Tim Samaras spent more than 25 years informing the public of dangerous weather conditions by chasing tornadoes and storms. This weekend, he died along with his partner Carl Young and son Paul while researching an intense storm
in Oklahoma Friday night.
The three were killed near El Reno in an EF3 tornado with winds up to 165 mph that ripped through the Oklahoma City area during rush hour, according to ABC News.
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Tim Samaras, 55, and Young, 45, who were featured on the television show "Storm Chasers" that ran for five seasons on the Discovery Channel, were inspired by science to follow storms and tornadoes, colleagues said.
Samaras built a special probe equipped with cameras that "are able to look inside of a tornado safely."
Samaras deployed the probe in Manchester, S.D., during an F4 tornado on June 24, 2003, which earned him a spot in the "Guinness Book of World Records" for documenting a 100-millibar drop in pressure inside the twister.
He founded and ran a scientific field research program called TWISTEX (Tactical Weather Instrumented Sampling in Tornadoes EXperiment). Samaras was a major figure at the National Storm Chasers Convention each February, which hundreds of chasers around the world attend in Denver.
"He was a groundbreaker in terms of the kind of research he was doing on severe thunderstorms and tornadoes," said Greg Forbes, a Weather Channel severe weather expert who knew Samaras personally.
Jim Cantore, a Weather Channel meteorologist tweeted: "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."
Young met Tim Samaras while attending a meteorological conference
and encouraged him to collect meteorological data from inside tornadoes as the principal focus of his thesis research.
Since 2003, Young and Samaras tracked more than 125 tornadoes.
Over the course of his career, Tim Samaras received 18 grants from the National Geographic Society for his work.
"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."
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