MAY 19

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by Hummer Storm Chaser

Twister Museum

Museum Movie pod left real pod right
H3T at Wakita Twister Museum
H3T at Wakita Twister Cafe

To show how closely knit the storm chaser community is, bring up the topic of the movie Twister, which was released in 1996, and starred Bill Paxton and Helen Hunt. Nearly every experienced chaser was consulted for the film, but when the greater chaser community began to criticize its authenticity, many began to distance themselves from Hollywood.

As the story goes, location scouts for the movie phoned the Wakita, Oklahoma, chamber of commerce and asked if they knew of a small town they could destroy to make a movie. The town, with a population of about 400 and about an hour south of Wichita, Kansas, said they’d be happy to donate themselves. For a few months, residents were relocated to nearby Ponca City and bussed in every day, while crews covered storefronts and sidewalks with false fronts and dirt.

An abandoned farmhouse in the town was restored and then demolished, known as Aunt Meg’s house, and now the lot is a butterfly garden. Some buildings were demolished and never replaced. After the movie, the Twister Museum was opened and has a couple of rooms filled with props, and sells T-shirts and small “probes” that were released from a “pod” named Dorothy, named after the Wizard of Oz character, into a large F5 tornado. More of the movie is accurate than not, say the chasers, and the most popular gift is the “flying cow,” made famous by the movie.

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