Katrina Anniversary: Media's 10 Most Outlandish Hurricane Predictions Full of Hot Air

Ten years ago, Hurricane Katrina made landfall in Louisiana, destroying homes, businesses, and claiming more than 1,000 lives. The networks saw Katrina as a harbinger of climate doom.

Hurricane Katrina was the 7th-most intense Atlantic hurricane on record, the third-deadliest in US history, and the most expensive at roughly $108 billion (including economic impact,). That was more than twice as costly as Tropical Storm Sandy, which hit New York and New Jersey in 2012.

In the weeks and months following the storm and catastrophic flooding, the networks repeatedly exploited the Katrina tragedy to push a radical climate change agenda.

All three broadcast networks claimed multiple times that Hurricane Katrina was not only caused by global warming, but also a sign of bad things to come. CBS made the most predictions including the warning that “since 1990, the number of big hurricanes in the Gulf is up again, and there’s no end in sight.” The networks also worried storms like Katrina could be the “new normal” for the United States.

Now 10 years after Katrina, many of the network predictions have been proven wrong. According to research by the American Geophysical Union, the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), The Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, and other independent meteorologists have thrown cold water on claims that global warming makes hurricanes more intense or more frequent. Major hurricanes impacting the U.S. have also been on the decline since 2005, during a nine-year Atlantic hurricane landfall drought.

Here are 10 of the networks’ worst predictions about hurricanes since Hurricane Katrina:

1. NBC Says To ‘Expect Such Storms More Often’ Thanks To Global Warming

The networks wasted no time in blaming global warming for Hurricane Katrina, and predicting more storms like it. The very day after Katrina made landfall, NBC Nightly News aired an “In Depth” segment on its day-by-day formation.

“Even with it’s slight weakening, Katrina was one of the biggest ever, and many scientists say we can expect such storms more often as global warming increases sea temperatures around the world,” NBC’s chief science correspondent Robert Bazell said.

2. CBS: Frequency of Sandy and Katrina-like Storms Will ‘Double’ By 2030

In the wake of Tropical Storm Sandy, CBS was quick to revive Hurricane Katrina imagery, and again predicted that such storms would increase -- even though predictions the network made seven years earlier were wrong.

On Nov. 3, 2012, This Morning co-host Rebecca Jarvis said, “As superstorms like Hurricane Sandy and Katrina in 2005, is this the new normal for our weather? They’ve long been considered once-in-a-century events, but researchers now say the frequency of such storms will at least double by the year 2030.”

Ben Straus, the chief operating officer of Climate Central, a global warming advocacy group, joined This Morning to discuss the claim.

“Sandy was off the charts,” he said, exaggerating the strength of the storm. “Our climate change made it worse. But Sandy was off the charts. However, it is very much the new normal that we’re seeing more extreme weather, bigger storms more often, heat waves, drought like we saw this summer, fires.”

Sandy, however, was not actually “off the charts” at all. According to NOAA, when it made landfall in New Jersey, it had already been downgraded to a “post-tropical cyclone.” Sandy caused nearly $50 billion in damage, not because of its intensity, but because it struck the densely-populated and unprepared New Jersey and New York coastlines.

CBS turned to Strauss again that month for alarmist predictions about how climate change would impact the US.

3. ABC Claims Scientists Might Need to Invent Category 6 for Hurricane Scale

On May 22, 2006, ABC News anchors Diane Sawyer and Bill Blakemore made dire predictions about future hurricane activity in the US.

“We’ve all heard of the category five storm, the worst.” Sawyer teased, “But could there soon be something even beyond that?”

Blakemore ran with that saying that National Hurricane Center scientists were “grappling with a lot of new evidence that shows manmade global warming has been making hurricanes worse around the world.” He also claimed “scientists are even considering adding a new hurricane category, 6.”

Blakemore pressed for a category 6 in other ABC reports, and has mocked climate change skeptics, calling them “denialists.” In 2009, he claimed global warming was playing into the hands of America’s enemies.

4. Katrina Is The Beginning of What May Be ‘A Long Stretch of Wild and Devastating Weather’

CBS correspondent Russ Mitchell claimed that after Katrina, weather would become more devastating.

“Hurricane Katrina was the most destructive storm this country has ever seen. But a growing number of scientists believe it is just the beginning of what could be a long stretch of wild and devastating weather,” Mitchell said to introduce Jim Acosta’s Early Show report on March 21, 2006.

Acosta said scientists were fiercely debating whether Katrina was a “freak of nature,” or whether storms like that were the “spawn of global warming.”

One scientist, Georgia Tech climatologist Judith Curry said, “We need to say to the public that there is this possible risk of increasing hurricane intensity associated with global warming.”

5. CBS Consults Liberal Environmentalist Who Claims ‘Katrina Was First Urban Extinction’ and ‘Just the Beginning’ of Extreme Weather

On August 13, 2007, The Early Show highlighted Leonardo DiCaprio’s global warming alarmist film “The 11th Hour.” While interviewing DiCaprio, CBS anchor Julie Chen (wife of liberal CBS CEO Les Moonves) only consulted an additional alarmist on the subject.

That expert was liberal environmental activist Kenny Ausubel, the founder of “Bioneers,” a liberal educational organization focused on spreading a “game-changing social and scientific vision.”

Ausubel claimed, “Hurricane Katrina was the first urban extinction, you know.” He also warned, “This is just the beginning of the trend of masses of ecological refugees, mega droughts, mega floods, extremes of all sorts.”

