“I don’t know if I would say I worried about it because one of the biggest things he stressed was safety. He knew what to look for. He knew where not to be and in this case the tornado took a clear turn toward them,” he said.
Video taken by a number of storm chasers showed debris pelting vehicles Friday. Winds swept one vehicle with a crew from The Weather Channel off the road, tossed it 200 yards and flipped it into a field — they escaped major injury.
Jim Cantore, a Weather Channel meteorologist, tweeted yesterday that meteorologists were in mourning.
“This is a very sad day for the meteorological community and the families of our friends lost. Tim Samaras was a pioneer and great man,” he wrote.
In Canadian County, Okla., where the men died, Undersheriff Chris West noted the three were hoping to help understand violent storms.
“They put themselves in harm’s way so that they can educate the public about the destructive power of these storms,” he said.
The men worked as a team and Tim Samaras had received 18 grants from the National Geographic Society for work in the field.
“Tim was a courageous and brilliant scientist who fearlessly pursued tornadoes and lightning in the field in an effort to better understand these phenomena,” the society said on its website. “Though we sometimes take it for granted, Tim’s death is a stark reminder of the risks encountered regularly by the men and women who work for us.”
The Storm Prediction Center said scientific storm chasing is performed as safely as possible, with trained researchers using appropriate technology.
It encouraged all, including the media and amateurs, to chase safely to avoid a repeat of Friday’s deaths.