BBC’s Fake Claims About Hurricanes

By Paul Homewood


Another grossly misleading piece of propaganda from the BBC:



The past year has been a busy one for hurricanes.

There were 17 named storms in 2017, 10 hurricanes and six major hurricanes (category 3 or higher) – an above average year in each respect.

The 10 hurricanes formed consecutively, without weaker tropical storms interrupting the sequence.

The only other time this has been recorded was in 1893.

Are these storms getting worse? And does climate change have anything to do with it?


As usual with the BBC, it is what they omit that makes their report so dishonest.

Let’s look at some the claims:


1) This Atlantic hurricane season has been particularly bad.

There was Harvey, which pummelled the United States in August.

It brought the largest amount of rain on record from any tropical system – 1,539mm

It caused the sort of flooding you’d expect to see once every 500 years, causing $200bn of damage to Houston, Texas.

Ironically, this was the third such "one every 500 years" flood Houston had suffered in three years.


They conveniently ignore the fact that tropical storms like Harvey are actually very common in Texas.

For instance, Tropical Storm Amelia was far more intense than Harvey, dropping 48 inches of rain in just four days in 1978, rather than the six days Harvey was spread over.

During Tropical Storm Claudette the following year, an incredible 43 inches of rain fell on Alvin in Texas in just 24 hours, still a record for the US as a whole.

What made the rainfall, and subsequent flooding, so bad this year was that Harvey became stuck over Houston for six days, because of entirely natural meteorological reasons.

Claims about “500 year floods” are simply statistical nonsense.


2) September brought Irma, which devastated Caribbean communities. It was the joint second strongest Atlantic hurricane ever, with sustained winds of 185mph.

In fact there have been three other Atlantic hurricanes as powerful, or more so, just since 1980. Hurricane Allen was the strongest, with wind speeds of 190 mph in 1980. Gilbert and Wilma, in 1988 and 2005 respectively, also had speeds of 185 mph.

It is plainly evident from such statistics that there has been no trend towards stronger hurricanes since 1980, and that they occur every decade on average.


3) Next came Hurricane Maria – another category 5 hurricane, with sustained winds of 175mph – which destroyed Puerto Rico’s power grid.

Many hurricanes spin themselves out over the sea, and either do not make landfall at all, or do so at much reduced strength.

The fact that Maria hit the tiny island of Puerto Rico at full strength was simply bad luck.

Much more significant is the fact that the entire US had, until Harvey, gone a record 11 years 10 months without a major Atlantic hurricane making landfall.


4) Finally, Hurricane Ophelia span past Portugal and Spain – the farthest east any major Atlantic hurricane has ever gone.

The only evidence that Ophelia even reached Cat 3 came from one particular set of satellite data. Other satellite measurements suggested it never got stronger than a Cat 1.

But much more significant is the fact that such satellite measurements have only been available since the 1970s, and arguably not comprehensively so since even later.

We simply do not have the data to know whether major hurricanes followed Ophelia’s track in pre-satellite days.


5) Despite this, 2017 wasn’t the worst year in some key respects.

Nor did it have the greatest number of storms – that was 2005, which saw an incredible 28 named storms, including seven major hurricanes. One of them was the infamous Hurricane Katrina.

The reference to 2005 is probably the most dishonest statement of the lot.

Because of satellite monitoring, we now have the ability to spot storms in the middle of the Atlantic. Because of this, we can now identify many more shorter lasting storms. We therefore “name more”.

Equally, we can spot storms that reach major status for just a day or so, which we could not do in the past.


6) But 2017 was probably the costliest. Estimates for the cost of the hurricane season vary and continue to be revised, ranging up to $385bn.

This has nothing to with the severity of the weather, and simply reflects the much greater wealth, level of development and population nowadays, particularly in vulnerable areas.

There is certainly no doubt that many hurricanes in earlier decades caused far more damage and loss of life, than any this year.


7) It has certainly been a bad year. But over time, are hurricanes getting worse?

There have been 33 of the strongest category 5 hurricanes since 1924. Eleven of these have occurred in the past 14 years.

chart showing a dot for each category five hurricane since 1924.

Again, this ignores the fact that we now have the ability to constantly monitor storms in mid ocean, through the use of satellites.

Prior to the 1970s, we only had hurricane hunter aircraft, which did not provide full coverage. Prior to their introduction in the 1940s, there was no systematic observation at all.

Meteorologist Michael Mogil put this neatly into perspective:



Worse still, re-analysis work by NOAA’s leading hurricane scientist, Chris Landsea, shows that the strength of the many of the most powerful hurricanes would have been under estimated in the 1940s and 50s, because aircraft simply did not enter the centre of those hurricanes in those days.

So what we now call a Cat 5 storm would more than likely only register as a Cat 4 in those days.


To get a more meaningful perspective, we can look at NOAA’s analysis of major Atlantic hurricanes, which shows no trend since the 1950s.

This year, (not included in the graph), there have been six major hurricanes. Yet the record year was 1950, when there was eight.

Again, it needs to be pointed out that direct comparisons are not possible with pre-1950, because of observational practices.




The BBC report ends by saying:

 A warmer world is bringing us a greater number of hurricanes and a greater risk of a hurricane becoming the most powerful category 5.

But, as have seen, there is no evidence at all that either statement is correct.


December 31, 2017 at 10:57AM

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