Increasing Hurricane Frequency Due To Better Observation, Not Climate Change–BBC


MARCH 16, 2021

By Paul Homewood

Wow!! A BBC man actually tells the truth about hurricanes!


The Atlantic hurricane season officially begins on 1 June. But over the past six years, significant storms have been forming earlier than this. So does the hurricane season need to start earlier – and is climate change to blame?

At a regional meeting of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) this week, meteorologists and officials will be discussing a possible change to how the hurricane season is defined.

“The 2020 hurricane season was one of the most challenging in the 40-year history of [the] WMO’s Tropical Cyclone Programme,” says WMO Secretary-General Prof Petteri Taalas.

“The record number of hurricanes combined with Covid-19 to create, literally, the perfect storm.”

The hurricane season has officially started on the 1 June since the mid-1960s, when hurricane reconnaissance planes would start routine trips into the Atlantic to spot storm development.

Over the past 10 to 15 years, though, named storms have formed prior to the official start about 50% of the time.

And the way they are defined and observed has changed significantly over time.

“Many of these storms are short-lived systems that are now being identified because of better monitoring and policy changes that now name sub-tropical storms,” Dennis Feltgen, meteorologist at the US National Hurricane Center (NHC) told BBC Weather.

The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season was the most active on record with a total of 30 named storms. Two of those storms – Arthur and Bertha – formed in May.

As all the pre-determined names were used up, officials at the NHC had to move on to using the Greek alphabet for only the second time.

During the 2020 season, the NHC had to issue thirty-six “special” forecasts called Tropical Weather Outlooks prior to 1 June. These highlight areas in the Atlantic where meteorologists monitor activity.

Mr Feltgen said that “in order to provide more consistent information for late May and early June systems, NHC will begin to issue these outlooks routinely from 15 May this year”.

Is this a step closer to officially recognising the season starting earlier?


“Discussions will need to be made on the need for, and potential ramifications of moving the beginning of the hurricane season to 15th May.”

When referring to the average or normal Atlantic hurricane season, meteorologists have used a 30-year climate average from 1981-2010.

But we now have a new climate period of 1991-2020 to consider and this dramatically increases what we should now consider “normal”.

Data will be discussed and finalised by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa) in May, ahead of the new season.

But data provided by Brian McNoldy, senior researcher at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School, shows a 12-19% increase in named storms, hurricanes and major hurricanes. 

Is climate change playing a role?

The number of named storms has increased over the decades, but there is no real evidence this is the result of a warming world.

Dr McNoldy notes “the big shift in counts is simply that there were several inactive seasons from 1981-1990 and several active seasons from 2011-2020”.

“Once that inactive period drops out of the average, and is replaced by the active, it will increase the numbers”

The overall increase from 1961 is also likely to be due to better technology, along with observations over the Atlantic Ocean.

Since satellites came along in the 1980s, we can spot and monitor the development of tropical cyclones and name them when they meet the threshold.

We are simply able to record more.

However, it is thought climate change is having an impact on the intensity of tropical storms and hurricanes and therefore their potential impacts.

Experts have noted that, in recent years, tropical storms that make land are persisting far longer and doing more damage than in the past.

In short then:

1) We now record many more hurricanes than we used to in the past because of better technology and satellites which really only came along in the 19801s.

2) We also name more storms because of policy changes that now include sub-tropical storms.

3) The 1980s was a very inactive decade for hurricanes, thus skewing trends.  But since the 1960s, the rise in numbers can be explained by better observation.

There is the usual nonsense about hurricanes getting stronger, for which there is absolutely no evidence. As we can see below, major hurricanes were just as frequent as now back in the 1950s. The inactive period of the 1970s and 80s is also evident, and as we know this is associated with the cold phase of the AMO:


If the theory was correct, we would expect to see an increasing frequency of major hurricanes worldwide. But we don’t:

Finally, let’s see what NOAA had to say about Atlantic hurricanes in their latest assessment last September:


It could not be clearer.

