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Storm Chasers Killed in Oklahoma Tornado; 13 Die in Twister

By Clyde Hughes   |  

A renowned weather researcher and his son were among three storm chasers killed while tracking a tornado in El Reno, Okla. this weekend.

Tim Samaras, 55, and Paul Samaras, 24, along with Carl Young, 45, were overtaken by a multiple-vortex tornado that appeared to be in the midst of a sharp change in direction, the Weather Channel reported.

"Samaras was a respected tornado researcher and friend ... who brought to the field a unique portfolio of expertise in engineering, science, writing and videography," said a statement from the Storm Prediction Center in a statement on Sunday.

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Tim Samaras seemed to predict trouble in his final tweet. He shared a photo of clouds rising and noted: "Storms now initiating south of Watonga along triple point. Dangerous day ahead for OK – stay weather savvy!"

Samaras, a native of Lakewood, Colo., holds the Guinness World Record for the greatest pressure drop ever measured inside a tornado in 2003. He designed, built, and deployed instrument probes to measure atmospheric variables such as pressure and wind in the path of tornadoes.

A tornado scientist for more than 25 years, Samaras founded and ran a scientific field research program dubbed TWISTEX (Tactical Weather Instrumented Sampling in Tornadoes EXperiment). He also starred in the Discovery Channel series "Storm Chasers."

They were among 13 people who died in the storm in Oklahoma City and its suburbs.

"They put themselves in harm's way so that they can educate the public about the destructive power of these storms," said Chris West, the undersheriff in Canadian County, where the men died.

Many times before, Tim Samaras had told anyone who would listen that tornadoes were unpredictable.

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"I don't know if I would say I worried about it because one of the biggest things he stressed was safety," said Tim's brother, Jim Samaras, who confirmed the deaths to The Associated Press. "He knew what to look for. He knew where not to be and in this case, the tornado took a clear turn toward them."

Tim Samaras and his Twistex tornado chase team had been given grants by the National Geographic Society and regular presenters at conferences dedicated to advances in meteorology.

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