Gulf Coast Hurricane Tracker

A single source reference on tropical weather predictions. With a traditional focus on the upper Texas and Louisiana Gulf Coast we've maintained links to track all Atlantic Basin, Caribbean and eastern Pacific storm systems. We are now expanding our view to tropical storms throughout the world intending to be a comprehensive global storm tracking resource.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

New director for National Hurricane Center

NOAA announced Friday, the appointment of Bill Read as the new director of the National Hurricane Center in Miami, FL. The attached articles covers Bill's vast experience and qualifications for this very important position.
“Bill has what it takes be the nation’s hurricane center director. He’s spent 30 years of his career as a weather professional with NOAA dedicated to protecting lives from severe weather, much of it hurricanes and tropical storms,” said retired Navy Vice Admiral Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “Bill has been a trusted consultant to emergency managers in and around Houston and I’m sure he will foster that type of goodwill in communities vulnerable to hurricanes. He will find the job as rewarding as it is demanding.”
I had the privilege of meeting Bill Read at the Hurricane Conference in Houston this past June. He was the director of the National Weather Service station here in League City at that time. One of a few hundred participants, I didn't want to take up his time. It was very obvious from our short interaction that he is very skilled at explaining the science behind these weather systems to those of us less skilled in the in the art.

Bill if you ever read this post, know that you have my congratulations and best wishes for success in Miami.

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Friday, January 25, 2008

Global Warming causes FEWER hurricanes

Hat Tip: Junk Science and Drudge Report

A new study by NOAA now indicates that the effects of global warming is actually resulting in fewer hurricanes in the Atlantic Basin. Warmer ocean waters are usually associated with an increase in the number of storms that develop into hurricanes and an increase in the intensity of those storms. Something that has not been discussed as much is that the same warmer waters also generates an increase in wind shear. So while the potential for a storm to increase in strength grows with warmer water temperatures, shearing winds also increase tearing those same storms apart.

A warming global ocean — influencing the winds that shear off the tops of developing storms — could mean fewer Atlantic hurricanes striking the United States according to new findings by NOAA climate scientists. Furthermore, the relative warming role of the Pacific, Indian and Atlantic oceans is important for determining Atlantic hurricane activity.

The article, to be published on January 23 in Geophysical Research Letters, uses observations to show that warming of global sea surface temperatures is associated with a secular, or sustained long-term increase, of vertical wind shear in the main development region for Atlantic hurricanes. The increased vertical wind shear coincides with a downward trend in U.S. landfalling hurricanes.

This helps to explain why for the past two years predictions for an active tropical season have fallen short with wind shear taking the blame for the lack of storm activity. In general, we have seen consistently warm sea surface temperatures over the past several years. Yet 2006 and 2007 were rather mild while 2004 and 2005 were terrible. I think it is accurate to say that the water temperature has been consistently warm through all four summers. So why was the storm activity so different?

The increase in wind shear explains this effect and was clearly seen this past summer when storms would form and then break apart just when they should have intensified.

In terms of hurricane strength, Wang notes, “The vertical wind shear is not the only factor affecting Atlantic hurricane activity, although it is an important one.” Other factors include atmospheric humidity, sea level pressure, and sea surface temperature.
Other factors include the amount of dust in the air (as we saw in 2006) influence of other low pressure systems and fronts especially as a storm approaches landfall, the multidecadal cycle and El Nino/La Nina patterns.

Those who point to the warming of the oceans as evidence that global warming will result in more stronger hurricanes are over simplifying the situation. As we have seen these past two years, such a comparison is not realistic.

This study shows that over a longer time period, a causal effect can be seen between wind shear and ocean temperatures.
Observations from 1854 to 2006 show a warming of sea surface temperature occurring almost everywhere over the global ocean, with large warming in tropical regions of the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian oceans. Warmer waters in the tropical Pacific, Indian and North Atlantic oceans produce opposite effects upon vertical wind shear; that is, warming in the tropical Pacific and Indian oceans increase vertical wind shear in the Atlantic hurricane main development region, while warming in the tropical North Atlantic decreases vertical wind shear. Overall, warming in the Pacific and Indian oceans is of greater impact and produces increased levels of vertical wind shear which suppresses Atlantic hurricane activity.
Warming of the oceans has apparently been occurring over the past 14 decades according to this data, yet the Atlantic hurricane activity has fluctuated many times from low activity to high and back again. This clearly shows that a direct link between global warming and hurricane activity is an oversimplification at best.

