Nuking Hurricanes

Reposted From Dr. Roy Spencers Blog

August 26th, 2019 by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.


There is a story going around that President Trump once suggested using nuclear weapons to weaken hurricanes before they hit land. While he has denied it, the idea has actually been batted around for years.

A less radioactive idea, called Project Stormfury, was carried out by the U.S. Government for about twenty years starting in the early 1960s. Aircraft seeded hurricane clouds with silver iodide in an attempt to strengthen the outer portions of the storm in hopes of weakening the intense storm core.

The project was a failure because it was learned that hurricanes already efficiently convert the available cloud water to precipitation anyway, throughout the storm. The hurricane doesn’t respond to seeding with silver iodide.

What Fuels a Hurricane?

I’ve found that there is a general lack of appreciation of just how much energy nature uses in weather systems. Hurricanes are, of course, an example of an accumulation of a lot of energy that is organized into a single weather system with dramatic effects.

That energy was accumulated over many sunny days and weeks as huge expanses of ocean soaked up tropical sunshine and warmed. The hurricane circulation then draws upon that pent-up energy. The tropical oceans nearly everywhere have the energy required to fuel a hurricane; what is usually missing is an atmospheric disturbance with low wind shear throughout the depth of the troposphere so that the heat produced by rain clouds isn’t just blown away rather than concentrated into a small geographic area.

How About Nuking that Hurricane?

Let’s use the example of the B83 nuclear weapon, which is considered “the most modern nuclear bomb in the U.S. arsenal“. The bomb has an energy yield of 1.2 megatons of TNT.

The average hurricane releases that much energy every 10 seconds.

So, the hurricane probably wouldn’t care that much about a brief nuclear kick in the shins. (The idea of spreading all of that radioactivity would not go over very well with the public, either.)

But let’s say we had hundreds or even thousands of megaton-class weapons that were cheap and did not produce dangerous radiation. What could be done to weaken a hurricane?

The most fundamental problem with trying to weaken a hurricane is that hurricanes are driven by heat release, and these bombs would just add more heat to the storm, potentially making it worse. As mentioned above, in a hurricane, water vapor condenses into clouds and rain, releasing latent heat, which warms the troposphere and causes intense low pressure at the surface, leading to strong surface winds.

I suspect the idea would be to release the bomb energy in portions of the storm that could — theoretically — disrupt the inner core (the eyewall) where most of the hurricane damage occurs. But adding large amounts of heat energy could result in unforeseen strengthening of the core hours later. Who knows? It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature.

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John Tillman
August 29, 2019 10:16 am

A 100 MT, three-stage, fission-fusion-fission thermonuclear device however might make a difference. Radioactive debris would be minimal as long as the fireball didn’t reach the surface. And water is less of a problem than land surface.

Reply to  John Tillman
August 29, 2019 10:28 am

The Soviets exploded a smaller 60 Megaton bomb one time off of the islands north of Russia in the Arctic Ocean. That blast was “heard” across the continent, and damaged buildings and structures many hundred kilometers away – even in that isolated a region!

A hurricane approaching the Caribbean Islands is already closer to hundreds of thousands of people and occupied homes than even the two Siberian islands that were blown by the shock wave and radiation released by Stalin in the wilderness.

John Tillman
Reply to  RACookPE1978
August 29, 2019 11:24 am

Yes, the detonation would have to be while the storm was still well out to sea.

The estimated 57-MT Tsar Bomba was down-yielded by using lead rather depleted U in the final fission phase of its third stage. Yet it still devasted villages on Novya Zemlya and damaged structures on mainland Siberia opposite.

John Tillman
Reply to  John Tillman
August 29, 2019 12:10 pm

Should be Novaya, of course.

Russians say the yield was 50 MT, which conforms to the usual 50:50 fission:fusion mix in a fission-fusion-fission design. Theoretically and usually in practice a boosted 100-KT trigger ignites fusion in the first stage, neutrons from which bombard the DU jacket for further fission, yielding a megaton. The second stage yields a further order of magnitude increase to 10 MT, and the third to 100 MT. But using lead in the third tamper instead of DU cut the total yield in half, thereby saving the two aircrews (Bear and Badger) dropping the device and recording its effects.

John Tillman
Reply to  John Tillman
August 29, 2019 5:41 pm

Cf. Moose and Squirrel.

John Tillman
Reply to  RACookPE1978
August 29, 2019 11:25 am

PS: It was Khrushchev’s baby, dropped in 1961, IIRC.

Reply to  RACookPE1978
August 29, 2019 11:39 am

That blast was “heard” across the continent

The blast was not “heard”, it was heard. Many, many people all over the world heard it just fine. I was in a very quiet town in rural New England and heard it quite distinctly, as did many others. By the time it reached North America, the blast wave had spread out into a long low grumble, lasting ~5 to 8 seconds. Data analysis showed that the shock wave traveled around the planet 5 times before dying out. At least the first two trips around, the blast wave was still intense enough to be audible without any special equipment. Of course, all this information would stay classified for decades, and many people would never find out just what it was they heard that day.
The US Govt. absolutely went nuts over the Tsar Bomba.

John Tillman
Reply to  TonyL
August 29, 2019 12:56 pm

I’m not sure that the JFK Administration went nuts.

The big bomb’s technology was nothing new. The Teller-Ulam design was well understood. If it wanted to waste nuclear material, the US could have built a three-stage thernonuclear device in the 1950s.

