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Heidi’s Weather On Steroids

May 27, 2013



WUWT ran a post yesterday about CBS’s Face The Nation programme, which featured extreme weather/climate change the other day.

Unfortunately, the programme seemed to be pretty much a fact free zone. The tone was set at the start by the presenter, Bob Schieffer:-

“Doctor Shepherd, I want to start with you because we’ve had floods. We’ve had droughts. We’ve had tornadoes. We’ve had superstorms. It’s cold when it ought to be warm and it’s warm when it is supposed to be cold. I guess, you know, if it starts raining frogs that’s probably the only thing we haven’t had so far. What is happening? Is this something different? Is this just a cycle? What’s going on here?”

Dr Marshall Shepherd just happens to be President of the American Meteorological Society, so you would have thought he would have calmly and cogently presented the facts, but that was apparently too much to expect. Instead he waffled for a bit about climate change, while admitting that “I think it’s a bit premature to say that there is a definitive link between that Moore tornado last week and– and– and climate change. But I think more research is needed there.”

More research? What on earth does he think the tornado experts at NOAA have been doing for the last 40 years?

As the good doctor seemed to be reluctant to give the audience the facts, perhaps I should.



I have dealt with this on several occasions before, for instance here and here.

But to summarise:-


1) Tornado numbers have been decreasing since the 1970’s.




2) Strong tornadoes have also become less frequent.




3) Global temperatures last year were lower than the average for the previous ten years, while last month was the 3rd coldest April this century.


4) The US has just had the coldest March/April since 1996, and Oklahoma’s is the coldest since 1983.





5) Gulf SST’s were also colder than normal in April.




6) On the morning of the Moore tornado,  NOAA warned of “Cold, dry air sweeping down from Canada mixing with warm, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico and Pacific Ocean are merging in the U.S. Plains today, creating conditions for some very turbulent weather. “

Warm moist air is common at this time of year, cold air is not.




7) Despite the warm Spring last year, tornado numbers were close to record lows.


8) It is an unfortunate fact that EF-5 tornadoes strike on average about once a year. Since 1950, there have been 59 recorded.


9) Up to 25th May, tornado numbers are running at the lowest level seen for the last seven years.





Precipitation last year, though lower than average, was not abnormally low, ranking 15th driest since 1895, and annual trends are increasing.




While the PMDI shows that last year was not unusual in the historical context, and the trend is to reduced drought.




And NOAA’s experts 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. Florida and the Pacific Northwest tend to be the opposite – warm AMO, more rainfall.

(We have, of course, been in the warm phase since the mid 1990’s)



It’s strange that Shepherd forgot to mention the US Geological Survey’s report from 2011, “Have Floods Changed with Increasing CO2 Levels?”

They found:-

Only one of four large regions of the United States showed a significant relationship between carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere and the size of floods over the last 100 years. This was in the southwestern region, where floods have become smaller as CO2 has increased.

They add:-

Of course, human activities within the watershed can also have a major influence in the size of floods. These include urbanization, building of dams and levees, and shifts in vegetation types and drainage of soils and wetlands. At the present time, we see much larger changes in flooding from these causes than we can see from greenhouse forcing.



Storms and Hurricanes

According to NOAA’s Climate Extremes Index,  the long term trend for landfalling tropical systems is at a record low.




As for all all Atlantic storms, landfalling or not, NOAA’s Chris Landsea explains, in his paper “On the Classification of Extreme Atlantic Hurricanes Utilizing Mid-Twentieth-Century Monitoring Capabilities” , how it is impossible to draw long term comparisons, because of changes in the way we observe them:-


It is found that likely only 2 of these 10 [The ten most recent Cat 5 hurricanes] both Category 5 landfalling hurricanes—would have been recorded as Category 5 hurricanes if they had occurred during the late-1940s period. The results suggest that intensity estimates for extreme tropical cyclones prior to the satellite era are unreliable for trend and variability analysis.

The analyses indicate that all of the hurricanes in the study that did not reach Category 5 strength would have been classified as a Category 4. The reader is reminded that the methodology employed is somewhat conservative. For example, many times during the late 1940s the aircraft often did not penetrate the center of hurricanes with central pressures in the 950s or even the 960s. If this criteria of, say, a 960-mb threshold were utilized, many of these cyclones would have been listed with a peak intensity of only Category 3 strength.

During recent years, there have been a number of Category 4 hurricanes that might have only been classified as weak hurricanes or even tropical storms if they had taken place at the same location during the late 1940s and early 1950s.


Cold Spring

And “cold when it should be warm”?

It appears that, so far this Spring, US temperatures are back to where they used to be, in the good ole days, before we had global warming!




Heidi’s Steroids

Heidi Cullen, who was also on the show, wittered on that “when it comes to things like heat waves, when it comes to things like heavy rainstorms, drought, wildfires, we know that, you know, the– the atmosphere is on steroids”


We don’t really expect any better from her, but it is sad when you cannot get the straight facts from the President of the AMS.