Maybe Simon King who wrote this piece should have a word with Harrabin, McGrath and co, who keep misleading the public about “record hurricane seasons”.

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March 16, 2021 10:13 am

I witnessed no less than 4 Seagull farts get designated as Tropical storms last year in the Atlantic. Just sayin,,,, they changed the rules on declared wind speed for a system a few years back. Now a single thunderstorm gust observed from the hurricane hunters becomes the documented storm wind speed.

Bill Powers
Reply to  Ossqss
March 16, 2021 10:31 am

After they began naming tropical storms, not just hurricanes, I noted on one occasion, as they carefully watched a tropical depression, they named it on the assumption it was about to rage into a TC and then it fell apart. They did not retract the name nor subtract said bastard from their storm count. Its really all about numbers, perception and the suggestive but those of us paying attention have known that for a long time now.

Pamela Matlack-Klein
Reply to  Ossqss
March 16, 2021 10:51 am

They have also diddled with the distance above the ground that the wind speed is measured. Six feet (2M) is what it is supposed to be but if they go up a bit higher, say half a mile or so, they can get an increased speed with which to terrify folks. In this way I have seen them escalate a tropical storm to a CAT 1 hurricane and then that CAT 1 to a CAT 3! For people not directly affected by the storm, it does look a lot scarier.

Reply to  Pamela Matlack-Klein
March 16, 2021 11:23 am

It’s no wonder that some people decide to stay in their homes and weather the brunt of a “hurricane.” The cry-wolf-wolf syndrome has inured them to do so, which could be dangerous when a real hurricane of high category comes ashore.

Mumbles McGuirck
Reply to  Pamela Matlack-Klein
March 17, 2021 7:47 am

Actually the standard is 10m (30 feet). But over the ocean there are few anemometers (except for buoys).There are winds measured by reconnaissance aircraft including the SFMR instrument looking at surface roughness. These values are mathematically adjusted to 10m standard. While flight-level winds are transmitted to NHC only adjusted winds are used to evaluate storm strength.

March 16, 2021 10:22 am

At least the BBC got the amen added at the end to keep with climate orthodoxy going for awhile longer. The commoners won’t know the difference and maybe they know by know to discount the last few paragraphs of suggestive hearsay.

March 16, 2021 10:38 am

Me Nog. Me see big wind and carve it on rock. You no see?

Juan Slayton
Reply to  bluecat57
March 16, 2021 2:06 pm

On face you got egg, Nog. Big wind no ruffle feathers on chicken.

Larry in Texas
March 16, 2021 10:49 am

This is a rare admission from the BBC. The last one like this that I remember is when BBC found out there was no evidence of harm arising from genetically-modified food sources. I was amazed but delighted then as well as now.

March 16, 2021 10:51 am

The assumption the alarmists take is that warmer air causes storminess. [I suppose, then, that the Sahara should be the stormiest place on earth.] It is, of course, baroclinic instability (temperature gradient between the equator and poles). That decreases, if anything, with warming. And i don’t accept the premise that so-called GHGs can in any way raise global temperatures. Air cannot trap heat.

Last edited 1 month ago by PETER D ANDERSON
March 16, 2021 11:52 am

But the moisture in the air most certainly can trap heat. Spend August on the Gulf Coast to find out.

Patrick MJD
Reply to  Kenw
March 16, 2021 4:41 pm

No, it does not. You are talking humidity and as water is a strong absorber at about 1 micron, and water content in the air is in direct contact with our skin, and that is mostly water and is a strong absorber at about 1 micron too.

Reply to  Kenw
March 17, 2021 3:17 am

So if I go inland it cools down? I think you are talking about the comfort index.

Patrick MJD
March 17, 2021 4:37 am

Or if you go up in altitude?

