Twister Movie Put NSSL on the Map

Twister Story Photos

Twister Tour

NSSL went on tour with Universal Studies to promote tornado safety while they promoted the release of the movie Twister.

One of NSSL's now-retired mobile laboratory vehicles is located in the left of the photo near the cab of the Twister truck. A weather balloon is suspended in air at about tree top level above the mobile lab.

The TOtable Tornado Observatory, better known as TOTO. The idea was for a chaser to put TOTO down in the path of a tornado so that data from the passage of the tornado would be recorded on magnetic tape. TOTO was roughly the size of a 55 gallon oil drum and was designed to stay put (hopefully) during the passage of a tornado.

For a number of years, it was carried about during storm chases by Prof. Howard Bluestein of the School of Meteorology, University of Oklahoma. Then, TOTO was given to NSSL to attempt deployment. All these efforts were essentially unsuccessful because it is difficult to put objects in the path of a tornado! Only once was TOTO put nearly into the tornado path; that particular chase effort is "immortalized" by the PBS "NOVA" program on tornadoes that aired first in 1986. TOTO has been "retired" for a number of years.

Medium resolution

The Totable Tornado Observatory

Several scenes from the movie were filmed in Norman, Okla., providing an opportunity for NSSL scientists to meet the actors and see how some of the scenes were produced.

Medium resolution

Helen Hunt signed a photograph thanking NSSL

The SMART-R Program is a collaborative research program involving four major weather research institutions:

  • The National Severe Storms Laboratory, Norman, Oklahoma
  • Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas
  • Texas Tech University, Lubbock Texas
  • The University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma

Two mobile 5-cm Doppler radars will be used to study convective and mesoscale atmospheric processes to help improve forecasts of significant weather events such as flash floods, hurricanes and tornadoes.

Medium resolution
High resolution

One of two SMART-Radars

Photos from VORTEX:

Medium resolution

NSSL and OU scientists during VORTEX