Twisters movie hits theaters this July, meteorologists react

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Many meteorologists and weather enthusiasts have at least a mild obsession with the 1996 movie “Twister”; some profess to have watched it six times or more. It’s an anthem of sorts for the weather community, and perhaps the first time that weather nerds were portrayed as “cool” or adventurous in a major motion picture.

Now, nearly three decades later, Universal Pictures and Warner Bros. Pictures are gearing up to release “Twisters” on July 19. The movie’s debut trailer aired during the Super Bowl on Sunday, and meteorologists are having a hard time containing their excitement.

“The trailer looks amazing!” wrote Reed Timmer, extreme meteorologist and star of Discovery’s former series “Storm Chasers.” “It looks like a realistic depiction of up-close tornado chasing and extreme field science. The tornadoes look realistic and I love the focus on legendary tornadoes.” Timmer mentioned an apparent reference to the violent twin twisters that struck Pilger, Neb., in 2014.

“Twisters” is a stand-alone sequel to the original, meaning it will build upon the backstory but has a self-contained plot, according to Vogue Magazine. It stars Daisy Edgar Jones and Glen Powell.

There’s no official word on whether Helen Hunt, who starred in the original alongside the late Bill Paxton, will make an appearance. That said, she was noticeably absent from the trailer.

The trailer chases groups jockeying for position as they track down tornadoes on the Great Plains. There are one or more brushes with death as chasers venture too close to the tornadoes. Some scenes were filmed in Oklahoma, including Chickasha, El Reno, Okarche and Cashion, last spring and summer with a budget of about $200 million, the Oklahoman reports.

The upcoming movie is already capturing the attention of real-life storm chasers across the country.

Rick Smith, warning coordination meteorologist at the National Weather Service office in Norman, Okla., says his office has been loosely involved in consulting for the film.

“I’m naturally interested and excited to see how it all comes together,” he wrote in an email. Smith has been keeping a watchful eye over Oklahomans since 2002, and has led warning issuance for hundreds of severe weather events in the heart of Tornado Alley.

Ryan Larmeu, a meteorologist at KEVN-TV in Rapid City, S.D., was equally enthusiastic.

“A movie about tornadoes: so of course as a meteorologist, I am going to watch it. That’s not even a question,” he said in a message.

But he, along with others, wondered if “Twisters” may hew too close to the plot of the original film.

“During the trailer, it felt more like a remake of the original, rather than a follow-up movie,” he wrote. “So that is discouraging.”

Some on social media wondered if “Twisters” would encourage even more people to flock to the increasingly popular sport of storm chasing, which in recent years has caused chaser traffic jams and contributed to accidents and casualties.

“This is going to make chaser convergence a million times worse,” tweeted Jennifer Stark, a storm chaser and meteorology student from Texas.

Aubrey Urbanowicz, the chief meteorologist at WHSV in Harrisonburg, Va., said that she wished that the trailer incorporated more actual storm chasing footage from past storms.

“My first impression was it looks like too much CGI,” she wrote on X. “There’s a lot of real footage out there, doesn’t need to be faked. I’m sure I’ll watch, but I don’t have high hopes.”

Many who saw the trailer couldn’t overlook its depiction of the main characters sheltering beneath an overpass. That’s a massive safety risk during severe weather, since the winds are actually funneled and made faster under a bridge span.

“There are some strong reactions to the trailer within the weather community, particularly with a scene which appears to show characters sheltering under an overpass,” Smith said. “Trailers showing a bunch of brief action shots don’t always give us the full context to understand what’s actually happening in a scene, and I think we just need to wait and see what it looks like in the final edit in July before getting too upset.”

Larmeu, on the other hand, was unhappy with that scene even making it into the trailer. “I don’t think that things like that should be shown in a major motion picture, let alone a trailer that’s aired during the largest television event in America,” he wrote.

Other meteorologists felt that the movie should simply be enjoyed for its entertainment value. Violeta Yas, a meteorologist at NBC New York, encouraged colleagues to “enjoy the commercial for like one hour before people start tearing apart the most trivial of technicalities.”

At least one storm chaser could not contain her excitement.

“PEOPLE I AM BEYOND ecstatic,” wrote Jennifer Brindley Ubi on X. “This has affirmed all of my high hopes and expectations. I absolutely cannot wait. The studio, production and effects team care a great deal and it’s obvious in this trailer that they’ve done a spectacular job. It looks AMAZING!”

Jason Samenow contributed to this report.

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