Donald Trump denies suggesting the US nuke hurricanes to prevent landfall

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said the suggestion was ‘not a good idea’

US President Donald Trump reacts during his a bilateral meeting with Egyptian President and Chairman of the African Union Abdel Fattah al-Sissi in Biarritz, south-west France on August 26, 2019, on the third day of the annual G7 Summit. / AFP / Nicholas Kamm
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US President Donald Trump has denied reports that he suggested dropping nuclear bombs on hurricanes before they make landfall in the United States.

A report from US news service Axios on Sunday claimed Mr Trump asked if it were possible to disrupt hurricanes forming off the coast of Africa by dropping a nuclear bomb in the eye of the storm.

“I got it. I got it. Why don’t we nuke them?," he was reported as telling advisers.

Mr Trump called the story "ridiculous" in a tweet on Monday afternoon, claiming the report from Axios was a case of "fake news". The President, currently attending the G7 summit in Biarritz, France, has accused a range of outlets of false reporting about him and his administration throughout his term.

Axios did not say when the conversation took place, but it was apparently not the first time the president made such a suggestion. In 2017, Mr Trump asked a senior official whether the administration should bomb hurricanes to prevent them making landfall, Axios said.

Mr Trump did not specify in this conversation that nuclear bombs be used.

The White House declined to comment at the time, but Axios quoted a senior administration official as saying Mr Trump's "objective is not bad".

Mr Trump's idea is not new. The suggestion was originally made by a government scientist in the 1950s, under President Dwight Eisenhower.

The idea continues to pop up, even though scientists agree it would not work. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has a page dedicated to the concept.

"During each hurricane season, there always appear suggestions that one should simply use nuclear weapons to try to destroy the storms," the NOAA said.

Not only would a bomb not alter a storm, the winds would quickly spread radioactive fallout over nearby land, NOAA added.

"Needless to say, this is not a good idea," said NOAA.

The US is regularly pummelled by hurricanes. In 2017 one named Harvey became the strongest hurricane to make landfall in 12 years.

Twitter lit up with reactions to Mr Trump's suggestion, with many users appearing shocked.

"Not 'The Onion,'" one user wrote, referring to the satirical news publication known for outlandish headlines.

"What could possibly go wrong?" asked another.

Many tweets also included the hashtag #ThatsHowTheApocalypseStarted.

Democratic presidential hopeful Kamala Harris weighed in as well, tweeting, "Dude's gotta go."