Storm chaser Reed Timmer has captured more than 500 tornadoes on video—some from the inside. He’s no fool, however, nor is he some suicidal thrill-seeker. Instead, he chases storms to learn more about them and better protect people from their awesome power.
Timmer travels with the best protection this side of the U.S. Army: a series of three custom vehicles he calls the Dominators. The latest, Dominator 3, began life as a Ford F-350 crew-cab pickup but features a 16-gauge body strengthened with a polyethylene Kevlar composite, thick Lexan windows, and gullwing doors to repel hail. When storms approach, special hydraulic systems lower the vehicle to the ground to prevent wind from getting underneath and drive spikes 8 inches into the ground to secure it.
In other words, the vehicle is a 9,500-pound, 385-horsepower embodiment of the Scout motto, “Be prepared.”
A trained meteorologist and passionate advocate of severe-weather preparedness, Timmer hosted the on-demand series Storm Chasers and has appeared on such programs as The Weather Channel’s Tornado Chasers, Larry King Live, Good Morning America, and The Tonight Show. In 2015, he completed his Ph.D. in meteorology at the University of Oklahoma while working as a storm chaser for AccuWeather and Oklahoma City’s NBC affiliate, KFOR.