Storm chaser speaks on his dangerous job

AK Pachla, Copy Editor

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Reed Timmer is a card-carrying, high-pitched, screaming-out-loud tornado freak. Born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Timmer is a meterologist out of the University of Oklahoma. On March 15, the storm chaser spoke in the Bakersfield College Fireside Room about how he turned scaring his friends and family out of their wits into a paying gig.

“The hardest part was making it into a job,” says Timmer. The decision to actually become a storm chaser does not appear to be something he regards as having been within his control, though. “I just knew I wanted to be a storm chaser.” He describes tornados with an excited reverence and drives into them with a full-on war face.

Timmer and his crew, featured on the Discovery Channel show “Storm Chasers,” continue to make videos of extreme weather from all around the country. Using modified vehicles nicknamed “Dominator” (Timmer has built three so far), the team is able to get ridiculously close to massive tornadoes and has, on at least one occasion, been close enough to take video of a tornado’s core from directly beneath it.

Timmer shared some of these videos, and it is immediately apparent that he is the craziness behind the genius endeavor. He encourages, then demands, and finally outright begs his terrified companions to keep going toward the storm, to stay just a little longer, to follow just a little closer.

Following the end of “Storm Chasers”, Timmer moved on to work for AccuWeather as a severe weather tracker and researcher, but without the show’s financial backing, he hasn’t been able to keep the Dominators fully functional.

Tornadic supercells often produce large hailstones, and Timmer showed several pieces of footage of windows being shattered and research equipment being blasted by chunks of ice. For now, as Timmer explains it, it’s “just me chasing solo in a rental car for AccuWeather.”

Timmer’s research helps to improve the science of severe weather meteorology, including storm tracking and prediction. He has also created an online community of storm chasers through developing the TVN Weather app. Using the app, chasers receive detailed, real-time alerts about severe weather events around the country, share stories and videos from inside the storm, and generate a database of tornado and extreme weather information for ongoing and future meteorology research.

Some of Timmer’s video work for the Discovery Channel and AccuWeather is available on his YouTube channel, TVNweather. More information about storm chasing, extreme weather, and meteorological research, as well as real-time tornado information for any US location, is available at Timmer’s page, TVNweather.com.

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