No, Axios, Future U.S. Hurricane Damage Losses Will Not be Driven by Climate Change

Originally posted at

An article in Axios, written by Andrew Freedman, claims increased hurricane winds due to rising temperatures driven by increasing carbon dioxide concentrations may result in more hurricane damage losses along the US East Coast, Florida Coasts, and the Gulf Coast. The article is misleading. The article cites climate model projections to support its claims, rather than data, because data does not show that the number or intensity of hurricanes have increased during the recent period of modest global warming. The study is also misleading because it fails to consider more germane factors responsible for rising hurricane costs.

The Axios article, titled “More than 13 million people to see new hurricane wind risks,” is based on a research from the First Street Foundation, a group formed to define the risk to people and property from climate change in the United States. The study, uses a “… property-specific and climate-adjusted hurricane wind model that calculates the likelihood of a property being exposed to and damaged from a hurricane’s winds.”

The study, by retired MIT meteorology professor Kerry Emanuel, neither provides nor creates new findings, but rather uses historical data combined with computer models to make guesses on how coastal and other properties would be more “at risk” in the future. The non-profit group even created a slick interactive website to hawk the model results as if they were evidence based to an unsuspecting public, seen in the screen capture below from

As explored in Climate Realism, here and here, for example, climate models are seriously flawed. The basic projection they make is the global average temperature in response to additional carbon dioxide concentrations, and after more than thirty years and 6 generations of models, the model projections still run too hot. On top of basic physics, models also incorporate different modelers’ assumptions about how various features of the earth will respond to rising temperatures and CO2, referred to as “feedback mechanisms” or “feedback loops,” tending to enhance or diminish temperature increases. Model simulations are tested for accuracy against simulations from other models, rather than available data, in the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project. It amounts to 30 years of Garbage In-Garbage Out or GIGO. Nowhere is this clearer than in climate projections of hurricanes.

For example, after Category 5 Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in late August 2005, scientists and pundits alike began claiming that sort of devastation was the “new normal” and that hurricane frequency and intensities were only going to get worse. Climate model projections were cited as “proof” for such claims. Former Vice-President Al Gore exploited the Katrina disaster in a call for climate action.

In a speech at Sierra Club’s National Environmental Convention and Expo in San Francisco on 9 September 2005, Gore said, “The era of procrastination, of half measures, of soothing and baffling expedience of delays, is coming to a close. In its place we are entering a period of consequences.”

In Katrina’s aftermath, climate activists beat a steady drumbeat warning of hurricane doom. Here are a just a few examples: “Warming seas cause stronger hurricanes“, Nature, 2006 “Are Category 6 Hurricanes Coming Soon?“, Scientific American, 2011, “Global warming is ‘causing more hurricanes’“, The Independent, 2012, “A Katrina hurricane will strike every two years“, Science Nordic, “‘Katrina-Like’ Hurricanes to Occur More Frequently Due to Warming” in US News & World Reports, “Hurricanes Likely to Get Stronger & More Frequent“, Climate Central, 2013 – About a study in PNAS by Kerry Emanuel et al.

Note the last one is from the same author, Kerry Emanuel, as the current study being touted by Axios.

Yet, after Katrina, the United States entered a hurricane drought. Between October 24, 2005 and August 17, 2017, a 4,323-day (142-month, 12-year) period, the United States entered its longest recorded period of no major hurricane of category three or higher making landfall within the country. Climate models failed to simulate the hurricane drought. Indeed, in direct contrast to the evidence, throughout the drought, as seen above, climate alarmists continued to cite climate model projections to claim climate change was making hurricanes either more frequent, more powerful, or both.

Real-world data refutes the claims of worsening hurricanes in the United States. Below, in Figure 1A/1B, two graphs of data from Dr. Roger Pielke Jr. show that both major hurricanes and hurricanes per se have experienced a declining trend for more than a century during the period of modest warming:

Pielke points out that the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) confirms his findings, writing, “[t]he IPCC has concluded that since 1900 there is ‘no trend in the frequency of USA landfall events.’ This goes for all hurricanes and also for the strongest hurricanes, called major hurricanes.”

Also, it is not just the United States that has experienced a declining hurricane trend, there has been a downtrend globally:

The data and the position of the IPCC flies in the face of the claims made in the Axios article, and the computer climate model projections behind it, predicting a dire future for U.S. coastal residents, seen in Figure 3 below.

Figure 3: Map from the Axios article suggesting climate driven hurricane wind losses will increase on US. Atlantic and Gulf coasts.

