June 1 marks the beginning of the hurricane season on the East Coast, and in celebration of that fact, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Corps Climate Prediction Center (NOAAC CPC for short) predicts how things will go. They do this every year.
This year they predict that things should be okay. The phrase used is “less active.” They expect there will be only one or two big hurricanes to worry about. The reason, as NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D. says, is that El Niño is expected to whomp up big time off the coast of California, and the winds it creates will calm down that place in Africa where Atlantic hurricanes start up and gather up steam before heading off to the west to the Caribbean, Florida and, after that, having gotten caught up in the Gulf Stream, further along, to us.
Another hurricane-predicting center, this one at Colorado State University, says that, in fact, it will be an even quieter season than predicted by NOAAC CPC. They foresee only one major hurricane this season.
What this all means, in my opinion, is that we should hang onto our hats because we are going to have a whole mess of big hurricanes this summer.
The reason I say this is that with all the taxpayer money spent on these two climate-predicting centers, they often get it wrong, as certainly they did in each of the last two years.
In 2012, the prediction on June 1 was for the same less-active season they are predicting for this. No big deal. No worries.
That was the year that the biggest storm in the history of weather-recording hit the East Coast. Sandy was nearly 1,000 miles across. It lasted two days, caused a 12-foot tidal surge in New York City and caused more than 100 fatalities and $68 billion in damage in New Jersey and Long Island, and we are still, in many parts of the community, trying to recover from it. In size it was unmatched. In violence it was second only to Hurricane Katrina’s hitting New Orleans seven years earlier.
Another hurricane that summer, Isaac, grew to major hurricane size in mid-August, devastated Haiti, skipped over Florida and bashed Louisiana, killing a total of 34. All together in 2012 there were 19 storms big enough to be given names. They were Alberto, Beryl, Chris, Debby, Ernesto, Florence, Gordon, Helene, Isaac, Joyce, Kirk, Leslie, Michael, Nadine, Oscar, Patty, Rafael and Sandy. That was so many that it came within two of exceeding the number of names set aside for storm names.
In 2013, the weather-predicting services came out on June 1 with a warning that the hurricane season would be another awful one. There could be as many as six hurricanes with winds exceeding 111 miles an hour. There would be between 13 and 20 storms that would get names—just one shy of the total. The reason was that there was going to be a strong west African monsoon season, whose agitation would birth many hurricanes. The water temperature would be warm, encouraging these small storms to grow, and out west El Niño was just plain asleep at the wheel.
What happened? Did you see or hear of any hurricanes? I didn’t see or hear of any hurricanes. The hurricane season was as quiet as a mouse.
Remember, you have read this first in Dan’s Papers. So here in 2014 come Arthur, Bertha, Cristobal, Dolly, Edouard, Fay, Gonzalo, Hanna, Isaias, Josephine, Kyle, Laura, Marco, Nana, Omar, Paulette, Rene, Sally, Teddy, Vicky and Wilfred. And if we run through all those names, I suggest we name the next one Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., the infamous administrator of NOAA.