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2012 SkS News Bulletin #1: Hurricane Sandy & Climate Change

Posted on 31 October 2012 by John Hartz

This is a round-up of selected news articles and blog posts about Hurricane Sandy, its impacts on North America, and its relationship to climate change. This bulletin supplements the regular SkS weekly News Round-Up which is posted on Saturday of each week.


Sunday, Oct 28

Monday, Oct 29

Tuesday, Oct 30

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Comments 1 to 50 out of 118:

  1. Hi,
    The link for "Sandy versus Katrina, and Irene: Monster Hurricanes by the Numbers" seems to point somewhere else..
    Thanks,
    Bharath
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  2. Oh come on. Sandy wasn't even a category 1 when it made landfall. Since when is a big storm global panic?

    So there was a 10 foot storm surge, inches of rain, 110 kmh winds. It's being beat-up like a category 5 with 30 foot storm surge, a foots of rain, 250+ kmh winds.

    Katrina and Yasi sized cyclones/hurricanes eat Sandy size storms for breakfast and don't even flinch. Sandy wasn't even a small hurricane. It was a big storm, that is all.
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  3. Dale, when was the last time NYC experienced a ten foot storm surge with inches of rain and 110kmh winds? Sandy covered an unusually large area and was impacted by Arctic conditions from a 'stuck' jet stream. A storm of this size in NY etc affects a large population living near sea level, just as has been projected.

    Does an end-of-season hurricane impacting an unusual polar weather pattern justify asking the question: How did this happen? Prudence suggests to me that it does. YMMV.
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  4. @bharath272 #1:

    Correct link inserted. Thanks for bringing the glitch to our attention.
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  5. Oh come on. Sandy wasn't even a category 1...

    Morano Memo has arrived.
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  6. You missed one. Count on this getting lots of traction as it is memed around the WUWT denialo'sphere. I found it on the Drudge so it is going to get heavy traffic.

    Al Gore blames Hurricane Sandy on 'global warming'
    The Washington Times October 30, 2012, 03:16PM

    Al Gore has to be the gift that keeps on giving for all the "deskepticons" like Morano, Watts and Harris.

    Consider the discussion regarding public perception of AGW like a person fighting addiction.
    They can stay sober for months while the empirical metrics build and build and build toward a reasoned conclusion and then one day Al Gore is mentioned and suddenly they are half naked in the streets, lying in a pool of their own vomit which reeks from the scent of cheap red wine and Climate Depot while mumbling something about "climate-gate" and "where's the 100% undeniable proof?"

    Best if you just stay off the radar Al.
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  7. Historic barometric pressure records broken by Sandy:


    Atlantic City, NJ: 28.01"/948mb 28.37"/961mb 3/6/1932

    Philadelphia, PA: 28.12"/953mb 28.43"/963mb 3/13/1993

    Harrisburg, PA: 28.46"/964mb 28.62"/969mb 1/3/1913

    Scranton, PA: 28.69"/971mb 28.72"/973mb 2/25/1965

    Trenton, NJ: 28.31"/958mb 28.43"/963mb 3/13/1993

    Baltimore, MD: 28.49"/965mb 28.68"/971mb 3/3/1932

    Harrisburg, PA: 28.46"/964mb 28.62"/969mb 1/3/1913


    The Morano Memo says we're supposed to focus on semantics rather than facts on the ground.
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  8. @ doug_bostrom:
    Care to explain what the "Morano Memo" is? I actually have no idea.

    And seriously, Sandy was not category 1 when it hit land.

    @ Doug_H:
    I refer you to the NYC website: http://www.nyc.gov/html/oem/html/hazards/storms_hurricanehistory.shtml

    NYC has a long and proud history of being hit by big storms / weak hurricanes.
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  9. Dale, you definitely fall into the “Superdenier” catalogue, and we can all guess why.
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  10. If it had been a category 5 storm, it might have been worse, indeed. So?
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  11. Dale @8 is trying to make a strawman argument and . It is not going to work.

