Recent catastrophic weather events raise two questions: Are tropical cyclones getting more frequent? And are they getting fiercer?
The answer to the first question is no. The U.N.’s Climate Change Panel reports “Current data sets indicate no significant observed trends in global tropical cyclone frequency over the past century.” The fact is that hurricanes Harvey and Irma ended an unprecedented 12-year hiatus in which not a single Category 4 or Category 5 hurricane came ashore.
The question of ferocity is more complicated. Irma is the strongest Atlantic storm outside the Gulf of Mexico to make landfall in recent times, rivaling Allen in 1980. It is wider than Charley (2004) and Andrew (1992). But we simply don’t know the strength of the 1935 Labor Day Hurricane or the terrible 1780 Barbados hurricane.
The U.S. Geophysical Laboratory found greenhouse gases have had “no detectable impact on Atlantic hurricane or global tropical cyclone activity.” In fact, Irma developed over cool Atlantic waters (26 degrees Celsius) when the rule of thumb is 28.5 degree Celsius for a major hurricane. So it wasn’t “global warming” but exceptionally low wind shear (high-altitude wind) that led to Irma.
The temptation for the BBC and other climate alarmists to blame Irma on fossil fuels will be irresistible. But that’s as silly as blaming the Syrian civil war on climate change rather than human barbarity, though that hasn’t silenced Prince Charles, Barack Obama or the “greens.”
St. Andrews, Scotland
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