The extreme weather aficionado has rolled out a web series called "Tornado Chasers," where viewers can watch as Timmer and his team venture into the heart of dangerous storms in their impressive armored vehicles, Dominator 1 and Dominator 2.
HuffPost TV Canada caught up with Timmer to find out more about his unwavering passion for extreme weather, why thrill-seeking tourists are paying to tag along into the belly of the beast-like storms, and whether anything still scares the seemingly fearless storm chaser.
What sparked your initial fascination with severe weather?
I've loved extreme weather ever since I was five years old. When I was really little I was actually scared to death of thunder and lightning, so it's possible it has something to do with that. I was a science nerd growing up. I was really into insect collecting [Laughs] for like 10 years and weather was always my passion. I'd watch the weather on TV multiple hours a day. I'd get fired up whenever severe thunderstorm warnings would get issued. Once, I grabbed the family video camera and ran in the backyard and was shooting this storm, I was like 13 or 14, and destroyed the family video camera. [Laughs] I went to Oklahoma in 1998 to study meteorology, and I've been going to school for it ever since.
Do you think that severe weather has become more common over the past several years?
It does seem like the extremes are becoming more extreme. I know 2011 was unprecedented in terms of the number of tornadoes and loss of life or property from tornadoes. It also seems like it's shifting locations. Northern places are getting a lot more tornadoes, like Minnesota in 2010 had over 80 tornadoes, which is what we normally average here in Oklahoma. Who knows if it's related to long-term climate change or if it's just seasonal or an annual climate oscillation. I think time will tell.
What are the practical implications of your research?
If you know how strong the wind speeds get inside the tornado, you can take that data and supply it to structural engineers, and then they could build models based on this data and hopefully design homes that can better withstand those winds.
After all these years, do you ever get frightened in storms?
Every time! Definitely when we intercept tornadoes, when we're inside. We've had a window blow out, your ears are popping from the intense pressure fall. The car is shaking back and forth violently inside the 150 mile per hour wind. It does feel like at any second it can lift off the ground. You just have to trust in the engineering and design of the vehicle. We have these hydraulic spikes that go into the ground four or five inches that keep us anchored down. It's definitely scary every time. [Laughs]
What was it like the first time you were in a storm in the Dominator?
It was really intense. The first tornado we intercepted was in Wyoming. We measured 155 m.p.h. wind inside. When it first hit the vehicle, it was like being hit by a freight train. It vibrated a lot. The wind changed direction really fast. The ears popping is definitely something that I remember. That whole weight of the atmosphere falling instantaneously causes your ears to freak out.
How long before your ears are back to normal?
I don't know if they ever totally get back to normal. [Laughs] It feels kind of like a caterpillar is crawling in there a little bit. It can take a few months for that to get better sometimes. One of the engineers in the back seat actually had a ruptured eardrum from one of our intercepts in 2009. His sinuses were clogged from his allergies, and then the pressure fall happened and he had a stream of blood coming out. He went to the doctor and they said it's something they see a lot of times in pilots that fly high elevation.
Are there more storm chasers out there now than when you first started out?
When we first started out there weren't nearly as many people. The technology wasn't what it is now. Back then I had a $500 vehicle and paper maps. If it got windy, the pages would blow out the window. A lot of times you had to use pay phones to find out where the storms were. I had a library card in every single small town library in case I wanted to use the internet to find the storms. [Laughs] And now with just a laptop and a mobile internet card it's a lot easier to find the storms. I think with social media and YouTube and storm videos getting out there, a lot more people are interested in severe weather and want to do storm chasing for a living or a hobby. I think it's blown up in the last five or 10 years.
What's your biggest advice to an aspiring storm chaser?
I think if they want to get into storm chasing, there are SkyWarn training courses offered by the National Weather Service. They could also take a tour offered by storm chasing companies. They can go out with us and learn from our experience and learn how to storm chase. If you don't know what you're doing it can be very dangerous and you can get yourself killed. If you know what you're doing, then storm chasing overall is really safe. You've got to be willing to eat gas station food three times a day for a lot of the year. [Laughs]
Are you finding that the people who are doing your tours are aspiring storm chasers, or mostly thrill-seekers or a mix of both?
