Hurricane Florence: Nature’s Business as Usual, Not Climate Change

September 10th, 2018 by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.

A potential new poster child for global warming ignores the lack of trend in major hurricane landfalls in the Carolinas.

GOES-East image of rapidly-strengthening Hurricane Florence, forecast to arrive on the coast of the Carolinas as a Cat 4 storm on Thursday night, Sept. 13, 2018.

Although it is still 3-4 days away, rapidly strengthening Hurricane Florence is increasing the threat of a major hurricane landfall somewhere within 120 miles or so of Wilmington, NC. If it reaches that area as a Cat 4 storm, the damage produced will be extensive, likely amounting to tens of billions of dollars.

By coincidence, the hurricane disaster (if it unfolds) will occur during this year’s Global Climate Action Summit (Sept. 12-14) in San Francisco, possibly the most star-studded climate alarmist extravaganza in existence, with climate experts such as Al Gore, Alec Baldwin, Andrea Mitchell, Catherine McKenna, Dave Matthews, Jane Goodall, John Kerry, and Tom Steyer.

As we all know, these are people who lead by example in their efforts to reduce their so-called carbon footprints.

Attendees of the conference are almost guaranteed to point to Florence as an example of what we can expect more of with global warming. But it’s curious how there hasn’t been a statistically significant increase in major hurricane strikes in the Carolinas (based upon NHC data), even assuming Florence hits as a Cat3+:

(The same is true in Florida.)

The 1950s was the stand-out decade for major hurricane strikes in the Carolinas, with Hurricane Hazel in 1954 doing major damage, even as far north as Toronto. Hazel’s destruction of Myrtle Beach, SC led to a massive rebuilding effort that transformed that community forever.

For sure, there has been an increase in hurricane damages over time, as infrastructure along the U.S. Gulf and Atlantic coasts has increased dramatically. There is simply more stuff for Mother Nature to destroy. But I doubt that the luminaries attending the Global Climate Action Summit this week can understand that increasing damages would occur even without any climate change.

Major hurricanes are business as usual for nature, just uncommon.

For now, let’s hope Florence weakens or stays offshore. But as the above chart shows, the Carolinas should not be surprised if a disaster occurs, at least based upon the history of major hurricane strikes.

143 Responses to “Hurricane Florence: Nature’s Business as Usual, Not Climate Change”

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  1. Svante says:

    Richard Muller concurs:

    “Global warming does not predict that the number of hurricanes will go up.”

    • An Inquirer says:

      yes. One can find “scientific” studies that say that “Global warming does not predict that the number of hurricanes will go up.”
      But one can also find scientific studies that say that “Global warming will cause the number of hurricanes to go up.”
      Any direction in hurricanes or any direction in most meteorological phenomena has been predicted by global warming. it cannot be wrong.

  2. Aaron S says:

    There are long term forces like North Atlantic Oscillation that correlate and most like cause changes to hurricane rates. It is easy to incorrectly assign causation to convenient mechanisms like climate change from short term correlations. Media allow this sort of false narrative to persist and even scientists jump on board.

    The record must be sufficient in length and sample size to address causation. This paper seems to have went wrong by anticipating a change to the rate of hurricanes associated with the NAO shifting negative in ~2000 when it dipped (notice the major negative NAO phase in the 60s high hurricane rate phase), but then NAO recovered in a positive phase. I cant imagine if it does flip the hysteria that will be falsely assigned to climate change.

  3. Aaron S says:

    Given the relationship positive NAO decreased hurricane rate. Also, that the phase lock in positive NAO has been considered likely related to climate change in this paper. The Atlantic hurricane rates should be anticorrelated with global warming.

  4. Nate says:

    More statistically dubious factoids?

    Why not focus on just one beach in North Carolina?

  5. Hkan says:

    Roy, when will you have the UAH LT global anomaly image for August published?

  6. David Appell says:

    I don’t see how you (or Al Gore) can make an attribution before the event has even occurred. Attribution studies will likely come out some months down the line. Let’s see what they say.

