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Name: Nikki
Status: N/A
Age: 16
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 2000-2001

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 property damage.

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!

Ric Rupnik


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.

David Cook
Argonne National Laboratory

Dear Nikki-

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 storm.

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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