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How To Chase a Tornado

Get freakishly close to freak weather with these tips from extreme storm chaser Reed Timmer.

TARGET AN AREA
“You can identify an outbreak up to seven days in advance. Dixie Alley sees more tornadoes than the Great Plains. They’re also more dangerous since they move faster and the trees in that area make the storm harder to see. The main pro of heading there is that fewer storm chasers do.”
 

GRAB YOUR GEAR
“All you need is a laptop, a mobile Internet current, and a GPS unit to navigate all those farm roads. Get a veteran storm chaser to ride along, too, because you have to multitask. Also, a car with four-wheel drive is important. I’ve spent several nights in my vehicle stuck in the mud with no cell phone coverage.”
 

IF YOU’RE JUST PEEPING
“Pick a safe spot two to five miles away from a tornado, and always make sure it’s moving across your field of view, in which case it will likely miss you. If it’s not moving side to side, it’s either coming at you or moving away. And call it quits at twilight. Night-chasing is extremely dangerous.”



IF YOU’RE INTERCEPTING

“Visually we line up the vehicle so the storm is coming right at us and drop our hydraulic spikes to the ground. When it strikes, you feel like you’ve been hit by a freight train. It’s scary, but I have to trust the design of our vehicle—it’s pretty much an armored tank with bulletproof windows.”

WATCH OUT!
“The most dangerous thing is other drivers, because when a storm hits, people panic. Be aware of lightning: It can hit you, and it can also cause grass fires. And, yes, watch out for objects and animals. Once we got hit by a horse!”
 

Check out Tornado Chasers at TVNWeather.com


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