Photo | NOAA; manipulated by Alan Sealls
Would you stop a hurricane if you could? We can’t, and we shouldn’t try to stop any storm. I was hoping this week to actually write a column about rainbows, unicorns or something other than hurricanes, but Hurricane Delta changed that. In fact, Delta is the Greek symbol for change, so I shouldn’t be surprised. Hurricane Delta has brought us to within two storms of tying the most active hurricane season on record. That season was in 2004 when we got to Zeta, the 27th named storm. Records go back to the mid-1800s.
Someone asked me, sincerely, why the Greek storm names are not alphabetical. It’s because it’s a Greek alphabet, not an English alphabet! It’s kind of like how Roman numerals are actually letters.
Back to my original point: We should not try to stop hurricanes because they are a natural part of Earth maintaining balance. A hurricane redistributes heat, moisture and electricity in the air. In the ocean, it moves heat too, and salinity. Hurricanes also rebalance concentrations and locations of dust, seeds, nutrients, trees and some birds and creatures.
Hurricanes throw us off balance. Way off balance. If there were a way to stop a hurricane, who would get to make that decision? Who would pay for it? Would we stop a hurricane that goes to only certain areas? How about stopping one on Labor Day and scheduling it for another day, like Tax Day? What about the beneficial rain regions in drought need?
We feel the inconvenience and destruction of hurricanes, but hurricanes are just as vital to the planet as volcanoes are. Would you try to stop those from erupting? Maybe pouring cement inside of them would help. Nope, that’s like trying to totally stop yourself from sneezing. You can’t.
That brings me back to the thoughts some people have of trying to stop a hurricane. Nuclear bombs are out of the question for the radiation fallout, but also because one single afternoon thunderstorm has more power than a nuclear bomb. It’s just released over dozens of minutes rather than over a few seconds. Given that hurricanes are made of thousands of thunderstorms, you should quickly dash that thought.
People suggest towing icebergs into warmer water, adding chemicals to the ocean to limit evaporation, or adding ice or chemicals to the clouds to slow their growth. For a detailed explanation of why these are scientifically not reasonable or feasible, do a web search for “NOAA AOML Hurricane FAQ.”
Of the many theories proposed to stop hurricanes, each comes up short and each would have unintended consequences to the environment and to life. Each would have gigantic costs, and each would require an enormous amount of energy. Each would be a gamble. Each would have to be decided upon by a human and then litigated by another human when harm befalls more humans.
Plan and prepare for the perils where you live. In the classic words of a 1970s commercial for Chiffon margarine, “It’s not nice to fool (with) Mother Nature.”
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