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BBC’s Fake Claims About Hurricanes

December 31, 2017

By Paul Homewood


Another grossly misleading piece of propaganda from the BBC:



The past year has been a busy one for hurricanes.

There were 17 named storms in 2017, 10 hurricanes and six major hurricanes (category 3 or higher) – an above average year in each respect.

The 10 hurricanes formed consecutively, without weaker tropical storms interrupting the sequence.

The only other time this has been recorded was in 1893.

Are these storms getting worse? And does climate change have anything to do with it?


As usual with the BBC, it is what they omit that makes their report so dishonest.

Let’s look at some the claims:


1) This Atlantic hurricane season has been particularly bad.

There was Harvey, which pummelled the United States in August.

It brought the largest amount of rain on record from any tropical system – 1,539mm

It caused the sort of flooding you’d expect to see once every 500 years, causing $200bn of damage to Houston, Texas.

Ironically, this was the third such "one every 500 years" flood Houston had suffered in three years.


They conveniently ignore the fact that tropical storms like Harvey are actually very common in Texas.

For instance, Tropical Storm Amelia was far more intense than Harvey, dropping 48 inches of rain in just four days in 1978, rather than the six days Harvey was spread over.

During Tropical Storm Claudette the following year, an incredible 43 inches of rain fell on Alvin in Texas in just 24 hours, still a record for the US as a whole.

What made the rainfall, and subsequent flooding, so bad this year was that Harvey became stuck over Houston for six days, because of entirely natural meteorological reasons.

Claims about “500 year floods” are simply statistical nonsense.


2) September brought Irma, which devastated Caribbean communities. It was the joint second strongest Atlantic hurricane ever, with sustained winds of 185mph.

In fact there have been three other Atlantic hurricanes as powerful, or more so, just since 1980. Hurricane Allen was the strongest, with wind speeds of 190 mph in 1980. Gilbert and Wilma, in 1988 and 2005 respectively, also had speeds of 185 mph.

It is plainly evident from such statistics that there has been no trend towards stronger hurricanes since 1980, and that they occur every decade on average.


3) Next came Hurricane Maria – another category 5 hurricane, with sustained winds of 175mph – which destroyed Puerto Rico’s power grid.

Many hurricanes spin themselves out over the sea, and either do not make landfall at all, or do so at much reduced strength.

The fact that Maria hit the tiny island of Puerto Rico at full strength was simply bad luck.

Much more significant is the fact that the entire US had, until Harvey, gone a record 11 years 10 months without a major Atlantic hurricane making landfall.


4) Finally, Hurricane Ophelia span past Portugal and Spain – the farthest east any major Atlantic hurricane has ever gone.

The only evidence that Ophelia even reached Cat 3 came from one particular set of satellite data. Other satellite measurements suggested it never got stronger than a Cat 1.

But much more significant is the fact that such satellite measurements have only been available since the 1970s, and arguably not comprehensively so since even later.

We simply do not have the data to know whether major hurricanes followed Ophelia’s track in pre-satellite days.


5) Despite this, 2017 wasn’t the worst year in some key respects.

Nor did it have the greatest number of storms – that was 2005, which saw an incredible 28 named storms, including seven major hurricanes. One of them was the infamous Hurricane Katrina.

The reference to 2005 is probably the most dishonest statement of the lot.

Because of satellite monitoring, we now have the ability to spot storms in the middle of the Atlantic. Because of this, we can now identify many more shorter lasting storms. We therefore “name more”.

Equally, we can spot storms that reach major status for just a day or so, which we could not do in the past.


6) But 2017 was probably the costliest. Estimates for the cost of the hurricane season vary and continue to be revised, ranging up to $385bn.

This has nothing to with the severity of the weather, and simply reflects the much greater wealth, level of development and population nowadays, particularly in vulnerable areas.

There is certainly no doubt that many hurricanes in earlier decades caused far more damage and loss of life, than any this year.


7) It has certainly been a bad year. But over time, are hurricanes getting worse?

There have been 33 of the strongest category 5 hurricanes since 1924. Eleven of these have occurred in the past 14 years.

chart showing a dot for each category five hurricane since 1924.

