5 Hardcore Moves for Fighting Disasters Right Out of An Action Movie

Have we tried bombing it? Bombs could work
5 Hardcore Moves for Fighting Disasters Right Out of An Action Movie

Disaster movies are fun, but they have a big flaw: Very rarely do characters actually fight the disaster. A twister (or multiple twisters) heads into town, and instead of engaging the tornado in combat, because that would be “impossible,” the characters merely try to escape. Their only goal is survival, and what’s exciting about that? You yourself have survived almost a dozen days just this month, and no one’s making a movie about you.

We should demand more. How about that one 1990s volcano movie where they tried to kill the volcano by drowning it — that was cool, right? Or, better yet, how about the following solutions, which are even crazier and are employed by people in real life…

China Prevents Floods by Bombing Rivers

Rivers don’t freeze up as easily as lakes, since their water moves so much. But they do freeze sometimes, and that’s a problem. Perhaps the ice in one river forms a huge chunk that spans from one bank to the other, while the inlets into the river go on flowing. The river’s now dammed, new water keeps coming and the stuff has to go somewhere. The river overflows its banks, and maybe this flood destroys a bunch of houses.

In China, they have a tool for solving this problem: bomber planes. In 2014, when the Yellow River froze, they sent H-6 bombers to blast the dammed thing. Russia has tried the same thing. Over there, the problem river is the Sukhona, which could destroy 4,500 homes if it floods. A few air strikes from Su-34 bombers help, though the bombers have to strike over and over, since the river otherwise freezes right up again.



There are worse ways to use bombs.

It’s probably not a coincidence that the two countries who’ve adopted this tactic are the same ones who spend a lot of time threatening to invade neighbors, or actually invading neighbors. There may be more surgical methods of removing river ice, but those alternatives don’t broadcast the message, “Hey! We have bomber planes.”

Blasting a Plague of Locusts with a Flamethrower

In 1937, Colorado faced an apocalyptic number of hungry grasshoppers. It started with a few dozen million of the critters, from eggs that blew to one location thanks to some unusual winds. Once they took to reproducing, billions of them crawled around in every 10 square miles that the swarm occupied. They ate crops, of course, and even munched their way through clothing or gobbled the hairs off of livestock. 

1875 cartoon by Henry Worrall showing Kansas farmers battling giant grasshoppers

Henry Worrall

Many a farmer was left fully nude.

Among the many solutions Colorado tried was one that involved strapping flamethrowers to slow trains. The locusts lived and died in such high numbers that the flamethrowers were necessary to stop the bugs from covering the tracks and turning into dangerous goo. Flamethrowers might sound like overkill, but they actually proved to be insufficient at stopping the spread.

Another cool but ultimately useless weapon: dynamite. Colorado’s adjutant general ordered troops to chuck dynamite directly at the grasshoppers. This presumably killed a few of them, but most of them seemed to hop right out of danger.

1937 Colorado locusts

National Guard

Plague swarms are immune to physical damage.

The real answer came, once again, from aircraft. They sprayed the grasshoppers from above — with paint. This allowed scientists to track them and predict migratory patterns and, therefore, properly deploy their next weapon: poison. They blended poison with sawdust, bran and molasses, and they dropped this mixture in the locusts’ path. The poison program cost $1 million, but it was worth it, since it kept the bugs from consuming us all.

Defeating a Tornado with Basketball

During a college basketball game in 2008, nearly 15,000 spectators sat in a stadium in Atlanta. Most of them had come from out of town and were staying in hotels, and they’d walked from their rooms to the Georgia Dome. When the game ended, these thousands of fans were set to walk back out onto the street. At that point, they would have found themselves eaten up by a 120-mph tornado. 

Tornado 2008

Goingstuckey/Wiki Commons

It reduced this building to its skeleton. People would fare just as bad.

The tornado flipped over cars near the stadium and tore down a couple light towers. It didn’t kill any of the spectators, though, because they remained inside. The roof shook and showered everyone with bits of insulation, but the tornado didn’t slam the building directly.

They were inside because the game went into overtime. And the game went into overtime because, eight minutes before the tornado passed just outside, an Alabama player named Mykal Riley sank a three-pointer. He did so with just two seconds left on the clock. Riley, by the way, had begun is basketball career as a waterboy, so never underestimate how far someone can rise.

Atlanta tornado damage

Mark Peppers

And never underestimate the importance of hydration.

The butterfly effect is crazy like that — the smallest thing can cause a storm, or save people from a storm. Though, if we’re tracing a butterfly effect’s origins, you can always go further back and find out even more. When Sports Illustrated profiled Riley, they noted that the kid only became adept at basketball because his grandmother took the unusual step of building a full basketball court in her backyard. She could only afford to do that because of a life insurance payout, after her daughter’s whole family was murdered by her granddaughter’s crazy ex. 

So, maybe those fans were saved by a three-pointer. Or maybe they were ultimately saved by murder. 

