The movie “Into the Storm” was released worldwide on 6 August 2014 and I just saw it, more out of curiosity than anything else. It is a disaster movie, in the genre of “Twister” (1996) and “The Day After Tomorrow” (2004). The film is full of thunder, rain, hail, wind and fire, as one twister after another keeps appearing on the screen and disappearing. There are of course some good shots, to be fair. But besides showing the destruction that the storms cause, the film gives us little insight into the meteorological processes that go into the formation of a tornado.

Whenever a weather- or environment-related disaster occurs in India, it is fashionable to ask critical questions, for example, is obsolete technology being used, whether people were warned in advance, or whether our disaster management efforts fell short. Usually, media and environmental activists cite the U.S. as a role model in these respects and tell how backward India is in comparison.

“Into the Storm” is a movie that these critics should watch. Although it is a work of fiction, it shows TV viewers in the U.S. receiving only general information that a tornado watch is in effect. A school goes ahead with its graduation ceremony as scheduled. The function is arranged in the open, and the storm catches everybody unawares. People are led into a storm shelter, which is woefully inadequate for the purpose. So they are taken out of the shelter in violent weather in school buses hopefully to a safer area.

The storm chasers are themselves caught in the fury of the storm. The only safe place they can find is through a manhole of a water drain.

Most of the time, and in most places, the mobile network is shown to be functioning erratically or not at all.

Airplanes parked at airports are shown tossed up into the sky (like a ‘rumali roti’). Apparently they had not been moored properly.

The meteorologist, a mother of a 5-year old girl, is travelling in a van equipped with all kinds of gadgets including a Doppler radar and she can gather all kinds of data. But she is shown to be relying more on her instinct than the data.

Is this fiction or does it happen this way in the U.S.?