Who We Are, What We Do
The Tornado Project has been locating, organizing and publishing information (and then video) on tornadoes, and have been doing this since 1970.
Our first product was a 16mm film called Approaching the Unapproachable. At that time, though, the organization was called Environmental Films. It was our intention to create a series of earth science films. However, the interest in tornadoes here and in the rest of the country proved to be so overwhelming that we never pursued another topic. And at the time there was clearly a void to fill, for there was no scientific film about tornadoes.
After a decade of data gathering along with filmstrip and poster creation, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission called on us to fill some huge holes in the national tornado data base. The work seemed so potentially useful that the National Science Foundation funded the work for five more years.
That research work, involving two full years on the road for the director, Tom Grazulis, resulted in the book Significant Tornadoes, 1880-1989. Sales of the book were successful enough to allow an expansion covering the years 1680-1991. The completion of the book project coincided with an explosion in home video. Combining that new video tape with our 20 year long collecting effort of historic tornado film provided us with a unique opportunity to return to our roots in the film business. We were able to combine our collection with the extensive storm chase video of Roy Britt. Together, we have the largest archive of tornado footage in the world. And the Tornado Video Classics series was born.
The most distant roots of the Tornado Project go back to 1953, and the director's (Tom Grazulis) experience with the Worcester, Massachusetts tornado of June 9, which killed 94 people. That tornado was at least part of the reason he majored in meteorology at Florida State University.
During our years of collecting data on 60,000 tornadoes, we have run across some remarkable photographs. Significant Tornadoes contains 51 photographs taken prior to 1970, the most extensive published collection of such pictures in existence.
But today, our work is entirely with tornado data and tornado history. Our search for additional data and patterns in the seemingly chaotic distribution of tornadoes across the United States is funded by the sale of our book, posters, and videos. Our offerings can be found on the videos, books and posters links at the top of this page.