No Major U.S. Hurricane Landfalls in Nine Years: Luck?

Posted: May 15, 2015 by oldbrew in weather, wind

US hurricane [image credit: NOAA]

US hurricane [image credit: NOAA]

Global warming pundits have failed miserably with regard to US hurricane frequency in recent years. NASA investigates:

The United States hasn’t experienced the landfall of a Category 3 or larger hurricane in nine years – a string of years that’s likely to come along only once every 177 years, according to a new NASA study.

The current nine-year “drought” is the longest period of time that has passed without a major hurricane making landfall in the U.S. since reliable records began in 1850, said Timothy Hall, a research scientist who studies hurricanes at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, New York.

Statistical analyses from hurricane track data indicate that for any particular Atlantic Hurricane season, there is about a 40 percent chance that a major hurricane (category 3 or higher) will make landfall in the continental United States. However, during the period from 2006 to 2014, no major hurricanes have made landfall.

The National Hurricane Center calls any Category 3 or more intense hurricane a “major” storm. The last major storm to make landfall in the U.S. was Hurricane Wilma on Oct. 16, 2005 – the fourth major storm landfall of that year, which was the most active Atlantic hurricane season on record. Of course, storms smaller than a Category 3 have made landfall with destructive results, such as Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

Hall and colleague Kelly Hereid, who works for ACE Tempest Re, a reinsurance firm based in Connecticut, ran a statistical hurricane model based on a record of Atlantic tropical cyclones from 1950 to 2012 and sea surface temperature data. While hurricane records stretch back to 1850, the data becomes less complete prior to 1950, Hall said. The study was published recently in Geophysical Research Letters.

The researchers ran 1,000 computer simulations of the period from 1950-2012 – in effect simulating 63,000 separate Atlantic hurricane seasons. They found that a nine-year period without a major landfall is likely to occur once every 177 years on average.

While the study did not delve into the meteorological causes behind this lack of major hurricane landfalls, Hall said it appears it is a result of luck.

“The last nine hurricane seasons were not weak – storms just didn’t hit the U.S.,” Hall said. “It seems to be an accident of geography, random good luck.”

When 2014 passed without a major hurricane landfall, the period from 2006-2014 surpassed the previous record for an absence of known major hurricane landfalls in the U.S., which occurred from 1861 to 1868. The researchers became curious about the probability of nine years passing without a major landfall.

The nine-year period stands out, too, because it immediately followed the most active Atlantic hurricane season on record. As major hurricanes Dennis, Katrina, Rita and Wilma all hit the U.S., debate intensified about how global warming might drive hurricane activity.

Hall said the past nine years show why there are still questions about the connection between hurricanes and the warming of Earth’s atmosphere and ocean.

“Hurricanes respond in complicated ways to their environment,” Hall said. Regarding the larger climate change-hurricane question, he said, “It’s one of the areas of climate change research where reasonable people can still disagree.”

A trickier problem than simply deriving the odds of such a “landfall drought” is trying to predict when the drought might end. Even though a long period of time has passed, the probability that any given year will end the drought is still the same every year, Hall said.

Think of it this way: If you flip a coin and it comes up heads nine times in a row, there is still a 50-50 chance that the 10th flip will come up tails. Hall and Hereid’s statistical analysis found that in any given year there is a 39 percent probability of one or more major hurricane landfalls on the U.S and that that probability does not depend on the drought length. So what are the chances of this historic period coming to an end in 2015, based solely on the odds of the historical record? Thirty-nine percent, Hall said.

“Each year is roughly independent of the year before,” Hall said. “There are known signals, and natural cycles, and possibly human-induced influences. But for the most part, they are independent, especially for the rare intense landfalls.”

NASA report: No Major U.S. Hurricane Landfalls in Nine Years: Luck?.

Comment: 177 years is an interesting period for both lunar and planetary reasons.

  1. oldbrew says:

    Technically Sandy was ‘only’ a massive storm at US landfall having earlier been classified as a hurricane.

    ‘Early on October 29, Sandy curved north-northwest and then moved ashore near Brigantine, New Jersey, just to the northeast of Atlantic City, as a post-tropical cyclone with hurricane-force winds.’

