Over the past couple years, CNSNews.com has loved to tout how long it's been since a "major hurricane" has made landfall in the U.S. -- making sure to define "major hurricane" as narrowly as possible -- as an (failed) argument agains global warming. Hurricane Harvey, however, has forced CNS to change its arguments -- though not its conclusion, since that's right-wing dogma, since climate denialism is right-wing dogma that can't be disputed.
On Aug. 24, reporter Susan Jones bid a fond farewell to that longtime template: "Thursday, August 24, 2017 marks a record 142 straight months since the last major hurricane made landfall in the continental United States. But that record major-hurricane drought may be coming to an end." She continued CNS' arbitrary designation of "major hurricane" as one being category 3 or higher.
The next day, as Harvey bore down on Texas, Jones seemingly contradicted CNS' previous talking point by pointing out how hurricanes hit Texas seemingly all the time: "A total of 63 hurricanes have made landfall in Texas since record-keeping began in 1851, according to data posted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Harvey would be number 64." She also included a list of hurricanes that hit Texas, highlighting how many years it was between hurricanes.
That was followed a couple hours later by another Jones article, in which she flip-flopped again by downplaying how many "major hurricanes" there have been:
Major hurricanes, defined as Category 3 or higher, have made direct landfall in the continental United States in every decade since 1851, except for the present decade. That may change tonight.
Since 1851, when the government started keeping records, 274 hurricanes have made direct landfall in the continental United States (see note below), according to data provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Of those 274 direct-landfall hurricanes, only 94, or 34.30 percent, have been "major" storms, defined as Category 3 or higher, with winds at or above 111 miles an hour.
A note at the end of Jones' article demonstrated just how narrowly she was defining things: "The 274 direct-landfall number excludes hurricanes that did not make landfall in the continental U.S. but may have produced hurricane-force winds on land from locations offshore; and it excludes four storms that made landfall in Mexico, producing hurricane-force winds in Texas."
Finally, when Harvey made landfall, Jones wrote a rare weekend article with a final body count, as it were: "Hurricane Harvey roared ashore near Corpus Christie as Category 4 storm late Friday night, breaking a record 4,323-day (142-month, 12-year) major hurricane drought." And, of course, morecaveats about how narrowly she's defining things:
Since 2005, only nine relatively minor hurricanes (Categories 1 or 2 – and yes, they can be damaging) have made direct landfall in the United States.
That does not include the devastating superstorm Sandy, which approached New Jersey as a Category 1 hurricane, but transitioned into a “post-tropical cyclone” just before making landfall near Atlantic City, N.J. in October 2012, according to the National Weather Service.
(As noted above, Superstorm Sandy devastated parts of the crowded New York-N.J.-New England area during Obama’s term, but it was not a hurricane when it hit land.)
Jones concluded her article with a little Trump stenography, this time transcribing Trump's Harvey-related tweets.