Weather and mortality

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:21 PM GMT on February 27, 2009

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Hurricanes, earthquakes, and tornadoes get the attention-grabbing headlines when a natural disaster kills people in the U.S. Yet heat waves, cold winter weather, severe thunderstorm winds, and flooding all killed more people in the U.S. between 1970 and 2004, according to a December 2008 article published by Kevin Borden and Susan Cutter of the University of South Carolina. Tornadoes and lightning were tied for fifth place, and Hurricanes and earthquakes tied for eighth place. However, had this study extended one more year into 2005, the roughly 1800 hurricane deaths from Hurricane Katrina would have vaulted hurricane deaths into third place, behind heat wave deaths and cold weather deaths. The study also showed that people living in rural areas were most likely to die from a natural disaster than those living in cities.


Figure 1. U.S. deaths due to natural hazards between 1970 and 2004 showed that weather associated with extremes of hot and cold weather, along with severe thunderstorm winds (the "Severe Weather" category), killed the most people. Image credit: Spatial patterns of natural hazards mortality in the United States, International Journal of Health Geographics. Authors: Kevin Borden and Susan Cutter of the University of South Carolina.

The authors used Spatial Hazard Event and Loss Database for the United States (SHELDUS)(available at http://www.sheldus.org). This database provides hazard loss information (economic losses and casualties) from 1960-2005 for eighteen different hazard types, and is primarily based on data from the NOAA/National Climatic Data Center publication, "Storm Data". The numbers have high uncertainty, and the authors conclude, "There is considerable debate about which natural hazard is the most "deadly". According to our results, the answer is heat. But this finding could be changed depending on the data source, or how hazards within a data source are grouped."


Figure 2. U.S. deaths due to natural hazards for the 10- and 30-year period ending in 2007, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Image credit: NOAA.

To illustrate, a 2008 study by Thacker et al. called, "Overview of deaths associated with natural events, United States, 1979-2004", concluded that cold deaths were twice as common as heat deaths in the U.S. However, they noted that the 1995 Chicago heat wave, which killed between 600 and 700 people by some estimates, was not properly represented in the data base used in their study. This data base attributed only 50 deaths in the entire state of Illinois to heat in 1995. The authors conclude that their data base "under-reports the actual number of deaths due to severe heat".

Another example: NOAA plots up annual natural hazard deaths from the same source ("Storm Data") as the first study I montioned. Their statistics for the ten-year period ending in 2007 show a much different picture (Figure 2). Heat deaths are a much more dominant source of mortality than cold and winter storm deaths, by a factor 3.5. The take-home message from all this is that heat- and cold-related extreme weather are probably the deadliest weather hazards in the U.S., but we really don't know the proportion of people killed by each. One can easily cherry pick the study of one's choice to show a desired result.

How global warming might affect heat and cold-related deaths
If the globe continues to warm up this century, as predicted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), heat-related deaths will increase and cold-related deaths will decrease (duh!). Unfortunately, that's about the most intelligent thing one can say about the matter. The 2007 IPCC report (section 8.4.1.3, Heat- and cold-related mortality), does not attempt to estimate the numbers, saying, "Additional research is needed to understand how the balance of heat-related and cold-related mortality could change under different socio-economic scenarios and climate projections."

