Catch a Tornado

By on June 8, 2005

A National Geographic team put together some cool toys that record what it looks like inside a tornado.

It’s a technological first. A well-placed probe fitted with 7 video cameras — 6 with a 60-degree field-of-view designed to achieve a full 360-degree field-of-view, and one pointing upward — captures footage inside a tornado, providing visual data on ground wind speeds where the storm does the greatest damage.

The Flash video on the site is pretty cool; pretty much a debris-eye view of the tornado. What they call a “direct hit” I think I would classify more as a near miss, but it was still much, much closer than I’d care to be in person!

I can’t wait for the next logical development; a probe that they drive or fly right inside the twister. “We’re not in Kansas anymore!”



  1. We had some sever thunder storms come through Minneapolis last night around 4:00 a.m. After viewing these photos and video clips, I’m glad the storms did not get worse!

  2. I watched these videos last night, right before the storms Rich mentioned hit our place (around midnight). Sort of like watching a horror movie and then finding zombies on your lawn. :-)

    I’m with you on the flying into it, Dave. It would be cool to see someone develop a small remote-controlled airplane with a gyro-stabilized ball of cameras at its core. When the plane flew into the tornado, the wings and plane bits would be ripped/blown away, leaving you with a ball of cameras way up in the storm.

  3. While watching the news last night there was a bit on storm chasers, and there was a brief shot of a vehicle that someone has built that they hope to drive into a tornado. The thing was painted silver and had all the windows armored over, leaving tiny little view ports. Seems like a colossally bad idea to me; some things are just better experienced vicariously.

  4. On the news last night, KSFY maybe? Whatever… anyway, the news dorks were out on the road following around the storm chasers the other night. One team had some kind of armor-plated bus that they hope to “someday drive into the heart of a twister”.

    Sounds like a good time.

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