    This chart — Hurricanes in the North Atlantic and Caribbean 1944-2015 — is a few years old by now; you can make your own decisions about “eyeballing” the trend:

    Same for this — North Atlantic Basin Tropical Storms and Hurricanes 1950-2012, from the agency that must not be named:

  7. RAH says:

    Almost without exception those that tell us it’s climate change lack the ability to tell us the why before the what. IOW they couldn’t forecast what is about to happen. I’ll take a competent and honest meteorologist over the bunch of them every time.

  8. David Appell says:

    This BAMS paper from July says (Abstract) “…neither U.S. landfalling hurricane frequency nor intensity shows a significant trend since 1900….”

    • Ric says:

      Tks for confirming once more that AGW is the hoax of the century.

      • Entropic man says:


        Did you notice that one of the authors of this paper was Roger Pielke Jr.

        Are you now rejecting even science written by sceptics?

        • Entropic man says:

          Did you also notice that even adjusting for inflation, population and economic factors the amount of hurricane damage on the CONUS is increasing.

          Read the literature and you will find that the frequency of hurricanes is not expected to change, but their average energy and the damage they do is expected to increase.

          That is what we are seeing.

          • JDHuffman says:

            Ent, did you notice that “expected to increase” and “what we are seeing” are not the same?

          • David Appell says:

            Entropic man says:
            Did you also notice that even adjusting for inflation, population and economic factors the amount of hurricane damage on the CONUS is increasing.

            Which figure in the Klotzbach et al BAMS 2018 paper are you looking at?

            A big problem with only looking at adjusted hurricane damage is that it doesn’t include all the money spent to REDUCE hurricane damage — seawalls, jettys, levies, projects like the MRGO in Louisiana, better built houses, and on and on.

            None of this is captured or portrayed in their data.

          • Bart says:

            Texas sharpshooter. There’s going to be at least one index of some kind that is at least temporarily going to agree with prognostications. Just pick that one out, and draw a bullseye on it. Once it moves off and no longer agrees, there will be another.

        • JDHuffman says:

          Ent, did you notice that junior was not a skeptic?

        • Ric says:

          I just reject pseudoscience, regardless of where it is published.

  9. RAH says:

    Oh well. Pickup empty in Anderson at midnight tonight. Take it to the Carrier plant in Indianapolis. Drop the empty and hook to a loaded trailer. Take that trailer up to the terminal in Romulus, MI (By the Detroit airport) drop that loaded trailer and hook to another empty. Head for Wallbridge, OH (Just west of Toledo) and take a long break. Get loaded at Wallbridge at 5 PM and head for Harrisonburg, VA. Drop loaded trailer there when I get there and hook to a loaded one and run east as fast and far as I can get before I have to take another 10 hour break before heading home.

    I knew somehow I would end up heading towards the bad weather, but at least, if everything goes as planned, I will get the heck out of there before Florence comes calling.

  10. Ed Mihelich says:

    I have recently moved to the mountains of North Carolina. On a trip to New Bern I picked up a copy of John Hairr’s book “The Great Hurricanes of North Carolina”. The last 100 years has nothing to compare to earlier storms. In 1856 there was a landfall that had a thirty-foot storm surge! This area has always been a target of these catastrophic events and will always be.

  11. Daniel says:

    Youre looking at the wrong thing. Its about about the increasing STRENGTH of hurricanes that poses a question about climate change. Only 2 category 4 storms have ever hit North Carolina, Florence potentially being the third. Both category 4 storms popped up in the last 65 years. This could be the first ever category 5 storm in the region. Its not about frequency at all, its about the tremendous power that can build when ocean temperatures are warmer.

  12. Duncanbelem says:

    Even Renewable energy causes climate change,

    Forget about the measly two inches of sea level rise. The Central California is sinking up to 1/2 a meter annually due to water use.

    Which makes me think it’s not CO2 it’s water.

    • I am writing a book. My first and only. I am a retired high school AP chem and physics instructor. I know I can sell 100 copies (former students) but that could be it

      Title which sounds boring “Confirmation Bias”
      Subtitle “Silly things people do—do you?”

