Storm chasers film from inside the storm

Tuesday, February 26th 2008, 9:43 pm
By: News 9

By Doug Warner, NEWS 9

For some storm chasers, capturing amazing footage of a tornado from a safe distance away just won't do. More and more professional chasers are anxious to videotape from inside the storm.

The Discovery Channel program Storm Chasers profiles a group who hopes to spend part of their spring inside a twister.

Last season, the Discovery Channel storm chasers pushed their Tornado Intercept Vehicle to its limits.

This season we found a four year veteran parked in a Lawton neighborhood. Filmmaker, storm chaser & part-time welder Sean Casey built TIV-1 himself.

"Our plan is to get in the path of a tornado and film it as it comes directly at us at impact," Casey said.

However, he said TIV-1's chasing days are now over. It's in Lawton to serve as a prototype for the next great TIV, a machine that's better, stronger and faster.

"It's only now we're ready to build the second version of this," Casey said.

Behind heavy-duty welding helmets, you'll find a group of welding students at the Great Plains Technology Center in Lawton. They are the crew who plans to make TIV-2 a success.

Instructor Alan Bellamy watches every tack and weld of his crew of future professional welders to make sure the job gets done.

"Very proud of them, very proud; nobody will be able to do this, probably," Bellamy said.

Now, Inside the guts of the old TIV is a 2-wheeled drive Ford truck. Rarely was it a match for tornadoes if the chase took them down muddy, dirt roads.

But the next great twister may have just met its match.

Where the welding students left off, USA 6x6 of Lawton has converted a '08 Dodge quad cab diesel into a one-of-a-kind 10-wheeled 6x6.

"No matter what the truck is driving over, the frame and body will stay level at all times," said Daniel Little of USA 6X6.

It's taken quite a bit of Oklahoma ingenuity, but TIV-2 is now just a couple of short weeks away from completion. Casey is confident Discovery Channel viewers will see a tornado this season, like never before.

Casey has bigger hopes of taking his works and creating an IMAX movie. Until then, he will continue chasing with the Doppler on Wheels chase team, based out of Colorado.