Shooting Fires with a Tank

The harder a fire burns, the harder it is to put out. After the first Gulf War, Kuwait was home to what was possibly the hardest-burning fire in Earth’s history. The retreating Iraqis had set fire to the country’s oil wells, and these fires burned for six months. Left alone, they’d go on burning for decades more, with flames 300 feet high.

Smoke plumes from a few of the Kuwaiti Oil Fires on April 7, 1991,


Here’s what the smoke looked like as viewed from a space shuttle.

A little conventional water could do nothing against this blaze. You’d need a spray so powerful that it would cut totally through the flames, fully separating the part that’s burning from the oil below. The Kuwaitis managed this with a vehicle named Windy. It was a World War II tank, mounted with two 10-foot engines from a Russian fighter plane. The engines sucked up water, which blew out through a nozzle and shot at the fire.

This water was seawater, incidentally. The Kuwaitis built hundreds of reservoirs, each with millions of gallons of seawater, just for this firefighting operation. They sent water to these reservoirs from the sea through pipelines. Saltwater is approximately as good as freshwater for putting out fires; we just tend to use freshwater because we don’t normally have saltwater on tap. 

Kuwaiti oil well fire, south of Kuwait City, March, 1991

EdJF/Wiki Commons

And because salt residue is yucky, and that wasn’t relevant here.

The tank didn’t exactly spray seawater at the fire, however. The water mixed with the exhaust that the engines were spitting out, and that resulted in a blast of not liquid water but of steam. This steam, though a gas, functioned as a barrier, blocking the flames from passing to the new oil bubbling from underground. And while steam isn’t generally known for its cooling properties, it’s a lot cooler than those 2,000-degree flames.

By the way, do you know why we call these giant war vehicles “tanks”? It’s because back when the British were first designing them for World War I, “tanks” was the codename they were assigned, to obscure their true nature. The name was supposed to indicate that they were water carriers, not war machines. Later, it would turn out that they could be both. 

Allying with Aliens to Prevent Hurricanes

Disclaimer: Allying with aliens is not a proven method for preventing hurricanes. But some people are attempting it all the same. 

A major hurricane hit the Mexican cities of Madero and Tampico in 1966. The following year, people there reported seeing something else in the sky: UFOs. Numerous residents saw a total of nine objects seemingly flying in formation. No one was ever able to identify just what the witnesses saw. But the towns were never destroyed by a hurricane again, and that can’t be a coincidence, can it?

Hurricane Inez near Yucatán Peninsula


And we never named another hurricane “Inez” again. Coincidence?

“Right,” you perhaps are saying now. “That’s not a coincidence, only in that it doesn’t even rise to the level of coincidence. There’s nothing notable here.” But residents near Miramar beach in the state of Tamaulipas celebrate not just that hurricanes fail to turn up but that the area appears to actively repel hurricanes. More than once, a tropical storm has aimed itself right at this sector of Mexico before suddenly moving off-course.

One explanation, given how unpredictable hurricanes are (what with all those butterflies flapping about), is that storms move in strange ways. So, if you look at a wide enough area, there’s bound to be some spot that hurricanes happen to turn away from a couple times. Another explanation is that the water off this coast is unusually cold, so it attracts masses of air that really do manage to deflect hurricanes northward or southward.

Miramar beach, located in Madero City in the state of Tamaulipas in Mexico

CarolEstefSalas/Wiki Commons

Now that we’ve satisfied you rational people, let’s get back to the fun explanation.

A third explanation is that someone is protecting Tamaulipas. Some residents choose to believe that this is an extraterrestrial force, which people spotted in 1967 and which remains here, under the water. The aliens live in a secret base called Amupac. It’s hidden underwater, and though no one has visited it physically, some claim to have astrally projected there.

This idea of a higher power protecting us sounds very religious. In fact, others in Tamaulipas apply a traditionally religious explanation. In 1967, people built a statue to the patron saint of fishermen, so maybe that’s who’s responsible. Many religious people around the world would find that to be a much more normal answer, while the Amupac believers would dismiss all that saint stuff as hokum.

our Lady of Carmen

Sarcus06/Wiki Commons 

But what if the Virgin of Carmen is an alien, has anyone thought of that?

Whatever the explanation, Tamaulipas has been spared, repeatedly. In 1988, forecasts said Hurricane Gilbert would strike, but it turned away and hit elsewhere. In 2005, forecasts now said Hurricane Katrina would strike, and residents held up signs begging the aliens to intervene. Katrina did devastating damage — but not in Tamaulipas, because it changed course and never landed there.

So, in a way, whoever is protecting Tamaulipas directly attacked the United States. Perhaps it’s time to fire a few nuclear torpedoes at Amupac. Let’s see if they can repel those

Follow Ryan Menezes on Twitter for more stuff no one should see.

Scroll down for the next article
Forgot Password?