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TIV-2 takes the fight to the tornado

Fri, 05 Aug 2011

It takes a special breed of person to be a storm chaser. It takes an extra-special truck to withstand the 220-mph winds that tornadoes produce. The 14,000-pound TIV-2 is just such a vehicle.

Based on a Ram pickup, the TIV-2 has six wheels, with a tandem set in the rear. Power comes from a Cummins turbodiesel engine, but acceleration and braking stats are unavailable.

Filmmaker Sean Casey built the truck for his movie Tornado Alley, which will be playing at IMAX theaters across the country. He eventually plans to build another truck with even more off-road capabilities.

The truck is armored with two-inch-thick aluminum, Kevlar and steel. The armor plates slide down to the pavement on each side, preventing the car from being lifted. For even more stability, it uses steel spears shot three feet into the ground.

A rotating turret sits on top of the truck for the cameraman. It has 360-degree capability and can opened when weather permits.

The TIV-2 tops out at 100 mph, which should be enough to outrun a storm. Driver and medic Marcus Gutierrez says it's just like driving a regular truck, with a few add-on pieces.

The TIV-2 won't win any beauty or efficiency awards, but as purpose-built vehicles go, it's one of a kind.

By Jake Lingeman and Ronan McGrath