It's definitely a mixture of both. There are a lot of people interested in meteorology and pursue it and become storm chasers and storm spotters. There are a lot of people from different countries, like Australia and Europe, who come out. It's a safe way for people to experience severe weather.
You can watch episodes of Tornado Chasers online.
"The Biggest Loser"
Returns Sunday, January 6 at 9 p.m. EST and moves to regular timeslot on Monday, January 7 at 8 p.m. EST on NBC <strong>What's Ahead</strong>: Jillian Michaels! She's back to help whip contestants into shape. Plus, for the first time, kids (ages 13-16) will be on the show along with 15 adult contestants.
Returns Sunday, January 6 at 9 p.m. EST on PBS <strong>Where We Left Off</strong>: Bates was left to rot in jail, Matthew and Mary finally got together and the Dowager Countess was sassy. <strong>What's Ahead</strong>: Americans! Shirley MacLaine guest stars as Martha, Cora's mother. She's very rich. Season 3 has already aired in the UK and <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/26/downton-abbey-season-4-dan-stevens_n_2364574.html">one prominent character is saying goodbye to "Downton Abbey."</a>
Returns Monday, January 7 at 8 p.m. EST on ABC <strong>Starring</strong>: Sean Lowe <strong>What's Ahead</strong>: Jilted "Bachelorette" contestant Sean returns to TV as "The Bachelor" and seeks to find love.
Monday, January 7 at 10 p.m. EST on NBC <strong>Starring</strong>: Meagan Good, Laz Alonso, Tate Donovan and Victor Garber <strong>What's It About</strong>: A wealthy socialite and party girl is found dead of an overdose, but something's fishy about her death. Enter FBI Agent Will Moreno (Alonso), who recruits his former partner Joanna Padget (Good), the deceased's former best friend. Joanna hides her true occupation and infiltrates the family she grew up around to find the truth about her friend's death.
"Betty White's Off Their Rockers"
Returns Tuesday, January 8 at 8 p.m. EST on NBC <strong>What's Ahead</strong>: Betty White will entertain a ton of guest stars while introducing the elderly pranksters. Kim Kardashian, the ladies of "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills," Ed Asner and NeNe Leakes are among the names who will appear on the prank show.
"Pretty Little Liars"
Returns Tuesday, January 8 at 8 p.m. EST on ABC Family. <strong>Where We Left Off</strong>: Toby is on the A Team, Garrett's dead, Aria's dad has some strange connection to Ali, Paige saved the day and Ezra's a dad ... and Alex Mack is his baby mama. <strong>What's Ahead</strong>: Mona is released from Radley and is back at Rosewood High. Clearly, she'll be working with Toby, who the liars are still in the dark about. It's only a matter of time before Spencer learns the truth ... and starts to lose it. Dr. Sullivan will return, hopefully to prevent any breakdowns. Plus, we'll see more about what the hell Byron was doing with Ali the night she died.
Returns Tuesday, January 8 at 10 p.m. EST on TBS. <strong>Where We Left Off: </strong>Jules and Grayson had a quickie beachfront wedding and rode off into the distance on horseback. <strong>What's Ahead: </strong>For starters, it's on TBS! Everybody's favorite wine-guzzlin' crew will be joined by guest stars Alexndra Wentworth, Shirley Jones, Gillian Vigman, Tippi Herden and more.
Returns Tuesday, January 8 at 10 p.m. EST on FX. <strong>Where We Left Off</strong>: In Season 3, Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) prevented carpetbagger/gangster Robert Quarles from establishing a criminal network in Harlan, but a pregnant Winona left the US Marshal and he found out his father shot a good man. <strong>What's Ahead</strong>: Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins) will no doubt continue to be a thorn in Raylan's side.
"Stars In Danger: The High Dive"
Wednesday January, 9 at 8 p.m. EST on Fox <strong>Starring</strong>: JWoww, Bethany Hamilton, Alexandra Paul, Kim Richards, Kyle Richards, David Chokachi, Terrell Owens, Antonio Sabato Jr. <strong>What's It About:</strong> C-list celebrities learn to dive like the pros with the help of Olympian Troy Dumais.
