Famed storm chaser Tim Samaras, along with his son Paul and fellow storm chaser Carl Young, were killed on Friday when a multi-vortex tornado hit El Reno, Oklahoma, family members revealed Sunday.
Samaras, featured by Discovery Channel’s “Storm Chasers,” appeared on MSNBC’s “The Cycle” just hours before losing his life as tornadoes menaced the Oklahoma City area for the second time in recent weeks. “The ingredients are coming together for a pretty volatile day,” he said.
Ten people were killed Friday as thousands of Oklahomans tried to flee the storms in their vehicles, packing the highways and turning them into parking lots as dark clouds gathered overhead. A rare multi-vortex EF-3 tornado that hit the El Reno area with winds up to 165 miles per hour reportedly killed Young and Samaras.
“Many of us were fortunate to have worked with them and have great admiration for their work,” a statement issued by The Weather Channel on Sunday explained. “They went in the field focused on collecting data to enable meteorologists to further the science behind tornadoes which we know has and will help to save countless lives. Our community has suffered a terrible loss and our thoughts and prayers are with their loved ones.”
In his final interview with National Geographic, Samaras said his passion for the science of storms came from watching “The Wizard of Oz” as a child. Samaras also said he was planning on making a “dozen” more trips into tornado ally.
Several others who died that night were stuck in traffic along Interstate 40 when their vehicles were sucked up into a funnel cloud. Another storm chasing crew with The Weather Channel narrowly escaped with their lives after a specially retrofitted SUV was tossed roughly 200 feet, The Associated Press reported.
Less than one week earlier in Kansas, fellow “Storm Chasers” stars Sean Casey and Brandon Ivey took a direct hit from a tornado in their armadillo-like armored vehicle, capturing stunning and terrifying video footage from inside one of the most destructive environments on the planet. Both men escaped unharmed.
This interview with Samaras was aired by CNN in 2004 and republished June 2, 2013.
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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