March 05, 2016

Donald Trump Speaks Out on Weather Forecasting and Climate

Donald Trump is dominating the news these day, with most coverage dealing with his stances on immigration, national defense, and the economy.   But "The Donald" has strong opinions on weather and climate issues and this blog will review and analyze them.

Perhaps the most succinct summary of Trump's views on climate and weather was found in an interview he had with Hugh Hewitt:

“I believe there’s weather. I believe there’s change, and I believe it goes up and it goes down, and it goes up again. And it changes depending on years and centuries"

It is good to know he believes in weather.  Not everyone does.  And he believes that weather changes.  So far so good.

Trump does not like TV weathercasters.  He wants them off the air.    Not a good sign.

He is not impressed with the prowess of "weather people", suggesting they generally get it wrong.

He might be right that they are looking for headlines and ratings.

Bottom line:  The Donald does not believe weather forecasts and wants to avoid any talk of weather on the media, perhaps because it reminds him how sensitive his hair is to even weak gusts (see below).

Wind is a major concern of Donald Trump, for obvious reasons

Global Warming and Climate Change

Donald Trump believes global warming is a hoax, as demonstrated by a number of his tweets:

Trump clearly seems to think that any snow or cold weather means global warming is nonsense:

There are dozens of his tweets like this;  Trump believes global warming is a get rich squick scheme devised by greedy climatologists and the Chinese (see below).

 The Weather Wall

Many of you are familiar with Trump's plan to build a wall on the Mexican border to stop illegal immigration.  But did you know that his unusual idea has inspired some scientists to propose building WEATHER WALLs to reduce the amount of severe weather in the southern U.S.?

In fact, Temple University Physicist Rongia Tao has proposed 1000 ft high walls that he claims would deal a death knell to tornadoes (as well as stop the passage of illegals).   Trump is going to inspire a generation of wall builders.

Here is what the wall would look like.  Impressive.

Clearly, Mr. Trump is jeopardizing getting any support from the weather community, all 10,000 of us.  He should be careful: we are a powerful bunch, with a representative on every TV news broadcast.


Public Talk: Weather Forecasting: From Superstition to Supercomputers

I will be giving a talk on March 16th at 7:30 PM in Kane Hall on the UW campus on the history, science, and technology of weather forecasting as a fundraiser for KPLU. I will give you an insider's view of the amazing story of of weather forecasting's evolution from folk wisdom to a quantitative science using supercomputers. General admission tickets are $25.00, with higher priced reserved seating and VIP tickets (including dinner) available. If you are interested in purchasing tickets, you can sign up here


  1. Ugh, it's really time for the reasonable and educated to voice their opinion. Otherwise we will be the passives of Europe in the 1930's.

  2. I'm not a Trump fan. But I do agree that weather forecasting is often laughable. Anecdotal but just yesterday the 5th of March, the NOAA forecast was a joke. Why? I had guests visiting from out of town visiting for a long planned ski day at Crystal so was intently watching the forecast all week. Even Friday the 4th, one day out the NOAA forecast was calling for rain all Saturday. As it turned out it was a lovely day until late afternoon and we had a grand time.

    But it is very easy to see how anyone could be jaded by weather forecasts that are 8 hours off even one day out. Most people I meet share this view that weather forecasts are always to be taken with a big grain of salt.

  3. Not sure what forecast you were paying attention too, JeffB. The forecast for Saturday wasn't supposed to move in until evening on the 5th (Saturday). The forecasters nailed it. Sorry to ruin your point though.

  4. Crazy to think that our future leader is likely to be him, hillary, or sanders..

    What a lineup, but, the people have spoken.. haha

  5. There was a Pew poll a few months ago that found only 6% of scientists are registered Republicans. It inspired the joke, 'Scientists are baffled as to why that percentage is so high.'

    If the crazy faction of political conservatives build a giant border wall then they should construct it at an angle and line it with photovoltaic cells and hire political conservatives at Federal minimum wage with no benefits to keep it clean.

    A thousand foot wall to deter tornadoes? more craziness! Obviously, no understanding what causes Midwestern severe thunderstorms and tornadoes (Think Rocky Mountains, cold dry air aloft and a humid southerly Gulf of Mexico wind). But if your going to build a thousand foot tall wall then string the top with wind generators, good winds at 1,000 feet of elevation.

    I don't think Donald and Cruz are worried about losing the science vote. They threw the science vote away a long, long time ago. They are as hostile toward scientists and science as the Vatican was 600 years ago except for war machine science. They embrace the science of war.

    I am very disappointed with the lack of quality individuals in the Republican presidential nomination process. It's a national embarrassment.

  6. Excellent column, Cliff. Trump's thoughts on climate change are half cocked (as it were).

  7. I'm trying to ignore political news right now because it mainly depresses me, but the weather wall is an amusing idea for a thought experiment.

