A wall to wall crazy idea – build a 'great wall' in the USA to prevent tornadoes

The Great Wall of China at Jinshanling.jpg
The Great Wall of China at Jinshanling

From World Scientific Publishing Co. and the International Journal of Modern Physics comes this insane idea; build 300 meter (984 feet) high “great walls” in the midwest to break up the flow patterns. Riiiigght. We can’t even build a wall in Texas to protect our southern border.

We Can Eliminate the Major Tornado Threat in Tornado Alley

The annually recurring devastating tornado attacks in US Tornado Alley raise an important question: Can we eliminate the major tornado threat in Tornado Alley? Some people may claim that such a question is beyond imagination as people are powerless in facing violent tornadoes. However, according to Professor Rongjia Tao’s recent publication in IJMPB, human beings are not powerless on this issue: if we build three east-west great walls in Tornado Alley, we will eliminate major tornado threat there forever. These walls can be built locally at high tornado risk areas to eliminate tornado threat there first, then gradually extended.

In the US, most devastating tornadoes occur in Tornado Alley, which is a strip of land between the Appalachian Mountains and the Rocky Mountains, including most American Midwest states. In 2013, there were 811 confirmed tornadoes in USA, 57 in Europe and 3 in China. Among 811 tornadoes in USA, most of them, especially the most devastating ones, occurred in Tornado Alley. What causes such huge differences?

From the atmospheric circulation point of view, Tornado Alley is inside the “zone of mixing”, where the warm and moist air flows northbound and cold air flows southbound. At a certain season, the warm air flow front clashes with the cold air flow front at some place in Tornado Alley. Major tornadoes in Tornado Alley all start with such clashes (Fig.1). Especially as there is no east-west mountain in Tornado Alley to weaken or block the air flows, some clashes are violent, creating vortex turbulence. Such violent vortexes, supercells, are initially in horizontal spinning motion at the lower atmosphere, then tilt as the air turns to rise in the storm’s updraft, creating a component of spin around a vertical axis. If the vortex stretching during the vortex tilting intensifies the vertical vorticity enough to create a tornado, the vortex size is getting much smaller as the rotation speed gets much faster. About 30% of supercells lead to tornadoes (Fig.2).

Fig.1 When a strong warm most air flow comes to Tornado Alley, the violent clashes with the cold air flow can extend several states, making tornado outbreaks at several places in a very short period.


Fig.2. The intensive clash between the winds from the south and the winds from the north is the source for formation of tornados in Tornado Alley. (a) Violent clash creates a vortex -supercell. (b) Tilt and updraft creates a spin about a vertical axis leading to mesocyclone. (C) Further stretching and strong vertical vorticity may lead to tornado.

Calculations show that the chance to produce tornadoes depends on the wind speeds during the clashes. For example, if both cold wind and warm wind have speed 30 miles/h (13.3m/s), the chance to develop tornados from the clash is very high. On the other hand, if the both winds have speed below 15 miles/h, there is almost no chance for the clash to develop into tornadoes. Hence reducing the wind speed and eliminating the violent air mass clashes are the key to prevent tornado formation in Tornado Alley. We can learn from the Nature how to do so.

United States and China have similar geographic locations. In particular, the Northern China Plain and the Eastern China Plain is also in the zone of mixing, similar to Tornado Alley. However, very few violent tornadoes occur in this region of China because there are three east-west mountain ranges to protect these plains from tornado threat. The first one is 300km long Yan Mountain which lies at the northern boundary of these plains. The second one is 600km long Nanling (Nan Mountains) at the south boundary of these plains. The third one is 800kom long Jiang-Huai Hills through the middle of the plains. Especially, Jiang-Huai Hills are only about 300 meters above sea level, but effectively eliminate the major tornado threat for the areas. This is evidenced by the following fact.

Jiang-Huai Hills do not extend to Pacific ocean, leaving a small plain area, north part of Jiangsu province, unprotected. This small area, similar to US Tornado Alley, has annually recurring tornado outbreaks. For example, the city Gaoyou in this area has a nickname “Tornado hometown”, which has tornado outbreaks once in two years on average. It is thus clear that Jiang-Huai Hills are extremely effectively in eliminating tornadoes formation. Without Jiang-Huai Hills, a quite big area in China would become “Tornado Hometown”

While there are no mountains in Tornado Alley to play the same role as Jiang-Huai Hills etc in China, there are two small mountains, Ozarks Mountains and Shawnee Hills, which significantly reduce tornado risk for some local areas.

Ozark Mountain consists of high and deeply dissected plateaus; the mountain hills are south-north ranged. Most parts of these north-south hills cannot block or weaken air mass flow between north and south. Therefore, for example, Joplin has very high tornado risk as it faces the north-south deeps and valleys formed by these hills, the winds get more strength as they pass these valleys and deeps. On the other hand, some small sections of St. Francois Mountains and Boston Mountains have the hills east-west connected. Therefore, for example, Rolla, Missouri has very low tornado risk, as analyzed by www.homefact.com/tornadoes/.

