The notion of detonating a nuclear bomb over the eye of a hurricane could be used to counteract convection currents dates to the Eisenhower era, when it was floated by a government scientist.
Donald Trump has reportedly suggested senior Homeland Security and national security officials, on multiple occasions, to start firing hurricanes with nuclear bombs to prevent them from hitting the United States.
During a hurricane briefing, Trump asked if it were possible to disrupt hurricanes forming off the coast of Africa by dropping a nuclear bomb in the eye of the storm, Axios reported Sunday.
Quoting unnamed sources, US news website Axios reported that the response from one official who was present at the meeting was “We’ll look into this.”
“People were astonished,” the source added. “After the meeting ended, we thought, ‘What the f***? What do we do with this?”
The White House declined to comment on the Axios report, "We don't comment on private discussions that the president may or may not have had with his national security team."
A senior official defended Trump’s ability to ask tough questions: “His goal — to keep a catastrophic hurricane from hitting the mainland — is not bad. His objective is not bad.”
Axios reports that Trump raised the same issue on another occasion with a senior administration official. This conversation was apparently recorded in a 2017 national Security Council memo which used the term “nuclear” in reference to the conversation.
However, Trump didn't invent this idea. The notion of detonating a nuclear bomb over the eye of a hurricane could be used to counteract convection currents dates to the Eisenhower era, when it was floated by a government scientist.
The idea keeps resurfacing in the public even though scientists agree it won't work. The myth has been so persistent that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the US government agency that predicts changes in weather and the oceans, published an online fact sheet for the public under the heading "Tropical Cyclone Myths Page."
The page states: "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 trade winds to affect land areas and cause devastating environmental problems. Needless to say, this is not a good idea."
About 3 weeks after Trump's 2016 election, National Geographic published an article titled, "Nuking Hurricanes: The Surprising History of a Really Bad Idea."
Among other problems it found that dropping a nuclear bomb into a hurricane would be banned under the terms of the Peaceful Nuclear Explosions Treaty between the US and the former Soviet Union. So that could stave off any experiments, as long as the US observes the terms of the treaty.