Sunday, November 10, 2013

While thousands may have died in Typhoon Haiyan, be prepared to "throw up in your mouth" at this article on WUWT

Sou | 4:43 PM Go to the first of 26 comments. Add a comment
Update: Anthony Watts cannot help himself - see below

Greg Laden has written an article about Super Typhoon Haiyan or Yolanda, as it's called in the Philippines.  I've already written a comment about the first reaction from deniers at WUWT.  Anthony Watts has surpassed that denial and now posted an article (archived here and here) about which Greg Laden writes (h/t MikeH):
Watts needs to take this offensive and absurd post off of his site. Homewood needs to apologize, and to do so sincerely. But before they do that, go have a look. It will probably make you throw up a little in your mouth.

Maybe 10,000 dead in the province of Leyte

Now that more reports are coming in, there could be as many as 10,000 people who have been killed by the typhoon so far.  And that's just in the Philippines.  According to reports, the typhoon has weakened to the equivalent of a Cat 2 cyclone and is heading for Vietnam.

Anthony Watts chastises "alarmist" media

Paul Homewood makes a token acknowledgement to those killed, but is more concerned about "unsubstantiated claims", writing as his opening paragraph:
Sadly it appears that at least 1000 1200* lives have been lost in Typhoon Yolanda (or Haiyan), that has just hit the Philippines. There appear to have been many unsubstantiated claims about its size, though these now appear to start being replaced by accurate information.

The slant taken by Paul Homewood is bad enough.  What's worse are the opening sentences at the very top of the article, which were written by Anthony Watts himself. What is Anthony Watts concerned about?  He's concerned about "alarmist" reporting.  Here is Anthony Watts' headline and opening lines (archived here and here):
Super Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda – another overhyped storm that didn’t match early reports
Here is the sort of headlines we had Friday, for example this one from Huffington Post where they got all excited about some early reports from Andrew Freedman:
Super Typhoon Haiyan Could Be One Of The Strongest Storms In World History
Super Typhoon Haiyan — which is one of the strongest storms in world history based on maximum windspeed — is about to plow through the Central Philippines, producing a potentially deadly storm surge and dumping heavy rainfall that could cause widespread flooding. As of Thursday afternoon Eastern time, Haiyan, known in the Philippines as Super Typhoon Yolanda, had estimated maximum sustained winds of 195 mph with gusts above 220 mph, which puts the storm in extraordinarily rare territory.
Ah those estimates, they sure don’t always meet up with reality later – Anthony

"Overhyped storm?" and "They sure don't always meet up with reality"?  Well, Anthony, it looks to me as if Huffington Post got the numbers from NASA and the U.S. Navy Joint Typhoon Warning Center.  Not real enough for WUWT?  I'd say the people in the Philippines don't regard one of "Earth's strongest storms ever" as "overhyped" and they certainly met up with reality.

Arguing over numbers and getting it wrong

Anthony and Paul go on to try to argue that everyone got the wind speeds wrong, writing that it really wasn't all that bad:
So at landfall the sustained wind was 235 kmh or 147 mph, with gusts upto 275 kmh or 171 mph. This is 60 mph less than the BBC have quoted.
The maximum strength reached by the typhoon appears to have been around landfall, as the reported windspeeds three hours earlier were 225 kmh (140mph).
Terrible though this storm was, it only ranks as a Category 4 storm, and it is clear nonsense to suggest that it is “one of the most powerful storms on record to make landfall “

"Only ranks as a Category 4 storm when it hit land"!!

Paul Homewood is writing to complain to the UK Press Commission about this headline in the Daily Mail (which paper deniers usually love because of it's frequent disinformation on climate science.)  This is the headline that Paul Homewood complained about:

NASA JPL: One of the most powerful storms ever recorded on earth

Paul Homewood objected to the headline describing the typhoon as 235 mph.  But according to NASA that's exactly right.  This is from NASA JPL:
November 08, 2013
New satellite images just obtained from NASA's Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument aboard NASA's Aqua spacecraft and the Indian Space Research Organization's OceanSAT-2 ocean wind scatterometer provide a glimpse into one of the most powerful storms ever recorded on Earth. 
According to the U.S. Navy Joint Typhoon Warning Center, Typhoon Haiyan had maximum sustained winds of 195 mph (314 kilometers per hour), with gusts up to 235 mph (379 kilometers per hour) shortly before making landfall in the central Philippines today. That would make it one of the strongest storms ever recorded. Weather officials in the Philippines reported the storm, known locally as Typhoon Yolanda, came ashore with maximum sustained winds of 147 mph (235 kilometers per hour) and gusts of up to 170 mph (275 miles per hour). 
I'm finding it hard to imagine winds of 235 kph let alone gusts of 379 kph.

