Most people run away at the first sign of a tornado. But the three stars of CMT’s new series rush full throttle towards the twister, trying to get the best footage.
Tornado Hunters features storm chasers Greg Johnson, Chris Chittick and Ricky Forbes as they pursue tornadoes across Canada and the United States. The three humourous hunters track down some of the worst storms to hit North America in their orange Ford F-150 truck Flash, taking photos and video as they go.
“We put our vehicle and ourselves safely into the position to get images that other people simply can’t get,” says Johnson, the chaser known for wearing nerd goggles and a hockey helmet.
Johnson’s fascination with storms began when he moved from Ontario to Saskatchewan in 1995. “When I first witnessed a storm out here, it was really something I never experienced before as a photographer,” he says. “I really fell in love with the prairies, the landscapes, the skies."
He decided to sell his successful business and leave his desk job for a career chasing storms. “In Canada, there are probably millions of people who take pictures of storms and landscapes, but nobody was focusing on severe weather and tornadoes,” he says. “Literally, no one else was doing it or covering it.”
While filming the series this past year, Johnson witnessed the most memorable storm he’s ever seen. On June 16, the chasers were in Nebraska when they saw twin wedge tornadoes, which are wider than they are tall. The storm hunters were between the two, photographing them at close range. “Only a handful of people have seen that before,” Johnson says.
The series kicks off on Aug. 18 with five webisodes on the show website, leading up to the broadcast pilot this fall on CMT. In addition to following tornadoes, the web series looks at the storm chasers’ family and financial situations, what they do during their downtime and how they train to respond when they're the first on the scene after a tornado.
Johnson is hoping viewers will watch the webisodes and connect with the chasers and CMT on social media. The show’s creators will then use fan feedback to shape the TV pilot.
Viewers can share their comments on the series using the hashtag #CMTTornadoHunters and going on Twitter (@CMTCanada), Facebook (Facebook.com/CMTCanada) and Instagram (@CMT_Canada).
For a sneak peek of the series, watch the Tornado Hunters trailer below.