This high uncertainty in future heat- and cold-related deaths does not stop advocates on either side of the global warming issue from cherry picking results from selected studies to support a particular point of view. For example, opinion columnist George Will stated in a recent Newsweek column: "In Europe, cold kills more than seven times as many as heat does. Worldwide, moderate warming will, on balance, save more lives than it will cost--by a 9-to-1 ratio in China and India. So, if substantially cutting carbon dioxide reverses warming, that will mean a large net loss of life globally." Will bases his arguments on Danish statistician Bjørn Lomborg's controversial 2007 book, "Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming." However, as pointed out by Danish biologist Kåre Fog, who has assembled a large web site dedicated to pointing out the errors in Lomborg's books, the huge number of excess deaths attributed to cold by Will and Lomborg are in large part because the death rate naturally rises in the winter: "Old and seriously sick people have less vitality in the dark season. It is too bold to say that the excess deaths during the dark part of the year are `deaths due to excess cold?. There is no evidence that a warmer climate will alter the seasonal variation. These people would soon die in any case, even if winters became warmer. Indeed, cold and warm climates, like Finland and Greece, have approximately the same seasonal variation in mortality." The IPCC underscores this problem, stating: "projections of cold-related deaths, and the potential for decreasing their numbers due to warmer winters, can be overestimated unless they take into account the effects of influenza and season".

Heat wave deaths are subject to a degree of uncertainty as well. It is somewhat of a subjective call if an elderly person who dies during a heat wave died primarily as a result of the heat, or of a pre-existing heart or respiratory condition. Complicating the diagnosis is the fact that air pollution is at its worst during heat waves, and can also be blamed as the cause of death in some cases. Different studies will use different criteria for classify deaths due to heat, pollution, or pre-existing medical conditions during a heat wave, leading to widely varying estimates of mortality. For example, the European heat wave of 2003 is blamed for 35,000, 52,000, or 70,000 deaths, depending upon the source. You're more likely to hear the higher 70,000 figure quoted by advocates of doing something about global warming, and the 35,000 figure quoted by those opposed.

The three 2008 studies for the U.S. show the ratio of cold deaths to heat deaths ranges from 2:1 to 1:3, which is very different from the 7:1 and 9:1 figures quoted by Will and Lomborg for Europe, India, and China. I don't trust any of these numbers, since heat and cold mortality statistics are highly uncertain and easy to cherry pick to show a desired result. It is rather unproductive to argue about how many people die due to heat and cold in the current climate or in a future climate. Excess heat deaths due to climate change should not get as much attention as the potential for death due to reduction in crop yields due to increased heat and drought, regional collapses of the oceanic food chain from the steady acidification of the oceans, and the wars these conditions might trigger.

For more information
For those interested, Kåre Fog also presents a list of the errors in Al Gore's book and movie, An Inconvenient Truth, and has a Comparison of error counts between Al Gore and Bjørn Lomborg. Lomborg has assembled a Short reply to Skeptical Questions to respond to some of Fog's criticisms, but does not answer Fog's criticism on cold deaths vs. heat deaths. Suffice to say, one should be wary of trusting climate change information from either source, or from opinion columnists, or from politicians. Blogs can also be a questionable source of climate change information, though I think wunderground Climate Change blogger Dr. Ricky Rood is one of the most knowledgeable and unbiased climate change experts in the world. Though imperfect, the best source of climate change information is the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The level of scientific collaboration and peer review that went into that document is one of the most remarkable achievements in the history of science, and the IPCC was fully deserving of the Nobel Prize awarded to it last year. Blogs and books like Lomborg's and Gore's have not gone through peer-review by scientific experts on climate change, and will have far more errors, biases, and distortions of the truth than the IPCC reports.

Jeff Masters

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372. TampaSpin
1:50 AM GMT on March 02, 2009
366. SevereHurricane 8:41 PM EST on March 01, 2009

Great pic.....that speaks volumes....LOL
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 178 Comments: 20443
371. Ossqss
1:49 AM GMT on March 02, 2009
Quoting SevereHurricane:


Well nothing suprises me requarding this county.Also get ready for the S&P 500 to be 500.


Several of my "in the know" friends (yeah I know, bankers) stated today for the first time that it will soon be published that we are in a depression. I am not sure if I buy that yet, but with the advent of the economy contracting far more than was thought, I cannot discount it. I can only prepare for the economic hurricane that may be upon us, just like any other bad weather. Stock up on beer and pretzels and bullets. and keep my eyes open. ª¿ª
Member Since: June 12, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 8186
370. TampaSpin
1:48 AM GMT on March 02, 2009
Important Data Reports this week to be released....bit trouble when these are released.


