Intense New England Hurricanes Much More Numerous 340 to 1800 Years Ago

By: Jeff Masters , 6:43 PM GMT on February 17, 2015

Numerous Category 3 and 4 hurricanes frequently pounded New England during the first millennium, from the peak of the Roman Empire into the height of the Middle Ages, said a study accepted for publication this month in the open-access journal Earth’s Future, Climate Forcing of Unprecedented Intense-Hurricane Activity in the Last 2,000 Years. These prehistoric hurricanes were stronger than any hurricane documented to hit the region since the mid-1800s, and would be catastrophic if they hit the region today, according to Jeff Donnelly, a scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) in Massachusetts and lead author of the new paper. In a press release, Donnelly said, “We hope this study broadens our sense of what is possible and what we should expect in a warmer climate. We may need to begin planning for a category 3 hurricane landfall every decade or so rather than every 100 or 200 years.”


Figure 1. The storm surge from Category 2 Hurricane Carol in 1954 batters New England's Edgewood Yacht Club near Providence, Rhode Island. Image credit: NOAA Photo Library.

The paper is the latest contribution to the field of paleotempestology--the study of past tropical cyclone activity by means sediment deposits, cave speleothems, tree rings, coral deposits, as well as historical documentary records. In this case, the researchers took sediment cores from Salt Pond near Falmouth on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. The pond is separated from the ocean by a 1.3- to 1.8-meter (4.3- to 5.9-foot) high sand barrier. Over hundreds of years, storm surges from Category 2 and stronger hurricanes have deposited sediment over the barrier and into the pond. The scientists were able to calibrate the timing of the intense hurricane strikes by dating the layers from Category 2 Hurricane Bob of 1991, the 1675 (September 7) New England hurricane, and the Great Colonial Hurricane of 1635, which passed across southeastern New England and caused widespread damage consistent with a category 3 hurricane.


Figure 2. Scientists collect a sediment core from Salt Pond in Falmouth, Massachusetts, to study hurricane overwash deposits placed there by storm surges from intense hurricanes. The aluminum tube was vibrated into the muddy sediment at the bottom of the pond and then extracted with a hoist. Image Credit: WHOI

The prehistoric sediments showed that there were two periods of elevated intense hurricane activity on Cape Cod--from 150 to 1150, and from 1400 to 1675. Previous paleotempestology studies also found evidence of high hurricane activity during 150 - 1150 A.D. from the Caribbean to the Gulf Coast. Both time periods had unusually warm sea surface temperatures (SSTs) in the Main Development Region for hurricanes, from the Caribbean to the coast of Africa. Warm ocean temperatures in this region have been linked to increased intense hurricane activity by a number of recent research papers. In recent decades, ocean temperatures in the Main Development Region have surpassed the warmth of prehistoric levels, and these waters are expected to warm further over the next century as the climate heats up, suggesting that intense hurricane activity in New England may return to the levels of 340 to 1800 years ago. However, other factors besides warming SSTs will also shape what happens in the North Atlantic. For example, the pattern of ocean warming could bring more El Niño-style wind shear to the Atlantic, reducing hurricane activity. Still, New England would be wise to take heed of Donnelly's advice that we may need to begin planning for a category 3 hurricane landfall every decade or so rather than every 100 or 200 years.

Jeff Masters


The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.

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Quoting 151. LAbonbon:


Regarding return interval - I don't know where 'decade' comes from, nor do I know where 8/5/3 years comes from. From reading through that section of the paper, and looking at the graphs, there are periods where 4 'intense' storms per century occurred (pre-history), whereas they identified 3 'intense' storms in the last 380 years. There's a discussion of calculated changes in event frequency in Section 3.1.3. Perhaps his 'decade' comment came from the suggestion that identified storms in prehistory could have been stronger than Bob and the 1600s storms, due to the additional distance to transport the coarse sediment...I don't know. *shrugs*

Maybe ScottLincoln or schistkicker can weigh in on the return intervals...


I have not read much about the paper in question but have seen some of the discussion on it.

