9 Oct

From .Copyright © 2012 Michael H. McGee. All rights reserved. Please feel free to share or re-post all or part non-commercially, hopefully with attribution.

For a long time we’ve had some of the information we need to stop the worst hurricanes from hitting the east coast of the United States and the Caribbean. Only now in the twenty-first century do we have the technology to make use of the information. I’ve searched and searched academic and practical publications and have found almost no research on the subject of the cause and prevention of hurricanes. All the research seems to be on predicting and forecasting the paths of hurricanes and typhoons.

I propose that a new scientific discipline be created: studies on the origins and elimination of hurricanes (and typhoons). The United States Government, as well as universities, need to approach this scientific discipline with the same zeal as we gave another impossible mission: landing a man on the moon. The moon landing was a result of technology finally catching up with scientific desire. So it could be with hurricanes.

Hurricanes cost our economy countless billions of dollars in direct losses each year. Billions in tax funds are spent on catastrophic rescue and rehab and flood losses, billions of private funds spent on rebuilding after insured losses, and billions more in indirect losses such as canceled tourist reservations. I’ll bet the property and casualty insurance companies will be the biggest boosters of such a scientific discipline, and rightly so.

In addition, the simple presence of hurricanes, not just the diseases which arise after hurricanes, must be recognized as an independent public health issue. The methods of public health vector and control analysis almost certainly will be of use in determining the best ways to defeat the vast devastation of hurricanes.

To take a broader view, it’s important to remember that if we can develop ways to understand and control the spawning of Atlantic hurricanes, the same methods may be useful to control Pacific and Indian Ocean typhoons. Further, researchers studying the genesis of pacific and Indian Ocean typhoons may provide real scientific data relevant to Atlantic hurricanes. We’re all in this world together.

It was more than ten years ago when I was intrigued with the possible answer in the book, “Natural and Experimental Philosophy” by David Blair. This book was published in 1824 and is a part of my personal library. It’s only now that I feel I have the meaning in full.

Blair wrote as follows on page 187: “Most of the great convulsions of nature, such as… hurricanes, are generally accompanied by, and often dependent upon, the power of electricity. Observation: The water-spout is probably the result of the operation of a weakly electrical cloud, at an inconsiderable elevation above the sea, brought into an opposite state: and the attraction of the lower part of the cloud, for the surface of the water, may be the immediate cause of this extraordinary phenomenon.”

So, the first part of my hypothesis of how to defeat hurricanes has to do with the dielectric, or capacitive, quality present at the exact moment of the initial formation of what ultimately spins into a magnificent destructive waterspout. After all, a hurricane is nothing more than a really big waterspout. I’ll explain the science after a few more comments on the study of hurricanes.

Using public health methods, in order to stop a hurricane it is necessary to track its formation back to the very first moment: there is a singular point where a weather activity first is not, then is, a hurricane. Using the popular jargon, we can call this the “tipping point.” I hypothesize that a  specific threshold is crossed, somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Africa, near the Cape Verde Islands, and here is where hurricanes are initially formed.

Once this singular point crossing is made at sea, there is a dead certainty that houses will be swept away along the Florida Coast or across the Louisiana bayous. Before that singular geographically identifiable point crossing, there is only uncertainty and probability. Possibility at times becomes certainty.

In the map below the Cape Verde Islands are shown as a bright grouping of seven islands in the ocean west of the African coast.


How do we find these meteorological and geographical crossing points? Let’s look at the public health history of the bubonic plague for a parallel. For many centuries the plague “just appeared” and cut swaths across Europe, killing millions before running out of energy and dissipating. How much like a hurricane is that?

Yet with careful observation our scientists finally discovered that the plague had some relation to household animals such as dogs and cats and rats. Then it was observed that the plague appeared when these animals, especially rats, died or were exterminated en masse. Then it was discovered that when these animals died the fleas would leave their preferred hosts and infest humans, who were a less-preferred host. So, the singular point crossing from health to disease was when a flea jumped from a dead animal to a human. The flea was the carrier of the plague. The method of controlling outbreaks of the plague came when humans learned to keep and maintain household pets, and to plug rat holes in their housing rather than trying to kill the rodents en masse.

