Storm Surge Commences in Rhode Island

Wickford Village, three hours before high tide, as Sandy’s storm surge began to be seen in Rhode Island. Photo by Harold Ambler

As of 6:30 pm, the Rhode Island coast has started seeing effects of the storm surge from Hurricane Sandy.

In Narragansett, Beach Street was closed, with washover from Narragansett Town Beach flooding the road. Boston Neck Road was on the verge of being cut by water a hundred yards south of the bridge over Narrow River, which had already exceeded its flood tide plain.

Also in Narragansett, South River Road was breached by storm surge in at least three locations, with the tide rising rapidly. Many residents along the low-lying road who had not heeded calls for mandatory evacuation could be seen looking anxiously toward the river.

In North Kingstown, Wickford Village was cut off by water. Police had closed the corner of Brown and Main as well as a second point at the intersection of Newton and Main.

The waters of East Greenwich harbor were spilling onto Water Street, which the police had closed to traffic at Queen Street.


Posted in hurricane sandy, sandy, Wickford damage | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Peak Winds Approaching Rhode Island Right Now

A packet of intense winds approaching Rhode Island appears as a brown “hook” coming in from the northeast. Image, from the NAM computer model, comes courtesy of Dr. Ryan Maue of Weatherbell Analytics.

Dangerous Hurricane Sandy is increasing in size and intensity as it approaches the Greater New York metropolitan area. According to meteorologist Ryan Maue of Weatherbell Analytics, the city is “insufficiently prepared.”

After initially downplaying storm surge from the hurricane, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg reversed course on Sunday and began ordering mandatory evacuations for low-lying areas in the city. The subway stopped running Sunday evening, and will remain closed through at least Tuesday morning.

The surge in Long Island Sound and New York Harbor is likely to be extremely distractive.

For those of my readers in Rhode Island, where my family and I are based, it is the next 12 hours that will be critical. A packet of strong winds should be start taking the state in the next 30 minutes and last for four or more hours. If power lines are going to come down, this is the most likely time for it to happen.

The storm surge in Narragansett Bay will largely coincide with the evening high tide at 8:26 pm, and will cause flooding. As of 12 noon EST, the National Hurricane Center indicated a probably peak surge for the bay of 5 to 7 feet.

Beach erosion from Cape Cod to the Outer Banks of North Carolina will range from severe to extreme, with waves of 15 to 20 feet pounding the coastline for 24-48 hours.

In the midst of the extreme conditions, the National Hurricane Center has chosen to play games with terminology. The NHC, anticipating a transition of Sandy from a “pure” hurricane with tropical characteristics to an extratropical cyclone, declined to issue hurricane warnings throughout New England and even the New Jersey coast where the storm is expected to make landfall.

Although Sandy has been a hurricane for longer than ten days, and may yet make landfall as a hurricane, the likelihood of the extratropical transition has convinced the meteorologists employed to serve the public to instead confuse it with the designation protocol.

Make no mistake. Under normal circumstances Cape Cod to Montauk would be under a tropical storm warning. Montauk to Delaware Bay would be under a hurricane warning. And Delaware Bay to the Outer Banks would be under a tropical storm warning.

People understand these designations, and they should be used in situations like this, academic purity be damned.

If you are in Rhode Island, the time to seek shelter and ride out the storm is right now. How’s that for clarity?

Posted in hurricane sandy, hurricanes, rhode island, storm surge | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Computer Models: Hurricane Sandy to Slam Northeast

The U.S. Navy computer model showing Hurricane Sandy approaching the Northeast Monday morning. (Image courtesy of Penn State eWall.)

Top-of-the-line computer models have been forecasting a devastating blow delivered by Hurricane Sandy to the Northeast early next week for several days now. In the computer model scenarios, Sandy could come ashore anywhere from Maryland to Cape Cod and would do damage to a wide swath of coastline and many inland locations as well.

