The late actor Bill Paxton starred in many movies. But for storm spotters, those daring few who take out after a tornado while the rest of us are running and hiding, he will forever be remembered for his work in the 1996 film “Twister.”
Fittingly, those who live Paxton’s role in real life honored him Sunday, the same day news of his death came out, with a storm-related homage organized by Spotter Network, a group of storm spotters and chasers.
Nearly 200 storm chasers helped spell out “BP,” for Paxton’s initials, using GPS coordinates on a map that included the heart of America’s famed Tornado Alley, an effort that was noted and shared by numerous meteorologists and other weather observers.
Trackers did not have to travel to log their spot on the map, although some did do so, while others entered coordinates manually, Spotter Network president John Wetter told the Associated Press. Wetter also noted that storm chasers have been honored in similar ways before, but that this was the first time the group paid tribute to someone who wasn’t directly in their field.
Paxton was more than just an actor playing a storm chaser in one film. He would later narrate the Imax documentary “Tornado Alley,” and Variety notes that Paxton “often spoke about his fascination with the weather phenomena having grown up in nearby Texas.” He also tracked the trail of the Tri-State tornado of 1925, the deadliest in U.S. history, while researching a possible sequel to “Twister,” the “Tornado Alley” webpage notes.
“Many storm spotters and chasers have at least some connection to ‘Twister,'” the Spotter Network noted on Twitter