      Non climate examples. ‘See, the crops are dying and Aunt Emma has been sick in bed all winter -proof that they are witches’

      or The Beatles sing ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds’ proof they are promoting LSD.

      or Hitler using something found in a cave from perhaps 50,000 years prior, proving that tall blondes are supposed to own this land and therefore we can invade Poland, kill Jews and more.

      The tragedy is not only billions wasted but the mass collective emotional, non scientific movement including diverse members such as entertainers, middle school children, mainstream media, the Pope and more will eventually create a complete and enveloping mistrust in science being done as it should; with skepticism and respectful challenge of what should be a transparent process.

      I have been an environmentalist all my life of over seven decades, and I do feel that water, where it is, where it isn’t, what is in it, and how and where we are using it is
      a growing and in many cases an extreme problem, but the climate issue is clouding and diminishing the seriousness of it.

      So can any one state a time in which climate was not changing or state, honestly, that the change rate is significantly greater now.

      There are so many trivial and temporary climatic events that are given huge and unwarranted attention. yes, sometimes temporarily of great magnitude but historically not unusual, As writers above indicated in various statements, the surface of the earth has always been and always will be in a state of flux. Cherry picking a change to confirm a hypothesis has been endemic of a scientific counterculture.

      • Entropic man says:

        I hope you will then write Volume 2, entitled “Cognitive dissonance”

        This is the refusal to accept the scientific evidence that you are changing the climate, because you do not want to believe it.

        • DHR says:

          This is the refusal to accept the scientific evidence that you are not changing the climate, because you do not want to believe it.

          There, fixed it.

        • Gordon Robertson says:

          entropic….”This is the refusal to accept the scientific evidence that you are changing the climate”

          I have asked over and over, where is this SCIENTIFIC evidence?

          There is no evidence, only conjecture and agreement that any warming must be due to anthropogenic causes. The authority on this, the IPCC, cannot even make a claim to support anthropogenic warming. All they could do was create a convoluted scale of opinions that any warming MIGHT be due to anthropogenic causes.

      • Nate says:

        “or Hitler using something found ..”

        C’mon dude. Hitler?!

        Comparable to legitimate science built on actual physics and chemistry??

  13. Darwin Wyatt says:

    Bet the Vikings in Greenland during the MWP were happy when one of those babies came barreling up the Atlantic. They prolly had names like gunilla and Ingrid for them though…

  14. John Garrett says:

    Trenberth is already shooting his mouth off on NPR this morning about anthropogenic climate change being responsible for a putative slowing down of hurricane forward motion thereby causing more flooding.

    Clearly, “…it’s worse than we thought.”

    If anthropogenic climate change doesn’t cause droughts, it causes floods.

    If anthropogenic climate change doeesn’t cause stronger hurricanes, it causes them to slow down.

    If anthropogenic climate change doesn’t cause the polar ice caps to melt, it causes ocean acidification.

    • David Appell says:

      You’re starting to understand the all-encompassing nature of climate change.

    • Chuck Wiese says:

      I read Trenberth’s paper trying to link AGW to Harvey’s rainfall.

      As usual, he and his cohorts ignored the climatological records that show tropical storm Claudette in 1979 produced 43 inches of rain in 24 hours at Alvin TX, a suburb of Houston. The storm total there was 45 inches.

      Hurricane Camille in 1969 produced 31 inches of rain after landfall in many locations.

      These old records were not assailed by Harvey unless you believe Trenberth’s claim that 60 inches fell around Houston, which in the paper he referenced as proof was not the case. Those authors reported the storm maximums up to and greater than 800 mm, ( 31.5 in ) but don’t report any specific numbers beyond 800 mm.

      SST’s were colder during Camille and Claudette, too, by a small amount. His OHC graph for 0-160 meters suggest the upper ocean is .38 degC warmer than Camille’s and Claudette’s genesis and he expects the reader to buy into the nonsense that Harvey was AGW induced. What a load od crap and then is quoted by the Washington Post today that blamed President Trump in being complicit in causing more severe hurricanes because of doing things like pulling out of the Paris accord.

      Trenberth is one of the kings of generating climate hysteria just like Michael Mann. I’ve never seen better examples of incompetence or dishonesty from these two.

