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August 29, 2011

Why Was Irene So Hyped By The Media?

It really was. Although it caused fourteen deaths and millions of dollars in property damage, and lots of people without power, (particularly in the Carolinas and southern Virginia), it was not the nightmare storm we were warned of, even where and when it was a true hurricane.

It made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane, the lowest level of hurricane, a step above a tropical storm. Mike Flynn of the Big Blogs was watching the Weather Channel incessantly, and told me that channel reported that even though the storm was just a Category 1 (and weakening), people should still be in a very high state of alarm, because it was a wide storm, covering a lot of area, and could last "over twenty hours."

In other words, what it lacked in actual strength it would make up for in... volume.

Is it prudent to oversell a storm like this, even when the latest information suggests it's just a very average hurricane? The media perhaps thought they were doing a public service, because it's better to have a supply of water and not need it than to need a supply of water and not have it.

Maybe, but the obvious downside to this is that the media is going to have a harder time warning of future hurricanes.

I can think of five reasons for the oversell. Listed here in order of least relevance to greatest relevance.

1. This is the meteorologists' equivalent of the cable ACE awards, their time to shine. But that's always the case with tropical storms, and I don't remember previous ones being overhyped to nearly this extent.

2. No one wanted a repeat of Katrina. And not only did no governor want to seem as if he wasn't taking the hurricane seriously, but the media certainly didn't want anyone less than 100% prepared, because not only didn't they want a Katrina, they didn't want the political fallout from a Katrina situation to impact President Golfsalot.

3. Hurricanes hit Florida a lot, and the Gulf States, and the Eastern seaboard from the Carolinas and south. But they don't hit the Eastern seaboard north of the Carolinas very often, so maybe the media thought there were millions of North Eastern Coasters who were very ill-prepared for a hurricane, in terms of both supply and information, and thought they really had to overhype the storm to get through to these storm-ignorant people.

Maybe. But see Reason 5 for a more likely variation on this.

4. Any sort of bad weather is now an excuse for the media to make the weather into a political story -- and that story is of course Global Warming.

We heard a lot about Irene being super-charged by Global Warming. This assclown was among the most alarmed delighted.

Global Warming’s Heavy Cost

Aug 25, 2011 9:29 PM EDT

Hurricane Irene’s dangerous power can be traced to global warming says Bill McKibben—and Obama is at fault for his failed leadership on the environment.

Irene’s got a middle name, and it’s Global Warming.

Amazingly, he's an idiot from the first sentence. A one-word name can't have a middle name. He could have called it "Hurricane Irene," and avoided this problem, but instead, he's just a dummy from Jump Street.

As she roars up the Eastern Seaboard, everyone is doing what they should—boarding windows, preparing rescue plans, stocking up on batteries. But a lot of people are also wondering: what’s a “tropical” storm doing heading for the snow belt?

Yeah, that's unprecedented.

By the way, Hurricanes Belle, David, and Gloria wanted me to to say "hi."

Category 3 Storms have rarely hit Long Island since the 1800s; one was the great unnamed storm of 1938, which sent 15-foot storm waters surging through what are now multimillion-dollar seaside homes. Normally, says Jeff Masters of Weather Underground, it’s “difficult for a major Category 3 or stronger hurricane crossing north of North Carolina to maintain that intensity, because wind shear rapidly increases and ocean temperatures plunge below the 26°C (79°F) level that can support a hurricane.”

Normally that's what happened, and in fact what happened here was even less.

So I guess we're kind of normal at the moment?

The high-altitude wind shear may help knock the storm down a little this year, but the ocean temperatures won’t. They’re bizarrely high—only last year did we ever record hotter water.

What he's referring to is many Global Warming scientists who think that global warming will decrease, rather than increase, hurricane strength; that wind shear effect weakens them. He covers his bases and mentions that might "knock the storm down a little," and then it's right back to worst case scenarios.

“Sea surface temperatures 1° to 3°F warmer than average extend along the East Coast from North Carolina to New York. Waters of at least 26°C extend all the way to southern New Jersey, which will make it easier for Irene to maintain its strength much farther to the north than a hurricane usually can,” says Masters.

And it this didn't seem to happen, although I suppose a Warmist could claim vindication in as much as an already-weakish hurricane didn't get greatly weaker by the time it got to New Jersey.


Every kind of natural system is amped up, holding more power—about ¾ of a watt extra energy per square meter of the Earth’s surface, thanks to the carbon we’ve poured into the atmosphere. This is what climate change looks like in its early stages.

Seems... livable, actually.

This is listed in the Daily Beast's Science section, although, checking the writer's bio, he doesn't seem to be a scientist. He's a hippie activist and organizer.

Thus the continuing double-standard -- no non-scientist on the right can criticize global warming "science," but every douchebag with a hacky-sack and a water-bong can make dire claims about it.

The other double-standard, of course, is that global warming alarmists can make these dire predictions without it ever being noted in the media that their predictions proved untrue, yet again.

It's all upside-- if they predict disaster, and disaster strikes, they get credited and the "science" is even further settled.

If they predict disaster and there's no disaster, the media pretends no prediction was made in the first place.

It's like betting on the same three numbers in Lotto all the time. Eventually you'll hit those numbers. And if you don't have to pay for the tickets -- that is, there is no cost of playing the game at all -- it makes buying lottery tickets utterly profitable and a great investment.

So the incentives here for global warming alarmists are all positive. Make as many predictions as you like, with little or no science to back you; the media promises it will only count your occasional jackpots.

But the main reason for the oversell?

5. The hurricane was earlier forecast to hit the center of the media universe, New York City.

Can these idiots hide their provincial "homerism" a little better?

We on the right have all noticed the national media sure thinks that New York deaths are more important than any other kind of deaths, and New York inconvenience worse than other inconveniences.

They seem to have gone that one step better with this coverage-- that New York inconvenience is more important than deaths in more benighted areas of the country.

Sure the storm is projected to hit as a Category 3 in the Carolinas, if you care about that, but let's pay much more careful to this projection showing that it might hit New York City as a category 1 or even a tropical storm.

Again and again I saw the media -- even on FoxNews -- give the Carolinas a brief mention before launching into a Cassandra act about the possibility that New York City might lose power and subway service.

New Yorkers typically think about other folks as "provincial," but my oh my, do they become the worst sort of homers when their hometown is in the news. ("Homer" is some slang I've heard for a reporter (or any other sort of person, actually) who has a bad case of hometown-centricism).

I actually heard a weatherman give an update on Irene, sometime on Sunday. "The storm is now projected to miss New York," he said, with relief in his voice, "and instead turn east and hit Long Island."

Screw Long Island, huh? Apart from Brooklyn/Queens and the Hamptons, it's practically New Jersey anyhow.

This drives conservatives and non-New Yorkers crazy. It drives me, an occasional New Yorker, crazy, because not only do I see the unfairness of this media disregard for the rest of the country, and equal and opposite overconcern for the plight of New Yorkers, but as a sometime New Yorker, I also find it embarrassing.

Like when anyone from your hometown causes a scandal. It embarrasses you. And the whole country sees these "it only matters if it's in my hometown" provincial dummies every single day.

Irene's middle name was not "global warming." Irene's middle name was "affects the people who count."

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posted by Ace at 02:26 PM

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