The devastating tornado outbreak in Washington County, IL on November 17, 2013 also reminds us about Shawnee Hills, which is a small mountain, 60 miles east from Washington County. Most Shawnee Hills are along the south – north direction, but some sections are east-west connected, located at the south border of Gallatin County. Therefore, Gallatin County has very low tornado risk, although the most land in Gallatin County is flat farm land, same as Washington county.

According to Dr. Tao, the above information learned from Nature is very encouraging. Although there are no east-west mountains in Tornado Alley, we can build some east-west great walls to play the same role. Also learned from Jiang-Huai Hills and Shawnee Hills, the wall needs about 300 meter high and 50 meter wide.

To eliminate the tornado threat for the entire Tornado Alley, we may need to build three great walls. The first one should be close to the northern boundary of the Tornado Alley, maybe in North Dakota. The second one should be in the middle, maybe in the middle of Oklahoma and going to east. The third one can be in the south of Texas and Louisiana.

Such great walls may affect the weather, but their effect on the weather will be minor, as evidenced by Shawnee Hills in Illinois. In fact, with scientific design, we may also use these walls to improve the local climate.

In Philadelphia, there is one skyscraper building, Comcast Center, about 300 meter high. From the cost of Comcast Center, we estimate that to build one mile such wall, we need about $160 million. On the other hand, the damages caused by single tornado attack in Moore, Oklahoma on May 20, 2013 alone were multi billion dollars. Therefore, it seems that the cost for building such a wall is affordable.

While building the three great walls will eventually eliminate major tornadoes in the entire Tornado Alley, we do not expect to start such a huge project in the near future. On the other hand, it is more realistic to build such great walls locally at high tornado risk areas first, then connect them piece by piece. To do so locally, we must remember that from air fluid dynamics, the area protected by the wall is roughly a circle with the wall as its diameter.

Also in developing any new city in Tornado Alley in future, we may consider to build east-west skyscraper buildings first, then allocate the other parts of the city surrounding the skyscraper buildings. In such a way, the skyscraper buildings will serve as a wall, eliminating major tornado formation in their surroundings to protect the whole city.

Acknowledgments: This work is supported in part by a grant from US Naval Research Lab.

The paper will appear in IJMPB.


Source: http://www.worldscientific.com/page/pressroom/2014-06-23-02

From what I can tell about this journal publisher, there seems to be no peer review of any kind in the Editorial Process: http://www.worldscientific.com/page/authors/authorkit

Pity the fool at the US Naval Research Lab who approved this grant.


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June 23, 2014 10:43 am

I don’t criticize provocative ideas on their own. Maybe something will come of this.
But I think the wall should be underground and spring up only when needed. /j

June 23, 2014 10:46 am

Now that all the supposed positives have been enumerated, where shall we begin with the unmentioned negatives?

Van Grgenbrad
June 23, 2014 10:46 am

Yeah, but the shadows created by the walls will serve as natural spawn zones for mobs, even during daytime.

george e. conant
June 23, 2014 10:47 am


June 23, 2014 10:48 am

Finally, a truly visionary (if not quite shovel-ready) project that can suck up all the QE money sloshing about and having trouble to find worthwhile investment opportunities. It should be done by private enterprises, which can then recoup the investment by collecting 4 figure tolls from everyone who needs to cross the walls. Also, if the southernmost wall is erected along the Mexican border, this should take care of the illegal immigration problem.

June 23, 2014 10:50 am

A late-breaking April Fools’ Day post?

June 23, 2014 10:52 am

You know you’ve been playing too much Minecraft when…

June 23, 2014 10:53 am

World Scientific is essentially a vanity press.
For a 500 km long wall, I calculate about 18 bn tonnes of concrete. The largest concrete pour in history was for the Three Gorges Dam, at about 40 million tonnes over 17 years.
This is truly bizarre stuff.

Robert W Turner
June 23, 2014 10:53 am

Or we can build a Space Balls-1 Mega Maid to suck up the mesocyclones before they spawn tornadoes.