Thursday, January 10 at 9:30 p.m. EST on NBC <strong>Starring</strong>: Josh Gad, Bill Pullman, Jenna Elfman <strong>What's It About</strong>: The Gilchrists are your typical American family ... they just so happen to be the first family of the United States. Gad stars as the hapless son of President Dale Gilchrist (Pullman) and stepson of Emily (Elfman).
Returns Sunday, January 13 at 9 p.m. EST on HBO. <strong>Where We Left Off</strong>: Jessa bizarrely got married, Shoshanna slept with Ray, Hannah and Adam broke up and Marnie still misses Charlie. <strong>What's Ahead</strong>: After months of criticism, Hannah makes a black friend (or more than a friend) -- and it's Donald Glover. Patrick Wilson will also play a love interest for Hannah later in the season and Shiri Appleby joins Season 2 as Adam's new girlfriend, much to Hannah's dismay. Elijah moves in with Hannah -- and starts to question his sexuality. Shoshanna is dealing with her post-sex relationship with Ray. Plus, Rita Wilson will stop by to play Marnie's mom and to help her shape up.
Returns Sunday, January 13 at 9 p.m. EST on Showtime. <strong>Where We Left Off</strong>: Karen had her and Lip's baby and fled, prompting Lip to move back home and go back to school. Estefania and Marco were on the verge of breaking up and in happier news, Fiona passed her GED. ("Teen Mom's" Amber: Take note.) <strong>What's Ahead</strong>: It's 137 days since we’ve last seen the Gallagher's. Jimmy has moved into the house with them and Fiona uses the family's money in desperation and the others aren't too pleased. Oh and (shocker) Frank's missing.
Returns Sunday, January 13 at 9:30 p.m. EST <strong>Where We Left Off</strong>: Following her very public breakdown, Amy (Laura Dern) returned to work with a positive outlook ... only to start down the path of revenge after being laughed at by her coworkers. <strong>What's Ahead</strong>: Will Amy return to the path of enlightenment?
"House of Lies"
Returns Sunday, January 13 at 10 p.m. EST on Showtime. <strong>Where We Left Off</strong>: Did they or didn't they? Marty (Don Cheadle) and Jeannie (Kristen Bell) ended the season with a romp in the sheets ... maybe. They've gotten rid of the Rainmaker and stand triumphant. <strong>What's Ahead</strong>: Galweather Stearn brings in a new CEO who's all about female power. Adam Brody returns to TV with a guest role.
Returns Sunday, January 13 at 10:30 p.m. EST on Showtime. <strong>Where We Left Off</strong>: After Bates left Karen, Hank sees an opportunity. But when his ex Carrie returns and offers him an anti-depressant-laced drink, Hank loses consciousness just after seeing a vision of Karen, to whom he says, "I love you." <strong>What's Ahead</strong>: Hank is penning a rock opera "about love conquering all" with Atticus Fetch (Tim Minchin), a coked up rock star. Maggie Grace has a nine-episode arc as infamous rock groupie Faith, who becomes involved with Hank, and in one episode, Grace's former "Lost" co-star Jorge Garcia will appear as an old contact from Faith's past. Season 6 will also see a guest appearance from Marilyn Manson.
"The Carrie Diaries"
Monday, January 14 at 8 p.m. EST on The CW <strong>Starring:</strong> AnnaSophia Robb, Freema Agyeman, Chloe Bridges, Austin Butler and more. <strong>What's It About:</strong> A prequel to "Sex and the City," the new CW series follows Carrie Bradshaw as a high schooler in the '80s. She's discovering her style, dating, dealing with the death of her mother and falling in love for the first time ... with Manhattan.
Returns Monday, January 14 at 10 p.m. EST on Syfy <strong>Where We Left Off</strong>: Victory! But the darkness continues to grow in Bo (Anna Silk). <strong>What's Ahead</strong>: Bo must make a deadly decision. Plus, tune in for guest star Linda Hamilton and recurring guest star Rachel Skarsten.
Returns Wednesday, January 16 at 8 p.m. EST on Fox <strong>What's Ahead</strong>: Feuds! Divas! Dawgs! Mariah Carey, Nicki Minaj and Keith Urban join the judging panel alongside veteran Randy Jackson for Season 12.
