April 2nd, 2014
12:46 PM ET

Could wind turbines tame hurricanes?

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Hurricane season won't begin in the Atlantic basin until June 1. But the South Pacific storm season is in full swing. At any point in time, in fact, it is the season for hurricanes, typhoons, or cyclones somewhere in the world. With winds up to an astounding 190 miles per hour, fierce storms can dump more than 2.4 trillion gallons of rain in a day.

At this point the world really has nothing to defend against nature's fury. But a Stanford study says there may be something that could stand in a hurricane's way. Quite literally. It's not some brand new technology or hypothetical machine we are talking about. It's wind turbines.

According to the study, large numbers of wind turbines could slow down the outer winds of the hurricane, decrease wave heights, and cause it to dissipate faster. The authors say 78,000 300-foot turbines off the coast of New Orleans could have reduced Hurricane Katrina's wind speeds by as much as 98 miles per hour by the time they reached land and decreased storm surge by an incredible 79 percent.

Considering the billions of dollars of destruction a single storm can cause, a solution that provides renewable energy, pays for itself – and saves lives. Where can one sign up?

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Topics: Last Look

soundoff (43 Responses)
  1. ✠ RZ ✠

    Gotcha, but how was it again that they were going to direct the hurricanes into the windmills? Or do they somehow quickly move all the windmills into the trajectory of the huricane at the 11th hour?

    April 2, 2014 at 4:52 pm |
    • greybuscat

      The point was to demonstrate how effective the technology can be, not to suggest that we could have prevented Katrina.

      I thought it was pretty obvious, but along you come, jumping to irrational conclusions.

      April 4, 2014 at 2:30 am |
      • Jimmy Cracks Capricorn

        Oh puh-leeze – you morons want to postulate wind turbines can shut down a constantly moving heat generated weather phenom but somehow climate science needs more debate – stuff a sock in the stupid for once would y'all!!??

        What a complete waste of....oh I get it...post stupid stuff and people read it, ad revenues go up. Rage logging goes up – ad revenues go up. Win win for CNN on a national Rx of Stupid.

        Got it.

        April 8, 2014 at 4:00 pm |
    • sandcanyongal


      April 13, 2014 at 1:52 pm |
  2. Ferhat Balkan

    This all sounds very interesting, but how about trying to fix the root of the problem like global warming?

    April 2, 2014 at 7:29 pm |
    • Todd

      there will be hurricanes and storms whether or not we address climate change, so wind turbines make perfect sense regardless. Free electricity + coastal protection = a win for mankind

      April 6, 2014 at 4:11 pm |
    • Mike

      plus global warming isn't going to be "fixed" for a long long time

      April 7, 2014 at 3:29 am |
  3. Dave

    Now I know we are doomed. A windmill farm tame an F3 tornado? Jim Jones would have all you 'scientists' drinking his Kool Aid with hardly an effort.

    April 2, 2014 at 8:35 pm |
    • Rahere

      Hurricane, not tornado. An entirely different order of beast, making it easier more likely to hit a static installation. Put wind farms offshore along the east coast, better yet off Haiti where they can use the power and where almost all come in over, and you take the sting out and use it for something useful.

      April 4, 2014 at 6:17 am |
  4. Jasz

    Yes isn't this a wonderful.idea. Nevermind that it would likely mean the absolute decimation of migratory birds which go right through the affected regions. More brilliant ideas from the greens!

    April 2, 2014 at 8:40 pm |
    • Todd

      the number of bird deaths are quite small when compared to all the other unnatural ways that birds are killed. There is an ongoing effort to find ways to make them more bird friendly. Pumping CO2 into the atmosphere is very bad for birds too!

      April 6, 2014 at 4:17 pm |
  5. Schlongtavious

    So the main force of a hurricane is 300 feet above the ocean? 78,000 windmills? What a load of garbage. Did the same models that are so accurate at predicting global warming produce this study?

    April 2, 2014 at 10:59 pm |
    • JFI

      I agree...I mean really...someone actually has these guys on their payroll to come up with this joke??.. The first category 5 hurricane that came along would scatter these turbines all over the ocean and we'd have junk washing up on shore along the entire gulf coast!....What a lame idea.

      April 6, 2014 at 11:08 pm |
  6. hifly3r

    78,000 300-foot wind turbines. Oh, that's all we need, sure, that's easy. 78,000!!! That's a good one. The blades laid end to end would be 6000 miles long. The cost would be more than the entire net worth of New Orleans. There are so many Ph.D. who are complete fools.

