BBC Climate Check–April 2021 – Watts Up With That?

BBC Climate Check–April 2021 – Watts Up With That?


MAY 16, 2021

By Paul Homewood


It is noticeable that the BBC’s latest Climate Check is much more circumspect than unusual. There is virtually no attempt to blame bad weather on global warming. The only reference is in the section on the drought in the US South West, where they state that some researchers say it is part of a naturally occurring megadrought, which has been made worse by climate change.

The video goes on to explain that both the drought and the typhoon have been driven by La Nina, which brings dry weather to the US West and wet, stormy weather to the Western Pacific.

So, let’s look more closely at both.

So far this hydrological year, which starts in October, rainfall in the South West has been very low, but still only the sixth lowest on record:


Much more importantly though, with talk of megadroughts, are the longer term trends. The five-year precipitation trend is not as low as it was during the 1950s and early 1900s.

Indeed since the turn of the century, which is quoted in the video as the beginning of this megadrought, it has never gone that low. It is apparent that the megadrought, which lasted from 1942 to 1956 was much more severe and protracted than the current one. All of the evidence suggests that these megadroughts are regularly occurring, natural events.


Climate at a Glance | National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) (

Coming on to the Typhoon, Ryan Maue’s data shows that globally over the last 12 months hurricane activity has been below average:


There is of course always variability from basin to basin, but it is far too early in the year to draw any conclusions from Surigae, which hit the Philippines last month.

As is often the case, claimed wind speeds for Surigae need to be taken with a pinch of salt, estimated as they are from satellite data with the storm in mid ocean. It is claimed that Surigae hit 165 kts, or 190 mph, but this is only based on intensity estimates, based on operational warnings. Actual satellite data however suggests that wind speeds did not get much above 140 Kts:
AMSU Intensity Time Series

Although the BBC does mention the bitterly cold weather in large parts of Northern Europe in April, it is a pity they did not mention the fact that it was an unusually quiet month for tornado activity in the US. You may recall that they made a big play of one run of the mill tornado in their March Climate Check, which led to my complaint.

It looks as if they are now being more careful not to connect every bit of bad weather to climate change, something they were only too keen to do before. Maybe my complaint has had some effect!


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