Personal Income and Outlays Mar 2 Construction Spending Mar 2
Motor Vehicle Sales Mar 3
ICSC-Goldman Store Sales Mar 3
Pending Home Sales Index Mar 4
MBA Purchase Applications Mar 4
Challenger Job-Cut Report Mar 4
ADP Employment Report Mar 4
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 178 Comments: 20443
368. SevereHurricane
1:44 AM GMT on March 02, 2009
TS,

Sometimes I wonder how some of these CEO's sleep at night?
Member Since: September 7, 2008 Posts: 17 Comments: 1604
367. SevereHurricane
1:43 AM GMT on March 02, 2009
Quoting TampaSpin:
Here is the opening futures......Under 7000 now....oh no!

Dow Jones -62.00 6990.00 3/1 8:19pm


Thats just beautiful!
Member Since: September 7, 2008 Posts: 17 Comments: 1604
365. TampaSpin
1:38 AM GMT on March 02, 2009
Here is the opening futures......Under 7000 now....oh no!

Dow Jones -62.00 6990.00 3/1 8:19pm
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 178 Comments: 20443
364. SevereHurricane
1:37 AM GMT on March 02, 2009
Im working on my blog in the backgrounds its gonna be nice and it should be ready for hurricane season.
Member Since: September 7, 2008 Posts: 17 Comments: 1604
363. SevereHurricane
1:34 AM GMT on March 02, 2009
Quoting TampaSpin:


WallStreet will take a major hit this week. Alot of Conference Calls occured late Friday evening. This week will be very bad coming from alot of sources. Get ready for 5500!


Well nothing suprises me requarding this county.Also get ready for the S&P 500 to be 500.
Member Since: September 7, 2008 Posts: 17 Comments: 1604
362. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
1:33 AM GMT on March 02, 2009
Tropical Cyclone Warning Center Perth
Tropical Cyclone Technical Bulletin
TROPICAL LOW 10U
9:50 AM WDT March 2 2009
==============================

At 9:00 AM WDT, Tropical Low [1000 hPa] located at 13.5S 105.6E has 10 minute sustained winds of 30 knots with gusts of 45 knots. The low is reported as moving southeast at 13 knots.

Storm Warning
==============
Maximum winds to 30 knots reaching 35 to 40 knots at times in northern and western quadrants. Winds increasing above 34 knots in all quadrants by 1200 UTC 02 March 2009 with rough to very rough seas and moderate swell. Maximum winds
increasing to 50 knots by 0000 UTC 03 March.

Winds above 48 knots within 30 nautical miles of centre by 0000 UTC 03 March with very rough to high seas and moderate to heavy swell.

Forecast and Intensity
=======================
12 HRS: 14.5S 107.2E - 40 knots (CAT 1)
24 HRS: 15.5S 107.2E - 50 knots (CAT 2)
48 HRS: 16.7S 104.6E - 45 knots (CAT 1)
72 HRS: 18.6S 100.2E - 30 knots (TROPICAL LOW)

Additional Information
=====================
Dvorak analysis: Shear Pattern. Low level centre very close to strongest temperature gradient. DT assigned to 2.5. MET=2.5 and FT = 2.5.

The system has developed overnight with deep convection occurring to the west and southwest of the LLCC. Development continues to be restricted by ongoing NE shear of at least 20 knots. Intensification may occur in 12-24 hours as the shear drops with a mid latitude trough to the south providing good upper divergence to the south of the system centre.

