Fans Meet Discovery Channel's Storm Chasers

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Monday, April 11, 2011

The work of a team of storm chasers is being featured at the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center in Hutchinson through the IMAX movie, "Tornado Alley." Monday, visitors got the chance to look inside the special vehicle used for tornado chasing.

The "Tornado Intercept Vehicle," or the TIV, is a highly modified Dodge full-ton truck featured in the Discovery Channel Show, "Storm Chasers." The vehicle is also shown in the movie, "Tornado Alley," which is playing in the Cosmosphere's Carey IMAX Dome Theatre.

Wichitan Brandon Ivey is the meteorologist on a team of storm chasers featured on Discovery Channel. Ivey and TIV driver, Marcus Gutierrez, talked to fans about tornado chasing and how their vehicle allows them to get closer to twisters than probably most people should.

"The show portrays a lot of drama, kind of a lot of extreme adventures to hype up the television show. But we are pretty careful about what we do go into," Ivey said.

And it raises questions about whether storm chasing shows like theirs encourage people to put themselves in harms way. "There's a lot of storm chasers out there and I think we're turning this into a sport now that it's on TV, and the Discovery Channel," Gutierrez said, "So everyone that's passionate about storms is wanting to go out and get closer to them."

He admits it can be a bad thing. "On weekends it can be 250 cars chasing one little storm in the middle of nowhere in Oklahoma," Gutierrez said. "You know as long as people are safe and pay attention to how they're driving, I think everybody ought to be able to get out and enjoy it and see how the weather works first hand."

He says the TIV has been in five tornadoes but says they steer clear of the stronger ones. After all, it's not an army tank. "So we're very safe in what we do out there," Gutierrez added.

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