Again, this ignores the fact that we now have the ability to constantly monitor storms in mid ocean, through the use of satellites.

Prior to the 1970s, we only had hurricane hunter aircraft, which did not provide full coverage. Prior to their introduction in the 1940s, there was no systematic observation at all.

Meteorologist Michael Mogil put this neatly into perspective:



Worse still, re-analysis work by NOAA’s leading hurricane scientist, Chris Landsea, shows that the strength of the many of the most powerful hurricanes would have been under estimated in the 1940s and 50s, because aircraft simply did not enter the centre of those hurricanes in those days.

So what we now call a Cat 5 storm would more than likely only register as a Cat 4 in those days.


To get a more meaningful perspective, we can look at NOAA’s analysis of major Atlantic hurricanes, which shows no trend since the 1950s.

This year, (not included in the graph), there have been six major hurricanes. Yet the record year was 1950, when there was eight.

Again, it needs to be pointed out that direct comparisons are not possible with pre-1950, because of observational practices.




The BBC report ends by saying:

 A warmer world is bringing us a greater number of hurricanes and a greater risk of a hurricane becoming the most powerful category 5.

But, as have seen, there is no evidence at all that either statement is correct.




For a full and objective analysis of hurricane trends, putting this year’s events into perspective, see here.

  1. Broadlands permalink
    December 31, 2017 5:08 pm

    From Wikipedia…

    Hurricane Sandy was not the first to hit New York: A 1938 storm ‘The Long Island Express’ pounded the Eastern Seaboard. The storm formed near the coast of Africa in September of the 1938 hurricane season, becoming a… Category 5… hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane scale before making landfall as a Category 3 hurricane on Long Island on September 21.
    Long Island was struck first, before New England, Vermont, New Hampshire and Quebec, earning the storm the nickname the ‘Long Island Express’. The winds reached up to 150 mph and had waves surging to around 25–35 feet high.[The destruction was immense and took a while to rebuild. The western side of the hurricane caused sustained tropical storm-force winds, high waves, and storm surge along much of the New Jersey coast. In Atlantic City the surge destroyed much of the boardwalk. Additionally, the surge inundated several coastal communities; Wildwood was under 3 feet (0.91 m) of water at the height of the storm. The maximum recorded wind gust was 70 m.p.h. at Sandy Hook.

    • David Richardson permalink
      December 31, 2017 6:59 pm

      Yes Broadlands and the Long Island Express killed 600 people. The folks up around Rhode Island commemorate that loss to this day.

      Storm Sandy was a very interesting meteorological happening – covered well at WUWT at the time. It was huge in diameter and just like an ice skater with their arms out cannot spin as fast. The resultant storm surge was close to being as big as they get, but that was due to the extra high spring tide. I believe that the Long Island Express had gust speeds almost “double” those of Sandy at landfall.

  2. dennisambler permalink
    December 31, 2017 5:41 pm

    Chris Fawkes bio:

    “Chris joined the Met Office in 2001 and is a fully qualified forecaster, having completed his Met Office forecaster qualifications in 2004.”

    Presumably that was the “breathe on a mirror” test.

    “Chris is also a big fan of skiing and looks forward to heading to the Alps during winter. Chris, along with colleagues John Hammond and Sarah Keith-Lucas, once skied in Surrey taking advantage of the huge snowfall that hit southern England during January 2010.”

    No doubt also due to global warming.

    How can weather forecasters not be aware the 1 in 500 event does not mean 1 every 500 years? Is it deliberate or simple ignorance? Is it not dealt with in the “forecaster qualifications” curriculum?

    1 in 500: for hurricanes read flooding:

    “Essentially, I think as hydrologists, we’ve done ourselves a disservice by calling it that. Essentially it’s a probabilistic measure. A lot of people think “OK, if I’ve had a 500 year flood now, this year, we’ve got 499 years. We don’t have to worry about it again.”

  3. December 31, 2017 5:45 pm

    Re: ‘In fact there have been three other Atlantic hurricanes as powerful, or more so, just since 1980. Hurricane Allen was the strongest, with wind speeds of 190 mph in 1980.’

