Storm spotters give tribute to Bill Paxton - WNEM TV 5

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Storm spotters give tribute to Bill Paxton

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Storm chasers use GPS coordinates to spell out the initials "B.P." to honor the passing of actor Bill Paxton. Storm chasers use GPS coordinates to spell out the initials "B.P." to honor the passing of actor Bill Paxton.
Bill Paxton (left) and Helen Hunt (right) in scene from movie "Twister", photo by black. (AP) Bill Paxton (left) and Helen Hunt (right) in scene from movie "Twister", photo by black. (AP)
Bill Paxton 1955-2017 (AP) Bill Paxton 1955-2017 (AP)
WAKITA, OKLAHOMA (WNEM/AP) -

Like many involved in the world of meteorology, the movie Twister has always had a special place in my heart. It was the first weather related movie I can remember falling in love with, and it certainly helped to foster my love of weather and excitement for storm chasing.

That's why myself, and many others in the weather community, were very saddened to hear the news this morning that the actor who played the lead role of Bill "The Extreme" Harding, Bill Paxton, had passed away. 

Being that almost everyone in the weather community has been impacted or influenced in some way by the movie Twister and its lead actor, the storm spotting community quickly gathered to honor Bill's memory. Coordinated through Spotter Network, more than 200 storm chasers and spotters converged on or reported GPS coordinates across Oklahoma, Texas, and Kansas, using their GPS locators to spell out the initials "B.P." on the map. 

According to an AP report, storm chasers and storm spotters have spelled out the initials of fellow chasers in the tight-knit community four or five times before, but never for someone who hasn't directly "made a significant contribution to the field," said John Wetter, president of the nonprofit that tracks the positions of tornado chasers and works with the National Weather Service to update weather forecasts.

"This is the first time we've gone way outside of that. There are probably hundreds, if not thousands, of meteorologists today — myself included — who were impacted by the movie 'Twister' and the role Bill played in that," Wetter told The Associated Press in a phone interview. " 'Twister' was kind of the first time in a mass media marketplace the meteorologist became cool, if only for a little while."

The storm chasers spelled the initials on a map that was centered around Wakita, Oklahoma, a real town in the heart of Tornado Alley that served as the set for almost all of the movie, Wetter said.

Most people participating did not travel to log their dot on the map, but they instead entered GPS coordinates manually to spell the letters after the Spotter Network posted a rough outline of the project on its Facebook page and asked for help, Wetter said.

Bill may be gone, but in the weather community, he will not be forgotten.

Portions of this article were written by Gillian Flaccus of the Associated Press.

Copyright 2017 WNEM (Meredith Corporation)/Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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