By 1961, we were already deploying B-52s and Polaris SLBMs, and would field Minuteman solid-fueled ICBMs early the next year. Far better to make three single-stage H-bombs than one three-stager. Weapons effects do not scale directly with energy.

It was a typical hare-brained Khrushchev stunt. Its arguably most important effect was to turn bomb master Andrei Sakharov into a dissident.

Bryan A
Reply to  John Tillman
August 29, 2019 2:30 pm

While I wouldn’t recommend utilizing a Nuke to disrupt a Hurricane, a conventional JDAM or MOAB might be useful at altitude to disrupt a Tornado from the top down.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  John Tillman
August 29, 2019 3:03 pm

Don’t forget about the Titan II’s. 54 were placed in silos at 3 locations. Liquid fueled and the exact same production line as the Gemini capsule launch vehicles used in the Gemini program to develop the technology and expertise for Apollo.

The Titan II’s were topped with a single, 3 stage Fission-Fusion-Fission 9 Mt “crowd pleaser” W-53 warhead.

John Tillman
Reply to  John Tillman
August 29, 2019 3:27 pm


The organization of a much less energetic atmospheric vortex could quite possibly be disrupted by a large conventional explosive.

JADM typically maxes out at just 2000#, but of course the inertial/GPS guidance kit could be attached to a much larger bomb. Not sure you’d need the accuracy provided by the guidance package however.

The 21,600# MOAB is GPS-guided.

John Tillman
Reply to  John Tillman
August 29, 2019 3:28 pm

Or could just release an explosive aerosol and detonate it as a fuel-air explosive of varying energy.

John Tillman
Reply to  John Tillman
August 29, 2019 5:24 pm


The fifty-four 9-MT Titan II ICBMs were deployed from 1963 until 1987. In 1961, we still had Titan Is, operational only from 1959-62.

But, yes, even the Titan Is packed quite a punch, although inaccurate and expensive.

Reply to  John Tillman
August 29, 2019 12:23 pm

So your theory is that adding energy to the system somehow removes energy from the system?

How would that work, exactly?

And the fireball reaching the surface has nothing to do with creating or dispersing radioactive fallout. It is true there is less fallout with a burst over water than over the ground, but not that much less.

Reply to  John Tillman
August 29, 2019 12:26 pm

How exactly will adding energy to a storm system that intensifies by absorbing energy cause it to shrink? Are we expecting it to disrupt the wind and circulation?

As long as we’re talking implausibility why not drop an ice berg or two into the storm?

August 29, 2019 10:25 am

The comment and stories and the propaganda is being spread deliberately as a (self-reinforcing) propaganda tool against President Trump by his enemies in the national press corpse in ABCNNBCBS media, the self-called scientists and climastrologists in the ever-greedy climate change community, and his enemies in the Washington DC self-elite dynamo of press, pundits, and formerly-connected businessmen seeking their next climate-change-control industry grant.

This repetition also feeds on the fear of Trump getting “the nuclear trigger” – as if Hillary had not been seen many times losing her temper and throwing thongs (er, things) at Bill Clinton and going to actual wars to deflect interest from his impeachment hearings!

The story is based on one unnamed source supposedly repeating a single question from Trump in one meeting! No collaboration, no verification by any other named source, no date, no records. Just one report of one question.

Another Paul
Reply to  RACookPE1978
August 29, 2019 11:21 am

“The story is based on one unnamed source…” Isn’t that all it takes? If a few extra molecules of CO2 can do so much, why not one unnamed source.

Samuel C Cogar
Reply to  RACookPE1978
August 29, 2019 12:51 pm

RACookPE1978 – August 29, 2019 at 10:25 am

The comment and stories and the propaganda is being spread deliberately as a (self-reinforcing) propaganda tool against President Trump

Right you are, Mr. Cook, ……the Democrats love “nuclear bombs” for pre-election scaring of the bejesus out of voters ……. just like back in 1964 when LBJ “bombed” Goldwater’s POTUS hopes with this political ad, to wit:

Girl with Daisy and Atomic Bomb Explosion (1964) – Lyndon B. Johnson Campaign Ad

Newt Love
August 29, 2019 10:31 am

Since hurricanes thrive on heat, maybe use something cold? I know what the “geniuses” in AGW-land would do: make America grab icebergs to drag down to the southern Atlantic to cool the water.

Yeah, that’s the ticket! Only it would take all the gblaciers in Greenland and more to cool the ocean, and the fish and plants won’t like all that cooling.

And yet the reality is that the residents of AGW-land will complain about everything, blaming everything, including trivialities like bd service in a restaurant on Climate Change and President Trump. Idiots!

Reply to  Newt Love
August 29, 2019 12:04 pm

Wasn’t that tried in the documentary: Star Trek – Into Darkness? Commander Spok detonated a cold fusion bomb that super cooled a volcano that was erupting, and saved the local indigenous tribe? It worked really well there too, but got Commander Kirk into hot water back at Star Fleet.

Just keep thinking outside of the box..

John F. Hultquist
Reply to  Newt Love
August 29, 2019 12:17 pm

to the southern Atlantic

While understanding your meaning, the area of hurricane formation in the Atlantic is sufficiently north of the Equator so that the Coriolis force is operating. That is at about 8°N or 560 miles.

