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Tornado Alley 3D at the Tennessee Aquarium IMAX 3D Theater

9/14/2011 8:00:00 AM

Join Storm Chasers star Sean Casey and the researchers of VORTEX 2, the most ambitious effort ever made to understand the origins and evolution of tornadoes, on this heart-pounding science adventure. Armed with a 70mm camera, a fleet of customized vehicles designed to withstand gale force winds, torrential rains and unrelenting hail, and an arsenal of the most advanced weather measurement instruments ever created, the stars of Tornado Alley take audiences on a thrilling quest to experience a tornado’s destructive power at point blank range.

Sean Casey and the Tornado Intercept Vehicle chase a tornado.

Above image: Sean Casey, inside the Tornado Intercept Vehicle, gets into position to capture a twister on film from within the storm.

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                      Contact: Thom Benson 423-785-3007
Tornado Alley 3D Launches at the Tennessee Aquarium IMAX Theater September 30th
Giant Screen Science Adventure Explores Unknown Twister Mysteries

Chattanooga, Tenn. (September 14, 2011) - Nearly five months have passed since the unprecedented tornado outbreak that swept through the Southeast with devastating results. Broadcast meteorologists, armed with the latest technology, were able to reach people with tornado warnings that had unequalled lead time in the Tennessee Valley. According to the National Weather Service, tornado warnings were issued an average of 24 minutes before communities were struck by the violent winds. “With large and long-track tornadoes, you have the potential to give people additional warning time,” said Dr. Karen Kosiba, atmospheric scientist at the Center for Severe Weather Research in Boulder, CO. “Unfortunately the lead time for all tornadoes is only about 10 minutes.”

Kosiba and an army of scientists from VORTEX2 are featured in Tornado Alley 3D. The most ambitious scientific mission of its kind, VORTEX2 was comprised of more than 100 severe-weather researchers from around the world, a fleet of radar trucks, mobile weather stations and the most sophisticated weather-measuring instruments ever created. The mission: probe nature’s most violent storms to better understand how tornadoes form and develop. “The data we collected on about 60 tornadic storms will help us improve the predictability of tornadoes,” said Kosiba. “We also want to better understand and correlate how the winds inside a tornado cause damage.”

Scientists still don’t know why one storm will go haywire, producing a massive twister like the ones that touched down in Tuscaloosa, AL or Ringgold, GA, while other nearby storms fail to produce any tornadoes. “What we’re trying to do is warn people BEFORE a storm produces a tornado,” Kosiba said. “Currently a radar signature may indicate a potential tornado, but 75% of those storms don’t produce tornadoes. So we need a better discriminator to reduce the false alarm rate and more accurately warn people.”

In the film, audiences see how incredibly difficult it is to actually measure tornado winds directly. Kosiba helped gather wind measurements indirectly with radar trucks, but was also responsible for coordinating teams that deployed weather sensors in the path of oncoming tornadoes. “The wind data can help us correlate what we’re seeing on radar and may help others design stronger homes and buildings in the future,” Kosiba said.

Sean Casey, star of Discovery Channel’s wildly popular Storm Chasers series, designed his Tornado Intercept Vehicle, or TIV, to film from within the center of a storm’s fury. Armed with weather instruments and a 92-pound IMAX camera, Casey worked for more than eight years to get direct readings and a shot of a tornado at point blank range. “My dream has always been to get footage that’s as powerful as the subject matter,” said Casey. “There’s a huge difference between filming a tornado from a couple of miles away with a telephoto lens, and filming a tornado that’s on top of you with a wide-angle lens.” The cinematic result gives audiences the chance to ride along – and to experience a visual powerhouse of never-before-captured tornado footage on the giant, six-story screen.

Dr. Kosiba will be at the Tennessee Aquarium IMAX 3D Theater to introduce the film during a special FREE preview of Tornado Alley 3D on Thursday, September 29th at 7:00 pm. Seating is limited and available on a first-come basis. Donations will be accepted at this screening for the Chattanooga Red Cross to help our community be better prepared for future storms. “In addition to disaster response, The Red Cross believes in training people to be prepared.  Last year more than 45,000 people in the Chattanooga area received training from our staff and volunteers. These residents now have family plans and are better equipped to deal with future threats,” said Barbara Alexander, Chief Executive Officer of the Greater Chattanooga American Red Cross. “The number of people requesting training increased dramatically after the tornado, so we’re happy to partner with the Tennessee Aquarium to offer classes in conjunction with seeing Tornado Alley 3D at the IMAX Center.”

One of the “Doppler on Wheels,” or DOW, radar trucks will be at IMAX for the special screening on September 29th. The DOW and Sean Casey’s TIV will be at IMAX on Saturday, October 1st.

For more information about Tornado Alley 3D, or to purchase tickets online, go to: http://www.tnaqua.org/IMAX/IMAX.aspx

 

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