Over the weekend, Sean Casey, known best from the Discovery Channel series Storm Chasers, took on a Kansas tornado in his Tornado Intercept Vehicle (TIV). Winds reached 175 mph, but Casey and his custom-built tank emerged victorious with some pretty stunning footage to show for their hard work.
In the video, Casey confronts a storm in northeastern Kansas that led to widespread property damage and produced at least four tornadoes, although no injuries were reported. Following the encounter, Casey reported that the TIV 2 was able to remain completely in place, however the tornado was able to blow open a hatch and known an exterior camera inside the truck. Toward the end of the video, an object strikes the truck's windshield with such force that the impact creates sparks.
Casey's Tornado Intercept Vehicle is the second-generation storm tank assembled by him and his team and it's called the TIV 2. It carries an IMAX camera and the footage captured is used both for Storm Chasers as well as IMAX films.
The TIV 2 boasts some pretty impressive reinforcements to make it formidable against a 175-mph tornado. The original TIV was a heavily revamped Ford F-450 pickup, while the TIV 2 is a Dodge Ram 3500 with a third axle to provide six-wheel drive. The engine is a 6.7-liter Cummins turbocharged Diesel that pumps out 625 horsepower. The windows are made of polycarbonate and tempered glass and can withstand bullets.
Initially, the vehicle's shell consisted of a steel skin welded onto a 2-inch thick steel frame, but the TIV 2 underwent a redesign in 2008 and several areas of the armor were places with aluminum, Kevlar and other composite materials. Additionally, the truck received hydraulic stabilizing spikes that drive themselves down into the ground and further help the truck maintain a stationary position as a tornado passes through.
It's unclear if the footage Casey and his team captured over the weekend will make its way into an episode of Storm Chasers, but you can count on the IMAX footage eventually being released somewhere. After emerging from the twister, Casey tweeted, "Most intense moment ever had in TIV."