    Whether people refer to "hurricane Sandy" or a "Frankenstorm" or "Superstrom Sandy" or "post-tropical storm Sandy" does not change the facts, the storm was a record breaker:

    1) Record low surface pressure, smashing previous records
    2) Unprecedented storm surge along portions of the coast, smashing previous records
    3) Hurricane-force winds
    4) About eight million people without power
    5) Up to 13 inches of rain causing widespread flooding
    6) About 40 50 deaths and counting (not including the 30 deaths in the Caribbean)
    7) Damage running into tens of billions of dollars, the final tally will only be known after several months, perhaps longer

    The following claim is a red herring and misses the point,
    "NYC has a long and proud history of being hit by big storms / weak hurricanes"

    Yet the 100 plus year old transit system has never seen flooding like this. But don't take my word for it:

    ""The New York City subway system is 108 years old, but it has never faced a disaster as devastating as what we experienced last night," said Joseph Lhota, chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, or MTA." [Source]

    I find Dale's indifference given the scale of this calamity to be troubling. Superdenial indeed.
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  12. Additional reading:

    Sandy's impact: State by state, CNN, 0ct 30, 2012
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  13. Dale, a .22 caliber bullet is considered small -- until the gun containing it is pointed at your head. Context is everything -- that's the first law of critical thinking. You would have to be incredibly dense to fail to realize that the danger of Sandy was in its not-simply-highly-unusual but actually unique track, combined with its size. I say you'd have to be incredibly dense, or you'd have to be trolling. Or perhaps you've been out of town for a while and all you know at this point is that Sandy was a Cat 1.

    Here's part of what Jeff Masters had to say:
    "In a stunning spectacle of atmospheric violence, Superstorm Sandy roared ashore in New Jersey last night with sustained winds of 90 mph and a devastating storm surge that crippled coastal New Jersey and New York. Sandy's record size allowed the historic storm to bring extreme weather to over 100 million Americans, from Chicago to Maine and from Michigan to Florida. Sandy's barometric pressure at landfall was 946 mb, tying the Great Long Island Express Hurricane of 1938 as the most powerful storm ever to hit the Northeast U.S. north of Cape Hatteras, NC. New York City experienced its worst hurricane since its founding in 1624, as Sandy's 9-foot storm surge rode in on top of a high tide to bring water levels to 13.88' at The Battery, smashing the record 11.2' water level recorded during the great hurricane of 1821. Damage from Superstorm Sandy will likely be in the tens of billions, making the storm one of the five most expensive disasters in U.S. history."
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  14. Dale, if my memory serves me right, you have persistently beat the drum that its only weather, nothing unusual going on, no evidence that warming is making things worse. Well what about the evidence in the latest Grinsted paper discussed with further analysis here? Note the correlation between temperature and surge.

    Are you trying to fool us or yourself?
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  15. Additional reading:

    Hurricane Sandy's Storm Surge Wreaks Havoc As Its Energy And Trajectory Stun Experts,Tom Zeller Jr., The Huffington Post, Oct 30, 2012
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  16. Fine, let's look at the facts which led to Sandy doing what she did.

    1. AO is currently strongly negative, which pushes the Arctic front down across central US.
    2. NOA is currently strongly negative, which results in a blocking high-low formation in the North Atlantic.
    3. Sandy formed in such a broad area in the Caribbean due to uniformity of pressure across a massive area.
    4. Sandy strengthened as she hit the gulf current.
    5. The North Atlantic block caused a pressure compression on the north of Sandy increasing wind speeds.
    6. The broad area and strength of wind moved a massive amount of water westward (towards the US).
    7. Sandy was bounced towards the US by the North Atlantic block crashing into the Arctic front elongating the system across the eastern seaboard.
    8. A peak tide (full moon) would have caused a higher than usual storm surge.

    So ultimately, unless AGW controls the AO, NAO, Caribbean air pressure and the moon, I fail to see how Sandy is a result of climate change.

    BTW, here's a good site explaining why Sandy became what she did. http://sciencereview.berkeley.edu/the-science-of-sandy-how-a-category-1-storm-can-panic-a-nation/
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  17. Albatross: I find Dale's indifference given the scale of this calamity to be troubling.

    "I have other priorities" is the way one recent US VP expressed it. Question is, what are those priorities? Defending a doomed dinosaur?
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  18. I'm sorry, but my heart-felt sympathies to those affected by the storm.

