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August 12, 2013

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By Andrea

A storm attorney and lifetime Greeley citizen afresh purchased an armored agent congenital to get abutting to or alike central a tornado.

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Ryan Shepard, 34, got into storm block about 14 years ago while he was belief aerodynamics through Aims Community Academy and continued campuses of Embry Riddle, a Florida-based aeriform university. Before college, Shepard accelerating from Greeley West High School.

Shepard’s roommate, a astrologer who advised at University of Northern Colorado, got him absorbed on block storms afterwards assuming him the ropes and activity on a few excursions.

A few years later, Shepard’s adulation for storm block led him out to Kansas. Afterwards a coursing there, he anchored at a hotel, area he met filmmaker and storm attorney Sean Casey. By then, Casey had fabricated four IMAX films and had a alternation on the Discovery Channel alleged “Storm Chasers.”

“(We) concluded up accepting a beer, talking for a few hours,” Shepard said. “After that, we became friends.”

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When Casey mentioned defective advice with his IMAX film, “Tornado Alley,” Shepard was animated to become a allotment of the crew. Shepard began alive with Casey to coursing tornadoes in two armored cartage Casey had congenital aloof for that purpose: Tornado Intercept cartage 1 and 2.

Casey gave abroad Tornado Intercept Agent 1 through a scavenger coursing he acquaint to Craigslist. The agent was begin that morning. Afterwards Shepard saw that, he started cerebration about Tornado Intercept Agent 2. The abutting day, he saw Casey acquaint the agent for auction on Craiglist. Shepard alleged aural the hour.

“There were a lot of bodies who were interested, not absolutely actively yet,” Shepard said. “I didn’t accord them abundant time.”

Though those absorbed included Hollywood association accommodating to pay a appealing penny added than Shepard, Casey ultimately awash it to Shepard, so it would abide to do what it was meant to do — coursing tornadoes. Shepard beneath to acknowledge what he paid.

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Casey, who lives in Los Angeles, kept the agent stored in Indiana, about an hour east of Chicago. It was in a barn best of the time, but spent the aftermost eight months sitting out in a field. Shepard said there’s a little abrasion and breach from sitting in the field, so alike admitting it’s road-ready, it’s not absolutely tornado-ready.

“The drivetrain and agent are alive great,” Shepard said. “It’s absolutely not that bad of a project.”

The Tornado Intercept Agent weighs about 14,000 pounds, according to Shepard. It began as a 2008 Dodge Ram 3500. The agent has animate skirts that ability to the ground, to accumulate apprehension from flipping it. The skirts are controlled with hydraulic levers, acceptance approval on the alley and aegis in a storm. Four spikes controlled with hydraulics at the vehicle’s advanced and rear can ability 3.5 anxiety into the ground, abacus added stabilization.

Atop the agent sits a 360-degree-rotating turret, which housed the IMAX camera Casey used.

The agent is a Cummins 6.7 liter turbo agent engine, and it has a 95-gallon ammunition tank, according to Cummins’ website. The polycarbonate windows are added than 1.5 inches thick. The armor includes aluminum, Kevlar, steel, elastic and polycarbonate.

Shepard said there was originally added animate on the ancillary skirts — as abundant as about 2,000 pounds of animate — but they had to abolish it because an arbor kept breaking. The agent sits on 10 tires.

Shepard takes tourists storm block through Bennett-based Silver Lining Tours. He said he does about bisected the division with Silver Lining Tours and the added allocation block storms with friends.

After autumn the agent in Greeley for addition month, Shepard will booty it out to Kansas, area a man who works on Silver Lining’s accessories will abundance it and analysis out the electronics. The hydraulics will additionally charge some work, Shepard said.

Shepard said his division begins at the end of April.

To see added of Shepard’s work, chase him at facebook.com/RyanShepardPhotography.

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