NYT: Bomb Cyclone? Or Just Windy with a Chance of Hyperbole?

Essay by Eric Worrall

Wouldn’t it be a tragedy if journalistic weather hyperbole got so bad, people started ignoring all the climate change hype?

Bomb Cyclone? Or Just Windy with a Chance of Hyperbole?

When the barometer drops, the volume of ‘hyped words’ rises, and many meteorologists aren’t happy about it.

By Matt Richtel
Jan. 18, 2023

DENVER — Last week, days after a bomb cyclone (coupled with a series of atmospheric rivers, some of the Pineapple Express variety) took devastating aim at California, a downtown conference center here was inundated by the forces responsible — not for the pounding rain and wind but for the forecast.

But there were troubling undercurrents. …

The widespread use of colorful terms like “bomb cyclone” and “atmospheric river,” along with the proliferating categories, colors and names of storms and weather patterns, has struck meteorologists as a mixed blessing: good for public safety and climate-change awareness but potentially so amplified that it leaves the public numb to or unsure of the actual risk. The new vocabulary, devised in many cases by the weather-science community, threatens to spin out of control.

In the end, the linguistic dilemma reflects a larger challenge. On one hand, scientists say, it is hard to overstate the profound risk that global warming poses to Earth’s inhabitants in the next century and beyond. But the drumbeat of language may not be appropriate for the day-to-day nature of many weather events.

Read more: https://www.nytimes.com/2023/01/18/science/weather-forecasts-language.html

Death by hyperbole? Perhaps climate alarmists should have listened to advice from their fellow traveller Stephen King, before they embarked on a journey of uncontrolled exaggeration.

Nothing is so frightening as what’s behind the closed door. The audience holds its breath along with the protagonist as she/he (more often she) approaches that door. The protagonist throws it open, and there is a ten-foot-tall bug. The audience screams, but this particular scream has an oddly relieved sound to it. ‘A bug ten feet tall is pretty horrible’, the audience thinks, ‘but I can deal with a ten-foot-tall bug. I was afraid it might be a hundred feet tall’.

The artistic work of horror is almost always a disappointment. It is the classic no-win situation. You can scare people with the unknown for a long, long time but sooner or later, as in poker, you have to turn your cards up. You have to open the door and show the audience what’s behind it.

The thing is, with such things as Dachau, Hiroshima, the Children’s Crusade, mass starvation in Cambodia – the human consciousness can deal with almost anything… which leaves the writer or director of the horror tale with a problem which is the psychological equivalent of inventing a faster-than-light space drive in the face of E=MC2.

There is and always has been a school of horror writers (I am not among them – it is playing to tie rather than to win) who believe that the way to beat this rap is never to open the door at all.

Source: Stephen King, Danse Macabre;

This strategic communication failure will be the death of the climate movement. There will always be a core cadre of climate bed wetters who will believe all the hype, no matter how absurd. But for normal people, alarmists have opened the door and revealed a mouse.

There are only so many times people can survive a bomb cyclone or atmospheric river or climate apocalypse, before they start tuning it out, like all the other nonsensical hype we are bombarded with every day of our lives.

At least the New York Times has finally acknowledged that climate alarmist fearmongering has gone so far that even they can’t accept them.  Hopefully, this won’t be the last time the NYT recognizes the serious flaws in the doomsday climate mania.

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January 27, 2023 6:11 pm

Can’t wait to see and hear how TVNZ tonight describes the last 24-hours of very very heavy rain experienced here in Auckland.
Definitely the heaviest since we moved here in 1968!
Motorways flooded, houses inundated, a doubledeck bus flooded downstairs with passengers crouched on the staircase, and all per courtesy of those omnipresent mobile phones!
What an opportunity for the alarmists! And the exaggerationists! Greta, why are you wasting time in Davos when you could be here, in the middle of our summer?

Chris Nisbet
Reply to  mikelowe2013
January 27, 2023 7:00 pm

After a week of exaggerated stories about the ex-cyclone that made its way across the country a week or so before, I definitely didn’t pay much attention to reports about this weather suggesting things like people delay going on holiday. Turns out that yesterday’s rain was way worse than anything we got from the ex-cyclone.
I’ve lived in Auckland since the late 60s as well – the intensity of the rainfall did seem to be up there with the worst I remember.
I really don’t pay much attention to weather reports any more. I prefer to check out the rain radar or look out the window.

