Book Review: The Making Of Tornado Chasers By Ken Cole

Geek Alabama Book Reviews

In this Book Reviews post, I am talking about the new book from Ken Cole and Reed Timmer called “The Making Of Tornado Chasers.”  In The Making of Tornado Chasers, filmmaker Ken Cole gives you a rare, behind-the-scenes look at the treacherous production of the documentary series Tornado Chasers, which follows Reed Timmer’s chase team during the historic 2013 tornado season.  Including behind the scenes anecdotes and first-hand accounts of the tragic events in Moore and El Reno, Oklahoma, Cole tells his personal story through a series of logs covering pre-production through the series premiere.  To get an idea of this series, here are two episodes from the series you can watch right now!

As you know, Tornado Chasers was funded by backers on a Kickstarter campaign Geek Alabama covered.  At the beginning, you will learn about Reed Timmer teaming up with KFOR-TV, and chasing in the Ozarks with Ginger Zee.  Early in the season, the chases were mostly busts, and with busts, you can not make an online TV show.  You also read about relationships with friends, and the new equipment they purchased to make the chases easier.

The book spends a lot of time during the chase of the El Reno, Oklahoma tornado.  They talked about the amazing supercell and tornado they saw, picking up crew from The Weather Channel who were involved in the tornado, and talking about the loss of storm chasers Tim Samaras, Carl Young and Paul Samaras.  The book also talks about the EF5 Moore, Oklahoma tornado, the tragedy and destruction, and Reed Timmer’s dealings with the mainstream media, who wanted stories about Moore, instead of chasing tornadoes in the field.


In the book, you will also get some behind the scenes info. about Jim Cantore and Ginger Zee tagging along, the tough choices to keep chasing or search the rubble for victims, and the challenges of a very long day to keep chasing.  There is also some funny moments, like being denied into Canada because Dominator 3 was too significantly altered.  You will also learn about how they produced the show, and put the show together after the chasing season was over.  If you are looking to make a show, this book can give you some good tips!

Overall, The Making Of Tornado Chasers was a good read, and if you enjoy weather, this is a good book that is a quick and good read!  Learn more and get the book by going to:

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ABC 33/40 Storm Alert Tour at Oxford High School


Last night, ABC 33/40 brought their Storm Alert Tour to Oxford High School inside the gym.  A good crowd came out to hear James Spann, Brian Peters, Charles Daniel, and Ashley Brand talk about weather.  Some topics included the January snow bust, basic storm spotter talk, weather apps people need to download, day in the life of Charles Daniel, and talk about why people need to be weather aware and get ways to be warned of approaching severe weather.  Below are pictures I took from the event!  And yes, I even made a quick meme for you to enjoy!



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Alabama Severe Weather Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday 2014


Last night, parts of Alabama had damage from severe weather.  The most serious damage came from Fort Payne where a EF2 tornado caused damage to parts of town.  This damage might be a taste of what is to come during the upcoming Spring severe weather season.

This weekend from Friday February 21st to Sunday February 23rd is a very important weekend in Alabama.  This is the weekend to go to your local retailers to stock on items that can get you prepared for severe weather.  If you live in Alabama, you know what we have gone through in weather.  We have had the horrible tornado outbreak on April 27th 2011.  And we have had major snowstorms, hurricanes, flooding, wind storms, big hail, heat waves, cold waves, and everything you can think of when it comes to extreme weather.  Alabama experiences some of the most diverse weather in the world.  And YOU are responsible for being prepared if you are without power and water for a week or more.  You are also responsible for having supplies ready if you have to evacuate.

After the governor formed the Tornado Recovery Action Council; one of the recommendations was to hold a sales tax holiday for supplies to get ready for severe weather.  And right now you can go to a retailer or shop online to get your supplies.

My weather radio.

My weather radio.

Some cities and counties are also participating in the sales tax holiday.  The first thing everyone should have in their homes is a weather radio.  You should have several ways to get a weather warning.  For me I have a weather radio, alerts through my phone, TV, weather siren nearby, and the internet including social media.  Some people still relies solely on an outdoor weather siren for weather warnings which should NEVER be done.  You need to have multiple ways to get the warning.  Weather radios are not very expensive to get and you can program them using the SAME codes.  Click on the link to find your county.

Here is also a great video on how to program your SAME code into your weather radio.

Everyone should also prepare an emergency kit for everyone in your family.  We all keep hearing these reports of people waiting for the government to come rescue them.  But YOU are responsible for getting the supplies ready to be without help for several days.  You should have enough emergency supplies on hand for each person for up to 72 hours after a disaster has struck.

My bottled water stash.

My bottled water stash.

