Vehicle Designed To Film Tornadoes Visits In Oklahoma

Monday, April 30th 2007, 8:45 pm
By: News On 6

During severe weather season in Oklahoma it's pretty common to see storm chasing trucks rolling towards the nasty weather. Most storm chasers try to keep a safe distance to take pictures of a weather system, but News On 6 anchor Omar Villafranca caught up with one storm chaser who drives into the middle of tornados on purpose, and gets pictures from the vortex of the storm. He reports on the Tornado Intercept Vehicle.

The guys at Gary Johnston's Truck repair called The News On 6 to check out their latest customer. It’s a stealth looking machine that’s part truck, half tank and, get this, part movie studio.

"I would describe it as a 14,000 pound tripod, because that's our main goal. We put an IMAX camera up in the turret, try to get right in front of the tornado and have it intercept us directly as we're filming," said TIV navigator Ronan Nagle.

You heard him correctly! The Tornado Intercept Vehicle drives into tornadoes to shoot film for the big screen. The TIV, as Ronan calls it, has survived the wrath of more than six tornadoes thanks to the half-inch thick body armor and bullet resistant glass. But Ronan says it still gets bumpy during a twister.

"When the tornadoes going over top, it's a little noisy, and you hear debris hitting the windshield," he said.

The truck's body lowers to the ground during a tornado and the driver drops the red claws on the side to grip the ground. Ronan says the outriggers help keep the car steady, and keep it from turning into a 7-ton kite.

After a quick oil change it was back on the road where sometimes, it gets more attention than the storms.

"Most of the storm chasers know us or know who we are, and I would say 99% of them are like 'woo-woo-go', then there are some that are like 'you're in a steel coffin', you know, but we don't talk about those," Nagle said.

The TIV is headed to South Dakota for some possible storms. Ronan says they're shooting another IMAX movie, which should be in theaters by 2009.

Watch the video: Hi-Tech Vehicles Used To Learn About Tornadoes From Inside Them