William M. Gray

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William M. Gray
Born (1929-10-09) October 9, 1929 (age 86)
Fields Atmospheric science
Institutions Colorado State University
Alma mater University of Chicago
Thesis On the scales of motion and internal stress characteristics of the hurricane (1964)
Known for Research into hurricanes, climate change skepticism

William M. "Bill" Gray (born October 9, 1929) is Emeritus Professor of Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University (CSU), and head of the Tropical Meteorology Project at CSU's Department of Atmospheric Sciences. He is a pioneer in the science of forecasting hurricanes[1] and one of the world's leading experts on tropical storms.[2]


In 1952, Gray received a B.S. degree in geography from George Washington University, and in 1959 a M.S. in meteorology from the University of Chicago, where he went on to earn a Ph.D. in geophysical sciences in 1964.

He served as a weather forecaster for the United States Air Force, and as a research assistant in the University of Chicago Department of Meteorology. He joined Colorado State University in 1961. He has been advisor of over 70 Ph.D. and M.S. students.

Gray is noted for his forecasts of Atlantic hurricane season activity. Gray pioneered the concept of "seasonal" hurricane forecasting—predicting months in advance the severity of the coming hurricane season. Gray and his team (including Christopher W. Landsea, Paul W. Mielke Jr., and Kenneth J. Berry, among others) has been issuing seasonal hurricane forecasts since 1984.[1]

After the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season, Gray announced that he was stepping back from the primary authorship of CSU's tropical cyclone probability forecasts, passing the role to Philip J. Klotzbach. Gray indicated that he would be devoting more time to the issue of global warming. He does not attribute global warming to anthropogenic causes, and is critical of those who do.[3][4]

Seasonal hurricane forecasts[edit]

Gray developed a seasonal hurricane forecasting methodology in the 1980s[1] and began reporting his forecasts to the public. His forecasts are widely discussed in the U.S. media. Preliminary forecasts are released before the start of the hurricane season, and the forecasts are then revised as the season progresses. The forecasts establish an expectation of the hurricane activity for the year, but are frequently inaccurate, often requiring subsequent forecasts. In 2005, for example, both the CSU team and NOAA significantly underestimated the actual hurricane totals despite issuing updated estimates as late as August of that year.

Since at least 1994, the Tropical Meteorology Project team at Colorado State University has issued pre-season predictions in December, April and June for the number of named storms (tropical storms and hurricanes), hurricanes and intense hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5) expected to appear in the North Atlantic Tropical Cyclone Basin. These are one of many predictions issued for storms. Drawing on data presented at the Tropical Meteorology Project's website (for predictions), and the National Hurricane Center (for observed totals), the table that follows shows the historical accuracy of these predictions.[5][6]

Season Type December
2007 Named storms 14 17
Hurricanes 7 9
Intense hurricanes 3 5
2006 Named storms 17 17 17 10 +7
Hurricanes 9 9 9 5 +4
Intense hurricanes 5 5 5 2 +3
2005 Named storms 11 13 15 28 -17
Hurricanes 6 7 8 15 -9
Intense hurricanes 3 3 4 7 -4
2004 Named storms 13 14 14 15 -2
Hurricanes 7 8 8 8 -1
Intense hurricanes 3 3 3 6 -3
2003 Named storms 12 12 14 16 -4
Hurricanes 8 8 8 7 +1
Intense hurricanes 3 3 3 3 0
2002 Named storms 13 12 11 12 +1
Hurricanes 8 7 6 4 +4
Intense hurricanes 4 3 2 2 +2
2001 Named storms 9 10 12 15 -6
Hurricanes 5 6 7 8 -3
Intense hurricanes 2 2 3 4 -2
2000 Named storms 11 11 12 15 -4
Hurricanes 7 7 8 8 -1
Intense hurricanes 3 3 4 3 0
1999 Named storms 14 14 14 12 +2
Hurricanes 9 9 9 8 +1
Intense hurricanes 4 4 4 5 -1

Stance on global warming[edit]

