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Monday, June 3, 2013

Videos and Final Tweets From Storm Chasers Killed in Oklahoma

In his final post on Twitter, Tim Samaras, a highly respected storm chaser whose work has been featured on the Discovery Channel and in National Geographic, shared his concern on Friday about the “dangerous day ahead” for Oklahoma.

Later that day, Mr. Samaras, 55; his son, Paul, 24; and the meteorologist Carl Young, 45, were killed near El Reno, Okla., as they tried to document one of several tornadoes that tore through the state, The Times’s Michael Schwirtz reported. They were among at least 13 people killed in the storms.

Dozens of videos posted to YouTube in the last few years show Mr. Samaras and Mr. Young at work. One video, posted just two weeks ago by National Geographic, shows them collecting data and capturing footage of a tornado in Kansas.

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Storm footage captured by Tim Samaras in Kansas two weeks ago, published by National Geographic.

For three years, the work of Mr. Samaras and Mr. Young was featured on the Discovery Channel show “Storm Chasers.” An excerpt from a season finale is on YouTube:

An excerpt from a season finale of the Discovery Channel’s “Storm Chasers,” with Tim Samaras and Carl Young.

In this video, Mr. Samaras explains how he became interested in tornadoes, and in designing instruments to collect data that might help people stay safe.

In 2012, Tim Samaras discussed his interest in tornadoes and the instruments he had developed to help capture and measure the impact of the storms.

Past videos from National Geographic show how he and his colleagues worked to gather information on the storms.

A video from National Geographic of Tim Samaras putting down instruments to gather data from an approaching tornado.
A video of Tim Samaras and Carl Young tracking storms for National Geographic.

Mr. Samaras, his son and Mr. Young were highly respected in their field, and their deaths prompted an outpouring of grief online from many people in the meteorology community.

Mike Nelson, chief meteorologist for KMGH-TV in Denver, where Mr. Samaras did some work, wrote on Facebook:

Tim was not only a brilliant scientist and engineer, he was a wonderful, kind human being. If anyone could be called the “gentleman of storm chasing,” it would be Tim. He was iconic among chasers and yet was a very humble and sincere man.

I have known Tim for two decades and while I never had the privilege to witness a tornado by his side, I lived vicariously through his amazing videos, power points, National Geographic articles and the numerous public seminars we presented during the past 20 years (both at KMGH and KUSA).

On Sunday afternoon, the Samaras family released a statement:

We would like to express our deep appreciation and thanks for the outpouring of support to our family at this very difficult time. We would like everyone to know what an amazing husband, father and grandfather he was to us. Tim had a passion for science and research of tornadoes. He loved being out in the field taking measurements and viewing mother nature. His priority was to warn people of these storms and save lives. Paul was a wonderful son and brother who loved being out with his dad. He had a true gift for photography and a love of storms like his dad. They made a special team. They will be deeply missed. We take comfort in knowing they died together doing what they loved. Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers.” â€" Kathy Samaras, Amy Gregg, Jennifer Scott

Last week, on Twitter, Mr. Samaras shared his enthusiasm about traveling to Kansas.

Other storm chasers captured footage of the tornado in El Reno on Friday:

A video from other storm chasers showing the tornado in El Reno, Okla., on Friday.

Afterward, Firsthand Weather posted a photo to Twitter of the vehicle that had been carrying Mr. Samaras, his son and Mr. Young: