We live in a time when we’re encouraged to worry about our future sources of energy. Our society consumes energy at a ferocious rate, and our release of carbon dioxide is making changes to our climate that will last for hundreds of years. So it’s popular to speculate about alternatives, often in the form of “if we could only…” kinds of statements. You know what I mean. If we could only capture all of the sun’s energy that falls on Earth. If we could only harness all the tidal power in the Bay of Fundy. There are lots of them.
One day I heard an off-hand comment about the amount of energy produced by hurricanes. I did some searching, came up with some numbers, and thought Wow! If we could only harness that.
According to the Hurricane Research Division of the Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory, harnessing the winds of an average hurricane would produce the equivalent of half of the world’s electrical generating capacity—in one day. If we could somehow tap the heat energy produced in one day by the hurricane’s condensation of water vapour into rain, that would equal 200 times the world’s generating capacity! Other estimates claim a hurricane’s whole life cycle involves the energy equivalent of 10,000 nuclear bombs. Now that’s power!
I was sure that someday someone would try to do it, so I had to write a story about it. And my story “Hurricane” was born.
Of course, I had to come up with a plausible scientific way to collect some of that energy. I think I found it, though some may disagree (and I’ll let you read the story itself for the details). But I wanted a story not a science article. So, given the technology I was inventing, and the vast power of these destructive storms, I knew what was bound to happen and where the story had to be set. I also knew right away that, because of those elements, many people would swiftly condemn the story as cheesy, or simply unoriginal, so I’ve never submitted the story anywhere. That’s a shame, and I may do it yet because I think it’s a good yarn. It’s also a good chance to vicariously ride along with the Hurricane Hunters of the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron at Keesler AFB in Biloxi, Mississippi. So climb aboard, but whatever you do, don’t forget to fasten your seat belt.