Tornado Alley Documentary Movie Review

by on January 12, 2012

in Entertainment, movie reviews

This is a movie review of a DVD screener of Tornado Alley.

Tornado Alley custom logo

Right now, (January 2012), Tornado Alley is playing at the The Hackworth IMAX Dome Theater at the Tech Museum in San Jose, CA, for the month of January.

And if you appreciate storm chasing and a decent documentary, you will enjoy this IMAX feature.

Tornado Alley screen cap

The opening scene of Tornado Alley is a wondrous visual of a developing storm, which is one of many expansive, beautiful scenic imagery of storms presented to the viewer.

The viewer is then introduced to the 40-vehicle storm chasing team of Vortex 2, or V2. The team of vehicles include radar trucks, equipment deployment teams and other tools of the storm chasing team.

With all the equipment at their disposal, they hope to collect data from the entire life-cycle of a tornado.

Tornado Alley screen cap

It’s the collection of this data that helps the science community learn more about these storms, enabling more efficient early warning systems that can save lives.

As Tornado Alley continues, we’re shown in very easy to digest terms, what Tornado Alley is… what states, what conditions and such make this region of the United States a tornado zone. It’s a region that stretches north from the Gulf of Mexico and is responsible for 80% of the world’s most violent tornadoes.

Then the viewer is introduced to this crazy guy, IMAX director Sean Casey, who is also a storm chaser, and he has this amazing tornado-chasing vehicle, whose pictures just don’t do it justice.

Tornado Alley screen cap 03

It has bullet proof glass, armor plating that slides down and makes contact with the ground, sealing out the winds from underneath it. Pneumatic spikes that can be driven into the ground up to 42 inches deep to keep this tornado chasing tank safe, safe from winds up to 200mph.

All custom built so that Sean can film a tornado, head-on. Without fear. In one quick demonstration, it’s shown that this tornado tank can (“hull down” as I like to call it) deploy in under 30 seconds.

It’s built on a Dodge Ram 3500, has a 3rd axle added, making it a 6-wheel drive dream machine.

Some specs on this machine:

  • four hydraulic drop-down skirts that block wind and debris during an intercept
  • a self-leveling suspension system
  • a modified 6.7-liter turbo-diesel engine
  • a 92-gallon fuel tank
  • weighs 14,000 pounds and
  • has a top speed of over 100 mph.

And from the comfort of your home or theater seat, you get to see some incredible footage that would otherwise, be disturbing to be a part of, if you weren’t watching it from footage taken from the safety of this bad boy and the other research teams in the documentary.

This is TIV 2.

Tornado Alley vehicle


Bill Paxton narrates this all too short 45-minute film, as we follow the two teams of storm chasers. One on the outside, looking into the heart of a storm. The other, driving past the other team of vehicles, looking to be IN the heart of the storm.

If you have any inclination to enjoy these kinds of documentary movies, this movie will tip the scales and can be very entertaining, to understand what it is they’re doing.

We don’t go incredibly deep into the science of storm chasing, but you come away with enough information to completely “get it” and what they’re doing.

This is an incredible IMAX feature, and the thing about IMAX is the imagery, and we get plenty of that throughout. Plus, as the movie starts to come to a close, we see Sean achieve his goal…

After 8 years of storm chasing, TIV 2 “deploys” in the path of a tornado and he gets the shot.

And that was fun to experience with him.


I enjoyed Tornado Alley for what it was.

Want to know more? Head off to [tornado alley movie]

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