Weather: a classic conversation starter with the potential to unite a community in either elation or in shared laments. Tornado Hunters aims to take the water cooler talk to the next level.
The show, which premieres October 18, 2015 at 9pm on CMT Canada, chronicles the tornado chasing adventures of three adrenaline junkies: Greg Johnson photographer and severe weather expert (who was recently made the list of Canadian Geographic’s top 100 modern explorers), videographer Chris Chittick, and truck driver Rick Forbes.
“It’s like a cross between Survivorman and Jackass,” says Johnson. While the show focuses more on providing a jocular good time than drilling into the science of tornadoes, they say audiences will still learn about extreme weather from the show, and will enjoy the visual nature of the show.
“When I started doing this the whole goal was to capture images that tell interesting and compelling stories,” Johnson says. “It’s about finding those incredible stories that come out of extreme weather events.”
“I find some of the storm photos we have are so captivating. You don’t get to see those anywhere else, with Mother Nature so furious but so beautiful. Not many people are putting out imagery like that,” Forbes adds.
Canada has among the most tornadoes in the world, after the United States. Unfortunately, says the trio, Canada’s vast size means that a lot of tornadoes go unreported in the country. Also, since tornadoes aren’t as concentrated as they are in the United States’ tornado alley, they’re harder to chase.
Each year on average, about 43 tornadoes occur across the Prairies and about 17 occur across Ontario and Quebec, according to Environment Canada. The peak of the season is June through August.
Saskatchewan sees the majority of the country’s tornadoes—in 2012 the province was the hotbed of tornadoes in North America, says Johnson—but on July 27 in Manitoba, the trio had one of their scariest experiences ever.
“We were 100 meters away, and there was just this giant tornado right in front of us,” Johnson says. The incident will be featured in the show’s final episode of the season.