Stormy Weather

Hurricanes, Monsoons, and Tropical Storms

Can a hurricane be stopped?

For all practical purposes, no. Proposals have been suggested, such as cloud seeding techniques, but to date science has yet to come up with a solution. During the 1950s, the U.S. federal government launched the Stormfury Project, which was an effort to dump silver iodide crystals near the eyes of hurricanes. The theory was that the seeding would generate a secondary eye in the storm, which would then hamper or even cause the original eye to collapse. Several experiments were conducted in 1961, 1963, 1969, and 1971, but while sometimes the results seemed promising, the data was inconclusive. Hurricane Esther, in 1961, appeared to be weakened by as much as 30 percent through seeding, but there was no proof that the storm didn’t just weaken all by itself. The government gave up the project in the 1970s, and while private companies have continued some of this research, most meteorologists believe that there is just no practical way to destroy a hurricane. The problem seems to be the fact that, for it to work, cloud seeding requires supercooled water, but hurricane clouds contain insufficient supercooled moisture.


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