Sunday, June 2, 2013

RIP Tim Samaras and members of the TWISTEX team.

Ginger Zee put together a great tribute to Tim Samaras.  (It was embedded above, but the video was taken down by ABC News as of Jan. 2015)  Tim dedicated his life to saving lives, and I dedicate this entry to him, his team, his family, and everyone connected to those who are not with us tonight...

As I am not sure how many of you watched Storm Chasers, a series that aired on the Discovery Channel a few years back, I will give you a little background information...

The series followed around several groups of storm chasers.  There was Reed Timmer's group called TVN, Tornado Video Network.
Reed had several vehicles built to withstand the dangerous winds of a tornado.  His goal has been to alert the National Weather Service when a tornado was spotted and help increase the warning times, all while gathering video footage.  He also outfitted his vehicles to go into a tornado to understand what is going on inside the storms.
Next up would be Sean Casey and his team in the TIV.  The Tornado Intercept Vehicle.  He was working on shooting an IMAX movie called Tornado Alley.  It was great.  Sean was frustrated with missing storms from time to time and his banter and competitive nature with Reed made for some fun, nerdy drama.
Then we have Josh Wurman.  I had the honor of hearing him speak at this year's Ohio State Severe Weather Symposium.  He is in charge of orchestrating DOW, Doppler on Wheels.  With multiple mobile radars, Josh has been able to render high def, 3D images of tornadoes to understand their structure from birth to death.
Finally I give you the TWISTEX team.  The two main members are in the middle of the picture above, Carl Young in the blue shirt(normally the driver) and Tim Samaras in the grey shirt to the right.  Tim was like a father figure to nearly every person chasing the storms or weather enthusiast.  I personally looked up to him and his controlled, collected, and dedication to the science.  His understanding of storms and thirst for knowledge was second to none.  He was dedicated to making the warning time for tornadoes more advanced.  His entire goal was to save lives and protect people from the dangerous weather phenomena.  He repeatedly put the safety of his team first before science and was ALWAYS known to express caution to all other chasers.

I had read today that the money TWISTEX received from the Discovery series went right back into the instruments and equipment to better understand the storms.  That is how Tim was portrayed and how everyone will remember him.
Tim was in the Colbot (the white car behind the truck) pictured above.  He was in the vehicle with his son, Paul, and Carl Young. It was their research vehicle called M3. 
They also deployed this truck. In the back there was a high speed camera to photograph the birth of lightning.  In his Facebook post, he said:

Lightning Research Vehicle getting deployed for KS today for possible MCS activity tonight. Yeah, yeah--I know--gotta buff out the sides to get rid of 'First Place Wheels'. Not a priority at the moment.
Bringing secondary vehicle for a 'side' of tornado chasing(I love sides..).
His new goal was to understand lightning and what happens when the negative changes from the cloud meet the positive charges at the surface to better predict and understand it.

He, like many other chasers on Friday, along with Reed Timmer, were tracking a storm just south of El Reno, Oklahoma. 
I added the yellow circle to show you the track of the tornado on the ground.  It took a sharp turn to the left and took all of the chasers by surprise.  Many of the chasers were stuck on a back road and tried frantically to get out of the storms path.  Tim was in the path of the storm along with his son, Paul Samaras, and Carl Young. 
Here is what was left of the car before loaded up on the tow truck.  Hard to wrap your mind around and see... to think that three lives were inside.
Tim, Paul, and Carl did not survive the accident sadly.  It was a great loss for the storm chasing community.  Tim was a pioneer when it came to thinking outside of the box on understanding storms.
In a sign of respect, many storm chasers lined up across Tornado Alley today to spell out he initials for each of these three.  Not going to lie, the news choked me up a little.  He likely saved countless lives with his advancements in storm reports and more importantly the team's scientific contribution.  He risked his life to help save the lives of others.  To Tim, Paul, Carl, and everyone who lost their lives due to tornadoes and weather this year... I TRULY hope they are the last.

Andrew Buck Michael


  1. This is an amazing tribute. I'm not a chaser, but I enjoy storms and have followed the Storm Chasers for years. I always saw Tim as a pure scientist in the field of storm chasing and respected him for that.

    1. Thanks. Totally agree about Tim. Pure scientist indeed.

  2. Regarding Timmer's chase vehicles, you should state "THEORETICALLY built to withstand the dangerous winds of a tornado". He couldn't even roll up his Lexan windows and came very close to losing an eye in a DEVELOPING tornado that he allowed to roll over them near Aurora, NE a few years ago.

    1. Very true. Debris would be a big issue too. Did you ever happen to catch the Mythbusters episode with him and Sean Casey?

  3. I wonder if Tim and his crew had been in the main chase truck, if they would've survived. We'll never know of course. It really makes you think how close you are to death in those chase situations. Thank you for posting the article, and thank you Tim for your years of dedication and devotion to the chase community. You will be missed.

    1. You're welcome. From the looks of it... I doubt any vehicle would have provided protection.

  4. Tim (and his crew) were the BEST Storm Chasers as far as I am concerned. They were in it for the science, not the publicity or fame.

    My condolences to the Samaras and Young families!

    1. Completely agree. Tim always put safety and science before fame.

  5. God be with all those who chase storms...My condolences to the families..May the good Lord comfort them..


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