Anthony Watts is also objecting to these lines from newspaper reports, writing:
UPDATE4: Kent Noonan writes in with this addition -
CNN has had several articles stating the same numbers for wind speed as BBC and Mail. I saw these numbers first last night at 10PM Pacific time.
Today’s story: “Powered by 195-mph winds and gusts up to 235 mph, it then struck near Tacloban and Dulag on the island of Leyte, flooding the coastal communities.
If these “news” agencies don’t issue a correction, we will be forever battling the new meme of “most powerful storm in world history”.
Notice the "it then struck", which shows that it is entirely consistent with what NASA JPL reported.

(If any reader wants to play the numbers game, here is a list of tropical cyclones, hurricanes and typhoons.  Typhoon Tip led the scoreboard in terms of wind speed until Haiyan, with sustained wind speeds at its maximum of 305 kph, a bit less than Haiyan, which is reported to have had sustained wind speeds of 314 kph.  But Tip was much weaker than Haiyan when it reached land.)

What is really disturbing...

Anyway, what I think is really disturbing is that while maybe 10,000 people perished in the Philippine province of Leyte, all Anthony Watts is worried about is whether the newspaper reports have the wind speed right.  He is so focused on denying global warming that he cannot lift his brain out of the slime.

Thing is that, despite what Anthony Watts would have his readers believe, the science is not yet clear on what global warming will mean for tropical cyclones.  It is expected that the proportion of fiercer storms will rise but whether there will be more tropical cyclones or not has not yet been clearly established.

Vietnam is next in its path

Here is the current image from the U.S. Navy Joint Typhoon Warning Center (click to enlarge):

The winds are currently at 85 knots (157 kph) gusting to 105 knots (194 kph) and expected to weaken to 60 knots (111 kph) as it approaches Vietnam, with gusts to 75 knots (139 kph).

From the WUWT comments

Tim Walker says it's sad, but people die in cyclones all the time:
November 9, 2013 at 2:24 pm
Trying to correct (mistakes – SARC) after the MSM informs the public will make very little difference. The public’s perception is made by the first news articles. It is a very sad situation we are in. The deaths and trouble in the Philippines are sad, but this kind of thing happens each year in different places of the world. What the MSM does in creating false perceptions is worse, because the clowns the public elect based on the false perceptions are causing worse problems. The future is very grim. Good luck to one and all.

albertalad says he's busy telling the Canadian media they are over-reacting:
November 9, 2013 at 2:30 pm
Thanks for the information – I used your info to correct two newspapers in Canada – The National Post,m and the CBC – which of course wen crazy as usual with hopes of the Philippines themselves being wiped off the face of the earth as THE global warming event they all desperately needed to be that destructive. It never ceases to amaze me how excited the global warming ghouls are with something like this – they really cheer for death and destruction.

Jimbo says back in 1882 there was one tropical cyclone that was as bad.  (Jimbo's link is bad - try this one.):
November 9, 2013 at 2:33 pm
But what about the past? [H/t Steven Goddard]
Oct 22, 1882
Observatory says lowest barometer at 11.40 a. m., 727.60 ; highest velocity wind registered, 144.4 miles an hour. Unable to measure greatest velocity of typhoon as anemometer damaged.”
more typhoons from the past in the Philippines.

Paul Homewood says the wind speed reported was "strangely exact".  Well, Paul - maybe that's because they reported "exactly" what the U.S. Navy Joint Typhoon Warning Center reported:
November 9, 2013 at 3:01 pm
The “mistake” of the Mail seems apparent, but I wonder if it is their source of information that is to blame? The BBC are well known for attempting to convert everything into metrics to make us “more European”.
Their “379 kmh” seems strangely exact. Have they also seen the “235″ figure and assumed it is mph (just as the Mail did) and then decided to convert it to kmh to get to 379kmh? Indeed, it suggests the original source, whatever it may be, is where the original error crept in.

