President Donald Trump seemed to think he had come up with a brilliant solution to hurricanes that no one had thought of before. “I got it. I got it. Why don’t we nuke them?” he asked during a White House briefing, according to a source who was present and paraphrased the president’s words to Axios. “They start forming off the coast of Africa, as they’re moving across the Atlantic, we drop a bomb inside the eye of the hurricane and it disrupts it. Why can’t we do that?” The briefer reportedly vowed to look into it, but everyone appeared to be shocked at the suggestion. “You could hear a gnat fart in that meeting. People were astonished,” the source said.
It doesn’t appear this was an isolated idea either. Trump also raised the suggestion in another conversation that was outlined in a 2017 National Security Council memo. It doesn’t seem like the president suggested using nuclear weapons at that time, but he did apparently ask why hurricanes couldn’t be bombed. The White House refused to comment, but a senior administration official tried to put a positive spin on the situation. “His goal—to keep a catastrophic hurricane from hitting the mainland—is not bad,” the official said.
The idea that seems straight out of a big-budget Hollywood disaster movie isn’t as strange as it may sound and has been raised by others in the past, Axios notes. The issue is discussed enough that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has even published an explanation on its website about why it would be a bad idea to nuke a hurricane:
During each hurricane season, there always appear suggestions that one should simply use nuclear weapons to try and destroy the storms. Apart from the fact that this might not even alter the storm, this approach neglects the problem that the released radioactive fallout would fairly quickly move with the tradewinds to affect land areas and cause devastating environmental problems. Needless to say, this is not a good idea.