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2006-07-24 Science & Technology
US to test MOAB on Hurricanes
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Posted by DanNY 2006-07-24 10:41|| E-Mail|| Front Page|| [456 views since 2007-05-07]  Top

#1 This is idiotic: won't the high winds disperse the aerosol cloud before the secondary detonation takes place?
Posted by Ptah">Ptah  2006-07-24 11:20||]">[]  2006-07-24 11:20|| Front Page Top

#2 So powerful, even hurricanes can not stand against it!
Posted by DarthVader 2006-07-24 11:21||   2006-07-24 11:21|| Front Page Top

#3 The winds in the eye of a hurricane are relatively calm. So the fuel/air mixture might not be dispersed. However, the eye can be several miles across. I realize that the MOAB can have a wide area effect, but I don't think it will extend for miles.

People tend to forget that hurricanes are BIG. They can extend for hundreds of miles, which is one of the things that makes them so destructive. Somehow I doubt that even a MOAB will have any real effect.

Besides, the service ceiling for a C-130 is 33,000 feet. If they are going to set off the MOAB at 30,000 feet, it will likely ruin the whole day for the crew.
Posted by Rambler">Rambler  2006-07-24 11:28||   2006-07-24 11:28|| Front Page Top

#4 Party pooper.
Posted by Seafarious">Seafarious  2006-07-24 11:43||   2006-07-24 11:43|| Front Page Top

#5 BS. Is one of those conspiracy sites? Truly pissing into the ocean and expecting it turn yellow. A 20 megaton bomb releases less energy than a medium hurricanes does in 15 minutes.
Posted by ed 2006-07-24 11:47||   2006-07-24 11:47|| Front Page Top

#6 Other fact checks:

*MOAB uses an ammonium nitrate slurry, not fuel-air explosive.

* Fuel-air explosives can't be used in windy conditions.
Posted by Phil 2006-07-24 11:53||   2006-07-24 11:53|| Front Page Top

#7 You know, they considered using nukes to do this back in the 50's/60's but decided against it. Clearly some of the Air Force just hasn't let go of the idea. While at first it does seem silly, consider how many of the ideas we've had 30 years ago we didn't have the Tech for then, we do now and they're reappearing.

Be interesting to see how this pans out.
Posted by Silentbrick">Silentbrick  2006-07-24 12:15||   2006-07-24 12:15|| Front Page Top

#8 Man, living just 25 miles from Raleigh, that headline made me sweat for a moment.
Posted by mrp 2006-07-24 12:20||   2006-07-24 12:20|| Front Page Top

#9 Doing this without an environmental impact statement would be illegal.

Doing this with an environmental impact statement would require 20 years to process the statement.
Posted by mhw 2006-07-24 12:21||]">[]  2006-07-24 12:21|| Front Page Top

#10 Fine with me.
Does Tehran get lots of hurricanes?
Posted by tu3031 2006-07-24 12:22||   2006-07-24 12:22|| Front Page Top

#11 The initial program calls for five GBU-43¬ís to be dropped in 30 minute intervals on the leading eye wall of the hurricane.

I already knew about the relative calm within the Eye of the Hurricane itself. Note the bold part above that I keyed my criticism on.

Posted by Ptah">Ptah  2006-07-24 12:28||]">[]  2006-07-24 12:28|| Front Page Top

#12 Since when do the Feds care so much about ice hockey?
Posted by SLO Jim 2006-07-24 12:33||   2006-07-24 12:33|| Front Page Top

#13 Why Hurricanes? Bomb Messerchmitts and Zeros instead.
Posted by JFM">JFM  2006-07-24 12:43||   2006-07-24 12:43|| Front Page Top

#14 Phil,

Re: factchecks

1. The Aluminum Nitrate Slurry gets atomised by the initial blast and then is ignited by a secondary explosion. That is the classic definition of a fuel air explosive.

2. As in physics, everything is relative. When trying to hit a stationary target in high wind conditions the probability that the winds will disperse your agent away from the target is high. But when your target is the movement itself, the dispersal of the agent in a constant velocity wind will still retain a cohesive structure. In other words if the weapon is traveling at or near the same speed as the wind the wind itself has no effect.

Not saying this is for real, just trying to keep the discussion on a factual basis.
Posted by DanNY 2006-07-24 12:49||   2006-07-24 12:49|| Front Page Top

#15 Waste of effort, a hurricane will overpower the blast without noticing.

Try a 350kT warhead, guys.
Posted by mojo">mojo  2006-07-24 13:27||   2006-07-24 13:27|| Front Page Top

#16 What happens if you do this and you piss the Hurricane off and it gets stronger. :)
Posted by djohn66 2006-07-24 14:03||   2006-07-24 14:03|| Front Page Top

#17 Waste of effort, a hurricane will overpower the blast without noticing.

Try a 350kT warhead, guys.


But seriously (kinda), this all smacks of Jonah Goldberg's running joke about airborne laser volcano lancing.
Posted by SLO Jim 2006-07-24 14:05||   2006-07-24 14:05|| Front Page Top

#18 I think I see the rationale here. Fuel air explosives, typically "propane bombs" are double concussion blasts. First they create a massive overpressure, followed by a just-as-destructive implosion created by the enormous resulting vacuum.

In the leading eye wall of the hurricane this would, they hope, first "rupture" the eye outward, then suck both ruptured ends inward, making it hard for them to rejoin.