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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Hurricane proof house

Discovery Channel has launched a new program Wednesday nights at 10 pm Eastern (9 Central) called SMASH LAB. It follows Mythbusters and I recommend it highly. I saw the first episode last week and then I received this e-mail on behalf of the Discovery Channel a couple of days ago:

Hello, This isn't exactly hurricane tracking information, but definitely
hurricane RELATED information, that I think you'll find really interesting. I'm
not sure if you've heard of this new show on Discovery Channel called Smash Lab,
which takes everyday technology and applies it in revolutionary new ways to the
betterment of all society. Tomorrow, the Smash Lab team will be testing whether
a special type of carbon fiber used to reinforce tunnels can also be used to
hurricane-proof residential homes -- something that sounds right up your alley.
You'll see LOTS of hurricane-force winds blowing LOTS of things (and people) all
over the place. Check out this preview clip of tomorrow's episode, which airs on
Discovery Channel at 10pm ET/PT:

Last night's episode was "Hurricane Proof House" and will be repeated Saturday Jan 26 at 10 eastern, Sunday Jan 27 at 2 am EST and 10 am EST and once more at 9 pm January 28.

Well I was very impressed. Using a carbon fiber mesh, the Smash Lab team showed how a weak structure that can be blown apart with very little wind can be reinforced to withstand much stronger winds. The ultimate proof was when a common mobil home was able to hold against Category 4 winds and only gave way when the tie-down strap failed. It is very obvious on the trailer above and during the show that even though the trailer rolls away, it stays intact with very little real damage.
For more info and interactive features, you can also visit
The website also includes a link to full episodes. You have to download the movie player but once you do the player will deliver the programs in stunning quality without bufferring. Right now the first episode of Smash Lab is available. I suspect this episode will be available next week.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The eyeroll of the hurricane

Now the Chickens Little are saying the decline in hurricanes is because of global warming. Tada!

The global warming crowd is really getting Clintonian.

For years they have seized on every natural disaster as “proof” that man’s sin of materialism is causing an angry god to condemn us all to the fires of hell. Repent. Give up they SUV and don the sackcloth for these carbon-offset ashes.

Hurricane Katrina was hailed as a sign of the impending doom.

Then the hurricanes stopped.

I can't add anything to Mr. Don's post. It is well written as usual (hence why he is the professional and I'm not). Continue reading here as Don Surber once again exposes the hypocrisy of the global warming alarmists.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Buying Carbon Credits

Hat Tip:

In the spirit of being a good neighbor, I've decided to offer a needed service for all of the believers in human-caused global warming. That's right, step right up, folks, I'm going to be selling carbon credits to those who want to assuage their guilt about heating up the planet with their SUVs.

For those of you not familiar with carbon credits, people who don't want to cut back on their use of fossil fuels just pay someone else to cut back, much the same way you might pay someone to eat healthy foods for you so you can eat anything you want.

My gimmick is that I'm offering $100 carbon credits for only $89 each. If you buy carbon credits from Al Gore, you'll have to pay the full retail price. But if you send your money directly to me, you'll receive an official certificate for $100 in carbon credits for every $89 you send.
OK. Let's be honest here. I do not have the honor or the ethics of Mr. Fogle here. I will gladly accept any and all money you wish to send to me to offset your carbon footprint. I am a big proponent of air powered water transport and for every $5 you send me I'll gladly drink one beer thereby consuming the CO2 and eliminating it from the atmosphere. For $10 I'll drink the beer on the boat for double the benefit.

Anyone skilled in understanding the conversion of CO2 to methane need not apply.

Yes methane is a greenhouse gas but it has not yet been endorsed by the Democratic National Committee and therefore is exempt from regulation at this time.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Further Risks of Energy Saving Bulbs

An excellent expose on the dangers of energy saving bulbs was provided by Conservative Thoughts in "The Risks of Energy Saving Bulbs". There are real environmental issues that are being created in an attempt to chase this ghost of global warming. I really want to emphasize the dangers here. We are spending a lot of time on phony environmental issues and ignoring or creating real ones to satisfy the religion of global warming.

In another report on the environmental concerns surrounding these bulbs, World Net Daily publishes a report on the recommendation by the UK Environment Agency recommending that a room be vacated for 15 minutes whenever a CFL bulb breaks.

Users who break a bulb should vacate the room for at least 15 minutes, the new guidelines say. The debris should not be removed with a vacuum cleaner, which could put toxic dust into the air, but with rubber gloves. The broken glass and all residue is to be placed into a sealed plastic bag and taken to a local official recycling site for proper disposal.