    But it's hard to believe the media beat-up when NYC mayor Bloombery declares the city will be open for business tomorrow. How long did it take New Orleans to be open for business after Katrina?

    Question: if this system had've hit a much less populated area, and much less financially and politically important area, would the same media hype have been seen? Absolutely not.

    Whilst it's a very public tragedy, this is no New Orleans/Queensland/Japan.
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  19. This website is focused on climate change and so-called "climate skeptics," Dale. Perhaps you could comment with your complaints at Media Matters, or write to editors.
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  20. With respect to your earlier remark, Dale, the significance of Sandy with regard to climate change is what the storm tells us about vulnerability of cities such as New York. Arguing about the exact contributory effects of climate change to Sandy is rather missing the point.

    Or do you believe sea level rise isn't a problem?
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  21. With his post @18, Dale partially vindicated himself by saying an obligatory "sorry" to the 100mega victims. Up to this point, I had an impression he was simply disappointed that Sandy was too weak, perhaps he was expecting he will see something ala "Independence Day"...

    With such quality of argumentation, even with the "sorry" acknowledged, I still find any factual discussion with Dale worthless. How can I expect from such a person to understand/appreciate the slow-paced AGW, which makes the events like Sandy more and more probable? And how can I expect from such a person any duty of care to future generations when he ignores the damages to his peers affected by the storm right now?
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  22. For german readers:

    As noted by some german newspapers (e.g. sz) S. Rahmstorf puts together some early thoughts about the very special conditions of this unusual storm on his blog [KlimaLounge].

    And then, there is always the "loaded dice" [SkS].
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  23. Dale, do you get the concept of loaded dice or not. Of course AGW didnt cause Sandy - it simply makes such an event more common as the statistics show.
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  24. NYC has a long and proud history of being hit by big storms / weak hurricanes


    ...none of which has ever managed to achieve this scale of damage. But that's only the reality of the situation, which is as nothing, when compared to your certain (error-bar free!) knowledge that this wasn't really much of a storm at all, and that proves something, apparently, in your mind. Just like those fine folks at WUWT sneering that the storm surge was only 'sloshing'.

    Superdenier indeed. But please keep it up, you're providing an outstanding - and almost breath-takingly tone-deaf/off-putting - illustration of just how extreme your movement really is.
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  25. From my POV single events like "Sandy" (or the summer droughts, Fukushima...) show the weakness of the "We will adapt"-concept [SkS] in a "Loaded Dice" scenario. The adaption concept, accompanied by the idea of shifting the workload to our grandchildren [WP, "Copenhagen Consensus", Lomborg] because they will be richer and more scientifically and technologically improved, generally leads to not spending any money "now", take the hits from events and then, after the event, decide to put x money into the hardening of the infrastructure. So there will be losses by the event AND a cost afterwards. And as the dice rolls, the chances are high for our grandchildren that the same situation will come over them (again, and again...).
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  26. Scaddenp, I disagree and so does Trenberth: at Slate.com He said: "The thing that the climate is doing is that the sea temperatures are higher. There is more moisture feeding into the storm. That adds to the rainfalls. The rainfalls could be 5 to 10 percent higher as a consequence of climate change. The sea level is running a little bit higher. Sea level is going up a foot a century at the current rate."

    He basically said the hybrid storm was a chance event. In particular I would add that the upper level pattern would have caused a "normal" nor'easter had Sandy not been in a particular location at a particular time. The models could not agree at first (particularly GFS) because timing was everything.
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  27. 450

    A wind map of this time yesterday shows how unique Sandy was/ is ... it affected every state from Florida to Maine, and from New York to Illinois. A "Superstorm" indeed.

    The "Only a Category 1" meme is pretty anaemic in the face of that.

    One joker pointed out that the Candadian border guards prevented it entering their country!! But it also affected all the Canadian states along the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence.