With hurricanes and major hurricanes either trending slightly downward over the past century of modest warming, or exhibiting “no trend,” per the IPCC, any increase in hurricane losses must be due to factors other than climate change—yet Axios’ article, and the study it references, downplay or ignore entirely other likely factors. Indeed, Axios writer, Freedman, and the study’s author, Emanuel, miss the real driving force behind disaster losses on U.S. coasts: basic economics.

Fact: many people like living on coastlines, evidently considering the threat of hurricanes worth the risk to get the benefits of a view and pleasant lifestyle provided by the ocean. According to a U.S. Census Bureau report from 1960 to 2008, coastal U.S. population more than doubled with a measured increase of 124.7 percent.

Along with more people living on the coasts, comes more development of property, and with more development and people, come higher property prices. Any realtor can tell you this.

Yet, both Freedman and Emanuel ignored the fact that regardless of hurricanes’ responses to climate change, because more people and more, more expensive, properties are located in areas historically prone to hurricane impacts, when hurricanes strike, the damage costs will be significantly higher now than in the past. This is an effect of demographic and economic trends, not changes in hurricane behavior.

Once again, rather than exercising a little journalistic fact checking of the available data, Axios, CNN, USA Today, and other mainstream media outlets prone to hyping the climate crisis narrative, put alarming headlines above the truth. Data on hurricane trends and widely recognized, though not as widely publicized, weaknesses in the climate models undermine any attempts to link higher damage costs from hurricanes to climate change. Demographics and economics explain the increase in hurricane related costs, not climate change. This bogus combination of shoddy science and even shoddier journalism has done a disservice to their readers.

Anthony Watts

Anthony Watts

Anthony Watts is a senior fellow for environment and climate at The Heartland Institute. Watts has been in the weather business both in front of, and behind the camera as an on-air television meteorologist since 1978, and currently does daily radio forecasts. He has created weather graphics presentation systems for television, specialized weather instrumentation, as well as co-authored peer-reviewed papers on climate issues. He operates the most viewed website in the world on climate, the award-winning website

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Tom Halla
March 1, 2023 6:09 pm

Forgetting what the population of Miami was in 1900 compared to 2023 makes this sort of claim silly.

John Shewchuk
March 1, 2023 6:12 pm

What hurricane problem? There is no climate change problem — only a climate alarmism problem.

Reply to  John Shewchuk
March 1, 2023 6:28 pm

Hmmm. It looks like man-made climate change is driving down the number of named storms and major hurricanes. This is good news. Is there any way we can increase the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere to accelerate this trend? </sarc>

John Shewchuk
Reply to  Nevada_Geo
March 1, 2023 6:49 pm

Actually yes … just use more fossil fuels like China and India, because we are in a CO2 famine as illustrated in my 2.5 minutes video …

Reply to  John Shewchuk
March 1, 2023 8:01 pm

Love it!

Reply to  Nevada_Geo
March 2, 2023 7:56 am

I’ve always said that CO2 is a strong net benefit.

Reply to  John Shewchuk
March 1, 2023 8:07 pm

And the number of “Named Storms” is grossly inflated relative to the numbers of a decade or more. NOAA is naming a lot of storms that would not have been named before and consequently the ACE for named storms had dropped considerably in that time.

John Shewchuk
Reply to  rah
March 1, 2023 8:28 pm

Big Dittos on that. Government numbers people have infiltrated the NHC. They are naming storms which we never would have named when I worked on Guam for the Joint Typhoon Warning Center. Also, the NHC claims Nicole hit Florida as a Cat 1 storm, and yet I can’t find any data to support that … just shows how desperate they are to get another “hurricane” landfall score.

Reply to  John Shewchuk
March 2, 2023 2:19 am

Giving little ones names just encourages them and makes them think they are bigger than they really are.

Reply to  John Shewchuk
March 2, 2023 3:29 am

If the weather does not cooperate with their agenda, then they just lie about it. Just like they’re doing now concerning their declared “megadrought” in the SW US. They insist that the drought has not been broken despite the reservoirs being topped off and record snowpack.

AZ has so far had the 5th snowiest meteorological winter on record. Flagstaff had a good snow last night. Yosemite closed indefinitely due to snow accumulations of up to 15 feet in some places. Ski resorts closed due to too much snow blocking the lifts or blocking the access road. Even Joshua Tree National Park had a good snow cover earlier this week.

And the thing is, if the models are correct, they are in for a sustained period of wetter weather. Sometimes I think that there is a Hayhoe/Dessler effect on droughts, that is similar to the Gore effect on winter weather.

