Fans of the Discovery Channel show "Storm Chasers" had the chance to check out the TIV (Tornado Intercept Vehicle) in Canal Park yesterday (September 13) as a part of the release announcement for the IMAX film "Tornado Alley" coming to the Omnitheater at the Science Museum of Minnesota this fall.

The vehicle is one of a few tank-like, custom-built vehicles used in the show "Storm Chasers" to not only study tornadoes, but capture breathtaking up-close footage of tornadoes. The Discovery Channel show got its start as result of IMAX filmmaker Sean Casey and a group of scientists and storm chasers in a group called VORTEX 2 teaming up to follow severe thunderstorms around Tornado Alley in an effort not only to capture valuable scientific data, but also to film tornadoes in a way never before seen by the average person.

The fruit of the show's efforts, an IMAX movie called "Tornado Alley" is making its way to the Omnitheater at the Science Museum of Minnesota, with the first showing taking place on September 28. The film will continue to show until June 20 of 2013, giving thrill seekers and weather nerds around the region plenty of time to experience a tornado on a massive IMAX screen.

In preparation for the film hitting Minnesota, the TIV hit the road, visiting towns around the region. I had the opportunity to get some up-close photos of one of the vehicles that managed to survive the violent attacks of tornadoes.

The vehicle that visited Canal Park has intercepted a total of 6 tornadoes, the strongest of which was an E-F3 tornado. Most of the tornado footage captured for the film was recorded from this vehicle. The impressive tank-like TIV weighs just under 7 tons with flaps that drop down to the ground and hydraulic spikes that can be driven roughly 3 feet into the ground to keep it in place. It was built from a Dodge Ram 3500 pickup truck, with the entire body stripped away; using only its original engine, transmission, and driveline. The body of the vehicle was custom-built from steel and bullet-proof glass.

According to Sean Casey, the man behind the IMAX film, the highlight of the entire film is a scene where a powerful tornado approaches and passes over the vehicle, with the camera capturing the entire experience. While none of the actual film's awe-inspiring footage is shown, check out the video below to watch what it was like to be in the TIV as a tornado passed overhead.

See a video from the Discovery Channel Show "Storm Chasers"


See the official trailer for "Tornado Alley

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