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New Hurricane Study Finds “No Obvious Trends”

January 10, 2020

By Paul Homewood


As study after study shows, real world data keeps telling us that global warming is not making hurricanes worse.

A new study by Roger Pielke Jr and Ryan Maue based on global landfall data since 1970 has confirmed this yet again:



In 2019 the three most costly catastrophes were the consequence of tropical cyclones, according to the reinsurance company Munich Re. Typhoons Hagibis and Faxai struck Japan, together causing more than $26 billion in losses and Typhoon Lekima caused more than $8 billion in losses across Asia.

Tropical cyclones, which are called hurricanes in the Atlantic and eastern Pacific between Hawaii and Mexico, are historically responsible for the greatest amount of damage among weather and climate related events. Understanding the behavior of tropical cyclones on planet earth is thus a priority among scientists, and includes attention to short-term forecasting and long-term climate trends.

The storms that cause the most risk to human life and property damage are those that that make landfall, technically defined as occurring when the eye of a tropical cyclone passes over the coastline. Storms with winds of at least 74 miles-per-hour (119 kilometers-per-hour) are classified as hurricane strength, and those with winds of 111 miles-per-hour (178 kilometers-per-hour) or greater are classified as major hurricane strength. Overall, on planet earth each year there are about 45 tropical cyclones that reach hurricane strength and about one third of those go on to make landfall. Of those 45 storms, about 25 storms reach major hurricane strength and 5 of them, on average, go on to make landfall.

Almost a decade ago we realized that the scientific community had never developed a historical time series of tropical cyclones that made landfall around the world. So along with Jessica Weinkle, today a professor at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington, we used datasets available around the world on tropical cyclones to create a historical record of storms of at least hurricane strength that make landfall. Last year we were asked by a group of scientists affiliated with the World Meteorological Organization to update our analysis.

Today we can share with you a preliminary further update, as part of our work in progress (Caveat Lector!) to develop a new and improved analysis of landfalling tropical cyclones. Our updated analysis is made possible by the data of the project on the International Best Track Archive for Climate Stewardship (Version 4). We are grateful to the governments that support this work and the scientists who conduct the analyses. Note that global data prior to 1985 has larger uncertainties, but landfalls that have occurred during the satellite era of observations are highly unlikely to have been missed. Even so, the further back in time, the greater the chances are that our figures are underestimates.

Comprehensive data on landfalling tropical cyclones in ocean basins around the world are available since 1970. Defining landfall can be tricky – for instance, sometimes storms come very close to a coast but do not actually make landfall and our methods do not include all small islands (and for the all of the specific and technical details of our methods, please see our paper).

The graph below shows 50 years of global landfalls of tropical cyclones of hurricane strength, based on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale use by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Landfall time series

Global tropical cyclone landfalls at hurricane strength 1970 to 2019

There are a lot of ups and downs in the data, but no obvious trends. Last year saw 17 total storms, with 7 making landfall as major hurricanes. Every landfalling hurricane poses significant risks to life and property, but the major hurricanes are responsible for the most damage. Of course, tropical cyclones, even those that never reach hurricane strength, can also create massive damage through heavy rains and flooding.

Full details here.

None of this will, of course, stop the usual suspects, from Michael Mann and Katharine Hayhoe to the BBC and David Attenborough, claiming the opposite.

  1. January 10, 2020 7:07 pm

    Reblogged this on WeatherAction News and commented:

    • Hugh Sharman permalink
      January 12, 2020 7:52 am

      What acidification?

      • dave permalink
        January 12, 2020 9:07 am

        “What acidification?”

        Future assumed acidification (if I recall correctly – I could not be bothered with it, even at the time).

        ‘What if the sky fell down?’ stuff.

      • January 12, 2020 9:54 am

        What global warming fuelled hurricanes.

  2. czechlist permalink
    January 11, 2020 1:36 am

    USN 1971 WESTPAC – mostly S China Sea – constantly avoiding typhoons. I recall Rose was especially bad and we couldn’t avoid her. “Rock me on the water”!
    I notice 1971 is the most active year on the chart
    What was the CO2 concentration that year ~350ppm?

  3. January 11, 2020 4:43 pm

    The only trend is for alarmists to shout ever louder whenever the occasional but inevitable Atlantic hurricane shows up.

    • dave permalink
      January 12, 2020 9:17 am

      Last year was a very poor one for the purveyors of hurricane porn, despite the ACE (Accumulated Cyclonic Energy) index being above average in the Atlantic basin. In fact, ACE was high precisely because so few hurricanes happened to make early land-fall. They ‘lived’ longer.

  4. January 13, 2020 10:19 am

    “New Hurricane Study Finds “No Obvious Trends”

    Why is the study restricted to Hurricanes?

  5. Bob Vislocky permalink
    January 13, 2020 4:31 pm

    Actually, the chart is quite deceiving the way it’s plotted with the gray bars added to the top of the black bars. The gray bars are for Cat 3+, so if you only plot those there is a significant increase in major landfalling hurricanes. Here’s the breakdown by decade:
    1970s = 38
    1980s = 41
    1990s = 55
    2000s = 58
    2010s = 60

    Since there’s no overall trend in the total # of hurricanes (cat 1-5), what’s happening is there’s a decrease of Cat 1&2 storms because some of those that form have been turning into major hurricanes more readily over time. Now some of that increase could probably be attributed to better measurement, sensing & detecting, but probably can’t explain all the increase away.

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