Better forecasting of hurricanes lowers cost

by on September 3, 2017 at 1:40 am in Economics, Science | Permalink

…We also find evidence supporting short-term adaptation effects prior to a hurricane landfall. Our results show that the 67 percent improvement in hurricane forecasts over the past 60 years is associated with damages being 16-63 percent lower than they otherwise would have been. Accounting for outlying observations narrows this range to 16-24 percent.

That is from an Oxford working paper by Andrew Martinez.

1 Meteor ol Ogy September 3, 2017 at 2:09 am

Will improved forecasts in global temperature and temperature changes lead to lower damages?

Reply

2 mulp September 3, 2017 at 2:32 pm

Makes more sense than 5 day forecasts allowing houses to be moved 25 miles inland from the half miles of coast that will be hit by a storm surge.

Death rates are lower because people can move, or in the case of Texas, NOT move given the streets are below grade to serve as storm drains that intentionally flood with fast moving water, and thus get out of the way of the weather harm.

But property damage is pretty much locked in when a building is planned and built as planned.

Reply

3 Dr. D September 3, 2017 at 11:17 pm

It seemed like a good idea at the time.

Reply

4 Mark Bahner September 5, 2017 at 11:27 pm

“But property damage is pretty much locked in when a building is planned and built as planned.”

Not if portable storm surge reduction and portable inland flooding protection measures are developed.

Reply

5 prior_test3 September 3, 2017 at 2:42 am

So, how would that improvement in forecasting mitigating damage tie into this – http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2017/08/storm-damage-getting-worse.html ?

Reply

6 TMC September 3, 2017 at 11:37 am

Storm damage can get worse, while still not being as bad as it could be.

Reply

7 prior_test3 September 3, 2017 at 11:48 am

Ah, but a major point of the link was that storm damage is apparently not getting worse, as the amount of damage has remained constant since 1990, not that we are mitigating the damage from larger storms better.

Reply

8 TMC September 3, 2017 at 12:37 pm

No, the point is that storms are not getting worse, damage is though because of increased population and GDP of the area. Those damages are not as bad as the population increase suggests they should be.

Reply

9 Rohan Verghese September 3, 2017 at 3:48 am

Is there any situation where more accurate forecasting would lead to higher costs?

(Not being snarky, genuinely wondering if the opposite result can actually occur.)

Reply

10 Ray Lopez September 3, 2017 at 12:12 pm

About as likely as a Veblin good (an upward sloping demand curve). In the Philippines, taking simple precautions when a hurricane (typhoon) blows through, like tying stuff down, really makes a difference in whether or not things get destroyed or not, I found out.

Reply

11 derek September 3, 2017 at 9:26 am

A good friend taught meteorology at a university, and described the effect that the chaos theory had on predictions. The field had grown by getting more data, a better understanding of the physics and the ability to model more and more phenomena, and with the computing power the ability to run predictive models in a timely way. The marginal improvements no longer returned a marginal improvement in the accuracy of the forecasts.

Then came the Chaos theory where the error or imprecision of the measuring instrument was enough to produce opposite predictions, but if you plotted the seemingly random and chaotic results it produced a pattern that allowed you to produce a probability for your prediction. Or, which happens with hurricanes, the recognition of an unstable state where it is unpredictable.

Predicting landfall location allows for preparation and evacuation, but sometimes it is impossible to predict, and the meteorologists tell us. I don’t know if that happened with the storm that hit Houston, but a couple years back on the east coast there was about half a day when they didn’t know which way the hurricane would go, so two cities had to prepare.

It is impossible to get it right, but now meteorologists can tell us precisely how unreliable their forecasts are.

Reply

12 randall September 3, 2017 at 9:29 am

“Our ability to adapt to extreme weather is increasingly relevant as the frequency and intensity of these events alters due to climate change.”

Ahh, another really dumb “study” motivated by the fantasy of “climate change” (AGW). British economists will save the world.

Reply

13 Anonymous September 3, 2017 at 9:37 am

AGW losers are the best losers.

Reply

14 anon September 3, 2017 at 11:35 am

You mean scientists in 100 countries? They can’t know more than me, I spent a whole hour listening to AM talk radio! I got my points in a row. George Soros is behind the whole thing!

Reply

15 msgkings September 4, 2017 at 11:56 am

Heh.

Reply

16 Chip September 3, 2017 at 10:30 am

No matter how many years pass without an increase in extreme weather events, supposedly smart people will propose massive changes to our lives on the continued assumption that they are. We used to call this religion.

I wonder how many of these smart people realize that we are living in a relatively cool part of the Holocene – a 10,000 year warm period with a regularly ice-free Arctic – that triggered an explosion of human civilization.

Why weren’t our tribal ancestors destroyed by this calamity of a moderately warming planet?

Reply

17 prior_test3 September 3, 2017 at 10:35 am

‘No matter how many years pass without an increase in extreme weather events’

You really need to start reading about other parts of the planet, using (near) real time data – http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/

Reply

18 derek September 3, 2017 at 10:47 am

Ooh! Real time data!.

Compared to what? First you have to define normal conditions.

We are having almost drought conditions in BC this year, last year July was cool and wet. This last winter was cold, almost at design conditions. The winter before was mild. But 1985 was very similar.

The question is whether it is different over a millenial time scale. I don’t know the answer, but people spouting weather events as some indication of anything are simply waving their hands.

