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.
“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.
“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 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.
“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] 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