The EF-3 twister was one of five that touched down in the area around Oklahoma City. Although not as powerful as the EF-5 tornado that destroyed large parts of the town of Moore, Okla., on May 20, this latest tornado took some people by surprise. It had not been well predicted and after touching down quickly, it moved in a frenzied, erratic path, Mike Bettes, an anchor and meteorologist for The Weather Channel, told CNN.
This Youtube video posted by a different group of storm chasers in the vicinity of the El Reno tornado shows just how powerful and dramatic this twister was.
Samaras was well-regarded for his expertise chasing storms and founded TWISTEX, the Tactical Weather Instrumented Sampling in Tornadoes Experiment, a project designed to learn more about tornadoes to improve warnings. In addition to appearing on Discovery’s Storm Chasers, Samaras, a 30-year veteran of storm chasing, was a regular contributor to National Geographic.
Samaras’ last tweet was sent at 5:50 p.m. on May 31:
Three days prior to that event, Samaras had a close call north of Lebanon, Okla., where two tornadoes touched down almost on top of him. He tweeted:
CNN meteorologist Chad Myers told CNN that Samaras was known for his attention to detail and for not taking risks.
Myers said, “We all know that this is difficult and dangerous and sometimes things go wrong. But I think to portray Tim as just a chaser out for a thrill is just the wrong thing,”
Myers said: “I just want people to know that Tim was a scientist. He was out there to put probes out there. He was out there to learn and understand and to make science more understandable. … We all go out there and we try to protect the public, but Tim was even one step higher.”
On Sunday, Jim Samaras posted to Tim’s Facebook page, confirming his brother’s death. Among his words, he wrote, “They all unfortunately passed away but doing what they loved.”
Credit: Jim Reed/Jim Reed Photography — Severe & /Corbis