We now live in a world where every change in the weather is proof of catastrophic climate change. The latest `proof` of catastrophe is attribution theory. Perhaps, so! But if attribution theory is proof, the questions that Ed Reid poses should be easy to answer.
2023 Hurricane Season
The 2023 hurricane season has not provided many opportunities for the wizards of instant climate change attribution to assess the impacts of climate change on the performance of individual tropical cyclones. Perhaps this represents an opportunity for them to refocus from “separating the fly specks from the pepper” and apply their vaunted models and analytical skills to understanding why tropical depressions, storms and cyclones form and what determines how they move and develop after they form. The 2023 hurricane season certainly offers some interesting study subjects.
Hurricane Hillary, which formed off the coast of Baja, California made landfall in southern California as a tropical storm and saturated portions of southern California and Nevada. Hillary was an unusual, but not unprecedented storm. What caused this storm to form and what caused it to track through the US Southwest?
What caused tropical storm Otis to form and then rapidly intensify to Cat 5 before making landfall in Acapulco, Mexico?
What caused Hurricane Idalia to form and what caused it to make landfall in a portion of Florida which has not ever experienced a hurricane landfall? What caused it to turn East and move into the Atlantic?
What caused Hurricane Lee to move up the East coast of the US and only make landfall as a tropical storm in Maine and Nova Scotia?
What caused tropical storm Ophelia to form and then to make landfall in North Carolina and move North through the US Northeast?
Why did so many 2023 storms stall or turn North in the mid-Atlantic and then dissipate?
To put these questions in the format preferred by the climate change attribution wizards:
- What impact (if any) did climate change have on the number of tropical waves which formed in 2023?
- What impact (if any) did climate change have on the location at which tropical waves developed?
- What impact (if any) did climate change have on the number of tropical waves which developed into tropical disturbances?
- What impact (if any) did climate change have on the number of tropical waves which developer into tropical depressions?
- What impact (if any) did climate change have on the number of tropical depressions which developed into tropical storms?
- What impact (if any) did climate change have on the number of tropical storms which developed into hurricanes?
- What impact (if any) did climate change have on the number of hurricanes which developed into major hurricanes?
- What impact (if any) did climate change have on the number of these major hurricanes which made landfall?
- What impact (if any) did climate change have on rapid intensification?
It is interesting to ask these questions against the background of a less active than normal hurricane season with only two landfalling hurricanes; and, in a year in which a rare, but not unprecedented, tropical storm made landfall in southern California.
Asking these questions in a year of below average tropical cyclone activity in all of the basins prone to tropical cyclone development might seem strange and perhaps a bit unfair to the climate change attribution wizards, but they must be asked and hopefully answered.
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