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How to Stop a Hurricane

Meteorologists are trying come up with ways to calm down hurricanes. One method would be to blast them with a nuclear weapon. "The answer to that is a hurricane is bad enough without making it radioactive," says Hugh Willoughby, of the International Hurricane Center. "The only benefit would be is it would glow in the dark and it would be a lot easier to see at night." But Peter Cordani of Dyn-O-Mat, who invented an absorbent powder that can make a thundercloud release rain, thinks he can solve the hurricane problem too.

A TV station's weather radar confirmed that a cloud lost moisture after an airplane dropped $40,000 worth of Dyn-O-Gel granules into it. Now Cordani wants to develop a powder that's thousands of times more absorbent, so that when dropped into the eye of a hurricane, it can suck out the moisture. He says, "We're trying to break the momentum of that spin, of that rotation."

But Willoughby says huge amounts of the powder would be needed to make even a minor change in a hurricane. "It would really take all of the military heavy-lift aircraft that the United States has to carry the material, and there would be a major air traffic control problem around the eye," he says. "The big danger would be a major collision, and it would be hugely expensive for not much benefit."

The U.S. government thinks Cordani's proposal is one of the better ones it's received, but has decided not to try it. Meteorologists are concentrating on predicting hurricanes, rather than stopping them. They've learned enough about them to be able to predict them 5 days ahead, rather than relying on the 3-day forecasts of the past.

Why do we have so many more storms than we used to?

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