“Hurricanes are fake news” guy Rush Limbaugh deservedly took a lot of heat for his comments on Hurricane Irma last week when he essentially accused the media of hyping up the storm as “fake news.” That’s not to say the conservative talk host was entirely wrong. He was correct that it is in the media’s interest to sell hurricanes as huge, whopping threats (be honest, do you watch The Weather Channel at any other time than during a tropical cyclone landfall?). But “the media” doesn’t do this because of some global warming conspiracy theory, Rush; they do it for ratings and clicks.
But what else would you expect from this mindless fat blowhard?
Ten-day forecast” guy Among the most frustrating things during the lead-up to Hurricane Irma’s landfall were the newfound “experts” who seized upon the widespread anxiety to promote the next big threat. During this time, Hurricane Jose represented such a threat. I can’t count how many times I saw someone on social media share a 10-day model forecast for Jose that looped around the Atlantic Ocean before striking the US East Coast. I’m going to pick on Justin Miller below because the national editor of The Daily Beast ought to know better. It is true that the operational run of the European model on Saturday (12z) did show a looping Jose returning to near the East Coast around September 20. And yet… this was a single-track forecast at 10 days, when the average error can often be measured in thousands of kilometers. Moreover, there was little support for a US landfall in the ensemble forecast of the same run (this is the 50 or so additional runs of a model, with slightly different initial conditions, at a lower resolution than the operational model).
This is important because, whereas forecasters use the operational model for five-day forecasts, ensembles become more useful after that time due to increasing uncertainty. In the image below, you can see almost no ensemble members bringing Jose to shore. The operational model, therefore, was a huge outlier to be discounted. The problem with “10-day forecast” guy is that he or she doesn’t have any real interest in being correct. The primary motivation is “look at me.” Having lived through Harvey and writing for shellshocked people in Houston, I can tell you that their greatest fear is that another storm is coming soon, when they are most vulnerable. Constantly, I got questions about Irma—what if it doesn’t turn and comes to Texas? This kind of irresponsible social sharing plays on those fears. Jose may ultimately come to the United States, but there is no truth to be found from “10-day forecast” guy.
So why did Irma miss Miami? About 48 hours before Irma made landfall along the southwestern Florida coast near Marco Island, hurricane forecasts began closing in on that track. At that time frame before landfall, the official forecast from the National Hurricane Center has an average error of about 70 miles.
As a sailor, I follow models closely. Anything over 3 days has such a huge margin of error that I notate it, but discount these when route planning. Of course, I am not motivated by advertising revenue, just my own and my crew’s safety.
“It wasn’t that bad” guy.. Oh, Ann Coulter. Why must you be so horrible? Coulter, who lives in Palm Beach, Florida, tweeted on Sunday morning at about the time that Irma was covering the Florida Keys in water and bearing down on the southwestern coast of Florida.
Ann Coulter @AnnCoulter HURRICANE UPDATE FROM MIAMI: LIGHT RAIN; RESIDENTS AT RISK OF DYING FROM BOREDOM…I wish cables would mention the hurricane. There is a decidedly heavier-than-average morning dew in Miami; Palm Beach bordering on breezy.
First of all, conditions were pretty grim in Miami on Sunday. Secondly, by Friday evening, it was clear that Irma was going to move further west than expected and, instead of hitting southeastern Florida—including the Miami area—it was going to strike the southwestern part of the state. But instead of being inwardly grateful about being spared by Irma or having some empathy for her fellow Floridians, Coulter went full Coulter.
Rush clone Ann – you are a disgrace to your Cornell and University of Michigan Alma Maters.