"Because these light bulbs contain small amounts of mercury, they could cause a problem if disposed of in a normal bin," environmental scientist Dr David Spurgeon told the London Daily Mail.

"It is possible that the mercury could be released into the air or from land-fill when they are released into the wider environment. That is a concern, because mercury is a well-known toxic substance."

The Environmental Agency noted that neither warnings about the bulbs' toxicity nor directions for proper disposal is printed on any packaging.

Unfortunately, the UK is also phasing out incandescent light bulbs in a ridiculous attempt to stop CO2 emissions. I do not understand why these bulbs, which contain a known hazardous substance are being distributed to the general public with no warning labels or other instructions. We live in a society that feels it is necessary to point out that peanut butter actually CONTAINS: PEANUTS (source: Label Peter Pan Creamy Peanut Butter). Yet stores will sell mercury containing bulbs to an unsuspecting public with no warnings.

Also, does anyone reading this know where an appropriate recycling center is for these bulbs? I don't, other than the hazardous waste facilities used by the refineries and chemical companies for disposal of their hazardous wastes (at very high costs).

If these bulbs are so safe then why was it necessary in March 2007 for Brandy Bridges (of Prospect, Maine) daughter's room to be sealed off like a hazardous waste site?

So, last month, the Prospect, Maine, resident went out and bought two dozen CFLs and began installing them in her home. One broke. A month later, her daughter's bedroom remains sealed off with plastic like the site of a hazardous materials accident, while Bridges works on a way to pay off a $2,000 estimate by a company specializing in environmentally sound cleanups of the mercury inside the bulb.
There is a real environmental risk with these types of bulbs - albeit small on a single use basis. Low level exposure is not an issue, but repeated exposure can have serious effects. Mercury accumulates in the brain and repeated exposure will result in health issues even in your own home. This says nothing of the disaster that awaits when municipal landfills are closed due to hazardous waste pollution and set aside as a Superfund site.

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Friday, January 04, 2008

I'm back on the air

Gulf Coast Hurricane Tracker and Science Now were identified as SPAM Blogs today by Bloggers automatic systems - or was I flagged as having objectionable content? The process was rather impersonal and very little information was provided. Basically, you were flagged, if you are reading this and fill out the word verification form then you are not likely a spam blog but we need a human to look at your blog within 4 business days. In the meantime you cannot publish any new posts. I found out later that I can edit my posts and save them for posting later. If you do not respond within 20 days, then they delete the blog.

What I object to is the lack of information as to what prompted the action and no way available to contact anyone at Blogger. No e-mail address for technical support, no phone number, no contact information. This has been my complaint in the past when the systems we not working properly. No way to contact anyone for help. There are the forums but I do not feel that these are reliable. I even left a comment stating that if a human was reviewing this blog to please leave a comment or an e-mail letting me know what prompted this. No response.

It is interesting how there is no easy way to contact Blogger when you have a problem or a question. You get no messages when they fix something (although the news section on the dashboard page is an improvement). Yet if the computer robot detects something that it doesn't like then I immediately get an e-mail that my privileges are suspended pending review.

On thing I know for certain. Blogger is not customer oriented. Add some technical service capability and the ability to communicate directly with a service tech and mis understandings like these will not occur.

I look forward to (but do not expect) a reply comment from a Blogger technician.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Cold spell coming in a decade

A rather interesting take on climate change.

Earth is now at the peak of one of its passing warm spells. It started in the 17th century when there was no industrial influence on the climate to speak of and no such thing as the hothouse effect. The current warming is evidently a natural process and utterly independent of hothouse gases.

The real reasons for climate changes are uneven solar radiation, terrestrial precession (that is, axis gyration), instability of oceanic currents, regular salinity fluctuations of the Arctic Ocean surface waters, etc. There is another, principal reason—solar activity and luminosity. The greater they are the warmer is our climate.

An important point to keep in mind, the predicted upcoming ice age won't happen for another 100,000 years, yet noticeably colder weather will be here by 2012. If this theory is correct we will know within a few years and if global warming is correct we will also know in the same time frame. The global warming alarmists say we have 10 years before catastrophic global warming becomes irreversible. In half that time we may find out that all of the alarmism is nothing more than an elaborate hoax.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

More storms due to different (better?) naming philosophy

Dr. Neil Frank is the chief meteorologist at KHOU Channel 11 in Houston. He is also the former head of the National Hurricane Center. Local radio host and Houston City Council member Michael Berry interviewed Dr. Frank this evening on his show regarding his comments on how storms are being named now as compared to when he was at the Hurricane Center.
Though it might seem he is trying to upstage the hurricane center, his real intent, Frank said, is to dispute that global warming has led to more active Atlantic tropical storm seasons, as several meteorological studies have asserted. Over the past decade, Frank maintains, numerous systems were classified as tropical storms and hurricanes that probably didn't warrant that status.