Of course in the present day we have vaccines for the bubonic plague. Yet for public health purposes we still take steps to eliminate the vector for bubonic plague: jumping fleas. They will move to humans en masse only if the animals are killed. Public health protocol in plague areas demands that to kill rats, first trap them alive, then burn them alive, along with all their fleas. To keep dogs and cats, provide kibble and bits.

It’s important to remember that we don’t want to stop all hurricanes. Theoretically, if we stopped all the hurricanes it’s possible that Florida and the Gulf Coast, as well as parts of the US Atlantic coastal areas, would become as arid as the Texas deserts. The vast amounts of fresh water deposited by the tropical storms are necessary to sustain the lush subtropical and temperate green growth characteristics of these regions of our country.

So it’s very intentional on my part to describe the results of hurricane reduction efforts in terms of moderating or ameliorating storm activity, or in terms of stopping only the “worst hurricanes.” It’s overly simplistic to seek the total eradication of these massive disasters which have haunted us since the beginning of time. A food addict cannot stop eating entirely. The fresh water brought by the massive storms is like food to the habitat. Take it all away and the habitat may collapse entirely.

Now let’s move to how we go about our proposed national goal of eradicating the worst of the hurricanes. First, we assign the task to a federal agency such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), with grants being made available for university and corporate projects, with their results reported to and collated by the NOAA.

Since the beginning of time there has been little or no thought given or research done on the subject of managing catastrophic storm systems. Catastrophic storms have been viewed as a part of the planetary condition, much like the shining of the sun. Until this the twenty-first century the idea of a storm management technology has been too big a task to even imagine. (In this regard it is similar to the stated task fifty years ago of landing a man on the moon.) For the first time, now, we have the ability to challenge nature at its source. Let’s do it, and succeed.

Give the NOAA a significant research and development budget; just the same way we gave NASA the big budget when we first focused on the goal of landing a man on the moon. In terms of the overall federal budget the amount needn’t be astronomical. A few billion directed toward the singular goal should do the trick.

Next we develop hypotheses as to how the worst hurricanes form, and what sustains them in their paths from inception to landfall. With a room full of twenty senior weather scientists, it should be easy to use a whiteboard and come up with at least ten testable hypotheses.

As a favor to those twenty assembled weather scientists, I’m going to be the first to mark up the white board with a hypothesis, as described below. I like my hypothesis, and I believe it to be true. The natural competitiveness of the scientific community will help spawn other hypothetical solutions, or may lead to a testing of my hypothesis with the goal of proving it wrong (which is the highest process of science). What I want, though, is for scientific ingenuity to be focused on the goal of taming nature where she lives: face the bully on her own playground.

Here is part one of my two-part hypothesis: The Harmattan winds off Africa set the initial conditions for the formation of the worst hurricanes which make landfall in the Caribbean and the United States. Looking at the chart below, we place the location of the Harmattan winds at about 15 to 25 degrees latitude, coming off the coast of Africa and moving in a west south westerly direction (coming from the east north east). The Cape Verde Islands are located about 350 miles off the west coast of Africa, at about 15 degrees latitude. They can just barely be seen on this map, as they are covered by storm tracks.


The solution lies in finding all the conditions surrounding the singularity where at one moment the weather activity is not a hurricane, and the next moment it is a hurricane. The location of this singularity is in the South Atlantic Ocean, just a little ways southwest of the Cape Verde Islands, off the coast of Africa. Like any good investigator, we must look at the surroundings to find the source of the singularity.