With regards to average recurrence interval (ARI), a relatively modern term I prefer over the similar terms "return period" or "return interval", there are a few things that people frequently misunderstand.
1) The value corresponds to a long term average, and should not be used as some sort of expectation of when an event will occur. Comments like "we are overdue" are not warranted when discussing an ARI; one needs to look at the underlying physical mechanisms which will provide better information to use in forecasting events.
2) The majority of the time something is assigned a "return period" or ARI, the chance of occurance is independent, or near independent, from surrounding years. So just because you had a "100 year" (1% chance) flood last year doesn't mean that you chance is reduced this year.
3) The most extreme (most rare) part of an event is often very isolated and not experienced by the vast majority of persons who think that they experienced it. Here's an example to illustrate. Summer, 1993, in the midwest. Most of the state of Iowa experienced heavy rainfall and most rivers experienced decent river rises. A few locations, on a few rivers, had conditions that were classified as "100-year" or greater events. Probably 10% or fewer people actually experienced flooding of that magnitude (the 100 year or 500 year in the hardest hit areas) but many will calibrate to the event as if they had experienced such an event. Not to say that they didn't experience flooding, but they didn't experience the 100 year or greater. Another example: see Fig 10 in this paper. That event was a particularly significant event for the southeast Louisiana and southern Mississippi area and almost everyone in the area recalls it and discusses how bad it was. Yet if you look at the rainfall ARI analysis, only small portions of 3 counties experienced 1000-year (0.1% chance) event and most events I've studied have a much smaller spatial coverage of the maximum.

Does any of that help?

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Quoting Naga5000:


I think your focusing on the wrong thing about Bob. Bob is the best documented as far as verifiable certainty regarding location, strength, etc. AND it is the most likely candidate for that particular coarse event bed which makes it ideal for a baseline for reconstructing the data. We know the most about Bob, while we only know some things about the others.

As for the comments, I'm in agreement with you, the other reconstructions do not support the assertion of a cat 3 per decade in the Northeast, and yes that hyperbole designed to be attention grabbing will get flak from the "skeptics", which is where we come full circle. They need to actually read the study and not rely on press releases and blurb quotes. But i bet the odds of that happening are worse than the odds of a cat 3 per decade. :)

No, I don't think I am with Bob. The study makes it pretty clear that only a storm with the path of Bob and at least the strength of Bob is going to lay down enough material for the cores to find it. According to the authors, even the 1938 hurricane, at 180 kilometers to the west, wasn't strong enough to leave a depositional layer, but Bob, although weaker, at 100 kilometers west, was. That makes Bob a pretty important guy. It's kind of like me saying I'm going to study prehistoric hurricanes on the Gulf Coast but whatever my equipment is only sensitive enough to detect at least a cat 2 and it has to make landfall within 100 km east of Mobile Bay. Actually, it would have to be right in the middle of Mobile Bay. No, too far over...that might raise a few questions, I think.

Yes, I think Donnelly's statement quoted in the blog qualifies as pure hyperbole. It will get him lots of quotes. However, it's also going to get a lot of questions from people who do read studies - like me. Is that what we want? How about we have two abstracts. One can be for all the scientists. The other can be for the non-scientists. Look, Naga, you're a sociologist. Read the paragraph you quoted from the study in #150. Even though you're a "soft" science guy who gets hooted at by all the "hard" science guys, you've learned a lot about their game. Do you think there's any chance in God's green earth that you could rewrite that paragraph in a way that one of the pickup truck guys down here might actually understand it? This is not a battle for science. Except for exactly what will happen and when, the science behind global warming is pretty clear to those who would understand. This is a battle for hearts and minds, and we can't win it by being obtuse. If the guys who did the study can't write in clear expositional English, send it out to someone like you that can. And for heavens sake, zip your lip when you're about to go overboard. :-)
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#180 - Baltimore Brian - both are cool, but got to go w/ the Maya
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Every Mayan temple was covered for hundreds of years with a plaster made from limestone, made from the forest around them. You cook limestone to make lime. Lime makes plaster. Wood makes charcoal. Charcoal bakes limestone.

In the beginning this cycle ain't a big deal, but these kings when crazy A cyclone was just a foot note at the end.

These people stuck sting ray barbs in their foreskins to get in touch with the Gods. And their queens did the same thing. You bled on a paper , then you lite it on fire. The smoke would take man's message to the Gods.

Only kings and queens did this. Everyone else cut down trees , and hauled rocks.
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Quoting 181. wxgeek723:

Nah, Maryland is a Northern state in my opinion. It's accustomed to snow, and it's a developed blue state.

We're # 1!

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Quoting Methurricanes:
Isn't the Mason-Dixon line the de facto North-South Border? so Philly is the southern extent of the North, While Baltimore is the start of the South.


Nah, Maryland is a Northern state in my opinion. It's accustomed to snow, and it's a developed blue state.
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Poll: Which Native American symbol for hurricane is better?

The Maya



Or the Taino of Cuba?



I like the Taino symbol better.
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Quoting 171. sar2401:

And there you have the absolute crux, the heart of the matter. It's not 1975, and the study isn't being published just so Donnelly's colleagues can read it. At least at the abstract level, studies today are being read by lots of "civilians", some wanting to learn and some wanting to discredit. What's written, how it's written, and how it will play in Peoria are all more important than ever. I don't know if some scientists feel it some sort of sell out to tailor an abstract for another audience but, if so, they need to get over it.

