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04 November 2011

Storm Chasers Score Stunning Tornado Probe Intercept

Remember the clunky “Dorothy” – the big metal drum filled with beer can winged balls - from the movie Twister?

Only Hollywood magic made it possible for Bill Paxton and Helen Hunt to schlep Dorothy into a monster tornado’s path. Remember that incredibly far-fetched run through the cornfield? And how they emerged unscathed after the pump house disintegrated around them? If only!

Enter Reed Timmer and his new Dominator 2 to bring us back down to earth.

Last year, they got close with their new probes as they closed in on a towering South Dakota twister.

This year, in late May, the Dominator team lined up a picture perfect tornado intercept near Canton, Oklahoma with their new air cannon array loaded with parachute probes.

Just as Reed, Joel and Chris – well-protected in the armored Dominator – entered the tornado’s outer circulation, they launched parachute probes that flew right up the twister. A perfect strike!

Within minutes the data was streaming in – 100 mph winds directly ahead. After the tornado had moved on, Reed confirmed that the tornado had scoured the road about 50 to 100 feet in front of the Dominator. Just the place to be to get data – and stay alive!

- Discovery