Water Spouts to Stop Hurricanes
~ cool the Gulf and bring gentle daily rains to weaken storms ~
TL;DR — Hurricanes strengthen due to warm waters. Create water spouts (a weak ‘humidity-tornado’ at sea) to cool the waters and prevent hurricanes’ strengthening. They’ll also bring gentle, cool, regular rains, siphoning the intensity off of heavier downpours. How? Giant black tarps floating a few inches below the waves.
The Problem of Having Too Much Power
Hurricanes cost societies billions of dollars in damages and hundreds of lives each year, aside from disrupting those balmy zones’ tourist seasons and stifling development in the poorer regions. Those same semi-tropical zones see lethal floods from that same force of hot humidity rising off their coasts.
If we can ‘tap’ that keg of steamy air, venting the energy in small doses every day, then we prevent the build-up of humidity that powers damaging hurricanes and floods. Water spouts might do the trick. Here’s how to build one:
By laying a wide circle of buoys to support a black tarp between them like a trampoline, a few inches beneath the water, we can concentrate the heat of the day into those top few inches of water, rapidly steaming away. That steam we create means the waters beneath are kept cool — but the steam can’t be left piling-up above the water, or it will accelerate those hurricanes and floods.
So, in the center of this wide black lily-pad, position a buoy with solar panels and fans — to push air into an upward spiral once humidity sensors reach a threshold. Just a little nudge of fan-power is all that’s needed for ‘ignition’ of the water-spout vortex. When it takes-off, this water spout siphons the humidity from above the water surrounding the lily-pad for miles— cooling all of those waters, as well.
That vortex of humidity is carried high into the air, where it cools rapidly to form fluffy clouds that reflect sunlight, helping to cool things down more. When they fall as rain (inland, if you position them well), it is a brief sprinkle — by sputtering these spouts daily, you can provide irrigation for free to thousands of square miles of dry hillside in areas like the coast of Texas and Mexico.
With durable marine-grade plastics, no intention of letting them degrade at sea or cause harm, a lily-pad covering a square mile would cost a couple million dollars and last many years. If each lily-pad, spouting daily during all the warm seasons, siphons and clears enough humidity from the surface waters in an area twenty times its own diameter, then the entire Gulf of Mexico would require 1,500 such lily-pads — for an up-front price in the $5–10 Billion range, with minimal annual operating costs. That’s much cheaper than all the clean-up and rescue, insurance premiums, lost wages and tourism, debt traps! A single major hurricane can cost twice as much in direct damages. Water spouts would more than pay for themselves after their first hurricane season.
Considering other impacts — these lily-pads would only cover 1/400th of the water’s surface, so they wouldn’t impede travel or disrupt fisheries. Instead, by keeping the waters cool, these lilies would protect native habitats from climate change — the Gulf waters are currently becoming too hot to thrive. Additionally, the water spouts drizzle regular, gentle rains — oxygenating the surface waters steadily. Contrast that with the deluge of intermittent hurricanes, too much oxygen all-at-once to make use of it, followed by anoxic dead zones.
The potential economic value of gentle rains inland can be immense — not just in terms of net profits, but as a percentage improvement for the poorer communities in those dry regions.
Another feature of the lily-pads — you don’t need to build a singular, monolithic structure that can fail catastrophically. Each lily-pad is its own redundant sub-system, and you can roll-out more of them along the coastlines, then further out into the deeper Gulf waters in successive stages. The costs are not born in one lump-sum. So, they can scale well. And that makes bulk production simple, driving down costs long-term. It might not be the best fix, but a water spout lily-pad can be rolled-out quickly, which might become critical as the waters continue to warm.