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Experts say

14 Oct 2020 | News Roundup

NBC declared that “Warming makes Delta, other storms power up faster, experts warn”. Of course if there’s a lull next year, well, the theory will bend and stretch to cover that outcome too. Just as the failure of a single Category 3 hurricane to make landfall in the U.S. in the preceding 12 years not only failed to dent the confidence of experts in their theory, it seems already to have been forgotten. Along with the claim in that period that warming reduces the strength of storms due to wind shear. But that was then.

NBC, having previously grasped for a straw with the Oct. 9 email teaser subject line “Delta's landfall could be 1st time a major hurricane hits same place twice” (story here but with revised headline, and text saying “it would be the first time a major hurricane has hit the same place twice in one season” which could be true given that “ever” means “since about 1850” to journalists and alarmists) goes on in the power-up-faster theme to claim that “Hurricane Delta, gaining strength as it bears down on the U.S. Gulf Coast, is the latest and nastiest in a recent flurry of rapidly intensifying Atlantic hurricanes that scientists largely blame on global warming.”

Largely blame. Does the “largely” qualify “scientists”, as in most scientists blame this flurry on global warming? Or does “largely” qualify “blame”, as in scientists blame most of this flurry on global warming? (Also, are these “scientists” spread across disciplines including molecular biology, or did they mean “meteorologists”? And how do they know this mysterious group largely blames the flurry on the warming? Who did they ask? It’s remarkable how often “scientists” speak with one voice in a news story.)

It’s also not obvious that two major hurricanes hitting in “the same place”, whatever that phrase means, has never happened before. (Is the same place one specific point, a particular county, a state or what?) But in any case it doesn’t matter because it didn’t happen this time either: By the time Delta struck Louisiana later on Oct. 9, it was down to a Category 2 storm, still a menace of course but “major hurricane” starts at Category 3 so two of them didn’t hit wherever for the first time since whenever proving whatever at all.

On the subject of precedents, a reader points out that there were three named Atlantic storms on September 18 of this year, the first time it had happened… since 1893, back when global warming hadn’t even been heard of, let alone gone through its climate change phase. Extreme weather happens at the strangest times. (Just as having 10 named storms hit the U.S. mainland breaks a record set not last year, the year before, or in 2016 as global warming did all the awful things it does, but in cool comfy 1916 when the Gulf Coast population was way smaller and communications and weather record keeping were less advanced as well.)

Finally, for now at least, when it comes to predicting stronger hurricanes, some models do, some don’t. So the modelers, and yodelers about models, are covered either way… after the fact. As for predictions beforehand, well, what are they, scientists testing hypotheses against subsequent data, or just scientists who say?

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