    A 300 meter wall (~1000 feet) wouldn't be very effective no matter what size area it protects. Even if one was built around my house, I'd still get rain and the occasional snowflake; no sun, though.

    A 20 km high wall, on the other hand, would extend beyond the top of the troposphere, thus blocking clouds and the jet stream. Ok, we're onto something now. Let's go nuts (hey, they started it by voting for Trump) and build one around the continental US. No more scenic walks around the shores of Puget Sound or lying on the beach in San Diego, but no more hurricanes from the Gulf Stream, either.

    But what about the middle of the US? Water would enter the atmosphere from the combustion in large cities and evaporation everywhere, forming clouds again. So we would still have a bit of precipitation (probably rather polluted); would the Midwest still experience tornadoes?

    The cost is also amusing. The estimates for a border wall -- really a fence -- aren't applicable since they're permeable. We would need to use the cost of the Berlin Wall, which was $200 million (in 2015 dollars)[1] for a 3 m x 150 km [1,2] concrete barrier. We'll cut corners (literally) and just build a quadrilateral roughly 4300 km wide by 2500 km high [3], for a total length of 13,600 km.

    Assuming -- generously and because I'm not a civil engineer -- that building a wall N times high is just N times the cost and that my math is correct, this comes out to $121 trillion.

    The actual engineering of such a wall is left as an exercise for the reader. :-)


  8. Actually a 1000' wall placed in the correct area, COULD have an effect on severe weather. 0-1KM Helicity is one of the good indicators of tornado potential. So disrupting wind flow as well as limiting Dewpoint Temp, moisture return into the plains is another effect on tornadoes.
    Once a supercell was developed and trying to rotate and form a tornado a large wall could interrupt rear flank down draft feed around and back into the storm. A Large wall would also potentially disrupt other inflow at lower levels.

    Another way to deal with severe weather? Have a huge sun shield in orbit around the planet and deploy it when potential severe outbreaks are near. Without daytime heating many (not all) severe weather setups would be greatly reduced.

  9. Of course it doesn't help when Drudge posts links like this:

    "CLAIM: NOAA Data Shows No Warming For 58 Years!"

  10. Yikes! That's a hoot, Cliff! That's the first time I've read any of his tweets. He certainly provides plenty of fodder for comedians. I wish the primary results were as amusing!

  11. LOL, most blogs a serious post quickly descends into foolishness. Here a joke turns into a fairly descent science discussion.

  12. Question for the scientists on this thread: Can someone discuss, or at least speculate, on unintended (and presumably undesirable) consequences if we deployed these walls?

    My knowledge of this topic is limited, and may not be correct in any case, but wouldn't these types of significant changes to low-level atmospheric dynamics have major, and perhaps profound, impacts on weather downstream? Has anyone run computer simulations looking at the weather in, say, the U.S. Northeast or even Western Europe where the initial conditions are tweaked to assume the presence of these walls in the U.S. Midwest?

    I assume there isn't a snowball's chance in hell of such a thing getting built in our lifetimes. But it might be an interesting exercise.

  13. Dear Donald should talk with a few weather-forecasting meteorologists before passing judgement.

    I believe most meteorologists do the best they can with the data that's available, and overall they have clearly served the public well. Unfortunately, it's not just Trump who under-appreciates them. As Cliff has pointed out, radars are in need of updating, and it's a shame NOAA's "crony climatologists" killed the USRCRN program in order to maintain the propaganda budget.

    As for 1000 ft. walls, the idea is as insane as seeding the stratosphere with sulfur to dim sunshine. Far more sensible to plan linear cities with building codes that require 300 mph wind resistance and heights no less than 1000 ft. The same idea could be applied to the border. Why are Border Patrol agents housed 30+ miles from their workplace? Give them 3-story fortified housing right along the border, with expansive views of Mexico from their patios.

  14. I am certainly not a fan of Trump, but I think he has a point on how the media sensationalize the reporting of weather events. I, too, am very tired of watching stupid media people in their waders standing in high water. This seems to happen at local and network reporting. In terms of Seattle-area reporting, I can think of only one weather person (RM at King5) was seems balanced and not alarmist. When he says to worry, I listen.

  15. I hope you can support Science March Seattle. It is Earth Day, Saturday April 22. Logistics TBA. We are a satellite march of the national march HQ in DC.

    We have a active FB page, and mirroring it on linkedin, if you can connect with us. We will have a website soon.
    We are a non-partisan and diverse group who believe science is the best method we have to understand the world. Science does not belong to any political party, any moment in history, or any one group of people. It is for all of us.

    We are scientists and science enthusiasts. We work in the tech sector. We are educators. We work in service and hospitality. We are lawyers, and students, artists, and concerned citizens. We are the community of Seattle. We care about science because science gives us the power to make the world better and clearer. It will take all of us to keep science open for ALL OF US.


Please make sure your comments are civil. Name calling and personal attacks are not appropriate.

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