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redsrule2500
07-23-2005, 11:21 PM
http://www.autoweek.com/article.cms?articleId=102748

Casey vs. the Tornado
Storm chaser builds an armored Ford F-450 to drive into tornados
PHIL BERG
Published Date: 7/18/05

Earlier this year near Paducah, Texas, cinematographer Sean Casey got the scary part of his wish. “The holy grail of all footage is to get a tornado coming right at you—filming with a wide-angle lens, and having the tornado hit you, impact the camera—and that shot really hasn’t been gotten yet,” says the seven-year storm-chasing veteran. “If we can get that on IMAX, it would be a really nice, nice shot.”

Because of heavy rain, his bulky IMAX camera didn’t get the shot. Casey was hit by a tornado twice that day, events he recalls with a calm, articulate tone belying that average folks think the feat is totally, completely, insanely nuts.

“The first was like being sandblasted by 70- to 80-mph winds. The last tornado was rain-wrapped. You couldn’t see the tornado. We just drove right into it,” recalls Casey. “The wind reading was 55 meters per second, so maybe 110 mph.”

Until three years ago Casey would never have tried driving into a tornado. “One year we had a pickup and we had the camera on a helicopter mount in the back. We were trying to get to the mode where you can film at any time. It was always a hard deal to jump out of a car, set up your sticks [tripod], set up the camera and then get your shot. But we were still exposed in the back of the pickup. Going down the highway at 80 mph, if something happens you’re dead.

“We had a close call in 2001 in a minivan where we actually locked ourselves out of the minivan,” he says. “We were really close to these tornados. It was just after that we thought, ‘Let’s build a vehicle that can take some abuse.’ A vehicle where if you get hit by a tornado, even a violent one, you’re probably going to be okay.”

So he built the TIV (Tornado Intercept Vehicle), a long-wheelbase 1997 Ford F-450 diesel dually pickup. No one at Ford would recognize it, though. The body has been replaced by inexpertly welded thick steel plates, and incorporates a roof turret housing the large IMAX film camera. Occupants peer out through prison-window Lexan portals.

“It’s so ugly! It’s just a big mobile tripod for the camera,” Casey says.

Getting a real tornado to hit you while you’re filming is a difficult, time-consuming job. Casey has collected about 15 minutes’ worth of IMAX footage in seven years, much of it while latched under the turret of the TIV. He has been driving the truck for three chase seasons, which usually run from late April to early June in Tornado Alley, a region of the high plains that sees more tornados than anywhere in the world. Casey, 37, spends about six weeks a year hunkered down in central Kansas watching live radar images via the web from the National Weather Service’s storm prediction center, same as hundreds of storm-chase hobbyists and scientists.

Casey learned to weld in order to build the TIV. “You can see the original beads weren’t so great,” he says. “I’m a cinematographer, with a limited ability in welding.”

He kept the truck’s instrument panel, but everything else is created for his storm-chasing purposes. On top of a quarter-inch steel plate welded to the original frame rails of the truck, he constructed a frame of six-inch steel channel, and then welded one-eighth-inch steel plates onto the frame for the body. The turret revolves 360 degrees on three-inch steel rollers, and a platform underneath it holds the heavy IMAX camera. Two more hatches in the top of the TIV are used by a cameraman for smaller format film. The doors, one on the front passenger side, one on the rear driver side and two in back, are double-layer, one-eighth-inch steel plate. The TIV weighs 13,780 pounds.

Casey came up with the design himself. “It looks remarkably similar to the spaceships I drew when I was 12,” he says. “In a way, I might be reliving that.”
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Okay, so it's not our Sean Casey, but still interesting :)

macro
07-24-2005, 12:31 AM
The Sean Casey that plays for the Reds appears to run against a very strong wind.

RFS62
07-24-2005, 06:58 AM
I remember once working a tornado in Manson, Iowa. There was a big black smear about 100 feet up in the air on the side of a grain silo.

One of the locals told me that was where a truck smashed up against the tower, after being tossed around like a toy.

100 mph wind speed is a mild hurricane. Tornados can get up to 300. They're nature's blender.

Sean is dumber than a box of rocks. His little toy truck will disenegrate if he's ever able to drive it into a serious tornado.

RedsBaron
07-24-2005, 07:02 AM
Sean is dumber than a box of rocks. His little toy truck will disenegrate if he's ever able to drive it into a serious tornado.
I had the same thought when I originally read this article in my local paper a few days ago. A tornado could pick up that truck and shake it apart.

KittyDuran
07-24-2005, 07:20 AM
http://www.autoweek.com/article.cms?articleId=102748

Casey vs. the Tornado
Storm chaser builds an armored Ford F-450 to drive into tornados
PHIL BERG
Published Date: 7/18/05

Earlier this year near Paducah, Texas, cinematographer Sean Casey got the scary part of his wish. “The holy grail of all footage is to get a tornado coming right at you—filming with a wide-angle lens, and having the tornado hit you, impact the camera—and that shot really hasn’t been gotten yet,” says the seven-year storm-chasing veteran. “If we can get that on IMAX, it would be a really nice, nice shot.”

Because of heavy rain, his bulky IMAX camera didn’t get the shot. Casey was hit by a tornado twice that day, events he recalls with a calm, articulate tone belying that average folks think the feat is totally, completely, insanely nuts.

