Weather Beaters: The Top 10 Twistered Stormchaser Vehicles

As any stormchaser worth his or her salt knows, when Mother Nature throws you a twister you'd best be driving something sturdier than Miss Gulch's bicycle.

These 10 souped-up and battened-down storm chaser vehicles are designed to get supercell stalkers (and their little dogs, too) to the wildest weather systems and safely back again... in awesome, post-apocalyptic style.            

The Dominator

The SRV Dominator (SRV stands for “Storm Research Vehicle”) was professional storm chaser Reed Timmer's ride through several seasons of The Discovery Channel's Storm Chaser's TV series.

In its final iteration based on a Ford Super Duty pickup, the 8,000-lb Dominator 3 features hydraulic anchoring spikes, Lexan windows and gull-wing doors. (stormchaser vehicle image via Sundry & Specifics)

Steve Green's TA-1

Stormchaser Steve Green built the Tornado Attack Vehicle with every stormchaser's worst case scenario in mind and a good thing he did: in 2004 Green became  the first person to intentionally drive into a tornado and live to tell the tale. (stormchaser vehicle image via WTWH Media LLC) 

TIV-2 Tornado Intercept Vehicle

What's the recipe for a TIV-2? In a nutshell, start with a Dodge Ram 3500 pickup, switch out the stock body for steel, aluminum and Kevlar armor plating (except for the 1/2” thick Lexan windows), and rig the body mounts with hydraulics.

The six-wheeled TIV-2's MO is to park in the path of an oncoming twister, lower the 14,000-lb body flush with the pavement, and hope the tornado doesn't go into nutcracker mode. (stormchaser vehicle image via KRMG)   

Hailproof Vehicle

Stormchaser Mike Ratliff designed and built a completely hail-proof vehicle that might not be pretty but is actually pretty awesome. Besides, looks take a backseat when baseball-sized hail threatens to mar more than your vehilcle's finsih.

The vehicle's exoskeleton is made up of 6 steel mesh screens controlled by linear actuators. The finishing touch is a thick coat Bullet-Liner, a protective substance usually to seal pickup truck cargo beds. (stormchaser vehicle image via 


Cool cars and wild weather: a marriage made in heaven, or the other place? “Our passion is in the weather and also I went to school for automotive collision technology,” explains Dan Auel, creator of the Dorothy stormchasing vehicle, “so we’ve kind of put those passions together. This is what we came up with – this beast I guess.”

Spokespersons for the Iowa Storm Chasing Network say 9,000-pound Dorothy “can take baseball sized hail all day without any damage.” 90-pound Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz, not so much. (stormchaser vehicle image via 

Storm Chaser 01

The screamin'-yellow Storm Chaser 01 from DeviantArt user russel2512 channels a little Monster Truck to ensure weather-watchers never get, er, tired.

Being a work of art, Storm Chaser 01 exists only in the realm of possibility but no biggie – that realm hosts some im-possibly wicked weather systems. (stormchaser vehicle image via russel2512/DeviantArt)

The Titus

Realizing a stormchaser's wish list isn't always doable, unless you're a major movie studio making a 2014 made-for-TV film called Into The Storm. It just so happens that Warner Bros. is just such a studio and with a little help from Detroit's Custom Creations, the Titus was born!

Based on a modified Dodge pickup chassis, the Titus packs bulletproof Lexan windows, 4mm solid steel armor plating and a 12-ton winch – the latter's purpose being to anchor the vehicle as updrafts and vortexes (vorteci?) rage overhead. (stormchaser vehicle image via SIN A CAR)        

Doppler On Wheels

Here's another cinematic stormchasing vehicle, this one from the 2011 documentary Tornado Alley. “Doppler On Wheels” is the ultimate expression of a stormchaser's costliest must-have tool: a portable Doppler weather radar rig.

So-called DOWs allow stormchasers to map supercells from the inside out, pinpointing the most likely areas for tornado formation. If a stormchasing team is large enough to warrant it, DOW's like the big blue beast above can act as an in-field command & control center. (stormchaser vehicle image via Tornado Alley

Classic Jeepney

Sometimes the back-to-basics approach is the best approach, such as when you're traversing what passes for roads in the Philippines.

The electric blue stormchaser above appears to be part Army Jeep, part bank armored car – both of which provide low-cost, high-ROI results for stormchasers who range far beyond the backroads.(stormchaser vehicle image via  

Sometimes The Storm Wins...

No matter how a stormchasing vehicle is equipped, however, nothing can stand up to the raw fury of Mother Nature in a bad mood. The massive El Reno Tornado took the lives of pro stormchaser Tim Samaras, his son Paul Samaras and Carl Young on May 31st of 2013, leaving the twisted wreck above in its wake.

It serves as a stark reminder that stormchasing is an extreme pursuit fraught with danger: chasing a storm is one thing, catching one is quite another. (stormchaser vehicle images via TFLcar and CNN)