All Weather News

More Grief After Storms Ravage the Plains

2 Jun 2013, 11:59 am


Another Deadly Day. Tornadoes swept across the Plains once again Friday night, with deadly consequences. Nine lives were extinguished by violent storms, including 2 children and 3 of the most well-respected researchers and storm chasers in the world of meteorology. Numerous people are still missing after being swept away in the flash flooding accompanying these thunderstorms.

A family member posted this statement on Tim Samaras’ Facebook page at 5:30 a.m. Sunday morning:

“I’m Jim Samaras – Tim Samaras’s brother. Thank you to everyone for the condolences. It truly is sad that we lost my great brother Tim and his great son, Paul. Our hearts also go out to the Carl Young family as well as they are feeling the same feelings we are today. They all unfortunately passed away but doing what they LOVED. Chasing Tornado’s. I look at it that he is in the ‘big tornado in the sky…’ We will keep folks aware of what the funeral estrangements are, but please in the meantime keep Tim and Paul in your thoughts and prayers.”

Tim Samaras was 55 and his son Paul was 24.  Carl Young was 45.

Paying Tribute. The Storm Spotter Network lit up this morning in the shape of “TS” across the state of North Dakota. Tim, Paul, and Carl were the first storm chasers to be lost in a tornado, but the chasing community also recently lost Andy Gabrielson to a drunk driver and paid him tribute in a similar fashion.

In His Own Words. “I’m not sure exactly why I chase storms. Perhaps it’s to witness the incredible beauty of what Mother Nature can create, — or at least that’s how it started. My name is Tim Samaras, and I chase the most powerful storms on the planet… All my life, I’ve been on a quest to figure out how these things [tornadoes] worked. … For the past 30 years I’ve been chasing these violent windstorms across Tornado Alley.” -Tim Samaras

Watch more here:

 Dangerous Day. The last tweet from Samaras as the storms were firing Friday in Oklahoma.

Passionate About Science. Mr. Tim Samaras has led, designed, and fielded complex instrumentation research efforts over the past 30 years. … Mr. Samaras is considered an expert in high-speed camera imaging, utilizing photographic techniques that captures imagery to over 1 million frames per second.  Samaras’s work has been recognized by The National Geographic Society, which awarded him the honor of ‘Emerging Explorer’ in 2005 for his research studies of tornadoes.  Samaras has designed instrumented probes to measure the pressure drop of tornadoes for measurements of tornado strength.  … One such measurement includes a 100 millibar pressure drop in a violent tornado in South Dakota on June 24th, 2003.  To date, Samaras is the only individual ever to accomplish this task.  In the past few years, he has been the field coordinator for TWISTEX (Tactical Weather Instrumented Sampling in-near Tornadoes EXperiment) in the pursuit of gaining a better understanding of the near-surface internal tornado environment…  Samaras has also been heading summer season campaigns to capture lightning on ultra high speed video to better understand the attachment point of the stepped leader/return stroke.  Finally, he as recently co-authored with Steven Bechtel the book Tornado Hunter which is published by National Geographic.

Captivated By Nature. Mr. Carl Young, a native Californian, first fell in love with severe weather on a Great Plains storm chase, which led him to the study of tornado dynamics and ultimately a masters degree in atmospheric science from the University of Nevada, Reno. While attending a meteorological conference, Carl met Tim Samaras who encouraged him to collect meteorological data from inside tornadoes as the principal focus of his thesis research. Every spring since 2003, Carl has headed out with Tim, and together the team has tracked down over 125 tornadoes.

Carl’s finest moment came on June 11, 2004 near Storm Lake, Iowa. Working with Tim, they defied the odds and deployed their probes right in the path of a tornado. The six-camera video probe captured amazing footage from multiple angles while the sensor probe recorded data that revealed just how fast wind speeds are close to the ground. Since then Carl remained eternally optimistic that they could repeat the same feat despite the huge challenges for successful deployments.

Remembered By Many. Our very own WeatherNation Staff Meteorologist Andy Mair had the honor of working with Tim, Paul, and Carl during their TWISTEX field projects and had this to say about their untimely passing:

“I honestly don’t even know how to begin this… I’m in total shock. I was lucky enough to know Tim, Paul and Carl during my 3 summers working with TWISTEX. I learned so much from them about chasing, weather, and how to handle yourself professionally in the field. Tim was never one to break the rules or risk anyone’s life, which is why this is a such a shock to me. I had some of the best moments of my life chasing with them and it’s so hard believe they are gone.
Tim was so impressive when you met him. He was so smart, but down to earth. He would talk to anyone that wanted to say hi or get a picture. He was truly about the science and helping people. Paul mainly took pictures and video for the team. He was more quiet, but I remember spending hours with him in a restaurant learning about cameras from him. Carl was always a very funny individual. He would always be making a joke or finding something entertaining to do while we were on our long drives.
The chasing community has lost, in my opinion, the best chase team to ever live. What separated them from the pack was how relaxed they always were, and how Tim could calm his whole team so the best decision was made. I owe these guys so much for not only the best chasing of my life, but for how much I learned from them about weather.
Rest in Peace my friends. You will be truly missed…”

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Samaras and Young families, and to all those who knew these men personally. The research, meteorology, and storm chasing communities have suffered a great loss. We also send our deepest sympathies to everyone who lost friends and family in these recent violent storms.

For more on your evening storm threat, check in with us On TV, Online, or on our Mobile App. -Meteorologist Miranda Hilgers

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