As for the decades remark, it came directly from Donnelly's mouth, assuming the news release quoted him correctly.

"In a press release, Donnelly said, “We hope this study broadens our sense of what is possible and what we should expect in a warmer climate. We may need to begin planning for a category 3 hurricane landfall every decade or so rather than every 100 or 200 years.”

Do you think that's a fair representation of what the study said? I don't, and, if it's not, why say it? The 8, 5 and 3 year question was, if the study said that a Bob is going to come every 10 years, and we know the study missed a lot of non-Bob but still significant storms like 1938, what would the real return period be? Assuming the 10 years was ever right, it has to a lot less when you include the non-Bob's.

Finally, did you look at the picture of the guys taking the core sample and their drilling "platform"? Are my eyes deceiving me or is that a piece of plywood between two canoes lashed together? The nearest canoe appears to have a freeboard of about an inch - tops. Anything higher than a light breeze and someone's going in the drink. Thank goodness they get all that big grant money for the luxury drill platform though. :-)

I know it came from Donnelly's press release...I don't necessarily know where he got it, but I made a guess/supposition in my previous post.

You're (I think) assuming 1938, for that location, was as strong, or stronger than Bob. It wasn't, in terms of coarse sediment transport. It was looking at Salt Pond only. If they moved the study west enough, maybe 1938 would be a marker event bed, and Bob would have 'fallen out' and not been counted. But I understand what you are saying about the return period.

As to the audience...first and foremost it's their peers and the academic community. Then it's a greater audience. I think the press release is an attempt to reach out. I think it's overall written so most anybody would understand. The 'decade' comment has us wondering a bit, understandably. But the rest is pretty straight forward, IMHO.

The coring - I've collected lots of cores in my time, and rigged up some pretty rudimentary setups. All that matters is that it works. Why go high-dollar if you don't have to?
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Quoting 130. ColoradoBob1:

I would remind everyone Dr. Jennifer Francis is right. This deep loop in the jet stream has been in place for weeks .
It has been stuck for weeks, And it is exactly what she forecast.

Just remember that Dr. Francis' work is about a change evident over a climatic timeframe - that is, it's a trend that was hypothesized and was then verified to be occurring when looking at model re-analysis data. You have to be careful to take one instance of a blocking pattern to be "exactly what [Francis] forecast." Such an instance is an example of weather; it may be consistent with an expected climatic trend but isn't really a forecast.
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Quoting 144. Methurricanes:

Snowmaggedon in DC a few years back did, Baltimore gets big snows every so often. as does Richmond, all urban enough southern cities to need street parking.


The February 1973 snowstorm brought close to 20" in central GA and up to 2 feet in southern South Carolina. The February 1895 snowstorm brought 30" to Beaumont TX on the coast. That would bury cars.
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Quoting 142. Methurricanes:

NWS Boston ‏@NWSBoston · 16m16 minutes ago
BREAKING NEWS: Boston/Logan reported 0.3" snow at 7 PM, bringing Feb total to 59.1". Season total: 96.3"! Tied for #2 snowiest!
ITS A TIE!! 11.3 before the Record of 107.6




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This is the hurricane symbol by the Taino of Cuba. Quite good in my opinion.

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174. beell
Quoting 165. aquak9:

anything north of I-10 is "northern".

Preach it, Brutha Beell! Preach it!

Can I get an AMEN??


Amen, doggie
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Quoting 164. aquak9:

As far as I'm concerned, anyone north of Georgia is a northerner.
-or-
If you get to see snow every 2-4 years.

No-good-closed-shoe-wearin' Yankees, tossin' perfectly good lawn chairs around city streets - -

:)
Granny told me anyone born North of Sarasota, or maybe Bradenton (after some reflection), was a Yankee, and should not be trusted! Still works for me, even though I have friends from the entire world. Got to set boundaries for society!
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Quoting 163. Pallis1:

Only because of the War of Northern Aggression, which by logical standards should never repeat. Forget Hacking - CIA Accuses Russia Of "Manipulating The World's Weather"
Submitted by Tyler Durden on 02/17/2015 - 16:30

America appears to have found something else to blame the Russians (or North Koreans) for... The Weather. As The Daily Mail reports, CIA chiefs fear hostile nations are trying to manipulate the world’s climate... seriously. So don't just believe the hype, or do, after all it is your decision to make for now. Sounds like double disinformation to me. Ask me aboot triple disinformation. It gets more complicated after the next stages. One thing we can count on is a beautiful spring up north, unless you live in certain places. Not really a surprise there.
I stopped reading after War of. Northern Aggression.
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Quoting LAbonbon:

Yes, I think it's very possible near Cat 2s were not 'seen'. Regarding Cat 2s, if they were similar to Bob, and could transport coarse sediment like Bob did, they would have been identified. So other 1938-like storms would not have been included in their count.

