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Building Walls to Block Out Deadly Tornadoes?

Jun 23, 2014 06:33 PM EDT
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According to a recent publication in the International Journal of Modern Physics B, one possible solution to the tornadoes that annually wreak havoc in the US's Tornado Alley is to literally build three east-west great walls to block out such environmental threats forever.

Professor Rongjia Tao behind the research claims these walls can be built locally at high tornado risk areas to eliminate tornado threats there first, then gradually extended.

Tornado Alley, which is a strip of land between the Appalachian Mountains and the Rocky Mountains, including most American Midwest states, gets its name because that's where the most devastating tornadoes occur each year. In 2013, there were 811 confirmed tornadoes, the majority of them in this region.

Tornado Alley is inside the "zone of mixing," where warm and moist air flowing towards the North clashes with cold air moving towards the South, accoridng to a press release. Such clashes result in violent vortexes, or supercells, which 30 percent of the time result in the deadly tornadoes we witness.

Wind speeds are also an integral part of developing tornadoes, and that's where Tao's wall idea comes in.

The Northern China Plain and the Eastern China Plain, for example, are also in the zone of mixing, just like Tornado Alley. However, this region doesn't boast as high a number of tornadoes as in the US's Tornado Alley thank to three east-west mountain ranges, which protect these plains.

While there are no mountains in Tornado Alley to protect it from tornado threats like the Jiang-Huai Hills do, for example, in China, Tao proposes we create mountains of our own.

However, there are the Ozarks Mountains and Shawnee Hills, but they are for the most part ineffective at providing any sort of protection, except to a few local areas, since they run from north to south, not east to west.

That's why Tao wants to build three great walls: one close to the northern boundary of Tornado Alley, possibly in North Dakota; one in the middle, maybe in the middle of Oklahoma; and one in the south of Texas and Louisiana.

Such obstructions may affect the weather, but only slightly, and Tao argues that their benefits outweigh their costs - even though building such eyesores would require $160 million.

There is no such project in the works anytime soon, but Tao suggests possibly building a city in Tornado Alley with tall skyscrapers could be another solution in the near future.

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