As of Wednesday morning, the National Weather Service in New York City issued a preliminary public advisory:


That the NWS wants to avoid worrying the public over a “fish storm” made perfect sense for the initial two or three days that Sandy began to be seen by the computer models. However, as of this writing, the great majority of members of NOAA’s Global Forecast System climate model are indicating a curve toward New York City and the densely populated I-95 corridor.

With Arctic air rushing south on the western edge of Sandy as it makes landfall, the potential exists for an unusual (though not unprecedented) one-two punch, with the dire effects of a hurricane on the coast (and well inland) and a crippling snowstorm 250 miles to the west.

A full moon early next week, and its attendant astronomic high tides, stands to increase the effects of beach erosion and storm surge.

In this observer’s opinion, preliminary preparations for the tens of millions living in the region that would be affected by Sandy should be begun before the weekend, with unusually long power outages among the risks posed by the storm.

There’s a reason that the NWS avoids making forecasts too soon: It can’t afford to cry wolf. But it’s time to let the public know that something is in the offing here.

The situation is that serious.

Posted in computer models, weather | Tagged , , | 7 Comments

Climate Supercomputer is Super Emitter

The Yellowstone supercomputer, housed at the new NCAR-Wyoming Supercomputing Center in Cheyenne. (Photo by Carlye Calvin of NCAR)

Climate scientists in Cheyenne, Wyoming, from the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) have just brought online what they say is “the largest supercomputer in the world dedicated to geosciences.”

That is saying something, as NCAR already had an enormous supercomputer that it was using, and will continue to use, in Colorado. Other climate computers in use in the United States, at Stanford, Columbia, NASA, NOAA, and elsewhere, have vast computing power as well.

Somewhat ironically, the computational power comes at a price in moral standing, if one equates having a small carbon footprint with having a high moral ranking. That’s because supercomputers of this scale slurp up electricity at staggering rates. The climate scientists using them will tell you that the end justifies the means in their case, and they could be right. But there’s no getting away from the fact that these individuals are using more electricity than you could ever dream of doing.

You and a hundred friends could run around your town or city, let yourselves in unlocked doors every time you found one, and turn on all the lights, all the appliances, all the computers, all the televisions, and all the stereos, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, and you wouldn’t touch, you wouldn’t come close, to emitting what these scientists are now emitting, in the name of fighting climate change.

For those keeping track at home, NCAR’s new computer, requires 8 megawatts of power, on a continual basis to function properly, which is enough to power a town of 25,000 people, living three to a home.

Indeed, NCAR’s supercomputer was constructed in Wyoming specifically because the electricity in the state cost less than that in Colorado. Thus, dozens of scientists and their families moved across the state line because doing so would allow them to emit more carbon dioxide than even NCAR could afford in its original location.

Justifying such heavy carbon dioxide emission is hardly foreign to the major players in the climate change camp. United Nations scientists famously schedules the bulk of their meetings and conferences in faraway places where jet travel is not just an option, but a requirement. Being a top-tier climate scientists means that you’re going to fly, fly, and fly some more. Anyone fantasizing about telling Al Gore that such a system, whereby the ones most concerned about carbon footprints have some of the biggest footprints themselves, needs to stop right now. You’re not going to find the man anywhere that he might listen to your concerns face to face. Why? Because he’s airborne, encircling the globe again and again, as he enjoins you to change the light bulbs in your home, and do as he says and not as he does.

That said, even the former vice-president is a relative lightweight when it comes to massive fossil fuel use. For that kind of ongoing and ever-growing achievement, you need to look to the scientists at NCAR. If they’d bothered to read my book about climate change, they might have been able to shrink their carbon footprint dramatically, and in good conscience.

(Hat tip to Anthony Watts.)

Posted in Climate change, computer models, crying wolf, don't sell your coat, NCAR | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Does Accuweather Issue Corrections?

Evan Myers, above, and Brett Anderson, below, discuss climate in Accuweather’s frighteningly named weekly segment.

