President Trump has suggested multiple times to senior Homeland Security and national security officials that they explore using nuclear bombs to stop hurricanes from striking the United States, according to Axios.
During one hurricane briefing at the White House, one source told Axios that Trump said, “I got it. I got it. Why don’t we nuke them?”
“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 source added, paraphrasing Trump’s remarks.
The briefer reportedly told the president, “Sir, we’ll look into that.”
Trump reportedly responded by asking how many hurricanes the U.S. could handle and reiterated his suggestion that the government should work to prevent them from making landfall.
The briefer “was knocked back on his heels,” the source in the room added. “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?'”
Trump also raised the idea in another conversation with a senior administration official. A 2017 NSC memo describes that second conversation, in which Trump asked whether the administration should bomb hurricanes to stop them from hitting the homeland. A source briefed on the NSC memo said it does not contain the word “nuclear”; it just says the president talked about bombing hurricanes.
The source added that this NSC memo captured “multiple topics, not just hurricanes. … It wasn’t that somebody was so terrified of the bombing idea that they wrote it down. They just captured the president’s comments.”
Sources said that Trump’s “bomb the hurricanes” idea went nowhere and never entered a formal policy process.
A senior administration official defended Trump’s idea and said it was no cause for alarm. “His goal — to keep a catastrophic hurricane from hitting the mainland — is not bad,” the official said. “His objective is not bad.
“What people near the president do is they say ‘I love a president who asks questions like that, who’s willing to ask tough questions.’ … It takes strong people to respond to him in the right way when stuff like this comes up. For me, alarm bells weren’t going off when I heard about it, but I did think somebody is going to use this to feed into ‘the president is crazy’ narrative.”
The myth of using nuclear bombs to stop hurricanes has been so persistent that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the U.S. 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.”