Michael Mogil: "One must recognize that there has been a dramatic change in global observing and forecasting systems since the mid 19th century. In fact, it wasn’t until the latter part of the 1800’s that hurricane warning offices were established and it wasn’t until the mid 20th century before the National Hurricane Center was created. Hurricane hunter aircraft were not employed until the 1940’s and the first weather satellite didn’t arrive on the scene until 1960. Since 1960, satellite observation systems have evolved to be highly powerful, high frequency, and high resolution observing tools (Fig. 2). These satellites can now see entire ocean basins; in earlier years, point ship and island reports were all that meteorologists had available. To say that “There was likely undercounting pre-1960,” would be an understatement. The bottom line is that the data table and reference links offered by Eric Holthaus are misleading. Such data and associated statistics need to be viewed with a consistent (or at least a clearly stated discussion of the) data and how it was obtained. Apples must be compared to apples!
Prof. Roger Pilke Jr.: "If you predict something bad will occur in 2080-2100 (worse hurricanes!) and you then claim see it in 2017 (Harvey, irma! Told you so!), that does not prove you “right” — it actually says your prediction is wildly off base."
"Efforts to convince the public or policy makers to drastically change energy policy based on hurricanes is a fool’s errand."
"Neither tropical cyclones globally, Atlantic hurricanes overall, US landfalls nor US normalized damage has gotten worse (that is more frequent or intense) over climate time scales. (Don’t take it from me, this is straight out of the IPCC and US government’s National Climate Assessment)"
Many storms were missed over the open ocean prior to hurricane hunter aircraft in 1944. Even then half of the Atlantic basin was not covered. Satellite coverage began to improve matters in 1966. But even then monitoring has considerably improved since 1966, particularly regarding short lived storms.
Contrary to popular myth, the year with most major hurricanes was not 2005, but 1950, when there were eight.
To have four, as we have so far had this year, is not in the slightest unusual. In fact, there have been 27 years on the record, when there has been four or more major hurricanes.
But are hurricanes getting more powerful?
Well, not according to the ACE index (1), which shows hurricane seasons in the past every bit as strong as the past couple of decades.
From 80,000 to 12,000 years ago, when CO2 concentrations lingered near or below 200 ppm, many new or recent studies suggest that when directly comparing region to region, it was as much as 6°C warmer than today even during this ice age period. This has prompted some scientists to “exclude atmospheric pCO2 as a direct driver of SST [sea surface temperature] variations”.
Sean Sublette, a meteorologist at Climate Central, who pointed out that the 1960s through 2010s saw between one and three storms each decade before the June 1 start date on average. It might be tempting to ascribe this earlier season entirely to climate change warming the Atlantic. But technology also has a role to play, with more observations along the coast as well as satellites that can spot storms far out to sea.
“I would caution that we can’t just go, ‘hah, the planet’s warming, we’ve had to move the entire season!’” Sublette said. “I don’t think there’s solid ground for attribution of how much of one there is over the other. Weather folks can sit around and debate that for awhile.” Earlier storms don’t necessarily mean more harmful ones, either.