Michael E McHenry
March 16, 2021 11:05 am

Unless they can demonstrate a SST positive anomaly than there is no real case can made AGW causing more hurricanes. Since air has a puny amount of heat SST will not rise as a result

Reply to  Michael E McHenry
March 16, 2021 3:54 pm

There is SST anomaly, and there is Msqkm of same.
Two different things, two very different outcomes.

Michael E McHenry
Reply to  Ozonebust
March 16, 2021 5:04 pm

I read the the science journals regularly I’ve seen no reports abnormal sea surface temperatures where hurricane form. If there are anomalies its caused by the oscillation of ocean currents not air temperatures. The latter is thermodynamically ridiculous

March 16, 2021 11:12 am

That’s just not right. Everyone knows from social media that hurricanes are increasing, insurance payouts are skyrocketing. Extrapolated at present growth rates there will be summer long hurricane storms and the insurance payouts will exceed the GNP by 2100.
…do i need /s….

March 16, 2021 11:23 am

Yes, but Mother Nature seems to be angry at man for raising CO2 ….and directs the storms to seek out man and wreak havoc…it’s not nice to make Mother angry.

March 16, 2021 11:33 am

“The record number of hurricanes combined with Covid-19 to create, literally, the perfect storm.”

After we teach the WMO Secretary General and BBC the meaning of the word literally, we can start their re-education about the meaning and origin of the term perfect storm. I’ve lost hope on standardizing a non-propagandist definition of the word record.

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  dk_
March 16, 2021 2:37 pm

While you’re at it, teach him him/her/it the meanings of gender and sex, that they are not the same thing.

March 16, 2021 12:00 pm

l see they make the claim that recent storms are lasting longer when they make landfall, now is that really true ?. Because surely that’s a claim that can be checked by looking at past weather records.

Pat from kerbob
Reply to  taxed
March 16, 2021 8:45 pm

I think Curry had a post on that showing it to be a BS claim

Kat Phiche
March 16, 2021 12:08 pm

Here’s NOAA’s forecasts and track record since they started issuing Hurricane Season Outlooks.

2020 11 25 North Atlantic Hurricanes.jpg
Steve Case
Reply to  Kat Phiche
March 16, 2021 12:16 pm

Thirteen years above normal , nine normal and one below normal.

Yeah must be climate science.

Reply to  Steve Case
March 16, 2021 1:07 pm

Works if you choose your “normal” as a period with low hurricane counts. 😉

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  Steve Case
March 16, 2021 2:44 pm

Coin flips would probably be just as accurate.

Reply to  Steve Case
March 16, 2021 5:02 pm

Doesn’t hurt that you change the standards so that more storms qualify as a hurricane.

March 16, 2021 1:55 pm

Light breeze Brian just blew by….

March 16, 2021 2:12 pm

that, and the named storm deductible.

Patrick MJD
March 16, 2021 4:30 pm

For a start the date June 1st is a human concept, the planet does not care for Gregorian calendar dates, it will do its thing as it always has. So a start to a “season” is meaningless at the planetary scale. More people around since the 1980’s with more mobile devices with instant connections to the internet and media feeds results in more observations. It’s not rocket science.

Last edited 1 month ago by Patrick MJD
James F. Evans
March 16, 2021 7:36 pm

That’s true for most if not all weather.

More observations… more videos…

More breathless news stories.

More narratives.

More brainwashing… or is it just a light rinse?

Paul Johnson
March 16, 2021 9:28 pm

Some 25-30 years ago, Dr. Neil Frank made exactly this point. He applied the observational resources available in the 1930’s to the observed hurricanes in the 1990’s and concluded that the apparent increased activity was an artifact of improved observation capabilities.

Gregg Eshelman
March 17, 2021 3:28 am

Before we had the hurricane hunter aircraft and satellites it was possible for cyclonic storms to brew up and blow out in the oceans *without anyone knowing they ever happened*. Out at sea the only way to know there was a cyclonic storm was if it happened to cross paths with one or more ships, and someone on the crew was weather wise enough to identify it as a cyclonic storm.

