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Best weather disaster movies

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Posted: Friday, September 12, 2008 12:00 am

Any Atlantic or Gulf Coast resident with a TV or a computer these past few weeks has felt that sick dread, the sort that comes from too many hours in front of The Weather Channel. We're all thinking it. Let's just say it: Enough with the storm threats already.

But this is hurricane season, and this is where we live. Obsessing over the weather is an annual ritual. And so we stock up on water and batteries, fill up the gas tank, check that flashlights are working and hit the liquor store (well, some of us, anyway). We pore over the satellite images. And we get weary, really weary, of five-day cones.

But storms can be a lot more fun when they're confined to a DVD. After all, Dorothy would never have made it to Oz if not for that tornado. Here, in no particular order, are some ways to experience extreme weather without getting wet.

``Key Largo'': In the 1948 classic starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, a hurricane bears down on the small hotel overrun with gangsters led by Edward G. Robinson, interfering with their escape.

``The Perfect Storm'': Gloucester fishermen aboard the Andrea Gail find themselves battling the mother of all hurricanes in the North Atlantic. Based on the nonfiction book by Sebastian Junger, the movie stars George Clooney, who, predictably, looks fantastic even with a scruffy beard and an overload of flannel.

``Twister'': Tornado chasers follow the funnel clouds across the plains, driving fast and yelling a lot. Such excitement rebonds estranged couple Bill Paxton and Helen Hunt. Also, a cow flies. No word on whether pigs do the same.

``Wizard of Oz'': Kansas is a black-and-white world until that tornado touches down and sends Dorothy down the yellow brick road. Still, the twister isn't half as scary as those hellish flying monkeys.

``The Day After Tomorrow'': You name the weather-related disaster, it shows up in this goofy but enjoyable Roland Emmerich flick: tornadoes, twisters, tidal waves, floods and, just for laughs, the beginning of a new Ice Age, which dumps a ton of snow on Manhattan.

``The Fog'': A ghostly fog blows into a West Coast beach town, ushering in some vengeful zombies who start laying waste to the townspeople. Old-school horror fans will steer you to the 1980 John Carpenter/Adrienne Barbeau cheesefest over the pretty but bland 2005 Tom Welling/Selma Blair version.

``The Mist'': A mysterious mist blows into a small Maine town, and with it comes a series of giant, bloodthirsty bugs. Give me Hurricane Wilma and no power for a week any day.

``The Ice Storm'': Rick Moody's solemn exploration of WASPs unmoored in the 1970s culminates in a winter storm that proves disastrous for an uptight Connecticut family.

``Hard Rain'': A security guard (Christian Slater) and a robber (Morgan Freeman) clash over $3 million during a deadly flood. It would take at least that much to get me to sit through this one again.

``Hurricane'': The 1979 bomb with Mia Farrow - which is about as entertaining as plucking roof tiles from your neighbor's front lawn - was a remake of a better 1937 version with John Ford and Dorothy Lamour. In both, a scary storm interrupts life on an idyllic island.

``The Shining'': The Overlook Hotel (proprietor: Jack Torrance) may be lovely in the summertime, but it's the last place on Earth you want to be during a winter storm, unless you hide all the axes.

``Invasion'': In the short-lived ABC series, a nasty hurricane strikes South Florida - and brings an alien invasion in its wake. See? There are worse things than waiting in hourlong lines for gas or taking cold showers after a storm.

``An Inconvenient Truth'': Al Gore's PowerPoint presentation on global warming won an Oscar and will either terrify you and or make you so mad you'll fill up the Hummer and drive aimlessly just to spite him.

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