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Tornado Intercept Vehicle
Tornado intercept vehicle.jpg
Designer Sean Casey
Class First Generation Intercept Vehicle
Weight Approx. 15,000 pounds
Drive Power 2 wheel drive, 2 axles, 6 wheels
Engine(s) 7.3 liter turbo diesel
Weather Instrumentation IMAX turret, instrument mast
Armor 1/8-1/4" steel plating
Safety Features 4 hydraulic claws, hydraulic lowering device
Successor TIV 2

A Tornado Intercept Vehicle is a modified automobile used for storm chasing.



The Tornado Intercept Vehicle (TIV) is a heavily modified 1997 Ford F-450 truck used as a storm chasing platform and built by IMAX director Sean Casey. This heavily armored vehicle can drive into a relatively weak tornado (EF0 to EF3) to film it and take measurements. Work began on the TIV in 2003 and took around 8 months to finish, at a total cost of around $81,000. TIV's armored shell consists of 1/8-1/4 inch steel plate welded to a two inch square steel tubing frame. The windows are bullet resistant polycarbonate, measuring 1 1/2 inches thick on the windshield and 1/2 inch thick on the sides. The TIV weighs approximately 16,000 pounds fully loaded and is powered by a 7.3-liter Ford Power Stroke turbodiesel producing 215 horsepower (160 kW), giving it a top speed of 62 mph (100 km/h). The TIV has a fuel capacity of 60 U.S. gallons, giving it a range of around 500 miles (800 km). The TIV is featured in a series called Storm Chasers which began airing on the Discovery Channel in October 2007.[1][2] TIV was succeeded in 2008 by TIV 2, but returned to service to finish out the 2008 storm chasing season after TIV 2 suffered mechanical problems.

Tornado Intercept Vehicle 2
Designer Sean Casey
Class Second Generation Intercept Vehicle
Weight approx. 17,500 pounds (season 2); approx. 14,000 pounds (Season 3)
Drive Power all wheel drive, 3 axles, 10 wheels
Engine(s) modified 6.7 liter turbo diesel
Weather Instrumentation IMAX turret, instrument mast
Armor 1/8" steel plating (season 2); 1/8" steel/aluminum plating, composite armor (season 3)
Safety Features 6 hydraulic drop down skirts (season 2); 4 hydraulic drop down skirts (season 3), hydraulic lowering device, self-leveling suspension, hydraulic stabilizing spikes (season 3)


Casey and his team developed and built the second Tornado Intercept Vehicle, dubbed "TIV 2," to be featured in their next IMAX movie and the Storm Chasers series.[3] Work began in September 2007 by 40 welding students at the Great Plains Technology Center in Lawton, Oklahoma and was completed in time for the 2008 tornado chase season. TIV 2 was designed to address some of the problems experienced with the original TIV, namely its low ground clearance, lack of four-wheel drive, and low top speed. It is based on a Dodge four-wheel drive 1 Ton truck frame that was strengthened and converted to six-wheel drive by adding a third axle.After season two the 6 wheel drive system was modfied to 4 wheel drive.[citation needed] It is powered by a 6.7-liter Cummins turbodiesel 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). Fuel capacity is 92 U.S. gallons, 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 5/8 inch interlayered polycarbonate sheets and tempered glass. TIV 2 also features an IMAX filming turret similar to the one on the original TIV. The original TIV's somewhat cumbersome hydraulic claws were not used on TIV 2 in favor of 6 hydraulic skirts that drop down to deflect wind over the TIV to stabilize it and protect the underside from debris.

TIV 2 debuted on the second season of Storm Chasers, which began airing on the Discovery Channel in October 2008. Its initial performance did not go well, as it was plagued by mechanical failures, including a broken axle, which forced Casey to abandon TIV 2 and return to chasing in the original TIV until TIV 2's issues could be resolved.[4][5] Although Casey hoped he would be back in TIV 2 before the end of the season, repairs and modifications on TIV 2 took longer than expected and Casey was shown on Storm Chasers ending the season in the original TIV.

In 2009, TIV 2 received several modifications, mostly focused on reducing the vehicle's massive 17,500 pound weight. To achieve this, certain less crucial areas of TIV 2's armor were converted from steel to aluminum while more vital areas were reinforced with supplemental composite armor consisting of thin layers of steel, Kevlar®, polycarbonate and rubber. In all, the weight reduction measures brought TIV 2's weight down to 14,000 pounds. The safety systems were also improved, with the three front wind skirts being consolidated into one and new hydraulic stabilizing spikes to further increase stability in high winds. Other modifications included additional doors that provided every seat position with an exit (wind skirts up or down), and a redesigned IMAX turret with 50% more windows.[6]


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