    An animated map here: Animated Wind Map

    Thanks to coby A Few things Ill Considered
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  28. Dale and others,
    The category of a storm says little about its impact. While it is still widely used in the media and for historical reasons, hurricane researchers have moved on and discuss more aspects of a storm. Particularly the hurricane severity index (follow the external links) is more useful for storm comparisons. I addition, impact upon landfall is not only affected by the external factors listed here, but also by
    i) infrastructure preparedness (e.g. construction locations; are power lines above-ground? and trees trimmed away from them?)
    ii) disaster preparedness (e.g. construction types; disaster kits)
    iii) previous weather in area (e.g. is the ground soaked already?)
    And there are likely some more. One of the reasons the east coast is not as prepared as the Gulf Coast, is storm frequency in the area.
    If conditions are "right", even a "minor" storm can do a lot of damage (e.g. TS Allison, Fay). Comments like Dale's are short-sighted, as they focus on one or a few aspects, as one would expect a denialist do. Meaning, without going to a denialist page, I predict with certainty ;-) that is what they are doing.
    Informed people consider many aspects, and although this storm is not going to be shown to have been caused by Global Warming, informed people that its impact would likely have been lower had Global Warming been addressed early on.
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  29. Eric It is hard to reconcile your interpretation of what Trenberth said with the particular quote that you actually gave. That quote describes the deterministic effect that climate change has had that should be expected to affect the formation and intensity of storms. Of course there is also an element of chance involved, but as far as I can see the quote you gave suggests that climate change is loading the dice, which is essentially the mainstream position on this.
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  30. chriskoz @ 21
    I was in Innisfail for tropical cyclone Larry (cat 4 - Saffir Simpson). I know how destructive these things are. Larry had sustained 1 min winds of 205+ kmh at landfall, Sandy had 140 kmh at landfall (NOAA advisory 7-8pm Mon 29th).

    I apologise if I sound "sceptical" of the beat-up of Sandy. But I don't apologise for sounding "sceptical" of the climate change claims affecting Sandy.

    @ those talking about "loaded dice".
    I invite you guys to read the Wiki entries on north-east Atlantic hurricanes. You'll find a number of hurricanes worse than Sandy. Frequency is not getting higher as you claim. You will probably also enjoy reading about the 1938 hurricane (often called the Long Island Express) with its 260 kmh winds and 14-25 foot storm surge (also during a full moon) which if occurred today has been estimated would cause $40 billion in damage to New York. Or if you like, try the 1821 Norfolk and Long Island hurricane, which had 215 kmh winds which caused a 13 foot storm surge flooding Manhattan back to Canal Street.
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  31. Dale anecdotal evidence is not the same a statistics. Noting that there have been hurricanes worse than Sandy in the past is essentially a cherry pick as what really matters is the trends. There are proper statistical procedures for analysing such trends, so if you really want to make a scientific argument, then I'm afraid you will need to use the proper scientific procedures.

    Alternatively you could argue the physics, can you explain why warmer oceans does not affect hurricane intensity as Prof. Trenberth suggests?
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  32. Dikran, it depends on the meaning of the dice analogy. If the dice has an outcome with "rainfalls could be 5 to 10 percent higher" then the analogy works. Storm surge could be another side of the dice with another few inches added to the surge. But I do not believe that a Sandy "event" is a valid dice roll outcome. The Sandy "event" as a whole was part of the pattern.

    As an example, had Sandy not appeared at the right time but instead a nor'easter spun up off the coast, but instead of moving inland the nor'easter lingered off of New Jersey pushing water into NYC for multiple high tides, it could have caused the same surge that Sandy did.

    A stalled front in fall could (and has) yielded more rainfall than Sandy did and that rain could be 5 to 10 percent higher due to climate change.
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  33. Eric (skeptic) You don't understand the analogy then. Loading the dice alters the distribution of values that you get when you repeatedly roll the dice. You will still roll ones and twos sometimes, but you will see more fives and sixes than you would if the die were not loaded. If you look at a single roll of the die, it is partly a matter of chance whether you get a one or a six, but also partly a matter of how heavily the die is loaded.

    Similarly, it takes a combination of "random factors" coming together to make a storm in the first place, but climate change alters the distribution of those "random factors" and hence has an effect on the intensity of storms (IIRC current thinking is that it is intensity that is affected more than frequency, but I not read a great deal on this particular issue).

