OKLAHOMA CITY, OK — Joel Taylor, one of the star’s of the Discovery Channel’s meteorological adventure show "Storm Chasers," has died at age 38. His cause of death has not been confirmed.
Taylor was an Oklahoma native.
His friend and co-star on the show Reed Timmer mourned the loss on Facebook.
"We chased so many intense storms, and I wish we could have just one more storm chase," Timmer wrote. "I can tell you that Joel was at a very happy time in his life, and we’ve been brainstorming non-stop this winter about chasing plans this spring."
He continued: "He has the biggest heart of anyone I know, and has always been there for me through thick and thin. I’ll miss you forever, Joel. My heart goes out to the Taylor family. We lost a legend."
Discovery confirmed his death and posted a statement of remembrance.
"We are so saddened to hear about Joel’s passing. We will always remember him fondly as an incredible meteorologist and driver of ‘The Dominator’. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends at this difficult time," it said.
"Storm Chasers" was cancelled in 2012. It ran for five seasons, beginning in 2007.
The show focused on the work of a group of tornado and weather enthusiasts who risk their live pursuing, filming and studying severe meteorological events. The American Tornado Valley, which covers Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas, Missouri, South Dakota, North Dakota, Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska, Colorado and Minnesota, served at the major set piece of the show. Episodes typically figured the team chasing burgeoning tornadoes in their trucks, competing against other chasers, and recording the events as they unfurled.
Taylor was billed on the show as a driver and meteorologist.
On Facebook, the group Team Western OK Chaser was one of the first to report Taylor’s death.
"He was one of the most level headed chasers on the roads and truly a classy guy outside of chasing," the post said. "He didn’t chase for the glory he chased because he had a true passion for storms. In the last few years he’d load up with his dad and go chase and not even take a camera. Our hearts are hurting for his mom Tracy and dad Jimmy along with his brother and sister and their children."
Later edits to the post clarified that the cause of Taylor’s death remains unknown.
"The medical professionals are trying to determine the cause," it said.
According to his bio on the Discovery website, Taylor was always fascinated by tornadoes and severe storms as he grew up in Tornado Alley. He studied meteorology at the University of Oklahoma.
While attending college, Taylor met Timmer, and the pair began storm chasing together. Discovery’s bio said Timmer and Taylor’s relationship "soured" as their team focused more on science. Taylor lacked a strong interest in science and left the team briefly to focus on his real estate career. He later rejoined the team.
Photo credit: YouTube Screenshot via Reed Timmer