Tornado Chasers: A Tragedy Waiting to Happen

June 4, 2013

Paul Douglas:

“…If anything, the events of Friday evening demonstrate storm chasers need to back off. For too long, too many chasers – both professional and amateur – have been crossing the line…” – excerpt of a post from Washington Post meteorologist Jason Samenow. Story below. Tweet above from a chronology from Digital Meteorologist, which has more on Friday evening’s tornado tragedy.

The Wrong Message

At least 9 people were killed in Friday evening’s Oklahoma City EF-3 tornado, including 3 professional tornado researchers. Unlike amateur chasers out searching for a cheap thrill Tim Samaras was pushing the envelope as a scientist. Previous projects included planting “turtles” in the path of tornadoes to get video, wind and pressure information.

On Friday one of the local OKC TV weathermen encouraged viewers to get into their cars and try to drive away. The result? Gridlock. Massive traffic jams. Tim, his son and a third tornado intercept professional were caught in a deadly logjam of cars, unable to escape to safety as the tornado took a sudden 45-degree turn.

Word to the wise: if you’re already home and a Tornado Warning is issued stay home! Otherwise you’re just a sitting duck.

A tragic story.


Image upper left from RadarScope app shows location of storm chasers in relation to El Reno tornado. Image upper right shows traffic jam on I-35 south of Oklahoma City, courtesy of KWTV.


5 Responses to “Tornado Chasers: A Tragedy Waiting to Happen”

  1. Shane Burgel Says:

    A very sad story. I was a big fan of the “Storm Chasers” show on Discovery and was saddened to hear that they were killed.

  2. junkdrawer88 Says:

    Excellect summary Peter. Just the right tone.

  3. Nick Carter Says:

    Still Grieving here in Denver. Tim was a great friend. Services will be Thursday evening, somewhere in the Denver area. Exact time and location TBA.

  4. rayduray Says:

    “Oklahoma is considered the mecca of storm chasing. We know ahead of time when we chase in Oklahoma, there’s going to be a traffic jam.” — Tim Samaras in his last National Geographic interview.

  5. […] 2013/06/04: PSinclair: Tornado Chasers: A Tragedy Waiting to Happen […]

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