« The Great Outdoors

A Tornado Wall? Is this a crazy idea? What if it would work?

by Ben Olson

With thousands of Americans still cleaning up from last year's insane tornadoes, one physicist has come up with a plan to build huge walls that would keep tornadoes from ever forming. What?!?! Before you think this is crazy know that physicist Ronjia Tao of Temple University says three walls would soften clashing streams of air and prevent tornado formation. Each would have to be about 1,000 feet high, 150 feet wide, and up to 100 miles long, ranging from North Dakota to Texas. Could it even be done? Would they have to build doors for travel? Assuming that would even work, one problem might be the $16 billion price tag! Some people think that'd be worth it. Tao mapped out his plan at a meeting of physicists last week, saying the walls could be "attractively" designed -- possibly out of glass. He claims they would function much like hills in China, which he believes prevents tornadoes. However, critics say Tao needs a meteorology lesson and that the formation of tornadoes is much more complicated than just warm air meeting cold air. Or is it? What do you think? I think they should just use those plastic bars we have in line at the grocery store to separate our orders in the checkout line. Nothing ever crosses those. Right?