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Incredible video: what it’s like inside a violent tornado

It might strike you as foolish, but storm chasers Brandon Ivey and Sean Casey literally rode out a raging tornado with winds to 175 mph from inside a motor vehicle on Memorial Day.

Watch the astonishing, “ear-popping” video below…

Tornado Intercept Vehicle 2 ( Tornado Intercept Vehicle 2 (

But the vehicle, positioned intentionally to bear the brunt of the raging Kansas vortex, is no ordinary vehicle. Called the Tornado Intercept Vehicle 2 (TIV2, the second vehicle of its kind), it is designed to withstand a top of the scale EF-5 twister, with winds over 200 mph.

Wikipedia offers the following details on this 14,000+ pound, armor-reinforced machine:

It is based on a Dodge Ram 3500 that was strengthened and converted to six-wheel drive by adding a third axle. . . . It is powered by a 6.7-liter Cummins turbo charged Diesel engine, modified with propane and water injection to produce 625 horsepower (466 kW). This gives TIV 2 an estimated top speed of over 100 mph (160 km/h). Its fuel capacity is 95 US gallons (360 L), giving TIV 2 an approximate range of 750 miles (1,210 km). The body of TIV 2 is constructed of a 1/8-inch steel skin welded over a 2-inch (51 mm) square tubing steel frame. The windows in TIV 2 are all bullet-resistant 1.63-inch interlayered polycarbonate sheets and tempered glass.

MythBusters, the Discovery Channel TV series, has a great short movie on the TIV2, embedded below:

In a test aired on a Mythbusters episode, the TIV2 withstood 250 mph winds, equivalent to an EF-5 tornado.

How did it fare during Monday’s twister?

“Wind speeds were 150 to 175 EF3 to EF4 before the tornado ripped the instruments off the top of the TIV,” says the video description.

IMAX footage from TIV2’s predecessor, TIV1, was featured in the movie Tornado Alley. The TIV2 contains an IMAX filming turret, so perhaps Monday’s footage will be coming to a theater near you.

But don’t think the vehicle is just for thrills and entertainment.  Scientific data is also collected by the vehicle and analyzed by scientists.  That is, until the instruments are blown away…

Related: Astonishing video of Moore, Okla. tornado: From little swirl to gargantuan monster

Jason is the Washington Post’s weather editor and Capital Weather Gang's chief meteorologist. He earned a master's degree in atmospheric science, and spent 10 years as a climate change science analyst for the U.S. government. He holds the Digital Seal of Approval from the National Weather Association.
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Kathryn Prociv · May 28, 2013

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