EDITORIAL – Looking the hurricane season in the eye

The National Hurricane Center in the U.S. has issued a hurricane watch for portions of the Mississippi/Alabama Gulf Coast as Tropical Storm Gordon continues to drench Miami and South Florida.

Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Florence continues to churn in the Atlantic and could intensify to hurricane strength later this week. Neither storm is expected to have a major impact on the Cayman Islands.

Nevertheless, it is important to remember as we head into what is traditionally the most active part of any hurricane season, no one knows with any precision what the coming days and months will bring. Nature is not influenced in the slightest by human timetables or meteorological forecasts which, it must be said, are notoriously unreliable in predicting future hurricane activity.

Before the hurricane season “officially” began on June 1, Maryland’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration warned us to expect an above-average hurricane season with five to nine hurricanes, two to four of them being “major.”

Early last month, they downgraded their predictions to four likely hurricanes developing in the Atlantic Ocean basin. Using their top-end prediction of nine expected hurricanes, they missed the mark by 55 percent. At their low end, five hurricanes, they were still “off” by 20 percent – a margin of error so huge that their predictions are basically worthless.

As one of our statisticians here at Pinnacle Media phrased it, “They’re 100 percent positive they’ll be correct at least 45 percent of the time.”

Too frequently, news organizations, including the Compass, play in to the public’s eagerness to know what will happen next. We publish headlines and articles without sufficient regard for the science, reasoning or logic that underpins them.

We quote polls, pundits, politicians, experts, as well as our media brethren (as if they have got the inside scoop) and then … Trump wins, the Brits vote for Brexit. Seemingly puzzled, we ask ourselves, “Wha’ happened?”

Global warming proselytizers have been putting forth the narrative that the warming of the planet is “settled science” and, therefore, should be stipulated as “fact.” What that really means, of course, is that the subject should be off-limits to academic or scientific challenge.

If the world’s most accomplished hurricane prognosticators cannot even predict the likelihood of events expected in a mere matter of weeks, what faith ought we to have in predictions that extend to the next 50 to 100 years?

However, historical data are both reliable and indisputable.

For example, we know (or at least the Weather Channel knows) that 93 percent of Category 3 or stronger hurricanes have occurred in the months of August, September and October. That is almost all of them.

Sept. 10, one week away, is the “climatological peak” of the hurricane season, with a secondary, but smaller, peak in the middle of October that mainly applies to us in the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico region. In other words, we are approaching the apex of the danger zone.

At the Compass, we assume that most of our readers are smart, awake and aware. They certainly do not need us (or government) to tell them to make sure their flashlight batteries are fresh, to assemble first-aid kits or to stockpile bottled water and nonperishable food.

So, please view this editorial not so much as a source of obvious information but as a reminder to do what you already know you need to do – pay a visit to your favorite home goods store or your preferred supermarket. Any one of them will do.

Nike is currently marking the 30th anniversary of its “Just Do It” marketing campaign. Take their advice – and ours: Just Do It.

If you value our service, if you have turned to us in the past few days or weeks for verified, factual updates, if you have watched our live streaming of press conferences or sent an article to a friend... please consider a donation. Quality local journalism was at risk before the coronavirus crisis. It is now deeply threatened. Even a small amount can go a long way to sustaining our mission of informing the public. We need our readers’ financial support now more than ever.