Reply to  mikelowe2013
January 27, 2023 7:41 pm

Not too surprising that following the Tonga eruption that some of that excess water vapor blasted into the upper atmosphere would eventually come down.

California’s string of atmospheric rivers might also be related.

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  kazinski
January 27, 2023 8:19 pm

That “excess water” wasn’t even a drop in a swimming pool.

Peta of Newark
Reply to  kazinski
January 27, 2023 8:25 pm

Work it out, check my figures. Decimal points ain’t my best feature

I drew a square on the map centred on Auckland of 250km per side as the rain affected area and took the Tonga figure of 146Mega Tonnes of water
Had it all landed in that square, I got a figure of 2.9mm of rain

There is your hyperbole – in the mirror.

Looking at the Wundergrounds, about 200mm of rain came down over the course of 24 hours (their) Friday. Some places more, some less.
see the attached

Leo Smith
Reply to  mikelowe2013
January 28, 2023 2:51 am

Well I remember the wettest floodiest flood of all time where I grew up, that washed away a bridge that had stood for at least 70 years. And left a lake in the garden of that house that was never seen before or since.

The year was 1968. Before we even heard about climate change…

Dave Andrews
Reply to  Leo Smith
January 28, 2023 9:21 am

Ah, but the 251 year old Pooley Bridge at the top of Ullswater (UK Lake District) was destroyed by heavy flooding in 2015 after storm Desmond- a clear sign of climate change 🙂

Reply to  Dave Andrews
January 28, 2023 3:32 pm

So probably sarcasm, but if not, how much hard surfaces and water diversions due to construction have been built in that 251 years.

Have a friend in Las Vegas who lived out on the edge of the built environment for 20 years before someone finally built across the street UP HILL from him.

Now this wasn’t really a hill, just a gentle slope but when we had a good rain, nothing spectacular, but steady and for a couple of hours, his house got flooded out. The raised pad of the house across the street concentrated and diverted water over the road to his house.

After the “flood”, the county came out and actually addressed the issue. They cut a really MINOR drainage swale to a natural wash area nearby. The house pad had stopped the water from getting to that drainage as it would have in the past.

Dave Andrews
Reply to  Drake
January 29, 2023 5:00 am

Yes, it was sarcasm though it passed some people by 🙂

Reply to  Leo Smith
January 29, 2023 4:21 am

Ah yes, 1968. I lived in Wallington in the north of Surrey at the time but we went to look at the flooding of the River Mole that makes its way to Molesey on the Thames as in your video. Several bridges along the route of the Mole were destroyed and never rebuilt since they were of little vehicular use. Steel footbridges were built to replace them. The main road in Leatherhead was flooded. Quite impressive for a little river that starts at Gatwick Airport. And the name comes from its ability to burrow underground and disappear due to caves. In my lifetime this only happened in our hottest summer evah! – 1976 (before the MetO fiddled the figures).

Going in the other direction, where I now live the River Eden did its stuff as it makes its way to join the River Medway.

January 27, 2023 6:23 pm

There was nothing wrong with the terms “Low pressure system” and “Cold front”. But ever since someone decided that all storms should be named have we had to put up with the other silly naming schemes. Yes I know all about calling it a “pineapple express” but even that was hyped by TV weathermen who thought they were comedians.

Last edited 1 month ago by doonman
Alastair Brickell
Reply to  doonman
January 27, 2023 7:43 pm

And let’s not forget that the full Moon has become a Super Moon or even worse, a Blood (!) Moon these days.

Reply to  doonman
January 27, 2023 11:15 pm

The wife and I just listened (Friday night news) to the weatherman on channel 7 TV (ABC) in Detroit blabber on and on about the weather for almost three minutes nonstop. After he got done pontificating, with barely a pause, The wife and I looked at each other and asked: Did he say it would snow tomorrow? We couldn’t remember after all that weather blabbering.

We debated what a good local weather report on a Friday would sound like:

The wife decided on this:
“No snow Saturday, and a colder than usual day”
“A few inches of snow expected Sunday, and colder than usual”
“A few more inches of snow expected Monday, with a normal temperature”

My choice:
“I’ll look out the window to see if it’s snowing, and its winter, so I already know it’s cold outside.”