Reply

19 anon September 3, 2017 at 11:14 am

Yeah, have you seen how we have been racking up these “coldest year on records?”

But no they are too religious to see the facts before their eyes!

20 prior_test3 September 3, 2017 at 11:15 am

‘Compared to what? ‘

Since the start of satellite observation, though records since 1840 does offer some rough information, particularly regarding the Northwest Passage.

‘I don’t know the answer, but people spouting weather events as some indication of anything are simply waving their hands.’

You are familiar with the term albedo, right? This is not about weather, precisely, but about the amount of solar radiation which is absorbed or reflected depending on the extent of an ice sheet. What is happening. at least for decades, is that albedo is increasing, essentially- As a matter of fact, someone like Anthony Watts says albedo is more important than the climate forcing involving manmade climate gases.

Ignoring data is a sure sign that one is not actually interested in what is happening in the physical world. To use a longer term example – the Dutch could care less about why the sea level is rising, they have to respond to what they observe, and not what they wish. Notice that the Dutch approach is thoroughly uninterested in anything but attempting to ensure that flood protection will remain effective in the future decades, at a minimum. The Dutch are not having any ideological debates concerning ensuring that their lands remain protected against flooding, at least to the extent possible in practical terms (the Dutch are unlikely to plan for 80cm rains within 72 hours any time soon, for example). Besides, one would think that a Canadian would be interested in what is happening in terms of potentially opening open vast swathes of land to profitable resource extraction. The Russians certainly are.

21 Chip September 3, 2017 at 12:51 pm

“Ignoring data is a sure sign that one is not actually interested in what is happening in the physical world.”

On this we agree. And the empirical data is divorced from the modelled predictions, whether it’s temperature, tropospheric temperature, sea level, extreme weather, hurricanes etc.

As for the Dutch, they have successfully dealt with rising sea level for centuries. Rising sea level is a fact and follows the Little Ice Age. Accelerating sea level rise is a prediction that has failed.

The two main problems that AGW supporters display is that 1) they can’t distinguish between empirical data and modelled data, and 2) they fail to place events within a historical context that stretches back for millions of years, into a time when it is impossible to measure changes on the yearly and decadal scales that cause newspapers to freak out today.

22 Hua Wei September 3, 2017 at 10:44 am

“We used to call this religion.”
Which we know is bad, unless it is thrice divorcees persecuting gays.

Reply

23 anon September 3, 2017 at 11:46 am

Religion always beats science, ask that Galileo goof.

Reply

24 Hua Wei September 3, 2017 at 2:29 pm

Unless we can use it to elect White Supremacists becaise Democrats something something condoms…

25 TMC September 3, 2017 at 11:49 am

““Our ability to adapt to extreme weather is increasingly relevant as the frequency and intensity of these events alters due to climate change.””

The physics of it is that extreme storms move energy from high energy areas to low energy areas. Global warming is warming the cold areas significantly more than the hot areas of the earth. Extreme weather will lessen as the disparity of energy lessens. This is also what we have seen. It’s hard to read a paper that gets some basic facts wrong in the first sentence.

Reply

26 Anonymous September 3, 2017 at 12:08 pm

The tragic comedy of AGW denial.

https://www.gfdl.noaa.gov/global-warming-and-hurricanes/

tl;dr – AGW will likely increase Atlantic hurricane strength over coming decades, but there is much weaker linkage to hurricane strength today.

Reply

27 TMC September 3, 2017 at 12:44 pm

From your link : “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 or global tropical cyclone activity.”

So, no more hurricanes, thanks for verifying that. Everything else is ‘according to our models, which have yet to be close to correct, there will be increased storms in the future, violating laws of physics.’

Reply

28 Anonymous September 3, 2017 at 1:37 pm

That part you quoted confirms my “tl;dr” but refutes your that “extreme weather will lessen as the disparity of energy lessens.”

Try to remember what b.s. you are pushing.

29 TMC September 4, 2017 at 1:10 am

The quote refutes nothing but your backpedal tl;dr

There is NO evidence except wishful thinking that storm activity will increase in your post or at the link.

30 Anonymous September 3, 2017 at 9:36 am

Advanced computation for the win.

Too bad economists won’t be able to find any increased productivity among weather forecasters.

Reply

31 Chip September 3, 2017 at 10:39 am

Has anyone compared the complexity of climate to that of the stock market?

It would be interesting to know the relative amount of data for each and quality of prediction.

How much easier is it to predict one over the other? That would be a useful comparison.

Reply

32 Mark Bahner September 5, 2017 at 11:17 pm

“Has anyone compared the complexity of climate to that of the stock market.”

I would have far, far, far more confidence that I could predict the global average lower tropospheric temperature change from now to 2100 within a factor of two than that I could predict the change in the S&P 500.

P.S. My prediction for the global average lower tropospheric temperature change from now to 2100 is 1 degree Celsius (so somewhere between 0.5 and 2 degrees Celsius). My prediction for the S&P 500 (currently at 2470) is approximately 2.5 million. (I don’t think money will actually be relevant by 2100.)

Reply

33 Axa September 3, 2017 at 2:05 pm

Well, that’s the damned mission of the NOAA’s National Hurricane Center:

“To save lives, mitigate property loss, and improve economic efficiency by issuing the best watches, warnings, forecasts and analyses of hazardous tropical
weather, and by increasing understanding of these hazards.”

I think every time meteorologists want a new weather satellite or a fancy new supercomputer a cost/benefit analysis is made, right?

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: