Tuesday, May 22, 2007

More Hurricane Alarmism

I sort of wish the media would stop covering these stories since they seem incapable of understanding them correctly: Experts predict 'active' hurricane season

Story Highlights• Forecasters predict seven to 10 hurricanes this season
• Expert: Florida 4 times as likely to be hit, Texas twice as likely
• El Nino over, making way for more storms on East, Gulf coasts
• Last year, there were 10 named storms in the Atlantic


Government forecasters called for a busier than normal hurricane season Tuesday.

National Weather Service forecasters said they expect 13 to 17 tropical storms, with seven to 10 of them becoming hurricanes.

OK, lets look at this. Since 1967 the percentage of tropical storms that have made landfall in Florida is a little over 13%. On average, also from 1967, 1.45 tropical storms make landfall in Florida every year. Since storms hit in full integers lets say, one or two a year.

Now, given the range of 13 to 17 tropical storms predicted, we would expect Florida landfalls in the 1.69 to 2.21 range, or one to three this year.

Sure it could be more or it could be less, but if you are in the media you are probably better off giving people an idea of what they can expect on average. Presenting it as if Floridians are facing a 400% greater risk is simply fear mongering.

Plus, the claim is simply false. For example, Florida has been hit by at least one tropical system in 16 of the last 17 hurricane seasons (or 94%). Given such a track record, saying that in this year they are 4 times as likely to be hit is simple nonsense.

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