There is an exception:

John Tillman
Reply to  John F. Hultquist
August 29, 2019 3:39 pm

In the South Atlantic, tropical cyclones are called just that, not “hurricanes”.

August 29, 2019 10:33 am

“these bombs would just add more heat to the storm”

This is why nuking a hurricane doesn’t make much sense. Even if it temporally disrupted the eyewall, it would just re-organize itself in short order and continue doing what it is supposed to do which is to slowly move that rotating humid heat mixture northward to a lesser thermal gradient and shed heat/rain.

Perhaps a better (theoretical) way to change the heat transfer of the local ocean area is to slow down the evaporation of those warm waters by spreading out an organic oil over vast surface area’s which would further warm the surface water and increase velocity to the ocean currents and do the same thing by transporting that ocean heat in a more controlled and slower way to a cooler state. There is probably unknown consequences to do this as well, but if it slowed down the wind in the transfer speed of heat to a cooler area such as a hurricane does, then the damage that hurricanes cause could maybe be limited. Hypothetically of course, since would probably take a whole lot of vegetable oil to spread a thin film over tens of thousands of square miles of ocean surface where the Sun is shining the hottest in the tropics off the coast of Africa.

Joel O’Bryan
Reply to  Earthling2
August 29, 2019 11:52 am

all oil is organic. 😎
College O-chem first taught me that
but i assume you mean some kind vegetable-derived oil, like olive oil.

Reply to  Joel O’Bryan
August 30, 2019 6:18 am

You’re just going to make a giant layer of mayonnaise.

Here to help.

Samuel C Cogar
Reply to  Earthling2
August 29, 2019 1:22 pm

Earthling2 – August 29, 2019 at 10:33 am

Perhaps a better (theoretical) way to change the heat transfer of the local ocean area is to slow down the evaporation of those warm waters by spreading out ……

Iffen a hurricane thrives on the heat of those warm waters, …… then would it fizzle out iffen its “warm wayer” heat source was disrupted?

Iffen so, then why not drop a nuclear bomb “depth charge” directly in the path in front of the hurricane, ….. set to explode at a depth of 25/50/100? feet, ….. which would cause cooler subsurface water to rise to the surface and put a “damper” on the energy feeding frenzy?

Nuke it while it is far out in the Atlantic and poorly organized.

Reply to  Samuel C Cogar
August 29, 2019 2:26 pm

Yes, that might work, although the nuclear fallout would still be an issue. But if we had a large fleet of small nuclear powered ships out in front of the hurricane path pumping up large volumes of cold water to the surface, that would serve the same effect and perhaps deprive the hurricane of its ‘fuel’ so that the intensity of the hurricane would subside and peter out prematurely. It could still be nuclear powered, just not a singular blast. Adding the cold water to the surface would be temporary as it would mix and sink, but might be enough over 12-24 hours to alter the path of the hurricane, or intensity, or both. The water temps are significantly less the lower the depth of the water column, so nuclear powered ships that had gigantic water volume pumps to pump up a lot of water continuously as the fleet sailed ahead of the hurricane path just might be able to steer a hurricane and keep it off shore so there is no local destruction on land. A hurricane at sea doesn’t cause a lot of damage…so catch it early and lessen its strength while trying to steer it up the Atlantic seaboard and off the coast 500 miles.

John Tillman
Reply to  Earthling2
August 29, 2019 3:51 pm

It would take a lot of cold water to drop tropical SSTs below 26 degrees C, even very locally.

But you could be onto something. Maybe towing insulated Rhode Island-sized icebergs from Antarctica to hold in readiness.

Samuel C Cogar
Reply to  John Tillman
August 30, 2019 3:47 am

I justa figgered out how ta put the kabash on those hurricanes.

Get a buncha tugboats and tow this sucker into the eastern Atlantic and hold it in readiness for the next hurricane to form ……. and then “push n’ tug” it into the hurricane’s path. To wit:

Massive Raft of Volcanic Rock Is Floating Towards Australia,

The massive pumice raft – over 20,000 football fields in size and composed of volcanic rock that’s light enough to float on the surface of water – appeared only a few weeks ago, after a suspected underwater volcanic eruption near Tonga.
read more here

Reply to  John Tillman
August 30, 2019 6:38 am

Alternatively use an air-dropped deep-swimming high-yield nuclear torpedo to lift a large volume of ocean as vapor from under the inner core banding into the lower stratosphere or upper troposphere (i.e. detonate it deep) where it then freezes and collapses back into the core bands of the storm as hail and cold rain dragging down a thick column of cold dry air along behind it which disrupts the storm bands and chills and dries out the lower level core air, wrecking its symmetric wind flow, both vertically and horizontally, (creating a cold sheared layer at the surface). Repeat until the core’s organisation has been degraded, and as required to keep it degraded. Or even do a few at once around the storm’s mid-core bands at depth. Fairly sure that’s going to degrade and suppress the storm, but it would need to occur in the open ocean. And yes, before you tell me, I realize a fireball underwater would be dirty. Certainly no good once the storm core is over the littoral.

Crispin in Waterloo
Reply to  Earthling2
August 30, 2019 3:58 am

You might be on the right track. There is a technology that generates electricity using large amounts of cold water pulled from depth and the warmer surface water. It has been independently demonstrated at least twice, once by the Japanese. The American demonstration performed to spec and immediately funding was cut off and the results buried.

