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Hurricane Ian

September 29, 2022

By Paul Homewood




A life-threatening hurricane has made landfall on Florida’s south-western coast, bringing heavy rain, high winds and catastrophic storm surges.

Hurricane Ian has sustained wind speeds up to 250km/h (155mph), just shy of the threshold for category five storms – the strongest classification.

Millions of Floridians with homes in Ian’s path are under evacuation orders.

Those who remained are facing one of the most dangerous storms to hit the US in decades.

More than one million Florida residents have lost power, after Ian knocked out power in all of Cuba.

According to the National Hurricane Center, Ian made landfall near Fort Myers with sustained winds of 150 mph and central pressure of 940 MB:




There is no doubt that it was a particularly catastrophic storm, but were wind speeds really 150 mph?

The first clue is that central pressure of 940 MB at landfall. The lowest pressure prior to landfall was 937 MB. As the chart below shows, it is unheard of for US landfall hurricanes of 940 MB to produce 150 mph (130 Kts)  winds:


Typically 940 MB storms have wind speeds of about 115 Kts.

The Galveston hurricane of 1915 had the same 940 MB pressure, but winds were estimated at 115 Kts. Hazel in 1954 was also 940 MB and had winds of 115 Kts too.

Two of of the most intense hurricanes to hit the US had much lower pressure than Ian, but were estimated at the time to have no stronger winds than Ian this week – Indianola in 1886 was measured at 925 MB, with estimated wind speeds of 130 Kts, the same as Ian, while the Great Miami hurricane in 1926 was 929 MB with wind speeds of 125 Kts.

Curiously the only other hurricane to buck this is Laura in 2020, with a central pressure of 939 MB and 130 Kt winds. Other than Laura, 130 Kt and over winds have not appeared in any storm with more than 934 MB pressure.

[I should point here that all of the numbers for central pressure and wind speed are at the time of landfall.]

It is significant that until the 1940s, wind speeds were always estimated from the central pressure, as there was no other way of measuring them, until satellites and hurricane hunter aircraft came along.


To be blunt, 130 Kt wind speeds are not consistent with 940 MB pressure.

And this is not the only evidence of inconsistency. Estimates of wind speeds from satellite data are largely based on the Digital Dvorak system, which measures temperatures within the cyclone.

According to the satellites, Ian only peaked at around 120 Kts at landfall. Indeed it briefly peaked higher on the 27th, when winds were estimated at 110 Kts. The red line represents the actual measurements, while the green line is the published number, in this case peaking at 135 Kts just prior to landfall:


In terms of central pressure, Ian is the 22nd most intense landfalling hurricane since 1851, suggesting it was in now way unusual:



Finally, Ian was the first major hurricane to hit the US this year, indeed the first hurricane to do so. The historical data shows clearly that there are no adverse trends in US hurricanes:


All hurricanes can be devastating.

But it is hard to avoid the conclusion, first with Laura and now with Ian, that wind speeds nowadays are being overestimated by at least 10 Kts.

Or to put it another way – if Ian really was a 130 Kt hurricane, many other hurricanes in the past have been grossly underestimated.

  1. Mikehig permalink
    September 29, 2022 6:25 pm

    There’s a thread on WUWT about this storm.
    Lots of info being aired about wind speeds from various sources: it’s hard to get a clear picture!

    • mikewaite permalink
      September 29, 2022 8:54 pm

      Yes, a very lively discussion there , given that many of the WUWT commenters are Florida based it seems and so have a personal interest. One of the points of debate seeemed to be about the 150mph figure that the BBC was talking about , and most people listening would assume this was a ground level figure- and therefore immensely destructive. But I got the impression that many of the commenters at WUWT were pointing out that this is a high altitude figure obtained from drones or by satellite and at ground level ( and at sea level where bouys can measure it ) the wind speed , apart from gusts, is much less , maybe only half. Well that is what I gathered from the debate there and whilst there is clearly considerable destruction in fort Myers , and flooding, there is not the wholesale sweeping away of property that would be consistent with a cat 5 hurricane.
      However Paul is closer than me to debates at wuwt so he can probably interpret the details far better.

  2. September 29, 2022 6:31 pm

    Does no one remember the tale of the “little boy who cried wolf”?

    • Richard Jarman permalink
      September 30, 2022 8:54 am

      Yesa, he got blown away by gusts of hysteria

    • Ben Vorlich permalink
      September 30, 2022 11:18 am

      To fit with the Climate Energency hype everything has to be extreme, starting with the forecast and then searching round for a location to get as close to the prediction as possible. ratherly does the actuality match the hype.

  3. C Lynch permalink
    September 29, 2022 6:33 pm

    What is clear is that it’s been a relatively quiet hurricane season which makes it all the more tempting for the usual suspects to be “economical with the truth” and catastrophise any hurricane that comes along in a desperate bid to maintain the narrative.

  4. September 29, 2022 6:51 pm

    Don’t usually comment on the Beeb but at least they did say it ‘made landfall’. According to the Telegraph it ‘slammed’.

