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Storm-ending bombs?

Heymatt: If we can develop bombs that level whole cities, why can’t scientists come up with the same stuff to obliterate tornadoes before landfall? What is it in these tornadoes that can’t be neutralized? Tornadoes are visible and can be tracked; hence, they can be attacked.

— Bien Cielo Zara, Mira Mesa

Every year or two, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration fields inquiries about “nuking hurricanes” as storm season approaches. The logic is, in part, sound. Vicious storms such as tornadoes and hurricanes are caused by radical pressure and temperature differentials in the air. Dropping a massive bomb into the eye of the storm could, in theory, disrupt the flow of energy enough to dissipate the storm. There are many problems with this. Firstly, nuclear fallout would spread gleefully around the world on the remaining air currents, causing untold havoc for years to come. With hurricanes, there’s also a question of scale. The average hurricane expends more energy in one second than a 21 kiloton nuclear weapon (like the Fat Man bomb from WWII). A weapon large enough to disrupt a hurricane would be a “civilization ender” in and of itself, and you can see why tossing one of those around is a bad idea.

Tornadoes, while similar, are much smaller and might be disrupted by the heat and pressure effects of the shockwave from a tactical nuclear weapon. But tornadoes spring up quickly and unpredictably, doing their damage and running out of juice before they could be nuked. Also, they form inland and only do real damage when they strike urban areas. Dropping nukes on your own cities to thwart severe thunderstorms is, if not outright insane, at least counterproductive.

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Heymatt: If we can develop bombs that level whole cities, why can’t scientists come up with the same stuff to obliterate tornadoes before landfall? What is it in these tornadoes that can’t be neutralized? Tornadoes are visible and can be tracked; hence, they can be attacked.

— Bien Cielo Zara, Mira Mesa

Every year or two, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration fields inquiries about “nuking hurricanes” as storm season approaches. The logic is, in part, sound. Vicious storms such as tornadoes and hurricanes are caused by radical pressure and temperature differentials in the air. Dropping a massive bomb into the eye of the storm could, in theory, disrupt the flow of energy enough to dissipate the storm. There are many problems with this. Firstly, nuclear fallout would spread gleefully around the world on the remaining air currents, causing untold havoc for years to come. With hurricanes, there’s also a question of scale. The average hurricane expends more energy in one second than a 21 kiloton nuclear weapon (like the Fat Man bomb from WWII). A weapon large enough to disrupt a hurricane would be a “civilization ender” in and of itself, and you can see why tossing one of those around is a bad idea.

Tornadoes, while similar, are much smaller and might be disrupted by the heat and pressure effects of the shockwave from a tactical nuclear weapon. But tornadoes spring up quickly and unpredictably, doing their damage and running out of juice before they could be nuked. Also, they form inland and only do real damage when they strike urban areas. Dropping nukes on your own cities to thwart severe thunderstorms is, if not outright insane, at least counterproductive.

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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
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