Physicist claims 1,000-foot walls could protect US from tornadoes

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A physicist claims we can protect parts of the United States from tornadoes by building several enormous walls across Tornado Alley, according to a USA Today report.

“If we build three east-west great walls in the American Midwest…. one in North Dakota, one along the border between Kansas and Oklahoma to the east, and the third one in south Texas and Louisiana, we will diminish the tornado threats in the Tornado Alley forever,” according to physicist Rongjia Tao of Temple University.

Tao said the walls would be around 1,000 feet high and 150 feet wide. He will present his research next week at the annual meeting of the American Physical Society in Denver.

Tao says the tornadoes are created from “violent clashes between northbound warm air flow and southbound cold air flow.”

Tao says because there are no west-to-east mountains in Tornado Alley to weaken air flow, collisions between warm and cold air create turbulence and supercells that can spawn tornadoes. He used China as an example, where east-west mountain ranges help reduce the frequency of tornadoes.

The cost of the project? $60 billion per 100 miles, according to estimates.

Naysayers abound. Aside from the cost of $60 billion per 100 miles (according to Tao’s estimates) and huge engineering challenges, “it wouldn’t work,”

Tornado researcher Harold Brooks of the National Severe Storms Laboratory in Norman, Okla., said in an e-mail “it wouldn’t work.” Brooks said China does see deadly tornadoes despite its mountain ranges.

“If his hypothesis was true, we’d already have the thing he wants to build naturally,” Brooks said.

Read more: USA Today

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