Two storm chasers were killed during the recent tornadoes and severe weather that hit Oklahoma last Friday night. Storm chaser and meteorologist Tim Samaras and his partner-in-crime Carl Young, as well as his son Paul Samaras, were among the 11 people who died that day, family members announced. The three storm chasers were died near El Reno in an EF3 tornado that clocked winds up to 165 mph.
The tornado that ravaged its way through the Oklahoma City area during rush hour killed the storm chasers while they were trying to document and research the storm. Tim Samaras, 55, was discovered in his car with his seat belt still on. His son Paul Samaras, 24, and Carl Young, 45, were ripped from the car by the tornado and one of them was found dead a half mile away. The leader of the pack, Tim, has spent the last three decades learning about and documenting tornadoes through storm chasing, while simultaneously pursuing an engineering career.
"They put themselves in harm's way so that they can educate the public about the destructive power of these storms," Canadian County Undersheriff Chris West told the Associated Press. "I'm not sure exactly why I chase storms. Perhaps it's to witness the incredible beauty of what Mother Nature can create," Samaras said one of the Youtube videos he posted online.
Killed storm chaser Tim Samaras holds the world record for measuring the lowest barometric pressure drop inside of a tornado. The record was achieved when he measured 100 millibars inside a tornado in Manchester, South Dakota in June 2003. "Out of all storm chasers he doesn't take chances, he's the one that puts the probes in the path of the tornado to learn more about them," said ABC News meteorologist Ginger Zee, who knew Tim Samaras well. "He is not, you know, a young gun running around making bad decisions person, so I am so sad and shocked, it is such a loss for the community."
"He was a pioneer, he was getting things and teaching us things that no one else could do. This is a guy who was not just a meteorologist, he's an engineer, he's one of the smartest men I have ever met in my life," Zee said of Samaras.
The killed storm chasers are remembered by fans, friends and family alike. Early Sunday morning, Samaras' brother Jim posted a statement on Tim's Facebook. "It truly is sad that we lost my great brother Tim and his great son, Paul. Our hearts also go out to the Carl Young family as well as they are feeling the same feelings we are today," the statement said of the killed storm chasers. "They all unfortunately passed away but doing what they LOVED. Chasing Tornado's. I look at it that he is in the 'big tornado in the sky...'"
Terry Garcia, Executive Vice President, National Geographic Society said Samaras was "a courageous and brilliant scientist who fearlessly pursued tornadoes and lightning in the field in an effort to better understand these phenomena." Indeed, killed storm chaser Tim Samaras built a special probe with cameras that allowed storm chasers such as himself to be "able to kook inside of a tornado safely." Using this special probe, Samaras and Carl Young measured a twister in June 2004 near Storm Lake, Iowa, from all different angles and speeds.