“The first was like being sandblasted by 70- to 80-mph winds. The last tornado was rain-wrapped. You couldn’t see the tornado. We just drove right into it,” recalls Casey. “The wind reading was 55 meters per second, so maybe 110 mph.”

Until three years ago Casey would never have tried driving into a tornado. “One year we had a pickup and we had the camera on a helicopter mount in the back. We were trying to get to the mode where you can film at any time. It was always a hard deal to jump out of a car, set up your sticks [tripod], set up the camera and then get your shot. But we were still exposed in the back of the pickup. Going down the highway at 80 mph, if something happens you’re dead.

“We had a close call in 2001 in a minivan where we actually locked ourselves out of the minivan,” he says. “We were really close to these tornados. It was just after that we thought, ‘Let’s build a vehicle that can take some abuse.’ A vehicle where if you get hit by a tornado, even a violent one, you’re probably going to be okay.”

So he built the TIV (Tornado Intercept Vehicle), a long-wheelbase 1997 Ford F-450 diesel dually pickup. No one at Ford would recognize it, though. The body has been replaced by inexpertly welded thick steel plates, and incorporates a roof turret housing the large IMAX film camera. Occupants peer out through prison-window Lexan portals.

“It’s so ugly! It’s just a big mobile tripod for the camera,” Casey says.

Getting a real tornado to hit you while you’re filming is a difficult, time-consuming job. Casey has collected about 15 minutes’ worth of IMAX footage in seven years, much of it while latched under the turret of the TIV. He has been driving the truck for three chase seasons, which usually run from late April to early June in Tornado Alley, a region of the high plains that sees more tornados than anywhere in the world. Casey, 37, spends about six weeks a year hunkered down in central Kansas watching live radar images via the web from the National Weather Service’s storm prediction center, same as hundreds of storm-chase hobbyists and scientists.

Casey learned to weld in order to build the TIV. “You can see the original beads weren’t so great,” he says. “I’m a cinematographer, with a limited ability in welding.”

He kept the truck’s instrument panel, but everything else is created for his storm-chasing purposes. On top of a quarter-inch steel plate welded to the original frame rails of the truck, he constructed a frame of six-inch steel channel, and then welded one-eighth-inch steel plates onto the frame for the body. The turret revolves 360 degrees on three-inch steel rollers, and a platform underneath it holds the heavy IMAX camera. Two more hatches in the top of the TIV are used by a cameraman for smaller format film. The doors, one on the front passenger side, one on the rear driver side and two in back, are double-layer, one-eighth-inch steel plate. The TIV weighs 13,780 pounds.

Casey came up with the design himself. “It looks remarkably similar to the spaceships I drew when I was 12,” he says. “In a way, I might be reliving that.”
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Okay, so it's not our Sean Casey, but still interesting :)And that article my friend gets you some rep points.... Thanks! :thumbup:

RFS62
07-24-2005, 07:30 AM
Tornados are crazy things. That same storm in Iowa was a true monster. It was over 100 yards wide, and didn't hop along like so many do. It stayed on the ground, and like a giant lawnmower, it cleared a swath right through the residential section of that little town.

Luckily, it came in the middle of the day, and the sirens went off. In Iowa, they don't look around to see what's happening when the sirens go off. They go immediately to the basement. They understand. Because of that, only three people were killed.

I talked to about 100 families there who huddled together in their basements waiting to die as their houses disappeared over their heads. There was one or two blocks left on the foundations, and everything else erased. Trees, street signs, everything. People couldn't even tell where they were afterwards the landscape was so different. They painted their names on pieces of wood or debris and propped it up against the remaining foundation to identify the houses for relief workers.

On the outskirts of the tornado, the town drunk was able to get some pictures like our boy Sean wants. He was getting hammered, as usual I'm told, that afternoon when the tornado was moving towards him. He put his drink on the hood of his Corvette and took his camera out of the car. He was taking pictures of the tornado as it approached him. Then he calmly weaved to the house and staggered down the basement steps. When he reached the bottom step, his house flew off. He turned around and walked back up the steps and took pictures as it went on it's way.

His drink and his Corvette were unharmed. The Blazer right beside it was gone. Strange things happen in tornados.

A farmer in that storm found a roll topped desk in the middle of his beanfield, a couple of miles away from town. There wasn't a single mark on the desk. He opened the rolltop, and all the papers were still there, which is how he figured out who it belonged to.

Another guy told me about rushing home to his house and family as the tornado approached. As he described it, there was a huge culvert in front of his property, with a six foot diameter concrete drainage pipe under the little bridge-driveway across to his land from the main road. There was also a small pipe, parallel to the ground, running through the culvert. As he raced home, he realized he wasn't going to beat the tornado, which was bearing down on him. He jumped out of his truck and dived into the culvert. The tornado passed directly over him, and the suction almost pulled him out. He grabbed the small pipe and hung on for dear life. He said he was suspended completely in the air, like he was flying, which he surly would have been had he lost his grip on the pipe. The tornado passed over him, and he dropped to the ground. He scurried out of the pipe, and watched his house disenegrate. Thankfully, his wife and kids made it to the basement in time and were unharmed.

Everyone I met there had dozens of little marks, cuts and scratches all over their faces and arms from the flying debris that swirled around, even when they were hunkered down in their basements. Every single one of them thought they were going to die. I asked them all that question, and they all just looked at me with a blank stare as they all said yes.

Tornados are crazy things.... far, far worse than hurricanes.

Sean needs to rethink his career path.