Engineer, scientist, and veteran storm chaser Tim Samaras, his son Paul Samaras, and chase partner Carl Young were among those killed in Friday's F3 Oklahoma tornado. As an armchair enthusiast, I never knew Mr. Samaras personally, but he had a reputation as a very careful storm chaser who put the lives of his crew before chasing. He wasn't a chaser for glory or money: his chase team, called Twistex, sought to deploy instruments in the path of tornadoes to gather data. We currently understand very little about what makes some thunderstorms produce tornadoes and not others; their work may eventually make it possible to warn people much further ahead of time and save lives.
(Tim Samaras - image via NatGeo)
Simply put, Tim Samaras, Paul Samaras, and Carl Young died in the hope that you and I might survive some black and stormy day in the future. They died doing what they love and for what they believe in: science, and the pursuit of nature's beauty. I am so grateful.
(Now I'm going to go wibble for a long time. This is the first time a storm chaser has been killed by a tornado out in the field, and if someone as careful as Tim Samaras can find himself on the fatally wrong end of a tornado, no storm chaser is safe. Well, no one is safe, really. I knew that viscerally all along, but this really cements it. It won't stop me from chasing my dream of seeing a tornado in person, though.)