Yesterday, I watched Accuweather’s weekly segment “Climate Extremes,” and a couple of the statements made were so inaccurate that I wanted to respond here. The presenters, Evan Myers and Accuweather’s resident climate-change expert Brett Anderson, walked viewers through the year’s temperature and weather in the Lower 48, particularly, stating with an odd mix of mirth and gravitas that 2012 would be a top-five warm year for the bulk of U.S. states.

I have no huge problem with that fact, even if it is based on temperatures data that has been adjusted upward by NOAA before it is offered to the public for consumption. I will mention, though, that the 1930s were warmer in the United States, by any objective measure, with worse droughts than those we’re seeing today. That said, I accept the overall observation that 2012 has been a significantly warmer year than average in my homeland.

Myers asks Anderson in the video what the impact on human beings is of the warmer temperatures, and Anderson rightly places drought at the top of the list. Although it turns out that corn harvests this year are far better than the dire forecasts of mid-summer indicated they would be, the drought has been tough on farmers and tough on communities across a big swath of the country. But here’s where things get weird. Anderson’s number-two item on the list of most worrisome effects on people of the warm year: tornadoes.

The first several months of the year did indeed see more tornadoes than average, but the months since have been unusually quiet, and overall 2012 has been far below average in the United States in terms of tornados. I expect a professional meteorologist, one who is an avowed expert on extreme weather and climate change, one who is on a prominent weather network, to get his facts straight about such a serious matter. For, conveying to the members of one’s audience who are known to be especially concerned about climate change that they’re at bigger risk of getting taken out by a tornado is indeed that, a serious matter. It turns out, though, that if you wanted to communicate the reality of 2012 in the United States when it comes to tornadic activity, then you would likely want to mention that it has been a gentle year so far, not an extreme one. You might even be tempted to shout the good news from the rooftops: “Hallelujah! The number of most lethal and frightening storms is down!”

Next in the video, Anderson fleshes out the issue of drought, observing that the preceding few months have been dry in the Pacific Northwest: “Well, we’ve had drought issues, we’ve had very low, water shortages showing up now, across the Northwest, which is unusual.” Presumably, Anderson is riffing off most people’s familiarity with the fact that the Pacific Northwest is famously wet. But he’s a meteorologist, one responsible for providing reliable and sound information to the public, and he appears bent in this instance, as he does frequently on Accuweather, on giving people the message: “It’s worse than you thought.”

Anderson has to know that drought is a standard feature in the Pacific Northwest’s climate. If he doesn’t, I’m telling him so now. Dozens, if not hundreds, of peer-reviewed scientific papers establish the fact that droughts, many of them serious, many of them sustained, have been occurring in the region for thousands of years. An excerpt from a single such paper is Knapp et al., 2003: “Historical climate data back to ca. A.D. 1895 and extended back several centuries using tree-ring records have shown that the interior Pacific Northwest (PNW) region commonly experiences persistent droughts.”

Now, these are two instances of inaccurate depictions of weather and climate on Accuweather, one regarding tornadoes (which Anderson suggested are up but are really down) and one regarding drought in the Pacific Northwest (which Anderson said is unusual but is anything but). Anderson is good enough to interact with commenters on Accuweather, defending his insistent dependence on alarmist climate news items politely and with good cheer. Will he now issue a correction of the errors in his discussion of climate? Or will the video simply be taken down? Or will Anderson and Myers and Accuweather itself simply allow the mistakes to stand? Only time will tell.

Posted in Accuweather, Brett Anderson, Climate change, drought, Evan Myers, media, tornados | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Of Crowbars and Perfect Fall Mornings

Blue sky through leaves, in a photo taken in Palo Alto, California, by yours truly in the fall of 2008.

On those days when your spot on the globe is favored by the whims of the atmosphere, it’s OK to enjoy the bright, beautiful morning outside your door. There is no moral requirement to taint it with the thought of manmade global warming. At my abode in coastal Rhode Island today, the sky is crystalline blue, there is the faintest of breezes, a few leaves are just starting to turn. The temperature: 55 degrees. Heaven!

