Chris Chittick peruses tornado alley frequently, chasing and documenting the storms. With the extension of tornado alley into Southern Manitoba in 2016, it only makes sense that he would roll into town eventually.
Chittick, who is also a star on the show "Tornado Hunters," spent Wednesday morning speaking at two different schools before congregating at Hometown Ford in the evening. The Bunker Youth Ministries was also there hosting a barbeque fundraiser.
"I started chasing in 1998 and it started out as a hobby and then I went to school for business. I could make money out of it so I turned it into a business," he says.
They have a production crew of 6 people that work with them for 12-weeks straight, and in that time he has seen over 500 tornados.
"As the storms fire up we always kind of look downstream so to speak, of what the environment is like in front of the storm. And then if it's a favourable environment that fires the storms right up we'll stick with the storm until we see what we like. If we don't like it we drop down to the next storm and just kind of keep going that way."
To do this, they use a real-time radar that can help them to track where to storm is moving. They also use mapping software that includes the backroads not normally seen with a simple search of the internet. After this, they lay the mapping software on top of the radar to see exactly where they should be going to catch the best view of the storm.
"I've been on two different teams. My first team, I had a Discovery show called 'Stormchasers,' and I was on that for four years, and that was more of a science-driven team. So we were trying to do exactly what they did in 'Twister.' We would shoot probes up inside the tornado," adds Chittick.
Although he says this was thrilling, his passion has always been doing video which led him to join his current tornado team that focuses more on documentation. He says tornado research is a very young science because proper documentation has only been happening for under 100 years. One of this favourite parts is being able to learn more about it and sharing that research, as well as working with engineers who are trying to build structures that can withstand tornado conditions.
"We're more of like extreme journalism so to speak . . . It's more of like, documentation, getting that video, getting that picture, getting that shot, and then sharing that out with the world."
He says it used to be all about getting a video because no one had smartphones to capture it on their own. With portable cameras in many people's pockets, it has evolved into a 'tourism' experience, and eventually into the television shows and seminars the team does now.