The local effect of such a power station is to cool the surface. If this would impact hurricane strength, a flotilla of power stations powering the Caribbean islands could reduce the overall impact of Hurricane season.

Reply to  Earthling2
August 29, 2019 6:19 pm

Suggest using a tank car load of 1-Pentanol dropped in the center of the eye.
I’ve seen a a few ml poured in a small pond cause the surface to calm dramatically.
The OH tail sticks to the water surface and the non-polar tails stick straight up and repel their neighbors. You get a one molecule blanket on the surface. Just a thought.

Mark Broderick
August 29, 2019 10:40 am

President Trump was NOT quoted as saying use nukes, he was asking about using MOAB’s (Mother of All Bombs )

Roy W. Spencer
Reply to  Mark Broderick
August 29, 2019 1:56 pm

Trump misquoted by the media?? I find that hard to believe!!

Reply to  Roy W. Spencer
August 29, 2019 4:26 pm

The misquotes are believable because of Trump’s tweets.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Grant
August 29, 2019 5:36 pm

And I take it that you feel that the Media has no responsibility for reporting accurately?

Reply to  Roy W. Spencer
August 29, 2019 4:46 pm

After all he is the “Chosen one”.

Reply to  JN
August 29, 2019 6:09 pm

NO, that was Bambi.

Reply to  Barbara
August 30, 2019 6:40 am

No, that was the Lego movie.

Bill Parsons
Reply to  JN
August 30, 2019 11:56 am

“Chosen One…”

He WAS chosen. That and the hot air that seems to mysteriously circulate within the oval orofice seem to intensify ordinary thinkers into believing they have god-like powers. Obama still claims his administration took care of rising sea levels, much to the chagrin of his own climate posse.

August 29, 2019 10:50 am

As a simple layman it was one of the first things I researched when I heard of the concept of a nuclear weapon influencing a hurricane.

Even as a scientific illiterate I recognised that a hurricane generates enormous amounts of energy, over many days, spread over vast areas.

A nuclear weapon is a single, momentary, destructive event which, whilst devastating, would need a succession of them to represent the force of a major hurricane sweeping over islands, sea’s and major land mass for days on end.

A bit like a Marvel superhero movie; drop more energy into that sucker and it’ll just gobble it up and spit it back out, with interest.

Reply to  HotScot
August 29, 2019 10:08 pm

Nukes don’t work in space either they just become bright flashes with radiation burst like a mini star as there is no atmosphere to develop a blast wave in. Now consider how many scifi movies you see them create a blast shockwave in 🙂

Reply to  LdB
August 30, 2019 6:43 am

They make a terrible noise too, a sort of … BOING!!@$#! … sound. Hard to replicate in text, see movie 4th of July … or not. :-p

John Tillman
Reply to  LdB
August 30, 2019 3:47 pm

Research into nuclear X-ray laser for the SDI.

August 29, 2019 10:55 am

Nuking Hurricanes is just silly. You’d get much more control and pinpoint accuracy using a Gigawatt class Orbital Maser.

Of course, you could also theoretically STEER a hurricane.


August 29, 2019 10:56 am

Whatever happened to the idea of putting an oil slick in its path?

Walt D.
August 29, 2019 11:06 am

Roy, would it be possible to “nudge” the hurricane to alter its track?
Dorian, a few days ago, suddenly shifted track when it crossed St. Lucia.

Ron Long
August 29, 2019 11:17 am

Dr. Roy, I am truly glad to hear you don’t want to fool with Mother Nature. Some of the ideas combating CAGW, like iron-seeding the oceans, are like lead-ins to horror movies.
I’m one of the persons who rode out a hurricane/typhoon in the eye-wall. I was in DiAn, Vietnam in JUly, 1969, when an approaching hurricane/typhoon did a dramatic jog and came directly over us. I was 60 feet up in an Air Traffic Control tower, which had a placard that said: abandon tower at 90 knots indicated. The wind was erratic and increasing rapidly and the rain was intense and side-ways. As it went past 90 knots indicated I told the Jr. controller to get out and I would shut everything down. He came back inside and said you can’t get down, the open structure of the tower would let the wind blow you away. So we powered back up (we had our own dedicated generator) and watched the windspeed. As it went above 100 knots it steadied down, and stayed at 110 to 111 for 5 or 6 minutes, then began decreasing. When you could see through the rain there weren’t many roofs left on the basecamp. I confess that I put my flak jacket over my head hoping to protect me if the tower went over, but it stayed put. What a cheap thrill!

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Ron Long
August 29, 2019 4:00 pm

“I’m one of the persons who rode out a hurricane/typhoon in the eye-wall. I was in DiAn, Vietnam in JUly, 1969, when an approaching hurricane/typhoon did a dramatic jog and came directly over us.”

I remember that hurricane. We were south of An Khe during the hurricane and it rained 22 inches in 24 hours. That’s a lot of rain! We were located along a small creek at the time that became a raging river, and we had to move to higher ground.

August 29, 2019 11:21 am

Silly simplistic analysis. Hurricanes derive a substantial fraction of their energy from the release of latent heat as water vapor condenses. Heat the atmosphere up a bit and the water vapor will not condense. The storm is deprived of it’s energy source. Absolutely nothing warms things up like a nice nuclear weapon blast.
By now, the US Navy has been called upon to do their part to fight Rising Sea Levels, although I am puzzled to see how rising water would be a problem for the Navy, as their ships float. In any event, it was inevitable that the US Air Force would want to get into the act. Nothing would announce their arrival on the scene like a bunch of really flashy Nuke detonations.
All that needs to be done is wait until a hurricane hits Washington DC, and then the order can be given for all branches of the Armed Forces to attack with everything they have.

