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Alright, so I've been doing some research on hypercanes, which are, in short, theoretical hurricanes that may have ravaged Earth in its ancient past, when ocean temperatures were much higher (at least 120-some degrees Fahrenheit). These storms could reach sizes comparable to North America, wind speeds exceeding 500 mph, and could last for devastatingly long periods of time, as one hypercane could trigger the birth of another, and so on and so forth.

What I'm wondering is whether or not humans could survive, and possibly even civilize and populate, under such conditions. In this specific instance, the humans in question would live in constant proximity to the ocean (perhaps on a series of large islands), and the extreme ocean temperatures necessary for the hypercanes themselves would need to be triggered by something along the lines of a major meteor impact (a theory regarding the extinction of the dinosaurs suggests exactly this) or of intense underwater volcanic activity, given that the oceans could not feasibly be as hot as is needed on a natural basis if humans are to live near them. Either way, would it be possible for a civilization of human beings to survive such a cataclysm, perhaps more than once, and if so, how? If not, why?

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    $\begingroup$ Suggest you read Mother of Storms by John Barns. Both specifically topical and IMHO a good read. $\endgroup$ – Catalyst Apr 1 '17 at 11:07
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    $\begingroup$ "Topical storms", Catalyst? I saw what you did there. $\endgroup$ – The Nate Apr 1 '17 at 17:13
  • $\begingroup$ Is this on islands in our world or what/where/who? Also, I think the meteor impact is much more to worry about than a large hurricane. Tornadoes have almost reached 500mph and properly designed structures can easily survive them; at length, if necessary. $\endgroup$ – Mikey Apr 3 '17 at 9:59
  • $\begingroup$ No, Mikey, it's just on an Earth-like planet. Also, hypercanes would have been MUCH worse than tornadoes, regardless of having similar wind speeds. Tornadoes can be big, but hypercanes are thought to have reached sizes comparable to the entire North American continent and could last for devastatingly long periods of time, as dying hypercanes could actually trigger the birth of new ones, and so on and so forth. Also, a meteor impact (like the one that killed the dinosaurs) would be bad BECAUSE of the potentially ensuing hypercanes, which would be generated by magma mixing with ocean waters. $\endgroup$ – C. S. Wright Apr 3 '17 at 16:16
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If a modern civilization had time to prepare we could set up underground dwellings/agriculture and survive it (or at least some people would, the longer we could prepare, the more would survive). Indoor farming is highly efficient, so assuming we have access to artificial lighting and power generation then we could survive underground almost indefinitely. If there wasn't time to prepare, some people could still find shelter in mines and existing underground structures, though the food they bring wouldn't last too long.

Pre-modern societies would have a much harder time. Underground farming is not feasible for them, so they would rely on whatever food stores they can amass before the event. If the storms are predictable, said humans could hunker down in mine shafts and weather it out, coming up to gather food until the next storm. But again, this all depends on how much time there is, and how predictable the storms are. Also, they need to make mine shafts that don't flood. Probably they dig straight into and up the side of a mountain to stop water from getting in, then the tunnel can go wherever. With ancient tech these would take forever to build, so these humans need a lot of warning.

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  • $\begingroup$ Good answer. Either way, it looks like an advanced warning and subterranean retreats are necessary, or at least exceedingly helpful, to survival. $\endgroup$ – C. S. Wright Apr 1 '17 at 15:24
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Modern civilization is highly sensible to weather conditions (see what hurricanes do to US), so it won't survive hypercanes.

Probably some more simple civilization could survive few months, provided they had harvested and stored enough food and water underground and above water level.

On longer time span, no survival is possible: humans depends either on agricolture or hunting for gathering food, and both are not possible in an hypercane, unless you rely on scavenging corpses of animal killed in the event, which in turn requires you to walk out searching for them.

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    $\begingroup$ I think they might be able to survive even on a longer scale, because we've been able to preserve meat for a very long time with inventions like pemmican and jerky, so we can live as hunter-gatherers and still stockpile for harsh winters, or in this case, harsh hypercanes... $\endgroup$ – wleightond Apr 1 '17 at 15:53
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I've been in some normal cyclones, they basically halt everything and you live off stored supplies. You can't cultivate outside, powerlines fail, water supplies fail, communication fails. You're limited to gearing up for any simple task outside in the weather. In your case another severe handicap is the inability to build, your building materials would disappear as fast as you unload them. Wood would be an issue because normal cyclones destroy trees which in turn affects fauna long term.

The only way I can see your scenario working is if people lived underground cultivating mushrooms or something like that and perhaps harnessing the hypercyclones for energy.

But longterm I would think eventually there just wouldn't be enough oxygen produces due to lack of flora for life to be sustainable. The storms you're suggesting would decimate forests and because they last so long instead of killing some and stripping leaves, they'd kill whole areas.

A week long normal cyclone is no fun at all to go through, extended periods would be exponentially worse. You can go outside if you really need to for an overriding reason like cutting a tree that has fallen on your roof and is trying to flog it's way into the house. In 500 mile an hour winds you'd just leave it and hope.

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  • $\begingroup$ Even if all the trees on earth dies, we would still have enough oxygen to last at least 100 years: scienceline.ucsb.edu/getkey.php?key=3097 $\endgroup$ – Alex Weitz Apr 2 '17 at 12:02
  • $\begingroup$ @AlexWeitz you think cyclones don't affect the sea for some reason? BUt anyway I said long term... you don't build a complex civilisation in a hundred years. $\endgroup$ – Kilisi Apr 2 '17 at 18:43

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