2011-03-21 13:04:02 Posted By: Anita the Archivist
I just returned from a short stay in St. Louis and had the opportunity to see the IMAX movie "Tornado Alley" that features Discovery Channel "Storm Chasers" stars Dr. Josh Wurman and his VORTEX 2 program and movie maker Sean Casey in his TIV. All I can say is awesome. Go see it if you get the chance -- it could well save your life. The library will order it when it becomes available but we don't have an IMAX theatre here to give you the incredible aerial effect. For a list of movie theatres visit: http://www.tornadoalleymovie.com It opens tomorrow at the Milwaukee Public Museum.
For eight years, filmmaker Sean Casey and his team roamed the U. S. plains in his self-welded, armor-plated Tornado Intercept Vehicle, or TIV. For the past 4 television seasons, millions of viewers watched Sean and his crew labor on his movie over 28 hour-long episodes of the Discovery Channel series. Sean built his TIV so he and his crew could safely drive into the middle of a tornado and film the head-on encounter, in all its IMAX glory.
If you are interested in the "Storm Chasers" TV series, you can check out season 3 on dvd from the library (but you'll have to get your name on the list) and season 4 is on order.
The library also has the book "Tornado Hunter: Getting Inside the Most Violent Storms on Earth" which is a fascinating, not too heavy on the science account of Tim Samaras and his TWISTEX team and their successful deployment of a probe that measured the lowest pressure drop of a tornado. Tim is also on the Discovery Channel tv series since season 3 and is an electrical engineer and storm chaser. As I read the book, I felt as though I was there with them in their "geeked out" truck on the hunt to launch probes and gather data from the most violent winds on earth. TWISTEX stands for Tactical Weather Instrumented Sampling in/near Tornado EXperiment.
You'll also meet other people who have lived through tornado experiences, like Marine Lt. Co.. William Rankin who parachuted (not intended) THROUGH a super cell and experienced the cyclical upflow and downdrafts created in the rotation of a tornado and Tetsuya Fujita or "Ted" who was nothing short of a genius and barely a survivor of World War II.
If you really get into storm chasing you can follow a number of different twitter and Facebook accounts as well as blogs from the serious 100 or so chasers. Some of these are highlighted in the book.