June 23, 2014 10:55 am

This would be graffiti heaven for some. The idea is ludicrous – what are these folks tokin’ on…

June 23, 2014 10:57 am

Silly. We already know & have the means to disrupt a tornado — just airburst a nuke at the top of the funnel-cloud. /sarc

June 23, 2014 10:57 am

a grant from US Naval Research Lab.
….head wall

June 23, 2014 10:57 am

Taking “300km long Yan Mountain” as an example, we need three 300x50x300,000m walls. 300KM being 186.411 miles. Times three, mind you: 559.233 miles.
559.233 x $160 million (their per mile estimate) = $89,477,280,000.
Now add in years of lawsuits over right-of-way, environmental impact (the point is environmental — emphasis on mental impact), scenic view obstruction (seriously; you should see the wrangling around here), taxation of such obstructed views (do you have a view tax? we do)… you think the Keystone XL pipeline suits are fun? You ain’t seen nothing yet.
Then there’s the inevitable cost overruns, graft, kickbacks… uh oh…
This will have to be a green operation. Electric bulldozers. Can’t use concrete; roasting that limestone isn’t environmentally friendly!
But don’t worry. This would have been in flyover country anyway. Neither Left Coast really gives a damn.

June 23, 2014 10:59 am

Using a commercial office building as a basis for cost estimating? Windows, elevators, and air-conditioning included? Is Comcast Center tornado-proof?
Interesting that no total length was listed for the walls?
Could we add wind turbines at the top?
Maybe an amusement park as well, with a 300M water slide?
I need to submit a study/grant request to the US NRL….

June 23, 2014 11:03 am

You know, some days, it just doesn’t pay to get out of bed and turn on the computer.

June 23, 2014 11:07 am

Winter is coming?
Sounds like we need the Night’s Watch 🙂

John F
June 23, 2014 11:08 am

It’s absolute insanity. Just this month there was a tornado in South Park (the real place, not the cartoon), near Fairplay, which is surrounded by 10,000-14,000′ peaks.
An interesting study of one near Mt. Evans is in the above link (For those that don’t know, Mt. Evans in the 14,265′ peak seen to the west from Denver). “This was one for the books. The National Weather Service in Boulder confirmed the tornado traversed across elevations of 11,800 feet…”
And a 98 story wall is going to stop them? You want to buy some mountain property I have in Florida?

kadaka (KD Knoebel)
June 23, 2014 11:10 am

300 meters high and 50 wide?
Well to lighten up the construction there will be voids inside, rectangular would be best. For pressure equalization and other reasons you’d connect the voids, with corridor-like structures, with openings to the outside.
You might as well put it to use, the top and likely-sloping sides can be used for rainwater collection with some voids used for storage. As it runs east-west there’s a southern side for solar panels, PV and thermal. Maybe some small wind turbines on top. You’ll have space for energy storage, batteries, molten salts, flywheels. It’s tall enough for pumped storage from top to bottom water tanks.
Then you can install the plumbing and electrical, doors and windows, and announce you have “Green Self-Sustaining Temporary Housing” for the undocumented Democrats flowing over our southern border. With the fantastic energy savings it’ll pay for itself, you don’t even have to consider the theoretical reduced tornado damage cost benefits. Another great win for the voters.
PS, the barred windows and locked doors with guards are to protect them from wild bears and boars, thus very necessary.

Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7
June 23, 2014 11:15 am

I seem to remember back in the ’60s reading articles about using very small small nukes to blow tornadoes and hurricanes apart from the inside. Seemed like a cool idea at the time.

June 23, 2014 11:17 am

Undoubtedly some NRL bureaucrat will get a bonus for funding a new idea, totally worthless, but excelling at his/her job of wasting the taxpayers money. No money to overhaul ships but money for this crap.

June 23, 2014 11:19 am

I think we should use genetic engineering to breed a 500 foot tall giant man, who could blow at the tornadoes and put them out whenever one got spinning. And he could be all green and he could say “ho ho ho!” a lot.

June 23, 2014 11:19 am

Think of all the adverti$ing $pace on a mega-wall…

June 23, 2014 11:20 am

How can we improve the local climate if any change to climate is automatically bad?
You can’t dig a pond in your yard, imagine the EPA permit for that beast.

June 23, 2014 11:30 am

Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7 says:
June 23, 2014 at 11:15 am
I seem to remember back in the ’60s reading articles about using very small small nukes to blow tornadoes and hurricanes apart from the inside. Seemed like a cool idea at the time.
Like the concurrent nuclear handgrenades?

Jarrett Jones
June 23, 2014 11:30 am

When I lived in Memphis decades ago there was a local belief by some that Crowley’s Ridge in Arkansas protected Memphis from tornadoes. Since it is a natural formation of the suggested height it could be used for a real world study.
Crowley’s Ridge is at the eastern boundary of the Arkansas hot spot in this map of tornado activity:comment image
On the other hand that hot spot is just southeast of the Ozarks which suggests no moderating effect by mountains.

June 23, 2014 11:36 am

And there is this thing called the Central Flyway…hundreds of millions of migrating birds who might find a 1000 foot wall a bit of an obstacle. Maybe we could plant a rain forest for them just north of the wall in North Dakota. With climate change estimated at the usual hysterical rate, it ought to be tropical in ten years, tops.

