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Texas Extreme Weather – 1970’s Style

April 17, 2014

By Paul Homewood



Destruction in Wichita Falls, Texas after the tornado



The Texas Almanac publishes a list of extreme weather events by decade, so let’s take a trip back to the 1970’s to see what life was like in Texas  when CO2 was at a safe level.



  • April 18, 1970: Tornado. Near Clarendon, Donley County. Seventeen killed, 42 injured; damage $2.1 million. Fourteen persons were killed at a resort community at Green Belt Reservoir, 7 miles north of Clarendon.
  • May 11, 1970: Tornado. Lubbock, Lubbock County. Twenty-six killed, 500 injured; damage $135 million. Fifteen square miles, almost one-quarter of the city of Lubbock, suffered damage.
  • Aug. 3–5, 1970: Hurricane Celia. Corpus Christi. Hurricane Celia was a unique but severe storm. Measured in dollars, it was the costliest in the state’s history to that time. Sustained wind speeds reached 130 mph, but it was great bursts of kinetic energy of short duration that appeared to cause the severe damage. Wind gusts of 161 mph were measured at the Corpus Christi National Weather Service Office. At Aransas Pass, peak wind gusts were estimated as high as 180 mph, after the wind equipment had been blown away. Celia caused 11 deaths in Texas, at least 466 injuries, and total property and crop damage in Texas estimated at $453.77 million. Hurricane Celia crossed the Texas coastline midway between Corpus Christi and Aransas Pass about 3:30 p.m. CST on Aug. 3. Hardest hit was the metropolitan area of Corpus Christi, including Robstown, Aransas Pass, Port Aransas and small towns on the north side of Corpus Christi Bay.
  • Feb. 20–22, 1971: Blizzard. Panhandle. Paralyzing blizzard, worst since March 22–25, 1957, storm transformed Panhandle into one vast snowfield as 6 to 26 inches of snow were whipped by 40 to 60 mph winds into drifts up to 12 feet high. At Follett, 3-day snowfall was 26 inches. Three persons killed; property and livestock losses were $3.1 million.
  • Sept. 9–13, 1971: Hurricane Fern. Coastal Bend. Ten to 26 inches of rain resulted in some of worst flooding since Hurricane Beulah in 1967. Two persons killed; losses were $30.2 million.
  • May 11–12, 1972: Rainstorm. South Central Texas. Seventeen drowned at New Braunfels, one at McQueeney. New Braunfels and Seguin hardest hit. Property damage $17.5 million.
  • June 12–13, 1973: Rainstorm. Southeastern Texas. Ten drowned. Over $50 million in property and crop damage. From 10-15 inches of rain recorded.
  • Nov. 23–24, 1974: Flash Flooding. Central Texas. Over $1 million in property damage. Thirteen people killed, 10 in Travis County.
  • Jan. 31–Feb. 1, 1975: Flooding. Nacogdoches County. Widespread heavy rain caused flash flooding here, resulting in three deaths; damage over $5.5 million.
  • May 23, 1975: Rainstorm. Austin area. Heavy rains, high winds and hail resulted in over $5 million property damage; 40 people injured. Four deaths caused by drowning.
  • April 19, 1976: Tornado. Brownwood. An F-5 tornado destroyed a few homes and airplanes. Nine persons were injured.
  • June 15, 1976: Rainstorm. Harris County. Rains in excess of 13 inches caused damage estimated at near $25 million. Eight deaths were storm-related, including three drownings.
  • Aug. 1–4, 1978: Heavy Rains, Flooding. Edwards Plateau, Low Rolling Plains. Remnants of Tropical Storm Amelia caused some of the worst flooding of this century. As much as 30 inches of rain fell near Albany in Shackelford County, where six drownings were reported. In Bandera, Kerr, Kendall and Gillespie counties, 27 people drowned and the damage total was at least $50 million.
  • Dec. 30–31, 1978: Ice Storm. North Central Texas. Possibly the worst ice storm in 30 years hit Dallas County particularly hard. Damage estimates reached $14 million, and six deaths were storm-related.
  • April 10, 1979: The worst single tornado in Texas’ history hit Wichita Falls. Earlier on the same day, several tornadoes hit farther west. The destruction in Wichita Falls resulted in 42 dead, 1,740 injured, over 3,000 homes destroyed and damage of approximately $400 million. An estimated 20,000 persons were left homeless by this storm. In all, the tornadoes on April 10 killed 53 people, injured 1,812 and caused over $500 million damages.
  • May 3, 1979: Thunderstorms. Dallas County was hit by a wave of the most destructive thunderstorms in many years; 37 injuries and $5 million in damages resulted.
  • July 25–26, 1979: Tropical storm Claudette caused over $750 million in property and crop damages, but fortunately only few injuries. Near Alvin, an estimated 43 inches of rain fell, a new state record for 24 hours.
  • Aug. 24, 1979: One of the worst hailstorms in West Texas in the past 100 years; $200 million in crops, mostly cotton, destroyed.
  • Sept. 18–20, 1979: Coastal flooding from heavy rain, 18 inches in 24 hours at Aransas Pass, and 13 inches at Rockport.



