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Top Five Videos From AccuWeather’s Reed Timmer Facing The Most Intense Tornadoes

Timmer has been chasing tornadoes through his entire career that included facing life and death situations capturing the footage.

When a tornado is caught on camera there is The Wizard of Oz phrase, “We’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto.”

Extreme Meteorologist Reed Timmer has been chasing tornadoes for decades – witnessing firsthand some of the most dangerous twisters in recent memory. Since capturing his first footage of a tornado in October 1998, the 43-year-old Timmer has been at the forefront of numerous tornado encounters – over 600 during his 25-year chasing career.

Timmer faced life and death situation when it came to getting footage of the tornadoes that would destroy property left and right.

For AccuWeather’s Tornado Week, Timmer recounted his five most memorable tornado chases.

Timmer was a freshman at the University of Oklahoma in the spring of 1999 when the state was impacted by one of the most violent tornadoes in recorded history. On May 3, 1999, an F5 tornado struck Bridge Creek and Moore, Oklahoma, with winds of over 300 mph – the highest wind speed ever recorded on Earth. Nearly 600 people were injured, and 36 were killed as a result of the tornado. COURTESY/ACCUWEATHER

“One of the first-ever tornadoes that I saw … It’s well known as one of the strongest tornadoes to ever be recorded in history,” Timmer said.

On June 24, 2003, an F4 tornado destroyed the community of Manchester, South Dakota, touching down at about 7:45 p.m., just around sunset.

“It was illuminated by the sun back behind it, turning the whole entire tornado bright orange,” described Timmer.

The tornado grew to half a mile wide as it impacted Manchester. Two additional F3 tornadoes were reported across the area, including in Woonsocket and Cavour. A total of about eight to 10 tornadoes were produced that day, according to Timmer.

The third most memorable tornado of Timmer’s 25-year career was the most powerful he’s recalled. On April 27, 2011, an EF5 tornado tore through multiple counties in east-central Mississippi, including in Philadelphia, Mississippi – where Timmer witnessed the intense storm.

The tornado had peak estimated maximum winds of 205 mph and a damage path of nearly 30 miles, lasting about 30 minutes. Three people were killed, and six others suffered injuries due to the tornado. It was the first EF5 tornado reported in Mississippi in 45 years.

“The most prolific tornado outbreak in recorded history,” Timmer said, referring to a deadly four-day outbreak that triggered hundreds of tornadoes from Texas to New York.

The Dominator – one of the vehicles used and modified by Timmer over the years to chase tornadoes – was front and center for the June 17, 2009, tornado in Aurora, Nebraska. While chasing the Aurora tornado, it pushed over The Dominator and destroyed the driver’s window. COURTESY/ACCUWEATHER

“Mirror, shards of glass hit me in the face. But at that time, I knew we survived the tornado,” said Timmer.

The Aurora tornado was rated an EF2 with winds between 111 and 135 mph, according to the National Weather Service. The destructive twister tore the roof off a farmhouse and overturned a dozen railroad train cars.

The most memorable tornado of Timmer’s career came a couple of days before the historic El Reno, Oklahoma, tornado in 2013. On May 28, 2013, an intense tornado formed near Bennington, Kansas. The EF4 tornado touched down just west of U.S. Highway 81 and moved in an unusual way – north then back to the southwest. COURTESY/ACCUWEATHER

“[The] tornado near Bennington, Kansas, was probably the most powerful, most intimidating tornado that I’ve ever chased,” recounted Timmer.

The tornado was on the ground for about an hour and grew to half a mile wide at times. No serious injuries or fatalities were reported, according to the National Weather Service.

“I’m honestly just lucky that we survived that tornado right here,” he said.

Produced in association with AccuWeather

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