Tropical Storm Isaac started out in the Atlantic Ocean, and crossed over into the Caribbean Sea. The NOAA models projected that Florida was in the path. With the Republican National Convention scheduled to run at the same time as the soon to be hurricane, the news media was awash with speculation on what would happen.
Of course, by the time that Isaac pulverized Haiti and Cuba, running over the Florida Keys, the models were forecasting that the path might be a little west of the original guesses.
After another day, the models were moving the probable path even further west. Over the weekend, the forecasted path had moved from the coast of Florida, to Alabama, to Mississippi, to Louisiana. Now, that grand old town, New Orleans, is being named to a rematch with mother nature as Isaac is supposed to hit there.
So, what is going on?
The government’s hurricane models are virtually worthless. A given hurricane path forecast is almost always wrong, and they have to correct their forecasts after the storm has gone in another direction. You can do almost as well by testing the direction of the wind with a wet finger.
There are a few things you need to know about models. This includes weather forecasting models, hurricane models, and climate models. There is a little understood fact in that they are all MODELS, and not actual, accurate representations of the systems they seek to study.
All models are built upon what we think we know, what we can measure, and a lot of assumptions about those things of which we don’t have a good understanding. For decades climatologists have thought that carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, is a primary driver of climate. As things turn out, carbon dioxide levels have increased dramatically in the last dozen or so years, and the world’s average temperature has changed little, if any at all.
This is one reason why none of those eighteen or twenty climate model used around the world have never made a correct forecast. The government’s weather and hurricane models suffer from similar problems. It is currently impossible to accurately represent the weather system mathematically.
When you wonder why those guys never get it right, remember that they, too, need their jobs. A government climate or weather modeler has job security, and they don’t even have to be right.
What a country!