THERE is no doubt that Eunice was a particularly powerful storm. But did it really match up to some of the hysterical hype surrounding it, such as claims of record wind speeds?
The BBC reported that Eunice ‘battered most of the UK on Friday with winds of more than 100mph’.
In terms of wind speeds, Eunice was not dissimilar to several other storms in recent years, such as Ciara in 2020, Doris in 2017 and an unnamed storm in February 2014. Exposed coastal sites saw gusts of up to 87mph, with one exception we shall look at later. Inland sites across a wide swathe of the south saw winds of 70 to 80 mph, mostly in the South West. This closely follows the spread of wind speeds in those other storms.
Neither Eunice or these others came anywhere close to the infamous Burns Day storm in January 1990, which brought winds of up to 107 mph to the coast and of close to 90 mph for a large swathe of England. London, for instance, which was hit by 70 mph gusts last week, was battered by 87 mph winds in 1990. Thirty-nine people died in the Burns Day storm, the deadliest storm since the 1953 North Sea floods.
So where did this claim about record winds come from? Well, that was the measurement taken at the Needles, a spectacular limestone formation at the end of a long, narrow promontory on the west of the Isle of Wight. The Old Battery weather station is situated at the top of an 80m (260ft) clifftop, overlooking the rocks below.
The location is so exposed that it invariably records much higher wind speeds than elsewhere. Indeed the closest anywhere in the UK got to that 122 mph during Eunice was 90 mph at the Isle of Portland, another very exposed site nearby.
Clearly, while the Needles gust be may Guinness World Records stuff, it is totally unrepresentative of the country as a whole.
Worse still, the Needles weather station opened only in 1996, so there is no data for the Burns Day storm or the many other powerful storms which came before. It is accepted standard practice that you should not declare weather records at any site with such little data. But the Met Office were desperate to rush out this ‘record’ to make headlines, even though at the time of writing it has not yet even been officially checked and verified.
Leaving aside individual events, are storms in Britain getting worse? You would certainly think so, given the 24/7 coverage, the hyperbolic headlines, and the silly names every gale gets. In fact, the opposite is true, as the chart below shows. Storms were more frequent, stronger and widespread in the 1980s and 90s, since when trends have returned to 1970s levels:
Met Office State of the Climate 2018
In its UK Climate Projections Report in 2012, the Met Office went even further back, declaring:
‘Severe windstorms around the UK have become more frequent in the past few decades, although not above that seen in the 1920s. It appears that an equally stormy period to those in the most recent full decade (1990s) was experienced in the 1920s. There continues to be little evidence that the recent increase in storminess over the UK is related to man-made climate change.’
UK Climate Projections Report 2012
In other words, when a big storm comes along, it’s just weather!
BBC’s January Climate Check
As regular readers will be aware, the BBC broadcasts a monthly Climate Check video, introduced by weatherman Ben Rich. The format never changes – list a few bad weather events and then claim that they are somehow climate change-related, without ever providing any evidence.
Rich kicked off the new year with his latest propaganda effort, saying: ‘The start of 2022 has brought more of the searing heatwaves we’re expecting in a changing climate but also a reminder that, even as the world warms overall, there will still be bouts of severe winter weather.’
Unfortunately, as there was little extreme weather around, he was forced to spend half the film talking about snow in New England, Japan, Greece and the Middle East. You know, that white stuff we were assured would soon be a thing of the past!
There is always a drought somewhere in the world, so Rich turned his attention to Spain, which apparently had a quarter of its normal rainfall last month. However, he offered us no context of how unusual this is. We have to turn to Bloomberg to find out that ‘Spain is experiencing its second-driest start to the year so far this century’. Yes, the second driest in 22 years. Shock, horror!
It’s the height of summer of course in the southern hemisphere, and we are told that Buenos Aires had its hottest day since 1957, before we had global warming. Meanwhile in Australia, a temperature of 50.7C was recorded in Onslow, matching that measured at Oodnadtta Airport in January 1960.
If daily records have any climatological significance at all, it should be pointed out that most Australian state records were set during the 20th century.
Australian Bureau of Meteorology – State Record Temperatures
Overall, Australia has had a pretty average January, ranking just the 20th warmest.
Rich finished off with the two tropical cyclones which have hit Madagascar this year. These events are not unusual: in the Southern Indian Ocean there are typically a dozen or so every year. The cyclone season normally runs from November to May. So far this season there have been three cyclones, Ana, Batsirai and Cliff, so we will probably end up below average. It is often the case that tropical storms alleviate drought, which is the case in Madagascar at the moment.
Rich finished: ‘And 2022 has already seen extremes of weather around the globe, which are likely to become more frequent as the world continues to warm.’
It is time this propaganda was taken off the air.
Ethanol worse than petrol, study finds
It never did make sense converting productive farmland to make fuel for cars. Now it appears that it does not even cut emissions of carbon dioxide.
Since 2005, the EU has been mandating the use of biofuels in petrol and diesel for cars. The original requirement for biofuel was set at 2 per cent of the mix, and has since risen to 10 per cent.
Here in Britain, we now have E10 fuel as the standard grade for petrol cars. As its name suggests, 10 per cent of its energy must come from biofuels, typically ethanol made from sugar beet and corn.
However E10 is problematic. For a start, many older cars cannot use it as it damages the engine. Drivers of these cars must search out the very limited supplies of non-ethanol-based petrol. Even compatible cars however get worse fuel consumption, costing drivers money and increasing fuel use and pollution.
The only argument for biofuels is that they supposedly reduce emissions of carbon dioxide. However a study in the US has found that far from reducing emissions, the use of ethanol may actually be increasing them.
The research by the University of Wisconsin-Madison Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment found that ethanol is likely to be at least 24 per cent more carbon-intensive than petrol due to emissions resulting from land use changes to grow corn, along with processing and combustion. Tilling fields releases carbon stored in soil, while other farming activities, like applying nitrogen fertilizers, also produce emissions. And, of course, more land needs to be cultivated to replace the food crops lost to ethanol production.
Ethanol production is big business in the US, so corn farmers and processors will put up a stout resistance to any attempts to reverse track. In Europe, the same applies to the sugar beet industry.
But it finally looks as if the Biofuels Emperor has no clothes!