Storm Chaser Timmer Reflects on Deadly Tornado


Although he has largely become accustomed to the daily perils of his profession, storm chaser Reed Timmer was faced with the tragic consequences of storm chasing when three of his colleagues perished in a tornado earlier this year.

ET's Rob Marciano, a former meteorologist, sat down with Timmer to talk about his web series Tornado Chasers and gauge his reaction to the death of his fellow storm chasers, including close friend Tim Samaras.

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Samaras, his son Paul, and colleague Carl Young died in late May in El Reno, Okla. while chasing an EF5 (winds above 200 miles per hour) tornado, which was later estimated to the be the widest tornado on record at 2.6 miles wide.

Timmer was amongst those in the caravan that day and gave his account of the deadly cyclone.

"It was a unique tornado, the widest in history, and it evolved so quickly too," Timmer said. "The atmosphere was really volatile. ... It kept getting bigger and bigger, and another storm developed just behind it and it kicked out outflow that seemed to enhance the tornado to 2.6 miles wide in less than 30 seconds.

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"...It happened so fast that you couldn't see it coming. We lost our really good friend and a guy I've looked up to, a pioneer in our science, Tim Samaras, and Carl Young and Paul Samaras. I've looked up to Tim my whole life. ... He's a hero and a pioneer. ... He'll forever be missed."

Despite the deaths of his colleagues and prior pleas from his family to quit, Timmer has carried on chasing storms, now on Tornado Chasers to follow up the now-concluded series Storm Chasers.

"I've just loved weather ever since I was five years old, as long as I can remember," the Michigan native said. "I don't know why; I was just drawn to it. I'd watch the weather on TV all day long. If a severe thunderstorm warning was issued for my county in Michigan, I'd run around the house. ... I snuck out of the house...and chased lake-effect snow squalls (heavy snowfall)."

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Watch the video for more from Timmer on storm chasing, including his advice on how to stay safe when a tornado nears. A new season of his Tornado Chasers will premiere on this fall.