Storm Chasers Put Twister Star Bill Paxton On the Map with GPS Tribute

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Bill Harding may be gone, but a group of real-life storm chasers want to be sure he isn't forgotten. After news of Twister star Bill Paxton's passing broke over the weekend—he died of a stroke following surgery February 25—nearly 200 weather-loving adventurers collaborated on Sunday to spell out the late actor’s initials on a map using GPS coordinates.

Spotter Network, a nonprofit group that tracks tornado chasers’ positions and provides storm information to the National Weather Service, arranged the tribute on Facebook. Participants were instructed to enter their coordinates on a map depicting Tornado Alley, a particularly storm-prone region in the southern plains of the central United States. (The town of Wakita, Oklahoma, which served as a backdrop for most of Twister’s scenes, sat in the map’s center.)

Some storm chasers traveled to designated points on the map to mark their dots, but many entered their GPS coordinates manually. The project took place in real time; as the day went by, Paxton’s red-dotted initials covered swaths of Texas, Kansas, and Oklahoma.

Spotter Network president John Wetter told the AP that the group had previously performed tributes like this for people who have “made a significant contribution to the field.”

"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 AP. "Twister was kind of the first time in a mass media marketplace the meteorologist became cool, if only for a little while."

[h/t Associated Press]