As we sift through the evidence, remember that the weather we’re describing is a daily constant. Over the three-month period from July to October, however, only maybe a maximum of ten singularities, each lasting perhaps seconds or minutes, actually lead to devastating hurricanes in the US. These singularities happen over the open ocean. We’re making a voyage of discoveries on distant choppy seas far from home. Hang on for the ride!

The Harmattan wind blows year-round from the Western Sahara desert across such countries as Mali, Mauritania, and Guinea and on west and south into the Atlantic Ocean. On its passage over the desert it picks up fine dust particles between 0.5 and 10 micrometers in size. A micrometer, or micron, is a unit of length equal to one millionth of a meter. It is by definition 1×10 to the minus 6th of a meter. These particles are called aerosols. Research has shown that clouds can only form where there are enough aerosols present to give a surface for the water droplets to condense around. See .

This Harmattan wind continues to blow hundreds of miles out into the Atlantic Ocean, carrying immeasurably large quantities of these incredibly small aerosol particles out to sea. The Harmattan wind with its Sahara dust comes to a head just beyond and to the south and west of the Cape Verde Islands.

These Harmattan winds, supercharged with dust particles, blow at near sea level during the winter months, leaving the landscape in a dusty soup wherever they blow. One of the places they blow is across the Cape Verde Islands. The Cape Verde ground level dust storms tend to cease in the spring of the year. The Harmattan does not cease, though, it rises to where the dust particles are held at a higher altitude and do not fall so much on Cape Verde.

During our US hurricane season of July through October, the Harmattan is accompanied by a low-pressure center which rests over the Atlantic Ocean near the Cape Verde Islands. During this same season the wind is undercut by the cooler winds of the southwest monsoon, blowing in from the ocean. This is the formation which forces the Harmattan wind to rise on a relatively flat plane to an altitude of approximately 6,000 feet. See the Encyclopedia Britannica, .

Quick Quiz: What’s the most reliable indicator that a hurricane is entering your area, say in Florida? A sudden and dramatic drop in barometric pressure. So, one of the characteristics of a hurricane is, that it is associated with a low pressure center accompanied by a massive soup of rain clouds. Perhaps the known low pressure centers just to the south and west of the Cape Verde Islands serve as a witch’s cauldron for the dangerous brew.

Another Quick Quiz: What’s the most reliable indicator that there will be tornado activity in a land-locked area, such as Kansas? It’s when the fast-moving winds of a higher-altitude weather system are undercut by the fast moving winds of lower-altitude weather system coming from an opposing direction.

So, in the Atlantic Ocean out to the south and west of the Cape Verde Islands, the Harmattan wind is undercut for several months without fail by lower and cooler winds, heading west and pushing the Harmattan up to an altitude of 6,000 feet or more. The high and flat Harmattan, undercut by the strong winds heading west, creates perfect conditions for the formation of turbulent counterclockwise twister winds out of the massive soup of clouds already present.

What I’ve described up to now are necessary but not sufficient, conditions for the formation of a killer hurricane. There’s one more complex condition which must be present before billions of dollars of damage shows up in the Caribbean and on the Gulf Coast.

Here is the second part of my two-part hypothesis: The conditions generated by the Harmattan wind must cross a certain threshold of electrical activity before a hurricane singularity arises. Once this threshold is crossed, then at one moment the weather activity is not a hurricane, and the next moment it is a hurricane, hurtling to make landfall in the Caribbean and the United States.

For some of this next analysis I’m using scientific data from the article, “Perspectives on the Effects of Harmattan on Radio Frequency Waves” by D. D. Dajab, Department of Electrical Engineering, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Nigeria; published in the Journal of Applied Sciences Research, 2(11): 1014-1018, 2006; posted at .

According to Dajab, Harmattan dust resembles a fog. The vast areas of the ocean the dust covers can be considered as a “dielectric,” since the dust consists predominantly of micron-sized quartz, which is a good insulator. Studies have shown that in massive moisture-laden clouds, Harmattan dust absorbs and scatters electromagnetic energy, and can be a form of “precipitation” itself, from a higher atmospheric altitude.

