A physicist working at Temple University wants to build enormous 1,000 foot tall, 165 foot thick walls all around the American Midwest in hopes of keeping tornadoes out. Dr. Rongjia Tao knows his idea may sound somewhat peculiar, but it is based around the fact that the Chinese prairies experience very few twisters. This is due to the fact that they are encircled by various mountain ranges which cause passing winds to slow down and helps foil the development of many cyclones.
Dr. Tao’s research study was printed up in the International Journal of Modern Physics B. The paper proposes that the giant walls might just be able to eradicate tornadoes completely by averting the mingling of moist, warm air coming up from the Gulf and dry, cold air moving to the south. When the Gulf winds and the cold north air collide, that is when vortex turbulence is created and the weather is able to create major tornadoes. The 1,000 foot high walls would be able to fight this and perform similar actions to what the Chinese hill ranges do.
They would be responsible for breaking up the air flow and stopping winds from growing in strength. The physicist explained that while there were over 900 tornadoes in the United States back in 2013, of which 811 were officially confirmed. In China they only experienced three.
One of the three projected walls might be built near the northern edge of what is considered Tornado Alley. That is in the state of North Dakota. The second may be erected around the middle of the “Alley” which would be in the middle of the state of Oklahoma, and the third would probably be put up somewhere to the south of Louisiana and Texas.
Even though Tao thinks the practicality of the project would be very good, he realizes the chance of them being actually built is very small. He exclaimed that even though building the three huge walls would eventually eradicate all major tornadoes throughout the length of the entire Tornado Alley, it would be impracticable to thinks such a massive project would begin in the near future because of cost and many other issues.
The actual erecting of the three inconceivably colossal anti-tornado walls would also be considered the United States infrastructure project of the decade, probably the century. When one considers the price tag, the U.S. is barely able to keep up with repairs on highways, Interstates and even bridges already build. How will these walls be paid for?
Back in 2011, over 550 people were killed because of tornadoes and the majority of these deaths happened in Joplin, Missouri. U.S. twisters took the lives of nearly 70 individuals in 2012 and over 50 in 2013. The majority of these fatalities were located in deadly Tornado Alley. If the walls had been erected, Dr. Tao believes that just about all of those people would be alive today. He also stated that tornadoes end up costing the United States billions and billions of dollars, and the walls would in time save the U.S money.
However Dr. Tao adds that there are already some of the regions of America already sheltered from tornadoes, such as the Ozark Mountains. So there really would not be any reason they could not start small, and then go bigger yet it is more realistic to build walls close by that have very high twister risk areas, such Joplin, and then lengthen and attach the walls together.
It is most likely such walls will never be erected but it is good to know that there are thinkers like Tao out in the science community, still coming up with excellent theories that his colleagues are actually looking into. Hopefully they will be able to come up with cheaper, more practical destroyers of tornadoes. Even if gigantic mountainous twister walls built along Tornado Alley never happen, at least it feels good knowing that scientists are working on engineering resolutions which may be possible one day thanks to Dr. Tao and his work at Temple University studying the theory of enormous 1,000 foot tall, 165 foot thick walls all around the American Midwest in order to keep tornadoes out.
By Kimberly Ruble