Sunday, January 27, 2008

Tornado! and Twister: a small film and big film about the same natural hazard from 1996


ION Cable TV tonight (Sunday Jan. 27) aired (as part of the RHI movies series) Hallmark’s “Tornado!” (1996), directed by Noel Nosseck. The film tracks some tornado hunters, and an auditor trying to shut a project down. Three major tornados strike during the film, following the screenwriting structure. In the middle a town is destroyed by an F5 that comes out of nowhere. The film is set in the Texas Panhandle in some fictitious towns around Amarillo. The film anticipates that tornados will get bigger with global warming, even though the film is a dozen years old. But higher temperatures and more violent weather had been noted in the 1980s.

A much more famous (theatrical) film in the same year was "Twister", from Warner Brothers and Universal, directed by Jan de Bont, with Steven Spielberg as an executive producer. In that film a divorcing couple is forced to come together by working on twisters, on of which picks up a cow. In the opening scene, a man is vacuumed out of a storm cellar.

In late March 1998 some severe tornados tore across southern Minnesota, among the earliest largest tornados on record that far north. I was with a friend up north for the day and remember encountering spring hail as we approached Minneapolis.

When I attended the University of Kansas for graduate school in the 1960s, students sometimes went out and chased tornados.

For aerials of the damage from the F5 tornado that hit Greensburg KS in May 2007, go here.

Update: March 24

TBS and the Sci-Fi channel aired a film (on Sci-Fi) "Atomic Twister", directed by Bill Corcoran, in which a nuclear power plant in Tennessee is threatened with radioactive release and explosion after repeated tornado hits.

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