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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Passing Of Tim Samaras

I have simply not had much time to blog as of late....basically since May. Of course many of my friends and those in the weather community have also been somewhat silenced since the passing of the Twistex team. I was fortunate to have an opportunity to work with Tim Samaras starting in early 2013. I had brought an idea to him back in 2004 and we both finally had the means and time to work together on a project surrounding acoustics produced by supercells and tornadoes. We would both collect data from various supercells throughout the season and then direct our efforts together. I would log data and then Tim and I would write the final paper together.

Obviously the tours helped to fund this process and we obtained some ground breaking data, including the El Reno fatal tornado. We were both excited about the days potential and the possibility of data collection.

This was the last day of our Mayhem 4 tour which obviously made it easier to be out playing so to speak. Of course we got some wonderful data collection and although I got a chance to speak with Tim, I did not hear from him Friday night or into Saturday. We were to meet up on Sunday to go over current data and logistics for the rest of the season.

A little after 10pm I got a call from a very close friend informing me of the possibility that Tim, Paul and Carl Young had been killed by the El Reno tornado. I didn't have any words.....I tried frantically to verify trough social media outlets, calling Tim, calling his house and ultimately calling Roger Hill very early in the morning.....the very sad news was indeed true.

As I sit here reflecting....I still have no real words. I have been over ever bit of data that we collected from that event and still no words....nothing to explain what happened, how or why God allowed it to happen to such wonderful people. I guess I will never understand.I first met Tim in 1992 while I was chasing in eastern Colorado. And I was lucky enough to have taken part with him on a special for Nat Geo. He was instrumental in helping with Tornado Hunters and simply stated, he was my friend.  So far I have a "first rough draft" of the paper done but that is far as I have really gotten. Obviously I have not been much for blogging as of late and my social media has all but taken a back seat to life in general right now.

While many wonder what exactly happened to cause the fatal outcome of the Twistex team, including me it is quite likely that we will never know. Both Tim Samaras and Carl Young were very experienced and educated in severe storm motions and both strongly advocated the need for safety while storm chasing. In looking at radar returns, acoustic signature and positioning of the Twistex team minutes prior to being overtaken, one can see that the tornado changed direction, became quite large and increased in speed. These three factors put many experienced storm chasers at risk including the Twistex team. The risk factor in obtaining In-Situ data has always been very high as one has to put themselves in the actual path of the oncoming supercell and or tornado.  It is likely that this risk factor put the Twistex team in a perilous situation.

In adding the three other factors ongoing, the Twistex team possibly did not realize the change in direction of such a large tornado or that they simply did not see the sub-vortex until it was too late. It is the authors belief that this risk factor proved fatal and not the experience or safety thoughts of the entire Twistex team.  

I will miss you my friend......

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