Welcome back to part two of my chaser chat with Sean Schofer of TVN. If you missed part one, you can check it out here! Let’s get right into it!
We had a bit of a boring season here but it was pretty active in the US. Overall, how did the 2013 season go for the TVN crew?
“It was like riding a roller coaster from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows. We lost friends and mentors. But as far as the data and video we were able to collect I’m really happy with that part. We were able to capture some of the best tornado footage ever taken.”
In May of 2013, the widest tornado in history hit near El Reno, OK. It was a monster of a tornado and acted in ways that surprised even the most experienced chasers. Was El Reno the most intense chase you’ve been on, or does another one take first place for you?
“The Bennington, Kansas tornado for me was by far more intense. I think even Reed will tell you Bennington was the strongest tornado he’s ever seen. That being said, the El Reno tornado was extremely powerful also and the widest in recorded history. That tornado did a few things that many chasers never have seen before and caught many off guard. We’re very lucky we didn’t lose more chasers that day.”
I remember watching and seeing so many of my chaser friends caught off guard by the El Reno tornado. I wasn’t there chasing but even I had my heart in my throat often during that chase. I was very worried for everyone down there in that dangerous situation and that worry was well-founded when I heard the next day that Tim Samaras, Paul Samaras and Carl Young had been killed. That was such a tragic day.
Can you tell me about the first tornado you intercepted in the D3! I can’t imagine how that must have felt!
“The first tornado I intercepted in Dominator 3 was last summer in Edmond, Ok. We had Reed Timmer, Jim Cantore, Mike Scantlin, and our shooter Chris Whiteneck along with us. I was very nervous but you can’t let the nerves take over. You, as a driver, and the rest of the team have to stay very focused so we don’t make a mistake. The first thing that happened is our ears popped. Then it felt like we were getting run over by a freight train and that we were going to get launched into the air any second. After we intercepted that one, we intercepted another one about an hour later. Then we had to stop the chase for search and rescue.”
I love that you guys stop and help out where you can! I appreciate that the chase comes second when lives are at stake. What do you like most about the team you chase with?
“I couldn’t hand pick a better team. I’m very lucky to be a part of this team. The guys are always joking around and having a good time. I can’t wait to get back on the road with them.”
I can’t wait to see you back out there chasing! Winter seems crazy long when you’re waiting for storm season! Tell me what it’s like chasing with Reed. Is he always intense on a chase or are there moments of fun?
“Reed’s probably the funniest guy I’ve ever met. He’s always laughing and having fun. Until we’re on a storm that is. Then it’s time to focus and take things seriously.”
It’s always fascinating to talk to Reed. I admit, since I’m new to the storm game, that quite a bit that he says goes right over my head but I am always enthralled with what he has to say. The guy goes a mile a minute when talking about storms but if I can grasp any of it, I know I could learn so much. Chatting with Sean yesterday he says “it’s actually scary how smart (Reed) is.“
Tell me, Sean, what advice would you give aspiring storm chasers? Not that I’m asking for myself or anything…
“The first advice I’d give to aspiring storm chasers is to go on a tornado tour with a reputable company. I’d recommend Extreme Tornado Tours. They teach you so much about weather and chasing during the tour. That’s where I would start.”
I would love to go on a tour with Extreme Tornado Tours! I’ve met a few of those guys and have watched them chase and would totally go on a tour if I could! Here’s a few non-storm chasing questions to wrap it up. What do you do when you’re not chasing storms?
“I like to spend a lot of time with my family at our cabin at the lake. We do a lot of boating, fishing, quading and snowmobiling out there. You can find me at a company I own called Restorex. Restorex is a disaster restoration company. I’m also a firefighter, and I’ve been a firefighter for about 17 years.”
Thanks so much for having this conversation with me, Sean! I love watching you guys out there in the field and can’t wait to see what you guys have in store for 2014! Hopefully 2014 is amazing for the TVN team!
Here’s one of Sean’s favourite videos from the 2014 season: