Storm Chasers Among the Dead from Oklahoma Tornadoes
The storm chasers had always managed to get away. No one had ever died. But the unthinkable finally happened - and it was unthinkable because of the people involved, a veteran team of chasers led by one of the deans of the profession, Tim Samaras, 55, known for being cautious even as he stalked the world's most dangerous vortexes. (The Washington Post)
Tim's son, Paul, 24, was also killed, as was his colleague Carl Young, 45.
No one knows exactly what happened on Friday when the mile-wide tornado closed in on the men. Reports say the Chevrolet Cobalt driven by Samaras was found on a county road. This would have placed them on a parallel path with the tornado. But the tornado suddenly turned to the northeast.
Chris West, the under sheriff of Canadian County, says the Cobalt looks like it has gone through a trash compactor.
Tim's body was found in the car, still buckled in. The other two victims were found a half mile to the east and half a mile to the west.
Tim Samaras appeared on the Discovery Channel's Storm Chasers series. He ran the scientific field program, TWISTEX (Tactical Weather Instrumental Sampling in Tornadoes Experiment).
Storm chasing is extremely dangerous. And I am sure some think that storm chasing is careless or even stupid. But that couldn't be further from the truth.
Storm chasing, when done by meteorologists, can provide valuable information that can lead to better understanding severe weather.
Storm chasing simply saves lives.
One storm chaser puts it best... "When we are out chasing storms, we have the best forecasting tool available, our eyes."
Storm chasers can also learn how tornadoes form, and this could lead to better advanced warnings that could save lives.
It's careless when done by amateurs. Not only are amateurs not prepared to handle the severe weather, but they pose a threat to storm spotters. Simply put... amateurs get in the way.
Now I hear from viewers all of the time who want to storm chase. If this is something you want to do someday, just make sure you use a professional storm-chase touring company.
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