This morning, the Drudge Report has an enormous headline implying that Al Gore got it wrong in his movie, An Inconvient Truth, when he said that global warming would create more intense storms:
First, Gore never predicted that there would be more storms in 2006. He said that global warming made it more likely that there would be more intense hurricanes in the future.
Second, the fact that there were fewer hurricanes in 2006 does not suggest that global warming is not real or not dangerous. There are other factors — on a year-to-year basis — that can reduce the number and intensity of hurricanes. The article Drudge links to makes it clear that these factors were in play:
Storms were starved for fuel after ingesting masses of dry Saharan dust and air over the Atlantic Ocean. Scientists say the storm-snuffing dust was more abundant than usual this year.
In the season’s peak, storms were curving right like errant field goals. High pressure that normally hunkers near Bermuda shifted far eastward, and five storms rode the clockwise winds away from Florida.
Finally, a rapidly growing El Nino, a warming of water over the tropical Pacific Ocean, shifted winds high in the atmosphere southward. The winds left developing storms disheveled and unable to become organized.
Notably, none of this suggests that future years will be a repeat of 2006. The Saharan dust, for example, may not be around in significant quantities next year. The Tampa Tribune notes, “This year’s uneventful season provides no assurance that next year will be as calm: The Atlantic remains in a 20- to 30-year cycle of high hurricane activity that started in 1995. Water temperatures are above normal.”