Sad news tonight.Dr. William H. Gray, Ph.D. — a friend of The Heartland Institute, who was also the world’s most learned expert on hurricanes — has died.
Gray was a frequent speaker at Heartland’s 11 International Conferences on Climate Change. We were honored to host him, and you can see all his presentations below, or at this link.
Bill went where the data led him, especially when it came to the frequency of hurricane activity due to man-caused, CO2-driven global warming. Point of fact: Bill said Al Gore’s filmed prediction of AGW causing more hurricanes was nonsense. Bill, not Al, was proven right.
One would not expect a glowing eulogy of Bill from the folks at the “Capital Weather Gang” at The Washington Post. They haven’t been very warm to Heartland’s climate conferences, or Bill’s views, in the past. But Jason Samenow posted a fantastic tribute on the site to Bill by Capital Weather Gang contributor Phil Klotzbach.
How to describe 16 years spent with one of the greatest minds in hurricane research of the past 60 years? I’m still having trouble coming to grips with the fact that he’s gone. There are so many things about our relationship that I’m going to miss. The daily hour-long phone calls, the tag-team conference presentations, the forecast day donuts, the chats about topics ranging from hurricanes, to climate change, to politics, to baseball, to the Civil War.
I first was introduced to the Colorado State University (CSU) seasonal hurricane forecasts and Dr. Gray when I did an undergraduate project on his research for my climatology class. I ended up doing my undergraduate Honors thesis on his research, and I was beyond excited when he called me to offer me a graduate research assistantship at CSU. One of my first interactions with him was the American Meteorological Society Hurricanes and Tropical Meteorology Conference in 2000 in Fort Lauderdale. After a brief introduction, his first question was “Who had the most RBIs in a single season, which team did he play for, and how many RBIs did he get in the season”? I knew that the answer was Hack Wilson for the 1930 Pittsburgh Pirates with 191 RBIs. At that point, Dr. Gray said he knew I would make a good project member …
has produced in an extraordinarily distinguished research career that spanned 60 years. The humility that he has demonstrated throughout his career is something that we would all do well to emulate.
Dr. Gray had an incredible knowledge of the way that the climate works. His development of his genesis parameters – six key ingredients necessary for tropical cyclogenesis – was a groundbreaking piece of research when it was first published in the late 1960s. He also spent many years with his graduate students studying and publishing papers in a variety of fields from tropical cyclone structure to tropical radiation.
He is best known worldwide for his seasonal hurricane predictions. He instituted these predictions when he discovered that El Nino impacted Caribbean and tropical Atlantic vertical wind shear. This was the first time that any group had issued seasonal forecasts for the Atlantic. Now, nearly two-dozen groups have followed his lead issuing these predictions. He has consistently issued these forecasts for over 30 years – a track record unparalleled for university predictions. …
Dr. Gray’s generosity with his resources was incredible. He contributed a considerable amount of his own resources to keep our project alive when research grants went dry a few years ago. He also let me stay at his house when I came back for in-person visits after relocating to California. …
Even at the end, Dr. Gray was focused on his research. He gave me very clear instructions on various projects I should be conducting over the next few years. He was still sketching clouds using his legal pad and #2 pencils and discussing the intricacies of cumulus convection when I came to see him a few days before his death. He told me several times throughout my time at CSU: “The only immortality that you have as a professor is through your graduate students.”
His graduate students, their students, and now even their students, are leaders in meteorological research around the globe. The incredible legacy left by Dr. Gray will last for generations to come. He will be sorely missed.
Anthony Watts, an other colleague of Bill, has his own tribute at Watts Up With That. An excerpt:
I knew this was coming, as I had a heads-up from Joe D’Aleo last week that the end was nearing. I knew Dr. Bill Gray through my work in climate, and from attending conferences. He always had a good word for me, and when I encountered him in person, he was fond of parodying the “Wayne’s World” skit where they meet Alice Cooper backstage and get on their knees and chant “I’m not worthy…I’m not worthy”. He’d actually do that with me. It was endearing, yet at the same time a little bit embarrassing, because I was the one who really should be doing that in his presence. I always found myself saying “please Bill, stop that!”, to which he’d get back on his feet and give me a chuckle with that toothy grin of his.
I knew Bill Gray only through Heartland — and knew him to be a brilliant and generous man who was always kind to me an appreciative of our efforts to showcase his research. The honor was ours.
View Dr. William Gray’s six presentations at Heartland’s International Conferences on Climate Change below.