Hurricane Harvey. Cat 4. Major flooding. Conspiracy Theories.

Mick West

Staff member

With Hurricane Harvey set to cause historic flooding in Texas, the conspiracy theories have already begun.
Groundless of course. Hurricanes happen quite naturally. What they don't do is happen every year with the same intensity, or in the same place. There has not been a storm like this in this location since Hurricane Ike in 2008. Ike was a category 2, Harvey is forecast to possibly make landfall as a category 3.

The occasional and random nature of hurricanes has two effects. Firstly people forget, or new people move into the area, and so the lessons of the past are not applied, and people die. Worst case forecasts are valuable for when the worst case occurs, but since it does not always occur then people get the false idea that the dire forecasts are always wrong, this time it looks like they will be right.

But it also gives fuel for conspiracy theories about the path and intensity of the storm being engineered. We will see more of these over the next few days. But they are baseless. The reason why we know what the storm is doing is because we can model it. Long term models vary, but the storm is not doing anything unexplained. No "weather modification" explanation is called for here. It's just a major hurricane.
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Active Member
I cannot understand the mindset of people who come up with ideas like this, hurricanes are a natural phenomenon governed by processes that are generally well understood, they also follow broadly predictable paths. But there are always outliers. In 1867 for example the seventh recorded hurricane of the season arose in the Gulf of Mexico and traveled east along the United States southern coastline before dissipating somewhere in the Atlantic, in 1999 Hurricane Lenny was again an example of a hurricane with a West-to-East trajectory. Wikipedia has details and estimated storm tracks for both.

1867 Atlantic Hurricane Season: Hurricane Seven

1999 Atlantic Hurricane Season: Hurricane Lenny

Also possibly useful for this topic is another Wikipedia page, this one deals with Tropical Cyclones that have appeared in fiction, several of the plot descriptions mention their use in scenarios involving weather modification. A fairly typical example is the 1999 made-for-TV film 'Storm' which has a cabal in the US military trying to use a machine to manipulate the path and intensity of tropical storms. The film makers specifically link testing of the device to 1992s Hurricane Andrew, but there is also a novel from 2007 which has the US Government experimenting with weather manipulation using lasers as far back as 1971.

Wikipedia: Tropical Cyclones in Popular Culture

The NOAA page referenced in the Wikipedia article is also well worth looking at, as I suspect that conspiracy theorists mine popular culture for ideas.


Active Member
I had planned to edit my last post to add this, but I must have missed the cut off period. Wikipedia has two maps of tropical cyclone paths, the first covers storms from 1985 - 2006 (Eg within the era of total satellite coverage.), the second takes in storms from prior to full satellite coverage being achieved (Around 1966) and runs 1945 - 2006, what both maps make clear is that Tropical storms (Cyclones, Hurricanes, Typhoons etc) as I mentioned in the last post follow broadly predictable paths and occur in specific regions, obvious outliers (Like Hurricane Catarina (Also known as Cyclone Catarina.) off Brazil and Hurricane Vince off Spain) tend to stand out, with the clustering of storm tracks being easy to see at the global level,

Tropical Cyclones 1985 - 2005

Tropical Cyclones 1945 - 2006

One other thing that will doubtless be bought up by conspiracy theorists talking about Hurricane Harvey is Project Stormfury (1962 - 1983), this was a US Government program to weaken hurricanes by seeding them with silver iodide, bedeviled practically from the get-go with claims that the 'true goal' was to 'weaponize hurricanes' the program was only finally cancelled when the accumulated data from hurricane research flights revealed that conditions inside hurricanes were not suitable for silver iodide cloud seeding and that changes observed after some Stormfury test flights in fact occurred naturally. Wikipedia's article is a good summary of the project, it's goals and the results.
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Mick West

Staff member
As expected, Dane Wigington of Geoengineering Watch is claiming that the path of hurricane Harvey was manipulated, at 10:00 in this video.
Dane paints a rather confusing picture of the reasons for wanting to steer Harvey. He first claims that all the other countries in the world know exactly what the US is doing, but that it's getting suspicious as there has been a "12 year drought" on major Hurricanes making landfall. So this was an event that's suspicious because it looks normal?

By 12 years he's probably referring to Katrina in 2005, causing $100 billion in damage. But it's not like there's been nothing since then. Hurricane Ike in 2008 caused $37.5B, Irene in 2011 cost $16B. And the other storm he mentioned, Sandy, cost $75 billion, in 2012. There have been others.

And if you look back over the history of hurricanes this century, it's just normal variation.
In fact, if anything the 2004/2005 spike was the anomaly - two very heavy back to back years like that has not happened in the historical record. The frequency since then has been pretty normal.

But how exactly did weather forecasters predict the path the hurricane would take so accurately? They just forecast the weather. They record data from weather stations and satellites, they plug it into computer models that have been refined over decades, and they see what the computer predicts. In this case the computer predicted that Harvey would stall over Houston after making landfall on August 25th.

Hurricanes move based on what the high level (25,000 to 50,000 ft) winds are doing. Hurricanes generally are born from the tropical trade winds moving west, and then move north and eventually are picked up by the westerlies heading east. In this case there was a bit of a dead zone, meaning Harvey has very little upper air wind operating on it.,28.46,1640/loc=-92.618,31.745
Look at the big picture.


Active Member
What you have just described is fairly typical for conspiracy theorists, they don't need a coherent argument, just one that throws doubt onto the 'official story'. Weather forecasters have been doing this for well over a century now, with success in some cases, failure in others.

The 1995 IMAX documentary "Stormchasers" has a sequence where they re-enact the weather forecasting of 1993s Hurricane Emily and it's a good demonstration of the process that forecasters go through (Things have not changed that much since the 1990s.)


Senior Member.
how long before the first mention of HAARP?
Not that long at all as it turns out.

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