Gray is skeptical of current theories of human-induced global warming, which he says is supported by scientists afraid of losing grant funding[7] and promoted by government leaders and environmentalists seeking world government.[8] He believes that humans are not responsible for the warming of the earth and has stated that "We're brainwashing our children."[9] He asked, "How can we trust climate forecasts 50 and 100 years into the future (that can’t be verified in our lifetime) when they are not able to make shorter seasonal or yearly forecasts that could be verified?"[10]

Gray said those who had linked global warming to the increased number of hurricanes in recent years were in error. He cites statistics showing that there were 101 hurricanes from 1900 to 1949, in a period of cooler global temperature, compared to 83 from 1957 to 2006 when the earth warmed.[9]

Gray does not say there has not been any warming, but in 2006 stated "I don't question that. And humans might have caused a very slight amount of this warming. Very slight. But this warming trend is not going to keep on going. My belief is that three, four years from now, the globe will start to cool again, as it did from the middle '40s to the middle '70s."[11]

According to an earlier interview reported by Joel Achenbach, Gray had similarly said that the current warming in the past decades is a natural cycle, driven by a global ocean circulation that manifests itself in the North Atlantic Ocean as the Gulf Stream.[8]

In a December 2006 interview with David Harsanyi of The Denver Post, Gray said, "They've been brainwashing us for 20 years, starting with the nuclear winter and now with the global warming. This scare will also run its course. In 15–20 years, we'll look back and see what a hoax this was." In this interview, Gray cites the global cooling article in Newsweek from 1975 as evidence that such a scare has happened in the past.[11]

Gray has been an active scientist publishing and speaking about weather, hurricanes, and related matters for 60 years. In his presentation to the 7th International Conference on Climate Change sponsored by The Heartland Institute, Gray found virtually no basis to think added CO2 is generating extreme weather events.[citation needed]

Criticisms of Gray's statements on global warming[edit]

Peter Webster, a Georgia Institute of Technology professor, has been part of the anonymous peer review on several of Gray's National Science Foundation proposals. In every case he has turned down the global warming research component because he believed it was not up to standards, but recommended that Gray's hurricane research be funded.[12]

Webster, who has co-authored other scientific papers with Gray, is also critical of Gray for his personal attacks on the scientists with whom he disagrees. "Bill, for some very good reasons, has been the go-to man on hurricanes for the last 35 years," says Webster. "All of a sudden there are a lot of people saying things Bill doesn't agree with. And they're getting a lot of press—more press than I like, actually. I like the ivory tower. But he's become more and more radical."[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Mooney, Chris (2007). "Chapter 4: Lay that Matrix Down". Storm World. Harcourt. p. 70. ISBN 0-15-101287-3. ...1984...Gray also launched the endeavor that would make him most famous: a seasonal forecasting scheme for the Atlantic basin, which would predict the number of hurricanes and tropical storms months before their actual arrival. ... It's hard to overstate the breakthrough that Gray had achieved with his forecasting scheme. 
  2. ^ http://www.westword.com/2006-06-29/news/the-skeptic/full
  3. ^ Davidson, Keay (1999-09-15). "Storm expert's forecast on the button". San Francisco Chronicle. Hearst Communications Inc. Retrieved 2 January 2010. 
  4. ^ Hurricane Expert: School Silencing Me Over Global-Warming Views
  5. ^ The Tropical Meteorology Project at Colorado State University
  6. ^ National Hurricane Center/Tropical Prediction Center: Archive of Hurricane Seasons
  7. ^ Gray, William M. (2000-11-16). "Viewpoint: Get off warming bandwagon". BBC News. Retrieved 2007-11-10. 
  8. ^ a b Achenbach, Joel (2006-05-28). "The Tempest". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2007-04-23. 
  9. ^ a b Lyttle, Steve (2007-10-14). "Gore gets a cold shoulder". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2007-11-11. 
  10. ^ Gray, William M. (2005-09-28). "Statement of Dr. William Gray". United States Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. Retrieved 2007-04-23. 
  11. ^ a b Harsanyi, David (2006-06-05). "Chill out over global warming". The Denver Post. Retrieved 2007-04-23. 
  12. ^ a b Prendergast, Alan (2006-06-29). "The Skeptic". Denver Westwood News. 

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