Monday, September 11, 2017

Irma observations

    This storm has been a tough one for the trackers.  She’s had a mind of her own.  The islands, including Cuba and Puerto Rico, and Florida have, of course, taken a massive hit, and we feel for all those so seriously affected.  The difficulties and discomforts will be with them long after the storm has faded from the news.

    Here in eastern North Carolina, historically a prime target for so many hurricanes (the latest being Matthew last year, which brought serious flooding to us), sticking out into the Atlantic as we do, we’ve been spared this time and are only getting stiff winds and some rain.  I ran the NC State research trawler up a narrow creek four days ago to secure it out of the wind (but not necessarily out of any rising water).  So all is well here.

    I’ve been thinking, though, is there a way to stop hurricanes well before they grow into such destructive monsters?  Most of these storms begin as hot air blowing westward off North Africa.  The wind gives rise to thunderheads that enlarge and gang up to form a low pressure area, which acquires spin because of Earth’s rotation, and then comes charging across the warm Atlantic, guided by trade winds and the Bermuda high and other invisible steering currents, acquiring strength along the way to finally chew up the Caribbean islands, Mexico, and the North American coast.

    The science of cloud seeding with silver iodide or potassium iodide or dry ice in order to produce rain has been well proven to work quite well.  Therefore, why couldn’t an effort be made to seed those early thunderheads as they form just off the African coast, making them rain out where they are and thus preventing their gathering into the precursor of a hurricane?  Even if the cost turned out to be multiple millions of dollars to kill all the suspicious thunderheads during a hurricane season, that would be a mere pittance compared with the multiple billions of dollars these monster storms routinely wind up causing, not to mention the immeasurable costs in human life and misery.


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