We keep hearing that same story over and over again about how extreme weather is becoming worse and more common due to human induced climate change. However, these claims couldn’t be further from the truth.
Some of these ridiculous claims of extreme weather events blamed on your SUV include an increase in drought, flooding, heat waves, hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, and winter weather. I think they threw in a couple of red herring there; like winter weather v. heat waves, and flooding v. drought.
FACT CHECKING THESE CLAIMS
1.) Has drought gotten worse? Well, it turns out that drought has been becoming less common in the United States. According to NOAA, the U.S. has been getting wetter since 1895.
2.) Has flooding gotten worse in the U.S.? According to the EPA, it hasn’t. There has been no trend at all in increasing flood risks since 1965.
3.) Have heat waves become more common? According to Dr. John Christy and Dr. Roy Spencer of UAH, heat waves actually peaked during the 1930s and 1940s, during the Dust Bowl period. The number of 100 degree days have been plummeting for over 90 years.
The number of all time record high and low temperatures have both been trending downward in the United States, which shows that the U.S. climate is becoming less extreme.
4.) Have hurricanes gotten worse and more frequent? No they haven’t. The number of hurricane landfalls in the United States has been trending downward since 1851, when records began. They really took a huge drop-off right around 1960.
What about the number of hurricanes globally? Dr. Ryan Maue from weather.us and weathermodels.com created the next two graphs, which show that the frequency of hurricanes and tropical cyclones have been declining since the 1970s.
5.) Have tornadoes gotten worse? Once again, the answer is no. In the United States, tornadoes have been in a decline since the 1950s.
Nevertheless, the amount of tornado damage has also declined.
6.) Have wildfires gotten larger and more frequent? No, the data shows that forest fires have declined and took a huge drop off after 1985.
Data from the U.S. Forest Service shows that the forest fire burn acreage has also been declining. The burn acreage peaked during the 1930s and 1940s.
Over the years, there have been numerous extreme weather events noted by observers and the U.S. Weather Bureau before CO2 reached 350 ppm.
August 29, 1775 – September 9, 1775 | “The Independence Hurricane”
– The Independence Hurricane first made landfall in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Heavy rains fell in southeastern Virginia that week. The hurricane finally made landfall in Newfoundland, Canada where many sailors died. All in all, over 4,000 people perished in the storm. It was the 8th deadliest hurricane in the Atlantic Ocean.
September 5 – 12, 1776 | “The Pointe-à–Pitre Guadeloupe Hurricane of 1776”
– This hurricane was the 7th deadliest in Atlantic hurricane history, with a death toll of over 6,000 people. Martinique and Guadeloupe were hit hard on September 5 and 6 respectively.
October 1780 | “The Great Hurricane of 1780”
– Perhaps the deadliest Atlantic hurricane in history, the Great Hurricane of 1780 struck the Caribbean in October of 1780. It is unknown where the hurricane originated, but according to reports, it made landfall in Barbados on October 10, hit Martinique and St. Lucia the worst. While fighting in the Revolutionary War, the British and French lost some of their Naval ships in the storm. Approximately 20,000 people were killed in total, making it the deadliest Atlantic Ocean hurricane in history.
August 24, 1814 | ‘Washington D.C. Tornado”
– During the War of 1812, as the British threw torches into buildings in Washington D.C., including the White House, a brutal thunderstorm struck the city just in time. The torrential rains put out most of the fires. The storm produced winds so powerful, that buildings were destroyed and trees were uprooted. The storm also spawned a rather large tornado that roared through town and drove the British right out of town.
September 1821 | “1821 Hurricane”
– This hurricane crashed into the Outer Banks on September 3, 1821 with winds sustained over 130 miles per hour, and went up the East Coast. Extensive damage was reported in Norfolk, VA and New York City. New York’s East River rose 13 feet in one hour due to the storm. The damage would have cost over $100 billion in 2018 dollars.
February 6, 1851 | “Black Thursday”
– Melbourne, Australia reached 117 degrees Fahrenheit in the shade by 8:00 AM.
October 8 – 10, 1871 | “The Great Midwest Wildfires of 1871”
– Between October 8 and October 10, 1871, there were multiple wildfires across the upper midwestern United States, which claimed over 2,000 lives.
This occurred at the same time as the Chicago fire, which killed over 300 people. It is still unknown what caused the Chicago fire in particular, but it has been (falsely) blamed on a cow knocking over a lantern. As for the cause of the other fires, it is understood that a prolonged drought and above normal temperatures contributed to the development and spread of the wildfires.
The town of Peshtigo, WI was hit the hardest with 800 people being killed.
June – October 1886 | “Most US Hurricanes in One Season”
– Between June and October of 1886, seven hurricanes struck the United States, three in June alone. Two of the seven were major hurricanes
1895 – December 1902 | “The Federation Drought”
– The Federation Drought affected most of Australia for a seven year span between 1895 and 1902. By the end of the drought, people were starving to death.
January 1896 | “Southeast Australia Heat Wave”
– The Heatwave of 1896 scorched Australia in January. In fact, it was the hottest month in New South Wales history. Some places recorded ten consecutive 120 + degree Fahrenheit days.
May 10, 1896 | “USA Heat Wave”
– On May 10, 1896, the United States endured a heat wave that brought many record highs anywhere east of the Mississippi. Parts of Illinois reached 99 degrees, while upper New England reached 98 degrees in spots.
The number of USHCN stations above 90 degrees on May 10 has been declining over the past 120 years.
August 1896 | “East Coast USA Heat Wave”
– The heat wave began on August 2, 1896 and ended on August 13. The death toll was a staggering, at 1,500 losses. The high temperature in New York City reached 94 degrees, but the thermometer was way off of the ground. Other measurements and reports say that the heat wave may have produced downtown ground temperatures of 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Theodore Roosevelt was the police commissioner at the time. He gave out free ice and he allowed residents to sleep in the park.
August 27 – September 17, 1900 | “Great Galveston Hurricane”
– On September 8, 1900, Galveston, Texas was destroyed by a Category 4 hurricane. The National Weather Service (at the time – U.S. Weather Bureau) warned people about the incoming hurricane. However, most vacationers did not listed and were killed in the storm surge. Around 7,000 people died. This hurricane remains the deadliest weather disaster in U.S. history. If this were to happen again today, it would be blamed on climate change by the media.
July 1901 | “East Coast USA Heat Wave”
– In July of 1901, a brutal heat wave struck the eastern United States with temperatures over 100 degrees. Many records still stand today; Washington D.C., NYC, Detroit, and Chicago.
July 4, 1911 | “Hottest July 4 in the USA”
– July 4, 1911 was the hottest July 4 in the USA on record.
July 1913 | “Hottest Temperature Ever Recorded on Earth”
– On July 10, 1913, Furnace Creek Ranch, CA recorded a record high temperature of 134.1 degrees Fahrenheit. It wasn’t just a record for the area or for the day, but it was the hottest temperature ever recorded on Earth’s surface.
Dr. John Christy Testimony to Congress Number 1
Dr. John Christy Testimony to Congress Number 2
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