June 23, 2014 11:49 am

“Like the concurrent nuclear handgrenades?”
Bring back the Atomic Cannon!!!
wonderful pic here:
And there’s just something about the idea of nuking the midwest everytime someone spots a tornado…. Well, after a couple of rounds of that, nobody is going to be talking about the tornadoes anymore!!!

June 23, 2014 11:49 am

I think it would be most effective if it started at about 32N 117W and extended to 25N 97W.

Mark and two Cats
June 23, 2014 11:51 am

This loony idea has whipped up a whirlwind of snarky comments on WUWT…
a Snarknado!

Patrick L. Boyle
June 23, 2014 11:56 am

There is a lot of nonsense written bout the Great Wall of China. But there hasn’t been much lately. So this silly article is welcome. When I was a kid no one worried about armies of zombies. But today Zombie Preparedness is a billion dollar industry. With some kind of Global Warming tie in – this could be the next big thing.
Before we actually went there, it was said that the only human artifact that could be seen from the moon was the Great Wall of China. This is the kind of ‘fact’ that only lasts as long as no one bothers to think about it. The Great Wall is about twenty or thirty feet wide. The road in front of my house is also about twenty or thirty feet wide. So I suppose it could also be seen from space. There is a freeway at the bottom of the hill that is maybe a hundred feet wide and even wider when it reaches the Bay Bridge Toll Plaza. I’m told that new eastern section of the Bay Bridge is the widest bridge in the world. I’m not sure I believe that, but it is many times wider than the Great Wall anywhere.
In fact most of the Great Wall can’t be seen from earth. The Warring Kingdoms period ended when Chin Szuanadi in 221 BC consolidated the walls of the other conquered kingdoms to form the Great Wall. He unified China with one wall but it was a rammed earth wall. Almost all of the original dirt wall has crumbled in 2,000 years. It looks like just a vague mound of dirt in most places. You can see it clearly from a plane but on the ground it’s hard to spot. Also the course of the wall changed over the centuries as the extent of the arable land advanced and receded. There isn’t one Great Wall there are many parallel to each other – the result of the shifting deserts.
Everyone is confused by the stone Ming Wall built in the seventeenth century. This is the tourist attraction. This is the one Nixon trod. It is quite modern. Shakespeare was writing when this wall was being built.
In fact of this Great Wall proves something unexpected. It proves that the Chinese didn’t invent gunpowder.
The Gunpowder Revolution began in the fifteenth century in Europe with the invention of corning. Earlier mixtures of saltpeter and carbon were not militarily effective on the battlefield. In 1490 or so Charles the Eighth invaded Italy with cannon. In just a few years he knocked down fortifications that had stood for millennia. This set off an architectural revolution. Vertical walls were longer proof against assault. Newer designs were low and sloped to resist cannon balls.
But China which was innocent of guns and gunpowder at that time still built the Great Wall with those obsolete vertical walls. As late the end of the eighteenth century when the McCartney expedition arrived from England the Chinese (or more accurately the Manchus) were still arming with crossbows. They didn’t employ guns. They didn’t need modern walls.
The only real stone military wall in antiquity was Hadrian’s Wall across England.

kadaka (KD Knoebel)
June 23, 2014 11:59 am

From Gerard Harbison on June 23, 2014 at 11:36 am:

And there is this thing called the Central Flyway…hundreds of millions of migrating birds who might find a 1000 foot wall a bit of an obstacle.

What’s for dinner? Duck, duck, goose. Use that concrete wall for a backstop for the shotgun pellets, or wait at the bottom for the birds that impact. Yummy.
Van Grgenbrad said on June 23, 2014 at 10:46 am:

Yeah, but the shadows created by the walls will serve as natural spawn zones for mobs, even during daytime.

Why would we worry about mobs? We have no wild kangaroos.

gary turner
June 23, 2014 12:06 pm

What an odd idea. My first thought is that this 1000′ high wall, not hills, is going to create a hell of a knife edge vortex on the lee side. Most small ranges I’m familiar with have slopes on the order of one unit rise in a five unit run. Even so, the lee slope below the ridge line seldom has mature trees, as they’re blown down on a regular basis by simple frontal thunderstorms. This wall, even if they slope it will have a 12:1 rise to run. Will a wall, not a skyscraper, even stand up against moderate winds on such a narrow base (1/6 of height)?
Hoover dam is about that height (376m) with a 200m thick base, a curved shape to put stresses in compression and optimization of strength toward a single side. Granted that the water exerts a greater pressure, but the pressure decreases with increasing height where wind pressure increases with increasing height. A look at the proportions says to me the wall needs to be on the order of 150m thick, three times what our academics talk about, or it may just be blown over.
Perhaps some archictural or dam engineers could put pencil to back of envelope and figure the structural requirements of such a wall.

