On cold winter days when his adventures are not being filmed for national television, meteorologist Reed Timmer from Discovery Channel's "Storm Chasers" TV show fills his calendar with speaking engagements.
He will be in Big Lake, Minn. on March 6, but his presentation a two-hour drive from Wadena will also be a fundraiser for tornado relief.
The Reed Timmer event page on Facebook reads, "Wadena is still going through a massive recovery process and a portion of the proceeds from this event are going to go towards ongoing relief efforts in the Wadena area."
Timmer was one of the storm chasers who followed the EF4 tornadoes in east Otter Tail County and Wadena.
"It's an exciting field to be in, and I'm hoping down the road that the data we will collect could be used to better design structures that would better withstand the vertical and horizontal winds inside tornadoes," he said.
Besides being one of the three teams in the "Storm Chasers" season finale "Judgment Day," which aired on Dec. 1, his team the Dominator crew also has the website TornadoVideos.Net.
From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Timmer will be signing copies of his new book "Into the Storm" at his booth during the Big Lake Chamber Expo, which is free to the public.
"That book is an autobiography of how I got into storm chasing, how I became interested in weather, and it's also an educational book as well," Timmer said. "It talks about severe weather forecasting and some of the science behind tornadoes and supercells."
At 2:30 p.m., Timmer will speak at the Big Lake High School Auditorium. That event is $15, and seating is limited.
The "Storm Chasers" finale showed Timmer and his Dominator crew intercepting the east Otter Tail EF4 tornado.
"I'll be sharing the data we collected inside that tornado and talk about our research," he said.
Video from inside tornadoes, the role storm chasers play in the warning process, and the way storm chasing has changed in the last 10 years will also be part of his presentation.
"Measuring a 200 mile an hour updraft inside the tornado with our radar showed that, at least in that tornado, the horizontal wind and the vertical winds were approximately equal," Timmer said, adding that they were submitting their June 17 findings to scientific journals in hopes of publication.
"One of the most important things I'll be talking about ... is the role of storm chasers in the warning process. There are so many storm chasers out there these days, it's difficult for a tornado to go unseen, and storm chasers are the eyes on the field for the National Weather Service and local media," Timmer said. "Hopefully the research we do will indirectly benefit people in Tornado Alley."
Big Lake Chamber President and amateur storm chaser Tricia Skodje said the Big Lake High School auditorium seats 500, but a section of those will be blocked off for vendors, and tickets don't go on sale for the general public until the day of the event. While first priority goes to paying vendors, tickets can be set aside for Wadena area groups who plan to make the drive, she said.
"If people are going to travel from Wadena, it's kind of special, it's for you," Skodje said.
Those interested in reserving seats may contact the Big Lake Chamber of Commerce at (763) 263-7800 or toll free (877) 363-0549 with the names of people planning to go. Tickets will be set aside and can be paid for upon arrival.
"If they happen to not show up, we'll sell them to someone else," she said.
In the fall of 2010, Skodje and Big Lake Chamber of Commerce board member Doug Hayes, owner of Black Diamond Disaster Solutions LLC, decided to contact Timmer as a possible speaker, and Timmer happened to be free on the day of the 2011 Chamber Expo.
"I'm a Reed Timmer fan myself because I storm chase," Skodje said.
Hayes said that previous Big Lake Chamber Expo speakers had included Gov. Tim Pawlenty, U.S. Representative Michelle Bachmann and "Famous Dave" Anderson.
He said that instead of his usual speaking fee, Timmer
offered to only charge for travel expenses.
"We started the process of working out all the terms of getting him here, and when we got all those done, that's when I got the e-mail that said pretty much anything up and beyond travel expenses that he makes he wants to donate to the city of Wadena," he said. "I give 100 percent of the credit for the idea to him."
While Timmer has spoken at colleges and other venues, he said that this will be the first time he has spoken close to a site where a tornado they chased had caused damage. He has not been in Minnesota since the June 17 event.
"I decided that it was a good thing to do, and we'd like to help out the best we can," he said.
"We're really excited to be helping out," Skodje said.
Hayes contacted Wadena Mayor Wayne Wolden to confirm the ongoing need for aid.
"We're going to be partnering our city and theirs a little bit," Wolden said.
Social networking helped to set up the event. Timmer announced his intentions for a benefit on Facebook and Twitter Jan. 17.
"Reed Timmer has become a friend of Wadena's Facebook site," Wolden said.
Skodje said the Big Lake Chamber Expo will have around 80 booths and a food court with free samples.
"Usually about 2,000 people show up for our expo every year, so I think this year it's going to be bigger with Reed coming," she said.