It’s also OK to enjoy the next tremendous rainstorm that turns your street into a brook. There is no moral requirement to taint this temporary, exciting event with the thought of global warming, either.

Indeed, you are at perfect liberty to love – and marvel at – the atmosphere, as you did when you were an innocent child.

That’s what I’m doing this morning, and that’s what I plan to do for the rest of my life.

Perhaps it’s obvious that I and all others have the freedom to do just this? Not in the slightest!

For among the uncountable sins associated with global warming hysteria – making food needlessly expensive, making energy exorbitantly pricy, restricting the development of the Third World, squandering environmental cleanup funds on carbon dioxide abatement when there is actual environmental cleanup urgently needed – is that of putting a crowbar between billions of human beings and their sense of connectedness to nature.

This manufactured alienation may not seem to rank with the other listed problems, but it is because of it that all the others are possible. For once you convince the world’s citizens that they are living under a post-Nature atmosphere, convincing them to rewrite laws – no matter how misguided – to supposedly reestablish the natural order becomes a simple task.

That 95 percent of these people have essentially no knowledge of the atmosphere’s past characteristics and behavior makes the amount of leverage you need to apply to the crowbar minimal. Indeed, sufficient force for the task is as simple as this: Tell people that the 4.5-billion-year-old planet they’re living on has been warming, faintly, for 150 years. (Probably a good idea not to tell them about my book, or to allow their moment of climatological history to be put in perspective in any way  at all.)

Once again: you are at liberty to marvel at weather. And, honestly, I hope you will.





Posted in Climate change, crying wolf, global warming | Tagged | 1 Comment

UN: Hunger will be worsened by ethanol

You know you’re in trouble when even the United Nations says your “green” doings are morally unconscionable.

The practical problems with corn-derived ethanol being used as fuel for automobile motors, landscaping tool motors, and outboard motors are too numerous to mention. The short version of the story is that ethanol causes water to condense in fuel systems, leading to nightmares for users.

But the very idea that using crops to make the internal combustion engine “greener” and therefore more moral is simply wrong. As I elaborate upon in my book, it is particularly egregious when soy markets spike due to the conversion of soy to motor fuel, as tempeh and other soy products are the only affordable form of protein in much of the world. It turns out that the road to hell really is paved with good intentions.

Now, incredibly, even the United Nations agrees. The director general of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, Jose Graziano da Silva, said suspension of the United States quota requiring 40 percent of the U.S. corn crop to be turned into fuel should be suspended immediately. Citing the drought in the American heartland, da Silva argued that the world food supply was in peril. Which U.S. congressman will be the first to stand up to the potent ethanol lobby and say that food is more important than sub-par motor fuel?

We should be finding out any minute now …

Posted in don't sell your coat, ethanol | Tagged , , ,

Temperature expert comes out swinging

This National Weather Service image shows an instrument that is meant to be an example of what a modern temperature recording instrument should look like and how it should be set up but in fact the sensor is incorrectly sited (too close to a tree). I found the image randomly when searching for an image of an MMTS, and it is a wonderful indication of how problematic the U.S. temperature record really is.

There is a realm that the overwhelming majority of Americans have never visited. In that realm there are several operative truths:

  1. It matters how you measure atmospheric temperature
  2. It matters what you do to temperature data after you record it
  3. The United States is in possession of the best temperature-measuring system in the world
  4. The United States temperature-measuring system is deeply flawed
  5. The ways that various august United States scientific agencies deal with the deeply flawed temperature data are themselves deeply flawed

That realm I’m referring to is the climate change blogosphere. The King of the Climate Change Blogosphere is Anthony Watts, a meteorologist who was horrified when he started looking at temperature measuring stations a few years back and has been horrified ever since.

While Watts assembled an army of volunteers, quite literally, to assist in the recording of problems associated with temperature stations all over the United States, he also started to accumulate an impressively large following in the blogosphere. It turns out that there are more weather, climate, and science geeks than meet the eye.