June 23, 2014 12:09 pm

There are dozens of funding options. For instance you could cordon off sections of the wall at, say, five mile intervals and use the sections for drive in movie theaters. Other sections would make dandy handball courts. You could bolt long horizontal poles to the walls, string cable from the poles (horizontally) and use the cables for clothes lines. Green clothes dryers. Think of the carbon savings.
Any other ideas out there?

M Courtney
June 23, 2014 12:13 pm

Well it might work. So don’t reject it out of hand.
The costs of the mega-structure may not quite be justified but tornadoes are bad so… how about trying it in a smaller region with tented fencing? See if the models match reality and if it does you may have a real solution to the weather.
Just because it’s incredible doesn’t mean its impossible.

Walter Sobchak
June 23, 2014 12:15 pm

I’ll bet we could dig a storm cellar for every house in Kansas and Oklahoma for quite a bit less money.

Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7
June 23, 2014 12:21 pm

Ken says:
June 23, 2014 at 12:09 pm

Any other ideas out there?

Make an awesome ziplining run.

James Strom
June 23, 2014 12:23 pm

Couldn’t this be tested in a model simulation before actually being built?
…sorry. But it seems fertile minds are keeping busy. Was there not a suggestion, recently, that an oceanic windmill farm would stop hurricanes? In principle I’m in favor of thinking about geo-engineering, but it would be good to establish a high probability of success before proceeding with the actual project. Also, it would be worth exploring what other negative weather/climate effects could be the result of such projects.

June 23, 2014 12:35 pm

First, given how little we know about the causes of climate, I find it ridiculous that they would pontificate that the effect would be minimal. If it is going to curtail Tornadoes, that in itself would be more than minimal.
And second, this is a hair brained scheme. There is no way to build a wall that would rival a mountain range without both prohibitive costs and unforeseen effects. But I guess if they were going to put tin foil hats on mountains, this is just another example of wacky ideas.

June 23, 2014 12:56 pm

I don’t think you need to build a tall wall. Major metropolitan areas are rarely hit by tornadoes because dense, relatively low rise development make surface flow very turbulent. How about we model this affect and come up with some structure that does the same thing for less than the cost of square miles of dense 2-4 story buildings. If a small town could build such an emplacement they might be able to create a protective “tornado” shadow. I am pretty sure it could be done, just not sure how large/expensive it would have to be.

Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7
June 23, 2014 12:58 pm

This idea would create a lot of green jobs just filling out the paperwork for the Environmental Impact Statement. I assume it must all be handicapped accessible? Don’t forget the lighting requirements imposed on tall structures by the FAA. This project is a bureaucrat’s dream.

June 23, 2014 1:02 pm

The walls of Babel?

June 23, 2014 1:06 pm

It needs flying buttresses. Double duty as ski and snow mobile runs.
I really want to see one of the sections blow over.

Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7
June 23, 2014 1:14 pm

Patrick L. Boyle says:
June 23, 2014 at 11:56 am

The Gunpowder Revolution began in the fifteenth century in Europe with the invention of corning. Earlier mixtures of saltpeter and carbon were not militarily effective on the battlefield. In 1490 or so Charles the Eighth invaded Italy with cannon.

The Ottomans used cannons to breach the walls which protected Constantinople a little earlier in 1453. IIRC correctly it was a European who provided the Ottomans with their cannons, after the Byzantines were unable to meet his price. The city was not well defended at the time, so I couldn’t say whether the new cannons would have sufficed against proper garrison.

June 23, 2014 1:16 pm

sounds like a great way to create jobs !
After that I can just imagine what Ma Nature will do with those silly little walls: rip then out of the ground and throw them on the nearest town with no storm shelters in the schoolhouse.
After the hubris to think we can change climate, the hubris to think we can stop tornadoes.
Such grand ideas, so little thought.

Keith Willshaw
June 23, 2014 1:17 pm

Sounds like a great way to prove the law of Unintended Consequences.
If they succeeded in disrupting wind circulation patterns in the Mid West the
climatic effects are incalculable. Blocking the flow of hot moist air from the
Gulf of Mexico may reduce tornadoes at the cost of reducing rainfall in America’s
breadbasket and producing a new dustbowl.

June 23, 2014 1:20 pm

Ric Werme says:
June 23, 2014 at 1:06 pm
It needs flying buttresses.
Yeah, good idea, that’ll add a whole new meaning to the term flying buttress: literally.

June 23, 2014 1:35 pm

I suppose they could mount some windmills on top of that wall.

June 23, 2014 1:47 pm

Must be an import from the Iraq and Afghanistan spending list, or some leftover ideas from California.

June 23, 2014 1:48 pm

“the cost for building such a wall is affordable.”
Damn right it’s affordable. Anything and everything is affordable . . . when you are spending Other People’s Money.

June 23, 2014 1:49 pm

Turning this idea around a bit, it could be an attempt to block snowbirds from voting with their feet.

