Tag Archives: Hurricane Sandy

US Government Panics, Wall St. Shuts Down, Capitalist News Media Freaks Out Over Category 1 Hurricane

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.

Chicago enjoys a beautiful sunset courtesy of outlying clouds from western ‘arm’ of ‘Hurricane’ Sandy, 29 October, 2012. Credit: IWPCHI

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.

(http://www.ndbc.noaa.gov/station_page.php?station=44025);

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:

Hurricane Wind Speed Probabilities chart for ‘Hurricane’ Sandy. Only the area in red and purple will see actual hurricane force winds of around 75 miles per hour, with wind gusts somewhat higher. Lighter orange, yellow and green-colored areas have a 50% or less chance of seeing hurricane force winds.  Credit: NOAA/National Weather Service, National Hurricane Center

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.”

IWPCHI

Workers of the World, Unite!

Capitalist Politicians, Press Whip Up Irrational Fears Over ‘Hurricane’ Sandy

The capitalist news media of the United States is on a full-court press to scare the crap out of tens of millions of workers along the eastern seaboard of the United States over a third-rate tropical storm that barely rates as a hurricane.  ‘Hurricane’ Sandy is currently sporting 75 mile-an-hour winds according to the “National Hurricane Center”‘s latest bulletin (no. 25A).  This Category 1 storm, while it is certainly capable of causing severe property damage to homes and businesses located on the actual shores of the Atlantic Ocean, is of no real concern to anyone who lives more than a few miles inland, and should cause very few fatalities beyond those caused by foolish people who go down to the beach to see the waves and get too close to the surf.  This is another case of the bourgeois press crying “wolf” in order to sell more newspapers and make more money off Internet ads by terrifying the public into believing that their lives are in immediate peril.  It is a load of nonsense.

Terrified by their own propaganda, the idiot Democratic and Republican party mayors up and down the East Coast are actually conducting mass evacuations of the population from coastal towns which will see only moderate damage from this extremely weak hurricane.  The usual coastal communities will face the lion’s share of the effects of the storm, which, as always, can be expected to rapidly weaken as soon as it hits land – which it has already done.

Monitoring the hurricane using both the National Weather Service sites as well as the excellent and fascinating “National Data Buoy Center” website, we are seeing wind speeds  being reported by ships and buoys closest to the “eye” of the storm of well under 40 knots, or approximately 40 miles per hour!

“East Coast Braces for Worst” screams the Wall St. Journal.  “Delaware Coast Empties Out as the Water Moves In” fulminates the New York Times.   It’s all a lot of bull.  Hurricane Katrina this ain’t.

The six data buoys closest to the storm are, at 4PM Chicago time, reporting top sustained winds of just under 40 miles per hour.  Wave heights are high, but again, unless you live on the immediate coast this is not going to affect you at all.

Why does the bourgeois press make such a big deal out of these things?  To sell newspapers and ads.  They almost always get the science wrong whenever they report any kind of science news.  Everything is going to be the end of the world.  Last week they were freaking out over an X-class solar flare that was so weak it didn’t even create an increase of auroral activity.  Every winter storm of any magnitude is always compared to the worst storms ever.  90% of the time, their big scare turns out to be a big flop.   But, hey, who cares if the public is needlessly terrorized so long as they make money off of it all?

Obviously, the bourgeoisie of the United States, all too conscious of the total lack of support from the working class it “enjoys” feels that the only way to keep the masses in check is to constantly push the notion that if it wasn’t for the massive US military buildup and the growing numbers of heavily armed cops on the streets of the US, the citizens would be utterly helpless and at the mercy of Mother Nature and the tiny gang of pathetic punks of the so-called “Al-Qaida Network” who are supposed to be poised to bring the US to its knees with another pathetic stunt like the 9/11 attacks.  Bad as those attacks were, it would take dozens of them launched every year to even begin to make a serious dent in the US population.  Compared to Gettysburg, 9/11 was a skirmish.   And as Katrina showed, the US ruling class is totally incapable of protecting the citizens of the US from any kind of REAL natural disaster.  The incompetence and corruption of both political parties shown in the Katrina disaster was not a fluke – it happened because the US capitalist class couldn’t care less about protecting the poor and the workers from even the most obvious natural hazards.  And by scaring the crap out of everyone over “Tropical Cyclone” (that’s what they’re calling it now) Sandy, they set the stage for an annoyed public to completely ignore their NEXT warning, which could actually be issued in the face of a much more serious emergency than this one.

Fear is how the US ruling class keeps its dominant position over the workers of the United States.  So long as the working class remains in thrall to every idiotic pronouncement of the lying bourgeoisie and its wholly owned politicians and news media, the capitalist class will remain firmly in the drivers seat and continue to brutalize the working class of the US as well as our working class brothers and sisters all over the world – for the sole purpose of slaking the insatiable thirst for ever greater profits of the US capitalist class.  They want to terrify you with this weak tropical storm, which barely reached hurricane strength, at the same time they totally ignore the very REAL dangers posed by global warming.  They don’t care what happens – they plan to make money off it whether it happens or not.  They thrive on human misery, make bonanza profits off wars, commit mass murder over oil deposits – the US capitalists are the most cynical, greedy and bloodthirsty ruling class in the world.

If you live near the seashore, you have seen storms like this every year of your life.  By now, you’ve boarded up the cottage and headed inland for a couple of days – no big deal.  On Cape Cod, we body-surfed in storms like this almost every year.  That was perhaps foolish, but no one ever died that we heard of.  And we had a hell of a lot of fun.  Most hurricanes peter out the moment they hit shore and immediately turn into bad, windy, extended rainstorms.

A bit of common sense is all you need to possess in situations like this.  And the shrill hysteria of the capitalist press screaming “FRANKENSTORM!” at you should not scare you any more than those kids that will be knocking on your front door in the next couple of days yelling “Trick or Treat”!

If you want to follow the storm, check out the weather links on this site.  The National Weather Service local weather forecasts are being modified downward as we write this.  The National Data Buoy Center is a fascinating website that gives near-real-time reports of wave heights, wind speeds and more from ocean buoys and ships at sea.  Check it out and then compare what you see there with the Weather Channel’s weather-idiots trying desperately to keep you tuned to their silly live broadcasts featuring weather-models doing stupid human tricks in near-hurricane-force winds.

IWPCHI

PS: (5:19 PM Central US time): The National Data Buoy Center is displaying the alerts sent out late last night by several of their buoys in the Pacific Basin that detected the small tsunami generated by the huge 7.7 earthquake that occurred last night in British Columbia, Canada.   The largest tsunamis we’ve seen reported were a little less than half a meter in amplitude, observed in Alaska and in the Hawaiian Islands.  Currently, there are no warnings of a major threat of imminent tsunamis on the US west coast or Hawaii, although aftershocks of this major earthquake could occur at any time and produce a tsunami.   The NDBC is an amazing resource for tracking tsunami waves as they propagate outwards from the epicenter of an undersea – or in this case, near-sea earthquake.  Check it out!

PPS:  The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center reported that a tsunami of 2.5 feet (0.76 meters) was observed in Maui last night, so they did get to be a bit larger than what we had seen reported earlier when we wrote this article.  The Vancouver Sun showed an image of the range of the tsunami generated by the 7.7 quake in British Columbia: it streaked out across the Pacific like an arrow!  The image, whose source we do not know of is reproduced below.  – IWPCHI

Range and amplitude of tsunami generated by the October 27, 2012 British Columbia earthquake. Source of this image is unknown. Credit: Vancouver Sun, from “HINEWS”, Hawaii, USA.