Nukes are a bad idea. Period. They sure provide a country with a sense of security, keeping any enemies at bay but detonating a nuclear bomb does no good for any part of the world. Most people generally agree with the idea of no nuclear bombs but then comes the hurricane season, more appropriately termed as the tropical cyclone and people begin to suggest that the storms be destroyed with nukes.
It may come as a surprise but NASA and National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration are asked the question ‘why nuclear weapons are not used to destroy tropical cyclones’, so frequently that they had to include it in their FAQs.
The nuclear weapons, as some people tend to imagine, may not even alter the storm one bit. If a storm were to be nuked, it would only result in a radioactive fallout that would spread much more quickly with the storm winds and get to the land, causing a hell lot of environmental destruction. Terrible idea? Clearly.
The amount of energy that a fully developed hurricane generates is almost unbelievable. A tropical storm generates energy two ways; one through the winds, and second through the formation clouds and rain. The wind energy alone measures about 1.3 x 1017 Joules/day or 1.5 x 1012 Watts for an average hurricane. Keep in mind that the hurricane Irma was not remotely close to being average. Of all the energy that a tropical cyclone generates, only 10 percent is converted to the mechanical energy of the winds and this alone equals about as much as half of the entire planet’s electrical generating capacity.
Then comes the cloud and rain formation energy releases and it measures about 5.2 x 1019 Joules/day or 6.0 x 1014 Watts, again for an average hurricane. It may sound a little hard to believe that this energy is about 200 times the electrical generating capacity of the entire world. Just for the sake of scale, all this energy totals to about as much as a 10-megaton nuclear bomb exploding every 20 minutes. Apparently, fighting fire with fire is just not a good idea. In fact, fighting nature is the worst possible idea.
Any explosive produces a shock wave and that high-pressure pulse just propagate away from the explosion even faster than the speed of sound. The normal atmospheric pressure has about ten metric tons of air above the ground per square meter which goes down to about 9 metric tons in the strongest of hurricanes. Killing a tropical cyclone is totally out of question, but even if you were to attempt bringing a category 5 hurricane down to category 2, you would need to add an extra half ton of air in each square meter of the hurricane’s eye. That totals to about half a billion tons of air in just 20 km of eye radius. Do you think that even the strongest of a nuclear bomb would be capable of moving that much air?
The image below compares the size of a tropical storm to that of the most powerful of nuclear weapons.
How about destroying a hurricane before it fully develops into a mature one? The answer lies in the fact that about 80 tropical storms occur every year in the Atlantic basic alone. About 5 of these disturbances become hurricanes and there is absolutely no way to know which one would it be.