But this reflection is not for them. Rather, it is for the non-climate obsessed, the hundreds of millions of regular folks who have, through no fault of their own, come to believe that the temperature data being discussed by New York Times reporters, CNN anchors, university professors, and politicians (including Al Gore), was sacrosanct. I mean, this had to be a no brainer – that you could trust scientists working after the splitting of the atom and travel to the Moon to operate thermometers correctly, right? Well, not so much.

Ironically, this very week, yet another seemingly unassailable study by the renowned Berkeley physicist Richard Muller linking temperature rise to manmade carbon dioxide emissions was out, being touted in The New York Times. Did we have to question the actual data that such studies and articles were based upon – weren’t we beyond this?

Sadly, we did have to, and we weren’t beyond this.

Parrying the efforts of Muller to dismiss questions about the temperature record, Watts announced the forthcoming submission of an article showcasing his work on the grim status of the U.S. temperature recording network. The article had been co-authored by Steve McIntyre, likely the climate change skeptic most feared by mainstream climate scientists, and satellite-temperature-recording expert John Christy of the University of Alabama at Huntsville.

Watts and his co-authors’ findings were extraordinary: of the warming alleged by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, fully half was produced by either faulty measurements or extraneous upward adjustments of temperature. The fact that temperature data is routinely adjusted, at all, is one of the givens in the realm visited by so few people. In fact, one of the principal activities of both NASA and NOAA’s climatologists is precisely to adjust temperature. Again, this is known and accepted (although questioned) in the climate geek community and something like an urban legend, on a good day, among regular folk.

Remember: The shoddy temperature recording and data adjustments taking place in the U.S. are as good as it gets. Known temperature-measuring issues, particularly having to do with ever-larger, ever-warmer airports around the world, may well play an even larger role in the supposedly catastrophic warming that still has yet to generate the kinds of warmth scientists see evidence of from earlier climate periods. Even Muller in his Times piece admitted that the Medieval Warm Period a thousand years ago may have been as warm – or warmer – than today.

Will Watts’ academic paper bring the reality of the ugly but seemingly invisible debates about temperature being had on a near-daily basis into the public eye? In e-mail response to my questions, Watts said he hoped it would. “I also expect bureaucracy to resist addressing the issue,” he wrote. “For example when I first started this project in June 2007 within two weeks of announcing it, NCDC shut down access to the public database. I had to make legal arguments to get it restored. Likewise when my paper came out in 2009 NOAA went around quietly closing some of the most embarrassing stations that I highlighted, but made no notice to anyone.”

To buy the only book detailing Anthony Watts’ work, click here.

Posted in Anthony Watts, Climate change, medieval warm period, Richard Muller | Tagged | 5 Comments

Richard Muller has absolutely no idea what it is to be a climate skeptic

Richard Muller has risen to prominence as a supposed skeptic of climate change. In the New York Times piece alarmists are using to permanently discredit climate change skepticism, though, he writes, “it’s possible that we are currently no warmer than we were a thousand years ago, during the ‘Medieval Warm Period’ or ‘Medieval Optimum,’ an interval of warm conditions known from historical records and indirect evidence like tree rings.” Guardian photo by Dan Tuffs.

Richard Muller has no freaking idea what it is to be a climate skeptic. When you’re an actual climate skeptic the following things are true:

  1. Your career becomes less successful, rather than more
  2. The New York Times does not publish you
  3. People that you used to count as friends treat you with, at the very least, mild disdain

4. You get to be intellectually consistent

Muller just got significantly more famous by supposedly turning in his skeptic’s card by producing a new study and publishing a related Op-Ed in the NYT.

