'Storm Chasers': Sean Casey Recalls Storms of the Heart & on the Plains

Storm_Chasers_Tim_Samaras_Reed_Timmer_Sean_Casey.jpgOn Wednesday, Dec. 1, the latest season of Discovery's "Storm Chasers" comes to a conclusion, after a spring and summer tornado season that saw tumult and tragedy -- and not all of it was because of mighty twisters.

(Click here for a clip from the finale.)

The show's cameras followed storm chaser Reed Timmer and his Dominator team as they were among the first to arrive in devastated Yazoo City, Miss., an experience which rededicated Timmer to the science side of his mission, which may provide data to be used in tornado early-warning systems.

Other huge storms also battered Dominator, along with the Twistex scientific team led by Tim Samaras, while also providing new information for the ambitious research team Vortex 2.

(Photo: from left, Samaras, Timmer, Sean Casey)

Also on the trail of wild weather was IMAX filmmaker Sean Casey and his heavily armored tornado-intercept vehicle, the TIV 2 (the first TIV was featured in earlier seasons of the show).

Some possibly imprudent driving by TIV 2 (Casey was not at the wheel; he's positioned behind the driver operating his camera) caught on video and posted on YouTube caused friction with Vortex 2 head Josh Wurman.

As the V2 project provides funding for Casey's upcoming IMAX film "Tornado Alley," set to be released next April, Casey had to agree to keep his distance from Wurman.

But friction with Vortex was only one of Casey's trials, as he and his team dealt with the suicide death of meteorologist Matt Hughes, which took place during a break from chasing. At the request of Hughes' family, the show aired an episode featuring Hughes' last chase, an epic and exhilarating trip through a brutal storm (click here for a clip).

It was a wild ride all around, and below find an email interview with Casey, conducted earlier Storm_Chasers_Sean_Casey.jpg today ...

Q: How did Matt's death affect the team, and how difficult was it to get back to business afterward?

A: Matt's death put us all into a state of grief and numbness, I don't know if we ever recovered. We had a brief respite when we encountered the massive tornadoes of June 17th in Minnesota. That day I felt that Matt was with us. But, I don't know, does anyone ever recover fully from the death of a close friend?

Q: What does your relationship with Vortex 2 - which seemed strained at best - look like for the future?

A: The people in V2 are my friends, some of them good friends. Their field operations ended this year, as it was a two-year field mission for 2009 and 2010. But who knows, 10 years down the road, there will probably be a VORTEX3 and, by then, I should have TIV5 ready, with all of its hovercraft capabilities in place.

Q: Once your IMAX movie is released in April, will you return to storm chasing?

A: You ever see an image of one of those salmon that migrate hundreds of miles up a stream, their body slowly disintegrating and turning to mush, as they spawn out the last of their lives and then wash up on the gravel, go belly-up and just lay there slowly gasping? That's me. I'm spent.


That said (a bit over-dramatically) I feel a compulsion to keep storm chasing, to see something that for me is like being in the presence of God, to be witness to something that brings awe to my soul.

Storm_Chasers_TIVII_Doghouse.jpgQ: This season looked like an extraordinary one - was it, or was it just clever TV editing?

A: It was a season of a lifetime, and one I hope to God I never have again.

Q: Is there a TIV 3 on the drawing table?

A: Yeah, but the problem is that the drawing table is still only in my mind.  One day though, as I can't leave an idea behind, my garage doors will part, and I'll emerge driving TIV3 or riding Rocinante 3.

Q: What significant additions to tornado science were made during this past season?

A: That's something for V2 to answer. I do know they captured amazing data sets on 25 tornadic storms and an equal amount of data sets on non-tornadic storms. But it takes awhile to vett that Storm_Chasers_Reed_Timmer_Dominator.jpginfo. But I believe that, in the future, tornado science will be divided into pre-V2 understanding and post-V2 understanding.

Q: How are you and Reed Timmer getting along?

A: Great, I gave his pants back two weeks ago! I'll explain that one. We did a photo shoot together, and the wardrobe lady gave me my clothes back. When I got home I had Reed's pants in my duffel bag. There was even $24 in the front right pocket!

Q: Have you firmed up plans for the movie premiere?

A: It might be in Chicago, or DC, I don't know.