2007-09-15 02:20:57.000 – Ryan Knapp,  Staff Meteorologist


Tonight’s movie: Twister.

Let me start by saying we do not have this movie set on a continuous loop up here like “Breakfast of Champions” in our museums. As a matter of fact, this is the first time I have watched it up here and probably the first time in at least four years. In case you haven’t seen it, I will summarize: it is about tornado chasing in the Midwest. It is a decent movie and I recommend viewing it if you have not seen it yet. It is probably a 99 cent rental by now since it came out in the late nineties. It is rated PG-13 for “Intense depiction of very bad weather.”

What most people ask me is how accurate this movie is in the weather world. I would say that it has its faults like how the hail looks like crushed ice cubes, the cars and chasers survive about 25 things that would normally destroy them, at the begining of the film, they were mentioning the Fujita scale which wasn’t invented until a couple years after that tornado hit their farm, or the behavior of the tornadoes like how they form, move, and dissipate. One could say that it should have been rated PG-13 for a “Very bad depiction of intense weather” based on these faults alone. But to point out these is like missing the forest for the trees. I like to point out that the DOROTHY project they were using was based on the TOTO project that the National Weather Service performed in the mid-eighties. It shows the importance of forecasting tornados in a timely manner but also their unpredictability at the same time. It depicts how tornadoes demand attention and respect simultaneously. And lastly, it made meteorology exciting and appealing to an entire generation. I can’t tell you how many intern applicants we have had that have sited this movie as being the thing that ultimately got them interested in weather. I can’t say I blame them. If Hollywood can make an exciting movie about tornado chasing, it makes you wonder what they could do for the summit of a mountain in New Hampshire.


Ryan Knapp,  Staff Meteorologist

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