No one can come help you immediately after the  disaster has struck.  It takes time for rescuers to reach the area that was severely  damaged.  So what do you need in your disaster kit?  You need a first aid kit, flashlight, batteries, a battery-powered or hank crank radio, enough water for each person for three days, portable or canned food, fully charged cell phone, cash, extra medication, whistle, bleach, trash bags, fire extinguisher, masks,  and a generator.  For a list of even more suggestions for your emergency kit click on the link below.

Here is a great video of the stuff that you need in an emergency kit.

Also this weekend, you can take advantage of special coupons and deals!  On Saturday February 22nd, you can visit your local ACE Hardware store and save 20% off on almost anything that fits into an Ace paper bag.  You can go to Dollar General and save $5 off of a $25 purchase on Saturday February 22nd, click here to print off the coupon.  You can also save $3 off of an $15 purchase at Family Dollar on February 22-23.  Click here to print off the coupon.

For a list of cities and counties participating in the sales tax holiday click on the link.

Here is a list of the items you can buy sales tax-free during the 2013 Severe Weather Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday. ($60 or less per item or generators under $1000)

  • AAA-cell batteries
  • AA-cell batteries
  • C-cell batteries
  • D-cell batteries
  • 6-volt batteries
  • 9-volt batteries
  • Cellular phone battery
  • Cellular phone charger
  • Portable self-powered or battery-powered radio, two-way radio, weatherband radio or NOAA weather radio
  • Portable self-powered light source, including battery-powered flashlights, lanterns, or emergency glow sticks
  • Tarpaulin
  • Plastic sheeting
  • Plastic drop cloths
  • Other flexible, waterproof sheeting
  • Ground anchor system, such as bungee cords or rope, or tie-down kit
  • Duct tape
  • Plywood, window film or other materials specifically designed to protect window coverings
  • Non-electric food storage cooler or water storage container
  • Non-electric can opener
  • Artificial ice
  • Blue ice
  • Ice packs
  • Reusable ice
  • Self-contained first aid kit
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Smoke detector
  • Carbon monoxide detector
  • Gas or Diesel fuel tank or container

Please get ready for the upcoming Spring severe weather season!  The last time we had a very active Winter, we had the April 27th, 2011 tornado outbreak.  There is no telling if this Spring will be active like the 2011 Spring severe weather season, but you never know!  Get prepared!  Learn more about the tax-free weekend at:



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Weekend Planning: Rocket City Weather Fest 2014

Geek Alabama Weekend Planning

This weekend in Huntsville, the 4th annual Rocket City Weather Fest will take place at the Shelby Center on the UAHuntsville campus.  If you or anyone in your family are interested in the weather, this is the event for you!  The event will feature local Huntsville student and professional chapters of the American Meteorological Society and National Weather Association.  They are hosting this free Weather Festival that is great for weather enthusiasts of all ages!


The event will have weather research vehicles which you can sit in and take pictures.  You can attend short presentations like Severe Weather 101.  Several storm shelters will be featured, and anyone can participate in hands-on demonstrations and kids’ crafts.  Special guests at the event will include Greg Carbin from the NOAA Storm Prediction Center.  And Dr. Greg Forbes of The Weather Channel will also be there.  And you can share your thoughts during the Weather Communication Town Hall Discussion.  The event will also have great raffle prizes, presentations, activities and exhibits, there will be something for everyone!  Plus, local meteorologists from the Huntsville TV stations and the Huntsville NWS will be there!

Some of the activities at Rocket City Weather Fest includes a weather balloon launch, weather science vehicles, weather instruments, and kids activities!  Some of the seminars at this event will include weather briefings, looking back on the 1989 Huntsville tornado and the 2011 Super Outbreak, forecasting tornadoes, weather communication town hall, and discussions on lightning and severe weather.  Sponsors for Rocket City Weather Fest includes Alabama Saf-T-Net, UAHuntsville, Jacquelyn Jackson Photography and Miller and Miller Inc.

The entire event is free!  And the event will take place on Saturday February 22nd from 10 am to 4 pm.  The event will take place at the Shelby Center on the UAHuntsville campus which is located along Sparkman Dr.  To learn more about Rocket City Weather Fest, go to:

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The January 28th Snow Nightmare In Alabama


UPDATE: This will be one of the few posts on Geek Alabama today due to the weather emergency going on in Alabama.

No doubt about it, many people in Central Alabama were surprised about the snow we got today.  People are stuck in not moving traffic while some have abandoned their cars, some kids are stuck at school, and some people are stuck at other places or shelters, and some people are enjoying the snow.  Governor Bentley has declared a state of emergency, and the Alabama National Guard has been activated.

All Alabama state offices will be closed until noon Thursday, many schools will be closed until Friday, and many businesses are also closed.  For right now, do not go out onto the roads and stay home!  I went out on foot to take photos and video of the conditions in my area, so enjoy!

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