Kevin Kilty
June 23, 2014 1:50 pm

How much CO2 would be released in the making of all that portland cement?

Peter Melia
June 23, 2014 1:51 pm

Tornadoes, how to stop them. Comment to WUWT 23/06/14
I’ve often thought my idea to stop tornadoes was a bit weird, and would cost a lot of paint, but consideration of the dimensions of those proposed 300 metre high walls, designed to resist tornadoes, made me think again. What, I wondered did the good professor have in mind as a “height/width”ratio, for his walls. Where is all that stuff coming from? Etc.
Now my experience, not living in the USA, is England, which does not have tornadoes, at least not often, but sometimes we do experience strong winds, which is probably not the same thing at all.
However, I spent some time in Egypt, it was right after the last Egyptian/Israeli war, and the desert area between Cairo and Suez, was relatively uncrowded. I travelled to and fro, along the Cairo-Suez highway, which was a simple two-lane blacktop, mostly, at that time, quite free of traffic.
I noticed numerous tornadoes, or what looked a lot like tornadoes, which seemed to rise up out of the desert sand, wander off and then collapse. None of them ever seems to achieve bigness.
On one trip the taxi, a WW2 Buick, went on fire, and the driver jumped out screaming. I let myself out of the back (not easy, the driver had thoughtfully removed the inner handles, to prevent his daily clientele from departing without paying) by climbing out of the window. Now the good thing about those Buicks was that the bonnet could be opened from outside, the covers folded up at the sides like carrier aircraft wings. So I opened the bonnet and retreated a little from the flames, driver now not screaming, but yelling at me to put the fire out. Another good thing was that section of the road is it is through desert, which is of sand, which is yet another good thing, for extinguishing fires. So I put the fire out, and was then reduced to staring and the mess, wondering if it would ever go again. During my thought period, a tornado arrived. It started up far away in the desert and came right for us. I was standing watching it approach, thinking of “my” engine problem, when it came right up to the roadside, onto the blacktop, which was much hotter than the desert sands, and promptly collapsed!
So now, 40 years on, after reading about the professor’s 300 feet high walls, I thought, “if black tarmac can stop an Egyptian tornado in it’s tracks, surely it’ll stop an American one also?”
How about trying? Cannot some university test lab try it out? If it worked, wouldn’t it be so much cheaper than the good professor’s 300 feet high walls? Disclaimer. I do not own any paint company shares.

Steve Keohane
June 23, 2014 2:00 pm

Forget the walls, just use one row of windmills that can be run as motors as need be, to control the local wind speed and direction when they are not generating power.

Gunga Din
June 23, 2014 2:11 pm

beng says:
June 23, 2014 at 10:57 am
Silly. We already know & have the means to disrupt a tornado — just airburst a nuke at the top of the funnel-cloud. /sarc

And if the nuke was a neutron bomb then you’d only kill the people in range. The property would be OK. /super-sarc

June 23, 2014 2:16 pm

Only “300 meter high and 50 meter wide”. Just build a long and thin city.

Gunga Din
June 23, 2014 2:22 pm

Wouldn’t an artificial mountain range produce the dreaded “Anthropomorphic Climate Change”?

kadaka (KD Knoebel)
June 23, 2014 2:55 pm

Let’s just have the ‘Bama send Kerry to the Midwest, where the ex-Senator can berate the ignorant hicks for failing to be more inclusive and allowing more wind in their weather. If they would have done that, the wind would never have been angry enough to form tornadoes.
If those country bumpkins agree to that, then ‘Bama will send in 300 top people from the Army Corps of Engineers. Of course they won’t be allowed to do anything physical, they can’t turn a single shovelful of dirt, but they will teach those backwoods breeders the essentials like digging trenches and building shelters, which will require heavy duty equipment, so they should know what to do, if they ever get any big equipment.

DD More
June 23, 2014 3:01 pm

Ozark Mountain consists of high and deeply dissected plateaus; the mountain hills are south-north ranged. Most parts of these north-south hills cannot block or weaken air mass flow between north and south. Therefore, for example, Joplin has very high tornado risk as it faces the north-south deeps and valleys formed by these hills, the winds get more strength as they pass these valleys and deeps. On the other hand, some small sections of St. Francois Mountains and Boston Mountains have the hills east-west connected. Therefore, for example, Rolla, Missouri has very low tornado risk, as analyzed by
From http://www.homefacts.com/tornadoes/Arkansas.html &
Don’t see much long distance effect for the Ozark’s and pushing only 3 walls from Texas to ND would not make it. I was taught wind over a vertical wall / tree regained it’s speed 7 lenghts after 1 height. or 300 * 7 = 2100 => <2 mi

Chris Christner
June 23, 2014 3:08 pm

Sounds like a job for Christo and Jeanne-Claude!

