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Science & Technology

Giant walls could be built to stop tornadoes

By T.K. Randall
March 9, 2014 · Comment icon 26 comments

Tornadoes often prove highly destructive and deadly. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0 Justin Hobson
Physicist Rongjia Tao has suggested the construction of huge walls to prevent tornadoes from forming.
Of all the ideas put forward to help offset the threat of tornadoes in America's infamous Tornado Alley, that of Temple University's Rongjia Tao is perhaps the most unusual and the most ambitious.

At a recent meeting of the American Physical Society, Tao suggested that the best way to combat tornadoes would be to construct a gigantic wall 300m tall and 160km long. This massive barrier wouldn't be designed to withstand the forces of a tornado but to instead slow down the movement of air in the region enough to prevent tornadoes from forming in the first place.
"If we build three east-west great walls, one in North Dakota, one along the border between Kansas and Oklahoma, and the third in the south in Texas and Louisiana, we will diminish the threats in Tornado Alley forever," he said.

The idea has been met with a significant degree of skepticism.

"Everybody I know is of 100 percent agreement - this is a poorly conceived idea," said weather researcher Joshua Wurman. "The cure could be worse than the disease."

Source: Wired | Comments (26)




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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #17 Posted by Finity 11 years ago
A 300ft high wall would be quite an ugly thing to have on the landscape and theres no guarantee it would work. A powerful tornado may pull the wall appart making the situation far worse. Maybe people should just stop living in the path of tornados in wooden houses, shacks and caravans. If you want something to survive a tornado, you build down not up...
Comment icon #18 Posted by aquatus1 11 years ago
A "typhoon" is NOT a "tornado" in the classical sense(though cyclonic activity is prevalent in all). A tornado is very small in comparison, for one, perhaps a half a mile or more, and has no "eye-wall" A "typhoon" is exactly the same as a "hurricane"(neither of which are "tornadoes"), and stretches many, many hundreds of miles. Just that the naming is different for these storms given their regional location and cultural language describing these massive storms. See here for more info: http://oceanservice....ts/cyclone.html You know, I keep hearing that, but in practice I have been through thre... [More]
Comment icon #19 Posted by danielost 11 years ago
Tell that to the two Korean fleets that tried to invade japan. Both went down due to the divine wind, Kamikaze.
Comment icon #20 Posted by aquatus1 11 years ago
You mean the ones from about 800 years ago? I wasn't around.
Comment icon #21 Posted by Junior Chubb 11 years ago
Sounds like a poor excuse to build more walls in America...
Comment icon #22 Posted by maximusnow 11 years ago
Well, they would have to make a way for sharks to be filtered from the tornadoes, prior to wall impact. Just sayin! Maximus
Comment icon #23 Posted by Hobbit Feet 11 years ago
I think the theory is to disrupt the flow, not to cause it to come to a dead stop. If a tornado is forming or moving and runs into a structure it may disrupt the circular wind flow which may cause it to begin breaking up. I don't think the wall would have to be very high but there would have to be a lot of them. Just a thought.
Comment icon #24 Posted by ancient astronaut 11 years ago
Giant walls to fend off the Kaiju.
Comment icon #25 Posted by spud the mackem 11 years ago
Hadrian once built a wall across Englnd to stop the Scots invading, but they are still getting in.
Comment icon #26 Posted by simplybill 11 years ago
Maybe people should just stop living in the path of tornados in wooden houses, shacks and caravans. If you want something to survive a tornado, you build down not up... I agree, Finity. There are some really nice-looking, tornado-proof dome house designs.


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