    • Andrew Harding permalink
      September 29, 2022 7:05 pm

      This is the reason, I cancelled my Telegraph subscription after 36 years, I was sick of ‘bandwagon news coverage’, especially AGW. I was thinking of renewing it, thanks to John, I won’t be!

  5. Thomas Carr permalink
    September 29, 2022 6:57 pm

    I think that gusts of 155mph are verified with sustained winds of 135mph . Go to gCaptain or New York Times for info and some spectacular pictures and short recordings. Some us TV channels showed live measurements of wind speeds in windows on edges of main screen during news reports.

  6. John Hultquist permalink
    September 29, 2022 6:58 pm

    Of interest is where it came ashore and where it didn’t.
    USA NHC had it 125 miles farther north (wrong) and the European Center models did much better. The difference is important. Arguably more important than 10 Kts.
    Cliff Mass’ weather blog has info:

    I was in contact with a person with a view of Tampa Bay as H. Ian came and went. Officials wanted people to evacuate — they stayed. Where would you go, unless you left a week ahead and went to Paris? You wouldn’t want to spend 3 days in a car – in a traffic jam – with rain so thick you can’t see.

  7. John Hultquist permalink
    September 29, 2022 7:11 pm

    Where H. Ian came on shore:
    In 1930 Collier County FLA had a population of 2,883.
    As of the 2020 census, the population was 375,752,
    so, closing in on 400,000. There are many new expensive houses
    and people that have never experienced a hurricane of any strength.

  8. Harry Passfield permalink
    September 29, 2022 7:18 pm

    My Daughter’s in-laws have a second home in Cape Coral. They were planning to be there soon – from their other holiday home in Lanzarote(!!)….I wonder what they will find…
    Interesting thing: US homes in the area tend to have tarp roofs: made up of tiles cut from bitumastic fabric covering (that we would normally cover flat roofs with here). These roofs have, for insurance purposes, a 20-year life. A few months ago the in-laws were told their house insurance could not be renewed until they had the roof re-covered as it had hit the 20-year limit. He’s a tight s-d so I don’t know if he ever got round to getting the roof done and the insurance renewed before Ian struck…… There could be some blue language in his home (one of them, anyway) soon.

    • Harry Passfield permalink
      September 29, 2022 7:23 pm


      • Harry Passfield permalink
        September 29, 2022 7:40 pm

        Agghh…wrong! 🙂

  9. LeedsChris permalink
    September 29, 2022 7:43 pm

    Your analysis seems reasonable. The highest gust I can see listed for official weather stations in Florida is a gust of 108 knots yesterday (28th) at Punta Gorda airport. Elsewhere only one other stations reported a gust of 80 knots or more. Today (29th) maximum gusts were around 60 knots.

  10. Devoncamel permalink
    September 29, 2022 8:08 pm

    H Ian was mentioned on Talk TV news today. The announcer described it as one of the most powerful storms in US history.
    Quite a claim, but of course without any context or explanation.

  11. September 29, 2022 8:39 pm

    I agree that the US Hurricane center runs a real risk of making every one too severe. I watched Irma disappear before it reached Fort Myers in 2017.
    However Ian was different. They got the landfall wrong as usual, it was clear hours before it was going to hit Sanibel first and then Cape Coral/Fort Myers, rather than Punta Gorda or Port Charlotte nevermind Tampa.
    But if they got the windspeed wrong, the real destruction brought by Ian was the water surge. Cape Coral has 400 miles of canals with single storey housing, 300k inhabitants mostly stayed put, and 12 ft plus surge.
    How many pictures have emerged from the Cape? No power or internet at all. I used to own a house there and know people. I pray its not disaster.

  12. Gamecock permalink
    September 29, 2022 10:16 pm

    Yesterday evening, the Weather Channel reported 18 ft storm surge in Fort Myers, then cut to their reporter there, standing on the waterfront patio of a hotel . . . wait . . . why isn’t he under water?

  13. Gamecock permalink
    September 29, 2022 10:29 pm

    We’ve had strong winds here in SC all day, gusting over 30 mph. Sposed to get heavy rain here tomorrow, up to 3 inches, and wind over 30.

    Latest forecast cone now shows it passing east of here Saturday morning. Always better to be in the left quadrant than the right quadrant. Looks like it’s going to pick up ground speed tomorrow, which is a good thing. The faster it moves thru, the less rain it will drop.

  14. September 30, 2022 8:43 am

    NOAA official to Lemon: No, “climate change” is not responsible for Hurricane Ian
    8:31 AM on September 28, 2022
    – – –
    From the NOAA link in the post:
    ‘Data from an Air Force Reserve reconnaissance aircraft indicate that Ian’s maximum sustained winds were estimated to be near 150 mph (240 km/h).’

    But *estimated to be near* from an aircraft is treated as a 150 mph fact by the media. And what justifies the ‘sustained’ tag when the measurements are from a moving object?

  15. AC Osborn permalink
    September 30, 2022 9:23 am

    The wind damage being shown is also inconsistent with a Cat 4 Hurricane let alone a Cat 5.
    Read the descriptions of thewind damage caused and look at photos of old Cat 4 & 5 hurricanes. A lot of the damage from Ian was caused by the storm surge and heavy rainfall.

