by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Even before Hurricane Florence barreled into the North Carolina coast, a misleading claim about the storm and global warming echoed across the internet.
Florence made landfall in North Carolina as a Category 1 hurricane on Friday, but the day before, The New York Times published a video claiming the storm had formed in “unusually warm waters” in the Atlantic Ocean, heated up by man-made global warming.
In comparing Florence to last year’s Hurricane Harvey, The Times’ reporter said “both of these hurricanes formed in unusually warm waters.” That’s false, according to Cato Institute atmospheric scientist Ryan Maue.
“Ocean surface temperatures along Florence track were abnormally cool for most of its life-cycle partly due to the unusual, higher latitude of the storm,” Maue tweeted on Tuesday night. “The integrated [sea surface temperature] track-based anomaly averaged from Sept 4-11 was 0.6°C below 1985-2017 ‘normal.’”
Florence formed in colder than normal waters in the eastern Atlantic Ocean. Florence also reached major hurricane strength (Category 3 or higher) in cooler waters, before heading into warmer waters where it didn’t do what weather forecasters expected — it weakened and fell apart.
In fact, what’s amazing is how strong the storm got and how long it stayed together over “marginal” ocean temperatures, Maue tweeted.