The Story Behind Nuking Hurricanes

Hurricane Dorian on its path towards the coast of Florida. Dorian devastated the main island of the Bahamas, leaving many missing and 44 dead. (Photo used by permission of Pierre Markuse)

Hurricanes are one of the most powerful natural forces on Earth. Governments would jump at the thought of being able to prevent one of these disasters, but would they go as far as dropping a nuclear bomb in them? 

The idea of putting a bomb inside of a hurricane has been around for about 60 years, and different hurricane modification programs have been in play for decades. These U.S. government programs include Project STORMFURY which experimented using silver iodide to weaken cyclones. Other methods included releasing black carbon, or charcoal, inside these storms. Project STORMFURY ended operation in 1963.

The topic of bombs and hurricanes came up recently in a briefing about Hurricane Dorian with President Trump. Trump suggested putting a nuclear bomb inside of a hurricane as it’s moving through the Atlantic, intending for it to dissipate. The briefer responded telling the President that they, the National Security Council, would look into it.

The Hurricane Research Division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has done a report on this myth saying that the science simply doesn’t add up. The fact that this might not expel the storm, and also cause radioactive fallout to carry with the hurricane, doesn’t sound like a good solution for the environment. Kerry Emanuel, a professor of meteorology from MIT, says, “I think the most likely outcome you’d have is a radioactive hurricane.”


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