Hurricanes are tropical storms of high speed. They originate in the equatorial regions of the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans. They involve heavy rains and powerful winds. They cause floods, loss of human lives, livestock and destroy buildings. They snap and uproot trees and down power poles. They make the hit area uninhabitable for weeks or months. They cause costly repair to the damage they leave behind. Hurricane Katrina for example (August, 2005) had a wind speed of 175 mph, caused 1,836 fatalities, and paralyzed the city of New Orleans for more than a year. After more than 5-years, thousands of displaced residents in Mississippi and Louisiana are still living in temporary accommodations. The estimated cost by the Federal Government is more than $90 billion (2011 USD).
Is there a way to protect human lives and properties from hurricanes? The answer is YES and it is very possible.
Unfortunately, NASA and NOAA satellites only monitor their birth place, model their paths, and estimate their categories. These informations can be put in a better use to dissolve hurricanes at early stage at relatively much cheaper cost.
The formation of a hurricane requires the simultaneous presence of a few delicate and sensitive factors (Figure 1). Disturbing any of the following factors at early stage results in pulverizing the hurricane.
1. The wind pattern near the ocean surface, which contributes to forming the inward spiral wind.
2. The wind pattern at high altitude, which steers the hurricane.
3. The delicate balance between the evaporation rate from the ocean and the saturation of the humidity level in the clouds.
Table salt is hygroscopic and has a great affinity for water molecules. The sea salt contains magnesium chloride salt as impurity, which is even more hygroscopic and attract even more water molecules. Sea salt is abundant in seas and oceans, and very inexpensive to extract in large quantities.
With the help of satellites, the location of a tropical storm of potential to grow as a hurricane can be identified. A Navy Aircraft Carrier or two if needed carrying several large size helicopters and several tons of fine powder of sea salt can be sent near the location. Several trips of as many as twenty to thirty or more helicopters carrying large amounts of the salt hover on the top of the storm and spray the salt. The salt speeds the moister condensation in the clouds and cause heavy rains to fall in the ocean. This is enough to disturb the rate of moister condensation in the clouds with respect to water evaporation from the ocean. The hovering of the large number of helicopters on the top of the storm is enough to disturb the tornado formation associated with the hurricane.
The number of helicopters and the number of trips depends on the circumstances of the storm and the feedback from the satellites to confirm the extinction of the hurricane.
The task is safe and relatively inexpensive. It saves lives and billions of dollars.