Saturday evening a fierce thunderstorm moved through Belgium. Locally it was very strong, especially the coastal areas were hit. A lot of damage was done by wind shear, heavy rain and lightning to properties. Fortunately the area were I live was hardly affected. Winter storms in Belgium are quite rare, but from time to time they do happen and they can do quite some damage.
My guess was that soon someone, somewhere will surely attribute this to climate change. I didn’t had to wait for long. Reading the newspaper “Het Nieuwsblad” I read what Wauthier Robyns of the insurance umbrella organisation Assuralia said (my emphasis)
Robyns says the insurance companies increasingly have to take into account extreme weather events such as this weekend. “Because everyone agrees that gradual climate change lead to more storms, and in any case to more rainfall,” he says. Everything indicates that we will face this type of storm more often in the future.
Quite dramatic, but completely devoid of observational evidence. I was very surprised to see those “everyone knows” and “everything indicates” statements when no data points in that direction. Luckily the reporter showed both sides:
But weather forecasters Dehenauw and Sabine Hagedoren don’t want to confirm that. “There is no statistical data that proves that thunder storms are now worse than before, or that we now experience more wind shear or whirlwinds than before,” says Dehenauw.
I heard the same from another weatherman, that those severe storms are not on the increase. On the contrary, we were spared in recent years. On average the frequency of those fierce storms is not higher or lower than before.
So what is this insurance guys talking about? They study the risk of extreme events, so he should know if the frequency of storms increases or not, without relying on ad populum arguments. He obviously didn’t look at the data at all and just parroted what he heard from others. It worries me to hear such absolute certainties, in the face of contrary observations, from someone who should know better.