Over the past few days, there’s been a persistent media buzz over the National Hurricane Center’s prediction of two hurricanes to hit New Orleans. Jason Dunning, a TV meteorologist at NBC2 WBBH-TV in Fort Meyers, Florida posted on Facebook: “…it would be the first time in recorded history with two hurricanes in the gulf at the same time.” Needless to say, the post went viral. Now it appears his Facebook post has been removed.
And then there’s the ever-hyping CNN, which published the story ‘Unprecedented’ back-to-back hurricanes will target the same state, forcing evacuations in Louisiana. According to the article, the two storms, Marco and Laura, are forecast to arrive within two days of each other, making landfall somewhere between New Orleans and Mobile, Alabama as reason to say such an event is “unprecedented.”
Both Dunning and CNN are wrong, and badly so. All they had to do is look at the historical records of hurricanes to know this has happened before, and it is nothing new.
Climatologist Dr. Roy Spencer commented in a Facebook post:
“When I researched the 500-year history of hurricanes hitting the New World for my Amazon Kindle book Inevitable Disaster: Why Hurricanes Can’t Be Blamed On Global Warming, I was struck by the number of cases of back-to-back hurricanes.” Adding, “… when the Hurricane Center talks about records, they are generally referring to only the last 150 years. A little over 120 years ago, Miami didn’t even exist.”
For example, in his book, Spencer cites the Twin Mobile Hurricanes In late September of 1740; two separate hurricanes hit the Gulf Coast region around Mobile, Alabama within one week of each other. These two hurricanes, together with the hurricane of Sept. 23, 1740, caused major damage to the Louisiana colony.
There are many other instances of back to back hurricanes hitting near the same location within a few days of each other. Besides the 1740 event, in 1933 and 1959, two tropical storms entered the Gulf of Mexico at the same time. But they were not both hurricanes at those times. And, it may turn out that this doesn’t happen this week; Laura may not strengthen into a hurricane, or Marco may drop to tropical storm status before Laura becomes a hurricane. It’s not a done deal, despite the media hype.
Journalists and some meteorologists seem to have this conceit that if it isn’t recorded in the modern-day record of the past 150 years, it didn’t happen. The worse conceit is the fact that they ignore just how few records we have compared to how long nature has been launching hurricanes at the Gulf Coast. Literally this has been going on for millions of years, and somehow because we have the ability to observe, track, and predict hurricanes like never before in history, it’s “unprecedented”? How many times has it happened before we were around to observe it?
Of course the idea of labeling such things as “unprecedented” goes straight to the heart of climate alarmism, because they are already blaming it on “climate change.” In the story First ever double hurricane could hit the Gulf of Mexico, Space.com made this claim: “The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says that as climate change warms the oceans, strong hurricanes are likely to become more frequent than they were in previous years.”
But that’s wrong too, and the data tells us so. In Climate-at-a-Glance: Hurricanes we find there has been no increase in hurricanes as the planet has modestly warmed. Even the UN climate body known as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change agrees, finding no increase in the frequency or severity of hurricanes in their latest 2018 report.
What has increased is the hype over hurricanes, which started back in 2005 with former vice president turned climate activist Al Gore claiming events like Hurricane Katrina would be the new normal. Following that pronouncement, Gore’s predictions fell flat and there was an 11-year “drought” of major hurricanes hitting the United States. In fact, peer reviewed science shows hurricane activity has been decreasing since 1950.
So, don’t pay any attention to what the media says about the “unprecedented” nature of hurricanes this week. For years, the media and climate change zealots have pushed hype over facts. We would be better off ignoring the hype and focusing on facts.
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 wattsupwiththat.com.