      Chuck Wiese

      • bk says:

        How would you know?

        Its pretty obvious that near 100% of the followers of Roy Spencer lack any actual skill in climatology. Long haul trucking perhaps, some airline pilots, maybe the odd dime store TV meteorologist but no actual climatologists.

        So…. how would you know how to spot competency any better than these clowns in something well above your pay grade?

  15. Francisco says:

    I was watching the news this morning in the gym. There was no sound, but the captions tell it all.

    Hopefully this will not cause much damage, but if it does, that’s part and parcel of living in areas where these things happen.

    What struck me is the massive line ups for groceries, water and other stuff!!!!

    I mean, if you’re planning on being trapped in your home for days….. wouldn’t it be better to just evacuate?

    Why on earth would you go piling up as if in a zombie apocalypse when you can just leave?

    Forgive me if there is a reason and I sound dumb, but I would just leave instead of planning to be hit with a massive hurricane that will entomb me in my own house.

    • Francisco says:

      Well, of course you’ve been sold into the alarmist idea that you have to go buy whatever you can…. which I am sure is a brutally brisk business for grocery stores

      • Rob Mitchell says:

        In Houston, we have a saying about hurricanes. “Hide from the wind, run from the water.” We learned this the hard way during Hurricane Rita. Way too many people left their homes in the Houston-Galveston area and severely clogged the evacuation routes for those who really needed to leave to avoid the storm surge. As it turned out, Rita missed us.

    • David Appell says:

      Maybe some people can’t afford to evacuate.

      • Lewis guignard says:

        Maybe some people shouldn’t live at the beach if they can’t afford to evacuate.

        • David Appell says:

          Maybe people who could once afford to live at the beach have fallen on hard times. Maybe they inherited the house they’re living in. Maybe they have pets or other animals that aren’t easily transported or accepted in hotels and motels.

          “STUDY: 76% of Americans live paycheck-to-paycheck,” Fox19, 2013,

          “Almost 80% of US workers live from paycheck to paycheck. Here’s why,” The Guardian, 7/29/18

        • David Appell says:

          Lewis guignard says:
          Maybe some people shouldnt live at the beach if they cant afford to evacuate

          If people can’t afford to evacuate, how do you expect them to be able to afford to move??

          • Mike Flynn says:


            Fair example of a gotcha, but could be better.

            The answer to your question is to walk, if all else fails. Evacuation implies urgency. Relocation achieves the same object without the time imperative. Evacuation is just a subset of relocation, isn’t it?

            Still no GHE. No CO2 heating. Climate is merely the average of weather.


          • Lewis guignard says:

            The same way they get to the grocery store.

            You presume they can’t move at all, because they don’t evacuate and make up some reason that might be true.

            Living at the beach is an expensive proposition, how do they afford that and not be able to move or evacuate, and yet can get to the store?

            But give me your gotcha’s. I find all you write entertaining, but only from the comedy point of view.

          • David Appell says:

            Lewis, 50% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck.

            Not everyone might have your or my advantages. Does it bother you to admit that others might not have the options you or me have?

      • Francisco says:

        David, your argument holds no water (pun intended)

        Given the line ups and the amount of stuff they are buying, running for your life is not only appealing, but affordable. or else, how do they buy the stuff they are putting in their mini vans?

    • Lou Maytrees says:

      Interesting too Francisco, most of these people that you are watching on your tv lining up to buy supplies for their entombed in their own homes zombie apocalypse via Hurricane Florence are god fearing Republicons. Correlation?

      • Francisco says:

        David, your argument holds no water (pun intended)

        Given the line ups and the amount of ‘stuff’ they are buying, running for your life is not only appealing, but affordable…. or else, how do they buy the stuff they are putting in their mini vans?

  16. David Appell says:

    Ocean temperatures are quite warm where Florence is traveling:


  17. ren says:

    The hurricane is cut by the jet stream and turns more to the northwest.
    The hurricane exceeded 27N and 66W.

  18. ren says:

    Florence will turn to the north along the coast.

    • bilybob says:


      I checked the historical tracks at NOAA, and about 90% of hurricanes that have track near the current location end up going north and never make landfall. Do you know why so many models are predicting land fall? What is different? You always seem up on these things. Thanks.