Returns Thursday, January 17 at 9 p.m. EST on FX. <strong>Where We Left Off</strong>: After Charlie and Kate slept together, they were in a weird place with their relationship. And when Charlie's daughter Sam kissed a girl at school, a photo wound up on Facebook and Charlie and Jennifer questioned their daughter's sexual orientation. <strong>What's Ahead</strong>: 70+ more episodes. And in Season 2, Charlie will blow up at his sister's baby shower and will question if his father Martin is developing Alzheimer's. Cee Lo Green will stop by as a version of himself, seeking Charlie's assistance under Hollywood pressure.
Returns Thursday, January 17 at 10 p.m. EST on FX. <strong>Where We Left Off</strong>: The ISIS crew -- including Archer -- were held captive on the Space Station Horizon <strong>What's Ahead</strong>: A "Bob's Burgers" crossover! H. Jon Benjamin provides the voice of both Archer and Bob.
Monday, January 21 at 9 p.m. EST on Fox <strong>Starring</strong>: Kevin Bacon, James Purefoy, Shawn Ashmore, Natalie Zea, Annie Parisse <strong>What's It About</strong>: Ryan Hardy's (Bacon) been out of the FBI game for a while, that is until his biggest catch, serial killer Joe Carroll (Purefoy) resurfaces ... along with a cult-like following ready to carry out his bidding.
Tuesday, January 22 at 8 p.m. EST on ABC <strong>Starring</strong>: Anthony Bourdain, Nigella Lawson, Ludo Lefebvre, Brian Malarkey <strong>What's It About</strong>: Think "The Voice" (there are teams and coaches), plus "Top Chef" (culinary competition) and you've got ABC's "The Taste."
Returns Tuesday, January 22 at 10 p.m. EST on USA <strong>Where We Left Off</strong>: Peter (Tim DeKay) and Neal (Matt Bomer) stepped into the boxing ring to infiltrate a white collar boxing club. Neal discovered his father was still alive (and played by Treat Williams!) <strong>What's Ahead</strong>: Peter and Neal search for the truth about Neal's dad and his crimes and Neal goes undercover with the Irish mob ... And hopefully, more boxing.
Returns Wednesday, January 28 at 9 p.m. EST on TNT. <strong>Where We Left Off</strong>: Slaps, sex and secrets filled the first season of the new "Dallas." The season ended with John Ross (Josh Henderson) teaming up with J.R. (Larry Hagman) to destroy Christopher (Jesse Metcalfe) and Elena (Jordana Brewster). <strong>What's Ahead</strong>: Familiar faces return and the Ewings say goodbye to J.R. after series star Larry Hagman passed away about half way into filming Season 2. Producers will incorporate his death into the story.
Wednesday, January 30 at 10 p.m. EST on FX. <strong>Starring</strong>: Keri Russell, Matthew Rhys, Noah Emmerich <strong>What's It About</strong>: Elizabeth (Russell) and Phillip (Rhys) Jennings are the perfect couple: They've got two kids and are living the life of every American in the '80s ... but they just so happen to be KGB spies posing as regular ol' US citizens.
"Do No Harm"
Thursday, January 31at 10 p.m. EST on NBC <strong>Starring:</strong> Steven Pasquale, Alana de la Garza, Phylicia Rashād, John Carroll Lynch <strong>What's It About: </strong>A brilliant neurosurgeon (Pasquale) has a big secret: a very villainous dual personality. It's a modern-day Jekyll and Hyde story mixed with a medical drama.
"Rules of Engagement"
Returns Monday, February 4 at 8:30 p.m. EST on CBS <strong>Where We Left Off</strong>: Audrey (Megyn Price) was upstaged at her own baby shower by Brenda (Sara Rue). Meanwhile, Russell (David Spade) started to display creative talents after taking a break from women. <strong>What's Ahead</strong>: Sitcom hijinks!