Reply to  TonyL
August 30, 2019 6:48 am

Yeah? … and if Trump suddenly mutates into Godzilla? … what then, huh?

Didn’t think that far ahead, did ya?

August 29, 2019 11:25 am

this is just plain stupid….everyone knows you use a Illudium Q-36 Explosive Space Modulator

Adam Selene
Reply to  Latitude
August 29, 2019 4:03 pm

Where was the boom?

Martin Cropp
August 29, 2019 11:36 am

Your summary of “what fuels a hurricane” is less than convincing.

John F. Hultquist
Reply to  Martin Cropp
August 29, 2019 12:35 pm

Okay Martin — your turn.

Matt G
Reply to  Martin Cropp
August 29, 2019 1:49 pm

Warm water fuels major hurricanes if conditions are favourable.

Conditions required :- (still may not form)

A hurricane calls for a number of ingredients readily available in tropical areas:

“A pre-existing weather disturbance: A hurricane often starts out as a tropical wave.
Warm water: Water at least 26.5 degrees Celsius over a depth of 50 meters powers the storm.
Thunderstorm activity: Thunderstorms turn ocean heat into hurricane fuel.
Low wind shear: A large difference in wind speed and direction around or near the storm can weaken it.
Mix it all together, and you’ve got a hurricane—maybe. Even when all these factors come together, a hurricane doesn’t always develop.”

Only solar energy warms the ocean surface down to 50m depth.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Matt G
August 29, 2019 4:48 pm

Also the Coriolis force is zero at equator. This is the one key reason why the main development regions of hurricanes is between 10 deg to 25 degs latitude. This Coriolis force requirement is tightly linked with the latitudinal wanderings ITCZ in tropical cyclogenesis. The ITCZ moves poleward during the hemispheric summer season (more so in the NH, less so in the SH).

Johann Wundersamer
Reply to  Matt G
August 29, 2019 8:59 pm

Joel, coriolis effect is not a force.

Coriolis effect doesn’t contribute to whatever wind force but deciding the path way.

Reply to  Johann Wundersamer
August 29, 2019 10:21 pm

Well it’s fictional force but yes you are right it is simply a force we make up in classical physics to make the numbers work. You can’t derive power from it 🙂

Johann Wundersamer
Reply to  Johann Wundersamer
August 30, 2019 3:08 am

LdB v’!

Gerald Machnee
Reply to  Martin Cropp
August 29, 2019 7:32 pm

Did you give us a better answer??????

Martin Cropp
Reply to  Martin Cropp
August 29, 2019 9:23 pm

Judith Curry has quite clearly stated that intensification and rapid intensification of tropical cyclones is not known. Yes the basic local parameters identified by Roy are usually present. Except in January 2016 in the far north Atlantic, so something else is required, as those basics were not present at that time.

The transition from depression to TS, is an intensification. Some move very swiftly through TS to H1 and above. The basics that Roy and others present don’t cut the mustard, never have, never will.

I appreciate that Roy’s comments were only a part of his key topic. However nuking a TS does not alter the reason why they exist in the first place. In fact the heat blast may increase the need.

I will stick with my forecast in July of 3 landfalls and a low ACE of 80. The three landfalls are based on the theory that they will I initiate close in and that appears to be occurring.

Judith in her series on tropical cyclones stated that there has been no improvement in understanding by all forecasters for over a decade. How right she is.

Reply to  Martin Cropp
August 29, 2019 10:42 pm

Much of the problem has a degree of Nick Stokes definition problems about it, the intensification is based on the progression of the whole chaotic system. It is solvable mathematically as was done for rogue waves but you will end up with messy equations which have no human feel or parameters about them. You won’t be able to say it is caused by “x” because it is caused by everything in the system.

Martin Cropp
Reply to  LdB
August 30, 2019 11:24 am

In chaos there is complete order. One does not need equations. The big problem with climate science is the lack of lateral thinking and reliance on computing power. TC happen there so everything that makes them happen must be there.
In my opinion Nick Stokes adds great value to this site.

Reply to  Martin Cropp
August 31, 2019 2:06 pm

Media still have credibility?

August 29, 2019 11:38 am

Don’t give Iran any new ideas for a nuclear centrifuge.

Rhys Jaggar
Reply to  Silversurfer
August 29, 2019 7:20 pm

But the rest of the world must just encourage the backward arms nation the USA to rearm continually as they are a threat to no one on earth?

Joel O'Bryan
August 29, 2019 11:39 am

If detonated in eye, then the thermal pulse from a megaton-class burst would definitely disrupt the central eye wall. The thermal pulse in the first second would clear it out the eye wall. The water vapor droplets seen as clouds would return to invisible (transparent to visible light) water vapor. What happens next though could easily be modeled. Since the eye wall is a region low pressure with rising air pulling vast amounts of saturated air up through the lapse rate, still surrounded by the big heat pipes (towering cumulonimbus storms self-organized into a ring structure), the subsequent up draft would greatly accelerate with the added heat, and the eye wall would likely quickly reform and the inflow at the surface would accelerate, and the winds would greatly accelerate.

