Hollywood disaster movies never have much in the way of reality in them. Take Twister. Monster tornadoes tear up the American midwest, growling like Godzilla, spinning cows and water towers around while a couple on the verge of divorce alternately chase and outrun them? Outrageous, right?
“The only fake part of that movie is Bill Paxton and Helen Hunt’s love life,” says Greg Johnson. “They actually under-did the tornadoes.” He should know. The former Parliament Hill staffer, former hockey referee and former marketing executive left the rat race behind to race after tornadoes and other extreme weather. With veteran storm chaser Chris Chittick and extreme sport enthusiast Ricky Forbes alongside, the trio are the Tornado Hunters. Debuting Sunday at 9 p.m. ET/PT on CMT Canada, Tornado Hunters climbs into a truck alongside the boys on a wild ride across the Canadian and American prairies in search of wild weather and, hopefully, some twisters.
Unlike other funnel-themed programming on the dial, Tornado Hunters showcases all kinds of extreme weather and captures it with video and still cameras, creating stunning works of photographic art. There’s nothing more awe-inspiring and educational than time-lapse images of bruised purple clouds roiling thousands of feet in the air while enrobed in bristles of lightning.
“You’ll watch a tornado once, and then that’s it,” Forbes says. Johnson concurs, explaining tornadoes are extremely rare; if his team captures a half-dozen on-camera in a summer season, it’s been a good year. To fill time in between storms—and to allow viewers to get to know them better—Saloon Media’s cameras follow the boys during various hijinks, from Chittick winning a push-ups bet against his buddies to Forbes’ phobia of snakes revealed in a hilarious way.
Technology has come a long way in the past several years, enabling photographers and camera people to capture images of incredible beauty. Chittick says the Tornado Hunters stand apart from other storm chasers because they use the latest tech to great effect.
Meanwhile, the three are protected by a souped-up Ford, capable of withstanding a violent beating at the hands of Mother Nature.
“People ask about safety, and we’re in an armoured truck that has a roll cage,” Forbes says. “We’re not being cowboys about this; we have radar and we have the training. There are three of us on the team and we have specific responsibilities and watch each other’s back.”
“There’s video of a truck like ours that rolls 15 times down a hill and the cab survives,” Johnson says. “Of course, we don’t want to be in that situation.”
Tornado Hunters airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on CMT Canada.