Hurricane Patricia, a Category 5 storm that is being heralded as “the strongest ever recorded”, has just made landfall in Mexico.

Hurricane Patricia — the strongest hurricane ever recorded — made landfall on Mexico’s Pacific coast Friday evening, its 165 mph winds barreling into southwestern Mexico near Cuixmala, officials said.

The monster storm touched down about 6:15 p.m., hours after weakening slightly with sustained winds decreasing to 190 mph and gusts to 235 mph, according to the U.S National Weather Service.

…Taking the brunt of the hurricane are small fishing villages about 130 miles south of Puerto Vallarta, which had braced for potentially catastrophic 200 mph sustained winds and torrential rains. Despite the slight weakening, damage from the Category 5 storm is expected to be devastating.

Less than an hour after its arrival, Patricia churned inland over southwestern Mexico with maximum sustained wind speeds of 160 mph and was still “extremely dangerous,” according to the American weather service.

The breathless reporting fails to note that Hurricane Patricia’s winds actually clocked in at 165 miles-per-hour, which were on par with that of Typhoon Haiyan in the Pacific. Maybe 165 MPH just feels different on the other side of the world? As a reminder, the 2013 typhoon killed over 6000 people.

Eco-activtists and wannabes were chomping at the bit to say “I told you so”. Bette Midler, popular entertainer, wasted no time to chime in about what this storm means in terms of climate change science.

Savvy Twitter users have responded with their thoughts about her climate science qualifications:

They included actual history in their replies:

Then there were those opiners who took a balanced approach to the event:

In fact, it is fascinating to place this storm in its historical context.

The first recorded hurricane was noted in 1495, when famed navigator and explorer colonial slaver Christopher Columbus encountered one during a voyage to the New World. Several such storms destroyed Spanish and French ships during the ensuing decades.

These events occurred during the epoch known as the Little Ace Age, when mean annual temperatures across the Northern Hemisphere declined by over 1 degree Fahrenheit, creating cultural changes and conflicts that had nothing to do with the level of carbon dioxide emitted by humans.

Since 1851, there have been 33 Category 5 Hurricanes. The storms that have hit this country at full Category 5 level are the “Labor Day” storm in 1935 (Florida Keys), Hurricane Camille in 1969, and Hurricane Andrew in 1992.

“A Lady Called Camille” documents the 1969 storm:

A few years later, magazine covers were proclaiming an impending Ice Age!

Even scientists who are climate change subscribers don’t believe it is to blame for Hurricane Patricia:

Even if climate change is playing some unknown role, it would be adding only a small percentage to the chances of a storm like Patricia forming. A single record-breaking event, even within in a record El Niño year, cannot be linked to climate change.

“Maybe we’ll look back in a hundred years and say, ‘this is where it all began,'” says [hurricane expert at Florida International University Hugh] Willoughby. But even if that doesn’t happen, he predicts global warming will eventually heat the oceans to the point that this kind of rapidly intensified hurricane becomes more frequent.

“We can look at what’s going on right now and say it’s a preview of what a warmer globe is likely to be,” he says.

I find it entertaining to see Americans respond to celebrity inanity with humor and facts. I agree with the sentiment that Midler should stick to the trades she knows best.

In the spirit of the season, I offer a clip of her singing one of my favorite songs from one of my favorite movies!

Meanwhile, I am smelling the “wind and rain” of my climate change denial . . . and it is smelling sweet, indeed!


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