I've no idea whether or not it would work.
Posted by Anonymoose 2006-07-24 14:26||   2006-07-24 14:26|| Front Page Top

#19 Dan: Ammonium nitrate isn't used in fuel-air explosives. It especially doesn't work well when atomized and dispersed.
Posted by Phil 2006-07-24 14:36||   2006-07-24 14:36|| Front Page Top

#20 Spare the hurricane, just MOAB New Orleans in advance next time.
Posted by Besoeker 2006-07-24 14:48||   2006-07-24 14:48|| Front Page Top

#21 I double-checked, and found out that the bomb in question doesn't use ammonium nitrate either. It is still not a fuel-air device. Here's a link.
Posted by Phil 2006-07-24 15:01||   2006-07-24 15:01|| Front Page Top

#22 When I was a kid, the Blackhawks, my comic book heros, used to fly their jets through tornados to break the cicular wind. And of course, the Blackhawks never failed.
I figured that nothing like this has ever been tried is because some ass actually flew through a tornado and POP - WOOOSH, disappeared.
Posted by wxjames 2006-07-24 15:08||   2006-07-24 15:08|| Front Page Top

#23 Have no idea whether this would work or not (doubt it would) but some of you are looking at it the wrong way. It has nothing to do with the relative energy emitted by the hurricane vs the moab. It's all about the eye of the hurricane being a low pressure pocket maintained by the spinning force of the hurricane. If you could possible poke a whole in the eye by temporarily stopping even a small part of it from spinning the high pressure would swarm in and fill out the whole dispersing the hurricane... think of a ballon being popped by a pin but only in reverse (where the area outside the ballon is the eye). A tiny hole and the ballons pressure equalizes with what's around it very quickly even though the ballon has exponentially more energy in it than the pin that popped it applied.
Posted by Damn_Proud_American 2006-07-24 15:31||   2006-07-24 15:31|| Front Page Top

#24 But it's NOT a balloon, it's a storm running off of surface heat and spun by velocity differentials between the north and south edges.
Posted by mojo">mojo  2006-07-24 16:06||   2006-07-24 16:06|| Front Page Top

#25 Think of it like a bathtub drain. Even if the wall is disrupted, it will still form again because of the huge inward rotating mass of the hurricane is self sustaining as long as there is a lower pressure and rising water vapor in the center.
Posted by ed 2006-07-24 16:39||   2006-07-24 16:39|| Front Page Top

#26 Hurricanes do distribute heat energy over the surface of the globe. This is a useful thing. Hurricanes are obviously terrible things for the people who get hit with one, but, would there not be unintended effects from not disbursing that heat?
Posted by Chert 2006-07-24 16:42||   2006-07-24 16:42|| Front Page Top

#27 I suspect this might work. Hurricanes take a long time to get organized and their organization is fragile. Break the eye wall and multiple mini-eyes might form, which disrupt each other and reduce destructive winds around the eye.
Posted by phil_b">phil_b  2006-07-24 16:46||]">[]  2006-07-24 16:46|| Front Page Top

#28 Hurricanes serve a purpose: correction of atmospheric imbalance. Don't mess with mother nature, but do make those levies strong.
Posted by Griper Whegum8464 2006-07-24 17:06||   2006-07-24 17:06|| Front Page Top

#29 More heat is not the answer. Several million tons of blue ice would work tho.
Posted by 6 2006-07-24 17:59||   2006-07-24 17:59|| Front Page Top

#30 Methinks the source for this nonsense isn't credible.
Posted by Penguin 2006-07-24 18:05||   2006-07-24 18:05|| Front Page Top

#31 2-1 on , wont work
30-1 , will work

any takers ?!
Posted by Taking Bets 2006-07-24 19:48||   2006-07-24 19:48|| Front Page Top

#32 It's been noted in past that one thing that has a proven effect on hurricanes is -- plankton.

A plankton bloom can raise surface water temperature over a wide are by one or two degrees, which can raise a hurricane by an entire catagory.

This being said, a while back a scientist had an idea of how to cause more precipitation inland by breaking up the surface layer of sea water, which significantly increases surface evaporation. A row of verticle windmills that pump seawater and atomize it into a mist.

The mist falls back down, breaking up this few millimeter thick layer on the water, which then increases evaporation enormously. This was the effect he wanted, but it would also lower surface temperatures over a large area, which would take away a lot of the "fuel" from a hurricane.
Posted by Anonymoose 2006-07-24 19:56||   2006-07-24 19:56|| Front Page Top

#33 #28: "Don't mess with mother nature, but do make those levies strong."

Smarter move, GW, would be to not live below sea level.
Posted by Barbara Skolaut">Barbara Skolaut  2006-07-24 20:38||]">[]  2006-07-24 20:38|| Front Page Top

#34 Hear, hear, Barb. I'd rather them use those MOABs on the levees and just let N.O. flood out and "return to nature." A lot more swamp wetlands, and it's just a matter of time before she gets nailed again. She's already sinking fast, and even without hurricanes helping out, would be an island (surrounded by levees) in a few more hundred years.
Posted by BA 2006-07-24 21:21||   2006-07-24 21:21|| Front Page Top

#35 Phil,

You're right it's not a fuel air explosive.
I dunno where I heard that but I was convinced it was.
Thanks for straightening that out.
Posted by DanNY 2006-07-24 21:41||   2006-07-24 21:41|| Front Page Top

#36 From Wikipedia:

Scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research estimate that a tropical cyclone releases heat energy at the rate of 50 to 200 trillion joules per day. For comparison, this rate of energy release is equivalent to exploding a 10-megaton nuclear bomb every 20 minutes or 200 times the world-wide electrical generating capacity.

You'd have better luck trying to stop a diesel locomotive with a spit ball.

Posted by DMFD 2006-07-24 23:31||   2006-07-24 23:31|| Front Page Top

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