    Just as you can't attribute rolling a six on a particular occasion purely on the loading of the die, you can't attribute the severity of a particular storm purely on climate change. However common sense should tell you that loading the die made that six more likely, and similarly a decent grasp of the physics should tell you that warmer oceans makes a strong storm/hurricane more likely.
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  34. Dikran, it seems we are talking about two things: the rolls of the dice and how often the dice is rolled. Science does not know if the dice will be rolled more or less often. I was simply assuming the same number of rolls. When the event happens (a roll), the dice are weighted to a more severe outcome.
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  35. Eric (skeptic), you are not correct in thinking that the analogy require the die to be rolled more often due to climate change. The die has a "one" on one face that corresponds to the absence of a storm worth recording. Loading the die could mean that there was a change in the probability of rolling a one corresponding to a change in the frequency of reported storms.

    As happens quite often when using analogies in the climate debate, you are over-complicating a simple analogy and hence missing the point. Loading a die means to change the distributions of the outcomes away from being equiprobable. Loading a die says nothing about how often the die is rolled, so there was no reason to introduce that complication.
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  36. Dikran @ 31:
    You mean like this statistical analysis from 1900-2006 finding no increasing trend in US Atlantic basin hurricane strikes?

    http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/abs/10.1175/2007JCLI1772.1

    Or this one (which includes the Pacific basin) from 1851 to 2009 also showing no trend in US hurricane strikes.

    http://moe.met.fsu.edu/~jcossuth/others/

    And finally don't forget Dr Ryan Maue's graphs, showing no increasing trend in global tropical storms or hurricanes/cyclones since 1970.

    http://policlimate.com/tropical/frequency_12months.png

    So yeah, let's look at trends.
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    Moderator Response:

    [DB] As commenter bill notes below, you need to evaluate Grinsted et al 2012:

    "We demonstrate that the major events in our surge index record can be attributed to landfalling tropical cyclones; these events also correspond with the most economically damaging Atlantic cyclones. We find that warm years in general were more active in all cyclone size ranges than cold years. The largest cyclones are most affected by warmer conditions and we detect a statistically significant trend in the frequency of large surge events (roughly corresponding to tropical storm size) since 1923. In particular, we estimate that Katrina-magnitude events have been twice as frequent in warm years compared with cold years (P < 0.02)."

    http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2012/10/10/1209542109

    Add in the warmest 17 years in the instrumental record are all the most recent 17 years...

  37. Dale wrote: "if this system had've hit a much less populated area, and much less financially and politically important area, would the same media hype have been seen?"

    Tell me. Why do you suppose this particular area is so financially important? Could it be on account of the deep water ports and major rivers that are rarely hit by natural disasters? Earthquakes, tornadoes, wild fires, and (until recently) major storms all generally give the northeastern US a pass.

    Now we've seen widespread power outages lasting several days three times in the past year. You think turning the biggest financial center in the world back to third world conditions is not a news worthy event?

    As to the actual storm... you seem not to comprehend the difference between 'hurricane strength' on the Saffir - Simpson scale, which measures top wind speed, and the total energy of the storm. Sandy's top wind speed was nowhere near as high as Katrina's, but it was a massively more powerful storm. Katrina had a devastating impact on one city and did significant damage in a couple of states. Sandy hit the east coast of North America. See the difference?

    On the ground report: Partial power has been restored in NYC, Newark, and other major cities. Oddly, traffic lights are still out in many places even where the surrounding buildings have power. Most water pumping stations and communications are back up, but electricity is another story. They seem to be concentrating on getting the cities restored before the surrounding areas. Which means that a lot of people (me included) now have power at their workplaces, but not at home. Only damage at my place was a 35 year old Magnolia tree which got crushed by a huge limb coming off a much older Oak in the neighbor's yard. Trees are down all over the area. They had done a lot of work after the prior outages to clear branches away from power lines and I didn't see any downed lines this time, but obviously it didn't solve the problem. Projections are that many areas could remain without power for a couple of weeks.
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  38. @Dale, yes, a reference to a peer-reviewed paper is a big improvement, which was the point I was making. Now if you want your argument to be really convincing, you should explain where these papers sit in the context of other studies. Do more modern studies agree with those conclusions? What about the severity, rather than the frequency of storms?

    What does the IPCC WG1 report say about this (which is a reasonable assessment of the mainstream scientific position). Does the IPCC cite reports that contradict the ones you cite?