  19. Rah says:

    Enough to know that there is inflation in both the numbers and strengths of hurricanes in the radar and satellite era compared to previous records.

    Enough cognitive ability to have monitored Irma as she approached Florida watching the real time data from buoys and surface stations and thus to see it was less powerful by one class than officially claimed when it struck the keys and came ashore near Naples.

    Thus I question the claims of “climate scientists” who chalk a dud hurricane season up to luck, but show up after the fact when a major strikes to say “see, I told you so. It’s climate change!”. Opprotunist Ambulance chasers.

    Dr. Spencer and Joe Bastardi both spanked Mann and his claim as to why Harvey loitered over the Houston area. Both are meteorologists, Mann is not. Who you gonna believe?

  20. Woody Loloma says:

    Dr. Spencer, you are clearly mistaken that this is just nature’s business as usual. I know you are wrong because I just now watched a live briefing/press conference by President Trump with Pence, FEMA director, and DHS Secretary at his side. The President assured us that we have never seen anything like this, “certainly not on the east coast” and never before with as much rainfall as this will bring. So, there you have it: you’re just another so-called expert espousing fake news that this is normal.

  21. Snape says:

    GFS’s future replacement, FV-3, was projecting a much weaker landfall than the older model (as of Monday morning):

  22. Snape says:

    Of course, FV-3 may have changed its predictions by now, or GFS might be doing a better job even though its older.

    Regardless, it looks like flooding could be catastrophic.

    • David Appell says:

      OK, but I think most knowledgeable people consider the European model, ECS, to be the best. That’s my impression.

      • Mike Flynn says:


        That is profound. You think that your impression is that some unspecified people consider that something is the best.

        Some method of predicting the future using numerical methods, no doubt. Very sciency.

        One test is if you are prepared to life on it – literally. As in boarding an aircraft, hoping that the science, the engineering, and the models are good enough. For me, so far so good.


  23. David Appell says:

    And Roy, nobody in the scientific community cares what Al Gore says.

    As a scientist, you should know that.

    • JDHuffman says:

      Yeah DA, it’s only in your pseudoscience community where Gore is not a joke.

      • David Appell says:

        JDHuffman = Ger*an

        Some people need a lot of fake names.
        Some people don’t.

        • Mike Flynn says:


          And the relevance is? None at all? Bugger!


        • JDHuffman says:

          DA, i don’t know which is funnier:

          * your fascination with Ger*an,

          * your flagrant disregard for the laws of physics, or

          * your “saving the planet” pretentiousness

          but combining all three makes for some great comedy!

          Please continue.

        • Nate says:


          How ludicrous it is that you say to DA, who has a PhD in physics, “your flagrant disregard for the laws of physics”

          You can only be thinking of Ger*an or JD or whatever you call yourself when you say this.

          If you have had any physics courses (you never say) you clearly have not absorbed any of it, since most of your posts contradict physics.

          • JDHuffman says:

            It’s so easy to ignore anonymous super-clowns, especially this one.

            All he ever has are false accusations and mis-representations.

            At least he’s consistent….

          • David Appell says:

            And, right on cue, a total nonscientific response from Ger*an.

            Thanks for proving Nate’s point.

            Thanks Nate.

          • JDHuffman says:

            And three days later, devious David sneaks back to enter a comment, hoping I won’t see it.

            He must believe his incompetence makes up for his lack of character, or vice versa?

            What a clown!

  24. Snape says:


    FV-3 is still being tested (tracking Florence, for example) and won’t be implemented for another year. Hopefully it will be a big improvement, on par with the ECM.

  25. Darwin Wyatt says:

    Thought I’d beat the msm to their pre written headlines.

    “Trump heartless” “botches response” “leaves people on roofs for days!

  26. Snape says:


    “ren, your chart isnt relevant here, because it doesnt show anomalies.”

    In this case Ren’s chart is more relevant than yours. A hurricane doesn’t care about anomalies. All that matters is the actual temperature of the water:


    Your chart indicates SST’s in the Gulf of Maine have a greater departure from normal than in the Gulf of Mexico. Which would be more conducive to hurricane strengthening?