IOW, a large nuclear blast would momentarily disrupt the eye wall, but then within a minute the added heat would greatly accelerate the inflow, and strengthen the hurricane, probably measurably.

As for the radiation, the neutron pulse would convert a very large amount of 24-sodium into 25-sodium. (Remember its salt water below the hurricane.)
25-sodium is intensely radioactive beta emitter with a half-life of 15 hours. This would get lofted and dispersed in the rainfall around the hurricane. Really really bad ju ju.

Operation Crossroads, tests Able and Baker in 1946 demonstrated the severe radiation hazard to the US Navy from radioactive sodium. Both tests used the plutonium implosion device identical to what destroyed Nagasaki, the “Fat Man” design. These were 20-25 Kt devices, which of course is 1/50 of what we are discussing here with a 1 Megaton class blast.
In the Baker test, conducted 90 feet under water, created a plume of highly radiaoactive seawater that extensively contaminated the target ships in the lagoon. The US Navy found that the radioactive sodium could not be easily washed away, the ships could not be effectively decontaminated because the salt sticks to every surface so perniciously. Including skin and would get absorbed
Chemist Glenn T. Seaborg, the longest-serving chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, called Baker “the world’s first nuclear disaster.”

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
August 29, 2019 2:54 pm

I misspoke on the Sodium, I tried to do it from memory. Sodium-23 (z=11, n=12) is the stable isotope. Sodium 24 (z=11, n= 13) is the radioactive isotope created by neutron bombardment/absorption.

Thomas Homer
August 29, 2019 11:59 am

I gather that human’s efforts to combat a hurricane, a weather event, are futile.

However, we’re told that humans can influence climate.
And, climate is a compilation of weather events.
Therefore, the duality of man is the ability to influence weather events while not being able to influence weather events.

J Mac
August 29, 2019 12:00 pm

On the face of it, this story’s proposition is ridiculous. Heat energizes hurricanes/typhoons. Lack of heat kills them.

This stupid story started as a pathetically lame political ‘attack’. Please don’t be a willing participant in such dreck.

August 29, 2019 12:17 pm

Weather is already nuclear – where do ye think galactic cosmic rays come from? Well just one look at the Crab Nebula supernova and be lucky its 6000 light years off. Yet its ultra-relativistic protons, and others like sources, already heavily affect weather and climate. The Ordovician “snowball earth” was likely caused by a nearby supernova or gamma burst when we crossed a spiral arm with more star activity.
Forbush decreases are directly related to ionizing radiation whether from the sun’s Coron mass ejections or GCR’s, and have major storm effects.

Now knowing all this isn’t it a matter of some clever ionizing source, not necessarily a weapon, at the right part or life-cycle for the right impulse, of a hurricane? Betterthen to coordinate with Russia and China, dump Dr. Strangelove – some greenie Dem obviously had the idea to put Pres. Trump in Slim Picken’s place.

A similar nutty reaction occurred when the Russians offered to choke off Deep Water Horizon with a neatly inserted nuclear device down the borehole. Obama refused with some unintelligible formulation.

August 29, 2019 12:24 pm

Adaptation, not “fighting” is the way to deal with our earthian system. We’ve gotten pretty good at that, even in just the last couple of decades.

HD Hoese
August 29, 2019 12:35 pm

“I’ve found that there is a general lack of appreciation of just how much energy nature uses in weather systems.” This is understandable for someone just coming to the coast, myself included, but it doesn’t take much experience to gain some understanding. This is another reason to be very careful about decisions concerning coasts made in a faraway ‘safe’ enclosed office surrounded by computers. It’s difficult enough to educate local politicians among many others. At what grade level do students get introduced to “weather?” Don’t want to frighten them?

August 29, 2019 1:03 pm

A hurricane gets its energy from warm sea water and quickly peters out after hitting land. So all we have to do is trap that warm water. A few dozen oil tankers dumping their cargo in front of the hurricane should make a nice sized blanket.
We have to do it to save the planet. Think of the children!

Matt G
August 29, 2019 1:09 pm

The bomb has an energy yield of 1.2 megatons of TNT.
The average hurricane releases that much energy every 10 seconds.

Therefore 0.12 megatons of TNT per second and scientists are wondering why there has been no change in hurricanes due to CO2.

The “ton of TNT” is a unit of energy defined by that convention to be 4.184 gigajoules, which is the approximate energy released in the detonation of a metric ton (1,000 kilograms or one megagram) of TNT.

So 120000 tons of TNT per second x 4.184 gigajoules = 502, 080, 000, 000, 000 joules

If anybody thinks that a hundred more molecules of CO2 is going to make any difference to a hurricane with that much energy are only lying to themselves.

Gary Pearse
August 29, 2019 1:10 pm

I’m sitting at the seaside in Sosua on the north coast of Dominican Republic at this very moment, and was trying to think of some form ‘works’ that might intercept or divert a hurricane before it came ashore at such places of high risk as Puerto Rico, perhaps separate it from its base. Or maybe some precisely located blasts to shear the head off a developing hurricane. Since wind shear stops them from developing (and how much energy is there in wind shear?).

Looking northerly out to sea, a streak of high cloud that has been there for a few days seems to stretch westerly ahead of where the hurricane is going. I haven’t heard of there being such an obvious diagnostic pathway, so probably fortuitous.