    Chris Fawkes wrote: [2017] didn’t produce the strongest storm – that was Hurricane Allen in 1980, with sustained winds of 190 mph.

    These two statements seem to agree, so no fake claim there? I don’t doubt the article is, let’s say, ‘friendly’ towards the notion of warming, but didn’t see any specific claim of man-made contribution.

    • December 31, 2017 6:56 pm

      It was the claim that it was the joint second strongest Atlantic hurricane ever that was highly misleading, giving the impression that it must have been exceptional.

      Tell people it was just one of four since 1980 alone, and they will realise it was a fairly common event.

      And of course the claim that it was the second strongest “ever” is plainly deceitful.

    • December 31, 2017 6:59 pm

      And don’t forget this bit:

      A warmer world is bringing us a greater number of hurricanes and a greater risk of a hurricane becoming the most powerful category 5.

      • John F. Hultquist permalink
        December 31, 2017 7:48 pm

        “A warmer world . . .” is supposed to materialize about 2085 or so and cause all these things. Not now.
        The warming since the LIA has given us our current weather — meaning that which we now compare to.
        Chris Fawkes, and fellow travelers, are stupendously stupid.

      • December 31, 2017 7:58 pm

        Yes, that was a double assertion.

        Another point is that the maximum wind speed may not be the best metric for hurricanes anyway, although it’s one the public can easily relate to. Atmospheric pressure is probably a better one to use for intensity.

  4. December 31, 2017 5:52 pm

    Reblogged this on Climate Collections.

  5. TinyCO2 permalink
    December 31, 2017 6:06 pm

    The warmists’ favourite technique is lying by omission.

    • Gerry, England permalink
      December 31, 2017 7:32 pm

      As well as just plain lying.

  6. December 31, 2017 6:37 pm

    Costa Rica was a victim of Hurricane Porn this year, it just got a bit windy:

  7. December 31, 2017 7:22 pm

    Enter also the substitution of wind speed at altitude instead of wind FORCE at sea level, for instance on Mars supersonic gales blow in the Martian summer which would hardly move the hairs on your hand. It has allowed a Cat 3 to become 4 or more without the associated damage on the ground unless the eye of the storm hits a mega rich mans playground totally unprepared for the normal harsh storm weather in the area (hint: Bransons fantasy Island).then of course the BBC is on hand to woe is me the loss of the picturesque and totally unsuitable matchstick tourist trap buildings which came apart, but the poor locals are ignored in their well built buildings well above the shore(British Virgin Islands) when footage was insuffiicently bad, substituted the US virgin Islands which were shanty towns to begin with.The appeals entirely died a death when it was discovered hardly anybody was affected who was poor partly because of their own efforts every year in making sure their homes withstand a Hurricane, but largely because the Hurricanes were falsely reported as Cat 4-5 which would have killed everyone involved. People were walking to another building during the storm when thier roof blew off.

  8. Athelstan permalink
    December 31, 2017 7:41 pm

    The Wet office statistical analysis works thus; pick the bits which fit the conclusion, throw out the rest.

    It’s sounds a lot like the MO of the evil ghost of Penn State, and the will-o-the-wisp……….. the glowing hokey sticks of Mann.

  9. December 31, 2017 7:52 pm

    One should not overlook the Great Colonial Hurricane of 1635.
    “probably the strongest storm in New England’s history, struck on Aug. 25, 1635” The New England Historical Society.

  10. December 31, 2017 9:52 pm

    All those hundreds of BBC correspondents, reporters, broadcasters and other employees would have nothing to do if they weren’t producing fake news stories about the three main things they hate:
    1 Climate change caused by fossil fuels
    2 Brexit
    3 Donald Trump
    and the three main things they love:
    1 Renewable energy
    2 The EU
    3 Barrack Obama

  11. December 31, 2017 10:22 pm

    Twitter analysis
    He was on the BBC news progs 4 times today and 7 times yesterday

    He recently tweeted a photo of himself holding loo roll, with Trump’s face to wipe arse on

    and “Renewable energy now makes up nearly third of all electricity generated in UK”

    why would they delete what he wrote in 2013 ?

