Monday, September 26, 2005

Stormy Weather – An Historical Analysis

Babs Streisand has declared a global warming emergency. Her evidence seems to be that two strong hurricanes have hit the United States in close succession. Drudge lists some of the other major hurricanes that have pummeled the United States without panicking our pop stars into calling for draconian environmental regulation, but how does this hurricane season compare to previous years?

The National Weather Service’s National Hurricane Center has compiled a list of all hurricanes that have made landfall on the United States since 1851. To quantify the hurricane severity of each year, I’ve summed up the category of each hurricane at the time it made landfall. For example, so far in 2005, we’ve had two category 3 hurricanes (Dennis and Rita) and one category 4 hurricane (Katrina) make landfall on the U. S. for a total score of 3+3+4=10. Here are the top 10 hurricane years based on this scale:

1. 1886 – 15 (2 cat 1; 3 cat 2; 1 cat 3; 1 cat 4)
2. 2004 – 14 (2 cat 1; 1 cat 2; 2 cat 3; 1 cat 4)
3. 1933 – 13 (2 cat 2; 3 cat 3)
1893 – 13 (1 cat 1; 1 cat 2; 2 cat 3; 1 cat 4)
5. 1909 – 12 (1 cat 1; 1 cat 2; 3 cat 3)
6. 1985 – 11 (3 cat 1; 1 cat 2; 2 cat 3)
1916 – 11 (3 cat 1; 1 cat 2; 2 cat 3)
8. 2005 – 10 (2 cat 3; 1 cat 4) so far, through Rita
1954 – 10 (2 cat 3; 1 cat 4)
10. 1964 – 9 (3 cat 2; 1 cat 3)
1926 – 9 (1 cat 2; 1 cat 3; 1 cat 4)
1915 – 9 (1 cat 1; 2 cat 4)

The last two years have indeed been active hurricane years. However, most climatologists attribute this to a normal hurricane cycle. This cycle can be observed in the following chart, where I add up the hurricane scores for each decade. The 2000’s are on pace to be the third most hurricaney decade, with a projected score of 47, behind the 1880’s (49) and the 1940’s (48). The least hurricaney decade was the (I assume) fossil fuel-free 1970’s (22).



Interesting aside: The longest period without a hurricane making landfall on the United States was during the Civil War, from November of 1861 to September 1865.

1 Comments:

Blogger Chad The Elder said...

Hurricaney? You really expect us to swallow that one?

3:48 PM  

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