Storm chaser and IMAX film maker Sean Casey and his team captured what is arguably the most extraordinary video taken from inside a tornado ever. From inside the relative safety of their Tornado Intercept Vehicle (TIV), the team was able to enter a monstrous wedge tornado near Smith Center, Kansas yesterday.
- Watch: Must see video shot from inside a tornado
The TIV team comprised of filmmaker Casey, pilot Herb Stein and meteorologist Brandon Ivey found themselves on the plains on north central Kansas for Memorial Day. With a moderate risk for severe weather having been forecast, the trio were in prime position for a tornado intercept.
Two small tornadoes in the early evening hours presaged the main event. At around 7:00pm storm chasers reported a large, wedge tornado in Jewell County.
Video captured by Ivey tells the story of an extraordinary intercept from inside a tornado. The twister is seen approaching and eventually entirely enveloping the TIV2. Debris is thrown about, one piece of which causing sparks across the bullet resistant windshield. The noise is deafening and audio on the video cuts in and out.
On social media the team relayed their excitement at having survived such as harrowing encounter.
Casey said on Twitter, “TIV just hit by a very strong tornado. We are ok, and filmed Imax. Hit with lots of debris, door opened. Piece of wood entered vehicle.”
Ivey followed suit saying, “Just intercepted the strongest tornado of my career in TIV2. Large wedge NE of Smith Center, KS.”
The rooftop instruments on the vehicle measured wind speeds from 150 to 174 mph before being ripped apart by the powerful winds. These readings would rank the twister as an EF-3 or EF-4 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale.
Casey achieved stardom in recent years during appearances on the Discovery Channel’s now defunct Storm Chasers television series. His never-ending quest to document Mother Nature’s most violent phenomena has continued following the release of Tornado Alley, an IMAX film that took him years to make.
The TIV2 is the second vehicle built by Casey specifically designed to withstand the forces of a tornado. Built on a heavy truck chassis, the vehicle is steel armored with the capability to anchor itself to the ground to keep from being blown over by high winds.
Yesterday’s tornado was the most powerful intercepted by the TIV crew and quite likely by any purpose-built vehicle.
It would appear yesterday’s twister may have tested the vehicle’s limits given the damage it appears to have sustained. Ivey said, “I wouldn’t want to intercept anything much stronger. That’s our upper limit right there!”