    By the way, the first paper seems to me to overstate the conclusions, where they write "The hypothesis that hurricane strike frequencies are increasing in time is also statistically rejected.", which is not supported by the analysis as far as I can see. Not being able to reject the null hypothesis does not entitle you to reject the alternative hypothesis.

    To be clear, I was pointing out that your argument was flawed, not necessarily the conclusion. However strong claims (such as that mainstream climatology is wrong) requires similarly strong evidence. The ball is in your court.
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  39. Dale, I suggest you're angry and aggressive because you feel your world being torn out of your grasp by the very winds whose strength your denying. And rightly so - in the world outside your fanatical cast of mind virtually no-one swallows the 'this is all just a coincidence' line after decades of predictions of just such events as this, along with record melting sea-ice, record melting glaciers, egregious sets of broken temperature records, unprecedented event after event after event.

    We've even had McCain's daughter tweeting 'So, are still going to go with climate change not being real, fellow republicans?' It's that bloody obvious.

    The strategy of desperate cherry-picking, nit-picking, and general obfuscationist pedantry is falling apart. This was supposed to be a Type 1 error thing so you could sneer about a bit of water sloshing over the breakwaters, ha ha, stupid alarmists fussing over nothing, now let's all elect Mitt, wasn't it?

    And instead it turns out your Type 2 errors are coming home to roost, and it's blatantly obvious, even at the level of a Fox News audience, just what pollyannaish BS the whole 'isn't happening and anyway even if it is we'll adapt' thing is! Turns out reality really does have a strong liberal bias...

    And, Christ, man, how did this not really-impressive-at-all, barely-even-merits-the-name storm manage to do so much harm? Where did those barometric records come from? What's going to happen when some satisfactorily-higher-category proper full-on hurricane does hit? Shall we wait until then, and then we can all wring our hands with crystal conviction knowing that we should have done something thirty years ago, shall we?

    You don't know anything about risk. Get it? At all! The bulwark of your arrogance has been breached along with the sea-walls.

    You want to take up the whole trends thing? Go see Tamino discussing Grinsted. He'll thrash you, but you won't know it.

    And, as I said, do keep up the tone-deaf 'it was nothing I tell you' zealotry - it ain't our cause you're harming with it...
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    Moderator Response: [DB] Passion for science and accuracy is appreciated, but let us not lose control of how we pitch our comments. The discussion is veering into comments policy adherence territory. Let us remain respectful without losing that passion for the science and the dialogue will benefit accordingly. Thanks!
  40. This article from 2011 is not, strictly speaking, about Sandy. Still, it looks fairly on-topic...

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/nov/16/climate-change-report-new-york-city?CMP=twt_gu
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  41. To keep the discussion fixed purely on the science, can I suggest that Dale answers a question that demonstrates that he has a good grasp of the science of which he appears to be skeptical, namely:

    What does the IPCC say about trends in tropical cyclones (hurricanes and typhoons) and mid-latitude storms, both in terms of the historical records and projections of future climate?

    And perhaps not respond to his posts until he has demonstrated that he knows what mainstream science says on this issue by giving a direct and unambiguous answer to this question.
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  42. Dale, you can dump Maue. He's an ACE fanatic who does what the WeatherBell people tell him to do. ACE is simplistic and doesn't directly account for a storm's energy or destructive power via precipitation/movement of mass.
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  43. Deniers annoy me, but I have always known that the day would come when deniers would literally make me sick, when they would cross the line as the effects of their denial began to really, really demonstrate itself by directly impacting and hurting people -- lots and lots of people.

    We have Sandy, soon we'll have food prices whose effects will ripple through the developing world, we have more than that and it's getting worse with every passing day. People are getting hurt now.

    I also knew that when this day came, their denial would only get stronger and more aggressive, much as a little child will more and more adamantly claim he "didn't do it." They scream so loudly that they convince themselves of their innocence.

    And I also know that the day is going to come when this stuff is no longer remotely arguable, when we've seen four or five Sandy's, and Texas and Oklahoma farmers are abandoning their farm land for good, and food prices go up and stay up. And on and on and on.