So how about going through the records and taking out all the cyclonic storms that didn’t make landfall and didn’t cross the main shipping lanes? Without the hunting aircraft and the weather satellites, those storms may as well not have existed because nobody would have known they did.

Take those storms out and then compare the history of storms.

Mumbles McGuirck
Reply to  Gregg Eshelman
March 17, 2021 7:36 am
This is from nine years ago. Landers and Roger Pielke Jr published a paper on this too.

Mumbles McGuirck
March 17, 2021 7:40 am

This is what happens when you interview operational meteorologists and not computer modelers. I’d wager few hurricane specialists at NHC or other hurricane forecast units worry about climate change or factor it in to their thinking while at work.

Steve Z
March 17, 2021 9:25 am

The media in the USA tend to focus on Atlantic hurricanes, because they can strike the Gulf or Atlantic coast of the USA, while the Pacific coast is not affected by tropical storms. While 2020 had an unusually large number of Atlantic hurricanes, there were very few Pacific typhoons striking the Philippines, Japan, and the east coast of China.

During an El Nino (warm water in the eastern Pacific, cooler in the west), weather tends to be more turbulent in the western USA, but wind shear tends to break up Atlantic hurricanes before they can strengthen, while hurricanes tend to form in the eastern Pacific, and have a long time to strengthen into typhoons as they move westward over the wide Pacific.

During a La Nina year such as 2020, weather over the western USA is calmer and drier, but there is little wind shear to break up Atlantic hurricanes, so there are more hurricanes in the Atlantic, but fewer typhoons over the Pacific.

But in the USA, the media will notice a large number of Atlantic hurricanes, but ignore a calm Pacific, although people living in Japan, the Philippines, or eastern China will be grateful for a relatively calm summer.

During an El Nino year, the USA media will complain about mudslides in California, but not notice a relatively calm season in the Atlantic, and they don’t care much about typhoons striking eastern Asia.

Zig Zag Wanderer
Reply to  Steve Z
March 17, 2021 5:07 pm

During a La Nina year such as 2020, weather over the western USA is calmer and drier, but there is little wind shear to break up Atlantic hurricanes, so there are more hurricanes in the Atlantic, but fewer typhoons over the Pacific.

That’s what I understood too. This year we were warned to expect record numbers of cyclones in the Australian tropics, which goes against that. What did we get?


I reckon this will be a record low year. Record low for bushfires too.

March 17, 2021 10:07 am

There are landfall intensity records for the US dating back to the late 1800’s. They show totalizing the number and category of hurricanes to strike the U.S. each decade followed a sinusoidal pattern. I haven’t looked at the last decade, but despite Katrina and the year of four strikes on Florida, the 2000’s were below what could be expected from past cycles. As others have mentioned the 1980’s were a period of lower activity, just continuing the cycle gives the appearance of an increase during the satellite era.

Brooks Hurd
March 17, 2021 1:27 pm

It is truly amazing that the BBC would put out an article that corrects the alarmist hypothesis that tropical storms are increasing. I remember when Al Gore’s movie came out and he used the number of typhoons that had hit Japan as proof the tropical storms were increasing. While it was true that Japan had an abnormally high number of typhoons that year, the total number of typhoons in the western Pacific had not changed

I happened to be in Taiwan through the Typhoon season that year and we only had one small typhoon. The jet stream had been stuck over Taiwan which pushed the typhoons that normally would hit Taiwan out to sea. They then moved north and hit Japan. When the book came out, that was corrected.

March 18, 2021 7:11 am

Better observational methods and equipment do play a roll, the 24/7 news industry plays an even bigger roll. Add to that changing what was considered a “hurricane” at the end of the ’90s and then naming of every weather event that can be tracked by radar or satellite and yea, people think there are more hurricanes, snow storms, thunder storms etc etc. Blaming “climate change” is just their money generating component with which to finance their pushing of a leftist political agenda.

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