System expected to track SE over the next 12-18 hours prior to commencing a recurvature towards the southwest as a strong mid level anticyclone retrogresses from the east.
Member Since: May 24, 2006 Posts: 51 Comments: 45609
361. TampaSpin
1:33 AM GMT on March 02, 2009
I just finished my Web Site....Still have some small things to do but, it came out pretty good so far.

http://tampaspinsweather.webs.com/apps/members/Link
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 178 Comments: 20443
360. TampaSpin
1:31 AM GMT on March 02, 2009
Quoting SevereHurricane:


They might as well just blend up the money with water and piss it away.


WallStreet will take a major hit this week. Alot of Conference Calls occured late Friday evening. This week will be very bad coming from alot of sources. Get ready for 5500!
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 178 Comments: 20443
359. SevereHurricane
1:25 AM GMT on March 02, 2009
Quoting Ossqss:


not to mention the 4 trillion dollar budget released ----


They might as well just blend up the money with water and piss it away.
Member Since: September 7, 2008 Posts: 17 Comments: 1604
358. TampaSpin
1:01 AM GMT on March 02, 2009
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 178 Comments: 20443
357. Ossqss
1:00 AM GMT on March 02, 2009
Quoting TampaSpin:
AP Source: AIG to get up to $30B more in Fed aid

Our Federeal Gov. is crazy....When is this going to stop....OMG!


not to mention the 4 trillion dollar budget released ----
Member Since: June 12, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 8186
355. GeoffreyWPB
12:54 AM GMT on March 02, 2009
Speaking of TWC's When Weather Changed History...they must of played the Titanic show a million times...It just made me wonder, would the Titanic have stayed afloat if it just hit the iceberg head on, instead of trying to veer away?
Member Since: September 10, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 11274
354. TampaSpin
12:53 AM GMT on March 02, 2009
AP Source: AIG to get up to $30B more in Fed aid

Our Federeal Gov. is crazy....When is this going to stop....OMG!
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 178 Comments: 20443
353. Ossqss
12:53 AM GMT on March 02, 2009
Quoting GeoffreyWPB:
Beautiful weather down here in West Palm! High tomorrow in the low 60's....Hard to believe the record high for tomorrow was 92 back in 2003...
Upper 20's just north of Tampa Tuesday. I am moving to Cuba. Can we do that yet?
Member Since: June 12, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 8186
352. TampaSpin
12:52 AM GMT on March 02, 2009
2 NFL players among Fla. missing boaters
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 178 Comments: 20443
351. GeoffreyWPB
12:50 AM GMT on March 02, 2009
Beautiful weather down here in West Palm! High tomorrow in the low 60's....Hard to believe the record high for tomorrow was 92 back in 2003...
Member Since: September 10, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 11274
Quoting Ossqss:


I would guess they had engine trouble and did not have a radio, only cell phones that dont work 50 mile off shore. It was said the boat they were in was unsinkable 21 ft boat. 12' seas could easily flip that boat. Unfortunately, the probability of them surviving is not nearly as good with the water as cold as it is, in the 50's. I hope the best for them.


I have noticed that people who say their boats are unsinkable eventually meet the flying dutchman if ya know what I mean...
Member Since: September 7, 2008 Posts: 17 Comments: 1604
Quoting aquak9:
335- SSI I second your opinion. I, too, hope they are found alive BUT the poor CoastGuard in their boats and choppers are out in the wind, leaving families at home to worry.

A sad story but whether they are alive or not, it needs to be made more public so even superstar football players realize that everyone is mortal.


I would guess they had engine trouble and did not have a radio, only cell phones that dont work 50 mile off shore. It was said the boat they were in was unsinkable 21 ft boat. 12' seas could easily flip that boat. Unfortunately, the probability of them surviving is not nearly as good with the water as cold as it is, in the 50's. I hope the best for them.
Member Since: June 12, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 8186
Quoting aquak9:
And re-reading the title of DocMaster's blog, even more appropriate.


never noticed that. lol
Member Since: August 12, 2007 Posts: 2 Comments: 2838
And re-reading the title of DocMaster's blog, even more appropriate.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
335- SSI I second your opinion. I, too, hope they are found alive BUT the poor CoastGuard in their boats and choppers are out in the wind, leaving families at home to worry.

