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Encyclopedia > Project Stormfury

Project Stormfury was an attempt to weaken hurricanes by using cloud seeding in the eyewall of these storms. The project was run by the United States government from 1962 to 1983. Airplanes flew into hurricanes and seeded the storm with silver iodide.

The core idea was that the silver iodide would cause supercooled water in the storm to freeze, disrupting the inner structure of the hurricane. In the 1980s, it was shown that most hurricanes do not contain enough supercooled water for cloud seeding to be effective. Additionally, researchers found that unseeded hurricanes often undergo the same structural changes that were expected from seeded hurricanes. This finding called Stormfury's successes into question, as the changes reported now had a natural explanation.

The last experimental flight was flown in 1971, due to a lack of candidate storms and a changeover in NOAA's aircraft fleet. More than a decade after the last modification experiment, Project Stormfury was officially cancelled.

Although Project Stormfury failed to definitively affect changes to hurricanes, the attempt was not futile. The observational data and storm lifecycle research generated by Stormfury helped improve meteorologists' ability to forecast the movement and intensity of future hurricanes.

Hurricanes seeded by Project Stormfury

  • Hurricane Esther (1961) - Esther predated the official start of Project Stormfury, but the attempt helped lead to the project's creation.
  • Hurricane Beulah (1963)
  • Hurricane Debbie (1969)
  • Hurricane Ginger (1971)

External Links

  • History of Project Stormfury (http://www.aoml.noaa.gov/hrd/hrd_sub/sfury.html)
  • History of hurricane seeding and modification efforts (http://www.aoml.noaa.gov/hrd/hrd_sub/stormfury_era.html)
  • NOAA AOML Hurricane Research Division FAQ on Project Stormfury (http://www.aoml.noaa.gov/hrd/tcfaq/C4.html)

  Results from FactBites:
Project Stormfury: Information from Answers.com (2573 words)
Project Stormfury was an attempt to weaken tropical cyclones by flying aircraft into them and seeding with silver iodide.
Project Stormfury was a joint venture of the United States Department of Commerce and the United States Navy.
In the sense of weakening hurricanes to reduce their destructiveness, Project Stormfury was a complete failure because it did not to distinguish between natural phenomena in tropical cyclones and the impact of human intervention.
Project Stormfury is a joint Navy and Weather Bureau (Environment Science Services Administration) weather experimental program.
The objective of Project Stormfury is the design and execution of a series of experiments on hurricanes for better understanding, prediction, and possible eventual control of some aspects of these severe storms.
Project Stormfury has developed from a single aircraft experiment in 1961to a complex series of experiments simultaneously employing eleven aircraft in 1965.
  More results at FactBites »



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