Extreme Weather Cameraman and storm chasing legend Jim Edds recently came to The Weather Channel. His stories about being in some of the worst weather conditions imaginable and the footage he’s taken will leave you in awe!
Tell us about your professional journey that has led you to being an Extreme Weather Cameraman.
Before I was a storm chaser I worked as a polymer chemist for 8 years, so I made things like nail polish, milk carton ink, and road paint. The company was bought and I didn’t want to keep working there so I made my way to the Florida Keys. I got a job as a photographer and met Jim Leonard, the best tornado/hurricane/all around weather photographer down there. Jim would show me the most amazing videos of waterspouts. They were incredible. So I told myself I would find waterspouts like Jim. I’d go up on an airplane and I’d look for dark spots on the water, which are the beginnings of waterspouts. My goal was to get as good as Jim. He took me into Hurricane George in 1998.
Was that the first hurricane you were in?
Yes. Well actually, I was in Hurricane Frederic just hanging out on my porch. I was also in a typhoon in Guam but it was pretty far offshore.
When did you make this your profession?
It was a good year for footage. I was the only storm chaser to get to Bermuda for Hurricane Fabian. In fact, CNN never would have gotten their footage off the island from that storm had I not been there. I’m still selling footage now from that year!
You’ve been chasing for more than 20 years?
Yep! Guess so. It’s more fun having your own business than working for the Man.
What is the craziest situation you’ve ever gotten into from chasing storms?
Hurricane Charlie was one of them. It changed direction and increased 2 categories, winds were near 150 mph when it hit the island! We got slammed in Punta Gorda. It got windy and rainy, I lost my cameraman Mark. I took shelter in an eye doctor’s office. There’d be sheet metal crashing down and stuff was being thrown around. Then all the sudden it got really bright and then, poof! We were in the eye. I was jumping power lines trying to get out of there as fast as possible while it was somewhat calm and I get to my car and it’s destroyed. When the other side of the storm arrived I took shelter again on the side of a bank, and I was just shaking.
Did you go to school for meteorology?
No. I always thought I wanted to, but it was more fun to go out and chase for me. I got interested in figuring out how to spot weather patterns, like waterspouts.
Do you chase tornadoes too?
Hurricanes, typhoons, and cyclones are my forte. I really enjoy chasing in Asia, I actually know some Mandarin. The thing about tornado chasers… they drive like maniacs. I won’t drive 95mph in the rain. The people who are really good at it drive like hell. I don’t have anything against it, it’s just too dangerous for me. With a hurricane I know I have plenty of time to get there.
What’s your biggest piece of content that everyone wants?
Hurricane Charlie footage. Or the BP oil spill- that’s sold more than anything I’ve shot.
What’s something people wouldn’t know about your photography and videography during crazy storms?
I always spit on the lens. Rub it in and dump it in the water and you’re good to go. Footage always turns out clear that way. That’s my trick!
Anything you want our fans to know?
Get a compass and barometer if you’re in a hurricane. You can be fooled thinking a hurricane is over, but you’re actually in the eye, right in the middle of it. Always have those tools with you so you can tell if you’re still in the storm.
Check out some of Jim’s best footage from Hurricane Irma in September 2017 here: