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Simulating a convective event with "tornado-preventing" walls

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Monday, 3 November 2014
Capitol Ballroom AB (Madison Concourse Hotel)
Brice E. Coffer, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC

Handout (5.8 MB)

Simulations were performed using the Weather Research and Forecasting model in order to evaluate a proposal that called for the construction of three east-west “great walls” in the American Midwest to eliminate the major threat of tornadoes in Tornado Alley. The results of three simulations using the 31 May 2013 tornado outbreak are presented – one with natural terrain, one with 300 m tall walls as proposed, and another with walls much taller than proposed (2500 m). Through comparisons of temperature, moisture, instability, and supercell/tornado composite forecasting parameters, it is shown that the “tornado-preventing” walls, as proposed, have very little impact on the atmosphere. When the height of the walls is greatly increased, the location of convective storms is shifted east, instead of being eliminated. The short term impacts of the taller walls imply possible desertification and areas with increased probability of landspout tornadoes near the edges of the walls.