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Graphs of the Day: Major US Hurricane Drought Continues

Roger Pielke, Jr.'s picture
Center for Science and Technology Policy Research at the University of Colorado at Boulder

Roger Pielke Jr. is a professor of environmental studies at the Center for Science and Technology Policy Research at the University of Colorado at Boulder. He also holds appointments as a...

  • Member since 2018
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  • Nov 28, 2013

Data here.

The US good luck with respect to hurricane landfalls — yes, good luck — continues. The graph below shows total US hurricane landfalls 1900 through 2013.

The five-year period ending 2013 has seen 2 hurricane landfalls. That is a record low since 1900. Two other five-year periods have seen 3 landfalls (years ending in 1984 and 1994). Prior to 1970 the fewest landfalls over a five-year period was 6. From 1940 to 1957, every 5-year period had more than 10 hurricane landfalls (1904-1920 was almost as active).

The red line in the graph above shows a decrease in the number of US landfalls of more than 25% since (which given variability, may just be an artifact and not reflecting a secular change). There is no evidence to support more or more intense US hurricanes. The data actually suggests much the opposite.

If you are interested in a global perspective, Ryan Maue keeps excellent data. Here is his latest graph on global ACE (accumulated cyclone energy, an overall measure of storm intensity).

To date 2013 is at 73% of the global average and the North Atlantic is at 30%. We’ll post up our updated data for global landfalls through 2013 before the end of the calendar year.

John NIchols's picture
John NIchols on Nov 28, 2013

I guess the Natural Resource Defense Council must be counting hurricanes using different metrics.  See below, and on this site, for more from these great thinkers.   The first rule of propaganda is to make a lie the ‘truth’, it must be repeated over, and over, and over, again.  


Tim Havel's picture
Tim Havel on Nov 28, 2013

Someone from Tacloban should really comment on this article; unfortunately they are going to be a bit preoccupied for the foreseeable future …

Stephen Nielsen's picture
Stephen Nielsen on Nov 30, 2013

Here is NOAA’s (unlike you or the NRDC, these are actual scientists) response to the question of how human caused global warming will affect hurricane activity.  Please feel free to point out the lie herein.  If you can not do so, shouldn’t readers question your integrity and desire to spread propaganda?

  • Anthropogenic warming by the end of the 21st century will likely cause hurricanes globally to be more intense on average (by 2 to 11% according to model projections for an IPCC A1B scenario). This change would imply an even larger percentage increase in the destructive potential per storm, assuming no reduction in storm size. 
  • There are better than even odds that anthropogenic warming over the next century will lead to an increase in the numbers of very intense hurricanes in some basins—an increase that would be substantially larger in percentage terms than the 2-11% increase in the average storm intensity. This increase in intense storm numbers is projected despite a likely decrease (or little change) in the global numbers of all tropical storms.


John NIchols's picture
John NIchols on Dec 2, 2013


   How about proof instead of probablilty? Models prove nothing. 

Stephen Nielsen's picture
Stephen Nielsen on Dec 2, 2013

This is a particularly silly argument. There is science behind models; meteorologist use models every single day –  are they never correct? Investment firms and businesses uses financial models every day – are they never successful?  There are literally millions of examples of the use of, and even dependence on, models in medicine, agriculture, engineering and just about any other industry or science one can think of. We would have never gone to the moon, won WWII, or built the Golden Gate Bridge were it not for mathematical modeling.

The type of absolute proof you want to require will, in fact, never exist

Roger Pielke, Jr.'s picture
Thank Roger for the Post!
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