Hurricane Stopper

Proposed system for stopping hurricanes,
typhoons, and tropical storms

by Win Wenger, Ph.D.
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Can this method stop the latest hurricane? If you live in the southeastern U.S., call your local government and ask them to put this method into action.

Nearly all the energy which drives a tropical disturbance comes from warm surface water. Eliminate the warm surface water in the immediate path—or in the breeding grounds—of a hurricane, and you eliminate the hurricane.

A low-cost, low-energy way to eliminate the warm surface water, where it would otherwise soon be feeding a hurricane or other tropical disturbance, is to cause the water to “turn over.” This is done by pumping compressed air down toward gulf or sea bottom and releasing it. The cooler waters come to the top and the hurricane loses its energy over them to become disorganized squalls.

Where are such cooler bottom waters available? Virtually everywhere. Even the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico is littered with blobs of ice. Ices of (natural) gas hydrate and methane ice (melting point 45 degrees F) occur to such an extent that some have been investigating how to extract that methane ice as a fuel resource (The Washington Post, August 11, 1997, p. A3). And the Gulf is one of the warmest open bodies of water on the planet (and one of the most frequent spawners of tropical disturbances).

Original purpose of this invention was to end world hunger!

The original purpose of this surface-to-sea bottom air pumping system was to create a highly oxygenated, mineral-rich, intensive biological zone or fish-farm region—an artificial St. Georges’ Banks effect—in regions of the ocean which now are virtually lifeless deserts. For purposes of remineralization, the air would need to be pumped down to near the bottom before release, whereas for purposes of hurricane energy deprivation, the air need be pumped down only a fathom or so below the upper boundary of colder water levels.

Relatively small fish-farms can be maintained privately by containing them within a set of nets with buoys and anchors, or within “bubble curtains” using the same effects as were used to screen Pacific harbors from submarine sonar during World War II. Larger-size fish-farms can be “open,” without containing nets, maintained by nations or private consortia or mixed public-and-private consortia for all to share in. Effective hurricane energy deprivation, however, would need to be set up to operate over thousands of square miles, strategically placed across historical hurricane paths and origin points.

Basically the same equipment can aerate and relieve the “dead zone” just off our Gulf Coast and likewise save the fertile waters just off North Carolina where another such zone has started spreading.

Environmental Impact Caveats

Another differentiation from fish-farming use concerns location and timing. The Gulf Stream supports the climate of Europe and must not be interrupted. Where such critical currents exist, the air-pumping and water turnover can be performed for only some days at a time, to impact specific tropical disturbances, in order not to affect climate downcurrent.

More continuous fish-farming applications will have to be in areas where the air-pumping and water turnover can be conducted continuously without impacting climate elsewhere. We require that operations be both as climate-conscious as possible and as open to the public as possible, pending the time when international treaties can be drafted to cover this activity and to guarantee continued high standards of practice.

One aspect to be addressed in any environmental impact assessment is the role of wind and rain from hurricanes in aerating our oceans, oxygenating the water and fixing CO2 to avoid further global warming. However, only that small portion of hurricanes and tropical storms likely to hit land would be affected, and that portion’s total proportion of aeration of the oceans might not be any greater, and might well be less, than the same effects from using bubble-streams of compressed air to turn over the waters.

Tropical disturbances, especially Category 5 storms, involve incredibly large amounts of energy, but

  • the same energy gets transferred without the storms, only more gradually and without a destructively focussed region; and
  • the whole process is precariously balanced upon a number of critical factors in interaction. Here as elsewhere, a very small amount of energy—that needed to pump enough air down under the cold boundary to make the water turn over across the critical path region—suffices to change the expression of a much larger set of energies.

Air compressors or other drivers can be powered by conventionally fueled engines, fuel cells, solar, even by wave action exercising pontoon weights. However, 100% reliability and hence conventionally fueled engines will be required for the Hurricane Stopper, especially since both insulation and wave action can be suppressed in advance of a hurricane, and since the system will have to run for only a couple of days once or a few times per year. Energy economy will be much more of a consideration for fish farms, whose air compressors will run more or less continuously with occasional down times for servicing.

Favorable Economics

Our initial assessment is that a major insurance company could make back its entire investment in such a combination of applications, within a year or so, purely in terms of what it saves in discounted rate of payoffs for tropical storm damage to properties. From there, the fish-farming applications would be a further moderately profitable enterprise, entirely bonus to the initial purpose and investment. Particular exposed municipalities, the State of Florida, even particular property-owners’ associations, may also be looking at relatively favorable economics, even though not at the economies-of-scale which can be realized by major insurance companies.

Public participation in the financing of such an enterprise, if achievable, would be highly appropriate in view of the high proportion of externally received benefits. These externalities certainly provide practical and moral justification for involvement by broadly-based consortia. Widely-publicized efforts to foster such projects would be great advertising and would boost the public image of the major firm which performed them.

We do not propose to stop all hurricanes, at least until the global heat engine is more thoroughly understood. We propose only to stop hurricanes which threaten specified, heavily-populated land areas, especially around the southeastern United States and parts of the Caribbean, and possibly typhoons around the Bay of Bengal. After careful study of the current and climate factors involved, this protection might well be extended to highly exposed areas of Japan, Korea, China and The Philippines.

Who owns Hurricane Stopper?

You do. As of its release premiered in April 1998 on the then “Hot Rod Your Head” website, the invention is in public domain for anyone to use freely. Who may use it freely? You or any other person, corporation, association, town or township or other community, state, nation, or organization, within such limits as are imposed by law. The inventor would be pleased to consult in some way on any large-scale project.

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