Hutchinson man builds “tank” to storm chase in tornado alley

Hutchinson Tornado Car

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HUTCHINSON, Kansas — Storm chasing can be dangerous even if you know what you’re doing.

Huge hail can hammer your vehicle and high winds can try to tip it over, but a Hutchinson man plans to take on mother nature with a storm tank– all in an effort to research tornadoes.

Storm chaser Steve Worthington has been chasing storms in a black Chevy Tahoe for many years now with the love of his life Stacey Valentine riding shot gun.

But the Tahoe could only ride out the storms for so long.

“Hail broke the windows, damaged to the body things like that,” said Worthington, founder of Extreme StormChasers. “It was time to do something that could withstand the abuse that we were going to put it through.”

So Worthington came up with a plan by building a storm tank.

He calls it the urban tornado assault vehicle.

“You just don’t see something like this sitting around everyday,” said Worthington. “We have a lot of people ask us what is this?”

The vehicle is resistant to some damage like hail with bullet proof windows, welded steel to cover the body, air ride suspensions so it can lower and spike to the ground.

But KSN’s Chief Meteorologist Dave Freeman worries about the idea.

“Modifications can be made to strengthen the vehicle, but when a vehicle is picked up and thrown a mile away it’s not going to have a happy ending,” said Dave Freeman, Chief Meteorologist for KSN in Wichita, KS.

Worthington knows no vehicle is “storm proof” and warns against causal storm chasing.

“People need to find somebody that has experience that has the tools and equipment to do it properly,” said Worthington.

Worthington and Valentine have already taken the UTAV on several storm chases this summer.

The couple tells KSN News they have receive offers to sell it for $100,000, but doesn’t plan on selling it.

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