Last edited 25 days ago by rah
Tom Abbott
Reply to  rah
March 2, 2023 3:53 am

“If the weather does not cooperate with their agenda, then they just lie about it.”

That’s the bottom line.

If Climate Change Alarmists didn’t have lies, they wouldn’t have anything.

Last edited 25 days ago by Tom Abbott
Reply to  Tom Abbott
March 2, 2023 7:59 am
March 1, 2023 6:40 pm

Lone Pine Quake 1872 27 dead, $5 million damage (current dollars)
Loma Prieta Quake 1989 63 dead, $6 billion damage

earthquakes are getting worse!

Tom Abbott
Reply to  John_C
March 2, 2023 3:57 am

That’s a perfect illustration of the “logic” the Climate Change Alarmists are using when talking about hurricanes.

Reply to  John_C
March 2, 2023 3:03 pm

Yep, that sums it up…. in such places there are now a helluva lot more structures, which are a helluva lot more complicated and expensive, and which contain a helluva lot of expensive tech and toys.

March 1, 2023 6:48 pm

So I went to “riskfactor dot com” and entered an address in the Boston area. The sweltering heat in the Boston area has probably killed thousands of elderly who cannot afford electricity for air conditioning. In January and February of this year, Boston has already suffered over SEVEN DAYS of heat above 98°!

Reply to  Nevada_Geo
March 1, 2023 8:10 pm

Mine said, “Based on a recreated model of the flood, 409 properties were impacted by river flood near Boulder, CO in September, 2013.”

Ignores history:

Walter Sobchak
March 1, 2023 7:03 pm

If they really believed this, Obama would not have spent $12 million on a beachfront house.

John Hultquist
March 1, 2023 7:34 pm

I think the Evolved Cordyceps Fungus (ECF) (see currently running post)
must have infected the many millions of people wanting to live in a high-rise
building on a sand bar.
Having always lived in colder regions I have escaped this fungus.

Reply to  John Hultquist
March 1, 2023 8:28 pm

One the contrary, when I lived in a colder region, I had fungus growing on my chin and upper lip.

Moved to a warmer climate… and it went away !

March 1, 2023 7:56 pm

I’m at my daughters place at Daytona Beach for a visit right now. It is on the mainland and not on the more exposed peninsula. Her place suffered minimal wind damage, but considerable flood damage from Ian. Water damage to the walls and floors but the worst was the black mold that came afterward. She has paid for the mold mitigation and did the repairs herself. Pictures and documentation of all expenses.

They have State Farm Insurance and had storm damage insurance along with FEMA flood insurance. FEMA came through. State Farm did not and it looks like she has one heck of lawsuit going against them.

Obviously in a place where a standard loaf of white bread costs $4.99 at the Publix grocery, the real estate values are very high. She tells me that many Insurance companies have bailed out of Florida after Ian.

John Shewchuk
Reply to  rah
March 1, 2023 8:33 pm

Sorry to heat that about the insurance scammers. I live in central Florida, but am hearing more about this stuff — even though hurricanes are on the decrease — but more and more folks are building on the beaches.

Reply to  John Shewchuk
March 2, 2023 3:10 am

Building on the beach is a lot like 4-wheeling. Don’t do it unless you can afford to lose it.

Last edited 25 days ago by rah
Tom Abbott
Reply to  rah
March 2, 2023 4:00 am

“Obviously in a place where a standard loaf of white bread costs $4.99 at the Publix grocery”

I remember when a loaf of bread cost 25 cents.

Reply to  Tom Abbott
March 2, 2023 8:00 am

Isn’t it great how government has made bread so much more valuable? /sarc

spangled drongo
March 1, 2023 8:05 pm

Only too true, Anthony.
In Australia, likewise.
Back in the ’70s when we had our last triple la Nina we lost the city of Darwin to Cyclone Tracy.
This time we’ve hardly seen a series 1 cyclone.
In the ’70s when all the sea front luxury homes were being washed out to sea and you couldn’t give them away, those same homes are today selling for tens of millions.
But the kiddies don’t know that and that’s where all the wisdom comes from, these days.

Paul Redfern
March 1, 2023 9:00 pm

Patrick Michaels said several years ago that strong winds and storms are caused by the difference in temperature between the equator and the poles. Warming occurs preferentially at the poles so a warming world would have fewer strong storms and winds. The reason warming occurs preferentially at the poles may be due to the heat capacity of cold dry air being smaller than that of warm moist air.

Reply to  Paul Redfern
March 2, 2023 8:04 am

The cause is dry air, however it has nothing to do with heat capacity.
CO2 and water share many absorption bands, so when there is a lot of water in the air, adding CO2 has very little impact.
When there is little water in the air, CO2 has a larger impact.

