Three storm chasers have died following Friday’s EF3 tornado in El Reno, Okla.
Renowned researcher and storm chaser Tim Samaras, his son Paul Samaras, and his chase partner Carl Young passed away after they were overtaken by the multiple-vortex tornado, which appeared to be in the midst of a sharp change in direction.
Tim Samaras, a native of Lakewood, Colo., holds the Guinness World Record for the greatest pressure drop ever measured inside a tornado. He designed, built, and deployed instrument probes to measure atmospheric variables such as pressure and wind in the path of tornadoes.
He deployed one of these in the path of an F4 tornado that destroyed the small town of Manchester, S.D., on June 24, 2003. This probe registered a world-record 100-millibar drop in pressure inside the twister.
Samaras ran a scientific field research program dubbed TWISTEX (Tactical Weather Instrumented Sampling in Tornadoes EXperiment). He also starred in the Discovery Channel series Storm Chasers.
The Weather Channel’s severe weather expert, Dr. Greg Forbes, knew Tim personally. “He was a groundbreaker in terms of the kind of research he was doing on severe thunderstorms and tornadoes,” Dr. Forbes said on The Weather Channel Sunday morning.
Read More – weather.com Storm Chasers Killed by Tornado.
National Geographic – Last Interview with Tim Samaras
It sounds like you’ve gotten pretty close to some hair-raising tornadoes. What is that like?
You can see in detail the tornado, the wind flow; you can actually hear it. And the sounds are different. If [the tornado is] in an open field, it sounds like a waterfall. If it’s in a populated area, it becomes more of a thundering sound.
And then actually even the smell of tornadoes—if you’re in the right place, you get a strong odor of fresh-cut grass, or occasionally, if it’s destroyed a house, natural gas. Sometimes you get that raw earth smell, similar to if you run a bulldozer over open land.
What are you trying to figure out about tornadoes?
We still don’t know why some thunderstorms create tornadoes while others don’t. We’re trying to collect as many observations as possible, both from outside and from the inside [of tornadoes].
This tells us several things. If we understand the [storm’s] thermodynamic profile—what’s the temperature, what’s the humidity like, how cool is the air outside of the tornado—these are clues that help us to measure a thunderstorm that may produce a tornado.
If we better understood some of the final mechanisms for tornado genesis, our forecasting will be greatly improved.
We’re also trying to address tornado dynamics—how powerful the winds are near the surface—which will help us address some of the engineering issues with home building.
Maybe there are some simple things we can do to a house that would help it withstand a [lower-intensity] tornado. (Learn about tornado safety.)
An example is hurricane clips. These are simple metal clips that hold roof trusses on by nailing laterally to keep the roof on longer. Other solutions would be to strengthen garage doors to handle stronger winds. Once the garage door goes in high winds, the garage is pressurized and the walls and roof lift.
Read the Rest – Our Last Tim Samaras Interview
Tweets Associated with the Death of Tim Samaras
We're heartbroken by the loss of @Tim_Samaras, son Paul & Carl Young and all those lost in Friday's storm in Oklahoma.
— DiscoveryComm (@DiscoveryComm) June 2, 2013
Saddened by news that Tim Samaras, son Paul, & Carl Young have passed. My condolences to the family & the many friends & fellow chasers
— Mike Bettes (@TWCMikeBettes) June 2, 2013
The Weather Channel can now confirm that Tim Samaras, his son Paul, and Carl Young passed away Friday as a result of the El Reno tornado.
— The Weather Channel (@weatherchannel) June 2, 2013
— Jim Roberts (@nycjim) June 2, 2013
— Jim Cantore (@JimCantore) June 2, 2013
Storms now initiating south of Watonga along triple point. Dangerous day ahead for OK–stay weather savvy! t.co/B8ddJcDViI
— Tim Samaras (@Tim_Samaras) May 31, 2013
Intercepted large tornado 4 N of Lebanon–two large tornadoes at once–too close–wow!
— Tim Samaras (@Tim_Samaras) May 28, 2013
- ‘Storm Chasers’ Star Tim Samaras Dies Chasing Oklahoma Tornado (tmz.com)
- All were part of TWISTEX team (cnn.com)
- Discovery Dedicates Tonight’s Oklahoma Tornado Documentary to Storm Chasers Killed on Friday (tvline.com)