The onslaught of governmental panic and capitalist news media frenzy over a strong tropical cyclone which barely makes the cut as a category one hurricane continues unabated. The vast depths of scientific illiteracy in the United States even at the highest levels of government, coupled with deliberate panic-mongering by a capitalist press that is struggling to survive financially and is nakedly using the storm to make money by scaring the bejeezus out of a hundred million people on the east coast – is something to behold. They’ve been so effective at scaring the crap out of everyone that even the greedy swine on Wall St. essentially canceled trading for a whole day, and maybe even for the next two days! Normally, it takes something big to keep those pigs’ mouths out of the trough. And the storm isn’t even going to come ashore anywhere near New York City!
“Tone turns ominous at the Weather Channel” was the headline of a hilarious (intentionally?) Associated Press report by one of their television reviewers, David Bauder. He reported that on Sunday, the Weather Channel had already been doing ’round-the-clock features on the hurricane for three solid days; not surprisingly, the Weather Channel’s own special computer forecasts of the storm showed it to be gaining more strength over time, in contradiction to the much slower pace of storm development reported by the National Weather Service (who were themselves overhyping the severity of the storm).
From Bauder’s article: “‘We want you to know we are not hyping this storm, OK?’ on-air meteorologist Vivian Brown said. ‘We don’t do that at The Weather Channel…’ ” ! Riiiiiiiiiight!
Bauder also relates that on Sunday the Weather Channel’s on-air and behind-the-scenes mediarologists – perhaps due to lack of sleep – were just plain losing it: “Bryan Norcross, the network’s senior hurricane specialist [our emphasis, lol! – IWPCHI], explained in an interview that the network tries to keep its tone serious yet urgent. The network’s computer models have been consistent in their forecasts of the storm and it has been acting as anticipated, perhaps with even more strength.
” ‘Our goal has been to get people to appreciate the magnitude of the storm and try to prove to them that, based on everything we know, that this is going to be a system that is outside of their experience,’ Norcross said.
Wow! So this hurricane is going to be the worst hurricane anyone’s ever even heard of – a “frankenstorm” of unprecedented severity! Bigger than even any of the other hurricanes that we’ve all come to learn about from the Weather Channel’s very own documentaries on previous killer hurricanes, then? Bigger than the Galveston hurricane of 1900, a category 4 storm that killed 8000 people? Bigger than the 1928 Florida hurricane, also a category 4 storm, that killed 2500 people? Bigger than Katrina, which was a category 3 and killed 1200 people? Knock it off, Weather Channel! You’re not just hyping the storm for cold, hard cash. you’re doing it so brazenly and outrageously that some of your directors and owners should be arrested for panic-mongering! In fact, out of the 30 largest and most deadly hurricanes to ever hit the US mainland, only 2 were category 1 hurricanes. [Source: “Deadliest U.S. Hurricanes of All Time“, Weather Underground website]
This nonsense being spewed by the Weather Channel – for absolutely no other reason other than to make themselves huge piles of money – is causing an even greater disruption of U.S. domestic life than the famous 1938 Orson Welles radio dramatization of H.G. Wells’ “War of the Worlds”:
“As it listened to this simulation of a news broadcast, created with voice acting and sound effects, a portion of the audience concluded that it was hearing an actual news account of an invasion from Mars. People packed the roads, hid in cellars, loaded guns, even wrapped their heads in wet towels as protection from Martian poison gas, in an attempt to defend themselves against aliens, oblivious to the fact that they were acting out the role of the panic-stricken public that actually belonged in a radio play. Not unlike Stanislaw Lem’s deluded populace, people were stuck in a kind of virtual world in which fiction was confused for fact.”
That’s good! Tell us more!
“In a prescient column, in the New York Tribune, Dorothy Thompson foresaw that the broadcast revealed the way politicians could use the power of mass communications to create theatrical illusions, to manipulate the public.
” ‘All unwittingly, Mr. Orson Welles and the Mercury Theater of the Air have made one of the most fascinating and important demonstrations of all time,’ she wrote. ‘They have proved that a few effective voices, accompanied by sound effects, can convince masses of people of a totally unreasonable, completely fantastic proposition as to create a nation-wide panic.
” ‘They have demonstrated more potently than any argument, demonstrated beyond a question of a doubt, the appalling dangers and enormous effectiveness of popular and theatrical demagoguery….’ ” [Source: Transparency at transparencynow.com by Ken Sanes: “War of the Worlds, Orson Welles And The Invasion From Mars”]
The Associated Press article says that, after seeing the Weather Channel’s on-air staff hyperventilating over what they were essentially calling the storm of, not just the century, but of all human experience ever (“the Weather Channel sent a message via Twitter calling it ‘an extraordinary storm, an extremely serious threat’ and urged followers to re-tweet it. The storm ‘will occupy a place in the annals of weather history as one of the most extraordinary to have affected the United States’ the network tweeted”), a staffer at Business Insider tweeted: ” ‘WHOA. The Weather Channel meteorologist just completely freaked out.’ “!
The capitalist politicians – those twin shills for Wall Street scumbaggery, Barack Obama and Mormon Bishop Mitt Romney – both threw some gasoline on the fire, cancelling their scheduled election campaign appearances so that they could focus their full attention on posturing in a competition to see who “looks more ‘presidential'” in the face of a major national [non-] emergency.
Today, we watched as far outlying clouds from the northwestern edge of this very large storm slowly moved across the sky in northern Illinois.
