Tim Samaras Leader in Storm Chasing Expertise Memoriam

storm chasers die in Oklahoma

Tornado prediction is challenging because of only two of 10 storms could spawn a tornado, according to Tim Samara, storm chasing expert, in one of his National Geographic interviews. Meaning, the more spotters you have in the ground, the better chance you have of telling where the twisters are and where they’re headed.

However, Samaras’ curiosity went above and beyond tornado-spotting when he invented various instruments to help scientists figure out what happens inside a tornado.  The most notable instrument he invented was “the turtle” – a low, cone shaped probe that can hug the ground as a tornado passes overhead.

Tim Samara and his team want to compile as much research as possible to get a better understanding of the thermodynamic profile of thunderstorms that create tornadoes like how cool the air is outside of the tornado.

Understanding Tornadoes

Among the violent storms in nature are tornadoes with paths up to 50 miles long and speeds that top 300 miles per hour. They strike very quickly and do not appear until debris, and dust is picked up to form a funnel of wind.

The scientists lack a complete understanding regarding the formation of tornadoes, but they are usually formed in a supercell, a giant rotating thunderstorm that are produced when warm tropical air meets cold polar air.

Tim Samaras work

Tim Samaras was an esteemed scientist, and he was aware of the real dangers of storm chasing and while he had mixed feeling about the incredible beauty of the tornadoes, he also took into consideration the devastating damage that can change people’s lives.

Chasing tornadoes had been Tim Samaras’s life for more than 25 years. On June 24, 2003, Tim challenged an F-4 tornado to document the meteorological data inside of tornadoes measuring an astounding 100 millibar pressure drop. He ran TWISTEX (Tactical Weather Instrumental Sampling in Tornadoes Experiment), a scientific field program, to understand the formation of tornadoes.

Tim was successful in probe deployment last year, on the endmost chase of the season in Grand Island, Nebraska. To assist the scientific objectives, TWISTEX is introducing new instruments featuring a brand new 360-degree camera mount, multiple anemometers to track circulation, measure direction, and wind speed.

First Confirmed Storm Chasers to Die in Action

Tim Samaras and his son Paul perished Friday, May 31, 2013, chasing tornadoes in the El Reno, Oklahoma tornado with photographer Carl Young, his partner in storm chasing.

Most of Samaras’s recent research was funded by National Geographic, and they were deeply saddened and shocked. Samaras have been providing National Geographic some of their most memorable storm’s videos.  One week before he died; he submitted the complete tornado being born video.

Samara was a brilliant and courageous scientist who fearlessly pursued lightning and tornadoes to better interpret this phenomenon.  According to ABC-affiliate 7NEWS The Denver Channel, Tim Samaras was the leader in storm chasing expertise and worked with Boeing, Discovery Channel, National Geographic, and the federal government.

Written by: Janet Grace Ortigas

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