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Dear board,

Recently in the news was an article that a certain popular political figure proposed disrupting a hurricane by hitting the center of it with a nuclear missile. Would this strategy work, and if so, what collateral damage would result?



Dear Radioactive, 

Sorry we held this one over for so long. Using the research that Alta has done, what I can tell you is that, most definitely, you cannot stop a hurricane by shooting it with a nuclear missile. Physics just doesn't work that way. Of course, you probably could have surmised that because of the person who suggested it. 

There have been theories that you could detonate a nuke above the eye of a hurricane to generate enough heat to disrupt the hurricane's growth and destruction... but, like this nice explanatory article points out, it would be like "trying to stop a speeding Buick with a feather." Hurricanes release 50+ terawatts of heat energy at any moment. That's about as much as a 10-megaton nuclear bomb exploding every 20 minutes. Our measly human inventions are useless against that kind of power.  (Just so you know, almost any other articles you read ultimately come back to that source & quotes).

There isn't a lot of definitive proof, but doing something like that could actually strengthen the hurricane minorly and make it more dangerous. 

For sure, though, detonating a nuke would probably create a radioactive hurricane that would most certainly be even more catastrophic than just the normal gale-force winds and torrential downpours and flooding. Radioactive fallout would cause incredible damage and radiation sickness, cancer, and death everywhere that the rain fell and winds blew. BAD PLAN. 



posted on 10/03/2019 8:03 p.m.
This question gets asked so much that the government has an entry for it on their FAQ page:


From the article; "this is not a good idea."

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