climate change, education, mathematics, weather

On Misrepresenting Hurricane Statistics (H. Michael Mogil, CCM, CBM, NWA-DS*)

There’s data and there’s statistics. There’s also the misrepresentation of these.

We all know that statistics themselves don’t lie, but the people who use statistics may intentionally or unintentionally do so. A Tweet late yesterday by Eric Holthaus (@EricHolthaus) was the most recent example to catch my eye. With the Atlantic Ocean region bustling with intense hurricanes at this time, it would be easy for some people to draw an incorrect conclusion from Holthaus’ data (Fig. 1) – i.e., that intense hurricane activity is escalating. But that’s not necessarily what is happening.

While Holthaus’ initial post was misleading (and implied that NOAA data supported the trend line), it is important to recognize that the hurdat (hurricane data) values are the “best” historical hurricane data that scientists may have. However, hurdat contains known errors and omissions and is only as good as the observations that were used to generate the data set. Holthaus continued with additional comments and a link to the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL) suggesting that climate change was either the culprit now or would soon be the culprit – “Additional context: There was likely undercounting pre-1960. We expect more Cat 5’s in the future, if not already.”

First, research conducted by some scientists (e.g., Ryan Maue, Matt Bolton, and myself) indicates that the long-term global hurricane trend is “steady” and that hurricanes are not becoming more intense. Then, one must recognize that there has been a dramatic change in global observing and forecasting systems since the mid 19th century.

In fact, it wasn’t until the latter part of the 1800’s that hurricane warning offices were established and it wasn’t until the mid 20th century before the National Hurricane Center was created. Hurricane hunter aircraft were not employed until the 1940’s and the first weather satellite didn’t arrive on the scene until 1960. Since 1960, satellite observation systems have evolved to be highly powerful, high frequency, and high resolution observing tools (Fig. 2). These satellites can now see entire ocean basins; in earlier years, point ship and island reports were all that meteorologists had available. To say that “There was likely undercounting pre-1960,” would be an understatement.

The bottom line is that the data table and reference links offered by Eric Holthaus are misleading. Such data and associated statistics need to be viewed with a consistent (or at least a clearly stated discussion of the) data and how it was obtained. Apples must be compared to apples!

© 2017 H. Michael Mogil

Originally posted 9/19/17

* The National Weather Association Digital Seal (NWA-DS) is awarded to individuals who pass stringent meteorological testing and evaluation of written weather content. H. Michael Mogil was awarded the second such seal and is a strong advocate for its use by weather bloggers.

climate, climate change, weather

THEWEATHERMOGIL:: South Florida in 2015 – warm, warmer, and more humid

2015 was the year of record warmth across south Florida (Fig. 1). November, and especially December, 2015 (Fig. 2) were record-setting months, as well. And, on a daily basis, many scores of records were set (Fig. 3).




What is most impressive is the number of record high minimum temperatures that were reported, easily trumping the number of record highs, by a nearly 4:1 ratio.

Since I live in south Florida, I offer an explanation for this.

Lacking cold frontal passages, with the associated intrusion of cooler and DRIER (lower dew point air), nighttime temperatures simply failed to cool down to “reasonable” levels (water vapor is a “Greenhouse Gas.”). With dew points, even in December, remaining in the 70’s on most mornings, it is no surprise that there were so many high minimum temperatures across the south Florida region.

Even without checking, I suspect that high dew points were also at the root of high minimum temperatures across most of the eastern U.S. last year (and in year’s past).

© 2016 H. Michael Mogil

Originally published 1/2/16

climate, climate change, politics, weather

Some new thinking about climate change

WEATHERTORIAL: A few weeks ago, returning from an AAAS (American Association For The Advancement of Science) Conference in San Jose, CA, I had the pleasure of meeting another conference attendee at a San Jose airport restaurant. The gentleman, a biologist from the University of Wisconsin, recognized me as a conference attendee…To read the entire feature, click here.

Originally published 2/28/15

climate, climate change, weather

The polar vortex returns to the eastern U.S.; an upper ridge dominates weather in the west

If you liked the polar vortex earlier this month, then you’ll definitely like its return this week. Although the polar won’t be quite as far south or quite as cold, it will still make its presence felt. By the way, the only thing of consequence about the “polar vortex” is…To read the entire feature, click here.

Originally published 01/19/14

climate, climate change, weather

Is the polar vortex linked to climate change?

ALERT: This is a weather-torial. The opinions expressed here are mine alone.

Although it has retreated to high latitudes, the so-called “polar vortex” remains in the news. The real “vortex” remains locked in place near the North Pole. Now it’s time for us humans to create our own “polar vortex.”

OMG and right on cue. The White House has just chimed in on…To read the entire feature, click here.

Originally published 01/10/14

astronomy, climate, climate change, general, learning, mathematics, movie reviews, tutoring, weather

Hello world!

Welcome to my WordPress Article Catalog. Here you will find hundreds of postings about weather, math, learning, tutoring and more.  If it’s on my mind, then it may soon be coming to an online article near you.

Feel free to comment on any of my articles.

Feel even freer to pose questions or suggest topics for future articles.

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy.

H. Michael Mogil, CCM, CBM, tutor, life-long learner, more…