Filmmaker and storm chaser Sean Casey is in Sioux Falls this weekend to talk severe weather. And Casey brought along something special – the vehicle he uses to storm chase. It’s called a tornado intercept vehicle or TIV, for short.
Casey says the TIV used to be a Dodge Ram 3500, but they tore it apart and added about 9,000 pounds of armor to the vehicle. They also installed bulletproof glass in the windows. It has hydraulic arms and spikes that can drop down into the ground. It weighs 15,000 pounds and can travel up to 100 miles per hour.
Casey, who produced the movie Tornado Alley, has an iMax camera in the back of the vehicle to film the storms he goes into.
“I wanted to get footage that I felt really did justice to the power that exists in Tornado Alley,” Casey said.
But, Casey doesn’t go into random tornadoes. He chases storms using Doppler radar that he and his crew are targeted to go into.
“The radar truck that we are traveling with is screening that tornado and then over the radio, that’s giving us max wind speeds, so we know what those winds are like, so we don’t go do anything that would pick us up and throw us,” Casey said.
And he says the scariest part of the job is when they are chasing a tornado that’s too strong for them and they need to pull away.
Casey stresses the importance of being informed about weather and storm watches and warnings. He says people need to pay attention to those so they know when they might be in danger.
As for Casey's favorites, he says South Dakota is one of his favorite states to chase storms in. In fact, the first time he used the TIV was in a tornado in Manchester, South Dakota.
You can check out the TIV and Casey’s movie this weekend at the Washington Pavilion. Our KELOLAND Meteorologists will also be at the Washington Pavilion Saturday at 10 a.m. giving a presentation about severe weather.