It’s a big storm, but its extent really isn’t any greater than any of the big weather systems that routinely cross the continental US. We just had a couple of those large, comma-shaped low-pressure systems that crossed the country in the past few weeks; the rain front in those storms was hundreds of miles across, just like this one. It’s not at all unusual to have major anticyclonic storms crossing the continental U.S. that extend from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. Sandy is a big, slightly unusual category one hurricane, period. Nothing more or less. If it kills anyone at all in the US, it will likely be people who try to cross flooded streams in their cars, people killed by falling trees or who step on downed electrical wires and those folks, like we said yesterday, who are dumb enough to frolic in front of the big waves at the seashore and who get clobbered by a rogue 20-foot wave and dragged out to sea.
We spent a couple of hours looking at what we believe are some of the most compelling and factual reports on the storm, which come not from highly-paid entertainers on the profit-at-any-cost Weather Channel, or from the feckless, vicious and scientifically illiterate, bought-and-paid-for US bourgeois political class, but from non-humans, not subject to hysteria or greed: the hundreds of weather buoys moored along the east coast of the United States, which anyone can monitor using the National Data Buoy Center website. Here’s what we found, as of this afternoon (Monday, October 29):
The National Data Buoy Center was reporting as of 2007 GMT (2:07PM Chicago time) that, out of 614 buoy observations taken over the previous 3 hours from buoys located within 150 English nautical miles of the center of Hurricane Sandy (that is, those ocean buoys closest to the storm), the highest sustained winds observed were:
46.6 knots (53.63 MPH) with gusts as high as 58.3 knots (67.1mph) from 50 degrees (ENE) with wave heights of 28.9 feet at buoy Station 44025 (LLNR 830) 30 NM South of Islip, NY off Long Island, NY. The anemometer height of this buoy is 5 meters above sea level. Buoy at 1900 hours was approx. 117 miles from the storm center.
48.6 knots (55.93 MPH) with wind gusts as high as 64.1 knots (73.76 mph) from 50 degrees (ENE) at buoy Station 44025 (LLNR 830) – (same buoy);
Highest reported wind gusts from these same 600 or so observations made in the previous 3 hours (as of 20:07 GMT, or 2 PM Chicago time) were:
62.0 knots (71.35 MPH) reported at Station ROBN4 – 8530973
(http://www.ndbc.noaa.gov/station_page.php?station=ROBN4) located at Robins Reef, NJ, 149 NM from the center of the storm;
66.0 knots (75.95 mph) also at ROBN4.
This is to be compared with the National Hysteria [Hurricane] Center’s reported observations of winds as high as 90 MPH reported from Coast Guard airplane flights across the eye of the storm. Those observations, obviously, are taken at higher altitudes and include observations in the actual center of the storm where the winds are the highest. Ground-level observations as close as 75 miles from Sandy’s eye are not indicating that winds are anywhere near hurricane force once you get outside the immediate center of the storm.
The closest buoy to the storm, Buoy Station 44009 (LLNR168) located in Delaware Bay, 26 NM southeast of Cape May, NJ, [http://www.ndbc.noaa.gov/station_page.php?station=44009] which is only 76 NM from the center of the storm reported (1900 hrs GMT) sustained winds of just 44.7 knots (51.44 mph) and gusts of 58.3 knots (67.1 mph) with wave heights of 17.4 feet.
[Sources: as listed, including the National Data Buoy Center (http://www.ndbc.noaa.gov/) and an online “knots to miles per hour” calculator at http://www.calculateme.com/Speed/Knots/ToMilesperHour.htm%5D
So, none of the data buoys have yet reported sustained winds of hurricane force – that is, around 74 miles per hour or greater. This is because, first, they are not at several thousand feet above sea level but are just a few meters above sea level; and they are not in the actual eye of the storm, where the hurricane force winds will and do exist. This area is just some tens of miles across in diameter and will rapidly lose power the minute it hits land, which will be somewhere along the Delaware/Maryland or southern New Jersey coast this evening. Look at the latest graphic illustrating the wind speed probabilities and likely locations of the highest winds of Tropical Storm Sandy issued by the National Weather Service:
As you can see from this graphic, the area of landfall that Sandy will impact most severely is relatively small and will not include New York City or Philadelphia and will – sadly – only barely scrape Washington, D.C. Also, the inland areas affected by the highest sustained winds will not extend beyond the boundaries of Delaware and Maryland and limited areas of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, West Virginia and Virginia.
And we’re talking about 75 mile-an-hour winds here; houses built along the coast are – or damned well should be! – built to withstand sustained winds of much higher intensity that are found in category 1 hurricanes. Building houses that are located on the seashore and not building them to withstand sustained winds of 100 MPH or greater should be – and would be in a Socialist United States – ILLEGAL. Any house that can’t stand up to 75 mph winds shouldn’t be in existence anywhere within 200 miles of the ocean.
So, to wrap up: If you live along the coast of New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware or northeastern Virginia, don’t go swimming in the ocean tonight! And stop watching those asshats on the Weather Channel, who are just trying to scare you into watching their channel so they can sell some more soap and get an enormous pile of cash and a ratings boost out of this storm.
We’ll leave the final word on this phenomenon to the folks at Transparency Now, from the concluding paragraph of their excellent article on the phenomenon of media and government manipulation of mass psychology cited above:
“…[W]e live in a time in which the ability to create deceptive simulations, especially for television, has become essential to the exercise of power. And the inability to see through these deceptions has become a form of powerlessness. Those who let themselves be taken in by the multiple deceptions of politics, news, advertising and public relations, are doomed, like the more gullible members of the radio audience in 1938, to play a role in other people’s dramas, while mistakenly believing that they are reacting to something genuine.”
Workers of the World, Unite!