    • David Appell says:

      A hurricane doesn’t care about anomalies


      A hurricane traveling over warmer (more anomalous) waters will be stronger than one that isn’t. Obviously.

      In my experience, ren *never* manages to post anything useful. It’s quite record, actually.

  27. Krakatoa says:

    Seriously, you are looking at the trend of hurricanes making landfall in the Carolinas?

  28. Harry Cummings says:

    ECM not ECS

    Wow…. DA 2 goes to get 3 letters right …impressive


  29. Rah says:

    Read it again David. I was referring to any dud season since this crap claim about more powerful storms gained steam after the 2005 season

  30. Snape says:

    “A hurricane traveling over warmer (more anomalous) waters will be stronger than one that isnt. Obviously.”

    Ok, you go with the greater anomaly, I’ll go with the greater absolute value.

    As Sheldon says, let’s agree to disagree.

  31. ren says:

    The hurricane is not weakening. The pressure in the eye has dropped to 943 hPa.

  32. lewis guignard says:


    Why is the northwest quadrant of a hurricane stronger etc.

  33. Snape says:


    I’m wondering how “JDHuffman” is any less anonymous than Nate or Snape?

    Can we find your bio online?

    Here, for example, is information about someone who has chosen NOT to be anonymous:


    We don’t know anything about you.

    • JDHuffman says:

      Ms Snape, you are confusing arrogance with ability.

      That’s just one of the mistakes people make when they are unable to think for themselves.

  34. Snape says:

    Maybe you could narrow it down for us? Jill, Jane, Jenny…….?

    • JDHuffman says:

      Maybe you could learn to enter your comments correctly, like over 90% of others do.

      But, in your head, your self-importance makes up for incompetence.

  35. Paragon says:

    Good piece, very insightful!

  36. Gordon Robertson says:

    Chuck Wiese…”Trenberth is one of the kings of generating climate hysteria just like Michael Mann. Ive never seen better examples of incompetence or dishonesty from these two”.

    Not only that, Trenberth has interfered in peer review as has Mann. A journal editor resigned because Trenberth interfered with comments regarding the editors decision to publish a paper from a skeptic.

    Both Trenberth and Mann were featured in the Climategate email scandal. Trenberth admitted that the warming had stopped somewhere prior to 2009 and that was later corroborated by the IPCC in 2013 when they admitted there had been no warming during the 15 year period from 1998 – 2012.

    Trenberth was aware of it and the rest of the clowns featured in Climategate had to know about it. The flat trend showed up on the Had-crut time series as well as on the NOAA time series circa 2009. Then the cheaters at NOAA went back, circa 2015, and amended the flat trend.

    A central focus in Climategate was Phil Jones, then head of Had-crut. He admitted to using Mann’s cheating technique of hiding declining temperatures then made an astounding threat. He threatened that he and Kevin would see to it that certain skeptic papers would not be admitted at IPCC reviews.

    That reference to Kevin could only mean Kevin Trenberth. Both are Coordinating Lead Authors on IPCC reviews and both have the clout to make the threat come about.

  37. Gordon Robertson says:

    bk…”Its pretty obvious that near 100% of the followers of Roy Spencer lack any actual skill in climatology”.

    What is climatology? From what I understand, it is a term coined to represent the unqualified so-called alarmist experts, none of whom have a degree in climate science or meteorology. Gavin Schmidt, head of GISS, is a mathematician who programs climate models. Michael Mann is a geologist. Countless others are geographers and computer programmers.

    The principal scientists at UAH, Roy Spencer and John Christy, have degrees in meteorology and climate science respectively. The followers here agree with Roy and John in their interpretation of meteorology and climate science.

    If you are referring to alarmist interpretations of climate science and physics as skillful, you are seriously deluded. Alarmists have perverted science in general.

  38. George says:

    Nate, Appell may hold a PhD in Physics but that doesnt mean he understands the scientific method. Dr. Ed Berry has schooled him so many times it isnt funny. Appells responses there are so shallow, I wonder if that degree came from the back of a matchpack.

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