Storm Chaser blows into Tupelo

By Danza Johnson/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – David and Michelle Collins made the trip from Carrollton, Ga., to Tupelo in search of Elvis, but instead found the Storm Chaser.
Reed Timmer, star of The Discovery Channel show “Storm Chasers,” drove from Norman, Okla., to pick up new equipment from Hyperion Technology Group Inc. for recording data from inside tornadoes.
Hyperion President Geoffrey Carter said the company has been working with Timmer since May 2008 when the “Storm Chasers” crew chased a tornado into the small community of Enterprise in Union County.
“We are a research company and we have worked with ‘Storm Chasers’ to develop equipment for them to use while studying tornadoes,” said Carter. “They are one of our best customers and we really enjoy working with them. We build new technologies and they use them, so we all work well together.”
During the show’s past season, Hyperion built a remote-controlled airplane that dropped probes inside a tornado in order to measure wind speed.
This year the company built a new radar system that Timmer will drive into the tornado to capture wind speed data. But unlike with the airplane, Hyperion built cannons that fire the probes into the tornado.
The cannons will be mounted on the Dominator, the rhino-covered armored Chevrolet Tahoe used as Timmer’s main mode of transportation on the show. Despite its oddly bulky look, Timmer drove the Dominator all the way from Oklahoma to Tupelo.
Because of his self-proclaimed lack of engineering know-how, Timmer said partnering with Hyperion has been very beneficial to his work.
“When we were chasing the storm in Enterprise, we met Geoff Carter and he told us he could help us better track storms,” said Timmer. “He wanted to do something to help storm victims and so did we, so we teamed up to try to do that. We don’t have the skills to build the technology we need to do what we do, but these guys at Hyperion do. I can’t even change my own oil and they’re geniuses.”
The massive Dominator parked in the parking lot of the Renasant Center for IDEAs was an attention-grabber for those in the neighborhood.
As the Collins couple and three other friends headed to the Elvis Presley Birthplace traveling down East Main Street, they spotted the odd-looking but familiar vehicle from one of their favorite shows.
As they pulled up to get a closer look, Michelle Collins yelled out, “That’s the Dominator!”
“Hey, you’re that crazy dude!” Michelle yelled when she saw Timmer standing near the truck. “Man, you are crazy, we watch your show all the time and you are crazy, man. This is so amazing to see you here. You are one crazy dude!”
David echoed Michelle’s thoughts and said it was a bonus for their trip.
“It’s funny that we came to Tupelo for Elvis and found the Storm Chaser,” he said. “Never thought we’d find him here, but we are glad we did. We love the show and just think the guy is crazy.”
Timmer said his storm chasing started in Michigan, where as a teenager he tracked snowstorms around the city. After moving to Oklahoma to chase bigger storms, Timmer said he knew he’d found his calling.
“When I started I didn’t know what I was doing and almost got myself killed a bunch of times,” said Timmer. “But I loved what I was doing so I kept at it. I’d probably be doing this no matter what anyway, so I think it worked out pretty well for me.”
Timmer and the crew will be in southwest Texas on Monday looking for storms to run down.
Contact Danza Johnson at (662) 678-1583 or danza.johnson@djournal.com.