A sad story but whether they are alive or not, it needs to be made more public so even superstar football players realize that everyone is mortal.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
LMAO! Accuweather is saying it going to be a moderate snow event because they are jellous that they are not getting the brunt of the snow. Believe me, If State College was in the path of the brunt Accuweather would be forecasting 18-24 inches of snow.
Member Since: September 7, 2008 Posts: 17 Comments: 1604
We did get some rain:
Statement as of 05:43 PM EST on March 01, 2009

... Record daily maximum rainfall set at North Charleston SC...

... Record daily maximum rainfall set at downtown Charleston SC...

A record rainfall of 1.44 inches was set at North Charleston SC today.
This breaks the old record of 1.08 set in 1994.

A record rainfall of 1.32 inches was set at downtown Charleston today.
This breaks the old record of 0.87 inches set in 2007.

Additional rainfall is possible this evening and may produce
additional accumulations.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Cmon, P451, tell us how you really feel :~)
Member Since: June 12, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 8186
Snow in March, how exciting!!
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Quoting futuremet:
Great job severehurricane

I see your meteorological jargon is getting more advanced.

Keep up the good work!


haha thanks futuremet!
Im learning more everyday.
You wanna hear something funny?
My grandpaw thinks the GOM deflects areas of low pressure! lmao!
Member Since: September 7, 2008 Posts: 17 Comments: 1604
Quoting hahaguy:


ya but i havent heard anything new i know one is corey smith from the lions and the other is marquis cooper from the raiders


I bet in one year from now that is going to be another crummy episode of Storm Stories on TWC.
Member Since: September 7, 2008 Posts: 17 Comments: 1604
Not one drop of rain today!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Great job severehurricane

I see your meteorological jargon is getting more advanced.

Keep up the good work!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Ossqss:
Anyone see anything on the lost boaters off of Clearwater? I heard there were 2 NFL player on board of the 4. 12 ft seas out there and a 21 ft. boat dont mix.


ya but i havent heard anything new i know one is corey smith from the lions and the other is marquis cooper from the raiders
Member Since: August 12, 2007 Posts: 2 Comments: 2838
Anyone see anything on the lost boaters off of Clearwater? I heard there were 2 NFL player on board of the 4. 12 ft seas out there and a 21 ft. boat dont mix.
Member Since: June 12, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 8186
Ossgss lmao ,funny video and the temp dropped from 79 to 59 in 3 hrs over here in port st lucie and it is getting chilly out.
Member Since: August 12, 2007 Posts: 2 Comments: 2838
Albeit this may not necessarily be weather related. I had to share this. Tooo good not too. I will not guess as to how this game came about.

It has gotten very cold here, Bradenton, with the temp hovering around 60 but the wind makes it feel like 30. Gust over 30 mph. Enjoy !!!

Member Since: June 12, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 8186
330. beell
A couple of excerpts from the technical paper:

..."cooling by expansion." Dynamic cooling is therefore the cooling that results from decreasing pressure...

...Meteorologists generally devote much of their attention to the last two factors, namely advection and vertical motion....
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Quoting SevereHurricane:


Why you think im wrong?
Thats what is causing the snow in Deep South, dynamic cooling. If you have not noticed the temperature is colder under the ULL than anywhere around...

Dynamic Cooling is cooling of the air because of lowering pressure.


I didn't say you were wrong... The upper level temperature is colder because the ULL acts as a cold pocket aloft as the heights decrease under the low.
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328. beell
The argument should be to what degree dynamic cooling occurred. (imoLOL)

It was a pretty strong closed upper low...

THE ROLE OF DYNAMIC COOLING IN THE SNOWSTORM ON THE EASTERN HIGHLAND RIM AND CUMBERLAND PLATEAU OF TENNESSEE-Feb 3rd, 4th 1998/NWSO Nashville, Tennessee
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Quoting Drakoen:


LOL. That's all I will say.