Returns Tuesday, February 5 at 9 p.m. EST on NBC and moves to its normal Tuesdays at 10 p.m. EST timeslot on February 12 on NBC <strong>Where We Left Off</strong>: Karen (Katharine McPhee) wowed the crowd as Marilyn Monroe in previews of "Bombshell" in Boston. <strong>What's Ahead</strong>: More Broadway drama! There's a new musical in town that could rival "Bombshell" for all the buzz. Plus guest stars Jennifer Hudson, Liza Minnelli, Sean Hayes, Jesse L. Martin and more.
"Body of Proof"
Returns Tuesday, February 5 at 10 p.m. EST on ABC <strong>Where We Left Off</strong>: Peter (Nicholas Bishop) saved Megan (Dana Delany) from a serial killer, but was stabbed in the process. <strong>What's Ahead</strong>: New blood! Bishop, John Carroll Lynch and Sonja Sohn are out and Mark Valley is in.
Returns Thursday, February 7 at 8 p.m. EST on NBC <strong>Where We Left Off</strong>: Evil Abed, "lawsuits" and sandwich shops filled the "Community" Season 3 finale that aired what feels like 30 years ago. <strong>What's Ahead</strong>: Six seasons and a movie. Just kidding, although that'd be cool (cool cool cool). Malcolm McDowell, Tricia Helfer, Jason Alexander and more will drop by for some Human Beings antics. Plus, Chevy Chase will depart the show.
Returns Friday, February 8 at 8 p.m. EST on Fox <strong>Where We Left Off</strong>: Martin (Kiefer Sutherland) and Jake (David Mazouz) fled to California and met up with Lucy (Maria Bello). <strong>What's Ahead</strong>: Martin (Sutherland) and Jake (David Mazouz) soak up the Los Angeles sun ... and find themselves in the middle of a "global conspiracy."
Returns Wednesday, February 13 at 8 p.m. EST on CBS <strong>Starring</strong>: Jeff Probst, unnamed contestants <strong>What's Ahead</strong>: Fans vs. Favorites, Round 2
Returns Wednesday, February 13 at 10 p.m. EST on TNT. <strong>Where We Left Off</strong>: Cooper saved Tang, and then Tang got a big promotion becoming sergeant and watch commander. <strong>What's Ahead</strong>: "One Tree Hill" star Chad Michael Murray joins the cast as goofball Officer Dave Mendoza.
Thursday, February 14 at 8 p.m. EST on ABC <strong>Starring</strong>: Anthony Edwards, Carmen Ejogo, Scott Michael Foster, Addison Timlin, Jacinda Barrett and Michael Nyqvist <strong>What's It About</strong>: Think "National Treasure" and "Da Vinci's Code," but on TV and starring Dr. Greene from "ER." Edwards plays Hank Galliston, the publisher of Modern Skeptic Magazine. When his wife is abducted, Hank and his pals are joined by the FBI as they attempt to crack various conspiracies and get his wife back.
"The Amazing Race"
Returns Sunday, February 17 at 8:00 p.m. EST on CBS <strong>Starring</strong>: Phil Keoghan, unnamed contestants <strong>What's Ahead</strong>: Globetrotting adventure.
Tuesday, February 19 at 9 p.m. EST on The CW <strong>Starring:</strong> Matt Davis, Alona Tal, Jessica Lucas, Robert Knepper <strong>What's It About</strong>: Matt Davis stars as Jeff, a journalist who investigates his brother's disappearance and his involvement with a group of obsessive fans who have formed a pseudo-cult around a TV series ... about a cult.
Premieres Tuesday, February 26 at 10 p.m. EST. Special showing on Tuesday, March 5 at 10 p.m. EST before moving to its regular Fridays at 9 p.m. EST time period on March 8 on CBS <strong>Starring</strong>: Theo James, Chi McBride, Kevin Alejandro, Bonnie Somerville <strong>What's It About</strong>: The series charts the rise of Walter William Clark Jr. (James), a beat cop who quickly moves up the ranks of the NYPD before becoming commissioner.
Returns Wednesday, February 27 at 10 p.m. EST <strong>Where We Left Off</strong>: Henry (Corbin Bernsen) got back into the detective game with the help of Shawn (James Roday) and Gus (Dule Hill). But the case ended with a bang as Henry was shot by a former friend. <strong>What's Ahead</strong>: Parminder Nagra joins the cast as a love interest of Gus. Plus, the long-awaited musical episode airs! Look for episodes inspired by "Clue" and "The Blair Witch Project" and for guest stars Jeffrey Tambor and Anthony Michael Hall, as well.
