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Bill Nye Shown To Be Clueless (Again)

February 11, 2013

By Paul Homewood


Following his disastrous debate with Marc Morano on the Piers Morgan Show a couple of months ago, Bill Nye was wheeled out by MSNBC to explain the recent blizzards in New England.

And once again, he showed just how little he knows about climate matters. Jason Samenow, meteorologist with the Washington Post did not pull any punches,



To educate viewers on the science of the recent mega-blizzard that socked New England, MSNBC’s Craig Melvin brought onto his program noted “science guy” Bill Nye . What followed was the one of the most flawed discussions of meteorology I’ve ever seen on a national network.

In likening the blizzard and hurricane Sandy, Nye implies both storms originated off the coast from Africa, which is wrong. Sandy formed in the Caribbean (not from an African wave) and the blizzard formed off the Mid-Atlantic coast (from the merger of two North American disturbances).

Nye then draws an absurd comparison between East Coast storms and West Coast storms in an attempt to equate them.

“If you live on the West Coast … that same type of storm is called a Sou’wester,” Nye says. “If you go to the sailboat store you can get a Nor’easter hat in New England but it’s a Sou’wester hat in Seattle.”

Big problem: storms typically hit Seattle from the west not from the south. They don’t form off the Pacific coast of Los Angeles or San Francisco and charge northward. In my entire life, (until watching Nye’s comments) I had never heard the term “Sou’wester” used in reference to a West Coast storm (a google search reveals there is an apartment complex and a lodge with such a name in the region – but I couldn’t find a meteorological reference).

There is a good meteorological reason for the lack of “Sou’westers”: Whereas the warm Gulf Stream current creates a zone of temperature contrast that allows storms to form along the East Coast and move northward, there’s no equivalent current in the Pacific to steer storms up the West Coast. I challenge a reader to find a “Sou’wester hat” for sale…

Nye then makes a convoluted comment about spin in different parts of the storm that serves as a nonsensical transition into a discussion of climate change. The climate change discussion is somewhat more coherent than his early comments but overly simplistic.

Why MSNBC turned to Nye for weather wisdom is headscratching, considering it has access to a stable of competent meteorologists at the Weather Channel.

Nye has created some wonderful science educational programs for children, but a weather expert he is not.



As Samenow questions, why do the likes of MSNBC bother bringing Nye out to discuss these issues such as these. Could it be that none of the real experts are prepared to blame every bit of bad weather on global warming?

  1. John permalink
    February 11, 2013 8:38 pm

    Every huge rain and wind storm that I can remember is a Sou’wester, mostly tailspins of caribbean tropical storms arriving in the UK. I think the great storm of 1703 (that launched Daniel Defoe’s “blog”) and its little brother in 1987 came from that quadrant.
    The Dictionary does it best:
    “a waterproof hat with a wide piece at the back to protect the neck, worn especially by sailors•
    a southwester (= wind)”
    But this is the UK, please respond American West Coast?

  2. Ben permalink
    February 14, 2013 8:52 pm

    The term Nor’easter is used by New Englanders (whose accent is suggested in the spelling) to describe large storms positioned off the coast so that rotating winds come from the Northeast. There never was a reason for someone from New England to call any severe storm a Nor’easter. We live here! Nor was there any interest by people in other parts of the country in applying a name to a storm in the Northeast…until the advent of the Weather Channel and other national weather newcasts.

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