    And when that day comes, some people are going to have to live with themselves (even though, so far, they've demonstrated an uncannily unwavering ability to spin lies into gold, to stand the facts and the physics on their heads to create a bizarre world where they are right and everyone else is wrong).

    The day is going to come when their complete idiocy is laid bare to all, including themselves. I hope they'll at least have the courage to do as Myron Ebell already did (denier-style quote mining purposefully executed here):
    "I’m sorry and I wish we could speed up our efforts to reverse the policies that we have supported here at CEI."
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  44. Dikran@41: ...OK.

    I'll also await an answer and avoid any more responses to Dale till we get that answer.
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  45. DSL....."ACE?"
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  46. Sphaerica:

    As far as "food prices go up and stay up" goes, I suspect we have reached that point already.
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  47. Composer99, while there has been an increase in food prices over the past few years I suspect Sphaerica was referring to what is expected to happen next year as the impact of abysmal US crop production this past Summer starts to hit the global marketplace. The 'midwest' of the United States produces a significant portion of the world's food supply. Mandates that some of that food be converted into ethanol have already been hitting prices, but the sharp drop in available supplies will cause a more significant rise. If poor farming conditions continue in many years this will become a 'new normal' which will have a devastating impact on poor areas around the world.
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  48. CBD@47: Given I live in the middle of ~30K acres (which a small fraction of total farmland here) of some of the most productive farmland on the plains (Weld County, CO is something like 3rd nationwide, in grain production) I see this going on: We weren't hit as hard as the Midwest wrt drought, and last year's winter wheat crop was *OK*. I've seen (literally, out my windows!) the crop yields from this year's production, for corn, beets, pinto beans, and sunflowers quite a bit lower than in years past. We just got a decent snow cover, which the winter wheat loved, but it will require lots more, and more persistent. snow cover till late April for the yields to be decent.

    Give the happs of the states to our east, farmers her are on pins and needles; the inputs have ALL gone up, and I watch my well like a hawk, givn a great deal of farmgn around me is center-pivot irrigation, which draws on the same aquifer as I am on.

    In short, I see food prices remaining high from now on. And let me say this unequivocally: Fuel-from-food is an asinine, stupid, idiotic idea. As you say, the primary and most hurtful effect of that is on the world's poor.
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  49. Anthropogenic global warming (AGW) does not spawn weather events/systems per se. So people arguing about whether or not Sandy was caused by global warming are missing the point, and that includes some of the media.

    With that said, AGW can (and does) influence the background setting in which the storms develop and does affect the odds of the storms/events being more intense/extreme than they would otherwise have been. Analysis of observations has demonstrated that fact repeatedly. Recent research has suggested that in a warming world we could see fewer tropical storms but those storms that do develop will likely be more intense (and as noted by gws @28 wind is not the only metric for quantifying the severity).

    Also, those arguing that Sandy was "only" a category one storm fail to take into account:

    1) The enormity of this storm, it was huge
    2) The fact that it passed over waters that were as much as 3 C warmer than average
    3) That the atmosphere is now capable of holding more water vapour than it was in the past (which translates into more precipitation)
    4) That because of the longer growing season, more trees were likely in leaf than would have been decades ago.
    5) Last but not least, the system develop atop a rising ocean (again mostly because of AGW)

    So of course Trenberth is not going to say that AGW caused Sandy. Eric's interpretation or paraphrasing of Trenberth is wrong and misrepresents his position and the science on this issue-- it is essentially a strawman argument.

    Here is a Nature article that, IMHO, provides a balanced look at the situation.

    More to come on this matter from SkS soon.
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  50. Dale on the '38 storm: 14-25 foot storm surge (also during a full moon) which if occurred today has been estimated would cause $40 billion in damage to New York.

    NOAA:

    Storm surges of 10 to 12 ft inundated portions of the coast from Long Island and Connecticut eastward to southeastern Massachusetts, with the most notable surges in Narragansett Bay and Buzzards Bay. Heavy rains before and during the hurricane produced river flooding, most notably along the Connecticut River.


    Even if Dale is truly desperate to sway opinions it's still better to stick to an accepted standard of facts. Otherwise we're likely to forever hear about the famous '38 storm and its ever-growing surge, always bigger than the biggest surge yet.
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