Promiscuous storm naming driving up insurance costs

Houston Chronicle:

With another hurricane season set to end this Friday, a controversy is brewing over decisions of the National Hurricane Center to designate several borderline systems as tropical storms.

Some meteorologists, including former hurricane center director Neil Frank, say as many as six of this year's 14 named tropical systems might have failed in earlier decades to earn "named storm" status.

"They seem to be naming storms a lot more than they used to," said Frank, who directed the hurricane center from 1974 to 1987 and is now chief meteorologist for KHOU-TV. "This year, I would put at least four storms in a very questionable category, and maybe even six."

Most of the storms in question briefly had tropical storm-force winds of at least 39 mph. But their central pressure — another measure of intensity — suggested they actually remained depressions or were non-tropical systems.

Any inconsistencies in the naming of tropical storms and hurricanes have significance far beyond semantics.

The number of a season's named storms forms the foundation of historical records used to determine trends in hurricane activity. Insurance companies use these trends to set homeowners' rates. And such information is vital to scientists trying to determine whether global warming has had a measurable impact on hurricane activity.

Forecasters at the hurricane center deny there's any inconsistency in the practice of naming tropical storms.

...

Scientists generally agree that prior to the late 1970s and widespread satellite coverage, hurricane watchers annually missed one to three tropical storms that developed far from land or were short-lived.

But this season's large number of minimal tropical storms whose winds exceeded 39 mph for only a short period has ignited a separate debate: whether even more modern technology and a change in philosophy has artificially inflated the number of storms in recent years.

...

There is much more. The QuikSCAT satellite makes it easier to spot these minimal storms, many of which are not even formed in the tropics. One reason we are seeing "increased" numbers of "storms" is that it fits the agenda of the globo warmers who want to blame them on warming. Even with the increased naming of marginal storms they were disappointed this year in the lack of activity. It appears that the agenda of the globo warmers is having a real cost for home owners along the coast who have to pay higher insurance rates because of their obsession.

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