Winnow out those systems from the annual lists, and present-day tropical weather may be no more intense than in the past, he says.

"The historical records are not adequate to determine if global warming has affected number and strength of tropical systems," he said.

The inflation in the number of named storms has come about, Frank says, because the hurricane center has adopted different — and, in his opinion, looser — guidelines on how storms are named.

Until the mid 1990s, the hurricane center relied on central barometric pressure as the primary yardstick of a storm's strength. The lower the pressure, the stronger a system. Storms with readings of 1005 millibars or higher were deemed too weak to be named, Frank said.

If that standard were in place now, four of 2007's storms, including Erin, Gabrielle, Ingrid and Melissa, would be disputable, he said. Two, Chantal and Jerry, would not have been named at all because both formed in the Atlantic well to the north of the tropical region, even though their central pressures were relatively low, he added.

Further, Hurricane Felix, designated a ferocious Category 5, would have been deemed "a strong Category 4," according to central pressure measurements, said Frank.

Then came a change in philosophy in 1996, Frank said. Forecasters started to place more emphasis on satellite imagery to calculate a storm's sustained winds. Yet Frank maintains the central pressure method of naming storms is more accurate because with satellite imagery, forecasters estimate winds based on their reading of cloud patterns.

While Frank's assertions may seem academic, they raise questions whether the hurricane center is too quick to give storms names. And the number of systems per year is important for historic records and spotting trends.
I think this is a critical difference in philosophy. Dr. Frank emphasized that the push to name storms based on wind speed alone was not political - i.e. there was no political pressure to change the approach - but rather internal. The Air Force measures a windspeed of say 45 MPH and wants to know why the storm isn't named. Yet this change automatically results in more storms being named at a time when global warming alarmists are specifying that more storms will be the result of CO2 emissions.

This is the very point I was making in my previous post. A cascade of increased number of named storms comes about partly as a result of naming the storms in a manner than results in more named storms.

Dr. Frank discussed, this evening, how when a plane measured a windspeed of 45 MPH, they would look at the pressure and if the pressure was high they would wait until the next flight to see if the winds were still as high. Now a plan will read 45 MPH, the storm would be named and the next day there would be no more measurable winds. This is because if the pressure does not drop to the necessary level then the winds are not maintained and the storm dissipates.

Dr. Chris Landsea attributes the increased number of named storms to better technology and therefore better naming of those storms that should be named.
"Things have changed since Neil Frank's era," said Chris Landsea, the center's science and operations officer. "I would agree with him that we're naming more now than we did then. But I would also argue we're naming them correctly. We just have more tools to do it correctly."

Among those tools: geostationary and polar orbiting satellites, which, in addition to providing detailed imagery, allow forecasters to pinpoint the strongest tropical-force winds as well the temperatures in the atmosphere around them, he said.

Hurricane hunter aircraft have been equipped with stepped frequency microwave radiometers, which provide an accurate reading of wind speeds near the ocean surface, he said.

Landsea said the hurricane center, which is in Miami-Dade County, uses strict guidelines to name storms. A system must have sustained surface winds of at least 39 mph, cannot be near a cold front to ensure it's a "tropical cyclone, not a winter one" and must have organized thunderstorm activity around its core.

"If it has all of those, we name it," he said.
Both scientists agree that global warming likely is not responsible for any increase in the number of storms.
Landsea said it's possible other eras and other years were just as active. He noted that in 2005 (with 28 named storms), 17 systems made landfall. In 1933, previously the most active season on record with 21 named systems, 19 made landfall.

"So if you just look at ones that made landfall, 1933 was busier," he said. "The years were probably fairly comparable in overall activity."
Where this really hits home is how the insurance company determines what insurance premiums should be.
Those trends, in turn, are factored into how insurance companies set premiums for homeowner coverage, Tom Zutell, spokesman for the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation, said. Specifically, trends are entered into computer models as one of the elements that determines rates, he said.

"That is one tool that insurance companies use," he said. "But it's not the only tool that they use to actuarially arrive at rates they need to pay clients."

So with an increase in the number of named storms due to a change in the philosophy in how storms are named including subtropical storms as we have seen before and after this past season, increased insurance premiums are almost a certainty due to the perceived increase in storms that correspond to the calls for cutbacks in CO2 emissions and claims of human induced global warming. Is this contributing to the cascade effect? I think so.

