I am thrilled to be able to bring to you the first chaser chat with a TVN team member! I, like many, am a huge fan of TVN. Even before my world changed and I went from fearing storms to loving them, I enjoyed watching ‘Storm Chasers’ on Discovery channel and thought that the TVN team was awesome! Well, since that time, the TVN team is even better!
Let me introduce you to one of TVN’s amazing drivers. Sean Schofer is pretty new to the TVN crew and has the awesome job of piloting the newest Dominator, the D3.
I’m beyond thrilled that he agreed to be part of my Chaser Chat series! Last year, Sean began chasing with TVN after being asked by Reed Timmer. I think Sean is a fantastic match for TVN and they really seem to mesh well together.
Thanks, Sean, for letting me ask you some questions! I love that you are a from Saskatchewan and chase with one of the best known chase teams in the US! Tell me how you wound up driving for Reed.
“I met Reed a few years ago while chasing in the US and soon we became very good friends. I soon realized I had more of a passion for capturing scientific data on tornadoes than taking photos. He asked me to join the team and here I am. What better way to learn more about science than with a Scientist?”
That’s awesome! It’s great when you can connect a passion with a great team that has the same goal! Can you tell me about the very first tornado you saw?
“Yes, I remember my first tornado very clearly. We were in Oklahoma and it was dark out already when a tornado touched down. We could only see it when lightning would flash because it was so dark out. I remember seeing it coming right for us and I was a little nervous. When I asked the guys if they’re ready to go yet, one of them responded with “We’re not going anywhere!” Lol!”
I’m sure I would ask the same thing. I’ve always thought that night tornadoes would be more scary because it isn’t as easy to see what they are doing. Tell me a bit about the D3. What is the coolest thing about driving it?
“I think the coolest thing about driving D3 is it doesn’t matter where we go everybody recognizes the vehicle and wants their picture taken with it.”
Yep, I’m the same way. I loved getting to see it last summer and getting a picture of you guys with it!
What do you find most challenging about driving the D3?
“The most challenging part is deciding which tornadoes we can drive into. Even though D3 was built to go inside bigger and stronger tornadoes we still have to be extremely careful about which ones we drive into. We are not invincible in it. We can’t make a mistake or it will be our last.”
The D3 is intense but you face some tornadoes that are nothing to mess with for sure. Besides driving the D3, what other responsibilities are yours?
“Besides driving, I’m also on the science team. When we are stopped and I’m not driving I will send warnings on social media when necessary but Reed does most of that.”
(I asked Sean later what the science team does. He explained that they plan which is the best way to get the probe into the tornado. Every situation is totally different and they have a few different methods to do this. It’s extremely difficult to get the probe into a tornado successfully, but they are going to keep doing it until they have what they want.)
Sean, who makes the decisions on what direction you head? Reed seems to do most of the directing but I’m sure that you all play a part.
“Reed is very much a team player. He’s always asking the rest of the team our opinion and sometimes we give it. But overall, we know Reed’s the best at finding tornadoes in the world so he should get final say.”
Reed really is something else. A ‘human barometer’. (And there’s the nerdy ‘Twister’ reference.) 🙂 You’ve been on a ton of chases and I have to ask, what was your favourite to date?
“There are so many but the best chase I’ve ever been on is Bennington, Kansas tornado May 28/13. Watch the ‘Tornado Chasers” episode and you’ll know what I’m talking about. But honestly, it’s much more drastic in person.”
I just watched that episode this week and remember that day from the live stream. That would have been an intense and unforgettable day for sure! Here’s a preview for the Tornado Chasers Bennington episode. If you haven’t been watching this series, you’re missing out! After Storm Chasers was cancelled, the team decided to take their show online! You can get the episodes here (from both seasons).