Members of Discovery Channel’s “Storm Chasers” Killed By Tornado
It is a very obvious fact, but it bears repeating: storm chasing is extremely dangerous and should not be attempted by amateurs. If you don’t know what you are doing, you can be hurt or killed. Sadly, that also happens sometimes to those who do know what they are doing when one of the deadly storms takes a totally unpredictable path.
A few days after the monster tornado destroyed a large part of Moore, OK, another wave of tornadoes his Oklahoma once again, with a particular F3 storm striking El Reno. Among the dead from this storm were two veteran storm chasers, Tim Samaras and his colleague Carl Young, and Samaras’s son, Paul. Samaras had been chasing storms for over 25 years, conducting research in an effort to improve warning systems so that more lives could be saved.
Here is an ABC News report about the storms, and the death of these three men.
There is a photo of Samaras’s vehicle after the storm, but I can not bring myself to share it. I can only say that it looks like it was picked up and body slammed at terminal velocity, leaving it totally unrecognizable.
Samaras and Young came to the attention of the world when they were featured on the Discovery Channel’s program, Storm Chasers, which ran for five years on the channel. For three of those seasons, Samaras and the team he founded, TWISTEX (Tactical Weather Instrumented Sampling in Tornadoes Experiment) were featured on the program. His team would, as it continued to do after their time with the show ended, work to set up probes in front of a tornado and safely get away, leaving the probe to get specific scientific measurements of the monster storm.
The most ironic thing in this tragedy is that of all of the teams featured on the show, Samaras’ was the one who was the most cautious, going to great lengths to make sure his team was protected. His interest in the storms went back to his childhood. “I’ve always had a fascination with weather. I watched ‘The Wizard of Oz’ when I was a kid and vowed to myself, ‘I’m going to see that tornado one day.’ Tornadoes have pretty much become a focus of my life.”
The three men were remembered by two fellow members of the show “Storm Chasers,” Reed Timmer, and Sean Casey. Casey wrote on Facebook, “Tim was a close friend, colleague and role model for the last 10 years, and I will miss him terribly. Carl was one of my favorite people in the world, and Paul was a sweet soul with a ton of talent.”
Timmer, also on Facebook called Samaras, “Genius, pioneer in the science of meteorology, my mentor and someone I’ve looked up to my whole life, incredible father, a father figure to me in chasing who was always concerned about our safety as we were intercepting tornadoes. Selfless, passionate, and genuinely nice.” Timmer went on to say, “I’m still in disbelief.. this must be some kind of horrible dream. Of all people, Tim Samaras was the most controlled, safe storm chasing scientist I know. It doesn’t make sense. It always seems to happen to the best people.
Tim was at the forefront of the science of meteorology, from his state-of-the-art invention the “Kahuna” to measure lightning in high speed, to his world record pressure fall measurement with his probes inside the Manchester F4 tornado on June 24, 2003. Tim, Carl, and Paul were more than great friends of mine, they are also pioneering scientists whose work has already saved countless lives, and will save lives forever.” Sunday evening, Discovery Channel dedicated its program on the Moore Tornado in memory of the three men.
Storm chasers are a very rare breed, who risk life and limb to not only gather data to be used in research of these terrible storms, but are also the eyes and ears for the media and law enforcement, helping to sound the alarm of which way one of these storms are heading. There are countless people who are alive today because of the work of these hearty souls. Theirs is the rarest courage, the courage that can literally stare down an approaching storm while getting equipment in place to learn and be able to warn others faster.
It is said that greater love has no one that this, that they would lay down their life for a friend. These three men laid down their lives in the pursuit of knowledge where lives can be saved. No greater epitaph could be written than that one.
We send out thoughts and prayers to the families and friends of these hearty souls. Their journey and chase is over, but their colleagues will keep the chase going, in their honor and memory.