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No. 86 (September/October 2005)


Stopping Hurricanes—Revisited


by Win Wenger, Ph.D.

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There are now three models for how to stop a hurricane, based upon spreading or mixing colder waters from below over the top of the warmer waters upon which such storms subsist. They have been widely discussed, in and out of our listserve group, ImageStream@yahoogroups.com, and so are in public domain for anyone to use.

The first of these three ideas, in some detail, is on our website at Hurricane Stopper. The three ideas in short are:

  1. Pump air down into the colder layers and let it bubble up to the surface, carrying some of the cooler waters with it.

  2. Pump air down as with #1 but have it bubble up within the confines of a tube until near the surface, letting a higher portion of the cooler waters so moved reach and mix with the topmost layers.

  3. Simply pump cooler waters up through tubes and let them spread out on top of the surface. This idea is by another member of our group, who also had in mind linking it to the idea of powering the system by the temperature differences between the warm and cold layers.

The pumps or air pumps could be powered from the natural gas so abundant in the Gulf that much of it is wasted, or from the diesels of boats or the oil platforms in the western Gulf, or conventionally gasoline-powered while waiting for the more elegant solution of oceanic thermal differences.

If the oil companies could see it in their interests to do so, a pilot project could be launched, distributing air pumps and/or pumps and the appropriate hosing to the oil platforms in the western Gulf, to see if even that little bit of intervention could knock 15-20 mph off the sustained windspeed of such storms as came across the area concerned, thereby justifying the rest of the set-up and full protection from these storms.

Oil companies, looking at the price spikes resulting from some of their rigs getting smashed, might not see the prevention of these storms as so unequivocally in their interests as we might, but a tradeoff might be obtained vis-a-vis drilling rights in other parts of the Gulf now barred by legislation. Even the strongest environmentalists, looking at the toxic gumbo from Katrina, might regard such a conditional deal as worth it to avoid another such huge insult to the environment.

Before the pilot, it'd be useful and no doubt prudent to see which of the above three versions of the cooler-waters invention would be the more economical way of stopping hurricanes, economies being very important given the scale of the proposed project.

Factored into such studies, however, should be the costs and benefits of developing the complementary project described in the same article, for oceanic fish-farming, and for the complementary process we refer to as Beachbuilder, which can utilize air bubbles in a somewhat different way and which can be studied and undertaken even by individual waterfront property owners.

I no longer "own" even the original form of the invention, having cast it into public domain through my website at Hurricane Stopper, together with several closely related inventions. Anyone who wishes to can take this and run with it and do so with my blessing. He doesn't need my permission nor does he have to pay me a red cent for it.

Part of my reason for doing so at the time was what I perceived as the urgency of forestalling such losses of human life and of property as we are seeing now with Rita and just now saw with Katrina. How many more years do people have to go through what the evacuees and victims are going through now? How necessary and inevitable is it, really, that they do so? Was, and is, my sense of urgency on such matters misplaced?

Wouldn't it be neat if the people who make the decisions on such matters were also the people who had to live with the consequences of their decisions? Could that conceivably make a difference in what was decided?

I'm very much hoping that someone reading this can see a way to proceed forward with some version of the storm-stopper, and to save lives from the more and bigger storms which climatologists are now telling us are on the way.

  • Estimated cost of engineering and feasibility studies, thousands of dollars.
  • Estimated cost of proposed pilot study in the western Gulf, $12 to 20 million.
  • Estimated cost of full Storm Stopper protection from Texas to the Cape Verdes, $3 to 12 billion.
  • Estimated cost of damages by Katrina alone, above $200 billion.
  • Estimated costs of the fully comparable Rita, unknown at this time.
  • Estimated costs of the future great storms of which climatologists have advised, unknown at this time.
  • Costs of any of these storm situations in human terms, inestimable.

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Win Wenger


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