Just nuke it! NOAA explains you can’t just bomb a hurricane.

There is the problem of scale and directing and focusing the energy.
US weather agency NOAA responds to demands to nuke hurricanes | The Courier-Mail.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has led its Hurricane Research Division’s frequently asked questions page with an extraordinary – even for America – statement: “During each hurricane season, there always appear suggestions that one should simply use nuclear weapons to try and destroy the storms.”

“Such an event doesn’t raise the barometric pressure after the shock has passed because barometric pressure in the atmosphere reflects the weight of the air above the ground,” he writes.

“To change a Category 5 hurricane into a Category 2 hurricane you would have to add about a half ton of air for each square meter inside the eye, or a total of a bit more than half a billion (500,000,000) tons for a 20 km radius eye. It’s difficult to envision a practical way of moving that much air around.”

Hurricane Sandy: too big to stop

They don’t even mention the side effects from such an attempt. What are people thinking?

Here is the NOAA page.

This topic comes up when every large hurricane rumbles through. Here is a piece from Mother Jones.

In some sense, it’s natural that whenever a disaster strikes, people might hope that humankind’s highest and most destructive scientific achievement holds the solution.

USA today looks into other ideas.

So far, we’ve got nothing that works.

  2 comments for “Just nuke it! NOAA explains you can’t just bomb a hurricane.

  1. November 15, 2012 at 11:27 AM

    Hmmm… interesting idea. I do not think a nuclear weapon would do much to a huricane. Based on the historical data from nuclear tests, you’d need a very large one to have any noticable effect at all. If you dropped a massive one (like 25 megatons – bigger than anything in our arsenal) into the eye wall, it would blow a significant hole in the cloud formation, by vaporizing the water droplets and creating a massive pocket of pressure.

    But this would be very temporary and the storm would reform. The other thing is a large nuclear weapon can vaporize millions of tons of water. Hurricanes are powered by heat and by evaporated water, so the nuke would be adding heat and water vapor to the hurricane, making it a lot bigger.

    I guess a question would be whether nuclear explosions could be large enough to completely disrupt the structure of the hurricane. I think it’s possible, but still a bad idea.

    The largest nuclear weapon in the US inventory was the Mk-41. IT was a 25 megaton gravity bomb and we have about 350 of them. They were disassembled a long time ago. That, however, is BIG. The Mk-41 would produce a fireball about three miles in diameter (Literally, three mile wide area of plasma where everything existed as a superheated gas). It would produce third degree burns more than 20 miles away. Five miles away a wind more than 650 miles per hour would rush out from the center.

    So lets we either still had the Mk-41 or we rebuilt them. If you distributed them uniformly around the center of the hurricane and set them off all at once, you’d create a massive area of plasma encompassing the whole eye and eye wall. You’d convert most of the water droplets in that area to steam and eject them, possibly sending some of it into outer space. You’d blow the whole structure of the storm apart. However, you’d also vaporize billions of tons of ocean.

    I have no idea what this would result in. Certainly it would have some very major effects on the storm. It might make it much much bigger. It might destroy the structure of the storm.

    Either way, I would not recommend it.

  2. November 19, 2012 at 10:45 AM

    You know, that reminds me of the BP Horizon spill, when people said, “Nuke the oil well.” Nukes! I mean, if they can fix asteroids creaming towards earth and blow up Bruce WIllis, why can’t they fix other threats? My feeling is that we should make use of our nuclear arsenal by nuking volcanoes, fault lines and the moon. Some will call me crazy, but I call myself proactive. Stupid moon.

Comments are closed.