How can we prevent or modify the effects of a hurricane?
I like the way your question is posed. It does not ask how we can affect
the hurricane per se, rather how to hopefully lessen its efects.
The two great effects of hurricanes are loss of life and property damage.
To lessen the hurricane's effects, there are several things which can be
done. Some of these have been enhanced over the last two or three years, in
response to large catastrophic damage from hurricanes:
1. Non-construction in hurricane-prone areas: construction, unfortunately,
still is happening in areas where severe hurricanes can be expected in 50 or
even 25 year cycles. If construction is restricted, especially in those
areas prone to damage from storm surge (flooding due to massive amounts of
precipitation and over-run of land by the sea), property damage and loss of
life can be reduced.
2. Improved advance warning of storm track and predicted intensity: this
has improved over recent years, with residents being provided an almost
block-by-block track of the storm. In the ideal situation, residents prone
to the severest hit of the storm would relocate to less-prone areas. Apart
from the original hurricane, tornadoes often are spawned in adjoining areas.
Advance warning of conditions suitable for development of tornadoes can
improve likelihood of escape from the most damaging conditions.
3. Construction using building materials suited to withstand severe storms:
no construction material can survive a direct hit totally unblemished, but
new materials offer stability and storm resistance and can greatly lessen
4. Finally, education of those living in hurricane prone areas can
influence their actions related to approach of periodic storms and improve
their chances for survival.
Thanks for using NEWTON!
It probably is not possible to effect a natural phenomenon
as large and powerful as a hurricane. Some cloud seeding
experiments have been conducted, but they produced an
almost immeasurable effect.
Argonne National Laboratory
A lot of research continues into hurricanes and their life cycle, with thehope that, someday, we can minimize the damage that these storms cause. The
best way we can do that now, is with more accurate forecasts of the storm
track, and intensity. Then people in the path can better prepare for the
To modify a hurricane or to affect the track it takes, is several years
away. Any experiments must be conducted with great care, because any changes
might make the storm worse for some places.
These storms are a natural part of the weather pattern, and we must use
great caution before interfering with that. There may be some beneficial
effects of these storms, as well as the destruction that accompanies them.
We should want to preserve the beneficial effects while minimizing any
damage they might cause.
Wendell Bechtold, Meteorologist
Forecaster, National Weather Service
Weather Forecast Office, St. Louis, MO
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Update: June 2012