    April 3, 2014 at 2:34 am |
    • ✠RZ✠

      Hey, maybe we should just get all those retarded live-coverage news reporters to hold little propellers while standing out there in the horizontal rains and hurricane force winds?

      April 3, 2014 at 2:54 am |
  7. xuph19jjv

    Reading the negative comments is disheartening. It's an idea people; granted, one that doesn't lend itself well to practical application, but the study of doing so COULD lead to a practical application that would benefit people.

    Nevermind the one or two frontal lobe challenged doubting climate change, but I can imagine the lot of you sitting about nagging 'oh sure, bring potable clean water to a city the size of Rome! What next engineers, a bunch of paved roads leading to the city? HA!'

    It's amazing our species has made it this far with the myopic likes of you lot.

    April 3, 2014 at 11:45 am |
    • Jeff Roem

      Oh, mighty brainiac, we now to your superior intellect and arrogance.

      April 3, 2014 at 12:57 pm |
      • Freeflier181


        April 3, 2014 at 1:48 pm |
    • sgtrock101

      Forums are traumatized by the usual self described know-it-alls, believing this is some kind of peer review process instead of an informal communication system. The number and height of such geographic obstacles to wind movement replicates rough terrain that always, ALWAYS, slows down the intensity and duration of a hurricane in nature. It's lie a series of hills.

      April 5, 2014 at 12:16 pm |
  8. Nathan

    Even if it was practical to place that many turbines along the coastline, the wind speeds of a hurricane are much too high. To prevent damage, current turbines stop (apply the brakes) at 20-30 mph. Since the wind speed is in excess of 100 mph, this will not work, the turbines will not turn. I am not saying the research is poorly conducted or wrong, just that one of their initial assumptions is unrealistic.

    April 3, 2014 at 3:46 pm |
    • Nathan

      To follow up. Having that many turbines in the stationary positions would create a significant amount of drag, and likely have a similar effect. However, creating a large mass of stationary objects which are much cheaper and more durable would do the same thing.

      April 3, 2014 at 3:49 pm |
  9. lweba

    In hose land are you going to erect those 78,000 turbines, Do you know Americans/

    April 3, 2014 at 4:44 pm |
  10. Joey Isotta-Fraschini©

    Couldn't we all just synchronize our watches and observe one great moment of prayer?
    So truly, truly big....

    April 3, 2014 at 5:12 pm |
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    April 3, 2014 at 7:07 pm |
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    April 4, 2014 at 4:02 pm |
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    April 5, 2014 at 8:18 pm |
  14. Chris Asking Question

    So FZ wants to control the weather now? Hasn't mankind done enough damage to the Earth's environment already?

    April 6, 2014 at 8:13 am |
  15. Dell Stator

    1. Wind gens feather their blades in high winds so they don't over rotate and fly apart.
    2. Great idea, just to make energy forget the hurricanes.
    3. Birds do a fine job of missing things in their way via acute vision, hearing, and responding to pressure differences, otherwise the ground under our bridges (with thousands of strands of wire resembling nothing more than a big cheese gratter to strain birds out of the air – but don't), buildings, even cars and trucks. It is the rare bird getting wacked by the outer tips of the props, which are the only parts moving too fast to avoid – these things don't spin that fast, they'd fly apart. At any rate, fossil fuel power plants kill far more bird with their pollution.
    4. Do we have to worry about global wind gen use slowing down air flow over the whole planet and altering the climate????

    April 6, 2014 at 1:55 pm |
  16. Mike

    if turbines are used in this way they arent generating electricity, since the wind they're generating is supposed to be counter to the wind it's receiving, meaning what's turning it isnt natural but our own power grid. I guess they can provide electricity up to that point.

    April 7, 2014 at 3:28 am |
  17. Rick McDaniel

    Before you start building more wind turbines, you need to assess the damage those can cause, as they do a lot of damage in various ways, that no one likes to talk about.

    April 7, 2014 at 5:39 pm |
    • Please

      Please post all the damage they cause vs. all the damage caused by fossil fuel alternatives.

      April 8, 2014 at 9:40 am |
  18. JoeO

    Seriously? As if the windmills (A) will be where they need to be, so multiply the number by hundreds if not thousands, and (B) could absorb all that energy without failing, and it would only take one to fail to knock out many others.

    I suspect this study is classic utopian engineering, aka ivory tower thinking.

    April 9, 2014 at 11:29 am |
  19. esboella

    of course the big down side is winds cool the planet and if you slow then the planet warms!! DOH!!!!!!!!!!!

    April 15, 2014 at 11:29 pm |
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