A lot of Subarus spend their time off road, but not all of them chase tornadoes like Jesse's does!
Jesse's car: 2014 Subaru Outback
Engine and Drive-train: Stock
Wheels/Tires/Suspension: Yokohama AT-S Tires, otherwise all stock.
Exterior: Wolo LED Amber/White Light Bar with traffic advisor, Davis Vantage Vue Weather Station, Wilson 880 Amateur Radio Antenna, and a Wilson Electronics Voice/Data Signal Boost Antenna
Interior: RAM Mount Laptop Mount, Davis Vantage Vue Weather Station Receiver, Wolo Light Bar Controller, HTX-242 2M Amateur Radio Transceiver, Verizon MiFi data device, WOLO PA/Siren Controller, 1000 Watt Power Inverter supplying up to 24 outlets with 110 AC, Wilson Electronics Voice/Data Signal Boost Module, numerous cameras (HD/UHD), Medical Response Bags, AED, Chainsaw, Multiple Search and Rescue Tools, Multiple Automotive Tools for emergency repairs in the middle of Kansas, and a Tornado Data/360° Camera Probe (survived an EF4 in Kansas, 2016).
Tell us a little about yourself: My full-time job is with a demolition company delivering supplies and equipment. However I'm also a business owner of JWSevereWeather, Inc., a non-profit organization focusing on Search and Rescue, Research, Media, Education, and Relief Efforts involved with severe weather and tornadic events. Obviously I'm a weather geek and storm chaser. I have chased at a national level since May of 1999, and locally since 1996 when I obtained my drivers license. I'm also a drummer, something I've studied just as extensively since 1993. I also enjoy anything weather, music, or being with my girlfriend.
How did you get into cars? My dad was an auto mechanic when I was very young. That's certainly where it began. However I took cars more seriously around 2010, and that's when I began investing more time into this field. I'm far from being a master mechanic however.
What is your dream car? Here's an odd one, they call it TIV2. Tornado Intercept Vehicle. Weighing 16K, with two inch thick armor and glass, hydraulic spikes that dig into the ground below, and a damn turret, it can withstand up 200 mph winds. Otherwise, a WRX is nice too...
What are your future plans for the car? For protection from hail and flying debris/cows, I'm hoping to add an anti-shatter window protection film to all windows. I'm debating an upgrade on the voice/data booster, and also the transceiver.
Does you or your car go by any names or nicknames? My car's nickname is Phoenix 2.0. We named the car the Phoenix because we enjoy the Phoenix logo / symbol.
What's your favorite thing about your car? I have yet to get it stuck, anywhere. I'm sure my day will come, but so far I'm very pleased with that. I'm also a huge fan of the CVT transmission. Takeoff, steep hills, and fuel economy. I'm sold on that setup.
What is something that you don't like about your car? Being that I have a lot going on during a storm chase, I tend to leave the vehicle running as it running so much just from an electrical point of view. Being able to lock my doors via the remote while the car is running is not an option. I have to lock the doors from the inside, unlock my door manually, then get out and lock that door with the key. It's so petty, but it really gets under my skin.
What is your car like to drive? Very smooth and quiet. It has a lot more acceleration than I think most people would like to believe. Again, that's thanks to the CVT in my opinion.
What was your inspiration or objective with this build? Running a business like this, I needed the car to be able to do everything that we set out to do objectively. It also has to be my office when out on the road as we can deploy for weeks when necessary.
Why did you choose a Subaru? Working on GM vehicles at work and with my girlfriend Tammy, really opened my eyes to the repetitive nature of the parts we were replacing on vans, trucks, and our own personal vehicles. At that point I really began researching brands. Subaru was consistently coming up with safety awards, reliability, resale values, on and on. I then threw it out to the Facebook World for a poll. I believe around one hundred people voted for Subaru, two said otherwise. I was sold and have never looked back.
What was your first car? 1991 Chevrolet Pickup Truck, 1500 series. Saw my first tornado in that truck and also ran like hell in that truck after seeing aforementioned tornado...
What makes your car special to you? It's a car I can feel comfortable with. With the amount of miles and time we spend in this vehicle, it's such a relief on my mind to know that I have a very reliable vehicle. Of course it's not perfect. But when we are in the middle of America, miles from towns or civilization, having this vehicle brings me peace of mind. Then I only need to focus on our safety during the chase.
What is something about you (or your car) that no one else would know about? Not much, I'm pretty open!
Any memorable moments with your car that you would like to share? When I was "spotted" in front of a tornado on WGN last June. That was a first I imagine! The tornado I was chasing that was featured on WGN was from June 22nd of last year. We had a four-car convoy from my organization on that storm. We knew it was going to be a difficult day for chasing since most of the storms would be high precipitation in nature, meaning that the tornado would be wrapped and rain it would be very difficult to see from a distance. With over 20 years experience I'm fairly confident and getting close to a tornado but within reason and while keeping in mind the risk involved. That was one of those days where everything just worked out well and we were able to get close enough to see it. The member in a car behind us took the shot and WGN got a hold of it. You can see it's not the best picture in the world, and that's because of the heavy rainfall that we were dealing with while being so close.
Any shout-outs to anyone who helped you along the way? Andrew Kruegar really helped me out when we had to install everything. The RAM Mount had to be fabricated as they did not make one for the Outback at that time. Andrew welded, cut, and painted it from scratch. Pretty badass in my opinion.