Anthony has the full transcript here.

  1. Joseph Bastardi permalink
    May 27, 2013 3:01 pm

    could you please explain to your readers, given co2s radiative properties, how mans contribution which is 5% or 20 ppm and the US being 20% of that 4 ppm has the effect on climate it does when water vapors contribution to the greenhouse gasses if FIVE HUNDRED times that of man and 1000 times that of the US. The figures of 5% being from man are from the Department of Energy not a right wing think tank. And while you are at it, given there are no trapping hot spots, no change in incoming and outgoing radiation and the oceans have 1000 times the heat capacity of the air, of which again man has causes on ly 20 ppm how are we causing all this. Suggested reading for you

    People are starving in the streets of this country, partly because of policies you advocate that handcuff our nation. Over 4 ppm of co2. The obvious disconnect and excuses have cost this country 17 years as we fight over an agenda driven issue designed to control people, rather than letting them be free enough to have a chance at life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. In the meantime, you basically are advocating policy, where the US, responsible for 4ppm of co2 is handcuffed and shackled by scam science. Tell you what Dr Cullen, when you get out there and forecast every day with something on the line, then maybe I will listen to you when you tell me things that were forecasted years ago by guys like Bill Gray. But first like Dr Gray, you have to be right. not make up excuses for the obvious busts

    since pdo flip

    Obvious disconnect

    Since I publicly forecasted the downturn and gave reasons for it you need to a) tell me why we heard nothing like that from you b) why you didnt see it and c) when is it going to catch up to the doom and gloom projections the models you wish us to base policy on. I want 5, 10,15,20 year increments, based on satellite data, and my forecast stands.. by 2030, temps return to where they were at the start of the satellite era, 1978, before people could start rewriting history about what went on before

    • miked1947 permalink
      May 29, 2013 6:57 pm

      I hope you are not referring to Paul with those comments! He is well aware of what has been going on and is part of the solution of promoting better understanding of weather/ climate history.

  2. John F. Hultquist permalink
    May 27, 2013 4:27 pm

    Well done. A very nice summary of many relevant materials. I did not see the program but from what has been written about it I wonder about the intentions and expertise at CBS and specifically Schieffer and crew. Someone must have suggested this topic to them – unless it is one of Schieffer’s personal issues. Cannot a CBS crew find the same sort of information you have presented? They could have presented such graphs and asked Cullen and Shepherd to explain why the facts do not support their views. That would have made for an interesting program. Then CBS could have shown the b/w movie clip of Richard Feynman explaining how science is supposed to work.

    Someone {not me} with video/digital skills could take parts of the program and insert graphs and commentary as appropriate. Would “fair use” allow the CBS footage to be augmented in such a manner?

    Nice photo of global warming here:

  3. tckev permalink
    May 28, 2013 3:50 am

    I note that a lot of satellite imagery and data is used in your piece. The satellite GEOS 13 has died so the hurricanes, tropical storms, named windy squalls and nearly serious Atlantic gusts will be harder to see this year (or until they get GEOS 15 working in its place.)

    They might even resort to using a foreign one.

  4. Psalmon permalink
    May 29, 2013 4:39 am

    Way too many facts!

    The crowd they are preaching to can’t spell graff, grapf, grafh, gragh, no graph, let alone interpret one.

    It’s all about the propaganda, the headlines, the 97% claims, the “model’s indicate”, “a new study shows”.

    They make their wild claims, headlines, with no accountability, while they adjust and delete the raw data, and wait for a heat wave or disaster or one of any of their predictions to come true. Even if their model predictions are worse than random odds, they’ll eventually be right some of the time. You can’t win.

    I agree with JB, force them to stand by their predictions and reasoning, force accountability.

    I suggest hereforward a climate scientist scorecard, make that the standard that everyone refers to. The players are not THAT numerous to track, on all sides. Make a prediction, headline, log the drivers, track. Based on results then everyone gets scored. Then all SCIENTISTS are not equal. It’s ok to be wrong, but not constantly, for bad reasons. Even better, this is something that could be done retroactively, without violating the hindcast principle. You publish a 97% paper that BS, it should count. You appear on FtN and claim heat drives tornadoes, especially at night, it should count.

    Bring on the SciCard.

  5. higley7 permalink
    June 4, 2013 2:51 pm

    “We’ve had superstorms.”


    This is blatant media hype. Sandy was a subtropical storm that failed to make hurricane status. They created “superstore” out of nothing because they wanted it to appear really bad. IT’S A LIE.

    Just because a storm hit a pathetically unprepared, lazy part of the coast, and their property got destroyed, does not make the storm any more than it was or even unusual. That area has been hit repeatedly over the years.


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