For example, two major hurricane strikes endured by the Massachusetts Bay Colony, in 1635 and in 1675, have yet to be rivaled in more modern times. Major hurricane Maria, now approaching Dominica and Guadeloupe, is probably no match for the Great Hurricane of 1780 in the Caribbean, which had estimated winds of 200 mph and killed 20,000 people.
I also address the reasons why Hurricane Harvey and its flooding cannot be blamed on climate change. Regarding Hurricane Irma which recently terrorized Florida, you might be surprised to learn that it is consistent with a downward trend in both the number and intensity of landfalling major Florida hurricanes:
But what has changed is the number of people and amount of infrastructure at risk along the Altantic and Gulf of Mexico coastlines. Before 1900, there were virtually no people residing in Florida. Now its population exceeds 20 million. Miami was incorporated in 1896…with only 300 people. Even if there is no long term change in hurricane activity, hurricane damage will increase as coastal development increases.
I review the science of why major hurricanes in the tropical Atlantic, Caribbean, and Gulf of Mexcico are not limited by sea surface temperatures, which are warm enough every hurricane season to support catastrophic hurricanes.
Even the IPCC has low confidence in whether hurricanes will become more frequent or more severe in the coming decades. NOAA’s GFDL says we might see 2% to 11% increase in activity by the end of the century. Does that sound like what you should be worrying about during hurricane season if you live on the Florida coast? Maybe instead you should worry that you chose to live somewhere that will, inevitably, be hit by a hurricane sent by Mother Nature that will be catastrophic with or without the help of humanity’s greenhouse gas emissions.
The book is an easy read, with fewer than 11,000 words, and 17 illustrations. Available for Kindle on Amazon here.
The Amazon description says:
After major hurricanes Harvey and Irma made landfall in the United States in 2017, there were renewed calls to do something about global warming. The popular perception that landfalling hurricanes in the U.S. are becoming more frequent or more severe, however, is shown to be incorrect. History has demonstrated that major hurricanes, sometimes arriving in pairs, have been part of Atlantic and Gulf coastal life for centuries. Even lake bottom sediments in Texas and Florida reveal more catastrophic hurricane landfalls 1,000 to 2,000 years ago than have happened more recently. Over the last 150 years, the number of major hurricanes hitting Texas has been the same when Gulf of Mexico water temperatures were below normal as when they were above normal. Harvey’s record-setting rainfall totals were due to its slow movement, which cannot be traced to global warming (August 2017 was quite cool over most of the U.S.). Major hurricane strikes in Florida since 1900 have, if anything, become somewhat less frequent and less severe. What has changed, though, is coastal development. The Miami – Fort Lauderdale metroplex now has a population of over 6 million, whereas a little over 100 years ago it was nearly zero. As a result, our vulnerability to major hurricane strikes has increased dramatically. Even with no change in hurricane activity, hurricane damages will continue to increase along with wealth and infrastructure in coastal areas. It is only a matter of time before our first trillion-dollar hurricane catastrophe occurs, and it will happen with our without carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel use.