Regarding the other studies...geez, sar...I haven't read those...

Regarding return interval - I don't know where 'decade' comes from, nor do I know where 8/5/3 years comes from. From reading through that section of the paper, and looking at the graphs, there are periods where 4 'intense' storms per century occurred (pre-history), whereas they identified 3 'intense' storms in the last 380 years. There's a discussion of calculated changes in event frequency in Section 3.1.3. Perhaps his 'decade' comment came from the suggestion that identified storms in prehistory could have been stronger than Bob and the 1600s storms, due to the additional distance to transport the coarse sediment...I don't know. *shrugs*

Maybe ScottLincoln or schistkicker can weigh in on the return intervals...

I think the whole discussion regarding event bed attribution was necessary, to be honest, because not everyone has the background to grasp it quickly. However, it's relatively straight forward for geologists and academics. (So, in that case, including my statement in the abstract would be wholly unnecessary.)

I think the Cat 3 follows from the idea of Bob 'or stronger', and acknowledging older storms had to have more 'oomph' to transport the sediment further.

The discussion of potential affects of warming are discussed in the climatic forcings and conclusions sections, but all statements are extremely well-cited. There is discussion of what different studies have shown, as well as what is not known. It read as a very-unbiased set of conclusions. But how does one present a study that has several layers and implications to the public at large? I guess it's a 'bottom line' type of deal...

And there you have the absolute crux, the heart of the matter. It's not 1975, and the study isn't being published just so Donnelly's colleagues can read it. At least at the abstract level, studies today are being read by lots of "civilians", some wanting to learn and some wanting to discredit. What's written, how it's written, and how it will play in Peoria are all more important than ever. I don't know if some scientists feel it some sort of sell out to tailor an abstract for another audience but, if so, they need to get over it.

As for the decades remark, it came directly from Donnelly's mouth, assuming the news release quoted him correctly.

"In a press release, Donnelly said, “We hope this study broadens our sense of what is possible and what we should expect in a warmer climate. We may need to begin planning for a category 3 hurricane landfall every decade or so rather than every 100 or 200 years.”

Do you think that's a fair representation of what the study said? I don't, and, if it's not, why say it? The 8, 5 and 3 year question was, if the study said that a Bob is going to come every 10 years, and we know the study missed a lot of non-Bob but still significant storms like 1938, what would the real return period be? Assuming the 10 years was ever right, it has to a lot less when you include the non-Bob's.

Finally, did you look at the picture of the guys taking the core sample and their drilling "platform"? Are my eyes deceiving me or is that a piece of plywood between two canoes lashed together? The nearest canoe appears to have a freeboard of about an inch - tops. Anything higher than a light breeze and someone's going in the drink. Thank goodness they get all that big grant money for the luxury drill platform though. :-)
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maybe more snow for the northeast on wednesday night
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Nearby Weather Stations 7:59 PM EST on February 17, 2015
Beacon Hill/Lake Saltonstall - Branford, Branford
15.4 °F
DopplerDon.com
15.4 °F
Rock Hill
17.0 °F
New Haven - Criscuolo Park
21.7 °F
Foxon
16.7 °F
East Haven Town Beach
19.0 °F
east haven morgan point
18.5 °F
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Maya hurricane glyph. The center is a sky symbol. The four mouths with a tongue each represent wind---wind blowing from four directions.

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Quoting 150. Naga5000:

(snip)

In other words, it's a fantastically interesting puzzle piece...

(snip)

Excellent summary, Naga. And I agree, 'it's a fantastically interesting puzzle piece'
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Quoting 153. sar2401:

That seems like a reasonable summary, although I still have to wonder why Bob was the only hurricane in 300 years to deposit the layer they wanted in Salt Pond. It also begs the question of how 35 storms in about 2,000 years translates into a return period of every 10 years. Is there some fudge factor for the storms they have a pretty good idea they missed? Why did Donnelly feel moved (assuming he was correctly quoted) to even talk about cat 3's hitting the coast every 10 years when the study says no such thing? The tinfoil hat crowd is going to jump all over that to discredit what's at least, as you say, a piece of the puzzle. There are times when a teleprompter's not a bad thing. :-)


I think your focusing on the wrong thing about Bob. Bob is the best documented as far as verifiable certainty regarding location, strength, etc. AND it is the most likely candidate for that particular coarse event bed which makes it ideal for a baseline for reconstructing the data. We know the most about Bob, while we only know some things about the others.

As for the comments, I'm in agreement with you, the other reconstructions do not support the assertion of a cat 3 per decade in the Northeast, and yes that hyperbole designed to be attention grabbing will get flak from the "skeptics", which is where we come full circle. They need to actually read the study and not rely on press releases and blurb quotes. But i bet the odds of that happening are worse than the odds of a cat 3 per decade. :)

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anything north of I-10 is "northern".

