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Why Can't We Stop Hurricanes?

One of the most commonly asked questions is why we don't try to stop hurricanes from forming or to disrupt them once they do form. It doesn't sound too hard, does it? Well, so far researchers have found it's impossible to do. The federal government, through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) tried various inventions to weaken hurricanes, but gave up in the 1960s. The weather systems that make up hurricanes are too large to affect. Now NOAA researchers focus on trying to better understand how hurricanes form and move.

In 1955, Congress funded the National Hurricane Research Project to conduct research into these dangerous storm systems. In 1960, researchers acquired two DC6 airplanes to use just for hurricane research. Improved computers and the regular flights of the "Hurricane Hunter" planes helped meteorologists (scientists who study weather) to learn more and more about hurricanes. Over time, the forecasts and project "track" of hurricanes has gotten more and more accurate.

Some of the successes achieved by NOAA researchers include:

Studying the success of a Stepped-Frequency Microwave Radiometer, carried aboard a Hurricane Hunter plane, to map a hurricane.

Designing satellite-based modems for transmitting information from the Hurricane Hunter plans to computers on the ground to speed up the transfer of the data.

Improving forecasting so that the future track of hurricanes is more accurate - very important to knowing where a hurricane will hit and if a particular community needs to evacuate.

Developing a "Global Positioning System Dropwindsonde" to take measurements in the inner core of hurricanes to improve analysis and forecasts.

Information courtesy of the Hurricane Research Division of the Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory/NOAA

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