There's a myth that hurricanes can be stopped by nuclear bombs. (Which it turns out, isn't true). I got to thinking about what might stop a hurricane from forming and it occurred to me, perhaps, cooling the surface water, not the air. Hurricanes form in part by warm water evaporating into a low pressure system. The warm water feeds the hurricane.

What would happen if you filled several tankers with liquid nitrogen (or a liquid nitrogen/oxygen mix) and poured this liquid onto the ocean surface in the path of the hurricane. Two things as I see it. Parts of the ocean surface would freeze, cooling it, cooling the air immediately above it and slowing evaporation of water into the air and, as liquid nitrogen turns to gas, the low pressure would be filled and reduced somewhat.

Now, I'm not saying it's practical, or worth the energy and cost it would take to perform such a task, filling tankers with liquid nitrogen just to cool part of the ocean surface, but in theory, and with enough liquid nitrogen, I think this just might work, at least, hurricanes could be reduced by this method.

Am I wrong in thinking this?

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    $\begingroup$ There are surfactants developed to reduce evaporation from water reservoirs. In theory, that would also reduce energy transfer from ocean to air and it would scale better than trying to actually cool the ocean. Probably not well enough to actually work, but better... And you can assume some super-nanotech, if the story needs it... $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 27, 2016 at 2:02
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    $\begingroup$ Usually its just the surface water that is hot. Pump up water from the deep ocean. Added benefit is that you can mix the hot and cold water in an engine to get power out of this. See ocean thermal. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 6, 2017 at 12:32
  • $\begingroup$ @DonaldHobson I like that, so under water vents to circulate the cold water upwards. Probably far fetched and ocean water is a tough region to keep equipment in. I like the suggestion. $\endgroup$
    – userLTK
    Commented Sep 6, 2017 at 16:49

5 Answers 5


You are correct that it would work theoretically.

In practical terms: An average (not a strong one !) hurricane generates 200 times more energy than the worldwide power production. So, no we cannot really weaken hurricanes.


What would happen if you took a couple of tankers and removed water from Lake Michigan? Would it empty the lake's volume? Sure! It "works" but you have a scale error.

Water has a vey high specific heat and ice/water has a rediculus phase-change energy. So although cold in terms of having an impressive thermomiter reading, the volume of water cooled by how much will be surprisingly small, and the volume of ice you could make is a fraction of that.

The volume of a tanker is how much compared to the air in the vacinity of the storm?


If a hurricane can reach 50,000 ft or 15240 meters and a MOAB has a detonation radius of 150 meters or a FOAB having a radius of 300 meters (only important for figuring out what you need to heat cool zones). Using an FLIR camera would allow you to find the cool points of a cyclone and detonate in the best places to disrupt the thermodynamic feedback loop.

The best way would be to displace large portions of the system with neither cooling or heating. Similar to swiping at the cyclone action happening when you watch bath water go down the drain, if you want to make sure the cyclone is disrupted till the energy runs out you just keep poking it with your finger till the waters gone.

Combining some sort of liquid nitrogen distribution or misting to the hotter points of the system would potentially allow equalization of the temperature in the system and really kill the thermodynamic feedback loop.

I could be totally wrong, it's just my intuition telling me this is how you might do it.

I also thought you might be able to use a huge helium neon laser to cool the hot points but I don't think there's a big enough one and I think it only works for compressed gas.

As for the poking the finger at the cyclone I think I found a theoretical solution using Entrainment but chances are air friction would probably occur.


Mounting a large device like this on multiple c-130's would amplify wind currents and poke the cyclone on a large scale... probably make the c-130 fly like a moth though. Maybe fly it like a kite anchored to the back door with weak pins in the hinges just in case.

I should probably create a separate thread with just theories on how to stop hurricanes.


As a former military expert in the field of nuclear, biological and chemical studies, I would not go as far as to say it would not work. The military has or did have the capabilities. I stated this back when Hurricane Katrina hit. Since then, we have not had any huge storms, thinking that perhaps someone was listening and this might be happening. Liquid Nitrogen is a chemical that would be able to be dispersed largely around the interior edges of the eye as the warm moisture is brought up to the cloud deck.

I would recommend a large quantity, say several air tankers be filled and be released as quickly as possible. It could be delivered by a spray or better yet, several quick cloud burst. The cost of this is far less than 500 billion dollars in damage. Liquid Nitrogen is found in our atmosphere, but it would make for real good research to see what the environmental impact might be. I would recommend doing this quickly!

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    $\begingroup$ I think you meant "Nitrogen is found in our atmosphere", not "Liquid Nitrogen is found in our atmosphere." $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Commented Sep 5, 2017 at 17:30
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    $\begingroup$ This post makes a very bold claim which is backed only by the assertion that the poster is a "former military expert" in what amounts to all fields of study. I am not convinced that the US military could move enough LN2 into a hurricane to have any effect, even if it could levitate and simultaneously coordinate drops from all the planes, boats, tanks and jeeps in the arsenal. There are nontrivial order of magnitude challenges that must be met to sustain an answer like this. $\endgroup$
    – GrinningX
    Commented Sep 6, 2017 at 12:50
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    $\begingroup$ Yes, I'd definitely like to see some sources to back up this claim. $\endgroup$
    – Tim B
    Commented Sep 6, 2017 at 14:35

To Kill a Hurricane by Robert Granger ;-)

The other day at lunch, I was musing on the feasibility of using liquid nitrogen to short circuit a hurricane’s thermal feedback loop. I did a few calculations on what volume of LN2 would you need to completely displace the air in the eye of a hurricane with cold nitrogen gas.

Here is some data to work with, d(LN2) = 0.807g/ml = 807 g/L A typical dewar of liquid nitrogen is 160 Liters or (807 g/L X 160L) = 129,120 g Total moles of N2 in a 160L dewar of LN2 is (129,120 g ÷ 28 g/mol) = 4,611 moles If 160 L of liquid nitrogen were allowed to expand to room temperature it would occupy a volume of V=nRT/P=((4611mol)(0.0821 (L-atm)⁄(K-mol))(298K))/1atm=112,823 L

What is the volume of a typical hurricane eye? Typical height of a hurricane is 45,000 ft and the typical diameter is 20 miles = 105,600 feet or a typical radius is 52,800 ft. Plug those into V=pir^2h = 3.94E14f^3 Convert the volume to liters and you get 1.116E14 L.

So to completely displace all of the air in the eye of a typical hurricane with expanding nitrogen from a liquid nitrogen dewar, you would need 989 dewars of liquid nitrogen.


A little research on the mechanics of a hurricane’s eye. Turns out that the strongest updraft is at the eye wall. On either side of the eye wall is a down draft. I think you would want to dissipate the liquid nitrogen near the surface just to the outside of the eye. I can imagine a fleet of C-140 planes filled with LN2 dewars with a brick of C4 and an altitude trigger. Fly around the eye dropping these dewars and short circuit the thermal cycle. At the very least, you should get the hurricane to drop most of its water before it makes shore.

Liquid Nitrogen cost $.10 per gallon. One billion dollars will buy 10 billion gallons. Deliver 100 billion gallons of liquid nitrogen in special ships designed to cool the air at the right place and the hurricane is dead. The cost is low compared to the damages caused by a hurricane.

  • $\begingroup$ Were you quoting something? It's unclear when and if you're quoting. Place a > before each line for block quote format. $\endgroup$
    – Braydon
    Commented Sep 8, 2017 at 22:25

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