NOAA Inflating Storm Numbers and Aiding Political Campaign for Carbon Restrictions, Group Says; End of 2007 Hurricane Season Shows NOAA Forecasts Wrong for Second Year in a Row

Washington, D.C. – The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is inflating the count of tropical storms and aiding a political campaign to regulate energy use in the process, according to The National Center for Public Policy Research. 

Today marks the official end of the 2007 hurricane season, and for the second year in a row the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s forecast for the season was wrong.  NOAA had predicted there would be seven to nine hurricanes, three to five major hurricanes and 13-17 “named storms.”  The season ended with just five hurricanes, two of which were major (category three or above) and 14 named storms.

“NOAA correctly predicted the number of named storms, but it’s not clear this statistic has any meaning, as the agency is inflating today’s storm numbers relative to storms in the past,” said David A. Ridenour, vice president of The National Center for Public Policy Research and author of a forthcoming new report on this year’s hurricane season. “NOAA is doing so both by changing the criteria for naming storms and by failing to account for changes in technology that make detection of storms much easier.”

In its annual hurricane season forecast and subsequent tropical cyclone reports, for example, NOAA makes no mention that it started naming subtropical storms for the first time in 2002.  This year, one storm – equal to 7% of named storms – was a subtropical storm.

State-of-the art equipment is also enabling observers to detect cyclones they would have missed in the past. The QuikScat, an orbiting satellite that measures the ocean’s surface winds, produces more than 200 times the amount of ocean wind information that had been available from ships.

“Unfortunately, NOAA’s forecasts and cyclone reports suggesting increased activity are being seized upon by activists to support their campaign government take-over of energy,” said Ridenour. “There’s no truth to the claim that global warming is putting cyclones on steroids, unless we’re talking about one of the side-effects of long-term steroid use – impotency.”

The National Center’s observations mirror the findings of Neil Frank, former director of NOAA’s National Hurricane Center, who says that as many as six of this year’s named storms wouldn’t have been named in past decades. 

Bill Read, deputy director of the National Hurricane Center, disputed this in published reports saying, “For at least the last two decades, I am certain most, if not all, the storms named this year would have also been named.”

“The National Hurricane Center started naming subtropical storms for the first time just five years ago,” said Ridenour.  “To suggest that the criteria for naming storms hasn’t changed is simply dishonest.”

The National Center for Public Policy Research is a non-profit, non-partisan organization based in Washington, D.C.

The National Center for Public Policy Research is a communications and research foundation supportive of a strong national defense and dedicated to providing free market solutions to today’s public policy problems. We believe that the principles of a free market, individual liberty and personal responsibility provide the greatest hope for meeting the challenges facing America in the 21st century.