Tornado Attack Farce!!

Apr 16, 2004
Austin, Tx
Last few days out on the plains I've seen both of the different 'tornado attack' type vehicles - the silver one and the red one. They always seem to appear after all the tornadoes are mostly over. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday I've had numerous times (like at least 20) I could have easily driven into the path of a tornado and be run over or just driven straight into it. Surely they could do a better intercept than what we've been seeing? Even last year with Mulvane when they got close they only went for the really weak tornado before the big Mulvane tornado.

I'm thinking this regular poor intercept is planned and they have (and never have) had any intention of truly driving into a tornado of any strength. I think it is really just a big advertising gimmick for selling products and possibly tv time for the exciting concept. At the same time it makes them look like these big storm jocks cause they're gonna 'drive into a tornado' while the rest of us that are regularly near tornadoes are just 'wimps'.

If they really want to penetrate something big hook them up with the likes of David Drummond, Roger Hill, or even myself. Will give them something meaty! :D
So far on every storm I've seen these guys on ... including the Hamlin storm, they can be seen moving away from just ahead of the rotation every time. We discussed this very thing in our car on Sunday night ... on the Hamlin storm they traveled with the wave of chasers who were repositioning ahead of the meso as it gradually moved south. In fact, we remained in position closer to the rotation than the TIV or racecar did at least a couple of times. I'm also starting to believe there is no serious intent to drive into a tornado ... otherwise why not just park yourself under the meso and enjoy the ride?
These cars are a publicity stunt, nothing more. They offer no
scientific benefit that I know of?

No vehicle is going to survive a moderate or strong tornado.

It makes the researchers who allow them to tag along look foolish.

These cars are a publicity stunt, nothing more. They offer no
scientific benefit that I know of?

No vehicle is going to survive a moderate or strong tornado.

It makes the researchers who allow them to tag along look foolish.

AMEN !!! :roll:

Sunday, I was on the Farm to Market road where the biggest "wedge" of the day began. I drove directly under the rotation quickly to grab some video and then backed off a little before it reached the ground. I'm driving the red Ford Explorer with the dish on top. Saw many vehicles running away, honking and waving at us to run.

The rotation in the early stages, although very broad, was rather weak and gave us enough time to get in and capture a MB pressure of 27.66 !! :shock:
Yes, the sensor was calibrated per the local AWOS.

Not sure if everyone else experienced the "subwoofer sound pressure" vibration, but as we were underneath the rotation and it began tightening, we all heard and felt the vibration and definitely experienced the ear popping thing. It was if we all could not hear for a brief moment - what a tremendous rush!

What was funny is all my chase partners were asking why the tornado "tank" was running AWAY from the tornado and honking at us and flashing some type of light at us to retreat. :roll:

The tornado tank and attack vehicle always get me chuckling. :wink
Bill and I chased Thurs-Sun with great success like most everyone else. The thing that cracked me up the most was when we were between Rotan and Hamlin after the Jayton tornadofest and the "Intercept Vehicle" made a right turn. It passed Bill, Shane and alot of us to head North up the road. There was some dude with his head out of a the top of the vehicle holding onto a camera like a machine gun. He had on a helmet and goggles. I just about fell over laughing. I've been chasing for 20 years and I NEVER thought it would come to this. It's pretty amusing though, so I hope they hang around for a while just for the amusement factor.

THE FARK THING IS FUNNY! I'm crying from laughing so hard at the photoshops!

-David Douglas
Austin, TX
Tornado attack vehicle

I personally have let out a big sigh of relief upon reading the above posts. I was truly hoping that the people who drive the Tornado Attack Vehicle etc. were just doing it as a publicity stunt etc. and not truly thinking of driving into a strong/violent tornado; I figured if it wasn't a publicity stunt that very soon I would be watching the news/reading the newspaper and hearing about how a couple of people got killed driving the Tornado Attack Vehicle etc. into a tornado. I thought/think that for anyone to seriously consider driving an armored vehicle into a tornado must be foolish/crazy! There is no scientific information that could be obtained by driving an armored vehicle into a strong/violent tornado that could not be obtained by placing an Armadillo etc. in the path of a tornado as other serious scientists/chasers have already done. Not even the people from the show "Jack Ass" would try something like driving an armored vehicle into a tornado and they have done some pretty dangerous/crazy/hilarious stuff! The world has not gone completely insane after all! :D :wink:
Billy Griffen wrote: The rotation in the early stages, although very broad, was rather weak and gave us enough time to get in and capture a MB pressure of 27.66 !!

First of all, I feel that it was pretty foolish to get under the tightening circulation just to get some video. And secondly, I hope you mean that you recorded a pressure DROP of 27.66 mb and not an actual pressure of 27.66 mb. This would be rather far fetched since 27.66 mb would only be found thousands of feet up into the atmosphere.

Since Billy was probably too busy sitting at home during the time this tornado was actually on the ground - surfing the net for the latest and greatest tornado photos to add to his website - the only pressure drop he likely recorded was the one in his brain.
Ok before this turns into a Billy slamming topic (there already is one for that) I have to at least stick up for one of the tornado attack vehicles. The TIV (silver vehicle that follows with the DOW's) seems to be less of publicity stunt. I have personally had the opportunity to talk with some of the crew from the TIV and what I found out was quite interesting. They are NOT what everyone thinks, they arnt wanting to drive into a tornado. They are actually just wanting to get closer than most anyone would want, not get "inside" a tornado. With the DOW's, they can only scan a certain portion of the tornado, mostly upper portions, supposably they cannot scan the lower portion, and with positioning the TIV nearby the tornado, they can gain more data and information about the lower levels of the tornado. As for the crew sticking their heads out the roof and wearing commando gear, lol, its just for s&g's. Come on, admit we all do goofy things on chases to keep us entertained or laugh, for instance, ive been known to stand in open fields and try and insult a storm about its organization, wall clouds, rotation etc. lol we all do things to make us enjoy the chase more so.

As for the other vehicle, the red "Tornado Attack", I believe they are a publicity stunt. I mean check out their web page. They are really making it look like a reality TV thing. Also, dont forget they did try and auction off seats in their vehicle on EBAY.

One last thing, the DOW's used to have on their web page that they do not endorse any type of vehicle penetrating into a tornado. That just helps convince me a lil bit more that maybe the TIV is used more towards collecting data at close ranges rather than trying to penetrate the tornado.

...just my thoughts...
Mike - I think you're referring to the Imax car ... this one has turrets on top for video/photography ... it's actually for the Imax team, I believe ... and it isn't their goal to drive into the tornado ... just to get film from a location close to it.

The other TIV or "armadillo" as it used to be called, looks somewhat similar to the Imax car ... it's in the photo that was posted on -
Thanks Mike,
I dont really know now which vehicle it was, but it was the vehicle that follows the DOW's that seems like they may have some sort of reasoning behind their madness, not just a publicity stunt.