Quantcast
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

Weather control

Matt;

A brilliant school teacher in 1957 told the class something no one had ever heard. The Russian "Sputnik" was coming. It did. He also said that man is so brilliant he can change the course of a hurricane. I was born in New Orleans, finished school in Covington. Has it ever happened?

-- A.C., San Diego

Gee, AC, predicting Sputnik in '57 was a slam dunk. Predicting the control of the path of hurricanes is on some other scale entirely. Sputnik is manmade. Only Nature can make a hurricane, and when Nature gets wound up, she's a little hard to deny. No, it's never been proved scientifically that any human intervention has ever changed the course of a hurricane, but that's not to say we haven't tried. As usual, the military has been very interested in this weather-modification thing, looking at torrential rainstorms as almost as good as a boatload of tanks. Project Popeye, during the Vietnam War, was designed to seed clouds over the Ho Chi Minh trail and turn it to a bog. It did work, but a U.N resolution has subsequently made all uses of weather mod as a battle tactic illegal.

Everybody complained about the weather, but aside from invent the umbrella nobody did anything about it until the late 1940s, with Project Cirrus. Scientists at GE got the idea to seed a carefully selected hurricane well off the southern coast of Georgia with dry ice to try to reduce its size and power by reducing the cloud content. Within 24 hours of seeding, they got some cloud reduction but the hurricane veered west and crunched into land and did lots of damage. The guys at GE said the scientific equivalent of oops! and decided they'd keep the whole thing quiet so they didn't get sued. For about a decade, this put most actual hurricane experiments behind the filing cabinets. Later evaluation of the data suggested that there really was no way to tell if the hurricane had already started to bend west before the seeding, so scientifically Project Cirrus was inconclusive.

In the 1960s Project Stormfury was a plan to seed the hurricane eye wall with silver iodide to try to decrease the wall temperature and slow the wind speed and weaken the hurricane, but not change its path. In the 1980s, these experiments actually seemed to work, based on temperature and wind speed measurements, but once again we ran into the problem of scientific controls on weather experiments. Can we really be sure it was the silver iodide and not just some quirk of the cane that would have happened anyway?

Aside from one really spooky endeavor at Elgin Air Force Base, Project HAARP (weather control by tweaking the ionosphere-- though the feds say it's just a communications experiment), the biggest news lately has been Dyn-O-Mat, a superabsorbent powder that can be seeded into clouds and instantly sucks up all the water and turns it to a big gooey glob, which falls (harmlessly?) from the sky. The stuff actually works and can reduce a cloud to nothing. Again, the plan is to seed hurricane eye walls with the stuff and reduce the storm's power. Unfortunately, such vast quantities of the stuff are needed to successfully seed a hurricane, there aren't enough transport planes in the American arsenal to carry it all. Once the problems of scale are solved, we might be on the way to at least reducing a storm's power.

If you watched the TV coverage of here-comes-Katrina, you undoubtedly heard the weather wonks repeatedly say that the path of a hurricane is very hard to predict, since it depends on internal conditions in the storm, plus water temperatures, weather fronts, the jet stream, land masses, and other factors all interacting in ways that aren't always consistent or clear. So until we can predict the path more accurately, we probably won't be able to change it.

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

What makes a home in San Diego

Cedar fire, wary of Clairemont, rooming with my son in North Park, last vacant beachfront lots, building paradise above Rancho Santa Fe

Matt;

A brilliant school teacher in 1957 told the class something no one had ever heard. The Russian "Sputnik" was coming. It did. He also said that man is so brilliant he can change the course of a hurricane. I was born in New Orleans, finished school in Covington. Has it ever happened?

-- A.C., San Diego

Gee, AC, predicting Sputnik in '57 was a slam dunk. Predicting the control of the path of hurricanes is on some other scale entirely. Sputnik is manmade. Only Nature can make a hurricane, and when Nature gets wound up, she's a little hard to deny. No, it's never been proved scientifically that any human intervention has ever changed the course of a hurricane, but that's not to say we haven't tried. As usual, the military has been very interested in this weather-modification thing, looking at torrential rainstorms as almost as good as a boatload of tanks. Project Popeye, during the Vietnam War, was designed to seed clouds over the Ho Chi Minh trail and turn it to a bog. It did work, but a U.N resolution has subsequently made all uses of weather mod as a battle tactic illegal.

Everybody complained about the weather, but aside from invent the umbrella nobody did anything about it until the late 1940s, with Project Cirrus. Scientists at GE got the idea to seed a carefully selected hurricane well off the southern coast of Georgia with dry ice to try to reduce its size and power by reducing the cloud content. Within 24 hours of seeding, they got some cloud reduction but the hurricane veered west and crunched into land and did lots of damage. The guys at GE said the scientific equivalent of oops! and decided they'd keep the whole thing quiet so they didn't get sued. For about a decade, this put most actual hurricane experiments behind the filing cabinets. Later evaluation of the data suggested that there really was no way to tell if the hurricane had already started to bend west before the seeding, so scientifically Project Cirrus was inconclusive.

In the 1960s Project Stormfury was a plan to seed the hurricane eye wall with silver iodide to try to decrease the wall temperature and slow the wind speed and weaken the hurricane, but not change its path. In the 1980s, these experiments actually seemed to work, based on temperature and wind speed measurements, but once again we ran into the problem of scientific controls on weather experiments. Can we really be sure it was the silver iodide and not just some quirk of the cane that would have happened anyway?

Aside from one really spooky endeavor at Elgin Air Force Base, Project HAARP (weather control by tweaking the ionosphere-- though the feds say it's just a communications experiment), the biggest news lately has been Dyn-O-Mat, a superabsorbent powder that can be seeded into clouds and instantly sucks up all the water and turns it to a big gooey glob, which falls (harmlessly?) from the sky. The stuff actually works and can reduce a cloud to nothing. Again, the plan is to seed hurricane eye walls with the stuff and reduce the storm's power. Unfortunately, such vast quantities of the stuff are needed to successfully seed a hurricane, there aren't enough transport planes in the American arsenal to carry it all. Once the problems of scale are solved, we might be on the way to at least reducing a storm's power.

If you watched the TV coverage of here-comes-Katrina, you undoubtedly heard the weather wonks repeatedly say that the path of a hurricane is very hard to predict, since it depends on internal conditions in the storm, plus water temperatures, weather fronts, the jet stream, land masses, and other factors all interacting in ways that aren't always consistent or clear. So until we can predict the path more accurately, we probably won't be able to change it.

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Vista squeezes pot clinics with 4375 percent fee rise

While Oceanside ponders the storefronts
Next Article

Ocean Beach – San Diego's last true neighborhood

Berms, fire spinner, homeless, bully, radicals, Newport Avenue
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Art Reviews — W.S. Di Piero's eye on exhibits Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Best Buys — San Diego shopping Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits City Lights — News and politics Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Famous Former Neighbors — Next-door celebs Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Here's the Deal — Chad Deal's watering holes Just Announced — The scoop on shows Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Of Note — Concert picks Out & About — What's Happening Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Pour Over — Grab a cup Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer News — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Set 'em Up Joe — Bartenders' drink recipes Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Sports — Athletics without gush Street Style — San Diego streets have style Suit Up — Fashion tips for dudes Theater Reviews — Local productions Theater antireviews — Narrow your search Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Waterfront — All things ocean Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close