Donald Trump Looked Into Whether China Was Firing Hurricanes At The US

Before he asked about nuking hurricanes, he asked if they were sent by China. Image credit: Evan El Amin/Shutterstock.com

Like pretty much all US presidents, Donald Trump had to deal with disasters caused by hurricanes during his presidency. Unlike all the ones we are aware of, he may have had his people look into the possibility that the hurricanes were fired from some sort of hurricane gun by China.

According to anonymous sources close to the former president who spoke to Rolling Stone, near the beginning of his time in office, Trump asked his national-security aides if China had a weapon that could create hurricanes and direct them at the US. Having asked about this potential weapon, which almost certainly doesn't exist, he then asked his staff whether using such a weapon would count as an act of war, justifying military action against China, which has the third-largest nuclear arsenal in the world.

“It was almost too stupid for words,” one source told Rolling Stone. “I did not get the sense he was joking at all.”

The president brought up the hurricane gun several times over the next year, before finally letting the idea die in 2018. According to the sources, the president brought it up shortly before he suggested the idea of nuking hurricanes during a hurricane briefing.

Bizarrely, Trump is not the only person to have proposed this idea. 

“During each hurricane season, someone always asks 'why don’t we destroy tropical cyclones by nuking them' or 'can we use nuclear weapons to destroy a hurricane?',” the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) writes in the Frequently Asked Questions section of its website.

“Apart from the fact that this might not even alter the storm, this approach neglects the problem that the released radioactive fallout would fairly quickly move with the tradewinds to affect land areas and cause devastating environmental problems.

“Needless to say, this is not a good idea.”

Hurricanes are major centers of low-pressure air, they explain, so it's theoretically possible to nullify them by increasing the air pressure. However, hurricanes are so energetic they release heat equivalent “to a 10-megaton nuclear bomb exploding every 20 minutes," so a nuclear blast will not downgrade a hurricane already in progress, nor downgrade its category or divert it.

Essentially, all you'd be doing is turning an environmental disaster into an environmental disaster with added nuclear radiation. Nuking hurricanes is a bad and not remotely workable idea.

The idea is so prevalent, it's debunked every year by first-year physics students at Austalia National University.

"Nuking a hurricane would be as effective as trying to stop an oil tanker with a pistol," Professor Paul Francis, who takes the class, told IFLScience. "A hurricane would typically be about 100,000 times more powerful than the most powerful nuke that the US has."

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