Around the middle of April 2013, the production of Tornado Chasers was in limbo. We’d been on some tough busts already, and only had a skeleton crew. Reed kept our morale high with his enthusiasm and confidence about the season. “This is just a warm up,” he’d always say.
Terry Rosema, invaluable both in front of and behind the camera, had just arrived from Michigan. And another famous member of our crew popped up: Joel Taylor.
Joel, Reed’s well-known chase partner from Storm Chasers, had been a good friend of mine ever since our college days. Along with Reed, Joel was featured in my previous projects, Tornado Glory and Heaven’s Rage. He helped during our Kickstarter podcasts and I was looking forward to him coming back.
In case you’re not aware, Reed and Joel’s chasing relationship was rocky when Storm Chasers ended. Though they remained good friends, they’d finally driven each other up the wall when it came to chasing. Reed’s style was instinctive and aggressive, and Joel’s style was more deliberate and conservative. Joel and Reed “took a break” in 2012, and they were ready to give it another try.
Joel was ready to get back in the Dominator, though with some qualifiers. Because of his professional commitments, Joel only wanted to chase the “bigger” tornado events. Reed, however, wanted his driver to commit to every type of event, no matter the size. This set up an awkward situation where Reed and Joel had different expectations about their partnership.
When Joel joined us for the April 17, 2013 chase, he seemed to be his old chasing self. Except… he was frustrated that Reed’s crew had become such a “circus” and that Reed was on the phone constantly doing live reports. For Joel, chasing is a dedicated hobby that should be savored. For Reed, it’s a career with all of the deadlines and stresses that come along with it.
Even through the tension that day, the “old team” finally saw a tornado after sunset. At least I think we did. Reed was positive he saw it in the darkness — and reported it — but Joel was dubious. Regardless, it was our most exciting chase yet, and it also turned out to be the last one with Joel Taylor.
Joel did consider giving team Dominator another try. He and Reed agreed to touch base over a game of golf, but Reed showed up an hour and a half late. When he did show up, he brought his dog Gizmo along, and well… you can see it all in Episode 2, “Legends”. It was funny to watch the mayhem but I think that’s when Joel decided to chase independently for the rest of the season. I wish he had gone on one or two more chases with us, but in the end, I think it worked out well for everyone.
With Joel exiting the team, we had a new, surprise team member ready to go. His name was Jim Cantore. THE Jim Cantore of Weather Channel fame. He was a meteorological hero to the whole team, and he was ready to see his first tornado.
To be continued next time!
Executive Producer, Tornado Chasers