Over the weekend Google news heavily promoted a story on CNN, titled “How the climate crisis is changing hurricanes,” which claimed human-caused climate change is making hurricanes worse.
This is false.
Real-world data shows during the recent period of modest warming, hurricanes have neither become more frequent nor more severe.
“In the same week that Tropical Storm Fred caused catastrophic flooding in North Carolina, and Hurricane Grace made its second landfall in Mexico, Hurricane Henri is barreling toward New England, where it’s expected to be the first to make landfall there in 30 years,” writes CNN.
This is yet another example where climate alarmists in the mainstream media are following former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel’s admonishment to Democratic Party leaders to “never let a crisis go to waste.”
In fact, although Henri (pictured) briefly attained Hurricane 1 level strength over the Atlantic Ocean for less than 24 hours, by the time it made landfall in New England, it was a diminishing tropical storm.
The last hurricane to strike New England was Bob in 1991, 30 years ago. As a result, at present and despite modest warming, New England is currently experiencing the second-longest period in recorded history without a hurricane making landfall in the region.
“Hurricanes — also called tropical cyclones or typhoons outside North America — are enormous heat engines of wind and rain that feed on warm ocean water and moist air. And scientists say the climate crisis is making them more potent,” continued CNN.
“The proportion of high-intensity hurricanes has increased due to warmer global temperatures, according to a UN climate report released earlier this month. Scientists have also found that the storms are more likely to stall and lead to devastating rainfall and they last longer after making landfall.”
Data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Hurricane Center (NHC) show hurricanes have neither become more numerous or more powerful during the past half-century of modest warming.
EPA’s May 2021 report, titled “Climate Change Indicators: Tropical Cyclone Activity,” reported:
“Since 1878, about six to seven hurricanes have formed in the North Atlantic every year. Roughly two per year make landfall in the United States. The total number of hurricanes (particularly after being adjusted for improvements in observation methods) and the number reaching the United States do not indicate a clear overall trend since 1878.”
EPA’s conclusion that hurricanes have not become more numerous in recent years is unsurprising because the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2018 interim report came to essentially the same conclusion.
As illustrated in figure 1 below, IPCC data demonstrates no increasing trend in tropical cyclones or hurricane numbers.
NHC data indicate hurricane impacts on the United States are at an all-time low. The United States recently went more than a decade, 2005 through 2017, without experiencing a major hurricane measuring Category 3 or higher, making landfall—the longest such period in recorded history.