June 11

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by Hummer Storm Chaser

The TIV2 Takes a Hit

TIV2 after June 5 tornado
TIV2 hydraulic spikes sandblasted by tornado

When the tornado touched down June 5 in LaGrange, Wyoming, the TIV2 armored vehicle had found an elevated dirt road, and with help from the mobile Doppler radar of Josh Wurman, the team decided to park in its path and film it hitting the vehicle.

“We went ten miles further west” than the VORTEX2 instrumented vehicles, said Sean Casey, the creator of the TIV2. The tornado was moving east and passed over the TIV2 before it got to the VORTEX2 pods and mobile mesonet vehicles on Highway 85, off to the west, the location where everyone was waiting for the tornado to cross.

“It was the first time we were actually deployed,” recalled TIV2 driver Ronan Nagle. “It was one of the top three moments of my life until I have a baby, then it will be one of the top four.”

The TIV2 instruments measured 125 mph winds as the EF2 tornado hit the vehicle. “It wasn&srquo;t as dark as ones in the past,” and it didn&srquo;t take the TIV2 team by surprise, added Nagle. “I could see through it, I could see power lines in front of us. The wind was going northeast, ripping around us.”

The TIV2 was parked with its driver&srquo;s side pointed south, so the front of the vehicle was aimed at the coming tornado. Paint was sand-blasted off the aluminum wing in front of the TIV2, but there was more damage on the “non-aerodynamic parts,” said Nagle. Those included the hydraulic rams that forced two four-foot anchor spikes into the dirt road.

The wind rattled the TIV2, and Casey reported that it was shaking the turret on the top of the vehicle. “I was concerned that the turret would come off, that&srquo;s why I was holding it down.”

At this point, recalled Nagle, “the wind was going northeast, ripping around the TIV2. The spikes were down seven seconds before the major brunt. It seemed like it lasted about 45 seconds, but we watched the videos and they were only about 12 seconds long.”

After the tornado hit the TIV2, the team showed their videos to the VORTEX2 teams that night. “It was awesome,” said Nagle.

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