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Meteorologist brings storm science to Lyceum

By BY DAVE TICEN
Nov. 14, 2012 at 5:14 a.m.

Dave Ticen

Meteorologist Reed Timmer will be in Victoria on Thursday, as the second speaker in Victoria College's 2012-13 Lyceum Lecture Series. His presentation is scheduled for 7 p.m. in the VISD Fine Arts Center.

With a Ph.D. in meteorology from the University of Oklahoma, Timmer brings both academic credentials and first-hand experience as an "extreme storm chaser" to his multimedia program on a topic that ought to resonate with Crossroads-area residents. Living as we do in a place that is susceptible to severe weather events, many of us have experienced, or at least dreaded the prospect of experiencing, the extraordinary tropical storms that he eagerly seeks out in the name of science.

It is obvious from his background that in addition to being a meticulous scientist who is concerned with expanding his knowledge of storms and helping us understand how better to prepare for them, Timmer also has a finely tuned sense of adventure. Imagine putting one's well-being at risk on a consistent basis all in the name of science. He is one of the few people on Earth to have experienced first-hand, and documented, both an F5 tornado (striking Moore, Okla., in 1999) and one of the most devastating tropical storms in history, Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Timmer's lecture is supplemented with visual and auditory elements that help the audience understand what it is like to be in the midst of a destructive tornado or category 4 hurricane. Anyone who has watched Hollywood movies like "Twister" or "A Perfect Storm" perhaps has some idea of the experience, but those are, after all, fictional versions and not necessarily reality.

Currently CEO of the consulting firm Weather Fusion, Timmer is an acknowledged expert on severe weather forecasting. One of his priorities is promoting safety, including survival tips, for those caught in a storm. As part of his professional career, he conducts storm spotter seminars for the National Weather Service aimed toward emergency personnel at all levels of government.

Also in an educational vein, he was the headliner on the Discovery Channel programs "Storm Chasers" (2008) and "When Nature Strikes" (also 2008), the latter of which was about the devastating Hurricane Ike, which struck Galveston Island that year.

To date, he has filmed several hundred tornadoes and dozens of hurricanes. He is the first person in history to have captured high-definition video inside the circulation of a tornado. This and other footage, which will be featured in his presentation, have aired to millions of people worldwide. Timmer was also the star of a documentary film "Tornado Glory" and has appeared on all major network television stations, notably "Good Morning America" with Diane Sawyer and "CNN with Wolf Blitzer." He has written a book about his experiences, "Into the Storm."

To aid in his quest to experience severe weather and yet preserve life and limb, Timmer has developed a vehicle specifically designed to protect the operator while having the capacity to perform delicate experiments. His armored research vehicle, dubbed the TVN Dominator, is outfitted with mobile radar and is designed to measure wind speed at a tornado's base. It is this vehicle that has allowed him to capture hundreds of film spots within the teeth of a storm and still live to talk about it.

Weather is a topic that affects us all and is of great interest, judging by the frequency with which it comes up in conversation. Particularly in the last decade or two, marked as they have been with catastrophic weather events like Katrina from 2005 or Sandy from just a few short weeks ago or the spring 2011 tornados in Kansas and the Southeast, which killed hundreds, it has the potential to exert profound impacts on our lives.

Whether we believe that such storms are exacerbated by man-made climate change or the result of natural cycles over which humans have no control, the inescapable reality is that they are a fact of life and knowledge is power when it comes to coping with them. Please plan on attending Reed Timmer's illuminating presentation on the subject Thursday evening.

Dave Ticen is the chair and a long-time member of VC's Lyceum Committee. Ticen works as a librarian in charge of user education at the VC/UHV Library.

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