Those of us who are real skeptics, rather than people who pose as skeptics for dramatic purposes, will now endure people from the sky-is-falling crowd taunting us for the coming two weeks, as my acquaintances will, with the Times piece as proof of the fact that skeptics are ill-informed, at best, and evil, more likely. Our tormentors will have missed the most important paragraph in the article, of course:

Hurricane Katrina cannot be attributed to global warming. The number of hurricanes hitting the United States has been going down, not up; likewise for intense tornadoes. Polar bears aren’t dying from receding ice, and the Himalayan glaciers aren’t going to melt by 2035. And it’s possible that we are currently no warmer than we were a thousand years ago, during the “Medieval Warm Period” or “Medieval Optimum,” an interval of warm conditions known from historical records and indirect evidence like tree rings. And the recent warm spell in the United States happens to be more than offset by cooling elsewhere in the world, so its link to “global” warming is weaker than tenuous.

So let’s get that on the table right away here. Muller has actually said something important here, and it will get completely lost in the noise of a pseudo-skeptic becoming the non-skeptic that he was all along, in the public mind. Lost is the fact that some of the all-time favorite alarmist AGW claims have been rejected by Muller, even as he embraces other alarmist claims and the alarmist mission as a whole. The logic Muller employs is devastatingly weak. He says the recent warming matches the recent rise in carbon dioxide. But he knows that there have been past warmings, and he knows that they by definition were not caused by human emissions. How can determine that the physics that drove past warmings have ceased to be operative? In other words, if the Sun rises 39 billion, 999 million, 999 thousand, 999 times, and on the 40 billionth time the Sun rises I deem that it has done so for a new reason, most sane folks would declare me mad. And they would be right.

There is no compelling reason to look fearfully at the climate system until it begins to exhibit new behavior, just as there is no compelling reason to ascribe the Sun’s rising to anything new.

Muller acknowledges variability during the preceding 1,000 years. And what about the preceding 10,000 years? What about the preceding three million years? The variability during all wider time frames swamps the recent noise in the temperature record! The Hockey Stick, including and especially Muller’s own version of it, is a reckless perversion of science and an instrument of control. Period.

(Hat tip to Greg Gutfeld.)

To buy a truly skeptic book on climate change, click here.

Posted in Climate change, global warming, media, polar bears, Richard Muller, sea ice, skepticism, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

An Awful Waste of Brain Power

Every now and then, everyone has to howl.

(With apologies to Allen Ginsberg. To buy my updated book, click here.)

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by climate, starving hysterical modeled,

dragging themselves through the university streets at dawn looking for a bit of funding,

noble-caused monsters yearning for the ancient connection to the Galileo-thrashing Church of Righteousness,

who junkets and grants glistening-eyed and Lefty sat up searching in the preternatural dawn of humming machines for a way to close the temple once and for all,

who saw undergraduates stare toward them in ugly worship and imagined a lifetime of same just a little uglier and more fervent still,

who passed through the ramparts of reason but sparingly and never shed the dark cloak once while there,

who were seldom expelled from the academies for crazy & publishing the fruit of obscene codes but not the codes,

who cowered in holy terror of what nature had done and would do, accumulating their money in tin hats and broadcasting their torture through the wall,

who got promoted in their Lenin beards returning through the Maldives with a pack of journos following ready to pick up a crumb of wisdom,

who toasted their like selves until glasses broke or shoulders tired, a good year that,

with dreams, with shrugs, with shaking nightmares, hidden data missing data get your own freaking data,

intellectual blind alleys muttering lingo and leaping towards poles of Arctic Antarctica from the cover of tropics, illuminating the crabby surreal world of apathy between,

false consciousness resultant from checks that always come and always clear, shuffling sensible shoes on linoleum hallway floors and yet still sexy somehow, like every Church leader ever, like that,

who chained themselves to intellectual perversions for the fast ride from associate to full professor concerned not for the young ones frozen in lies,

who plotted dire dreamings that sounded as real as Hell and were more so,

who talked continuously seventy hours from CRU to PSU to the White House and never wondered how this dream came true,

how it was during their time that the sky had come to fall at last as they’d dreamed for so long,

who thought themselves privileged and courageous to report seeing the very first brick of the bright blue vault tumbling straight down

Posted in Climate change, computer models, weather, witch burning | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments