Nearly 200 storm chasers paid tribute Sunday to the late actor Bill Paxton by spelling out his initials using GPS coordinates on a map depicting the heart of Tornado Alley, the AP reports. The effort coordinated by Spotter Network spelled out "BP" to honor the leading man in the disaster movie Twister, which inspired a generation of storm chasers. In the 1996 blockbuster, Paxton plays a storm chaser who's researching tornados during a twister outbreak in Oklahoma. 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 a non-chaser, 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.
"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 tells the AP. "Twister was kind of the first time in a mass media place 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. The letters took shape in real time on a map that went viral on Twitter as the day went on. The initials, made of red dots, stretched across parts of Texas, Kansas and Oklahoma on a black map. (Read more Bill Paxton stories.)