POSTED: Thursday, February 27, 2014 - 2:57pm
UPDATED: Thursday, February 27, 2014 - 2:59pm
Could giant walls keep tornadoes away?
El Paso, TX (KTSM) — Like I mentioned before, the class I am currently taking talks about Natural Disasters.
We talked last time about Tornadoes in El Paso, and how we've had a few pass through here a few decades ago.
Luckily for us we are hundreds of miles away from Tornado Alley, but for places like northeast Texas, Kansas and Oklahoma the threat is all too real.
Scientists are now looking into ways of protecting people from these Natural disasters, and some have come up with the idea of building Gigantic walls.
According to USA Today, one scientist believe that if three walls are built in the American Midwest, tornadoes can be kept from forming.
Rongjia Tao, Physicist of Temple University says one of these enormous walls would have to be built in North Dakota, one along the border between Kansas and Oklahoma and one in south Texas and Louisiana.
His theory is if the walls were built at a height of 1,000 feet and 150 feet wide, tornadoes wouldn't stand a chance.
How are tornadoes formed?
Tornadoes are usually the extreme result of a very large thunderstorm called a super cell.
During the storm cold air and warm air combine.
If you recall from previous blogs, cold air sinks and warm air rises.
So when they mix, the warm air eventually twists into a spiral after rising and then cooling and then sinking... and so forth and so on.
When that happens, a funnel cloud is formed and once it touches the ground it becomes a tornadoes.
The theory of this scientist is that because there are no west to east mountains in the Tornado Alley to weaken the air flow and the collisions between the warm and cold air, then that is why there are so many tornado threats in the area.
And by building these gigantic walls, humans could put an end to these ferocious tornadoes.
But another scientist, Harold Brooks of the National Severe Storms Laboratory said to USA Today that the wall idea wouldn't work.
According to Brooks, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Missouri still have tornado occurrences despite the mountains east to west similar to the height of Tao's proposed walls.
Taking a closer look at the way tornadoes form, remember that tornadoes usually form from a massive thunderstorm. When do thunderstorms form? In the Summertime when the temperature is warm. Why? Because warm air carries a lot of moisture as opposed to cold air.
Tornadoes don't always form from two different winds coming at each other from different directions. If that was the case, it would be a lot easier for meteorologists to predict when a tornado is going to form. But because they derive from thunderstorms, it becomes incredibly difficult to predict exactly when the tornado is forming.
Yes, there are signs, and yes once you begin to see the super cell producing a funnel cloud, that would be the best time to alert the public. But that is not the point.
Point is, even with this Great Wall, tornadoes could still form.
Did you know tornadoes can go over mountains? Some tornadoes have been known to pass up a 3,000-foot ridge unaffected, which would mean the 1,000 foot wall will be a minor speed bump to some tornadoes.
Meteorologist Mike Smith of AccuWeather Enterprise Solutions said in a blog regarding this Great Wall theory, "if a super cell thunderstorm with F5 tornadoes could laugh, they would have a hearty chuckle as they attacked the wall. If tornadoes can go up and down mountains, (and they can!) they would go over and through the wall."
So there you go, if you had any doubts that we could stop Mother Nature in her tracks, think again.