Wife’s response: “You’re too lazy to install an outside thermometer.” … Nice to have a wife with a sense of humor.

Last edited 1 month ago by Richard Greene
Matt Kiro
Reply to  Richard Greene
January 28, 2023 3:01 am

Colder than normal is a terrible forecast, and it should anomaly temperature forecasts should not be part of the weather reporting, it just adds to the myth that there is some “normal” temperature. Besides the fact that colder than normal tells someone from out of town very little about the next days weather.
They should be telling you what they expect the Temperature to be, even if they give a few degrees range. And it is quite important when it does snow to know the temperature, because when I’m shoveling, there is a big difference from snow that falls at 31 degrees and snow at 25 degrees.

Reply to  Matt Kiro
January 28, 2023 7:32 am

The wife I should have said average temperature, rather than normal
It’s winter in Detroit — everyone knows it is cold.

You’ve got to stop snow shoveling.
It’s a leading cause of death for men and too risky.
The wife, who is 73 years old now, bought two snow shovels, one for me, when we bought our first home in 1987. I used it once. I told her to hire a snow plowing service for our 100-foot driveway like everyone else in the neighborhood. Or just drive through it — because it will melt in the spring anyway.

But sclaims to like shoveling the driveway and insists on doing it herself. Only three times shoveling required last winter, a low record for the Detroit suburbs, by far. Two times this year, so far. We love global warming here in Detroit.

Last edited 1 month ago by Richard Greene
Dave Andrews
Reply to  Matt Kiro
January 28, 2023 9:27 am

Totally agree. BBC weather forecasters these days keep bleating on about “where temperatures should be” – ridiculous!

Some Like It Hot
Reply to  doonman
January 28, 2023 10:07 am

Re. “…silly naming schemes”, they do more than amplify “Chicken Little”, they’ve become a productive Cash Cow” for the insurance industry. I pay a lot more for property coverage because of proximity to the Atlantic. Understandable in principle, if not degree (15 miles inland, 30 foot elevation). However, in recent years, if damage is caused by a “named” storm, deductibles shoot up from, say, a couple thousand dollars to well into five figures.

Around here, at least, more and more weather phenomena seems worthy of being “named”

John Shewchuk
January 27, 2023 6:29 pm

As usual, climate alarmism produces junk science which is typically the opposite of reality. A “bomb cyclone” does not explode. A cyclone in fact “implodes” as the air convergences into the low pressure system. On the other hand, there is a “bomb anticyclone” which explodes with expanding air and fair weather.

Reply to  John Shewchuk
January 27, 2023 6:34 pm

Boiling oceans.

I muted Gore’s Davos speech and listened to a Hitler speech at the same time and I could not tell one madman from the other.

John Shewchuk
Reply to  Scissor
January 27, 2023 6:47 pm

Yes, DAVOS … the epicenter of climate alarmism … https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7pReLPjXgBs

Reply to  John Shewchuk
January 28, 2023 8:54 am

Lots of valuable tidbits there. Definitely, more than half of the intelligent have gone extinct.

January 27, 2023 6:31 pm

The “climate” is doing exactly what it has always done. Period. Full stop.

John Hultquist
January 27, 2023 6:43 pm

Has the cold air moving into north central USA been given a name?
May I suggest “The Snowy Owl Express™.”
Named or not — it is impressive.

Reply to  John Hultquist
January 27, 2023 11:26 pm

Auto companies have been doing cold weather testing in Northern Minnesota for many decades. They have not needed to move north to Canada yet, to get away from the “global warming” in Minnesota.

In December 2022, auto engineers were stunned to find out that EVs lost 40% to 60% of their range in one extremely cold week in December. They had expected a 30% to 40% range reduction. That large cold weather range reduction added to a long list of problems with EVs, starting with high cost and inconvenient “refueling”,

All the negatives with EVs are depressing auto engineers working on 2026 model EVs. This is inside information from engineers who prefer to remain anonymous. In my 27 years in auto product development, the engineers were always over optimistic about the new designs they were working on. This very negative view of EVs is unprecedented.