Stuart Lynne says it's because they are poor:
November 9, 2013 at 3:31 pm
As always this disaster is based on the poverty of the area. Populations living in areas that are inadequately prepared for whatever natural events that may occur where they live because they do not have adequate financial resources to do so (or like Katrina) where the resources are misapplied.

eric1skeptic comes up with all sorts of "reasons" and builds a straw man in the process:
November 9, 2013 at 4:04 pm
The satellite presentation was basically perfect at landfall. There is little doubt this was the strongest possible storm given the physical limits of storms that size. Typhoon Tip in 1979 was much larger but did not have such good symmetry. Tip only brushed land and many similarly strong storms never hit land or weakened before landfall.
The point that will be lost on the alarmists is that the near-perfect symmetry of Haiyan is only possible with nearly perfect weather conditions surrounding the storm. If anything isn’t perfect then the storm becomes asymmetric and can’t achieve top strength. That kind of weather will have no correlation to warning. Furthermore the (theoretical) decrease in the lapse rate will work against any increase in SST’s The SST’s provide better evaporation but the lapse rate provides the condensation which releases latent heat and causes the convection.

Anthony Watts has convinced people like pokerguy who, being misled by Anthony Watts, complains:
November 9, 2013 at 6:01 pm
Meanwhile, someone competent ought to get into Wikipedia and fix things…Currently they’re saying this in first sentence:
Typhoon Haiyan of November 2013, which is known in the Philippines as Typhoon Yolanda, is one of the strongest tropical cyclones ever recorded.

Rob Honeycutt calls them out and says that WUWT "should be ashamed":
November 9, 2013 at 5:14 pm
This is a particularly callous post, even for WUWT. Fatality numbers are just starting to come in and the latest are now saying over 10,000 have perished.
You people are playing silly number games in the face of real human suffering. You should be ashamed.

gregladen says:
November 9, 2013 at 5:57 pm
“Check reuters for the latest numbers,” is a citation of a source. Please do not add stupidity to your callousness. One locality is now citing 10,000 via the governer’s office.
Let me ask you this but you better answer quick because the ground is sliding from underneath you as I type this. How important is 1,200 vs. tens of thousands? If it turns out to be tens of thousands instead of 1,200 will you STFU forever? Please?
Let me know right away, I want to watch.

To which Anthony Watts, underlining his callous self-serving attitude, piously replied with the pathetic excuse "the problem with early estimates is what this post is about".

No it wasn't Anthony.  You posted it in "Alarmism":

Your article was about "alarmism" and news outlets getting "over-excited":
REPLY: its an estimate from a meeting last night. Since it was too hard for you to make a link, I searched. See here: http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/11/10/philippines-typhoon-casualty-idUSL4N0IV00F20131110
“We had a meeting last night with the governor and the other officials. The governor said based on their estimate, 10,000 died,” Soria told Reuters. “
The problem with early estimates is what this post is about. We’ll wait until something more concrete than an estimate from a late night meeting is given.
The Red Cross in the Phillipines says 1200, I trust them more than government officials making estimates. If it turns out the number is higher, I’ll report it. In the mean time feel free to be as upset as you wish.- Anthony

And in true conspiracy ideation, Anthony writes that he trusts the Red Cross more than "government officials".

And true to his policy of censoring posts from those he regards as "warmists", Anthony Watts is now busy deleting comments (latest archive here).


Now Anthony Watts has trotted out his third article making light of the super typhoon.  He's picked up a comment by Bjorn Lomborg arguing that global warming means that while cyclones may get more fierce with global warming, they might not happen as often.  And by the end of the century people will be able to better afford the worsening tropical cyclones. (Archived here.)

All while people are still in turmoil in the Philippines and Vietnam is waiting.

Sickening and bizarre behaviour at WUWT.

11:39 pm 10 November 2013


  1. Watts has surpassed himself yet again! Quite a feat.

  2. What a charming bunch! I don't know that we even need to say much; they've done it all themselves...

    He'll never STFU, of course - the crowd at WUWT have had their shame glands removed.

  3. These pictures in The Age give some indication of the power of the typhoon.

  4. Who knows (yet) if this is related to Haiyan's strength, but last month GISS measured the Southern Hemisphere to be the warmest ever in their records:

    1. When the satellites start showing the SH as warmest on record then I will start to take notice.

      GISS is so corrupted it is beyond belief.

    2. Care to explain that, in your own words?

    3. That "warmest ever" is showing up for Australia, too. Unsurprisingly.

      Australian 12-month mean temperature record broken for third month running.

      (dbostrom, Anonymous is typical of science deniers. Don't like the results? Easy solution, say the data must be wrong! Even when all the sea ice in the Arctic disappears and ice sheets melt and coastlines shrink, there will be people saying "it's not happening".)

    4. Sure, Anon: facts are taboo now run run run :)

  5. From what I've read, the difference between the wind speed measurements is the average amount of time over which the speed is measured. The Navy's measurements are the average speed for a minute, while the Philippines' measurements are for ten minutes, if I remember correctly. Not that Watts and company seem interested in those details.

