How Much Does A Hurricane Weigh? : Krulwich Wonders... The phrase raining cats and dogs isn't quite right when you talk about hurricanes. This hurricane season, we throw an average one onto a cloud scientist's scale to see just how much water these monster weather machines carry through the sky.

How Much Does A Hurricane Weigh?

Listen To Us Weigh A Hurricane

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

We know they're big. But let's get technical: If we could freeze frame a hurricane in the sky just for an instant, how many pounds of water is it carrying up there? Here's an approximate answer:

In our radio broadcast on Morning Edition, Andy Heymsfield of the National Center for Atmospheric Research used elephant–sized units of water to measure hurricanes, storm clouds and little white puffies. Years ago, in a story I did on ABC, another cloud measurer used elephant units, too. But for our new cartoon, Odd Todd and I switched to blue whales. Blue whales are bigger, which we thought would make the lesson more impressive. Either way, though, hurricanes are humongous.

Some of you may have noticed that our little white puffy cloud on the radio weighs more than our little white puffy cloud in the cartoon. That's because no two clouds are alike. And, as everybody knows, things get bigger when they're on the radio.