For clarity we must give an example of a dielectric. The electrically insulating material between the metallic plates of a capacitor is a dielectric. A capacitor is a device for accumulating and holding a charge of electricity, consisting of electrical conducting surfaces separated by dielectrics. The polarization of the dielectric by the applied electric field increases and holds the capacitor’s surface charge.

Dajab makes the following finding: “It is a fact that rain drops are falling with a velocity, yet most Harmattan particles are suspended (or moving) in space and exhibit a complex form of motion. The Harmattan dust particles may be said to exhibit two major forms of interaction, that is, electromagnetic and gravitational.” Stated simply, these dust particles tend to linger in the upper atmosphere, drifting according to their own rules rather than falling like rain.

So, and follow me now, the presence of the massive storm clouds which produce hurricanes can only happen in the presence of the aerosol dust particles, as described. The rain produced by these clouds tends to fall straight down. Harmattan dust particles which are not used up in the formation of clouds tend to stay at the higher altitude, say 6,000 feet, yet they move in a random manner using a complex form of motion dictated by their electromagnetic interactions. The predominately quartz dust thus forms an upper atmosphere dielectric, or insulator. An applied electric field, in this case from below, increases the surface charge of the dielectric, yet the electric field cannot pass through.

It is commonly known that rain storms generate extreme charges of electricity, and that the electrical charges move in the form of lightning, flowing from the surface upward into the storm. So the massive storm clouds forming to the west of the Cape Verde Islands contain extreme charges of electricity at the surface of the ocean. This is the observation made by David Blair in 1824, quoted at the beginning of this article.

So what happens is that the dielectric Harmattan dust particles stay suspended in the upper atmosphere, falling much more slowly than the rain. These particles act as a gigantic insulator, preventing the free flow of electricity in the form of lightning from the surface of the ocean into the upper atmosphere. So a massive miles- (kilometers)-wide pool of static electricity collects in the lower levels of the atmosphere and on the surface of the ocean. The electricity is unable to discharge in a normal manner, so it just increases and increases more.

The picture below was not taken in the Atlantic Ocean, so it illustrates the normal discharge of lightning during a storm. The lesson from the picture is that if an insulator is present in the upper clouds, then the amount of electricity which is not discharged is stupendous. All the furious display of lightning shown in the picture is thus captured and held like a capacitor when the Harmattan insulating properties shut down the regular discharge of lightning.

Lightning Photo

It is in this incredibly highly-charged pool of static electricity that the singularity arises which is first not a hurricane, and then is a hurricane.

This I hypothesize as the general process for the formation of the most destructive hurricanes which blast the Caribbean and the southern United States. It is one possible explanation for the formation process. More likely though, my explanation is rudimentary and much oversimplified. Better researchers than I need to bat home runs with the problem of the formation and prevention of hurricanes.

My challenge is now out there. My promise is that with the research and development abilities of the twenty-first century, the problem of managing the most destructive hurricanes is capable of solution, and the time to start firming up workable solutions is now. If we can put a man on the moon with the technology we had then, we can solve this problem with the technology we have now. And the solutions are not prohibitively expensive.

Let me make my proposed solution more graphic. What I’m proposing is a Rube Goldberg device to discharge or reduce the static electrical charge on or near the surface of the ocean in the areas where the incredibly highly-charged pools of static electricity lurk.

Examine the seemingly unrelated field of computer information science. Consider that the highly charged pools of electricity out on the Atlantic Ocean hold the information which is necessary to assemble the singularity which may be described as “not-hurricane/hurricane.” So stated, we have a binary process as simple as any computer binary code.

Due to the fluctuations in the ordinary course of any storm at sea, this binary information may be held firm in a charged state, and the next minute be lost in a discharged state. Computer random access memory (RAM) is often associated with such volatile types of memory (such as DRAM memory modules), where its stored information is lost if the power is removed.