    • Athelstan permalink
      January 1, 2018 1:01 am

      “He recently tweeted a photo of himself holding loo roll, with Trump’s face to wipe arse on”

      I always thought of him (Mr. Fawkes) as a lightweight and rather shy boy with not much gumption but ultimately harmless, however – if the above is true and I have no reason to gainsay it. Alas then, if he ever could diminish, darken his leaden skies, its dull persona – indeed degrade himself, then clown put it up there in the ‘heavens’ for all to witness it.

      A lowly weather cutie…………male version – what is it about being on the telly albeit and thankfully briefly, and making ’em think that they sup with the Gods? Who are these children.

      • dave permalink
        January 1, 2018 11:29 am

        “Who are these children [?]”

        We know that. They are the spawn of Marxist Eschatology. That is to say, they are wistful wet dreamers of the world being (nearly) destroyed by Evil Capitalists, who will confess and beg for mercy at the end, but who will be drowned in the melted Arctic Sea (such a lesson for them!). That these babies are actually being ‘run’ by “Crony Capitalists” is an irony which is lost on them.

      • dave permalink
        January 1, 2018 12:33 pm

        “…melted Arctic Sea…”

        I suppose that should be ‘Ocean’ since that is what the maps show. However I have never thought that that word was proper, in as much as ‘Ocean’ is technically the Ancient Greeks’ name for an imagined stream encircling the whole of the land disc. ‘Sea’ (originally ‘sae’) is Old English for any expanse or sheet of water.

  12. December 31, 2017 10:24 pm

    #BiasedBBC 6.05am Sunday and already they are pouring out THEIR AGENDAS
    #1 Radio4 : Climate Doom : Voice of doom ‘At the start of 2017 great storms surged right across the planet, the power of nature… blah blah …the jury is still out on whether thus is man’s fault, but it’s difficult not to believe ….’
    .. Its the start of a religion prog ..they tone down
    but 10 mins later “2017 has been a year of Great Chaos across the world in the political world as well”

    At least in a balanced BBC, after Radio4’s climate alarmist at 6am, later in the day there’d been a skeptic polemicist like Quentin Letts or Delingpole
    … but no ‘that’s denier wrongspeak’ so banned by the BBC libmob.

  13. January 1, 2018 8:45 am

    Thank you for pointing out how hurricane detection methods have improved and hence the recorded increase in them. This such a basic fact to fire back at the likes of the BBC but sadly nobody doe or is given the chance.

    Happy New Year and keep up your great work on here..

  14. January 1, 2018 1:08 pm

    That last graph shows a decline in hurricanes during the warmer 80s and 90s.
    There are more hurricanes in the 50s and 60s which was a cooler period and more in the past 17 years since the ‘pause’ began around 2000.
    More storms are associated with cooler periods because the pole to equator temperature gradient becomes enhanced.

  15. January 1, 2018 1:49 pm

    Don’t forget the Great Galveston Hurricane which made landfall at Galveston, Texas on September 8, 1900 as a Category 4 with winds to 145 mph. Due to the lack of prediction ability which we now have, between 6 and 12,000 people were killed, making it the deadliest in US history, due to a 15 feet storm surge over relatively flat terrain.

    • RAH permalink
      January 1, 2018 6:08 pm

      That 12,000 included those killed by tornadoes and floods spawned by the storm even after it was no longer a hurricane. After that disaster the construction of a sea wall and raising of the land protect the island from another disaster like that. But now sand has built up high on the sea wall greatly reducing it’s effectiveness and there is still no protection from storm surge on the bay side. So Galveston is more vulnerable to a hit by a major now. I wonder if they will wait until the next disaster to do something about that?

  16. CheshireRed permalink
    January 1, 2018 9:10 pm

    Nice filleting. The difference between relentless BBC climate propaganda and Paul’s much more honest (not to mention accurate) appraisal is exactly indicative of why their credibility has collapsed. Lying by omission is absolutely a fundamental tactic. It’s why millions refuse point blank to pay their TV tax any more.

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