OKLAHOMA CITY – You’ve heard of the Great Wall of China, but how about the Great Wall of Oklahoma?
Dr. Rongjia Tao, a physicist and professor at Temple University in Philadelphia claims that’s the key to taking the tornadoes out of Tornado Alley.
Tao proposes building three east-to-west walls across the Midwest, one in North Dakota, one along the border between Kansas and Oklahoma to the east, and the third one in south Texas and Louisiana.
Each wall would be 1,000 feet tall and 150 feet wide.
Meteorologist Aaron Bracket says the wall wouldn’t stop a strong storm.
“One of the ingredients for severe weather is a low level jet.” He said. “And it’s actually not that low, it’s about 3000 feet above the ground. Now the idea to build a wall 1000 feet won’t affect it at all especially when you have thunderstorms that can tower up to 50,000 feet.”
Brackett also says the walls would likely have unintended consequences.
“On the north side of that wall you’re going to have a big shadow. That’s going to decrease temperatures and that’s going to change the weather for those folks. And then the south side of the wall you’re going to have air that actually will dam up against it and that’s going to put strain on the structure itself.” Brackett said.
Structural engineers say the cost alone makes it impractical, since most buildings are only built to withstand 90mph winds.
Structural engineer Russell Trumble said “We’re talking about three times the forces to ten times the forces a tornado would put on it. Which would make the wall have to be much thicker and more expensive.”
Both Brackett and Trumble say the best way to protect yourself is a storm shelter.
“They’re much smaller, much cheaper to do and protects you where you’re at not trying to affect the whole state.” Trumble said.
“When you can get yourself below ground that’s your best option, to get yourself away from the tornado in a safe place.” Brackett said.
The walls would cost about $60 billion per 100 miles to build.