Obviously I know that it's a story but . . .

Has anyone actually successfully placed an instrument package into a tornado and received scientific data?

In this respect, was the film Twister (1996) based on any fact?

  • 1
    Does flying a plane into one count as an "instrument package"? Because NOAA does that on a regular basis. Dec 2, 2021 at 23:23
  • 10
    @JörgWMittag, NOAA does not fly airplanes into tornadoes, ever. It flies them into hurricanes on a regular basis, but hurricane winds are far slower and more forgiving.
    – Mark
    Dec 2, 2021 at 23:33
  • 2
    The problem with flying into a tornado is fast moving debris, and that the wind direction changes. If you fly in, and all of the sudden have 100mph tail wind, the plane falls because it has no lift. A hurricane while over the ocean has no debris, and the wind direction is generally predictable.
    – rtaft
    Dec 3, 2021 at 18:32
  • 1
    I misread the title of this question as "How much of Twitter is true?". Oh boy... Dec 5, 2021 at 22:33

1 Answer 1



In fact, one team of storm chasers died in their continued quest to make this a reality. Tim Samaras, 55, his son Paul Samaras, 24, and his colleague Carl Young, 45, died in 2013 while chasing a storm. Tim had created his own probes, much like the ones Bill Paxton's character in Twister did, to chart this type of information.

The movie Twister, itself, was based on the TOtable Tornado Observatory (TOTO) project, implimented by NASA in 1984.

  • 5
    And of course, Toto was the name of Dorothy's dog in The Wizard of Oz, and the instrument gear in Twister was named Dorothy.
    – Dai
    Dec 5, 2021 at 4:33
  • 1
    And, just like in the movie, it fell down the first time they tried to use it. :-D Dec 6, 2021 at 13:52

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