The dangers of storm chasing.

MacNut

macrumors Core
Original poster
Jan 4, 2002
21,665
7,885
CT
Tim Samaras, his son Paul Samaras and Carl Young were killed Friday while following a tornado in El Reno, Oklahoma, relatives told CNN on Sunday. Their work tracking tornadoes was featured on the former Discovery Channel show "Storm Chasers."

They were among at least nine people that state officials reported killed in storms that struck Oklahoma on Friday night. On Sunday, Oklahoma City Fire Department officials told CNN that searchers had found the bodies of as many as five additional victims, but state officials could not be immediately reached to confirm whether the statewide death toll had increased.

At the intersection where authorities said the three storm chasers were killed, crews hauled away a mangled white truck Sunday that had been crushed like a tin can. The metal frame of their storm-chasing vehicle was twisted almost beyond recognition. The windows had been smashed to bits.

Canadian County Undersheriff Chris West confirmed that three storm chasers had been killed but declined to provide additional details about the circumstances of their deaths.
http://www.cnn.com/2013/06/02/us/midwest-weather/index.html

They know the risks when they chase and for the first time experienced chasers have died while protecting the lives of others.
 

Huntn

macrumors demi-god
May 5, 2008
17,444
17,429
The Misty Mountains
While I'm sorry they became the victims of what they were chasing, I question how much protection the role provides. My feeling is that behind everything is the trill of seeing something like this up close, ideally as this example shows, not too close, and getting some good pics. I do acknowledge that some chasers do scientific work, but I wonder what the percentage is, versus the thrill of the chase? Were they caught in a traffic jam or something like that? (thought I heard something about it.)
 

MacNut

macrumors Core
Original poster
Jan 4, 2002
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There was only one road where the storm was and not many chances for escape. All of the chasers said that the storm double backed and was one of the worst storms they have even seen. Yes there are a lot of thrill seekers, actually I would love to go out on a chase one day. But there is a lot of important research that comes out of chasing as well as helping the NWS issue warnings. I do think they got complacent in chasing and there are too many amateurs out there. Plus the roads were packed with people.
 

zioxide

macrumors 603
Dec 11, 2006
5,737
3,711
While I'm sorry they became the victims of what they were chasing, I question how much protection the role provides. My feeling is that behind everything is the trill of seeing something like this up close, ideally as this example shows, not too close, and getting some good pics. I do acknowledge that some chasers do scientific work, but I wonder what the percentage is, versus the thrill of the chase? Were they caught in a traffic jam or something like that? (thought I heard something about it.)
From what I read the storm changed directions at the last second and they weren't able to get away in time.

There are definitely many of these storm chasers who do it now just for the thrill or just so they can have the coolest pictures on facebook, and that's extremely reckless and dangerous, and when I first saw that storm chasers had been killed, I expected it to be one of those groups, but that wasn't what these guys do.

These guys were legit scientists and meteorologists who have been chasing tornados for 20+ years. I believe one of the articles I read indicated they were trying to place ground-based doppler radar units right in the path of the tornado (literally like the movie twister) to try to get more measurements inside the tornado.

While you can't directly attribute these guys work to saving specific lives, there's no doubt the work that them (and the other legitimate scientist chasers) do has saved countless lives in the past few decades by advancing our knowledge of how the storms form and work and increasing warning times. Tornados like the EF5 that hit Moore used to be much more deadly in the past even though the areas they hit were much less populated than they are now. The work these men and their colleges have done has increased warning times from literally a minute or two when the tornado was basically already on top of you to the 10-15 minute warning times that Moore had which allowed so many people to get into storm shelters.
 

MacNut

macrumors Core
Original poster
Jan 4, 2002
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CT
Storm chasing might be the wrong term. Weather spotters are trained to spot the early stages of a severe storm and be able to distinguish a funnel cloud. Being a trained spotter they tell us, don't risk your lives when spotting. While I don't live near tornado alley I have never seen a tornado up close. Not that we don't get them up here they are just very hard to spot. There will aways be a need for people to hunt these storms and send early warnings. Now we can do without the yahoos that just drive around taking pictures of them for the thrill of it.
 

mobilehaathi

macrumors G3
Aug 19, 2008
9,351
6,218
The Anthropocene
That couldn't have been a pleasant death. But they died while performing a valuable service, and they loved it. If there is such thing as an honorable death, I think these three have achieved it.