The highly charged pools of electricity out on the Atlantic Ocean will hold the necessary “not-hurricane/hurricane” information in stasis only as long as the fast-moving and turbulent swaths of dielectric insulating dust are in the exact configuration to prevent the static electric discharge of the information. Although not literally so, the information could be described as an algorithm.

Starting from an initial state and initial input, an algorithm is a computation that, when executed, will proceed through a finite number of well-defined successive states, eventually producing “output” and terminating at a final ending state. The final ending state would most commonly be “not hurricane,” although the ending state could also be “hurricane.”

This “hurricane” coding could start a process in motion which could at times be lost in the transit across the Atlantic. Perhaps the few remaining “hurricane initial conditions codes” do not become completely specifically visible to the eye as what we would define as a “hurricane” until entering the Caribbean. Remember that there are only about 25 dangerous hurricanes a year, with no more than two or three of these reaching tragically destructive levels.

The period for maximal holding of the original “not hurricane/hurricane” stored information in the “RAM” of the low level oceanic storms near Cape Verde is likely only a period of minutes, or a period of hours, at any one time. If the stored memory can be wiped, by discharging the massive static electric field of power from the low ocean storm, then the stored information is lost. Thereby the information for the transition from not-hurricane to hurricane is lost. The initial conditions for the possible next hurricane are wiped out.

In almost all normal storms, outside the Harmattan region of the Atlantic Ocean, the massive low- altitude static electric field generated by the storms is discharged routinely and without hesitation in the form of bolts of lightning. So to accomplish our salutary purpose we must take up our cudgels and wrestle with the mighty Thor, god of lightning.

At least at first we can’t really know when or where this low-altitude dielectric random access memory will be charged and when it’s not. Therefore we should start by attempting to discharge the static electricity in whole storms or even by moving through vast storms in mighty boats, seeing what works and what doesn’t.

So what we need to do is set some ships out in the turbulent ocean areas where the incredibly highly-charged pools of static electricity may lurk. Make sure the ships are conduits for static electricity, possibly by laying floating acres of steel mesh around them, like fishing nets. Four such ships could be in a flotilla, with near adjoining mesh.

Connect these highly grounded ships with steel cables to Zeppelin-type Goodyear blimps floating at altitudes of 6,000 feet or more. The conductive steel cables will create a breach in the insulation of the dielectric Harmattan dust, allowing the accumulated static electricity near the surface of the ocean to discharge upward at least partially. Making this grid will bring on the god Thor to cast thunderbolts up along these giant lightning rods.

The resulting electrical discharge will remove some or all of the information present in the highly charged pool of electricity near the ocean surface. Eliminating some or all of the not-hurricane/hurricane information from the fully or partially discharged oceanic random access memory should be enough to ameliorate or eliminate the worst of the hurricanes in the Caribbean and along the US coasts.

Well, maybe. What you’ve read is as far as I’ve thought it through, and believe you me, I’ve done some heavy thinking. What I really want to do is to stimulate the best and the brightest to do their own heavy thinking.

Set aside the certainty of the past: those hurricanes and other tropical storms are an annual fait accompli, acts of God, unfathomable by man. We have the ability now to build massive radio-telescope arrays and CERN large hadron colliders. So there’s no longer any excuse for stepping aside from the immense size and force of the weather phenomena known as hurricanes and tropical cyclones. If we can go to the Moon and Mars, why can’t we handle a few hurricanes?

2 Responses to “Hurricanes”

  1. انترنت داونلود مانجر October 25, 2015 at 8:06 pm #

    What a data of un-ambiguity and preserveness of precious knowledge regarding unpredicted feelings.


  1. Hurricanes, Part Two: Hurricane and Flood Disasters are Man-Made | mcgeehome - May 5, 2015

    […] while back I wrote a blog entry on preventing hurricanes (tropical cyclones), which is posted at . Earlier this year I had a personal correspondence with the eminent scientist Dr. Chris Landsea, […]

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