Hurricane Forecast

Around 2006, many Wall Street investors invested heavily in oil weeks before the arrival of Hurricane Alberto. Many companies placed a multi-billion dollar bet on oil stocks and commodity futures in anticipation of oil price appreciation, only to see that their dream of Hurricane Alberto’s arrival failed to materialize. Since then, the oil price was dropping like snow and many investors betting on hurricane-related disasters lost their fortune.

Since the fall 2006, almost none of the hurricanes successfully made a landfall in the Gulf of Mexico. Almost none of the prediction models from established institutions managed to forecast hurricanes with success. Critics have questioned whether the long-range weather outlooks from the Storm Prediction Center do more harm than good. Even hurricane expert William Gary needs to carry a disclaimer asserting that his forecast “can only predict about 50 percent of the total variability in Atlantic seasonal hurricane activity.” As yet, no one seems to care to understand why the US has been so lucky over the past few years.

Isaac Newton once said, “I can calculate the movement of the stars, but not the madness of men.” What Newton meant is that, an event would become mathematically unpredictable if there is any human intervention in the event. For example, sunspots may have play a role in human conflicts, but whether a war happens or not is also up to the leaders of the warring countries. No scientific model can predict the madness of the leaders.

Like it or not, prediction of hurricanes makes no difference. That being said, the author has evidence to prove that hurricane is no longer a natural event dictated by the forces of Nature. The evidence lies in the disclosure of US Application 20080011500, which was granted in January 17, 2008. The patent is related to a lightning grounding system which is being used in conjunction with a hurricane prevention system invented by a defense company called Raytheon.

The patent discloses that, since the fall of year 2006, Raytheon successfully applied artificial lightning strikes to “prevent rotating clouds from building into hurricanes”. According to the patent, Raytheon managed to position their man-made lightning strikes with the accuracy of the GPS system. This points to the suggestion that whether a hurricane can happen and how it happens are also in the hands of Raytheon and other decision markers involved in their project.

The patent was related to a system designed to ground all the Type 2 lightning strokes generated by Raytheon’s hurricane prevention system. According to the patent disclosure, the lightning grounding system was invented, because of the fact that, up until the patent was filed, Raytheon’s hurricane prevention system was unable to eliminate damage or harm as a result of its artificial lightning strikes on Cuba and other neighboring Caribbean countries. Make no mistake. There is nothing wrong about their contribution to the safety of the hurricane-prone countries. The author is not against their hurricane prevention activities.

However, the patent further hints that, with their lightning grounding system, Raytheon and others could go public and convince the insurance industry to bet against hurricanes making landfall in the US. This points to the suggestion that this “hurricane prevention game” might have been used to the advantage of a few entities in manipulating the economy. It is also unclear whether any organization from the financial sector has been involved in this “hurricane prevention game”.

If the patent disclosure is correct, many insurance companies might have bet against storms making landfall in the US since the fall of 2006. However, during 2008, the US had been hampered by a series of hurricanes, including Gustav, Ike and Paloma, which caused $10 billion in damage and serious casualties in Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, Cuba and the United States. It is unclear whether or not this was one of the causes resulting in the near collapse of AIG and bankruptcies of many other financial companies.

Many hurricane prediction models are statistically derived and are based on the relationships between storm-specific information, such as location and timing, and the behavior of historical storms. Up until now, there has not been any serious attempt to factor in the possible impact of human intervention on the severity of a hurricane. Perhaps, judging from the track records of the prediction models, there is a reason to question the reliability of these statistically based prediction models.