The Baltimore Sun's Junk Science

No, Hurricane Season is not a reason for alarm

The clowns over at the Baltimore Sun Editorial Board are at it again.

In their latest inept missive, they begin spinning wildly inaccurate tales related to hurricane season, trying to incite a panic in the Baltimore-area over perceived danger in this hurricane season.

The first day of June is the official start of the Atlantic hurricane season, and while no one can predict the future with certainty, experts are already warning that things look bad for the eastern United States and Gulf Coast. Here’s one clue: Mother Nature has jumped the gun; the “A” name is already taken with the development of Tropical Storm Ana on May 21. It only lasted three days but early starts have been a recent trend. Last year’s first storm, Arthur, showed up on May 17 and foreshadowed bad things to come: The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season was the most active on record with 30 named storms and the fifth consecutive worse-than-average year.

In the hundred-plus years of hurricane season data, there have been dozens of pre-season tropical systems over the years. There is not a “recent trend” of these things. There have often “pre-season” storms when atmospheric conditions are correct. Storms don’t know “seasons” established by humans. Much in the same way Maryland was buried by a massive snowstorm in November in 1987, sometimes things happen out of season.

On top of it, the idea that Tropical Storm Ana is the sign of things to come just shows the Editorial Board’s scientific illiteracy. For one, the storm was primarily subtropical, not tropical, and held tropical characteristics for less than a full day. Secondarily, Ana is a trend in recent named storms.

Want to know why the number of storms has been increasing? Want to know why we’re seeing more off-season storms? Thank the network of satellites orbiting our planet. For decades, there were storms of the intensity of Ana (and less) that would never had been named had our amazing network of weather satellites not existed. A storm like Ana would never have been named fifty years ago because nobody would have known, based on the data available, that it was a tropical system in the first place. Several storms a year are getting named now that would not have been named five or ten years ago because the technology to view these systems from afar did not exist. Considering that not every system can get a Hurricane Hunter aircraft into it, this increase in named stores throws off the overall total of storms in a season. That makes seasons look more active than they really are.

Want a better comparison: take a look at the last ten years of Accumulated Cyclone Energy in the Atlantic Basin:

  • 2011 126.3025

  • 2012 132.6325

  • 2013 36.12

  • 2014 66.725

  • 2015 62.685

  • 2016 141.2525

  • 2017 224.8775

  • 2018 132.5825

  • 2019 132.2025

  • 2020 184.5

The bold numbers are above average years. The italicized are below average years. An average season is 105.6. And while seven of the last ten years were above average in ACE, one or two storms can throw the entire number off for an entire year.

Now, let’s move onto the fearmongering:

How bad might things get? The official forecast from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is that there’s a 60% chance of an above-normal season with a 30% chance of an average year and just 10% odds of below average. They aren’t claiming it will be as bad as last year but here’s the general accounting: 13 to 20 named storms (meaning with winds of 39 miles per hour or greater) of which as many as 10 may develop into full-fledged hurricanes with winds at 74 miles per hour or more and perhaps of those three to five will hit 111 mph, meaning major hurricanes. It’s this last category, of course, that tends to cause the most destruction and NOAA officials are already warning residents of coastal and low-lying areas to be prepared.

All of that is accurate and yet it is simultaneously. Meaningless. Hurricanes aren’t a problem if they avoid land, primarily because hurricanes are an extremely important mechanism for transferring heat and moisture away from the equator and toward the rest of the planet. Without hurricanes, our ecosystem would crumble.

Then of course they finish up with junk science related to “climate change” and encouraging a radical reorganization of the world’s economy.

Look, Hurricane season is a big deal and it should not be minimized. Maryland has been lucky; we haven’t taken a direct hit from a hurricane in a long time, and it has been ten years now since Irene came in and wrecked havoc. But if you were to listen to the Ivory Tower elites at the Baltimore Sun Editorial Board, none of whom I’m willing to bet have a degree in the physical sciences, you would think that we are in the prelude to Armageddon. Hurricane season is something to respect and prepare for. It is not the time to exaggerate science and try to scare people half-to-day with half-truths and exaggerations.

If the Editorial Board wants to help, don’t help.