Why you think im wrong?
Thats what is causing the snow in Deep South, dynamic cooling. If you have not noticed the temperature is colder under the ULL than anywhere around...

Dynamic Cooling is cooling of the air because of lowering pressure.
Member Since: September 7, 2008 Posts: 17 Comments: 1604
Complete Blog Refresh
Mirror Site



Current Home weather station data.
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Quoting SevereHurricane:
Drakoen,
There is a term for that,
Its called Dynamic Cooling. ;)


LOL. That's all I will say.
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February 28, 2009
Clear Thinking on Global Warming
Randall Hoven

Many people write sensible things about anthropogenic global warming, but I find Professor William Happer's statement to the US Senate on February 25, 2009, especially clear and convincing .


Happer is the Cyrus Fogg Bracket Professor of Physics at Princeton University. He was also the Director of Energy Research at DOE from 1990-93, where he supervised all of DOE's work on climate change. He says this:


"The climate is warming and CO2 is increasing. Doesn't this prove that CO2 is causing global warming through the greenhouse effect? No, the current warming period began about 1800 at the end of the little ice age, long before there was an appreciable increase of CO2. There have been similar and even larger warmings several times in the 10,000 years since the end of the last ice age. These earlier warmings clearly had nothing to do with the combustion of fossil fuels. The current warming also seems to be due mostly to natural causes, not to increasing levels of carbon dioxide. Over the past ten years there has been no global warming, and in fact a slight cooling. This is not at all what was predicted by the IPCC models."




He explains the "bit player" role that CO2 plays in greenhouse warming. Even if doubled, CO2 in the atmosphere would increase global temperatures "on the order of one degree," all else equal, and that would be about as much as it could ever increase it.


He explains that not all else is equal. He explains that satellite measurements indicate that water vapor and clouds, which account for 90% of greenhouse warming, have a negative feedback with CO2 levels, thus counteracting most or all of the warming effects of CO2.


He explains that temperatures have been warmer in the past and undergo cycles, counter to the "hockey stick" graph trumpeted in the third report of the IPCC. The hockey stick


"was the result of incorrect handling of proxy temperature records and incorrect statistical analysis. There really was a little ice age and there really was a medieval warm period that was as warm or warmer than today. I bring up the hockey stick as a particularly clear example that the IPCC summaries for policy makers are not dispassionate statements of the facts of climate change."


He explains how ice core observations show that historical temperatures and CO2 levels are indeed correlated, but that temperature increases preceded the CO2 increases - by "about 800 years", thus indicating that warming causes increased CO2 and not vice versa.


He explains how erroneous computer models are.


"It is true that climate models use increasingly capable and increasingly expensive computers. But their predictions have not been very good. For example, none of them predicted the lack of warming that we have experienced during the past ten years. All the models assume the water feedback is positive, while satellite observations suggest that the feedback is zero or negative."


On sea level rise,


"The sea level is indeed rising, just as it has for the past 20,000 years since the end of the last ice age. Fairly accurate measurements of sea level have been available since about 1800. These measurements show no sign of any acceleration."


He explains that CO2, and higher concentrations of it in the atmosphere, are actually good for us. "Crop yields will continue to increase as CO2 levels go up... moderate warming is an overall benefit to mankind because of higher agricultural yields and many other reasons."


And finally, he shoots down the supposed "scientific consensus" on global warming. For one, consensus is not the way science works. And two, there is no consensus.


His statement is truly scientific. Not because he is a credentialed scientist, but because he uses physical observations to support or falsify hypotheses. Unlike so many other statements on climate change (e.g., any statement from Al Gore or NASA's James Hansen), you can follow his reasoning and it makes sense.


Keep his testimony in your hip pocket, for the next time you are called a "denier."
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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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