It’s been nearly a decade since a major hurricane has made landfall in the U.S., but that hasn’t stopped President Barack Obama from claiming that more global warming-induced “extreme weather” will pummel Americans every year.
Obama is set to tour the National Hurricane Center Thursday where he is expected to mention that man-made global warming will increase the risks of major hurricanes hitting the U.S. and costing causing billions of dollars in damages. Obama has frequently claimed that hurricanes and other weather events will get more severe as humans emit more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
But the facts aren’t on the president’s side when it comes to hurricanes. NHC experts will likely report to Obama Thursday they expect a relatively weak hurricane season this year, possibly continuing the U.S. “hurricane drought” even longer.
It’s been 3,503 days since a Category 3 or greater hurricane has made landfall in the U.S., according to storm data. The last major hurricane to make landfall in the U.S. was in 2005 when Hurricane Wilma hit Florida. Experts have dubbed this nine-year and seven-month period as a “hurricane drought.”
The lack of major hurricanes hitting the U.S. in the last decade has baffled scientists, and some have attributed the hurricane “drought” to dumb luck. A recent study by NASA found that the U.S. has just been lucky this past decade when it comes to major hurricanes.
“When we looked qualitatively at the nine-year drought, they aren’t inactive seasons,” lead author Timothy Hall with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies said in a statement. “I don’t believe there is a major regime shift that’s protecting the U.S.”
So far, the consensus among scientists is that global warming will cause fewer hurricanes, some of which will be made more intense as humans increase carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere. But even that’s been elusive so far as major storms seem to be bypassing the U.S.
The National Interagency Coordination Center reported that the “2014 Atlantic Hurricane season was the least active in twenty years with only eight named storms in the Atlantic basin.” NICC noted that no named storms made landfall in the U.S., but one tropical storm did hit Hawaii in August 2014.
For 2013, the National Hurricane Center reported there were “THERE WERE NO MAJOR HURRICANES IN THE NORTH ATLANTIC BASIN FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE 1994” and that “THE NUMBER OF HURRICANES THIS YEAR WAS THE LOWEST SINCE 1982.” (Capitalization in the original).
Despite this, Obama staffers keep arguing that global warming will endanger more Americans living on the coasts as storms get more severe.
“Even if climate change were not a factor, the president would be urging people to be vigilant,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters on a conference call. “But what the preponderance of scientific evidence tells us is that climate change is having an impact on more violent and more frequent storms.”
But Earnest’s claim the science is on his side may be premature. Hurricane expert Dr. Ryan Maue has data showing that globally hurricane numbers are way down from where they were in the 1970s as well as where they were in the 1990s.
Weather forecasters predict that this year’s hurricane season will be “below normal” with “a 70 percent likelihood of 6 to 11 named storms… of which 3 to 6 could become hurricanes… including zero to 2 major hurricanes,” according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
“While a below-normal season is likely (70 percent), there is also a 20 percent chance of a near-normal season, and a 10 percent chance of an above-normal season,” NOAA reported, adding that the presence of a weak El Niño this year could intensify storms.
“”he main factor expected to suppress the hurricane season this year is El Niño, which is already affecting wind and pressure patterns, and is forecast to last through the hurricane season,” Dr. Gerry Bell, the lead hurricane forecaster at NOAA said in a statement.
“El Niño may also intensify as the season progresses, and is expected to have its greatest influence during the peak months of the season,” Bell said. “We also expect sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic to be close to normal, whereas warmer waters would have supported storm development.”
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