The popular, conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh made some highly dangerous comments on his program yesterday regarding Hurricane Irma. A link to the transcript of his show can be found here.
While beginning his remarks by saying “And I’ve gotta be very careful here because I am not a meteorologist and nothing I say today should be considered a forecast or prediction. I am not the National Hurricane Center. I am not a climatologist or meteorologist.” No shit, Sherlock. Then he piously claims “All I do is analyze the data that they publish.”
Well his analysis of their data is anecdotal at best, and highly misleading at worst. Let’s examine some of his “analysis.”
“….. much of our public information system, including the government, from the Drive-By Media, has been corrupted. It has been corrupted by the individual biases ”
The National Hurricane Center, or NOAA, may have its faults, but bigotry is certainly not one of them. At least not since U.S. weather forecasters disregarded the warnings of their far more experienced counterparts in Cuba regarding the hurricane of 1900 that wiped out Galveston, made famous in the best-selling book “Isaac’s Storm” by Erik Larson.
Rush Limbaugh decided to politicize a dangerous threat to our country by labeling the weather forecasters as “Deep State” operatives who oppose Donald Trump. To whit “You can see it in the way the Deep State deals with Trump. You can see it with the way the intelligence community and the Washington establishment deals with Trump.”
His “analysis” presents their forecasting and reporting as some kind of conspiracy to promote the idea of climate change. Without coming out and using the term ‘FAKE NEWS!” he basically claims that meteorologists are basing their weather forecasts on Hurricane Irma as some devious scheme to undermine Donald Trump. Does he realize the danger he poses?
He is encouraging his viewers to disregard news of the strongest hurricane ever reported in the Atlantic because scientists say this is indicative of climate change.
But not content to stop there, Limbaugh goes on to blame the media as well. “Well, the TV stations begin reporting this and the panic begins to increase.” And “The local media, in turn, reports in such a way as to create panic way far out, which sends people into these stores to fill up with water and to fill up batteries, and it becomes a never-ending repeated cycle.”
That’s not panicking. That’s getting prepared. Was Limbaugh ever a Boy Scout? Has he ever heard the phrase “Better safe than sorry.” And his entire diatribe against stocking up on bottled water is simply ludicrous. Sure, you can fill your sinks and your bathtubs up with tap water, but if 180 mile-an-hour winds blow your house to smithereens, that’s not going to do you a whole lot of good. Just ask the people who lived in south Florida when Hurricane Andrew hit – and Irma could potentially be much worse.
Next Mr. “I’m not a meteorologist” says “I’ve lived here since 1997, and I have developed a system that I trust, my own analysis of the data.” But he declines to share this fantastic system because “I don’t want to be misinterpreted as giving you a forecast….. I’m tempted to tell you. But my better judgment says don’t go there.” But he tells his listeners its much too early to be worried. Nothing is going to happen before Sunday.
Well, guess what. The National Hurricane Service does not forecast hurricane paths more than five days out due to the number of variables that can affect the way it tracks. Mr. Limbaugh acknowledges that, even though his super-secret method only follows two of the outlier possibilities. He also tells his listeners that most hurricanes frequently lose strength before they hit land. That may be so, in many cases, but here are a couple of things to let you know that Irma is in a class by herself.
Hurricane Irma is so strong it's starting to show up on seismometers in the Caribbean — equipment designed to measure earthquakes. https://t.co/qJrSJ1v8gy
— Eric Holthaus (@EricHolthaus) September 5, 2017
— NPR (@NPR) September 6, 2017
— The Hill (@thehill) September 6, 2017
Here is the danger that Rush Limbaugh poses to his listeners. Some of them are going to believe him rather than the National Hurricane Center. They are going to ignore the warnings of the governor and responsible meteorological experts. They are going to sit in their condos on the beach and plan little hurricane parties. They are not going to evacuate while there is still time. They are not going to stock up on essential supplies, other than beer. And if Hurricane Irma hits them at Category Five level, which is well within the realm of possibility, they are going to die.
For those who may be unaware of the wind damage a Category 4 or 5 can do to a dwelling, take a quick look at the video below. This does not take into account the damage of storm surges, water, and tornadoes that accompany storms of this size.
— Sarah Stephen (@sarahstephen_) September 6, 2017
Do you still want to take a chance that Rush Limbaugh might be right, for once in his life?
Word of advice – if you see Jim Cantore from The Weather Channel in your neighborhood, forget whatever Rush Limbaugh said and get the hell out of Dodge.