Storm Chasers Killed in Oklahoma Tornadoes

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
June 2 2013 12:41 PM

Three Storm Chasers, Including Tim Samaras, Among those Killed in Oklahoma

Three stars of the former reality show Storm Chasers were among the nine people who were killed in the powerful storms that struck Oklahoma on Friday night, reports CNN. Tim Samaras, one of the world’s best known storm chasers, was among those killed highlights  National Geographic. Samaras’ son, 24-year-old Paul Samaras, was also killed, along with Carl Young. The three were best known for starring in the former Discovery Channel reality show Storm Chasers. "They all unfortunately passed away but doing what they LOVED," Jim Samaras, Tim's brother, wrote on Facebook.

Samaras once told the Weather Channel that his fascination with storms “started with the Wizard of Oz” because he was “mesmerized” by the tornado that opens the film. Samaras spent 20 years chasing tornadoes and designed probes that were designed to measure data from inside the twisters. But, of course, for them to work the chasers had to place them right in the path of a tornado. Samaras founded TWISTEX, the Tactical Weather Instrumented Sampling in Tornadoes Experiment, to learn more about tornadoes.

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Storm chasers have grown into a staple of weather coverage in cable networks and the deaths of the three men Friday “have cast into stark relief the hazards for those who choose to place themselves near lethal tornadoes,” notes USA Today. The three men who died were not the only storm chasers affected by Oklahoma’s storms. Three members of the Weather Channel team were in an SUV that was hurled 200 yards Friday, leaving one of them hospitalized. Some in the industry believe Friday’s deaths could lead to a change in how storms are covered.

“Storms now initiating south of Watonga along triple point,” Samaras wrote in his last tweet. “Dangerous day ahead for OK--stay weather savvy!”

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.