At the time of his stunning death over the weekend, Bill Paxton was starring in Training Day, a lackluster drama on CBS.
Over the course of his impressive career, the actor was nominated for three Golden Globe Awards due to his performance on HBO’s Big Love.
To many, however, Paxton will be best remembered for his role in 1996’s Twister, an action movie in which Paxton starred opposite Helen Hunt as a professional storm chaser.
It is against this backdrop that hundreds of real-life storm chasers paid tribute to Paxton on Sunday.
They spelled out the veteran 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 spreads across 19 states.
According to John Wetter, who works with the National Weather Service, storm chasers have never before spelled out the initials of a non–storm chaser before.
But the gesture symbolizes what kind of influence Paxton and Twister had on this profession.
“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, adding:
“Twister was kind of the first time in a mass media place the meteorologist became cool, if only for a little while.”
Paxton passed away on Saturday following complications from heart surgery.
It is believed he suffered a stroke.
“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 said in a statement soon afterward.
“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.”
The actor is survived by his wife, Louise Newbury, and two children James and Lydia.
He was honored at the 89th Annual Academy Awards during the In Memoriam segment on Sunday night, although not in the video itself because his death took place just 24 hours before the show aired.
Said Jennier Aniston, staving off tears, upon introducing the In Memoriam photo gallery and clip snow:
Tonight, as we celebrate together, we also take a moment to mourn the many legends we lost this past year.
Whether they were a musical prince leading the revolution on a concert stage or a movie princess leading the rebellion in a galaxy far, far away, a force of nature in front of the camera or a force driving it, each and every one was a cherished member of our Hollywood family.
As was beloved actor and friend who left us just yesterday, Bill Paxton. All were loved and all will be missed.
Scroll around below to see what others who knew Paxton well have said in the wake of his passing.