August 29, 2019 1:21 pm

Hurricanes are Nature’s thermodynamic plumbers. So, the questions are: Do we want to abort a hurricane? Can we? Do we want to steer it? Can we, without rearranging a large scale gradient? This is the catastrophic organic climate change, if only evolutionary, alluded to by the Profits (sic), politicians, and other special and peculiar interests.

August 29, 2019 1:28 pm

When pioneers moved into tornado country, storm cellar construction was a priority.
History reveals that to be a good strategy, and applicable today.
A useful side-effect in pre-refrigerator times was the reduced temperature extremes that prolonged food storage.

If residents of Florida find underground shelter to be impractical, I’d suggest they drive away from approaching tropical cyclones.

August 29, 2019 1:39 pm

I wonder if 3800 BCE had the same Gulf circulation. It wouldn’t take much at those lower sea levels to disrupt the Gulf Stream that transports heat from the region and thus robs storms of energy. A hot bathtub of a Gulg could breed many more storms.

Regardless, I am listening to the lamestream media and apparently many people are not prepared because Dorian is so “early” in the hurricane season. I shake my head.

John Tillman
Reply to  Rob_Dawg
August 29, 2019 3:35 pm

A D-hurricane in late August is already behind the curve.

Robert W Turner
August 29, 2019 2:05 pm

What if extinction (of thought) rebellion members glued themselves to the beach, would that make any difference?

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Robert W Turner
August 29, 2019 5:43 pm

The sons of beaches could be used as flexible sand paper after the protest was over.

August 29, 2019 2:23 pm

Everyone has forgotten about Project Stormfury an effort in which the US Navy’s (then) nuke bombers were employed in seeding hurricanes.

Didn’t work and should serve as a cautionary tale for those enamored with engineering the climate…

Flight Level
August 29, 2019 2:28 pm

Wasn’t HAARP supposed to do precisely that, control weather and turn it to an absolute weapon of mass destruction ?

And didn’t Tesla release, a strong enough to deface Siberia by unprecedented storms, death ray from his tower?

And now we are back to plain nukes and bombs ? There must be a conspiracy job going on to explain why that much of advanced weather control went missing.

/sarcasm:off, aspirine:on/

son of mulder
August 29, 2019 2:40 pm

Stir it the other way. I’ve seen it done with a cup of tea many times. Just a bit of upscaling needed.

Flight Level
Reply to  son of mulder
August 29, 2019 3:31 pm

And ‘some assembly required’ as the package says…

Reply to  son of mulder
August 29, 2019 3:55 pm

Now we’re thinking.

August 29, 2019 3:07 pm

I would suggest sparging air below the surface ahead of the hurrricant to bring cold water to the surface or to steer the storm away from land.

Alec Rawls
August 29, 2019 3:15 pm

We don’t need to disrupt a hurricane. If we could just tweak its trajectory at points where our ever improving weather models say that the veering gradient is strongest we might sometimes be able to shunt a hurricane away from landfall or more populated areas.

SOMETHING of value has to come out of all these billions dumped into computer modeling, right? Start running tests on what placements of what kinds of bombs show the most nudging ability then figure out how steep a veering gradient it would take for such nudges to create a worthwhile effect, then figure out how likely a hurricane is to encounter that steep a gradient and whether our modeling can be made realistic enough to identify and take advantage of such occurrences.

Even feeding the intensity of a hurricane could be useful it that affects its trajectory.

Reply to  Alec Rawls
August 29, 2019 10:14 pm

Come on we are green these days the solution is obvious mobile renewable powered fans on renewable powered ships and we use them to blow the hurricane away from landfall 🙂

August 29, 2019 3:20 pm

“Electromagnetic phenomena are present in almost all processes in the world. A striking example here is the electrical activity manifested within thunderstorms. The electrical activity also takes place during the passage of tornadoes.
There are other examples of hazardous atmospheric phenomena. The most impressive of which (in size) are hurricanes,
typhoons or tropical cyclones (TC). The present paper is
mainly devoted to study of these large-scale, vortex atmospheric phenomena, but not to them exclusively.”

“The natural world provides precious few clues to the ubiquity of electromagnetism. The properties
of rubbed amber and the magnetism of lodestone were little more than curiosities until the 17th
century. The elucidation of the nature of lightning and the recognition of light as electromagnetic
radiation were even more recent. Yet our world is governed by electromagnetic interactions. All
chemical bonds, the strength and weakness of materials, light, the influences that form and control
living things are all aspects of electromagnetism. Indeed, only three other types of fundamental
force are known: the weak force, the strong force and gravity.
Of these forces the first two, which are purely nuclear forces, are effective only over distances
of less than 10-12!m – that is smaller than an atom. They are associated with radioactivity, but
otherwise are of no consequence in chemistry and biology. Gravity is such a feeble force that it
matters only in interactions involving bodies of ‘astronomical’ mass and is negligible in interactions
between small things. Apart from the earth’s gravitational pull, every force that you experience is
electromagnetic in nature.
Electromagnetic force is associated with a fundamental property of matter – electric charge.
No process is known which creates or destroys even the minutest amount of charge. This is
formally stated as the law of charge conservation: electric charge can not be created or
The SI unit of electric charge is the coulomb, symbol C. The magnitude of the charge on a
single electron is a commonly used quantity in atomic physics. It is
e ≡ 1.6 ¥ 10-19 C.
Thus 1 C ≡ 6.2 ¥ 1018 e.
The charge on an electron is -e, and on a proton, +e.”