Katharine says weather is getting more extreme. Perhaps she should start looking for another job.

EuroStat Renewable Energy Report

April 17, 2014

By Paul Homewood




The EU have just published their EuroStat Renewable Energy Report for 2012. As I revealed in February, the UK is languishing near the bottom of the league, with barely 4% of all energy being supplied from renewable sources.

Just to recap, under the 2009 EU Renewable Energy Directive, the UK is mandated to produce 15% of its energy requirements from renewable sources by 2020, so clearly we have a long way to go to get anywhere near the target.

We already have a rough idea of what the figures will be for 2013, as the electricity stats have already been published by DECC. Plugging these numbers in, we are looking at something like this.


TWh Total Renewable % of line
Electricity 357 52 14.6
Heat 651 15 2.3
Transport 543 9 1.6
Total 1551 76 4.9
Target 1466 216 to 225 15.0


In the absence of any other information, I have assumed that the figures for heat and transport remain the same as last year. As I explained in my earlier post, it seems unlikely that much progress will be made in these sectors in the short term.

I predicted in February that renewable energy would be contributing about 8% of total energy by 2020. Nothing has happened in the interim to change my view of this.

Do As I Say, Not As I Do – Says Prince Of Wallies

April 17, 2014

By Paul Homewood




From the “Do They Think We Are Really That Stupid” Department:


Flashback to 2009:


Capitalism and consumerism have brought the world to the brink of economic and environmental collapse, the Prince of Wales has warned in a grandstand speech which set out his concerns for the future of the planet.

The heir to the throne told an audience of industrialists and environmentalists at St James’s Palace last night that he had calculated that we have just 96 months left to save the world.

And in a searing indictment on capitalist society, Charles said we can no longer afford consumerism and that the "age of convenience" was over.

The Prince, who has spoken passionately about the environment before, said that if the world failed to heed his warnings then we all faced the "nightmare that for so many of us now looms on the horizon"



Looks like we have got 3 years to go!


Could this be the same Prince Charles who, last year, took his Royal Train on a 550 mile trip, and at a cost of £35000, to travel around the country just to visit:

1) Harry Potter’s castle

2) A brewery

3) An RAF station


550-mile trip: How prince Charles travelled by Royal Train at a cost of £35,000 to the taxpayers


Heaven forbid, this congenital idiot will probably be our next monarch.


No doubt he will be happy when we all return to serf like lives, abandon our nasty consumerism and do as we are told, just like in the good old days.

Texas Droughts & Ocean Cycles

April 16, 2014
tags: ,

By Paul Homewood


A couple of days ago, I discussed the role that the Pacific Decadal Oscillation & the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation play in droughts in Texas and the rest of the Southwest.

Just to recap:


1) Recent research suggests that the AMO is related to the past occurrence of major droughts in the Midwest and the Southwest. When the AMO is in its warm phase, these droughts tend to be more frequent and/or severe (prolonged?). Vice-versa for negative AMO. Two of the most severe droughts of the 20th century occurred during the positive AMO between 1925 and 1965: The Dustbowl of the 1930s and the 1950s drought.

2) Positive PDO values are usually associated with wetter conditions in the Southwestern United States, while negative PDO values are suggestive of persistent drought in the Southwest.


The full story behind this is here.


As these cycles tend to run for about 50 to 60 years, and run independently of each other, it is not often that a warm AMO and cold PDO occur together. In fact, this has only happened for long periods twice since 1900. The graph below shows this well – note that the AMO plot is inverted, so that the “warm” or “positive” phase is shown below the line, in order to show the correlation with the cold PDO.




We can see that warm AMO’s and cold PDO’s have coincided:

1) From 2007 to present. (Data goes up to 2012).

2) For a short while around the turn of the century.

3) For an extended spell in the 1950’s.


It is unsurprising then that we see the same periods showing up with reduced rainfall.






As the current cold PDO & warm AMO patterns are locked in for a few more years yet (the AMO will probably turn cold in the 2020’s), Texas unfortunately still has more drought years to look forward to, although it does not automatically follow that every year will be the same.

However, it will have absolutely nothing to do with global warming, and so far things have been nowhere as bad as the 1950’s.


