Donald Trump’s reported solution to hurricanes: ‘Nuke them’

US president reported to have asked officials multiple times if hurricanes could be bombed

US president Donald Trump has reportedly asked officials to explore using nuclear bombs to stop hurricanes before they reach the United States. Photograph: Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

US president Donald Trump has reportedly asked officials to explore using nuclear bombs to stop hurricanes before they reach the United States. Photograph: Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

 

Donald Trump has asked senior officials to explore the potential of using nuclear bombs to stop hurricanes from reaching the United States, a US news website has reported.

The US president made the suggestion multiple times in meetings with Homeland Security and national security officials, according to the news site, Axios.

“I got it. I got it. Why don’t we nuke them?”, Mr Trump is reported to have asked during one hurricane briefing at the White House.

“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 president added, according to a source who was present at the meeting. The source said they were paraphrasing Mr Trump’s remarks.

An official’s response to Mr Trump, according to the source, was: “Sir, we’ll look into that.”

Mr Trump responded by asking how many hurricanes the US could handle and reiterating his suggestion that the government intervene before they made landfall.

The official briefing him “was knocked back on his heels”, according to the source quoted by Axios. “You could hear a gnat fart in that meeting. People were astonished. After the meeting ended, we thought, ‘What the f***? What do we do with this?’”

Axios said Mr Trump raised the idea in another conversation with a senior administration official.

The news site refers to a 2017 National Security Council memo that describes that conversation, in which Mr Trump asked whether the administration should bomb hurricanes before they hit the US. A source briefed on the NSC memo told Axios it did not contained the word “nuclear”, but just said the president had talked about bombing hurricanes.

The source said the idea went nowhere and never entered a formal policy process.

Asked for a response, a senior White House official told Axios it did not comment on private discussions “that the president may or may not have had with his national security team”.

Axios points out that Mr Trump did not invent the idea of bombing hurricanes to keep them from reaching the US. “The notion that detonating a nuclear bomb over the eye of a hurricane could be used to counteract convection currents dates to the Eisenhower era, when it was floated by a government scientist.

“The idea keeps resurfacing in the public even though scientists agree it won’t work,” the news site says.

“The myth has been so persistent that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the US government agency that predicts changes in weather and the oceans, published an online fact sheet for the public under the heading ‘Tropical Cyclone Myths Page’.

“The page states: ‘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.’”