August 29, 2019 4:22 pm

There will be a steady stream of such stories from unnamed sources that will effectively capitalize on Trump’s often irrational tweets and thus are believable. Trump’s own fault.

Reply to  Grant
August 29, 2019 10:12 pm

Which by the end the media will have lost the little credibility it has left. The press needs to remember the old saying “you live by the sword you die by the sword”.

August 29, 2019 6:54 pm

to disrupt a hurricane you need to mix the surface water with cold water from 10-20m down to drop it’s temperature by a few degrees – which is what hurricane waves do. This takes a minisule amount of energy on the order of millionths of the heat transfer effected. Getting an armada of large ships to pull long wide mixing booms would probably have a quite measurable effect and might even be a cost effective solution to stop hurricanes. Failing that a 100’s of thousands of pv powered buoys pumping cold water to the surface might also do the job.

Gerald Machnee
August 29, 2019 7:36 pm

First, do not play around with Mother Nature. People do not realize how much energy there is in a thunderstorm. let alone a hurricane.
I always told my student pilots and navigators: Ever try spitting into the wind? You will achieve the same result with a nuclear bomb in a hurricane. End of story.

Reply to  Gerald Machnee
August 30, 2019 6:00 pm

I agree. It is time to end attempts at climate engineering. nature handles situations better than we could. We do not know the mechanisms by which nature regulates things. Our attempts to influence things simply skew nature’s successful mechanisms.

ferd berple
August 29, 2019 8:38 pm

Why not a “hurricane tax”? Have everyone pay and extra dollar a gallon at the pumps.
Send this to Washington to save us from hurricanes.

August 29, 2019 9:39 pm

Did you know that there was a weather altering operation that went on in Laos until about 1970? I knew about it from a meteorologist who flew on the WC-130s involved. The objective was to make the rainy season along the Ho Chi Minh Trail wetter for longer. Don’t know how well it worked, but they did pick up ground fire from time to time

Steven Mosher
August 29, 2019 10:53 pm

we obviously need some experiments to decide this.
can’t rely on the mere “evidence” of physics.

if you dont have empirical evidence… the only kind of evidence there is– about the effect of dropping a nuke
in a hurricane then you cant say anything.

fun argument huh?

Reply to  Steven Mosher
August 30, 2019 1:58 pm

The sub commanders are just dying to launch, what’s the worst that could happen ?

August 29, 2019 11:37 pm

One way to reduce the impact of a hurricane would be to release a lot of nukes above the cloud layer – either to directly add heat or to create blocking dust (although you’d need to explode them into something that creates dust).

That would block the “cold sink” part of the hurricane and pretty quickly reduce the power. But i doubt the effect would be large enough to make it worthwhile.

August 30, 2019 3:23 am

Get all the forest fire planes that drop water on forest fires, fill them all with kitty litter and head for the eye of the storm AND DRY UP THAT SUCKER!!!

August 30, 2019 4:37 am

The bomb has an energy yield of 1.2 megatons of TNT.

The average hurricane releases that much energy every 10 seconds.

Any chance of someone working that out in Hiroshima’s? Just so the SkS kiddies can understand.

John Tillman
Reply to  BruceC
August 30, 2019 3:37 pm

If Little Boy yielded 12 KT, then 1.2 MT would be 100 Hiroshimas.

Reply to  John Tillman
August 30, 2019 7:56 pm

Wow, 100 Hiroshimas every 10 seconds! That will cause their little Hiroshima do-wacky thingy to have a melt down.

Norman Blanton
August 30, 2019 4:43 am

Dorian spared Puerto Rico, I don’t think it is a coincident that it did so after the President threatened it with a Nuclear weapon.
Now after the Democrats have undermined the President’s idea, Dorian is setting its sights on Florida.

Ronald Reece
August 30, 2019 9:40 pm

Joe Bastardi just put out an article on Project Stormfury..

It made remember a proposal that had been made back in the early 2000’s where it was proposed to use a a group of large aircraft carrying super-absorbent polymer and dumping it into the eye of an approaching Hurricane..

What ever happened to that idea?

paul murphy
September 2, 2019 7:06 am

Umm..? I believe it is possible to protect a vulnerable coast from hurricanes – it just takes some serious infrastructure.

Specifically it takes a magninot line of windmills sitting on top of rather large (in the range of 0E6 cubic meters) air tanks. During normal times the windmills push compressed air into the tanks, when the eyewall envelopes the windmill, the tanks are vented. The expansion uses up the heat energy in the air, the presure imbalance ends briefly, and the energy needed to restart isn’t available so : poof, zap, bang: the hurricane just stops.

It seems absurd,but concrete’s cheap and as windmills get shut down on land we’re going to have a lot of them available cheap – and no generators needed, just air pumps. So,surprisingly enough, it might be do-able.

Polar Bear
September 2, 2019 8:54 am

Putting this out there because everyone seems stuck on nukes.

What about dropping the temperature in the hurricane by releasing ship loads of liquid oxygen or a similar frigid substance into the air at sea level?

A small fleet of Liquefied Natural Gas carrying ships could enter the hurricane area when or before it becomes a Cat 1. Hit the hurricane before it grows in power.

Thoughts? Towing icebergs to cool down an area is absurd.

September 4, 2019 7:51 am

Why can’t they b blown up when they first begin to develop, usually small off the coast of Africa???? Why do we wait until they are cat 2,3 4???

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