Posted in Women Who Wow Wednesday

Jo Harding

Among the bicycles in the trees, the broken lumber in the field and the torn foundations, a little girl rises to confront her greatest challenge—a twister.

Helen Hunt as Jo Harding
Helen Hunt as Jo Harding

When I first saw this film in the fall of 1996, my wife and I were in the middle of visiting family in Nova Scotia. The theater had a handful of folks and we had just settled into our seats. I didn’t know what I was in for, but I could feel magic in the air. About half-an-hour into the story, I remember turning to my wife and saying, “How did they do that?” From there, I didn’t say a word until the very end. When we left the theater that evening, it had rained. How appropriate, I thought.

“The suck zone. It’s the point…basically at which the twister…sucks you up. That’s not the technical term for it, obviously.” ~Dustin Davis (Philip Seymour Hoffman)

Women Who Wow Wednesday wouldn’t be complete without Twister’s Jo Harding (Helen Hunt), the go-getter who doesn’t take ‘no’ for an answer. She and Bill Harding (Bill Paxton) chase storms for a living. They look for massive fronts, then they plow into them hoping to gain a better understanding as to how they form.

Who are we kidding? They chase tornadoes. The bigger they are, the more of a thrill the chasers get.

Jo Harding
Jo Harding

For Jo it all started when she saw her father taken in a whirlwind. Since then, her fascination with tornadoes has only grown. Bill’s fiancée Dr. Melissa Reeves (Jami Gertz) can’t understand the driving force that keeps the woman going. Jo treats the storms as a normal thing. Her matter-of-fact attitude shows when she tells Dr. Reeves, “If you have to pee, you should do it now. There’s not many places to stop on the road.”

But it’s not all chases, hootin’ and hollerin’. Jo genuinely wants to understand what makes a twister do what it does. She’s so enamored with the thought of an early warning system that she’ll do anything to make it happen, even if it’s getting out of the truck in order to reach out and touch the beast.

[Discussing at Meg’s on the tornadoes they have seen so far]
Joey: No, that was a good size twister. What was it, an F3?
Bill: Solid F2.
Melissa: See, now you have lost me again.
Bill: It’s the Fujita scale. It measures a tornado’s intensity by how much it eats.
Melissa: Eats?
Bill: Destroys.
Laurence: That one we encountered back there was a strong F2, possibly an F3.
Beltzer: Maybe we’ll see some 4’s.
Haynes: That would be sweet!
Bill: 4 is good. 4 will relocate your house very efficiently.
Melissa: Is there an F5?
[Everyone goes dead silent]
Melissa: What would that be like?
Jason ‘Preacher’ Rowe: The Finger of God.
Melissa: None of you has ever seen an F5?
Bill: …Just one of us.
[Looks upstairs, indicating Jo]

The fact of the matter is tornadoes don’t scare Jo. She’s seen small and large twisters, sisters and monsters. They don’t scare her. If she can help alert those in the storm’s path, then she will have done her duty. After all, she’s seen the worst of the worst and everything else is easy by comparison.


What did you think of the movie Twister? What did you think of the character Jo?


Jack Flacco is an author and the founder of Looking to God Ministries, an organization dedicated to spreading the Word of God through outreach programs, literature and preaching.

28 thoughts on “Jo Harding

  1. I remember that movie! It didn’t help my fear of tornadoes… I live in Texas, don’t forget. lol

    I saw a preview for that movie Into the Storm the other day and is it just me or is that a total rip off of Twister?

    1. Seems like a ” Twister ” rip – off, but the implication is that the storms are chasing the chasers ( ? ) somehow.

      1. huh, that could be an interesting movie or a very silly one, it all depends lol

        Considering the storm chasers’ habit of putting themselves in the storm’s path it’s kinda hard to tell who’s doing the chasing.

      2. In 1 of my previous comments, I remarked about how tornadoes scare the holy bejeesus out of me, yet I moved to middle TN right in time for the tornado outbreak that occurred in February of that year.

        Storm chasers are either gutsy or very crazy, or both. IMHO :).

  2. That was a fun movie. Though I tend to only remember the cow. Didn’t this movie kick off a natural disaster film trend? I remember Volcano and Dante’s Peak coming out after this.

    1. You should see the Syfy Channel & their WEIRD ” natural disaster ” movies. They’ve been touting ” Sharknado – The Second One ” for about a month. A campy self – referential spoof, but I think I’m going to watch it anyway, just because it’s so bloody outrageous !

      1. They’re very like classic B – movies from the 50’s with considerably more CGI. I’m going to watch ” Sharknado 2 ” just for th heck of it, & because it’s so ruddy, blatantly outrageous. They’ve even had movies with SNOW tornadoes. Weird !!

      2. They do have a penchant for weirdness. I keep envisioning Doctor Who episodes with those weird, crazy, campy Syfy plots….. Or Torchwood ( Doctor Who spinoff ) with same.:)

      3. I can easily envision a mad scientist / terrorist in Torchwood with a weather controlling device, & they had a colonist on a human colony controlling the skies over his planet in 1 Doctor Who Christmas episode when a spaceship containing innocent holiday vacationers was going to crash into it.

        I need a life….. Really. 😦

      4. Makes me think of the Weather Wizard from Flash comics. I think G.I. Joe had to fight against a weather machine too. It’s an oddly popular mad scientist device. Always campy and never old.

        What is this ‘life’ you speak of? Such a strange concept.

      5. They even had a mad scientist causing a freak ice & snow – storm in Port Charles on the soap opera General Hospital back about 20 years ago. It used diamond dust. Yeah, I used to catch soap operas as a teen / 20 – something for some reason.

    2. It did, Charles. Much of 1996 was one disaster movie after another. Reminded me of the mid-seventies disaster movie craze that was going on in Hollywood.

  3. I watched this movie during my college years I remember.
    It was known of the computer graphics and special effects at that time and we really enjoyed the movie for the story line too 🙂

      1. Yea, I totally agree with you Jack 🙂

        It clearly shows, how much ever advancement in technology we have, a great script is the key to a memorable movie, right?

  4. Tornadoes scare me beyond belief. They are possibly the one thing that can change my facade of stolid Macho Man to that of fear – & – uncertainty – ridden girly Man. 🙂 I relocated from East Tennessee to ” Tornado Alley ” in the U.S., just in time to experience a swarm of tornadoes in February 2008. No bones about it, I become scared & I make no apology for being edgy most of the time during tornado watches.

    I envy the intestinal fortitude – read ” GUTS ” of tornado chasers & wonder how in the name of sanity they can do what they do, risking life & limb. I doubt I could do it like the people in Twister ( Jo Harding ) or those who do this in real life.

  5. Twister is excellent. Every time it is on TV, regardless of when I tune it, it is a must see, over and over again. Every element of a blockbuster. Sort of like the original Poseidon Adventure and Towering Inferno. Well crafted and excellent casting.

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