By Art Holliday
ST. LOUIS (KSDK) - "Weather was always my passion," said storm chaser Reed Timmer.
To those who suggest he's crazy to chase killer storms?
"I think there's a fine line between crazy and pushing the envelope of science a little bit," said Timmer, "but there is a dark side to storm chasing, too and that's the damage that they leave behind."
Welcome to the turbulent, envelope-pushing world of Reed Timmer, meteorologist, tornado scientist, extreme storm chaser. If he looks familiar, it might be because of his four years on Storm Chasers, one of The Discovery Channel's most popular shows. Timmer has intercepted more than 400 tornadoes.
"One of the first tornadoes I saw was the May 3, 1999 F-5 tornado," Timmer said.
Timmer was a freshman at the University of Oklahoma. He and several classmates chased the monster tornado until they realized it was headed straight for them. Camera rolling, Timmer and his classmates rode out the storm under a highway overpass, which could have been a deadly mistake.
"We sought shelter under there," said Timmer. "Families are freaking out. And the tornado's coming right at us. I learned how to storm chase the wrong way. I went down there and let it rip and could have gotten ourselves killed."
Timmer and his crew members use an armor-covered vehicle called The Dominator to get inside a tornado, which can lead to some wild rides.
"It intensified with us inside and you saw the whole debris cloud encircle us. Your ears are popping from the pressure fall. The whole vehicle's vibrating back and forth," Timmer said. "I'm definitely afraid every time we're inside a tornado."
Over the years, Timmer has talked to numerous tornado victims, who told him they did not pay attention to tornado warnings because they did not think the storm would hit their house. He's determined to change that attitude.
"By shooting video of tornadoes and showing their power, seeing a video on YouTube or on social networks, that could be the difference between someone heeding the warning and taking shelter or not," Timmer said.
To see more of Reed Timmer's storm chasing, check out his web series "Tornado Chasers" on www.tornadovideos.net.