One other thing is worth bearing in mind. A study by David Roth of the NWS, “Texas Hurricane History”, had this to say:


Of the 122 storms chronicled in this survey, 11 are credited with alleviating drought conditions across the Lone Star State. Without tropical storms and hurricanes moving into Texas, summer rainfall would be about 10% lower than what currently falls across eastern Texas. This could be disastrous for cotton, corn, and rice grown statewide, as they are highly dependent on this added rainfall contribution.


As we know, there has been a hurricane drought across all of the USA in recent years, and this has resulted in less rainfall. Should the lack of hurricanes be regarded as “extreme weather”? I don’t know, but I do suspect if we get a couple of storms this year, Katharine Hayhoe and the rest of the usual suspects will be queuing up to blame them on you know what!


As an expert climate scientist, I have no doubt Katharine knows all of this, even though she seems reluctant to tell us mere mortals. But if, by chance, she does not, I can offer her a refresher course at half price.




The AMO and PDO data is here.

Germany’s Reliance On Coal

April 16, 2014
tags: ,

By Paul Homewood




As I mentioned last week, Germany is continuing with its plan to build a heap of new coal power stations. Although some of the older power stations may be closed down, it is clear that coal will remain a vital part of Germany’s power supply for many years to come.

But, the other side of the coin is often forgotten, and that is the importance of the coal industry itself to the German economy.

According to the World Coal Association, in 2012 (the latest year that stats are available for) Germany ranked the 8th largest producer of coal.




And nearly all of this is lignite, generally recognised as the dirtiest coal.





Read more…

Donna Laframboise & The IPCC

April 16, 2014

By Paul Homewood





Donna Laframboise has written a very succinct piece on the latest IPCC report.

It is worth bookmarking, for whenever anybody says “IPCC blah, blah”, without the need to get into technical matters.


This week, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released the third and final section of its massive new climate report. It contains 60 chapters and, by the time the dust settles and the concluding summary is made public in October, will total nearly 7,000 pages.

A great deal of time and effort went into the preparation of this report. Years of intellectual and financial resources were consumed by it. So what has the world gained?

Is this a credible scientific document? Are its findings trustworthy? Below are three reasons the new IPCC report deserves to be taken with a grain of salt:


1. When the IPCC convicted humanity of triggering dangerous climate change, it acted as investigator, prosecutor, judge, and jury.

The IPCC is a United Nations body. In the words of its chairman, Rajendra Pachauri, the IPCC’s “main customer” is a UN climate treaty. The politicians who signed that treaty back in 1992 had already decided human activity was harming the climate. The treaty was supposed to keep us safe by reducing the amount of greenhouse gases we emit.

Like the dumb cop in a detective story, the IPCC has always suffered from tunnel vision. It never gave serious consideration to other possible explanations of what was going on with the climate. When your job is to legitimize a UN treaty, you amass evidence that implicates human greenhouse gases, you declare this evidence persuasive, and you insist that bad things will happen if the treaty isn’t strengthened and extended.


2. Scientists are only human. Their judgment can be tainted by environmental activism, and they can be unconsciously seduced by the notion that they’re superheroes saving the planet.

The IPCC has a long history of recruiting personnel with close links to activist organizations such as Greenpeace and the WWF. Despite an embarrassing scandal involving an incorrect WWF document and the melting of Himalayan glaciers last time around, this new IPCC report also treats WWF-produced literature as reliable evidence.

When it released part two of its report at a meeting in Japan last month, the IPCC produced a blatantly activist brochure that talks about delivering “Hope for our Earth,” and of “Saving the planet for future generations.”

When scientists join bandwagons rather than remaining scrupulously objective, they undermine their own credibility.


3. It is both fair and appropriate to judge an organization by it leader. The IPCC has been led, for the past 12 years, by a man who does not inspire confidence.

For decades, Rajendra Pachauri incorrectly claimed he’d earned two PhDs. Only in the past year, and only due to persistent inquires on the part of Australian journalist Tony Thomas, was his CV fixed.

When the IPCC – as an organization – was awarded half of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize, Pachauri sent an e-mail to thousands of IPCC affiliated scientists mistakenly telling them “this makes each of you Nobel Laureates.” The IPCC later issued a formal statement admitting that it is improper for any IPCC-linked individuals to be described in this manner.

Pachauri has repeatedly made statements about the qualifications of IPCC personnel and about the material on which the IPCC relies that have been shown to wrong.

Taken together, the picture that emerges is of a man prone to exaggeration and careless with the truth. No organization with such an individual at its helm should be surprised when its conclusions are greeted with skepticism.


April 15, 2014

By Paul Homewood


h/t Dave Ward





Reblogged from Windfarmaction.


Read the full story here.






The picture seems to come from the International Zinc Association website. They don’t make it clear exactly what the picture is of, but do show other pictures of wind turbines similarly affected.

