Was Quiet 2009 Hurricane Season Forecast by US Government? Is Blackbeard really dead?

NOAA Graphic Depiction of 2009 Hurricane Season

Hurricane Ida Devastated Parts of Central America Though American Media Generally Gave Scant Coverage

The 2009 North Atlantic Hurricane Season is over. When you read the NOAA summary for the 2009 Hurricane Season, you see that it was the quietest season since 1997 and they immediately blame El Nino which typically suppresses hurricane activity in the North Atlantic. That’s fine. What is interesting is that they cite their forecast from August…or the one that comes out in midseason and says that the 9 named storms and 3 hurricanes falls within their range. They claim victory. Remember, this is your federal government at work and so sometimes what is true is not always entirely accurate. See, it was known back in the spring that El Nino was developing.  Nevertheless, I reported  last May Dr. William Gray and Dr. Phillip J. Klotzbach at Colorado State had predicted 14 named storms with 6 becoming hurricanes.   Now, this did represent a decline in the number of storms seen in recent years which Gray has long maintained is part of a natural cyclical elevation of tropical cyclones in the North Atlantic and has nothing to do with global warming.  So, an El Nino would suppress activity but the natural cycle would still make it more active than one might expect in a time of El Nino.  But, Al Gore has been running around claiming that Global Warming would cause more hurricanes and more frequent instances of powerful hurricanes.  Gray has long been an opponent of such talk and in that same post, I noted a researcher who claimed that Global Warming might actually decrease the number of hurricanes in the North Atlantic, which means that even if Gore were right, he’d be wrong.

Peggy's Cove Waves and foolish people

Hurricane Bill Brought Excitement to Canada's Peggy's Cove in August

Tropical Storm Ida Caused A Few Problems for Destin, FL in early November

So, NOAA is trumpeting its victory from August of 2009.  But, how did it do when you go back to the beginning of the season.  The May 21 2009 NOAA forecast for the 2009 hurricane season is interesting.  It gave a lot of wiggle room.  It said there was a 50% chance that it would be a normal season…that being I believe 10 named storms and 6 hurricanes, though those numbers may be a shade higher due to activity in recent years.  Anyway, what is 50%? Maybe it will maybe it won’t.  Then there was a 25% chance it would be higher than normal and 25% chance it would be lower.  Not exactly out on a big limb there, eh?  They gave it a 70% chance of there being 14 named storms with 4-7 hurricanes.  Sounds pretty similar to Dr. Gray.  Here is my beef and it’s not with the meteorologists.  It’s with the people who write these reports. 

They need to be honest and give the initial forecast. It wasn’t that far off and it would be helpful to provide some explanation as to why they changed it.  All they have to say is that the developing El Nino became stronger, faster than anticipated.  Done. Instead, they try to create a facade and only tell half the story.  It’s not a big deal but perhaps may be an indication of a transparentless government incapable of telling the whole truth.  If they don’t tell the whole story on little things like this, can we really trust them with the big things?  I mean, I look at Sports Illustrated and its football forecast.  Their pre-season predictions are not real good.  They had the Bears in the Super Bowl.  But, if they waited until the halfway point of the season, their forecast would be more accurate.  NOAA quoting their August forecast as reason for victory would be like Sports Illustrated using their mid-season forecast as the measuring bar to determine the accuracy of their football forecasters.  One thing is for certain: SI at midseason would not have the Bears in the Super Bowl. 

Who Is He and When Did He Die?

Who Is He and When Did He Die?

On This Date in History: Now here is a difficult spot for me because my source claims that Blackbeard the Pirate met his demise on this date in 1718. Other accounts say it was a week or so before on November 22. Given that no one really knows much about Blackbeard prior to his pirating days and accounts of events are often clouded by myth and hyperbole, its hard to know exactly what is the truth. In any event, I’ll stick with my crack research staff and say that the man who may or may not have been Edward Teach, known as Blackbeard, died on this date in 1718 in the lagoons of North Carolina.

What A Beard!!!

What A Beard!!!

It is known that Teach went to sea at a very young age, though no one knows for certain where he was from. After serving the British in the Spanish War of Succession as a privateer, he became a pirate, which wasn’t too unusual for privateers after the British backed out of the conflict in 1713. He hooked up with a guy named Benjamin Hornigold who, after a few years of hijacking on the high seas, decided to retire. Queen Anne offered a pardon, but Teach declined and took over Hornigold’s ships, which included a converted 300 ton French slave ship that sported 40 guns. Blackbeard renamed it Queen Anne’s Revenge.