Preach it, Brutha Beell! Preach it!

Can I get an AMEN??
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As far as I'm concerned, anyone north of Georgia is a northerner.
-or-
If you get to see snow every 2-4 years.

No-good-closed-shoe-wearin' Yankees, tossin' perfectly good lawn chairs around city streets - -

:)
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Quoting 157. washingtonian115:

Funny thing here in D.C we don't consider ourselves southerns and don't like to associate with them (I don't mean that in a bad way).If you ask a young person in D.C do they think they're a northern or southern they'll say northern.We're a southern city with a northern way of thinking and operating.For example northern V.A just across the water is way more different then southern V.A where life is slower and more laid back.
Only because of the War of Northern Aggression, which by logical standards should never repeat. Forget Hacking - CIA Accuses Russia Of "Manipulating The World's Weather"
Submitted by Tyler Durden on 02/17/2015 - 16:30

America appears to have found something else to blame the Russians (or North Koreans) for... The Weather. As The Daily Mail reports, CIA chiefs fear hostile nations are trying to manipulate the world’s climate... seriously. So don't just believe the hype, or do, after all it is your decision to make for now. Sounds like double disinformation to me. Ask me aboot triple disinformation. It gets more complicated after the next stages. One thing we can count on is a beautiful spring up north, unless you live in certain places. Not really a surprise there.
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162. beell
Quoting 158. Methurricanes:

Isn't the Mason-Dixon line the de facto North-South Border? so Philly is the southern extent of the North, While Baltimore is the start of the South.


If you have spent any time at all in southern Louisiana, anything north of I-10 is "northern". Or way down in south Louisiana, it's the intracoastal waterway.



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Quoting 152. CarolinaHurricanes87:



Guess then it depends on your definition of "southern snow". As a Charlotte resident theres no way I'd consider DC or Baltimore "southern". Richmond, I'll give you that one. But car-burying storms are rare in Richmond, and very rare here in NC. Have lived in NC the past 15 years and only seen anything like that once

LOL - my thoughts exactly. When I lived in New England, I considered VA to be the South, and some people considered MD to be. Now that I live in South Louisiana, I no longer really view VA or even perhaps TN as the South. I know people that would not include Arkansas or North Carolina, either, and have heard people from these states referred to as yankees :)

Kind of blew my mind at first. It's all relative...
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Quoting 158. Methurricanes:

Isn't the Mason-Dixon line the de facto North-South Border? so Philly is the southern extent of the North, While Baltimore is the start of the South.


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Quoting 152. CarolinaHurricanes87:



Guess then it depends on your definition of "southern snow". As a Charlotte resident theres no way I'd consider DC or Baltimore "southern". Richmond, I'll give you that one. But car-burying storms are rare in Richmond, and very rare here in NC. Have lived in NC the past 15 years and only seen anything like that once
Isn't the Mason-Dixon line the de facto North-South Border? so Philly is the southern extent of the North, While Baltimore is the start of the South.
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Quoting 144. Methurricanes:

Snowmaggedon in DC a few years back did, Baltimore gets big snows every so often. as does Richmond, all urban enough southern cities to need street parking.
Funny thing here in D.C we don't consider ourselves southerns and don't like to associate with them (I don't mean that in a bad way).If you ask a young person in D.C do they think they're a northern or southern they'll say northern.We're a southern city with a northern way of thinking and operating.For example northern V.A just across the water is way more different then southern V.A where life is slower and more laid back.
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Quoting 145. BaltimoreBrian:

The Maya left some accounts of devastating hurricanes in their region. On August 22, 583 CE they recorded a hurricane that left "mountains of skulls" and "pools of blood".

Bishop Diego de Landa in the 16th century reported a Maya account of a devastating hurricane greater than any known before in 1464 which may correspond to the "giant hurricane" which was the strongest to hit the Yucatan Peninsula in the past 5000 years.

The Maya glyph for hurricane, a sky symbol with four wind symbols around it.




And they were cutting every tree to cook limestone to make plaster for their buildings , never forget every building they ever built, was covered in plaster. All that took charcoal. Huge amounts of trees. To cook limestone to make plaster.

Nobody in the modern world has got their head around this.

The Maya had a 2 for 1 . We cut the forest to make plaster, we get more land for corn.
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Quoting 141. Skyepony:

lostinohio ~ If you search your city in the box above in the upper right & then change your station to the nearest weather station. You can make that home by clicking the house next to the station name. Now look at the black bar on the top. All the way to the right that gear. Click on that and make sure it's selected to WeatherUnderground's Bestforecast (you can choose between that & NWS). Then the forecasts you see on the city forecast page should be WU generated for any weather station you are looking at. I find the one WU generates for my PWS on my roof is better than the one from the NWS that is less than 10 miles away. WU generated forecasts are for 10 days instead of for 7 days when generated by NWS.

