The short simple answer is that you can indeed Nuke a Hurricane. The problem is that you will not alter the storm. Instead you have simply added to the environmental problems you face.
Let’s dig into this a bit.
Why has this come up?
Journalist Jonathan Swan of Axios published a story on 25th Aug in which he revealed that Trump suggested nuking hurricanes to stop them from hitting U.S. This is the alpha source for all of this.
Titled “Scoop: Trump suggested nuking hurricanes to stop them from hitting U.S.“, he explains that Trump made this suggestion multiple times. One insider described it as follows …
The briefer “was knocked back on his heels,” the source in the room added. “You could hear a gnat fart in that meeting. People were astonished. After the meeting ended, we thought, ‘What the f—? What do we do with this?'”
How has Trump reacted to the Axios story?
Basically in the only way he knows how … he lied (as usual)…
The journalist responded …
The publication of it was also not a surprise to Trump …
Indeed yes, here is how the WH responded …
“We don’t comment on private discussions that the president may or may not have had with his national security team.”
Nuke a Hurricane is not actually a Trump Idea
This very bad idea has been floating about for some time and pops up on a regular basis. In fact, so much so, that NOAA has a FAQ page explaining why “Nuke a Hurricane” is a very bad idea. There they explain …
… The main difficulty with using explosives to modify hurricanes is the amount of energy required. A fully developed hurricane can release heat energy at a rate of 5 to 20×1013 watts and converts less than 10% of the heat into the mechanical energy of the wind. The heat release is equivalent to a 10-megaton nuclear bomb exploding every 20 minutes. According to the 1993 World Almanac, the entire human race used energy at a rate of 1013 watts in 1990, a rate less than 20% of the power of a hurricane.
…a nuclear explosive, produces a shock wave, or pulse of high pressure, that propagates away from the site of the explosion somewhat faster than the speed of sound. 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. For normal atmospheric pressure, there are about ten metric tons (1000 kilograms per ton) of air bearing down on each square meter of surface. In the strongest hurricanes there are nine. 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 k
One thing is certain. If the idiot-in-chief is promoting an idea multiple times, then you can more or less guarantee two things …
- It will be a very bad idea with dire consequences
- He will lie about it and deny having ever saying it
Nuke a Hurricane – Further Reading
- NOAA FAQ – Why don’t we try to destroy tropical cyclones by nuking them ?
- Jonathan Swan‘s Axios article (25th August 2019) – Scoop: Trump suggested nuking hurricanes to stop them from hitting U.S.
- Vice (26th Aug 2019) – It’s Not Just Hurricanes: America Wanted to Nuke Mines, the Moon and the Panama Canal
- Popular Science (8th Nov 2012) – Why Can’t We Stop A Hurricane Before It Hits Us?