Daily lists of the best climate science and energy articles I’ve read each day, including this one:

Honest Climate Science and Energy

Leo Smith
Reply to  John Hultquist
January 28, 2023 2:54 am

Hedwig’s Holocaust has a nice ring to it…

Reply to  John Hultquist
January 28, 2023 4:24 am

I watched a weather guy from Milwaukee on YouTube last night and the names he used were: Manitoba Mauler, Saskatchewan Screamer, and Alberta Clipper. He left out BC Bomber……

January 27, 2023 7:21 pm

The widespread use of colorful terms like “bomb cyclone” and “atmospheric river,” 

It’s just giving the know-nothings in the ‘news’ media a cheap opportunity to binge on cringe-producing waves of public fear. After three solid weeks of application of every possible combination of such jargon, Santa Cruz is no wetter than it was for Christmas 1955, in fact, less so.

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  insufficientlysensitive
January 27, 2023 8:28 pm

I used to visit my grandmother in Capitola a lot when i was a kid. I don’t remember it raining, ever.

John Hultquist
Reply to  Jeff Alberts
January 28, 2023 6:11 pm

From May through October the area gets almost no rain. Part of that is because of the near sea level elevation — about 50 ft.
All part of the lovely Mediterranean Climate (Csb).

Martin Brumby
January 27, 2023 7:33 pm

Sorry for the Kiwis who had genuine problems.

After the “apocalypse” has gone round the world, the truth will get its boots on and no doubt show similar weather events, maybe 100, even 200 years ago but effects worsened by – NO absolutely NOT CO2 – there being NO convincing theory that it even MIGHT BE, let alone scientific proof!

But quite likely worsened by the infrastructure constructed in the last 200 years and extremely unlikely to have been properly maintained!

Even a couple of hundred years “records” isn’t a big deal, once there are people whose salaries and grants rely on, not scientific skill, rather thumbs on the scales and straight faces.

After all, large dam spillways are designed for a 1 in 10,000 year event.
It would help to work this out, if they could find where Noah put his ruddy notebooks…

January 27, 2023 7:45 pm

For the most part, all I need is:

* The temperature (measured in degrees)
* The wind speed (miles per hour) and direction (compass)
* The precipitation type and quantity (inches in a given period)

There are a few other objective measurements (visibility, humidity, pressure, dew point, UV index etc.) but most folks rarely need them. Those that do, like pilots, use specialized sources of data, not CNN or the NYT.

What I don’t need is sexy new hype like bomb cyclone, atmospheric river, pineapple express and similar nonsense.

Reply to  honestyrus
January 27, 2023 11:34 pm

If the media are going to get people excited with “bomb cyclone”, I think they should go further and say this:

“This is the worst bomb cyclone since the last worst bomb cyclone. Scientists say this bomb cyclone is a symptom of the climate emergency, Putin’s war on Ukraine, and it is denied by Trump supporters”.

If the media want to BS us, why not go all the way and mention three different boogeymen: The climate emergency, Putin and Trump? Three boogeymen for the price of one.

January 27, 2023 8:28 pm

Polar Vortex.

Reply to  Colin
January 28, 2023 4:33 am

Doesn’t that mean going around in circles?

January 27, 2023 10:58 pm

Another good article by Eric Worrall to add to my daily list of the best articles on climate science and energy I read each day. Mr. Worrall is so consistently good that I can recommend EVERY article he writes — he’s like the Honest AP of climate and energy … as the actual Associated Press releases climate propaganda. I thank readers from here, and elsewhere, for 1,612 page views in the first three days of my new blog, featuring lists of the best articles I read, from US, Canada, UK and Australian websites, in about three hours every morning of every day. Some articles from this website always qualify.

Honest Climate Science and Energy

M New York State experience with hurricanes, long before there were “Bomb Cyclones”

I grew up in a small town 90 miles NW of Manhattan. We listened to NYC TV stations with a huge antenna mounted on a 10-foot mast, on our two story home. In summer of 1960, when I was 7 years old, the remnants of Hurrican Donna knocked down our antenna and mast. No TV. Traumatic for a child.

My Dad, an electrician, after a week of me and Mom whining about no TV, decided to buy cable TV, which was new in the area. It was not cheap, but only provided the free NYC stations. There were no TV stations anywhere else near our county.

Dad then installed the best FM antenna he could buy, so we could listen to all the NYC FM stations. Not on a 10-foot mast this time — attached to the chimney — the collapse of the prior TV antenna and 10-foot mast had damaged the roof.

Hurricane Donna become a tropical storm, and managed to reach areas far from the hurricane eye. Nothing unusual throughout history.

