How did Joel Taylor from Storm Chasers die?

April 18, 2024
8 mins read

It’s known that reality series are, in fact, not always as real as they make it seem. Despite that, some shows such as Discovery’s “Storm Chasers” have surprised us while still giving us an idea of what reality TV should be.

The series was as shocking as it comes, and very dramatic at times, but what attracted us to it was definitely the natural amazement of seeing people daring enough to chase real storms, which can be incredibly destructive.

However, when it comes to “Storm Chasers”, we also need to talk about the unfortunate deaths of a couple of its cast members, some of which have been explained while others still remain unknown to many.

In the latter category, we have to include the memorable Joel Taylor, whose death in 2018 is still not entirely clear for many of his fans.

So what exactly happened to him? Did he die chasing a storm, or in another place? This and more we will tell you in this vid!

How Did Joel Taylor Die?

Joel Taylor is warmly remembered by fans of “Storm Chasers” for being “The Dominator’s” driver. However, his life came to an unfortunate end at 38 years of age on 23 January 2018, while he was on a cruise in the Caribbean.

As primarily revealed, Joel was pronounced dead by Puerto Rican authorities not long after he was found unconscious in his Harmony of the Seas’ cabin. However, the actual cause of his death was kept secret by his friends and family until months later, when TMZ revealed that he had suffered a methamphetamine overdose. According to reports by The Bureau of Forensic Sciences in San Juan, Joel’s body had apparently been discovered several hours after the assumed time of his consumption or absorption of ketamines.

Saddened by the news of his death, his former colleague and “Storm Chaser” co-star Reed Timmer, lamented his passing by describing him as his ‘best friend’.


Joel was laid to rest a week after his passing, in the First Baptist Church located in his native Elk City, Oklahoma. In honor of his legacy, a scholarship fund was set up under his name at the University of Oklahoma, where his family asked contributions to be sent in lieu of flowers or donations.

Who Was Joel Taylor?

Besides being one the most renowned stars of “Storm Chasers”, Joel Taylor had other career accomplishments to be proud of.

Graduating from the University of Oklahoma with a degree in Meteorology, Joel’s first storm chasing works were alongside Reed Timmer. As a team, their first credited work was the documentary “Tornado Glory”, filmed entirely during 2003’s storm season.

Later in 2007, Joel and Reed were cast in Discovery’s “Storm Chasers” as the Dominator team. However, as Reed eventually focused more on his website, their professional relationship went downhill, and they eventually took separate ways before leaving the show altogether.

Following the end of “Storm Chasers”, the pair reconnected and teamed up for “Heaven’s Rage“, a short documentary which followed Reed as he intercepted tornados all around the US. The next year Joel joined the short-lived “Tornado Chasers”, a TV series which served as an independent spin-off from “Storm Chasers”.

Joel only appeared in two episodes of “Tornado Chasers”, staying away from TV and any filming production afterwards. Nonetheless, it’s assumed he continued his work as a meteorologist until his last days.

Who Else From The Show Died?

While no one really died while filming “Storm Chasers”, some of its cast have died in recent years in a variety of unfortunate situations, some of which aren’t directly related to tornado chasing.


Matt Hughes

The first “Storm Chaser” star to die was unfortunately Matt Hughes, part of the TIV team and responsible for some of the most legendary storm intercepts ever featured in the show.

As with many of his colleagues, Matt’s fascination with storms was very evident while growing up. Nonetheless, what set his path to become a chaser was seeing up close how a tornado destroyed Haysville, in his native Kansas.

By the time he debuted in “Storm Chasers”, Matt had almost two decades of experience in the field, and as affirmed, he had seen over 100 tornados in his life.

Known for his daring intercepts, Matt’s fame while chasing storms in the TIV’s vehicle the Doghouse was that of a daredevil. However, very far from his risky stunts, Matt’s personality and charisma was well appreciated by people around him.

Unfortunately, on 14 May 2010 Matt died at 30 years old in a Kansas’ hospital.

The news of his death hadn’t been announced until the “Storm Chasers” episode entitled “Dedication” aired in November that year. Following reports, his death was caused by complications related to a suicide attempt after being hospitalized for 13 days.

Tim Samaras

He’s well known by fans of tornado chasing, not only because of his tragic death, but for his legendary career in the field. A native of Lakewood in Colorado, Tim Samaras got invested into photography from an early age thanks to his father, but it was science that really got him hooked for life. As his biography states, Tim’s early childhood was spent between taking apart electric appliances for research purposes, and experimenting.

His deep interest in science eventually mared his life. In his twenties, storm chasing was his main hobby, and later on it became his profession.

Storm Chasers

Though his education was informal and his knowledge of meteorology was autodidact, Tim impressively worked in high profile projects for government and private organizations, in addition to inventing several weather instruments, including the TWISTEX, an experiment meant to test tornados.

With so many years of experience and knowledge, in addition to being recognized for his work by big brand names such as National Geographic, Tim was believed to be invincible. However, on 31 May 2013 his life came to an unfortunate and terrible end when the TWISTEX vehicle was caught up in the El Reno tornado, making it the first time in history for this to happen. His son Paul also died in the accident.

Carl Young

Although he only appeared in the fourth “Storm Chasers” season, Carl Young had a long and prolific career in tornado chasing.


Though he studied Economics in the University of California, Carl’s real passion was found in filming. Nonetheless, after spending some time around the country capturing tornados on his camera, in the early 2000s he enrolled into the University of Nevada, for a Masters degree in Atmospheric Science. After meeting the legendary Tim Samaras, Carl was convinced that collecting data inside tornados was a good topic for his thesis. Eventually, Carl teamed up with Tim for his storm chasing experiments.