This does not work for me. I exchanged several posts with sar about this weeks/months ago. I just tried it now to make sure it still didn't work. I selected a close-by PWS, hit the home icon, closed, re-opened, and it re-set itself to a PWS that's no where near me. Same city/parish, but not close. It's a bit of an improvement from weeks/months ago, when it kept defaulting to a town in another parish. I emailed the site back then, but didn't hear anything back.

It used to work, but a while back it just stopped, and kept defaulting to somewhere else. Neither of the default PWSs are ones I've ever clicked on, either.

Any insight you have would be helpful and appreciated.
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Quoting 152. CarolinaHurricanes87:



Guess then it depends on your definition of "southern snow". As a Charlotte resident theres no way I'd consider DC or Baltimore "southern". Richmond, I'll give you that one. But car-burying storms are rare in Richmond, and very rare here in NC. Have lived in NC the past 15 years and only seen anything like that once
whos knows maybe ya will see it twice
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Quoting Naga5000:


I think that the study is one piece of a proxy reconstruction of historical records, they use it in conjunction with other proxies to get a larger picture of what was happening. The sociologist in me would say the study needs to clarify exactly what it is measuring, and it does although not in nice summary form (this is most likely due to writing style within the journal/discipline). Yes, it will miss storms that did not create coarse event beds, and therefore likely underestimates the actual numbers. But that's okay as the proxy doesn't claim to catch all likely events. In fact, they do mention that

"the temporal patterns in event bed deposition may reflect changes in the
frequency of only the more intense storms that are capable of producing event beds"

"The last 350 years of sediment accumulation at Salt Pond indicates that only relatively intense hurricanes making a close landfall (~100 km) to the west of the site have left event beds. Given modest increases in sea level over the last 2000 years in the region [Donnelly, 1998](~2 m), the barrier fronting Salt Pond has likely transgressed landward with time, with recent historical shoreline retreat rates of ~10 m per century [Thieler, 2013]. As a result of this landward barrier translation, older event beds recorded in SP2 were likely transported greater distances than recent ones, which may point to even greater local intensities for prehistoric events relative to Hurricane Bob in 1991 CE"

and the fact they only get 35 storms from this proxy is documented.

I think you have a valid critique Sar, but I also think they have addressed most of your concerns and do not try to over represent what their study actually can say.

Where I agree with you completely is the press release of the study does not make these things clear. Usually the media coverage/press releases do not which in turn make people question the validity of the science since the releases and coverage are generally sensationalized.

In my opinion, the most important takeaways from this paper is 1) it's another proxy reconstruction that gets added the knowledge base 2) they managed to fit it in with other regional reconstructions giving us a better picture of what was happening on a larger scale and 3) with only 35 storms, they managed statistically significant correlations with other events like increased MDR SST's through other reconstructions.

In other words, it's a fantastically interesting puzzle piece, and it doesn't claim to represent the entire picture, BUT it does say the increases in frequency of these events seemed to be linked to MDR SST's and if we continue to see increases in ocean temperature due to global warming (all other things being equal) there should be a corresponding increase in these events. I don't think that's over the top.
That seems like a reasonable summary, although I still have to wonder why Bob was the only hurricane in 300 years to deposit the layer they wanted in Salt Pond. It also begs the question of how 35 storms in about 2,000 years translates into a return period of every 10 years. Is there some fudge factor for the storms they have a pretty good idea they missed? Why did Donnelly feel moved (assuming he was correctly quoted) to even talk about cat 3's hitting the coast every 10 years when the study says no such thing? The tinfoil hat crowd is going to jump all over that to discredit what's at least, as you say, a piece of the puzzle. There are times when a teleprompter's not a bad thing. :-)
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Quoting 144. Methurricanes:

Snowmaggedon in DC a few years back did, Baltimore gets big snows every so often. as does Richmond, all urban enough southern cities to need street parking.


Guess then it depends on your definition of "southern snow". As a Charlotte resident theres no way I'd consider DC or Baltimore "southern". Richmond, I'll give you that one. But car-burying storms are rare in Richmond, and very rare here in NC. Have lived in NC the past 15 years and only seen anything like that once
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Quoting 116. sar2401:

That's me. I'm turning into a house husband at my age. Instead of playing with my radios or trains, I'm cleaning the kitchen. So much for that second childhood thing. :-)

OK, better summary, and even more troubling. If this study showed all these storms that just happened to go the right way and just happened to be big enough, how many 1944 and 1938 storms also occurred of which those sediments remained blissfully unaware? Just with the storms we know a lot about in the period from 1900 up until now, New England has been hit by a lot of cat 2 or near cat 2 storms, plus the biggies like 1938. What kinds of storms were the needed proxies for all the other studies? Is the supposed return rate now something like 8 years? 5? 3? And why wasn't something like your summary included in the abstract so we didn't have to spend all day getting to this point? I realize it reduces the entertainment value of the US being attacked by cat 3 hurricanes every 10 years but it would have been honest. That whole statement about cat 3 hurricanes really bothers me too. I can guess that Donnelly has some strong views about global warming but he's got to be careful not let that overwhelm what he says for shock effect to the media.

