Via what physics-related/weather-related mechanism could a hurricane hover in one place relative to the ground indefinitely?

What side-effects ((besides the obvious damage to ground structures/life associated with a hurricane; I imagine the area under it would be scoured clean given enough time) would such a single-location hurricane have in terms of:

  • meteorological effects
  • thermal effects (there's a lot of energy involved here)
  • effects on the hydrosphere (specifically the oceans, which will be absorbing a lot of energy)
  • etc.

Also, I'm thinking there would need to be a powerful heat source (like, extreme volcanic activity, or alien supertech weather-manipulation satellites) to keep the thing going; how much energy would be required for it to exist on a tens-of-millions-of-years timescale, and, if possible, what real-life things are capable of outputting that much energy over that long a period?

If you need a real-world location for reference, imagine that a 225-kilometer-wide Category 3 hurricane hovers over the Suez Canal, with its eye centered on its middle. If there's a ground-based heat source, place that there as well.

I found this, which is a similar question, but the answers refer to a hurricane the size of the Great Red Spot, which is a slightly different question.

I'm asking whether the laws of physics permit something like this to exist under some circumstance - i.e. how could this thing happen at all. Via what mechanism, or release of energy, or "whatever" this is possible?. It's not a question of "how could humanity/alternate-humanity make this happen", but about physical principles and energy involved (if possible to estimate).

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    $\begingroup$ You might want to set your expectations for this question. I'll be shocked if any answer other than "there are none, that's not how weather works" appears. Besides, what evidence is there that the Great Red Spot has never moved from a single geological location? How would you know, Jupiter being a gas giant with no solid surface? BTW, you're misusing reality-check. You're supposed to present your world rules and a situation that uses them and ask if they're consistent. You're not doing that. You might consider science-fiction. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Commented Jul 30, 2021 at 3:04
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    $\begingroup$ @JBH I'm asking how this could possibly happen. Obviously, this is not realistic, because this never actually happened; I'm asking whether the laws of physics permit something like this to exist under any circumstances. An answer to worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/questions/157971/… states that it's very much possible, for instance; you just need a 10-kilometer-wide, 1250 K fireball. I'm asking about other mechanisms, but clearly people on here consider forming such a phenomenon to be possible. $\endgroup$
    Commented Jul 30, 2021 at 4:33
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    $\begingroup$ @JBH I think this question is legit. Questions like "How X can be scientifically possible" are common in Worldbuilding SE. The expected answers are like "X is possible under such and such conditions". OP is not required to supply the full list of conditions - the answers should provide them. IMHO this question may be hard to answer - but it does not make it off-topic. $\endgroup$
    – Alexander
    Commented Jul 30, 2021 at 4:45
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    $\begingroup$ @JBH there are conditions and there are conditions. Some conditions must be supplied by the OP, while others should be part of the answer. "How X can be scientifically possible" usually means "Under what conditions X is scientifically possible", and we have tons of those questions on the site. I agree that this question lacked details, but I don't think there was anything inherently wrong with it. $\endgroup$
    – Alexander
    Commented Jul 30, 2021 at 16:58
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    $\begingroup$ @TheSquare-CubeLaw good find actually, it almost an answer to the q. I had some reservations doubts about how the whole air mass will move in and out, was thinking about tidal locked planet as test model, but seems it is not reqired, by looks of it there enough heigth of atmosphere to accomodate all the processes/stuff. Someone has to write yes answer, as from physics perspective there is no problems, only some border cases fluctuatiins $\endgroup$
    – MolbOrg
    Commented Jul 30, 2021 at 19:42

1 Answer 1


Effectively impossible

Please have a look at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration FAQ on ideas for stopping hurricanes. (Thanks to Randall Munroe for pointing me towards it from the short answer section in XKCD What If.) In particular, click to expand the sections on "Nuclear Weapons" and "Harnessing Their Energy". Note that:

A fully developed hurricane can release heat energy at a rate of 5 to 20×10^13 watts and converts less than 10% of the heat into the mechanical energy of the wind. The heat release is equivalent to a 10-megaton nuclear bomb exploding every 20 minutes. According to the 1993 World Almanac, the entire human race used energy at a rate of 10^13 watts in 1990, a rate less than 20% of the power of a hurricane.

Your problem is the reverse of that noted, rather than trying to stop one you are trying to start and maintain it. However, if the energy to stop a hurricane vastly exceeds human capacity to produce it for the foreseeable future, then the same applies to the energy to start and maintain one. There is also the issue of "how" - what is required is a vast wind farm in reverse (wind factory?) that is required to generate and withstand constant hurricane force winds. There is no conceivable way to build and, even more importantly, maintain vast arrays of fans, kilometres high and wide, in constant hurricane force winds.

As for natural conditions - no, for the same reason that artificial creation is infeasible. Hurricanes require vast amounts of energy to form. However, a hurricane is then dissipating its energy in friction with the ground, other masses of air etc. For a natural set of energy inputs to provide the vast amounts of energy required and compensate precisely for Coriolis effects and the influence of all other weather systems impinging on a 1500 km perimeter - not possible.

Finally, even if by some (anti)miraculous technology a hurricane could be maintained in place, it would be very bad. As you noted, the constant hurricane force winds would relatively quickly abrade away all of the land underneath the hurricane, flinging it into the upper atmosphere. The hurricane itself is dumping the majority of its input energy into the atmosphere as waste heat at a rate at least five times more than all of humanity put together. Which makes it a race to see whether Earth's climate overheats due to the extra energy input or freezes due to the (non-)nuclear winter caused by all of the particulate matter thrown into the atmosphere. Without detailed modeling, my unscientific guess is that winter is coming, as the increase in Earth's albedo due to water thrown into the atmosphere will decrease the planet's total energy budget even when the hurricane machine's techno-magical energy input is taken into consideration.

  • $\begingroup$ Let's say that it's a smaller hurricane, then. IIRC, the Saffir-Simpson scale's categories increase logarithmically, meaning that a Category 5 puts out ten times more energy than a Category 4. Let's say that instead of a Category 5, we have a Category 3, which puts out ~100 times less energy and is ~225 kilometers wide with a perimeter less than half that of a Category 5. How much would that change things regarding overheating/global cooling? I've updated OP to fit this. $\endgroup$
    Commented Jul 30, 2021 at 16:50
  • $\begingroup$ I don't have the tools or knowledge to quantify the detailed effects. My gut feel is that global overheating is off the table with that much of a decrease in the required energy input, but I don't trust it - keep in mind that the gut instinct of most people to anthropomorphic CO2 climate change was that the input was too small to matter, but detailed modeling has proved otherwise. I'll need to think further about an edit for the changed parameters. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 31, 2021 at 1:59

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