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Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Misinterpreting the Weather? Only by the alarmists

As one of the hereto mentioned "availability entrepreneurs", I think it is important that we look at the facts behind the arguments made in this NYT article.

I consider myself an "availability entrepreneur" based on the definition given in the article itself:
Today’s interpreters of the weather are what social scientists call availability entrepreneurs: the activists, journalists and publicity-savvy scientists who selectively monitor the globe looking for newsworthy evidence of a new form of sinfulness, burning fossil fuels.

Actually, I guess I am the anti-availability entrepreneur. I just thought I was a hobbyist. I have routed my understanding of the changes we are seeing in the climate to:
  • The articles I have read that show that any temperature variations are clearly within natural variation when the planet's entire history is considered.
  • Similar variations are being seen throughout the solar system where human influence is non existent.
  • The approach of the AGW crowd matches perfectly the liberal, socialist political agenda of redistributing wealth, maintaining a dependent sub-class of poor and disadvantaged societies.
  • The fact that the AGW crowd refuses to debate the issue intellectually and relies on computer projections while the the so-called skeptics are presenting actual data and are asking for legitimate debate.
I do not believe that global warming is or is not caused by human activities. I believe in God the Father, his Son Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints and the forgiveness of sins.

Global warming is not a belief system. The alarmists that are trying to drive public policy changes believe in man-made global warming and frequently point that out in both word and deed.

When judging risks, we often go wrong by using what’s called the availability heuristic: we gauge a danger according to how many examples of it are readily available in our minds. Thus we overestimate the odds of dying in a terrorist attack or a plane crash because we’ve seen such dramatic deaths so often on television; we underestimate the risks of dying from a stroke because we don’t have so many vivid images readily available.

Slow warming doesn’t make for memorable images on television or in people’s minds, so activists, journalists and scientists have looked to hurricanes, wild fires and starving polar bears instead. They have used these images to start an “availability cascade,” a term coined by Timur Kuran, a professor of economics and law at the University of Southern California, and Cass R. Sunstein, a law professor at the University of Chicago.

The availability cascade is a self-perpetuating process: the more attention a danger gets, the more worried people become, leading to more news coverage and more fear. Once the images of Sept. 11 made terrorism seem a major threat, the press and the police lavished attention on potential new attacks and supposed plots. After Three Mile Island and “The China Syndrome,” minor malfunctions at nuclear power plants suddenly became newsworthy.

“Many people concerned about climate change,” Dr. Sunstein says, “want to create an availability cascade by fixing an incident in people’s minds. Hurricane Katrina is just an early example; there will be others. I don’t doubt that climate change is real and that it presents a serious threat, but there’s a danger that any ‘consensus’ on particular events or specific findings is, in part, a cascade.”

Once a cascade is under way, it becomes tough to sort out risks because experts become reluctant to dispute the popular wisdom, and are ignored if they do. Now that the melting Arctic has become the symbol of global warming, there’s not much interest in hearing other explanations of why the ice is melting — or why the globe’s other pole isn’t melting, too.

So how does this belief in human caused global warming affect us directly? The cascade is already underway. Al Gore won his Nobel prize even though the instrument that justified his award was deemed to be misleading, politically motivated and full of scientific errors in a British court of law. The global warming conference in Mali was stuck in a stalemate until the US conference in Hawaii was threatened unless the US delegation capitulated to certain predetermined conclusions. The US Congress continues to debate caps in emissions of CO2 - the gas we exhale! - and indications are that President Bush could sign such a bill.

The cascade is moving. We have to be active to prevent this from becoming an out of control freight train. Real science, observational data and honest intellectual debate must be given an equal footing along with the computer projections. And if the models don't accurately predict the present then we cannot rely or even consider them to be realistic indicators of the future.

The religious fervor of the climate change alarmists is cause in itself for alarm. This is their god. This is their reason to be. They will use all means to protect the planet even if it results in the deaths or suffering of the people. Reduce the population. Conserve nature's resources. Heal Gaia's fever. The earth is suffering. All efforts must be to change the evils that human existence has caused, even if we didn't cause it. The message must be maintained. Evidence that does not conform to the message must be wrong.

Folks, we all have to be anti-availability entrepreneurs and prevent the perception of a problem from creating a bigger problem with bad policy and mis-guided laws.

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2010 Atlantic Hurricanes (courtesy of

NOAA Gulf of Mexico Radar (courtesy of

NOAA West Atlantic & Caribbean Radar (courtesy of

NOAA East Atlantic Radar (courtesy of