    1. It's also worth noting the irony that Watts is happy to accept the Philippines' estimates of wind speeds and then dismiss their estimates when it comes to death totals.

      This all reminds me of when Pat Michaels said it was doubtful that Hurricane Irene would "cough up" eight bodies.

    2. Sean, that would make sense. BoM has a page on wind speeds.

      Mean Wind: In most of the world the mean wind speed is defined as the wind speed averaged over a period of 10 minutes. It should be measured at 10 m above the surface. The major exception is the USA where they use a 1-minute average.

      Wind Gust: In most of the world the wind gust speed is defined as the wind speed averaged over 2 or 3 seconds (in Australia we use 3 seconds).


  6. They bleed for birds and bats killed by windmills, so instead of trumpeting how many humans were killed, count the birds and the bats that were killed.

    1. But they only care about birds when windmills kill them. No such concern when it comes to the much higher number of deaths from fossil fuels, tall buildings, electrical lines, etc.

  7. Sou,
    small error you may want to address

    I'm finding it hard to imagine winds of 235 kph let alone gusts of 379 kph.

    I presume you meant 314 kph....

    And this is pinched from Jeff Masters over at WeatherUnderground and his definative blog on tropical cyclones:

    The Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), which uses their own techniques to estimate typhoon strength via satellite imagery, put Haiyan's peak strength at 125 knots (145 mph), using a 10-minute averaging time for wind speeds. The Philippines weather agency (PAGASA) also uses a 10-minute averaging time for their typhoon wind advisories, and winds estimated by either JMA or PAGASA for Haiyan have appeared in the media, resulting in some confusion about what the typhoon's winds were at landfall. The averaging time used by JTWC and NHC is 1-minute, resulting in a higher wind estimate. To convert from 10-minute averaged winds to 1-minute average, one conversion factor that is commonly used is to multiply by 1.14--though lower conversion factors are sometimes used. Note that even after correcting for the difference between using 1-minute and 10-minute wind averaging times, the JMA wind estimates are well below what JTWC estimated; JMA consistently estimates weaker winds for high-end typhoons than JTWC. Since we have no actual measurements of the winds or pressure from Haiyan at landfall, we don't know which agency made a more accurate wind estimate.

    1. From Jeff Masters

      "Haiyan hit Guiuan, on the Philippine island of Samar, at 4:40 am local time (20:40 UTC) November 8, 2013. Three hours before landfall, the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) assessed Haiyan’s sustained winds at 195 mph, gusting to 235 mph, making it the 4th strongest tropical cyclone in world history."

      "Haiyan had winds of 190 - 195 mph at landfall, making it the strongest tropical cyclone on record to make landfall in world history"


      235 mph = 379 kph

    2. Flakmeister, I meant what I wrote. The 235 kpm sustained winds and 379kph gusts are from the numbers are as reported by NASA JPL above. The former was sustained wind speed as it came ashore, the latter were wind gusts just before making landfall.

      I included the quote plus the link to the source in the article above. I expect that NASA JPL was the source of MSM quotes. (Ie the mainstream media was right and it was WUWT that was wrong.)

    3. To clarify on wind speeds and inter agency variation ..

      The standard process for estimating TC intensity sans aircraft was invented by a bloke called Vern Dvorak - the article on the Dvorak Technique in Wikipedia does the subject reasonable justice.

      Whilst the scale is nominally open ended it (presently) stops at 8 - and Haiyan was clearly identifiable as an 8.

      Based on aircraft recon Vernon was able to map this scale to mean wind intensities. This mapping has been verified to the moon and back - and whilst the verifications at the top of the scale are few in number - it is clearly understood that an 8 maps to 170 knots 1 minute mean wind.

      JTWC and NHC report these values (at least) 6 hourly for all TCs all over the globe. And they are good at it.

      Where it gets tricky is
      a) scaling the winds up for 3 second gusts estimates
      b) scaling the winds down for 10 minute mean wind estimates
      c) where a local agency has decided that they have a better mapping of Dvorak intensity to wind speed (ie physical laws are marginally different in their neck of the wood)

      For what ever reason, JMA, Pagasa and IMD have their mappings / scalings that they prefer to use. Interagency communication of intensity by Dvorak number is common, easy and well understood, but by raw wind speed is another matter.

      In 2008 an attempt was made by the WMO to standardise conversions between wind measuring speeds for TCs' - see table 4 at http://www.wmo.int/pages/prog/www/tcp/Meetings/HC31/documents/Doc.3.part2.pdf . The document is marked draft - which probably speaks for itself. It does attempt to account for the fact that winds are gustier over land than they are over water.