Steve Oregon
June 23, 2014 3:25 pm

A contest with million dollar prizes is needed.
Like this.
The X-Prize Foundation is offering two $1 million prizes for developing the best deep-water acidity monitor or inexpensive shallow-water monitor:click here.
Sep 29 2013 — Nov 29 2013 Contest Offers Prize for Ocean Acidification Devices
Given that Oregon Shores is deeply concerned about ocean acidification, we can’t resist passing along this opportunity. The X-Prize Foundation is offering two $1 million prizes for developing the best deep-water acidity monitor or inexpensive shallow-water monitor:click here.

Spotted Reptile
June 23, 2014 3:44 pm

Tornadoes and hurricanes are symptoms of a heat imbalance. Hurricanes take heat from the tropical ocean and distribute it to the poles. Tornadoes do similar on the land. If you delete them, the heat stays. Bad idea.

June 23, 2014 3:44 pm

Kadaka @ 11:00
I really enjoyed that, thank you!! I’m still laughing! A little harder once I get my drink out of my nostrils! Lol

Brian D Finch
June 23, 2014 4:06 pm

Why don’t you all drive on the left, instead of the right, like we do in the UK. Then you will create fewer eddys when vehicles pass each other – which eddys, if conditions are right, might (or might not) be the start of tornados.
You may think this is silly, but it’s no sillier than other remedies.

Nick Stokes
June 23, 2014 4:17 pm

“From what I can tell about this journal publisher, there seems to be no peer review of any kind in the Editorial Process:”
Indeed, wacky things appear there. It was the Journal that published the Nuccitelli smackdown (and Lu’s CFC theories). And going back a bit, the long ramble by Gerlich and Tscheuschner.

June 23, 2014 4:50 pm

I knew I had heard this idea from Rongjia Tao before – back in February of this year.
Here he is again. Is there anything Dr. Tao can’t do? He is a physical climatologist and a biological physicist.

“Using magnets to help prevent heart attacks”
…..Rongjia Tao, professor and chair of physics at Temple University, has pioneered the use of electric or magnetic fields to decrease the viscosity of oil in engines and pipelines. Now, he is using the same magnetic fields to thin human blood in the circulation system……

June 23, 2014 5:20 pm

Reblogged this on gottadobetterthanthis and commented:
Schemes like this are truly diabolical. These “scientists” are selling snake oil. Sadly, our government is paying for it with our tax money (and our children’s and grandchildren’s too). The stupid associated with this scheme cannot be just that; it must be nefarious.

June 23, 2014 6:02 pm

Gosh, there just couldn’t be any unintended consequences from this idea, could there….

Luke Warmist
June 23, 2014 6:17 pm

Peter Melia says:
June 23, 2014 at 1:51 pm
Tornadoes, how to stop them. Comment to WUWT 23/06/14
I suspect what you were seeing, is what we call ‘Dust Devils’ here in the Southwestern U.S. Willis did a post on them awhile ago, and defined them as emergent phenomena. Some can get fairly large, but by no means are they tornadoes.

Luke Warmist
June 23, 2014 6:32 pm

Light Bulb Moment!
 I’m going to have to look into some funding to study ‘Dust Devil’ walls.
…a couple mil ought to do it.

Olaf Koenders
June 23, 2014 8:43 pm

I wonder why grabbermints won’t allow people in these areas to live underground where it’s safer. Australia’s Coober Pedy is a good model, although they live underground there to escape the heat. Instead of building houses that can be blown away, maybe build binishells domes instead?

June 23, 2014 8:46 pm

Terraforming the planet is a great idea for the future. What a bunch of wusses to think otherwise. This idea will not float but the concepts are needed , Anthony. Two thoughts of mine, one for water to the interior of dry continents where there is a ridge of mountains eg Great Dividing Range Australia or ? Rockies USA is to drill through the mountains and run rainfall collected in channels or run offs on the wet coastal side through to rivers on the dry interior. Does cause some problems for the coastal rivers as in our Snowy Mountain scheme but a great way to add to irrigation
As to walls to divert windflow or rain clouds or avert tornadoes large mobile sails could be trailed, who knows ?
There may be cost effective answers not involving mountains.

June 23, 2014 9:03 pm

wws – I am truly shocked you would conceder using an Atomic Cannon for tornado disruption. That thing was huge and barely mobile. What you really need is something cheap and man-portable. May I suggest The Nuclear Recoilless Rifle?
Of course, even that system is over 50 years old by now. I would think with a grant from NOAA we could get them down to shotgun shells.

