As 2013′s (so far quiet) tropical storm season reaches peak time, remind anyone who tries to tell you there is something unique about the next hurricane to strike the U.S. that history shows hurricanes to be natural events. They always have been.
“Superstorm” Sandy, for instance, was not a “major” storm. It had fallen to category I and below by the time it made landfall. Its damage was primarily caused by striking areas of the U.S. northeast that rarely experience hurricanes and are not well prepared for them. It also arrived when the tide would add in to cause a large storm surge.
Hurricane Katrina’s devastation of New Orleans was largely due to aging levies failing to protect one of the few great world cities existing in part below sea level.
Those who remember their history can contrast the devastation wreaked upon the northeast by the “great” hurricane of 1938, or the hurricane which demolished Galveston, Texas in 1900. Remember also the pair of Pacific cyclones of 1274 and 1281 which destroyed Kublai Khan’s Mongol fleets and prevented them from invading Japan. This “divine wind” later lent its name, “kamikaze,” to the Japanese suicide flyers of WWII.
NOAA assembled 11,967 hurricane / cyclone tracks from 1842 to 2012 and compiled the tracks into one image.
So far, 2013 has seen historically low tropical storm activity in the North Atlantic, with none at all developing into hurricanes to date. It has been eight years since a major hurricane hit the US, the longest such period since the Civil War.
The U.S. has experienced the fewest hurricanes during President Obama’s time in office it has during any president’s. Perhaps Obama’s promise that his election “was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow, and our planet began to heal” was not made entirely in vain after all.
NOAA compiled its tropical storm tracks using historical data assembled from ships logs and other observations and then moved on to storm chasing aircraft and modern satellite data.
NOAA’s artful rendering of tropical storm tracks serves as a powerful reminder that tropical storms are natural, historic and to be expected. Preparing for hurricanes is prudent. Hyping them to push the global warming agenda is propaganda.