Hurricane Season Disappoints Merchants of Doom

Like undertakers complaining that a predicted flu epidemic failed to generate any business, the drive-by media and the hurricane forecasters are kicking themselves over the big nothing the 2007 hurricane season turned out to be. They know full well without the pain and suffering from these weather events: budgets may get cut and ratings tank. The depravity of it all is simply stunning.

2007 is the second year in a row after Katrina that hurricane forecasts have been completely wrong.  Scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center, National Hurricane Center, Hurricane Research Division, forecast a very high likelihood (85% chance) of an above normal Atlantic hurricane season.

The August update persisted with the wrong forecast, projecting an above average hurricane season.

NOAA based their prediction for an above-normal 2007 season on the combination of two main climate factors, what they describe generally as 
"1.) the continuation of conditions that have been conducive to hurricanes since 1995 and

"2.) the continued La Niña-like pattern of tropical convection.

"In addition, temperatures in the western tropical Atlantic and Caribbean Sea remain well above average (0.56oC).

"This combination of conditions is known to produce high levels of Atlantic hurricane activity."
Now we know this combination of conditions sometimes produces high levels of hurricane activity and sometimes not. It appears that NOAA has no idea how to forecast the intensity of hurricane seasons months or even weeks ahead. In 2004 they predicted a 50% chance of above normal, 2005 70%. Not that much better than a coin flip.

NOAA's Atlantic Ocean Meteorological Laboratory has complied Accumulated Cyclone Energy indexes (ACE) since1851.  ACE expresses the activity of Atlantic hurricane seasons. ACE is calculated  using an approximation of the energy of a tropical system over its lifetime. Energy levels are taken every six-hour period. The ACE of a season is the sum of the ACEs for each storm and takes into account the number, strength, and duration of all the tropical activity in the season. It is the most useful measure of seasonal activity since it measures not only the number of storms but their intensity.

The graph below shows season ACE indexes for the last fifty years from 1947. While there has been wide variability, the linear trend line is nearly horizontal. As of October 24, the 2007 ACE index stood at 62. 2006 came in at 78 and 2005 at 248. From 1970 to 1994 the ACE index was below 100 in all but two years.

Hurricane ACE Index
Data Source: NOAA Atlantic Ocean Laboratory, Graph: The Author


While the season doesn't officially end for another few weeks, the graph below shows that tropical events decrease drastically through October making it unlikely that there will be a spate of hurricanes to redeem their forecasts.

ACE chart 2
Source: Ryan Maue, Florida State University, Department of Meteorology

After Katrina, we were bombarded with baseless assertions that global warming was causing increased hurricane activity. As Rush Limbaugh predicted, for the first time in history, the Democrats and their friends in the drive by media politicized a natural disaster, successfully blaming President Bush for Katrina. In spite of this spin campaign, the citizens of Louisiana knew exactly where the blame should be, with Democrat Governor Kathleen Blanco. That is why they elected Republican Bobby Jindal.

It is possible that politicization of natural disasters by the Democrats might be influencing the the recent hurricane season forecasts. How else can they explain their rationale for issuing above average hurricane season predictions in 2006 and 2007,while predictions for 2004 and 2005 were mere coin flips. These forecast are far to important to be tainted by petty partisan politics. The President should appoint a commission to investigate political influence of these predictions. He needs to get NOAA personnel under oath and ask them what factors they use to make these predictions.  

The Democrats and the media should end their politicization of natural disasters. This is counter-productive and dangerous. Is this too much to ask?
Like undertakers complaining that a predicted flu epidemic failed to generate any business, the drive-by media and the hurricane forecasters are kicking themselves over the big nothing the 2007 hurricane season turned out to be. They know full well without the pain and suffering from these weather events: budgets may get cut and ratings tank. The depravity of it all is simply stunning.

2007 is the second year in a row after Katrina that hurricane forecasts have been completely wrong.  Scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center, National Hurricane Center, Hurricane Research Division, forecast a very high likelihood (85% chance) of an above normal Atlantic hurricane season.

The August update persisted with the wrong forecast, projecting an above average hurricane season.

NOAA based their prediction for an above-normal 2007 season on the combination of two main climate factors, what they describe generally as 
"1.) the continuation of conditions that have been conducive to hurricanes since 1995 and

"2.) the continued La Niña-like pattern of tropical convection.

"In addition, temperatures in the western tropical Atlantic and Caribbean Sea remain well above average (0.56oC).

"This combination of conditions is known to produce high levels of Atlantic hurricane activity."
Now we know this combination of conditions sometimes produces high levels of hurricane activity and sometimes not. It appears that NOAA has no idea how to forecast the intensity of hurricane seasons months or even weeks ahead. In 2004 they predicted a 50% chance of above normal, 2005 70%. Not that much better than a coin flip.

NOAA's Atlantic Ocean Meteorological Laboratory has complied Accumulated Cyclone Energy indexes (ACE) since1851.  ACE expresses the activity of Atlantic hurricane seasons. ACE is calculated  using an approximation of the energy of a tropical system over its lifetime. Energy levels are taken every six-hour period. The ACE of a season is the sum of the ACEs for each storm and takes into account the number, strength, and duration of all the tropical activity in the season. It is the most useful measure of seasonal activity since it measures not only the number of storms but their intensity.

The graph below shows season ACE indexes for the last fifty years from 1947. While there has been wide variability, the linear trend line is nearly horizontal. As of October 24, the 2007 ACE index stood at 62. 2006 came in at 78 and 2005 at 248. From 1970 to 1994 the ACE index was below 100 in all but two years.

Hurricane ACE Index
Data Source: NOAA Atlantic Ocean Laboratory, Graph: The Author


While the season doesn't officially end for another few weeks, the graph below shows that tropical events decrease drastically through October making it unlikely that there will be a spate of hurricanes to redeem their forecasts.

ACE chart 2
Source: Ryan Maue, Florida State University, Department of Meteorology

After Katrina, we were bombarded with baseless assertions that global warming was causing increased hurricane activity. As Rush Limbaugh predicted, for the first time in history, the Democrats and their friends in the drive by media politicized a natural disaster, successfully blaming President Bush for Katrina. In spite of this spin campaign, the citizens of Louisiana knew exactly where the blame should be, with Democrat Governor Kathleen Blanco. That is why they elected Republican Bobby Jindal.

It is possible that politicization of natural disasters by the Democrats might be influencing the the recent hurricane season forecasts. How else can they explain their rationale for issuing above average hurricane season predictions in 2006 and 2007,while predictions for 2004 and 2005 were mere coin flips. These forecast are far to important to be tainted by petty partisan politics. The President should appoint a commission to investigate political influence of these predictions. He needs to get NOAA personnel under oath and ask them what factors they use to make these predictions.  

The Democrats and the media should end their politicization of natural disasters. This is counter-productive and dangerous. Is this too much to ask?