Sunday 19 November 2017

Veteran US storm chaser killed with son and colleague in Oklahoma twister

This undated photo provided by The Discovery Channel shows Carl Young, left, and Tim Samaras
This undated photo provided by The Discovery Channel shows Carl Young, left, and Tim Samaras

A VETERAN storm chaser, his son and a colleague were among 13 people killed as deadly tornadoes rampaged through Oklahoma on Friday.

Renowned storm chaser Tim Samaras, 55, was killed in the  suburb of El Reno along with his son, Paul Samaras, 24, and Carl Young, 45, a meteorologist, according to a statement from Tim Samaras' brother, Jim Samaras.

In a chillingly prescient post on the micro-blogging site Twitter on Friday morning Tim Samaras tweeted: “Dangerous day ahead.”

Mr Samaras, founder of the tornado research company, Twistex, was the star of the Discovery Channel documentary Storm Chasers.

He was an esteemed scientist noted for being cautious in his approach to storm chasing and his passion for weather science.

In a statement his brother Jim Samaras said: "He's mostly going to be remembered as somebody who tried to help save lives."

"He died doing what he loved and literally put his life on the line to save others," he added.

Tornadoes have continued to batter central Oklahoma causing widespread property damage, loss of life and flash flooding.

Authorities in Oklahoma put the state's death toll at 13 including four children.

In neighbouring Missouri there were at least three deaths on Friday in flooding triggered by the violent storms.

Just 11 days ago a twister categorized as EF5, the most powerful ranking, tore up the Oklahoma City suburb of Moore and killed 24 people.

Severe storms also swept into neighboring Missouri, while Moore experienced only limited damage this time.

Tim Samaras was considered a cautious professional who was driven by a passion for research rather than by adrenaline.

"Tim Samaras was the best there was and he was the last person you would think this would happen to," said Tony Laubach, a photojournalist who had been storm chasing with Samaras since 2007.

"It's going to bring everybody down to earth. A lot of chasing has been getting very, very careless, and Tim is not a careless person. He is as nimble and skilled as he could be."

In interviews, Samaras said he had been enthralled by tornadoes ever since childhood when he was forced to watch the movie "The Wizard of Oz," in which the central character is swept into another world by a tornado.

"That tornado was the best part of the entire movie," he told The Weather Channel in 2009. "From that day, I was hooked for the rest of my life."

In a statement posted on the scientist’s Facebook page yesterday, Tim Samaras' brother wrote: “I look at it that he is in the ‘big tornado in the sky.”

Multiple tornadoes hit Oklahoma City on Friday evening leaving nine people dead, including a mother and her baby. More than 100 people were injured.

Rob Williams, Independent.co.uk

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