Yes, I think it's very possible near Cat 2s were not 'seen'. Regarding Cat 2s, if they were similar to Bob, and could transport coarse sediment like Bob did, they would have been identified. So other 1938-like storms would not have been included in their count.

Regarding the other studies...geez, sar...I haven't read those...

Regarding return interval - I don't know where 'decade' comes from, nor do I know where 8/5/3 years comes from. From reading through that section of the paper, and looking at the graphs, there are periods where 4 'intense' storms per century occurred (pre-history), whereas they identified 3 'intense' storms in the last 380 years. There's a discussion of calculated changes in event frequency in Section 3.1.3. Perhaps his 'decade' comment came from the suggestion that identified storms in prehistory could have been stronger than Bob and the 1600s storms, due to the additional distance to transport the coarse sediment...I don't know. *shrugs*

Maybe ScottLincoln or schistkicker can weigh in on the return intervals...

I think the whole discussion regarding event bed attribution was necessary, to be honest, because not everyone has the background to grasp it quickly. However, it's relatively straight forward for geologists and academics. (So, in that case, including my statement in the abstract would be wholly unnecessary.)

I think the Cat 3 follows from the idea of Bob 'or stronger', and acknowledging older storms had to have more 'oomph' to transport the sediment further.

The discussion of potential affects of warming are discussed in the climatic forcings and conclusions sections, but all statements are extremely well-cited. There is discussion of what different studies have shown, as well as what is not known. It read as a very-unbiased set of conclusions. But how does one present a study that has several layers and implications to the public at large? I guess it's a 'bottom line' type of deal...

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Quoting 124. sar2401:



Take a look at #116 and let me know what you think.


I think that the study is one piece of a proxy reconstruction of historical records, they use it in conjunction with other proxies to get a larger picture of what was happening. The sociologist in me would say the study needs to clarify exactly what it is measuring, and it does although not in nice summary form (this is most likely due to writing style within the journal/discipline). Yes, it will miss storms that did not create coarse event beds, and therefore likely underestimates the actual numbers. But that's okay as the proxy doesn't claim to catch all likely events. In fact, they do mention that

"the temporal patterns in event bed deposition may reflect changes in the
frequency of only the more intense storms that are capable of producing event beds"

"The last 350 years of sediment accumulation at Salt Pond indicates that only relatively intense hurricanes making a close landfall (~100 km) to the west of the site have left event beds. Given modest increases in sea level over the last 2000 years in the region [Donnelly, 1998](~2 m), the barrier fronting Salt Pond has likely transgressed landward with time, with recent historical shoreline retreat rates of ~10 m per century [Thieler, 2013]. As a result of this landward barrier translation, older event beds recorded in SP2 were likely transported greater distances than recent ones, which may point to even greater local intensities for prehistoric events relative to Hurricane Bob in 1991 CE"

and the fact they only get 35 storms from this proxy is documented.

I think you have a valid critique Sar, but I also think they have addressed most of your concerns and do not try to over represent what their study actually can say.

Where I agree with you completely is the press release of the study does not make these things clear. Usually the media coverage/press releases do not which in turn make people question the validity of the science since the releases and coverage are generally sensationalized.

In my opinion, the most important takeaways from this paper is 1) it's another proxy reconstruction that gets added the knowledge base 2) they managed to fit it in with other regional reconstructions giving us a better picture of what was happening on a larger scale and 3) with only 35 storms, they managed statistically significant correlations with other events like increased MDR SST's through other reconstructions.

In other words, it's a fantastically interesting puzzle piece, and it doesn't claim to represent the entire picture, BUT it does say the increases in frequency of these events seemed to be linked to MDR SST's and if we continue to see increases in ocean temperature due to global warming (all other things being equal) there should be a corresponding increase in these events. I don't think that's over the top.
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Quoting 60. sar2401:

It's certainly not accurate for Alabama, and I don't think it's accurate for Mississippi in terms of snow. Since it's for yesterday evening at 6:00 pm CST, and the scale with the white/gray color is 0.39" and less, maybe it's extrapolated ice reports instead.

We ain't got no snow in Northern suburbs of Indianapolis! just sayin!

