Hurricane Nate battered the Gulf Coast over the weekend, forcing some residents in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi to evacuate. But as towns in Nate's path emptied out ahead of the Category 1 storm, Mike Theiss and Reed Timmer—two self-identified "storm chasers"—headed into the thick of it.
Theiss, a National Geographic photographer, and Timmer, a self-described "extreme meteorologist," recorded some insane footage in Biloxi, Mississippi, where heavy rains and more than 40 MPH winds tore through the coastal town. They rode out the storm in a few anxiety-inducing enclaves—a local parking garage, the lobby of a casino—and the resulting Twitter videos are enough to give anyone who followed what went down in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico a panic attack.
"This is no different than a war photographer going to war or an astronaut going to space in the name of science," Theiss told the Washington Post. He added that instead of heading out into combat, he likens the dangerous practice to "going to war with nature."
Timmer echoed his fellow storm-nut's sentiments, describing "the work" of tossing your body into four feet of rushing water as a "public service."
"Like first responders who place themselves in harm's way, we do go into dangerous situations but as top professionals do so, in intelligent and cautious ways, so that people understand the dangers and when told to evacuate they will do so," Timmer told the Post.
But the footage Timmer and Theiss captured of wading around in waist-deep, raging storm waters and exploring flooded, abandoned buildings didn't impress established meteorologists, who say the hurricane junkies aren't just putting themselves at risk—they're setting a bad example.
"We try to convince people to take proper protective actions during storms," NBC meteorologist David Finfrock wrote on Twitter. "Stunts like this from storm chasers (and reporters) don't help."
A number of others backed Finfrock up, telling the pair of storm chasers they should get the hell out of those flooded parking garages and take cover like the rest of the folks nearby. But the two don't show any signs of slowing down. Theiss's top-performing storm videos have been retweeted upwards of 10,000 times, further proving the truism that when you do something insane and unsafe on camera, the internet loses its shit.
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