In the past, hurricanes were just weather, not bomb cyclones caused by climate change, and every one was not exaggerated as being unprecedented, just because it hit an area rarely reached by a hurricane.

And the New York Times could be trusted back in 1960, although we could not afford a subscription to it.

Now, when someone quotes the New York Times, I always ask:
“Is that true, or did you read it in the New York Times?”

Last edited 1 month ago by Richard Greene
Coeur de Lion
January 28, 2023 1:31 am

Is that true or did you hear it on the BBC? ‘A third of Pakistan is flooded’. What? The deserts? The mountains? In all this I see a rising panic. Too many counter incidents, sceptic comments, sober scientific articles emerging. Imminent collapse of CO2 and the ruination of thousands. Sell Octopus Energy.

Reply to  Coeur de Lion
January 28, 2023 7:55 am

In the 1990s had a British engineering manager on loan in the US for an assignment. When US engineers tried to BS him — he was like a lie detector machine — and he would always say: “Is that true or did you hear it on the BBC?”

Which the US engineers didn’t get. maybe they were too occupied trying to figure out what bonnet, boot, cubby box, nave plate, reversing lights, accumulator, indicators, wings, windscreen, hooters meant. The engineers could figure out gearbox and windscreen. I always had a cheat sheet so when the boss would use a British term, I’d read the American term aloud. The bosse could never learn the American terms in the year he spent here in Michigan.

Some British pronunciations really fooled the US engineers. We once had a meeting after the meeting with the boss where I was asked to explain Man Day Tery and a few other puzzling words. We couldn’t figure out Man Day Tery was one word — mandatory — for ten minutes, after one engineer immediately insisted it had something to do with “man days”, whatever that was.

Last edited 1 month ago by Richard Greene
Ed Zuiderwijk
January 28, 2023 1:47 am

It used to rain cats and dogs here. Now it rains polar bears.

Here in Liverpool we are plagued by rain bombs, yellow, orange and red, by atmospheric rivers driven by the changing Gulf stream, ninos and ninas, Sahara dust and, of course, the French and the Irish and a monster called Clihimate Change. But the real problem was Boris Johnson’s newest wife, an activiste who put British politics on a disastrous course to the land of Net Zero to meet the Mad Hatter.

Tom Abbott
January 28, 2023 3:02 am

From the article: “The widespread use of colorful terms like “bomb cyclone” and “atmospheric river,” along with the proliferating categories, colors and names of storms and weather patterns, has struck meteorologists as a mixed blessing: good for public safety and climate-change awareness”

Good for climate change awareness? What does that mean.

From the article: “On one hand, scientists say, it is hard to overstate the profound risk that global warming poses to Earth’s inhabitants in the next century and beyond.”

Ridiculous! What profound risk? You people are insane. There is no evidence CO2 is a profound risk. There is no evidence CO2 is anything other than a benign gas, essential for life on Earth. This “profound risk” is all in your heads.

From the article: “There are only so many times people can survive a bomb cyclone or atmospheric river or climate apocalypse, before they start tuning it out, like all the other nonsensical hype we are bombarded with every day of our lives.”

I think you are on to something. The climate change alarmists are in danger of crying wolf too much, when there is no wolf.

January 28, 2023 3:11 am

“Wolf!” cried the boy … and nobody believed him.

No matter how times change, human nature never changes.

John the Econ
January 28, 2023 8:01 am

For the last few years, our local TV news station has called any anticipated change in the weather a “weathermaker”. So tiresome that it became a drinking game.

Conspicuously, a few weeks ago they stopped. Clearly enough people were commenting or joking about it.

Reply to  John the Econ
January 30, 2023 12:08 pm

In New England, the most frequent consequence of a “bomb cyclone” (nor’easter near the coast) is a foot or more of snow. Most people will survive it if they stay home and wait for a cavalry of snowplows to push it off the roads.

Of course, those snowplows are powered by diesel fuel, and they emit CO2 (and real pollutants) into the atmosphere. All those plows emitting all that CO2 haven’t prevented the snowstorms yet, but they are good at dealing with the consequences.

Food for thought: what if the snowplow drivers in Sweden decided not to plow the roads in Greta Thunberg’s home town in winter? (How dare they emit all that CO2!) She would be cold and hungry, back in the good ol’ days of the Vikings!

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