Ben Vorlich
March 1, 2023 11:24 pm

Is this a record?
Svalbard: The remote Arctic island warming seven times faster than the global average
ITV News Correspondent Rupert Evelyn reports from Svalbard, off the coast of Norway, where he explores how warming in the polar regions leads to extreme weather across the planet.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Ben Vorlich
March 2, 2023 4:04 am

No doubt this is a local phenomenon caused by a high pressure system hovering over the area. When the high pressure system moves on, the temperatures will get colder.

It has nothing to do with CO2.

Coeur de Lion
March 1, 2023 11:47 pm

What with ocean outgassing and Chinese power stations etc there is not the vestige of a chance that we will be able to check the two to three ppm per year increase since COP 1 in 1995 so we’d better get used to it

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Coeur de Lion
March 2, 2023 4:08 am

Yes, CO2 amounts are increasing despite the best efforts of the Western world to reduce them. And this will continue into the future. The Western world politicians will impoverish their nations in an effort to reduce CO2 emissions, while the rest of the world thrives from using coal, oil, natural gas and nuclear energy.

Western politicians are dangerous fools leading us down the path to destruction in their efforts to reduce the benign gas, CO2.

Fools and their Freedom are soon parted. And that takes those who are not fools, down with them.

Last edited 25 days ago by Tom Abbott
Reply to  Coeur de Lion
March 2, 2023 8:06 am

The oceans have only warmed by a few hundredths of a degree over the last 3 or 4 decades.
That’s not enough to have much impact on how much CO2 the oceans can hold.

March 2, 2023 12:55 am

Despite what plants have taught me about living and working with forces beyond my control, I’m nonetheless prone to bouts of climate anxiety. All it takes is a few days of unexpectedly erratic weather for panic to rise up in my throat.


Tom in Florida
March 2, 2023 4:55 am

“after Category 5 Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in late August 2005,”

For those who did not bother to read the link, Katrina was a Cat 5 out in the Gulf but at landfall it was a Cat 3. It made landfall east of New Orleans. All the flooding in New Orleans was due to Lake Poncetrain overflowing the levees from the wrap around wind on the west side of the storm

Reply to  Tom in Florida
March 2, 2023 8:08 am

Most of the flooding came when the levees collapsed because the contractor hired by the Corps of Engineers cut too many corners when building them.

March 2, 2023 5:06 am

US hurricane damage will increase because of expanding development in regions most effected by hurricanes. These morons must be college educated in order to not figure out something so basic.

Reply to  2hotel9
March 2, 2023 8:11 am

Most liberals aren’t bright enough to figure out that everything changes over time.
They have a tendency to believe that what exists now, has always been.
Coastal areas have been heavily built up for as long as they remember, therefore coastal areas have always been heavily built up.
There mental perversions of history don’t just flow in one direction only though.
They have read about how bad racism was in the past, therefore racism is still bad, even if they have to invent the evidence needed to prove that.

March 2, 2023 6:21 am

katrina made landfall as a cat 3 not cat 5 . big difference . problem was inadequate infrastructure in a very vulnerable place . storm was run of the mill . like sandy , that wasn’t even a hurricane at landfall and is now the poster child for catastrophic hurricanes . there is a huge gap between pop media and science which is shamelessly exploited by the climate industrial complex

Reply to  garboard
March 2, 2023 7:57 am

Lack of preparation and lack of maintenance of infrastructure and political corruption of course. Funds for maintaining the levees and lift stations had been diverted other purposes like getting a new Casino in town. A mayor that left town. A governor that refused the offer of activation of the National Guard due to politics. A failure to institute adequate evacuations. Massive ghost employment of police and other first responders and emergency services personnel. And the fact that a great deal of the “Chocolate City” sits below sea level. And so on, and so forth.

Reply to  garboard
March 2, 2023 8:12 am

Both Katrina and Sandy were bad because of where they hit, not because they were dramatically stronger than other storms.

March 2, 2023 2:32 pm

But the fool rating agencies lap this up.

Steve Case
March 2, 2023 3:31 pm

I’m on an IPad out bobbing around in the ocean so links are difficult for me to post. A while back I posted a link to an NOAA page that lists all US hurricanes back to 1850; and you know what? All of the Class 5 and most of the Class 4 storms occurred since 1935.

I look forward to all the down votes (-:

March 2, 2023 7:59 pm

Looks like the global ACE will get a will get a bit of a head start this year. Twin cyclones in the South Pacific.

Last edited 24 days ago by rah
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