Watching storm chasers on TV is exciting and lets viewers vicariously experience intense danger. In addition to causing human peril, extreme weather can wreak havoc on property, including cars. Sometimes they include storm-chasing vehicles. Meteorologist and storm chaser Reed Timmer has used several modified vehicles to follow tornadoes, hurricanes, and other extreme weather. Though his previous chase vehicles have been pickup trucks and full-size SUVs, his most recent model is a 2018 Subaru Forester.
But this past September in Florida, Hurricane Ian trashed Timmer’s beloved crossover SUV. Now it requires significant repairs.
Storm chaser Reed Timmer drives a trusty 2018 Subaru Forester
Reed Timmer drives a 2018 Subaru Forester named “Dominator Fore” as one of his storm-chasing vehicles. A hailstorm dented the Dominator Fore soon after Timmer acquired it. And driving it during monsoon season in Arizona sucked dirt, baby scorpions, and fungi into the engine, Car and Driver reported. Timmer had to replace the headlights, taillights, and windshield multiple times.
Though Dominator Fore has few modifications, it sports aluminum panels that protect the sunroof and a hail-damaged window. It also has weather equipment installed, including probes to analyze tornadoes and an anemometer to measure wind speed and direction.
The Forester has been a good choice for Timmer’s line of work because it boasts excellent maneuverability and outward visibility. Its 2.0-liter turbo-four engine, paired with a continuously variable automatic transmission, generates 250 hp. It also has standard all-wheel drive and a traction assist system providing more grip for off-roading.
Dominator Fore took heavy damage during Hurricane Ian
Timmer’s Subaru Forester has been a reliable vehicle. It has survived “100 tornadoes, a Category 5 and Category 4 hurricane, dozens of mega-floods, and destructive hail cores,” Timmer explained on YouTube. And it had recently undergone extensive repairs before its bout with Hurricane Ian.
The Category 4 monster partially submerged Dominator Fore on Pine Island, Florida, just west of Fort Myers. Storm surge overtook the Forester, forcing Timmer to abandon the SUV while he reported on the hurricane.
But he said that despite sustaining massive damage, Dom Fore will storm-chase again. Timmer shared on Facebook in mid-October that Team Dominator would fix the vehicle, and he wouldn’t file any insurance claims to cover the repair costs. The team plans to use a replacement frame in the rebuild.
Although crossover SUVs have car-based unibody construction that’s not ideal for off-roading, the 2018 Subaru Forester has a “respectable 8.7-inch ground clearance,” U.S. News reports. However, that was no match for Hurricane Ian’s flooding and storm surge.
Fans ask Subaru for modified vehicles for storm chasers
Recently, Twitter users urged Subaru to give Timmer and other storm chasers free modified vehicles. Dominator Fore has taken a beating, but its resilience has many people sold on the SUV’s reliability and ruggedness.
One Twitter user said, “The @subaru_usa marketing department should give Reed Timmer a new car.” Another suggested that Subaru make “a storm chaser edition of the Forester and/or Crosstrek.” So far, the automaker has not responded.
Although the Subaru Forester isn’t the most obvious choice for a storm-chasing vehicle, Dominator Fore has represented the model well for four years. Timmer expects his trusty Subie will be back in action this winter.