The Intersection

2007: The Global Hurricane Year

i-4a875b39260d6c0bde35eead82d3e6d3-WPac Tracks 2007.gif

[Tracks of storms in the Northwest Pacific basin, 2007.]

Okay–I realize the year isn’t over yet. But I figured it was close enough to start compiling some data on global hurricane activity. Using a cutoff of 35 knot maximum sustained wind speed to identify a storm, here’s what I get if you use the Unisys database to look at activity up through yesterday (and there is nothing new today):

Atlantic: 15 Storms, 2 Cat 4-5 (Dean, Felix)

Northeast Pacific: 11 Storms, 1 Cat 4-5 (Flossie)

Northwest Pacific: 25 Storms, 7 Cat 4-5 (Yutu, Man-Yi, Usagi, Sepat, Nari, Wipha, Krosa)

South Pacific: 10 storms, 0 Cat 4-5

South Indian: 17 Storms, 3 Cat 4-5 (Dora, Favio, Indlala)

North Indian: 6 storms, 2 Cat 4-5 (Gonu, Sidr)

TOTAL CAT 4-5: 15

As I explain in my latest Storm Pundit column, we are pretty clearly on track for a below average year for the most intense hurricanes. It doesn’t look like there’s much that can change that now.

One year is not a trend–but 2007 certainly doesn’t help you make the argument that global hurricanes are getting more intense.


  1. #1 Fred Bortz
    December 20, 2007

    Chris writes: “2007 certainly doesn’t help you make the argument that global hurricanes are getting more intense.”

    This statement makes it seem as if you would like to make that argument rather than drawing whatever conclusions are there to be drawn in the data.

    Your writing is usually a bit more cautious than that.

  2. #2 Mark P
    December 20, 2007

    More to the point, as you say, one year does not make a trend. Certainly you should know that any kind of change in global averages is just that – a change in the average. There will always be excursions both upwards and downwards from the mean. Even making such a statement contributes to the confusion.

  3. #3 Hank Roberts
    December 20, 2007

    left a question at your Amazon book blog …

  4. #4 Neuro-conservative
    December 21, 2007

    Fred — I think you’re starting to catch on…

  5. #5 Fred Bortz
    December 21, 2007


    Sorry to disappoint you, but I consider this post an aberration, as noted in my closing sentence to Chris: “Your writing is usually a bit more cautious than that.”

    By that sentence, I was referring to Storm World, which I think deserves all the accolades it is receiving for its balanced view of the science and no hiding of the author’s own political leanings. Click my name for my review.

    In fact, I think you stick around here because you recognize that Chris is thoughtful in forming his opinions rather than having a knee-jerk response.

    Looking forward to more tussling with you in ’08.

  6. #6 Dave Briggs
    December 21, 2007

    There is info on the Island of Doubt blog that some new research suggests the tie between global warming and hurricanes might not be so.
    Dave Briggs :~)

  7. #7 Chris C. Mooney
    December 21, 2007

    I appreciate, as always, your defenses of me. In this case, I believe you are reading something into that sentence that just isn’t there.

  8. #8 etbnc
    December 22, 2007

    It’s been my experience that, unfortunately, the belief that a sentence carries exactly one absolute, universal unit of meaning sometimes works against us as writers. Readers seem to create meaning within their own minds, influenced by author intent, but not necessarily under direct control. For my own work I’m learning to think and write in terms of influencing readers rather than delivering a bucket of meaning.

    If I were an editor I would delete that last sentence. To me it’s just dangling there as an enticement for readers to create their own context for it. It seems to me the comment thread provides feedback that might be evaluated within the context of some earlier conversations about communicating. But that’s just a random reader’s observation, and certainly not a bucket of meaning priced at $0.02.


    Thanks for continuing to nudge readers’ attention toward real-world issues of consequence.


  9. #9 Jimbo
    December 24, 2007

    For the Pacific basin, La Nina has substantially lowered sea surface temperature where many of the storms originate (see image below for November). If a storm doesn’t form it can’t intensify, natcherally-speakin’.

    November SST image

    So I’d agree its a below-average year for the Pacific; the Atlantic was average or even slightly above for numbers, and had two Cat 5’s that intensified like gangbusters. I don’t think that pattern calls for complacency.

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