen Cambell’s beautiful ballad Galveston should be sung:

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