The news of storm chasers killed in last Friday’s Oklahoma tornado has hit the state hard, according to a June 2 CNN report. The storm chasers who died were well known as Team TWISTEX from Discovery’s “Storm Chasers” show, and they were known to be the most cautious and safe of all the teams featured on the show, so it is even more shocking to learn the news of their deaths.
The storm chasers killed in the El Reno, OK tornado on Friday were Tim Samaras, his son Paul Samaras and Carl Young. The death toll from Friday’s severe storms continues to rise. At least count, at least 13 died during the multiple twisters and flash flooding central Oklahoma experienced.
Oklahomans were well warned about Friday’s upcoming storms. All day long meteorologists from the state posted updates on social media telling people to take the threat incredibly seriously, and people did take this threat serious. Unfortunately, nobody knows exactly when or where a tornado will happen, and occasionally people are caught in the path no matter how carefully they have tried to avoid the storms.
After confirming the three storm chasers were killed in Oklahoma on Friday, Canadian County Undersheriff Chris West said,
“We also want to say that storm chasers and meteorologists and news stations, that’s part of the vital link in getting the word out to people so that they don’t become victims. A lot of these individuals have dedicated many years of their lives to going out and assisting and tracking storms, and getting footage and putting themselves in harm’s way so they can educate the public to the destructive power of these storms.”
It is so sad that these men died working to protect others from the tornado that took their lives. There is no telling how many lives they saved with their work over the year. They were dedicated scientists trying to find out as much as they could about how tornadoes work, so that the warning systems could be improved.
Unfortunately, Friday’s tornado in Oklahoma took an unusually strange and sudden left-hand turn, and Team TWISTEX did not have time to react quickly enough to get out of the way.
TWISTEX stands for Tactical Weather Instrumented Sampling in Tornadoes Experiment, which Tim Samaras developed to gather data on twisters. He was the recipient of 18 grants from the National Geographic Society for his important tornado research. He loved his job, and he did it to learn more about unpredictable tornadic weather.
May was an incredibly tough month to live through in Oklahoma, and if were not for the work of storm chasers like Tim Samaras and his team, even more Oklahomans may have died in these horrific storms.