Hundreds of real-life storm chasers paid tribute to the late Bill Paxton on Sunday, February 26, hours after news broke that he died at the age of 61.
The chasers spelled out the actor’s initials “BP” using GPS coordinates on a map across the “tornado alley” in Kansas and Oklahoma. The “tornado alley” boundaries are not clearly defined, but it does spread across 19 states.
The nod to Paxton, who starred opposite Helen Hunt in the 1996 drama Twister, was coordinated by Spotter Network. According to John Wetter, who works with the National Weather Service, storm chasers have never spelled out the initials of a non–storm chaser before.
Storm chasers and weather nerds are awesome. Tribute for Bill Paxton. pic.twitter.com/1evkrZKdbl
— Amber Leigh Turner (@amberlturner) February 26, 2017
“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. “Twister was kind of the first time in a mass media place the meteorologist became cool, if only for a little while.”
As previously reported, Paxton passed away on Saturday following complications from heart surgery. “A loving husband and father, Bill began his career in Hollywood working on films in the art department and went on to have an illustrious career spanning four decades as a beloved and prolific actor and filmmaker,” his rep told Us Weekly in a statement. “Bill’s passion for the arts was felt by all who knew him, and his warmth and tireless energy were undeniable. We ask to please respect the family’s wish for privacy as they mourn the loss of their adored husband and father.”
Paxton’s Edge of Tomorrow director, Doug Liman, told the New York Daily News that the star was “nervous” about his operation. “Even facing major surgery, his optimism for the future was infectious,” Liman said. “He was talking about the future, things we hoped to do together.”
The Apollo 13 actor, who is survived by his wife, Louise Newbury, and two children James and Lydia, was honored at the 89th Annual Academy Awards during the “In Memoriam” segment on Sunday night. He was not in the montage, however, because there was not enough time to add him in.
“Each and every one was a beloved member of our Hollywood family, as was a beloved actor and friend who left us just yesterday, Bill Paxton,” presenter Jennifer Aniston said as she got choked up. “All were loved, and all will be missed.”
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