      In summary:
      * In Haiyan a dvorak number of 8 maps to 315 km/hr 1 minute mean wind
      * at sea - to convert to gusts - multiply by 1.11 -> 349 km/hr
      * on the coastal interface - multiply by 1.23 -> 387 km/hr
      (note that these last 2 are recommended conversions based on research)
      None of this takes into account eyewall mesovortices. A catogory 4 TC (Olivia) had a documented wind gust of 408 km/hr at Barrow Island.

    4. Actually, with the cloudtops dropping below -80 C, the Dvorak number was automatically calculated to 8.1, which is off the top of the scale. That would suggest >315 kmh 1 minute mean, and gusts in the high 300's are entirely credible.

      Haiyan is an unusual one in that the difference between 1-minute and 10-minute is much more than the usual ~1.14, but not unique on that score - its seems that quite a few typhoons that hit the Philippines have relatively very intense bursts of wind compared to their overall strength. Megi in 2010 had 10-minute sustained winds of 230 km/h, which should have seen 1-minute winds in the 260s. Instead she packed a devastating 295 kph for 1-minute winds. There seems to be one of these anomalous ones every 5 to 10 years - the central pressures seem consistent with the lower 10-minute numbers, so I'm guessing these odd ones have some other factor in play (perhaps the extreme temperature gradient?)


    5. It appeared you had mixed units, mph and kph...

      Rereading things closely shows that by a numerical accident both 235 kph and 235 mph were used in the NASA JPL release...

      Irie mon, all is good....

    6. Hi Frank

      Megi was a rare western Pacific typhoon in that recon was flown on it by the US Navy - in a research project studying the impact of upwelling and mixing of the upper layers of the ocean. As such the 1 minute mean winds from JTWC are ridgy didge knuckle down screw tight accurate.

      JMA or Pagasa report 10 minute mean winds using their own "adjusted" Dvorak scale -> 10 minute mean wind protocols. Making any physical process assertion based on differences between 1 minute and 10 minute is probably not wise.

      When it comes to intensity of TC's - you WILL see mis-matches between agencies - because some agencies report green apples, others red apples, and (sadly) some report oranges.

      Best stick to JTWC / NHC intensities - then you know it is always a gold standard granny smith apple that you are comparing with. (note that I'm not aligned with either agency).

      BTW I note you refer to the ADT reaching 8.1. I understand later versions of the algorithm aren't as aggressive - so 315 km/h one minute winds is probably a fair estimate.

  8. Having lived through (and been scared by) a CAT 1 storm, the idea that the WUWT crowd would argue about whether this one was a CAT 4 or a CAT 5 storm is like an argument about whether the car which killed you was travelling at 120 mph or 125 mph.

  9. David Appell has another post which includes the following tweet from CO2 mitigation denier Bjorn Lomborg.


    From Lomborg.
    "Immoral to use terrible typhoon Haiyan as argument for CO2 cuts. Adaptation helps much more & ACE lower than normal "

    In other words it is immoral if you disagree with Lomborg. But OK if you agree with his carbon mitigation denial.

    1. "...ACE lower than normal "

      Besides the fact that Lomborg is wrong about the rate of human carbon emissions, any putative change in such a rate under an overall business-as-usual scenario would greatly outweigh any capacity for humans to adapt.

      It's also worth remembering that "adaptation" does not help the marine ecosystems to cope with ocean acidification, that "adaptation" does not help the polar and alpine ecosystems cope with temperature increases, that "adaptation" does not help forest and desert and grassland ecosystems cope with changes to their precipitation and temperature regimes, that "adaptation" does not planets to cope with the perturbation of nutrient balance that accompanies sudden CO2 increase, and that "adaptation" is a fairytale in the human context because 80% of the world can't afford it, especially when deniers of reality in the First World are doing their damnedest to make sure that they stay obscenely rich whilst the planet burns.

      Lomborg is insane, or amoral, or deluded, or ignorant, or stupid, or any combination of the above.

      Bernard J.

  10. Lomborg makes a basic error in casting adaptation as mutually exclusive with disaster. All too often, "adaptation" will look exactly like what we're seeing in the Philippines. No pain, no adaptation. That's how it usually works.

  11. The pre-emptive rebuttal efforts of deniers is a sure sign of their insecurity. Events keep happening, they keep getting on the news, and the general public doesn't need to be told "this is due to climate change" to get that notion. Humans are good at seeing patterns even when they don't exist, and this one actually does.


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