6. CBS’s Hannah Storm Claims Katrina-like Storms Will Happen ‘All Along Our Atlantic and Gulf Coastlines.’

Just five days before Hurricane Katrina’s one year anniversary, CBS news anchor Hannah Storm featured climate alarmist Mike Tidwell on The Early Show to discuss his book, “The Ravaging Tide.”

“I think the biggest lesson from Katrina a year later is that those same ingredients, you know, a city below sea level hit by a major hurricane, will be replicated by global warming all along our Atlantic and Gulf Coast lines,” Tidwell said on August 24, 2006.

Tidwell then went on to claim that cities all along the coast would be underwater due to increased hurricane activity and intensity “unless we stop global warming.”

In a 2009 Washington Post op-ed, Tidwell explained just how far he thought people should go to “stop global warming.” After comparing the current global warming problem to the civil rights movement of the 1960s, he insisted that “After years of delay and denial and green half-measures, we must legislate a stop to the burning of coal, oil and natural gas.”

7. ‘No End In Sight’ For Big Hurricanes, CBS Says

Less than a month after Katrina made landfall, CBS anchor Russ Mitchell predicted that there would be “continued high levels of hurricane activity and high levels of hurricane landfalls for the next decade or perhaps even longer.”

“For years now, experts have been saying we’ve entered a period of increased hurricane activity that may last a long time.” Mitchell said on the Sept. 22, 2005 Early Show. Later in the broadcast he added, “since 1990, the number of big hurricanes in the Gulf is up again, and there’s no end in sight.”

Now, a decade later that prediction looks laughable since there hasn’t been a major hurricane (Category 3 or higher) to make landfall since October of 2005, when Hurricane Wilma struck Florida.

8. NBC Blames Global Warming for Stronger Hurricanes, Says It’s ‘A Trend That’s Likely To Continue’

In the weeks following Katrina, NBC turned to global warming as the hurricane’s cause. On September 18, 2005, Nightly News anchor John Seigenthaler said, “scientists studying the earth’s climate say we are experiencing stronger hurricanes in this century, a trend that’s likely to continue.”

NBC’s chief science correspondent Robert Bazell continued, asking: “Was Katrina a warning of more terrible hurricanes in the next few years?”

Bazell admitted “one storm cannot prove anything about climate change,” but claimed the projected ocean temperature rise would cause more severe storms through the end of the century.

That NBC report included climatologist Stephen Schneider who said, “humans won’t make the storms, but we can make them a little stronger than they otherwise would have been.”

9. CBS: Sunday Morning Warns There Will be Twice as Many ‘Monsters’

CBS News Sunday Morning correspondent David Pogue also tied both Sandy and Katrina to global warming. On a Nov. 11, 2012 segment discussing the impact of climate change, Pogue said, “And that brings us to the elephant in the room: Hurricane Sandy. The largest Atlantic hurricane ever recorded … second only to Hurricane Katrina. Are these super storms related to global warming?”

To answer the question, Pogue asked Professor John Mutter of The Earth Institute at Columbia University. The Institute is headed by Jeffrey Sachs, a climate alarmist and friend of liberal billionaire George Soros.

“So imagine that in-- now we had ten hurricanes per year and two of them are really monsters. In the future, the expectation is there’ll still be ten but four of them will be monsters,” Mutter predicted.

10. Time Editor on CBS: ‘Katrina-type Events Are Turning Out To Be Twice As Likely’ During Warming Years

CBS returned to hurricane predicting and fear mongering around the time of Hurricane Isaac. On Jan. 26, 2013, This Morning reporter Elaine Quijano discussed the impact of climate change on the “wild weather in 2012,” including Hurricane Isaac.

Quijano consulted senior editor Jeffrey Kluger of TIME Magazine who said, “We’re now having five record-setting months for every one we used to have before. And Katrina-type events are turning out to be twice as likely in years with warming as in other years. So there certainly seems to be a link.”

Kluger added, “I think of the folds who are the climate deniers as the flat-earthers, and the people who say the moon landings never happened.”

Conclusion

Looking back, it’s easy to see how wrong the networks were.

In 2008, The National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) responded to climate change assumptions about hurricanes saying, “There is nothing in the U.S. hurricane damage record that indicates global warming has caused a significant increase in destruction along our coasts.”

As the years passed, the more obvious it was that fewer major hurricanes were hitting land. In April 2015, the American Geophysical Union reported that the United States has been in a nine year Atlantic hurricane landfall drought. A record low.

AGU said, “Such a remarkable ‘hurricane drought’ has never been seen before – since records began in 1851 ... the last major hurricane – of Category 3 or higher – to make landfall in the U.S. was Hurricane Wilma in 2005.”

Research by meteorologists Anthony Watts and Ryan Maue, and environmental studies professor Roger Pielke, Jr. showed the same hurricane drought and an overall slump in tropical cyclone activity throughout the world.

Chris Landsea, who is the Science and Operations Officer for the National Hurricane Center at NOAA, tweeted skeptically about a hurricane/climate change link in May 2015:

The Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory published similar findings in June 2015 saying, “It is premature to conclude that human activities--and particularly greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming--have already had a detectable impact on Atlantic hurricane activity.”

Aly Nielsen
Aly Nielsen
Alatheia Larsen is a staff writer and research analyst for MRC Business.
Joseph Rossell
Joseph Rossell
Joseph Rossell is a staff writer for MRC Business