There are many tales about Blackbeard. He got his name from the long, thick beard he grew that was such that he could braid it numerous times. I saw a guy in Tallahassee with a braided beard. He looked ridiculous. He told me that if you drove a car, then you could not be considered an environmentalist. Theorhetically, I suppose he was right but pragmatically, that doesn’t work. He rode a bike…Blackbeard rode the high seas and was notorious for stories of being tough to work with. He supposedly shot his own first mate because he said if he didn’t shoot some of his crew now and then, they would not know their proper position. He was known as a big drinker and he and his crew got into wild contests. He supposedly had a contest in which he put some sort of smoke bomb in the hold of the ship along with he and his men to see who could last the longest. Of course, he was the last to emerge. I forget the quote upon his late arrival from the hold.

Anyway, in May 1718, he had several ships full of loot and some of his ships ran aground. Some

BlackBeard Keeping Watch

BlackBeard Keeping Watch

say that he led them there on purpose so that he didn’t have to split the treasure with so many men. He transferred the booty from the ship and left the crews of the ships marooned on an island. He then decided to accept a pardon under the Act of Grace. But, the governor of Virginia wasn’t convinced that Teach had really given up his life of crime and wanted him eliminated. So, he sent a group of men in shallow sloops from the James River to give chase. Using shallow draft vessels was a strategic decision since Blackbeard often handcuffed anyone in pursuit by expertly navigating the shallow coastal waters.

A Lt Maynard was in charge of the expedition of two ships which were temporarily given the cover of HMS status…Her Majesty’s Ship…so that they were free to do as they please without being charged as pirates themselves. Maynard and Blackbeard exchanged blows from time to time before the two ended up with just one ship each that were both badly damaged. Maynard ordered his men into the hold and wait for Blackbeard to board. Teach thought that the boat was abandoned and was quite surprised when the crew emerged. A fight ensued and, supposedly, one of Maynard’s crew fighting with Blackbeard managed to cut the pirate on the neck. Blackbeard supposedly complemented his opponent. His opponent accepted and then proceeeded to chop off the head of Blackbeard. Legend is that the headless body swam three times around the ship before it was captured.

You don’t like that account? How about this one from the Boston News-Letter:

Maynard and Teach themselves begun the fight with their swords, Maynard making a thrust, the point of his sword against Teach’s cartridge box, and bent it to the hilt. Teach broke the guard of it, and wounded Maynard’s fingers but did not disable him, whereupon he jumped back and threw away his sword and fired his pistol which wounded Teach. Demelt struck in between them with his sword and cut Teach’s face; in the interim both companies engaged in Maynard’s sloop. Later during the battle, while Teach was loading his pistol he finally died from blood loss. Maynard then cut off his head and hung it from his bow.

So…there you have it…not sure when he was born…not sure where he was born. Think I know he died on this date but others say November 2nd. Not entirely sure if he was really Edward Teach and we’re not sure exactly how he died, but we do know that he eventually had his head separated from the rest of his body and it was hung from a yard arm……And then there remains the legend of Blackbeard’s treasure. He said that it was buried somewhere and only he and the Devil knew where it was…perhaps if you go digging around on the North Carolina coast, you may find it….but watch out for a ghost with a long black beard…or maybe even a guy named Lucifer! If you do see the ghost, ask him to clear up the story for us.

Weather Bottom Line:  Told you it would be chilly and damp on Monday.  But, things improved by late afternoon with some sunshine, though it was still pretty chilly.  Tuesday should be seasonally cool.  Then we get to the midweek and things don’t look any better.  The cut off low in the Southwest gets ejected as a cold front dives down and picks it up.  The moisture drawn up will bring rain.  The official story is that it will turn to snow Wednesday night and then we get snow showers on Thursday.  But, as I’ve said before, it will be nothing more than a conversation piece in all liklihood as ground temperatures will be too warm and air temperatures during the day will be above freezing.  The real story here is that it will be quite chilly.  Highs for the end of the week into the weekend don’t get out of the 30’s and lows will get to the mid 20’s once the clouds go away.  Hey, it’s December and its not that big of a deal.


4 Responses

  1. Did you see NASA’s statement regarding carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere since 1850? Pretty wild stuff:


    I guess Al Gore and his ilk will back off now, huh? There’s very little chance of that! After all, this is politics, not science!

  2. My dad used to say that man tends to discount the ability of the human body to adapt to different conditions. I have long taken the view that the earth, as a living breathing thing, also holds that same unquatifiable ability. I used to chat with my former colleague and we often discussed the ability of the ocean as a sink for carbon dioxide to absorb lots of carbon dioxide. This reminds me of a professor of mine who used to say that we sometimes spend too much time looking at computer models instead of taking the time to look out the window and see what is really happening. You just may see this in a future post. Thanx for the heads up. Sure wouldn’t hear about this on CNN.

  3. interesting on errors in storm predictions

  4. I am interested in the NoAA stormk forecasts vs. the realaity.

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