Do we really need this useless information?

     The 2006 hurricane season ended on November 30, just two weeks ago. Several articles have been published in the media since October comparing the forecasts with the reality, in a nutshell; this is the second year in a row where the forecasts were off by nearly fifty percent. Here are two of these articles originally written by the Chicago Tribune and Associated Press.
    A quick review of the facts shows us that for last year (2005), the 2005 forecastpredicted 11 named tropical storms, there were in reality 28; of those 11 named storms, 6 were to develop hurricane strength (15 in reality) of which three were to be considered of major strengths, i.e., categories 3, 4 and 5. The reality brought us 7 major category hurricanes including Katrina, Rita and Wilma.
     The forecasters were sort of embarrassed and in what one might call a mea culpa admitted to have miscalculated. But this did not discourage them to make a forecast for 2006 by predicting 17 named storms of which 9 would be of hurricane strength and 5 major hurricanes. In reality, this year had 9 named tropical storms of which 5 developed hurricane strength and 2 of them became hurricanes, none of them making landfall in any states in America along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts. This year’s explanation for the huge difference between forecasts and reality were the development of a hurricane suppressing El Nino (a periodic warm-water trend in the Pacific) phenomenon and unusually ‘dry’ conditions over the Atlantic, driven by large dust storms off West Africa.   
     One of the leading hurricane forecasting team works at Colorado State University, led by Professor of Atmospheric Science William Gray and fellow researcher Philip Klotzbach. But there are many other such forecasting teams in the States. One would assume now that two year’s of missing quite badly the forecasts would drive these experts to caution in continuing their work based on computer modeling. After all, two years in a row is more than what one might call “Oops” and one would also assume that these gentlemen would take adequate time to wipe the “eggyolk of their faces” before coming out with new forecasts.  
     Think again, on December 8, 2006, this noted team of hurricane forecasting experts published their 2007 forecast: According to their research, they now predict that next year will bring 14 named storms, 7 hurricanes of which 3 will be of major category strength. These predictions are off by one each from their 2005 forecasts (see above for the specifics). Forecaster Gray now states that “despite a fairly inactive 2006 hurricane season, we believe that the Atlantic basin is in an active hurricane cycle and this active cycle is expected to continue for another decade or two.” Is this gutsy or what? In other words, ‘I was wrong two years in a row when I forecasted hurricanes for the following season, but I can tell what will happen in the next decade or two.’    
     We here now wonder who pays for these so called forecasts, is it Home Depot to sell more plywood or is it the Insurance industry to sell higher homeowners policies to people in the Gulf and Atlantic ocean states? We are, of course, kidding here! But this whole business of hurricane forecasting has to be called into question. Our local weatherman cannot tell us whether it will rain or not in three days but these so called scientists and experts can predict hurricanes for a period of six to twelve months in the future. This scare mongering appears to be a subsidiary of the Global Warming Gloom- and Doomsayers. We all should ask “who benefits from these unreliable forecasts?” Of what use are they to whom. Should the residents in those states most affected by hurricanes now live with ample plywood supplies and keep their most valuable possessions in a suitcase for when a hurricane comes? Are the three-to-five day warnings of hurricanes not enough for people to get ready to move out or pack up as it has been the case and habit in the past?
     We are sure happy and lucky that the seismologists in
California are not playing these kinds of games and put us on a daily alert because when it comes to earthquakes, there are no multi-day warning periods, earthquakes happen! And the severity and strength of earthquakes are only measured afterwards.
     Hurricane forecasts should be posted henceforth under Ripley’s “Believe it or not” because the past two years should be sufficient evidence that their computer modeling techniques cannot be relied on since these models are developed on the basis of specific objectives, also known as “Garbage In – Garbage Out.”
     This article and others on Back to Common Sense are designed to provoke further thought and investigation.   It is not the intent for the articles to be politically biased. Sources are referenced in each article to encourage readers to delve into the supporting material.  We welcome all readers to participate with their point of view either in support or contrary with additional information sources.


One Response to Do we really need this useless information?

  1. global warming is becoming such a obvious problem that someone somewhere other than Al Gore needs to step up to help drive the bus!

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