Though his main focus was science, Carl was notably an outdoorsy man, whose side hobby as an ambientalist led him to become director of the non-profit organization League to Save Lake Tahoe.

His first credited work was as a cinematographer and expert meteorologist in the long-running “National Geographic Explorer” series. Following that, he was cast for “Storm Chasers”, and shortly before his death in its spin-off “Tornado Chasers”.

Along with Tim Samaras and his son, Carl Young was killed by the El Reno F-3 tornado on 31 May 2013. After his death, Carl’s storm footage was used for the TV movies “Miles Wide Tornado”, and “Inside The Mega Twister”. He was also featured in the documentary “Storm Chasing: The Anthology”, premiered in 2015.

Herb Stein

While his appearances in “Storm Chasers” were brief, Herb Stein actually had a long and stable career both as a meteorologist and on TV.

Herb’s first credited work was in the 1991 short documentary “Chasing The Wind”. Later on, he also appeared briefly in “Stormchasers”, a 1995 short-movie which tried to recreate the meteorological conditions found in storms.

As any experienced storm chaser, Herb’s filmed adventures were featured in several TV productions, including the documentaries “Tornado”, “Nova” and “Naked Science”; the latter was the winner of an Emmy Award for Outstanding Science, Technology and Nature Programming in 2009.

Herb was actually a graduate from the University of Oklahoma, where his fascination with storm chasing started. Years later, he was actively working for National Geographic, the Weather Channel, and was even a spokesperson for the Museum of Natural History in Cleveland during their tornado lecture series campaigns.

While his love for storms was widely known, it’s not surprising to find out that Herb was also a nature science enthusiast, and was quite knowledgeable in subjects such as astronomy and paleontology. As well, his professional background includes having worked as a nurse and as a medical technician.

In early 2016, Herb was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, an illness which rapidly ended his life. He died in Ohio at 57 years old on 4 February that year.

What Was “Storm Chasers” About?

While “Storm Chasers” is definitely one of the most interesting nature-focused reality TV series ever created, it’s certainly been a while since it last aired.

Joel Taylor

Directed by Ronnie Krensel, “Storm Chasers” concept was inspired by much interesting footags found in Tornado Alley, the US’ central area known for its weather conditions propitious for tornadoes. However, to obtain this type of filmed content, several meteorologists risked their lives in order to get as close to storms as they could.

The first crew to join the show was the “TIV”, lead by Marcus Gutierrez and Sean Casey, who in order to improve the emergency alerts existent by then, teamed up in 2008 to create their own IMAX-equipped filming vehicle. Other teams joined the show later on, including “Team Dominator”, also known as TornadoVideo.Net, led by Reed Timmer.

Joshua Wurman’s crew “Doppler on Wheels” was present in the show for the first two seasons, but only briefly appeared in it starting from the third season. As well, Tim Samaras’ TWISTEX vehicle joined in the third season until the show’s end in 2011.


All in all, it’s pretty obvious that storm chasing is not a hobby or a career for everyone. However, these teams’ main motivation wasn’t adrenaline or money, but to improve what was already known about these weather phenomena, prevent disasters caused by them, and save lives.

Why Was “Storm Chasers” Cancelled?

Everything has to come to an end, and “Storm Chasers” was no exception. In early 2012, Discovery cancelled the show after its fifth season wrapped up.

While the exact reason the network’s cut isn’t exactly known, the series’ upcoming end was already rumored on the several online communities dedicated to the show, before it was announced. Although at first Reed Timmer vehemently denied those apparently malicious rumors, he and Tim Samaras ended up officially announcing “Storm Chasers” cancellation on their respective social media accounts.

Could the end of “Storm Chasers” be related to producing problems, or was it an issue between the crew that caused it? Whatever it was, at least we enjoyed the series while it lasted, and of course its cast will always be warmly remembered.


Following “Storm Chasers” end in 2012, Reed Timmer started a funding campaign on Kickstarter to create the show’s first spin-off series. After successfully achieving their $135,000 goal, in late 2012, Reed and his team premiered “Tornado Chasers”, which resulted in a more detailed and seemingly personal approach to the storm-chasing endeavors than its predecessor. The show’s second and last season premiered in 2013, but this time it included old faces, such as the now-late Joel Taylor. As well, a “Dedication” episode in memory of Tim Samaras, his son Paul and Carl Young was included in the series.

Is All The Footage Real?

As it’s already obvious, all of the teams showcased in “Storm Chasers” were professional meteorologists or filmmakers. However, no one can really fault people for not entirely trusting what they saw on TV, unable to discern if the show’s featured tornado footage was real or digitally created.

All in all, “Storm Chasers” was characterized for showing real footage of these events, but it’s certainly true the show has been heavily criticized for recycling old visual material to make it seem new.

While these accusations weren’t publicly acknowledged by “Storm Chasers” producers, several inconsistencies in continuity have been caught by the most observant fans. Does this mean the entire show is fake? Not at all, but judging by the series’ habit of paying too much attention to its cast’s arguments and seemingly pointless drama, it’s easy to assume some situations, scenes and visual content are edited to make everything seem even more dramatic, as if that was really necessary!

Olivia Wilson

As the Freelance Writer at Net Worth Post, I steer producing riveting stories about the lives and triumphs of influencers. With an unwavering commitment to precision and a flair for weaving compelling tales, I guide our content creation, from the depths of research to the pinnacle of narrative excellence. My responsibilities encompass the full spectrum of editorial management, including the meticulous investigation, narrative development, and upholding the integrity and high standard of our output.

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