Is Al Gore Making Things Up?

al_gore
AP Photo / Al Gore has been very outspoken with his views on climate change, but last summer he made a few comments that I found to be curious and even inaccurate.

In an article from The Washington Post published last year, Ezra Klein sat down with former Vice President Al Gore to discuss many topics, including climate change.

Here’s a direct excerpt from that article:
“If you look at superstorm Sandy on October 29th, the ocean water east of New Jersey was nine degrees fahrenheit above average. That’s what put so much more energy into that storm. That’s what put so much more water vapor into that storm. Would there be a storm anyway? Maybe so. Would there be hurricanes and floods and droughts without man-made global warming? Of course. But they’re stronger now. The extreme events are more extreme. The hurricane scale used to be 1-5 and now they’re adding a 6. The fingerprint of man-made global warming is all over these storms and extreme weather events.”

Where do I start with some issues I have with these statements?

“That’s what put so much more water vapor into that storm.”
So what? The big story with “Superstorm” Sandy was strong winds, not heavy rainfall. Water vapor does not cause strong winds. In fact, only a relatively small portion of the mid-Atlantic states received excessive rainfall of more than 5″ from Sandy. With that said, Sandy wasn’t called a “Superstorm” because it had a “super” amount of water vapor associated with it.

“But they’re [storms] stronger now.”
Are they? While there have been devastating storms in the past 10 years, like Hurricane Katrina (2005) and Hurricane Sandy (2012), those storms are most well-known because they caused major impacts on large metropolitan areas. Hurricanes have always been a part of climate in the United States. When looking at the strongest landfalls, the U.S. has not had a landfall from a Category 5 (strongest) hurricane since Andrew in 1992 across southern Florida.

“The hurricane scale used to be 1-5 and now they’re adding a 6. The fingerprint of man-made global warming is all over these storms and extreme weather events.”
First off, who says the hurricane scale is getting a 6? I looked around all over the web and found nothing confirming that. When looking at the National Hurricane Center’s website and Twitter feeds, there is absolutely no indication about any sort of 6 being added to the scale. What point would there be to add a 6 anyway? A Category 5 hurricane has sustained winds over 156 MPH. While there have been several Category 5 hurricanes in recent memory, the last time a hurricane in the Atlantic Ocean had sustained winds over 185 MPH was way back in 1980 when Hurricane Allen had sustained winds up to 190 MPH. Not to mention we haven’t even seen a Category 5 hurricane since 2007…It’s the same reason why the Enhanced Fujita scale doesn’t have a 6. The high-end 5 is all that’s necessary. Only a small percentage of storms reach a “category” 5 with tornadoes and hurricanes. There really isn’t a reason to add a category 6, unless you want to further sensationalize a storm. I really want to know where he got his information from, unless that statement was flat out made-up.

This is only the tip of the iceberg. Al Gore has made controversial and arguably incorrect statements about climate change in the past. It was today’s article in particular that caught my eye.

Article: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/08/21/al-gore-explains-why-hes-optimistic-about-stopping-global-warming/

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Quincy

Quincy is a meteorologist and storm chaser who travels around the country documenting and researching severe weather. He has on-air experience with stations such as WTNH-TV in New Haven, CT and WREX-TV in Rockford, IL. He was most recently a digital meteorologist for weather.com.

After achieving his B.S. degree in Meteorology at Western Connecticut State University (WCSU) in 2009, he returned as a University Assistant to help produce weather broadcasts. He also gave guest lectures and worked on website design.

He has over nine years of professional weather forecasting experience and his forecasts have been featured in newspapers and on radio stations in multiple states.

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1 Response

  1. Brian Vagell says:

    In regards to the “Al Gore” story. When people start looking to politicians for their views on weather,then I suppose it’s logical to assume “Meteorologists” should run for political office. However that might work in our favor politically speaking!