Whether their zinc treatment will have the desired effect, I somewhat doubt! But they have gone into a lot of detail. Worth a read for anyone with a technical interest.

Power and Gas Prices Falling.

April 15, 2014

By Paul Homewood




Despite a little blip in early March, following tensions in Crimea, both gas and electricity prices in the UK continue their fall, which began at the start of the year.

Wholesale power prices stood at £49.40 at the end of March, on the back of lower coal and gas prices.

Part of the justification for subsidising renewables is that, in the long run, they will work out cheaper than fossil fuels, on the assumption that prices of the latter increase much faster than inflation. Yet over the last two years, the opposite has been true and the gap has widened.

Let us just recall the Strike Prices laid out by DECC last December, which guarantee the price renewable operators and nuclear power plants will receive. Bear in mind that:

1) The Strike Prices are based on 2012 Prices, and are uplifted each year for inflation, using the CPI index.

2) The contract period for renewables (but not nuclear) is 15 years.

3) The Strike Prices apply to generators commissioning in that particular year.

So, for instance, an offshore wind operator, starting up in 2015, will receive £155/MWh for 15 years, whereas one starting up in 2019 will receive £140/MWh for its 15 years.





The CPI index has increased by 4.5% since March 2012, so, taking offshore wind commissioned in 2014/15 as an example, the current price will be increased from £155/MWh to £161.98/MWh. With a current wholesale price of £49.40, this means the subsidy will start at £112.58/MWh.

Retail electricity prices seem to be around £110/MWh at the moment, so all power from offshore wind commissioned over the next couple of years will effectively cost consumers double what they are currently paying.


Meanwhile, the useful idiots at the BBC have finally woken up! They are concerned that curbs on onshore wind will lead to more offshore turbines.




And why the concern? Because offshore wind is even more expensive than onshore!

It’s funny how they have not been concerned about the impact of wind and solar power on electricity bills before!

Hayhoe Denies The Science

April 14, 2014

By Paul Homewood




It seems as if Katharine Hayhoe has been at it again. In the documentary “Years of Living Dangerously”, she tries to persuade viewers that the Texas drought of 2011 was brought about by rising levels of CO2.

Only one slight problem, Katharine, droughts have occurred regularly in the past in Texas, and sometimes more severely. In particular, the drought years of the 1950’s were both longer lasting , and more severe than the recent drought, as NOAA’s drought index shows.




And there is a very well understood reason for these regular occurrences – ocean cycles.

With regards to the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation, NOAA themselves tell us that:


Recent research suggests that the AMO is related to the past occurrence of major droughts in the Midwest and the Southwest. When the AMO is in its warm phase, these droughts tend to be more frequent and/or severe (prolonged?). Vice-versa for negative AMO. Two of the most severe droughts of the 20th century occurred during the positive AMO between 1925 and 1965: The Dustbowl of the 1930s and the 1950s drought.


And currently, surprise, surprise, we are in the warm phase of the AMO.





And then there’s the Pacific Decadal Oscillation. You will not be surprised to learn that:


Positive PDO values are usually associated with wetter conditions in the Southwestern United States, while negative PDO values are suggestive of persistent drought in the Southwest.


Or that we are currently in the negative phase of the PDO, just as we were in the 1950’s. (Note that the 1930’s were in the positive PDO phase, which helped to ameliorate the 1930’s droughts in Texas – this was not the case further north, over the Great Plains and Mid West; there is a useful map of this here.)





Katharine Hayhoe must surely know all of this, that is what she is paid to do.

So why is she trying to convince the public otherwise?

Little Terns Are The Latest Climate Scare

April 14, 2014

By Paul Homewood


EDP 14-04-2014 (1)


More alarmist nonsense from the Eastern Daily Press, in East Anglia.

They are worried that little terns will be the next victim of “rising sea levels”. Just up the coast, we have one of the longer running tide gauges at North Shields, which shows sea levels have been steadily rising at 1.91mm/year since 1890. Somehow, the little terns have managed to survive all of this, and still breed along the Norfolk shore.


chart: Mean Sea Level Trend, 170-053 - North Shields, UK


Furthermore, the rate of sea level rise has actually been slowing since the middle of the 20thC.




And nearer to home, we have Felixstowe. Although this gauge only dates back to 1980, there no sign of any change at all in recent years.




Of course, whenever there is a bit of bad weather, wildlife will suffer, just as it has always done throughout history. Interestingly tough, the report mentions that “winter storms have brought increased areas of suitable shingle habitat”.

Wildlife has spent millions of years adapting to the ebbs and flows of nature. I am surprised that the RSPB don’t understand this.

By far the biggest danger facing little terns, which the article very briefly alludes to, is disturbance on beaches, caused by humans. It is a pity that was not made the theme of the report.