WRAL WeatherCenter Blog

I remember a movie a while back dealing with the subject of humans possibly altering the strength and/or path of a tropical storm by seeding or cooling the system. Is this thought scientifically possible or just for the movies?

Posted September 12, 2007 11:46 a.m. EDT

MIKE MOSS SAYS:       Chad,     Modifying hurricanes by way of seeding them, disrupting their circulation by exploding nuclear weapons, cutting off evaporation into them by coating the ocean surface with a spreadable substance, introducing black soot to the storms to alter the absorption of solar radiation and throw off the vertical temperature gradients needed to sustain the storm, and cooling the ocean surface with icebergs or cold water transported up from great depths have all been considered, and the seeding technique was even tested by the government in an experiment called Project Stormfury in which the results were inconclusive but which has been later recognized as a likely ineffective technique. None of these has been brough to a practical level becaus eof the technical challenges, environmental concerns, and the sheer energy and huge scale of the storms themselves. In addition, one gets into a real international and/or interstate legal tangle when you consider the potential that attempts to alter the storm might simply change the track, and perhaps cause it to strike a location that may otherwise have been bypassed, or results in a drought-stricken area failing to get rain that a weakened storm might later have produced,  and so on. You can read a few more details about some of these  techniques and why they are unlikely to become practical, at http://www.aoml.noaa.gov/hrd/tcfaq/C5a.html.