Brandon Redmond is a meteorologist and co-founder of SWAT, a team of storm chasers who are contracted out to chase big weather for the media. Similar to the Discovery Channel’s show Storm Chasers, Brandon and his team take camera’s into the weather that sends the rest of society underground.
MWM: When did you first know you loved big weather?
Brandon Redmond: I started becoming interested in weather around the age of 6 when I was glued to the television watching the Great Floods of 1993(Mississippi and Missouri rivers). While other kids were glued to Nickelodeon, I was always watching The Weather Channel.
MWM: What does your company, SWAT, actually do?
Redmond: We are mostly involved in the storm chasing side of meteorology. While we engage our followers and fans online and do some forecasting, we primarily chase storms. During our chasing excursions, we provide real time reports to National Weather Service Offices, several news stations who we work exclusively with and capture photography and videography of the storm’s structure and associated potential damage. In 2012 we will also be offering Storm and Tornado Chase Tours to the public.
The storm tours will consist of a 6-day trip with 5 days of storm chasing across the Great Plains. Guests will arrive at the departure city (most tours depart from St. Louis) and the tour will head west towards the active severe weather zones, which are most likely across the Plains. Each day, the SWAT staff will evaluate severe weather conditions and forecasts and will position the group to intercept and view storms and hopefully tornadoes. The trips should be exciting for the guests and hopefully educational.
MWM: SWAT is a new company. How did you go about making an idea become reality?
Redmond: I originally started storm and tornado chasing in 2009 with some friends. As I gained experience, I began chasing more and more during 2010. In 2011, several friends and myself chased several times across Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin. After having some quick success, chasing several large violent tornadoes early on in the 2011 storm season, we began looking into the idea of organizing our chasing “hobby” into a business. Myself and Brad Maushart (one of the co-owners of SWAT) ran with the idea, deciding on a name, working to get media contracts, etc.
MWM: Describe the most exciting chase you have been on.
Redmond: While chasing with SWAT, we were outside of O’Neill, Nebraska on Monday, May 30th. The Storm Prediction Center had placed the entire area in a moderate risk for severe weather and the potential was there for not only severe weather but tornadoes. By the middle of the afternoon, supercell storms had fired across Western and West Central Nebraska. We positioned ourselves ahead of a supercell and were sitting stationary in an open area about a mile North of O’Neill. As the supercell storm approached, a gust front swept ahead of the storm and produced strong winds estimated to be near 60 mph. Along the gust front to our east, a gustnado (a swirling circulation of dust under the gust front) developed and at one point was close to a mile wide. To our west, the actual mesocyclone of the supercell continued to rotate and a tornado formed under the wall cloud. At that exact moment, we had a large gustnado to our east and a tornado on the ground to our west. Needless to say, it was an intense moment.
MWM: What dreams do you have for SWAT?
Redmond: In my wildest dreams……..SWAT would continue to grow and continue to become more successful. We have a great group of owners and operators who all bring some skill/talent to the company. With a strong core of people driving the company forward, I envision SWAT continuing to grow while expanding more into the television and media market and into the field research side of meteorology and storm chasing.
MWM: Your job has taken you all over the Midwest, What has been your favorite place? Anything we should check out?
Redmond: While we are chasing we are always looking for unique and local places to eat. While waiting for storms to development one afternoon, we were in Salina, Kansas. We stumbled across a restaurant called The Cozy Inn. The Cozy Inn is a local and national historical landmark featuring their delicious cozy burgers. Their slogan is “All burgers served with onion and an attitude.” The cozy burgers were small but quite delicious and The Cozy Inn is a great place to stop for a bite to eat if you ever find yourself in Salina, Kansas.
You can follow Brandon and the SWAT chasers online: