I am wondering if denotating a nuclear bomb in the Atlantic Ocean during the hurricane season could trigger a hurricane.

For example, say that a 100-megaton bomb was loaded onto a ship and that ship then sailed into an area in the Atlantic Ocean where hurricanes usually form and then the bomb was denotated.

I am thinking that perhaps the massive rising fireball of this nuclear explosion would suck in hot moist air in that area, and as this air is pulled inward and upward, this rising air mass would start to rotate, and this upward-moving rotating air mass could trigger a new hurricane.

Could a nuclear explosion in the Atlantic Ocean during the hurricane season trigger a hurricane?


1 Answer 1


Hurricanes can only form when oceans reach a specific temperature.

The picture below shows the tracks of hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean for a 150 year period from 1848.

enter image description here

All the tracks are in the northern Atlantic Ocean, there are none in the southern Atlantic. This is because the southern Atlantic ocean is too cold for hurricanes to form.

Hurricanes need a lot of warm water to form and they need time to form. Compared to a hurricane, a nuclear bomb is just a flash in the pan.

A hurricane 800 km in diameter and with an eye 80 km in diameter will have an energy of 6.944 × 1017 joules, which is the equivalent of 166 megatonnes of TNT. The nuclear bomb dropped on Hirsoshima produced 15 kilotonnes. The hurricane contains 11 times more energy than the bomb dromped on Hiroshima.

As I mentioned before, a nuclear bomb is just a flash in the pan. When detonated, the energy is released instantaneously and dissipates very quickly and it does so in a small space.

A hurricane however requires time for the vortex to build and in doing so it develops a momentum over a large area that is difficult to stop.

Detonating a nuclear bomb in the Atlantic Ocean will not generate a hurricane, it releases too little energy, too quickly, in too small a space.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I'm not sure this answers the question well... they asked "could a nuclear explosion in the Atlantic Ocean during the hurricane season trigger a hurricane?", and went on to discuss how it'd be a process. They noted that it's during hurricane season, suggesting they're aware the environment would have to play its part. A tropical wave also doesn't have the KE of a hurricane... but it's primed to facilitate the gathering of energy to create one. So I take their question more to be "could a nuclear bomb create a new capable tropical disturbance", which is an interesting question to consider $\endgroup$ Jul 3, 2022 at 11:05
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @JeopardyTempest, that would have been a better question for me to ask. If a powerful nuclear explosion could create a new tropical disturbance, and this then develops into a hurricane, then it's possible that a nuclear explosion could lead to the creation of a hurricane. $\endgroup$
    – user57467
    Jul 3, 2022 at 11:37

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.