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148. beell
Quoting 122. sar2401:

You're pretty much right on all counts. Until there's a continental pattern shift, the most probable forecast is nothing much changes. The pattern will shift. The models have no clue when that will happen. The models have very little clue what will happen in the next 5 days. I wish I could say it will start raining again California in March 5 and it will stop snowing in Boston. But I'd be lying. All we can do is watch.





Both frames from today's Central Pacific 18Z GFS-500 mb height anomalies. Top valid at 00 hrs, bottom at 384 hrs. Translates to troughing over the western US. Who knows, we could still end up with an Omega over the central US-with both coasts getting sharply amplified troughs-but I would kind of doubt that scenario.

Sure it's a long way out but there may be a clue or two in there for the adventurous. Something that has not been seen in the extended range for what seems like..forever.
:)
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Quoting Methurricanes:
After the southern Snow storm, I was wondering, What are the opinions of "space savers" in the South? Those are lawnchairs or something that is used to mark your spot after you dug it out of snow in areas of New England that you have to park in the street.
violations are punished by keying a car, so slashing tires, to breaking windows depending on neighborhood and size of snowstorm.
We don't have any of that stuff down here. You park the pickup out back by the barn or in the lean-to next to the house. Any trouble, you buddy comes over in another pickup and uses a snatch block to pull you out. The only parking spaces we have are at Walmart, and they're ain't nobody down here that drives a lawn chair to Walmart. If we saw a lawn chair in a parking space, we'd throw it in the back of the pickup and drop it off at aunt Martha's double wide. She's always wanted a lawn chair.
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Quoting 133. MahFL:



Infrastructure improvements would not have helped much in Tacloban, any force that moves ships inland is going to destroy even concrete buildings.


That was me , and are a fool. And this is not an attack it is a statement of fact.
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The Maya left some accounts of devastating hurricanes in their region. On August 22, 583 CE they recorded a hurricane that left "mountains of skulls" and "pools of blood".

Bishop Diego de Landa in the 16th century reported a Maya account of a devastating hurricane greater than any known before in 1464 which may correspond to the "giant hurricane" which was the strongest to hit the Yucatan Peninsula in the past 5000 years. (section 5.2 of the article)

The Maya glyph for hurricane, a sky symbol with four wind symbols around it.
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Quoting 138. MahFL:



Southern snow storms don't bury cars.
Snowmaggedon in DC a few years back did, Baltimore gets big snows every so often. as does Richmond, all urban enough southern cities to need street parking.
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Record breaking snow in Boston, but the Iditarod has the worst conditions ever.
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NWS Boston ‏@NWSBoston · 16m16 minutes ago
BREAKING NEWS: Boston/Logan reported 0.3" snow at 7 PM, bringing Feb total to 59.1". Season total: 96.3"! Tied for #2 snowiest!
ITS A TIE!! 11.3 before the Record of 107.6

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141. Skyepony (Mod)
lostinohio ~ If you search your city in the box above in the upper right & then change your station to the nearest weather station. You can make that home by clicking the house next to the station name. Now look at the black bar on the top. All the way to the right that gear. Click on that and make sure it's selected to WeatherUnderground's Bestforecast (you can choose between that & NWS). Then the forecasts you see on the city forecast page should be WU generated for any weather station you are looking at. I find the one WU generates for my PWS on my roof is better than the one from the NWS that is less than 10 miles away. WU generated forecasts are for 10 days instead of for 7 days when generated by NWS.
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Quoting 138. MahFL:



Southern snow storms don't bury cars.
Dont jinx us....i,m sure thats on the list somewhere
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Winds up to 35 mph are going to do more damage to the trees here...Clipper system will drop another inch or two on this mess , pluss more chances of wintery precip until the end of the week...I, m ready for spring
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138. MahFL
Quoting 134. Methurricanes:

After the southern Snow storm, I was wondering, What are the opinions of "space savers" in the South? Those are lawnchairs or something that is used to mark your spot after you dug it out of snow in areas of New England that you have to park in the street.
violations are punished by keying a car, so slashing tires, to breaking windows depending on neighborhood and size of snowstorm.


Southern snow storms don't bury cars.
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Quoting 130. ColoradoBob1:

I would remind everyone Dr. Jennifer Francis is right. This deep loop in the jet stream has been in place for weeks .
It has been stuck for weeks, And it is exactly what she forecast.


I am really glad you brought that up. I learned about her work 4 years ago and shared it with family and friends. This week I asked many of them if they remember what I had e-mailed them years ago and how they think about it now. It was one of those "hey she told us" moments.
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Cat 6 lead authors: WU cofounder Dr. Jeff Masters (right), who flew w/NOAA Hurricane Hunters 1986-1990, & WU meteorologist Bob Henson, @bhensonweather