Friday, February 24, 2012

Reed Timmer: Technology and Extreme Storm Chasing Go Hand in Hand

[caption id="attachment_23247" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Reed Timmer, Storm Chaser Meteorologist"][/caption]

Reed Timmer, Discovery Education's Chief Meteorologist and Discovery Channel's Storm Chasers opens the PETE&C 2012 Conference by reminding us technology and extreme storm chasing go hand in hand. Reed notes everyone uses their storm and tornado footage because it is simply the best. A thoroughly entertaining and exciting presentation, Reed shows us tornado fury and weather at its worst, and seems to love the entire process, one that would make most of us afraid.

April 2011 had 875 tornadoes, a record for an incredibly active season. Interestingly, Reed says he learned to storm chase the wrong way during an F5 merely 100 yards away. Covered in mud, Reed realized how powerful a tornado could be. An EF5 tornado in the south dug a 2' trench. Spanning from Arkansas to Georgia, Tornado Alley is an active area for violent weather.

Words that come to mind with Reed's presentation: powerful, fascinating, great videos. Unlike most tech presentations that I blog, Reed is an easy follow but I was too fascinated with the videos to take notes. Instead, I'll try to provide some links for your perusal. My take-away learning: thrilled not to live in the South where most of tornadoes strike.

Many of Reed's videos were found on Tornado Videos. Reed's Discovery biography shows his early interest in weather at age 13. Debris falling from the sky doesn't seem to phase him as he takes risk to chase storms.

[caption id="attachment_23253" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="The Dominator"][/caption]

Storm reporting gives weather channels and television reporting eyes in the storm, a benefit of storm chasing by supplementing storm warnings. A second benefit is their training as first responders in disasters. The third way storm chasers is the research chasing provides. Note the Dominator as an example of research to create a vehicle that is storm proof. Reed says they tested the Dominator inside a storm, not beforehand, which drew laughter from the audience. Storm chases are producers, engineers, and researchers. During the season, Discovery Channel Storm Chasers produce livestream videos, as the image above shows. Check this Storm Chaser link to bookmark your storm watch in real time. Instruments in the Dominator measures and tracks storms horizontally and vertically. You can find Storm Chaser videos here.

For a window into Reed's world, watch this CNN interview.



Guessing that to be a storm chaser at Reed's level of involvement requires some adrenalin issues. I was fearful just watching videos; can you imagine being Reed.

The EF5 tornado: April 27, 2011 Tornado Outbreak in Mississippi and Alabama that Reed showed during his keynote.



According to Reed, one of the worst tornado chases.



One of Reed's favorite places to storm chase is Canada; in Manitoba it stays light till 11 PM. Here's another shared video from the keynote. You won't believe the size of the hail; the English accents are interesting. Several beeps too.



You know you are engaged in a great keynote when you are totally disappointed when it ends. Thank you, Reed, for a wonderful presentation and a robust and enlightening Q&A session at the conclusion of the keynote. In response to why PA has so much "weather" is the Gulf of Mexico doesn't clean out from warm air and horizontal and vertical vortices combine to create more violent weather recently in our state. Generous and so informing.

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