WeatherMatrix (Jesse Ferrell)

VIDEO: Storm Chaser Sean Casey INSIDE a Tornado!

By Jesse Ferrell, Meteorologist/Community Director
5/30/2013, 9:22:45 AM

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On March 26, 2011, I met filmmaker and storm chaser Sean Casey (and the rest of his crew) at the Carnegie Science Center (and saw Sean's IMAX 3D movie "Tornado Alley") in Pittsburgh, Pa.


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At that time, his goal was to get IMAX 3D footage from inside a tornado. He had already scored IMAX footage inside a small tornado. Today, his goal is complete. Yesterday, May 27, 2013, Sean, driver Brandon Ivey and storm chaser Herb Stein got their Tornado Intercept Vehicle "TIV2" (shown below in a photo I took in 2011) into the middle of a large, violent tornado. This is the video of that intercept:

WOW. Note the momentary fire near the end as debris sparks after hitting their car. The audio cuts out, I assume, because of the extremly loud noise of the tornado and debris, or because of the unusually low air pressure. As I said in this AccuWeather.com article:

"I've never seen footage from inside a tornado of this magnitude. This should fulfill Sean's dream. Even with the TIV, he's lucky to have survived to tell the story."

The National Weather Service confirmed the location in a Facebook Post this morning:

"This was roughly 3 miles north-northeast of Lebanon, KS. We have a damage survey team in the area today documenting tornado path, damage, etc."


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Matching that location up with radar imagery from the storm, that indeed puts Sean and the TIV2 inside the hook echo near the "velocity couplet," where the tornado would have been. He has a video up showing the dirt and grass plastered on the vehicle this morning.

The "NROT" radar product (from GRAnalyst software), which indicates rotation that could be a tornado, was literally "off the charts" as you can see:


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Here's a photo that I took in 2011 of the "TIV2" Tornado Intercept Vehicle (which was inside the tornado yesterday):


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It actually didn't come out of the twister in too bad of a condition, but as these photos (by Herb Stein) indicate, grass and some debris was forced inside the vehicle, and the anemometer was destroyed by a piece of sheet metal:


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AccuWeather.com's storm chase team interviewed Sean on video during the 2009 storm chase season.

DISCLAIMER: Sean's TIV2 is built for tornadoes, with unbreakable plexiglass windows and hydraulic spikes that anchor the vehicle to the ground. DON'T TRY THIS AT HOME!

The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of AccuWeather, Inc. or AccuWeather.com

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WeatherMatrix (Jesse Ferrell)