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ScienceAlert - August 27, 2019

... In 1959, Jack Reed, a meteorologist at Sandia National Laboratories, raised the possibility of disrupting hurricane-forming weather conditions using nuclear weapons.

Reed theorised that nuclear explosives could stop hurricanes by pushing warm air up and out of the storm's eye, which would enable colder air to take its place. That, he thought, would lead to the low-pressure air fuelling the storm to dissipate and ultimately weaken the hurricane.

Reed suggested two means of delivering the nuke into the hurricane's eye.

"Delivery should present no particular problem," Reed wrote.

The first delivery method, he said, would be an air drop, though "a more suitable delivery would be from a submarine."

A submarine, he said, could "penetrate a storm eye underwater" and "launch a missile-borne device" there before diving to safety.

But according to the NOAA researchers' article, there are two issues with Reed's idea.

Hurricanes emit a mind-boggling amount of energy

Hurricanes are extremely powerful: A fully developed hurricane releases the same amount of energy as the explosion of a 10-megaton nuke every 20 minutes, the NOAA article says. That's more than 666 times bigger than the "Little Boy" bomb that the US dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, in 1945.

So in order to match the energetic power of a hurricane, there would need to be almost 2,000 "Little Boys" dropped per hour as long as the hurricane remained a hurricane.

... The NOAA article also says that if we were to nuke a hurricane, radioactive fallout would spread far beyond the bounds of the hurricane.

"This approach neglects the problem that the released radioactive fallout would fairly quickly move with the tradewinds to affect land areas and cause devastating environmental problems," the authors wrote.

Fallout is a mixture of radioisotopes that rapidly decay and emit gamma radiation – an invisible yet highly energetic form of light. Exposure to too much of this radiation in a short time can damage the body's cells and its ability to fix itself – a condition called radiation sickness.

Land contaminated by fallout can become uninhabitable. After the Chernobyl nuclear power plant blew up in 1986 and spread toxic radiation into the air, people were forced to abandon a 1,500-square-mile area.

If the US were to attempt to disrupt a hurricane with a nuke, radioactive fallout could spread to island nations in the Caribbean or states bordering the Gulf of Mexico. ...
Read full article at ScienceAlert