Hotel Mogul Threatens Lawsuit Over Hurricane Expert's Gloomy Forecasts
Rosen: Fla. Lost Billions Of Dollars Because Of Incorrect Storm Outlook
POSTED: 5:11 pm EST November 29, 2007
UPDATED: 2:42 pm EST November 30, 2007
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Central Florida's most famous hotel owner, Harris Rosen, lashed out at hurricane expert Dr. William Gray for his gloomy storm predictions saying they have damaged state tourism.
Rosen said he believes Florida lost billions of dollars in business because of Gray's outlook and even threatened a lawsuit.
"Look, doctor, you've made these forecasts and you were wrong once," Rosen said. "You made the forecast and you were wrong twice. Are you going to continue to make these forecasts?"
The hotel mogul said surveys show 70 percent of guests not returning to his hotels cited hurricane fears as the reason why.
"I suspect it costs the state billions of dollars," Rosen said. "Five thousand people scheduled to attend my association meeting and I'm looking at Orlando and it is September or October, I may say, 'Why take a chance.'"
Rosen said if people would stop paying attention to Gray, more people would come to Central Florida, Local 6's Chris Trenkmann said.
Other business owners are angry at Gray's predictions.
John Smith, who runs Storm Stoppers, a plywood alternative company that has benefited from busy storm seasons, spends thousand of dollars when an active year is predicted.
"What we do is stock up," Smith said. "When there is a let down, we have all of our capital invested in materials and you know, we have to wait until the next big weather event."
More and more business owners said they prefer that prognosticators keep their outlooks to themselves.
"A local meteorologist would not last as long as some of these prediction artists have been in business," Smith said.
Gray responded to Rosen's complaint, saying anytime there is a catastrophic hurricane season like in 2004, there will be a slowing down or hesitancy to return to Florida, Trenkmann reported.
Gray, of Colorado State University, predicted 17 named storms with nine becoming hurricanes.
The 2007 storm count came short of Gray's predicted totals and no hurricanes came near Florida in 2007.
The last time Central Floridians dealt with a major hurricane was in 2004.
Hurricane season officially ends Friday.
Watch Local 6 News for more on this story.