    [NCAR senior climatologist Kevin E. Trenberth] ‘said that while a negative North Atlantic Oscillation and a blocking anticyclone were in place, the null hypothesis remained that this was just the natural variability of weather.’

  2. tchannon says:

    Don’t tempt providence, this year. If so that will fuel the Armageddonists..

    Hurricane data is poor (such as pre-satellite). Some time ago I concluded there is a weak connection with solar activity *with* a time lag. Therefore we have not yet seen solar cycle 24. A disk search only shows I used the data during some software development.

    Try this 2009 guest post at CA by Ryan Maue. Note the head graphic is live linked and has updated since the article.

  3. kuhnkat says:

    The Messiah Barry saved us…

  4. Richard111 says:

    I’m under the impression that a cooling world will result in increased airflow from the equator to the poles creating more intensive climate events. We’ve been lucky so far. When the nasty weather does turn up it will be blamed on ‘global warming’.

  5. oldbrew says:

    ‘Hall and Hereid’s statistical analysis found that in any given year there is a 39 percent probability of one or more major hurricane landfalls on the U.S’

    And a 100 percent probability that the usual pundits and headline writers will blame it on ‘man-made global warming’ even though it’s been true since records began.

    Pavlov’s dog

  6. oldbrew says:

    ‘The United States hasn’t experienced the landfall of a Category 3 or larger hurricane in nine years – a string of years that’s likely to come along only once every 177 years, according to a new NASA study.’

    20 lunar apsidal precession cycles take about 177 years, also 6 Saturn orbits = just short of 177y.

    Also ‘every 179 years as seen from the Sun, Jupiter and Saturn return to the same spot in the sky.’
    That’s just over 9 Jupiter-Saturn conjunctions or 14 Jupiter-Neptune conjunctions, often referred to as the Jose cycle.

  7. manicbeancounter says:

    What is interesting is the way the researchers try to ignore the crucial issues. First was that the experts were proclaiming that post Katrina the human impact of hurricanes would get worse. It has been the polar opposite. Second is that this is another demonstration that the proclaimed experts know next to nothing about the real world of climate. They know about the supposed basic physics that drives climate, and can build fancy computer programs that supposedly model the real world, but when it comes to successful short-term bold predictions that would demonstrate understanding in every case that I can think of, they have failed. We cannot even view climatology like a gambling system for the horses, where it a minimum criteria to be successful would be making money over a large number of bets. Instead climatologists are like those unfortunate people with a gambling addiction, where they have always a good explanation why their chosen horse did not win and very good reasons why they next, even bigger bet, is certain to recoup all their losses.
    I challenged a particularly dogmatic blogger to find a single successful bold prediction over the last few years made by climatologists. He utterly avoided the subject. I put out an appeal on a BH discussion thread. I got a single anemic answer back, which basically consisted of a climate model having a temperature forecast within its vast range.

  8. oldbrew says:

    mbc: with the decline in solar activity their long-term warming dream is going to be at least on hold for a long while, possibly decades yet. They will have to get used to making duff predictions IMO.

  9. Ron Clutz says:

    Hurricanes are a stealth issue for warmists. They know storm activity is more associated to cooling rather than warming periods. It’s all about the size of the differentials in temperature between the equatorial regions and elsewhere.

    But they keep claiming global warming causes bad weather anyway. Because if the future cools, or even if there is just a return to 1950’s weather, then the increasing stormy weather can and will be blamed on CO2.

  10. oldbrew says:

    In the absence of climate trends never previously known the null hypothesis still stands.

  11. Paul Vaughan says:

    Suggestions of randomness can be firmly dismissed:

  12. oldbrew says:

    Pielke Jr.: ‘Hurricane luck will run out’

    Study ‘finds that the contribution of the rainfall from landfalling tropical cyclone on the mitigation of monthly drought in the 28 SeUS watersheds is relatively insignificant.’

  13. Paul Vaughan says:

    How retarded do these mainstream academic “researchers” have to be to NOT be able to figure this out?? …even when someone has straight-up illustrated it for them??? Holy f***king h*ll….. They need to be called out in harsher terms: WAKE UP MORONS