James Bull
June 23, 2014 9:51 pm

Thank you chaps and chapeses I have not had such a good laugh in a while your ideas are brill.
My own first thought was how else would these things disrupt the weather in ways that were not foreseen….the list seems endless. But I’m sure that the climate could accurately be modeled just as it is for CO2.
James Bull

June 24, 2014 12:51 am

Scientists only understand a portion of the true cause of tornadoes, such a wall could reduce tornado frequency yet not for the reason given, and depending on the construction materials.
I believe I have been given a gift, a far better understanding of why they occur and with that knowledge it is possible to deactivate them with a mobile device. It’s going to require a team for development and therefore funding, as of 6/2014 no one has contacted me to talk about it.

Berényi Péter
June 24, 2014 1:23 am

I bet a two miles high mountain range over Canada, made of ice, would suffice. They are useless up there anyway.

June 24, 2014 2:32 am

They built one in 1843 but it blew over.

June 24, 2014 2:56 am

Thanks for the memory you gave me with your post at June 23, 2014 at 11:49 am.
Father Christmas gave me an Airfix kit of the atomic cannon and its transporter etc.. I painted each part and built the entire thing: only my Airfix SaturnV was a bigger kit.
It is sad that one needs reminders to remember some things from long ago, and I am grateful for the reminder you gave me.

June 24, 2014 5:57 am

Maybe it’s part of the warmists secret plot to shut down natures cooling pump so they can be right about warming and enact global socialism.

June 24, 2014 7:07 am

So, if tornadic activity is diverted over into my backyard, can I sue them for damages.
Just put a bullseye on that wall. Anyone who has worked on tornado aftermaths will tell you the same. Tornadoes are a natural thing and no wall will stop them.
This is about as realistic as putting up 60 foot nets or super fans to reset ozone inversion layers.

Ben Of Houston
June 24, 2014 7:22 am

1 mile costs $160 million dollars. First off, that number sounds quite low for a sky-scraper high building extrapolated a mile long. Answers.Com (obviously not the best source, but work with me here) suggests a price of $8-15 million per story for a standard 1-block square building. We are talking a building 20 blocks long and 30 stories high. Rough estimate by base extrapolation is ($8M*20*30) $4.8 Billion per mile. Even taking their number at face value, you are looking at several thousand miles of wall (which due to scarcity will only increase the price per mile). Given the large amount of available land and the Midwest’s firm adversion to high-rises, these buildings will almost certainly be unused or turned into low-rent slums, so we would be lucky to make enough in rent to pay for maintenance. The numbers get progressively less sane as you keep calculating.
Then, you have to consider rain-shadows. Do they really think that they aren’t going to dry out the already-dry great plains? That’s just willfull ignorance.
This nonsense makes the 19th century idea of controlled forest fires to manage east coast rainfall downright plausible.

June 24, 2014 7:27 am

Peter Melia says: June 23, 2014 at 1:51 pm
Peter, a dust devil is not a tornado. A dust devil has no cloud formation and ends as soon as the release of hot air is completed…that is, when the vortex releases the energy to a cooler level. They start from the ground up which is why your tarmac example killed it long enough to dissipate. The top speeds are the same as sticking your hand out a car window…60 miles a hour max.
Tornadoes require very exact atmospheric sources, not ground. Up to 250 miles per hour covering a mile or more. Some tornadoes I worked on peeled up four feet of soil, roads and everything else. Sticking your hand out a window during a tornado mean you will lose your hand, arm and probably everything else attached to it.

June 24, 2014 7:42 am

And Peter Melia, you were seeing dust devils. These are small heat-created cyclones that rapidly carry hot air up (read Willis’s Burning Man story for a good picture and explanation). As you noted, they are disrupted when there is a significant change in heat tansport. A Tornado is orders of magnitude bigger. While the mechanism is the same, it’s on a weather front level, and it cannot be stopped by such simple means.

Joel O'Bryan
June 24, 2014 8:00 am

something about the jetstream and low pressure in Figure 1 does not make sense. Joe Bastardi should look at that and comment.

June 24, 2014 1:21 pm

Question: Have these geniuses calculated the carbon footprint of builiding such a tornado wall?
Answer: If they did, they would have never suggested the idea in the first place.

June 24, 2014 1:49 pm

Once more science runs amok..
The hogwash here is high grade and potent.
Write a thousand papers with a million Phds and it still would NEVER work.

June 25, 2014 9:44 am

Uh, how about a dome over the 48 states; another over Alaska and another over the Hawaiian Islands?
The we can control our own weather inside each of the domes.
Make them out of silicon and call them
“silicondomes” (pronounced “silly condoms”)

June 25, 2014 6:46 pm

So what’s the big deal with the tornadoes? Property damage?
Wouldn’t it be easier to leave the landscape to the tornadoes? After all, it was theirs before people arrived. Tornadoes are aerial phenomena. Go underground, and get out of their way.
Build underground.
Park underground.
Live underground
Shop underground.
Leave the surface to the tornadoes. That way the tornadoes are happy, the Insurance Companies are even happier (they can help pay from their future savings) and loss of life and damage to property would be heavily reduced.

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