    Both NewSchool Earth and Ventusky showed wind speeeds of 120-130 Kph not Miles per hour.

  16. Phoenix44 permalink
    September 30, 2022 9:46 am

    Yet the photo clearly shows people enjoying themselves. Just lies as usual.

  17. September 30, 2022 10:36 am

    Instant ‘study’ time…

    Study finds that climate change added 10% to Ian’s rainfall

    • Gamecock permalink
      September 30, 2022 6:10 pm

      One wonders how they measured the rainfall.

      Which is still falling at Gamecock’s house.

  18. Gamecock permalink
    September 30, 2022 11:17 am

    ‘Thursday’s research, which is not peer-reviewed, compared peak rainfall rates during the real storm to about 20 different computer scenarios of a model with Hurricane Ian’s characteristics slamming into the Sunshine State in a world with no human-caused climate change.’

    Now there’s some hard core science! will print anything.

  19. It doesn't add up... permalink
    September 30, 2022 11:28 am

    The Low Carbon Contracts Company has added Allocation Round 4 CFDs to its database. It has simply recorded the strike price in 2012 money rather than updating it for indexation. Detail available here

    Perhaps they will update when the next inflation ratchet is applied next April, which will be a big one. Hopefully sooner.

    Click to access Strike%20Price%20Adjustment%20guide%20final%20JR.pdf

  20. Stuart Hamish permalink
    September 30, 2022 11:47 am

    Neither Tony Heller nor Paul – for some enigmatic reason – have published Bjorn Lomborgs Accumulated Cyclone Energy and Number of Strong Cyclones bar graphed series . 24 of the 41 ACE years to 2021 were lower or cusping the four decade average . 2021 was the 9th weakest ACE year of the entire series . Globally hurricanes are not intensifying nor are Cat -3 -5 hurricanes increasing …….

    If once cares to closely analyse the US Landfalling Hurricanes chronology , the timespan 1954 – 2004 is the longest stretch of the chart , apart from the 2 in 1985 , where zero or merely one Cat 3- 5 hurricane struck the continental United States . Then there is the 2006 – 2017 Cat 3- 5 US landfall hurricane hiatus which is the longest quiescent period of the the series since 1861 – 69 ….Regardless of the global or United States perspective , the declining number of powerful hurricanes is hard to reconcile with extravagant claims of worsening super- storms blamed on global warming

  21. Tim Spence permalink
    September 30, 2022 11:49 am

    I was in Cuba a few weeks after Hurricane Matthew in 2016. When I got to Baracoa barely a house still had a roof but the palm trees were in a terrible state, most of them had all their leaves completely stripped off, something I haven’t seen yet in the images from Florida. Matthew took a similar path hitting Florida after Cuba.

  22. Athelstan permalink
    September 30, 2022 11:53 am

    Of course there will be fatalities, we hope very much – not that many. No doubt it was a big un and moving North now. Damage will be big but people insist on living by the sea in Hurricane prone areas, indeed you make your bed. The good news, the US can do damage repair, Florida endures.

    Hurricane season has been flat thus far, lets hope after this one Ian – it blows fair until November.

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      September 30, 2022 5:41 pm

      A bit like Hurricane Harvey which dumped up to 5ft of rain on the Houston area because it stalled after landfall. Highest rainfall total for Ian I have seen reported to date is a more humble 17″, described by NOAA as a 1 in 1,000 year event. Somehow I don’t think so.

      • It doesn't add up... permalink
        September 30, 2022 5:42 pm

        Should have been a reply to Joan Gibson.

  23. September 30, 2022 12:52 pm

    The wind speeds were very high and very sustained. Unlike most hurricanes, this one was very slow moving, thus the winds and rain dumps were prolonged in any area. It also pushed a large storm surge onshore. Now that it has worked its way northward and eastward, the winds are actually helping to keep the surge from coming ashore.

    I watched segments of news conferences with Governor Ron DeSantis yesterday. They had placed resources strategically around the state and ready to go once the storm abated enough to make it safe. The Governor and First Lady were going around yesterday looking at the situation. She had begin a fund yesterday morning which will go to the actual people who need it….it had reached almost $2 million yesterday afternoon. DeSantis has done a masterful job marshalling and organizing resources needed, both in preparation for and following.

    Electric companies from many states had teams there ready to restore power as soon as possible. DeSantis said when they were travelling north at one point, the southbound lane was full of power company trucks. The United Cajun Navy had arrived from Louisiana and was strategically placed ready to go in w/ their boats as soon as it was safe. They coordinate with the local officials. You might remember them from the Texas floods a few years ago. They are all volunteers w/ boats and resources to help. When DeSantis was assured they were on the way before the storm came ashore, he expressed his gratitude for them and what they can do.

    There was a report from Lee County sheriff about 1oo’s of deaths. However, that was based on the number of calls from people wanting help and not actual deaths. The big takeaway from Hurricane Ian is that it did have exceptionally high winds and moisture AND because it was so slow moving, the winds and rain were sustained for long periods of time as it crossed. That is unusual.

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