To Stop Tornadoes, Build Giant Walls Between States

Or so a new physics paper proposes.

Safe House After Storm

via RhinoSafe

There aren't too many details on this, but an abstract called "Can We Eliminate the Major Tornado Threats in Tornado Alley?" appearing in the Bulletin of the American Physical Society is definitely, uh, intriguing. How are we to eliminate tornadoes? Through gigantic walls strategically placed across the country.

Here's the abstract in full:

The recent devastating tornado attacks in Oklahoma, Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota raise an important question: can we do something to eliminate the major tornado threats in Tornado Alley? Violent tornado attacks in Tornado Alley are starting from intensive encounters between the northbound warm air flow and southbound cold air flow. As there is no mountain in Tornado Alley ranging from west to east to weaken or block such air flows, some encounters are violent, creating instability: The strong wind changes direction and increases in speed and height. As a result, it creates a supercell, violent vortex, an invisible horizontal spinning motion in the lower atmosphere. When the rising air tilts the spinning air from horizontal to vertical, tornadoes with radii of miles are formed and cause tremendous damage. Here we show that if we build three east-west great walls in the American Midwest, 300m high and 50m wide, one in North Dakota, one along the border between Kansas and Oklahoma to east, and the third one in the south Texas and Louisiana, we will diminish the tornado threats in the Tornado Alley forever. We may also build such great walls at some area with frequent devastating tornado attacks first, then gradually extend it.

The abstract was posted by Temple University physics chair Rongjia Tao, ahead of a talk to be presented next week on "the physics of climate." It's not clear if this is being proposed as an actual _solution _to tornadoes, or if it's more of a mathematical exercise. For now I'll assume the latter and hope for the former.

Update: USA Today _got in touch with Tao, who says it's a real proposal for 1,000-foot-high by 150-foot-wide walls that would be built at an approximate cost of $60 billion per 100 miles. People are skeptical.