"All-Star Celebrity Apprentice"
Sunday, March 3 at 9 p.m. EST on NBC <strong>Starring</strong>: Trace Adkins, Stephen Baldwin, Gary Busey, Penn Jillette, Lil Jon, Bret Michaels, Dennis Rodman, Dee Snider, Marilu Henner, La Toya Jackson, Claudia Jordan, Omarosa, Lisa Rinna, Brande Roderick <strong>What's It About</strong>: It's "Celebrity Apprentice," but with contestants who have already been to the boardroom with Donald Trump.
Sunday, March 3, 9:00 p.m. EST and moves to its regular timeslot on Sunday, March 10, 10:00 p.m. EST on ABC <strong>Starring</strong>: Radha Mitchell, Goran Visnjic, Clifton Collins, Jr., Sterling Beaumon <strong>What's It About</strong>: Marta Walraven (Mitchell)'s husband Evan supports the family by exporting weed and is involved in the world of organized crime with Bratva, Russian gangsters. After Evan's murder, Marta seeks to protect her kids, but gets tangled in the seedy underworld.
Returns Friday, March 8 at 8 p.m. EST on NBC <strong>What's Ahead</strong>: Mentors Jessica Simpson, Nicole Richie and John Varvatos return to the show with new host Louise Roe as 13 new contestants compete for the chance to launch their own clothing line.
"Dancing With the Stars"
Returns Monday, March 18 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC <strong>Starring</strong>: Tom Bergeron, Brooke Burke Charvet, Carrie Ann Inaba, Bruno Tonioli, Len Goodman and unnamed celebrity contestants. <strong>What's Ahead</strong>: Celebrities dancing.
Returns Monday, March 25 at 8 p.m. ET on NBC. <strong>Starring</strong>: Adam Levine, Blake Shelton, Usher and Shakira <strong>What's Ahead</strong>: Presumably, a lot less ridiculously outfits without Christina Aguilera and Cee Lo Green.
"Game of Thrones"
Returns Sunday, March 31 at 9 p.m. ET on HBO <strong>Where We Left Off</strong>: War came. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/maureen-ryan/game-of-thrones-finale-recap_b_1566867.html">Read Maureen Ryan's recap for more</a>. <strong>What's Ahead</strong>: Tons of new cast members played by the likes of Diana Rigg, Iwan Rheon, Mackenzie Crook, Clive Russell and many more. Season 3 will be about half of George R.R. Martin's "A Storm of Swords," one of the series' most beloved books.
"How To Live With Your Parents (For The Rest Of Your Life)"
Wednesday, April 3 at 9:30 p.m. ET on ABC <strong>Starring</strong>: Sarah Chalke, Elizabeth Perkins, Brad Garrett <strong>What's It About</strong>: Polly (Chalke) is a recently divorced single mom. Since the divorce, Polly's been having some struggles and decides to move back in with her eccentric parents, Elaine (Perkins) and Max (Garrett). Hijinks ensue.
Wednesday, May 1 at 8:30 p.m. ET on ABC <strong>Starring</strong>: Kyle Bornheimer, J.K. Simmons, Leah Remini <strong>What's It About</strong>: After Tony (Simmons) suffers a heart attack, he's forced to hand over the family handyman business to his bumbling son Jack (Bornheimer).
"The Goodwin Games"
TBA on Fox <strong>Starring</strong>: Becki Newton, Scott Foley, T.J. Miller <strong>What's It About</strong>: Three estranged siblings reunite after the death of their father and unexpectedly find themselves heirs to a $20 million fortune ... if they adhere to their dad's wishes.
TBA on NBC <strong>Starring:</strong> Anne Heche, Michael Landes and Alexandra Breckenridge. <strong>What's It About: </strong>Anne Heche stars as Beth, a woman whose life -- and marriage -- is falling apart. However, after a new-death experience, Beth claims God starts speaking to her and sets her on a new life path.
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