Four high school friends in Oklahoma are hanging out in a car in the dark of night. They hear the clap of thunder, and from afar, they see several transformers blowing out. One of the kids gets out to film it on his phone, with his friends yelling at him to get back in the car. Then, a tornado descends, killing all four kids.
We meet Titus Team, a group of tornado documentary filmmakers and storm chasers. They're led by Pete (Matt Walsh), who is annoyed that they missed the previous night's storm that killed the kids. With him is Lucas (Lee Whittaker) and Jacob (Jeremy Sumpter). In another van are Allison (Sarah Wayne Callies) and Daryl (Arlen Escarpeta). Neither of them are thrilled to be riding with Pete. They track a storm that is headed to the town later that day. Amidst their journey to track this beast of a storm, we learn that Allison has been away from her five-year-old daughter for a few months. The kid wants her mom back, but even Allison doesn't know when she'll be home. She just continue to assure her daughter that she'll return soon.
High school junior Donnie Fuller (Max Deacon) is making a time capsule video for him to watch in 25 years. His younger brother Trey (Nathan Kress) comes in to make fun of Donnie for not talking to his crush Kaitlyn Johnston (Alycia Debnam Carey). Their father Gary (Richard Armitage) is a bit distant and a hard-ass on the boys. Gary is the vice principal of the school and is focused on the graduation ceremony that day, which Donnie is supposed to film. He tries to talk to them but Donnie only keeps him away.
Elsewhere, we find two dim-witted buddies, Donk (Kyle Davis) and Reevis (Jon Reep) trying to make a hit YouTube video. They have Donk ride his ATV through a ramp and over his pool that's been lit on fire. Donk crashes the ATV through the pool, breaking it. He and his buddies laugh and think of the many hits they'll get, while his mother runs out and yells at them for wrecking the pool. The boys hear about the storm and set off to find it.
At school, Donnie sees Kaitlyn being reprimanded by her teacher. He awkwardly approaches her in the library and asks her about what happened, which Trey videotapes for fun. Kaitlyn had to do a video project in order to receive an internship, but her video files got messed up. Donnie offers to help her out later, which she is extremely thankful for. He makes Trey tape the graduation ceremony, and he reluctantly agrees to it.
The Titus Team is at their hotel when they sense the storm approaching. Large chunks of hail come raining down, and they head out to track the tornado. Turns out it's headed right for the school. The team drives down the fields where Donk and Reevis come riding in. Everybody sees the tornado coming down hard. Pete orders Jacob to record footage, while Donk and Reevis try to get their latest hit video. The tornado eventually gains momentum and makes its way toward the school as the graduation ceremony goes on. The students get soaked wet, and then the alert system goes off. The students are rushed into the school. The students, along with Gary and the principal, keep their heads down. The tornado hits the school, throwing a tree through the door and tearing a hole through the roof, sucking a few students out.
Donnie takes Kaitlyn to the abandoned paper mill to try and start the video project. They don't sense the storm and have no idea what's happening until Gary tries calling Donnie. He tells his dad where he is before getting cut off. The storm hits the paper mill, causing it to collapse around Donnie and Kaitlyn.
Gary takes Trey to go find Donnie. They come across the storm chasers downtown, as the tornado hits there as well. The area gets wrecked, with Gary and Trey nearly getting killed. They manage to help a neighbor and his dog to safety. Allison nearly gets pulled into the tornado, but Gary manages to hold onto her long enough until it dissipates. The storm chasers take Gary and Trey with them to help them find Donnie while also trying to get more footage of storms.
Donnie tends to a cut on Kaitlyn's leg from the debris. During their time together, Donnie tells her that he was angry with his mother for leaving Gary. He and Trey would go visit her, and the last time he saw her, he barely acknowledged her when she said goodbye to him. She was later killed in a car accident. Suddenly, a pipe breaks, and water begins to fall into the hole, flooding the place. Donnie calls his dad for help, telling him the situation before getting cut off again.
En route to the next tornado location, Pete apologizes to Jacob for giving him a hard time, especially since Jacob has been very anxious to get away from the storms. The tornadoes then begin to reappear, destroying more cars and buildings. Donk and Reevis run close to the tornado and get themselves blown away. The team runs into a church for shelter as one of them forms into a firenado, but Jacob drops his camera. He runs to get it and is pulled into the firenado, burning him alive. In the church, Allison decides to help Gary and Trey find Donnie so that no more lives will be lost. She blames Pete for Jacob's death because all Pete cared about was getting good footage. Daryl steps in and takes the blame for what happened to Jacob. Allison takes Gary and Trey in her vehicle to find Donnie.
The hole in which Donnie and Kaitlyn are trapped is flooding more and more with seemingly no way out. Donnie gets his camera and has Kaitlyn record a final message for her parents, telling them she loves them. Donnie does the same for his father and Trey, also apologizing to Gary for giving him shit over the divorce. He and Kaitlyn hug.
Gary listens to Donnie's message and determines where he is. He guides Allison to the paper mill. They search for Donnie and Kaitlyn, hearing their voices as the water has reached the highest level. The kids are trapped under a beam which is too heavy for Gary, Allison, and Trey to push. Trey gets in the van and rams into it, pushing the beam off but also causing something to fall on Donnie's leg. Gary pulls Kaitlyn out and jumps in the water for Donnie. He takes Trey's knife and cuts Donnie loose. The boy is not breathing. Gary performs CPR on Donnie until he coughs and wakes up. Gary hugs his son and everyone runs back into the vehicle.
Allison learns that a larger and even more powerful tornado is coming. What's worse is that the warning systems are down. They run to the school to get everybody out of there and onto buses to evacuate, as the storm will run past it and flatten the school in seconds. The students and faculty are put on the buses and safely taken out. However, when Gary and company try to escape, a power line falls on the road, blocking their path. They turn back to find another way out. Pete, Lucas, and Daryl rejoin them, and the remaining survivors take refuge in a storm drain. As the tornado comes in, the wind nearly pulls the grate off the walls. Pete drives his vehicle down there, using an anchoring system to hold himself down and also keep the grate on. The storm intensifies, until it seems to settle for a bit. Pete tells Allison they're in the eye of the storm. The winds return, heavier than ever. Gary and Allison hold each other and the kids down, while the tornado pulls Pete and his vehicle into the air. It takes Pete so high up that he finds himself up above the clouds where the sun is. He enjoys the view, mere moments before falling back to the ground and dying.
The tornado finally goes away. In the aftermath, almost the entire town is destroyed. Allison calls her daughter to assure her she's okay. Trey finishes the time capsule video by recording the citizens of the town, who are all thankful to be alive. Gary and his boys address the camera, now looking as though the three of them are closer. He puts his arms around his boys and Trey turns the camera off.
Before the credits roll, we see that Donk and Reevis survived the storm and are stuck in a tree. Reevis asks Donk if his camera still works. It does. They rejoice over the prospect of having their latest hit video as Reevis falls from the tree while Donk laughs at him.
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