Brandon Ivey is best known as being one of the extreme meteorologists or more appropriately called storm (tornado) chasers from the hit-series Storm Chasers. Having lead Team TIV (Tornado-Intercept-Vehicle) into countless tornadoes, with a proportion of chases ending up with a direct hit, Brandon now spends his time in the tornado season running 'Storm Chasing Tour'. By joining up to the tour, Brandon aims to show participants tornadoes up-close (as long as the tornadoes behave and act when needed) but within a respectable distance for obvious reasons.
GMA decided to get in touch with Brandon to find out how feasible it could be to film a band with a passing tornado in the background, but also find out how he became involved in tornado chasing, what the future looks like for extreme weather and what working with IMAX film-maker Sean Casey was like.
How did you get involved in tornado chasing? Was there anyone who inspired you? What was your first chase you recall?
"I became fascinated by tornadoes and severe weather at a young age. A lot of this had to do with the storms we would experience growing up in Wichita, Kansas as a kid. I was inspired by Tim Marshall, Jon Davies, and Howard Bluestein in elementary school. My first chase was at the age of 14. I saw my first tornado when I was in high school at the age of 16."
When travelling between sites where tornadic conditions are occurring, is there any music you listen to? What music are you currently listening to?
"I like a lot of genres of music. I play guitar so I have a passion for music. I listen to anything from classical to country and from classic rock to some heavy metal. My guitar idols are David Gilmour, Slash, and Mike McCready. The last thing I listened to was Eddie Vedder's "Into the Wild" soundtrack."
What factors would a videographer have to consider if they wanted to film a band performing whilst a tornado passed by in the background? Would such a feat be possible?
"A band wanting to film in front of a tornado would find it to be a challenging feat since there are so many movie parts to such an achievement. First, most tornadoes only last 5 minutes or less, so you would only get one take! Second, you would have to be in the right position, at the right time. And the last element is you would want to be in a rather safe location to remove yourself from the risk of
lightning striking you, hail crashing down, or strong outflow winds hitting you. The best bet would be to film in front of a green screen and edit in the tornado footage behind the band."
What was it like working with Sean Casey? Do you keep in touch; is TIV 3 operational?
"It was very fun to work with Sean. I learned a lot about filming documentaries and helped him to achieve some of the great shots you see in "Tornado Alley". We still talk on occasion, but we took separate paths in 2014 where I started a storm chasing tour company stormchasingtour.com and he went on to work on a three part IMAX film about glaciers, fires, and severe weather."
Surely you'd need to have a certain mindset to chase tornadoes, do you yourself get nervous chasing? What advice could you offer those just starting out?
"You need to have the passion for extreme weather to chase. If you are just out there to see tornadoes, you can get frustrated rather quickly. Tornadoes are the icing on the cake or grand prize if you will, but you have to learn to enjoy the travelling, seeing the sights along the great plains, and enjoying other aspects of the storm like lightning, giant hail, storm structure, as so on. The advice I would offer to someone wanting to start chasing severe storms is to learn as much as you possible can before venturing out on your own. You can get into a very dangerous situation rather quickly if you don't have a strong sense of how to safely manoeuvre around storms and tornadoes."
In your experience, have tornadoes gotten increasingly destructive with each passing year, that is, could we ever see an increase in F5's?
"I don't think tornadoes have become increasingly destructive. I think more towns have been hit in recent years that have made the news more often. A tornado going through a town will be rated stronger than a tornado in open country. The EF scale is based of tornado damage. So they are rated off of aftermath and not actual wind speeds. As our communities grown and expand, there is a higher likely hood of property being damaged."
One of the most pressing questions most people ask is, 'do we know how a tornado forms from beginning to end?', how far are we in understanding the process?
"The processes in how tornadoes develop is understood quite well. What researchers are focusing on currently is why some supercells produce tornadoes, while others do not. I think the a lot of the answers to that are found in the atmosphere closest to the earth's surface. You want the air just above the surface (lowest 1-2km) to be unstable and contain a decent amount of vertical wind shear."
Are there any greetings, etc you wish to send out?
"I would like to say hello to all the weather fans out there and to chase your dreams!"