Jim Leonard (photographer)

James M. Leonard (February 17, 1950 ‒ November 3, 2014), also known as "Cyclone Jim", was an American professional storm chaser, photographer, and videographer. Intercepting severe weather including thunderstorms, tornadoes, hurricanes and typhoons,[1] he was among the earliest storm chasers. He was the first to photograph an anticyclonic tornado.[2]

James M. Leonard
Born(1950-02-17)February 17, 1950
DiedNovember 3, 2014(2014-11-03) (aged 64)
West Palm Beach, Florida, U.S.
Known forEarly hurricane and tornado chaser and photographer

Leonard was the son of Arthur H. Leonard Jr. and Marjorie Irene Leonard.[3] He grew up in south Florida and in 1971 began chasing tropical cyclones in the United States and the Caribbean, as well as on Guam and Hawaii.[4] He sometimes moved to Guam during typhoon season. He was considered a pre-eminent tropical cyclone chaser. Leonard began chasing thunderstorms in 1974 and traveled across the Great Plains as well as locally in Florida where sea breeze interactions and waterspouts are common in summer.[5] He sometimes moved to Oklahoma during supercell season in Tornado Alley.[6] Leonard's photographs, films and videos have been licensed widely and featured prominently around the world. He was featured in numerous television documentaries explaining hurricanes and magazine articles. He was a contributor to Storm Track magazine and his photographs appeared frequently in Weatherwise and other publications. Leonard was also an early and respected storm chasing tour guide, working with Charles Edwards for Cloud 9 Tours, where George Kourounis and Mike Theiss also are guides.[citation needed]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Ravo, Nick (March 11, 1992). "Chasing the Wild Wind for Thrills and Profit". The New York Times.
  2. ^ Fujita, T.T. (1977). "Anticyclonic Tornadoes". Weatherwise. 30 (2): 51–64. doi:10.1080/00431672.1977.9931796.
  3. ^ Miami Herald Obituaries: James Michael Leonard (2/17/1950 – 11/3/2014)
  4. ^ Svenvold, Mark (2005). Big Weather: Chasing Tornadoes in the Heart of America. New York: Holt. ISBN 978-0805076462.
  5. ^ Bedard, Richard (1996). In the Shadow of the Tornado: Stories and Adventures from the Heart of Storm Country. Norman, OK: Gilco Pub. ISBN 978-0964952713.
  6. ^ Edwards, Charles (2003). "Who Are We?". Cloud 9 Tours. Archived from the original on April 7, 2003. Retrieved June 24, 2014.

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