Tabloid Meteorology – The Weather Channel goes a bridge too far in storm chasing

UPDATE: I have a “before” picture of the vehicle now, posted below.

UPDATE2: Perhaps storm chasing has reached a tipping point.

Respected Tornado Reseacher And Storm Chaser Among Dead In Oklahoma | FOX17online.com

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. — Family members and members of the storm chasing community are confirming that well-respected tornado researcher and storm chaser Tim Samaras is among the eleven confirmed victims of Friday’s tornado that ripped through El Reno, Oklahoma. Samaras was one of the most well-known and respected tornado researchers in the world and had made many appearances on television shows like the Discovery Channel series Storm Chasers and was a regular contributor to shows on National Geographic.

The day that should change tornado actions and storm chasing forever

Update 9:30 a.m., June 2: We now hear that “veteran storm chaser Tim Samaras; his son, Paul Samaras; and chase partner Carl Young, are among those killed by Friday’s EF-3 tornado in El Reno, OK.”

===============================================================

In the midst of all the tragedy unfolding in Oklahoma, media and storm chasers have been swarming all over the tornado outbreak. I’ve seen this many times in my years in television news: when you are tasked with going live, sometimes common sense gets literally thrown to the wind.

2013_chasers_TWC

The photo shows the SUV Mike Bettes and a few of his crew member were travelling in when it was thrown by the tornado. Photo by SeanSchoferTVN/Twitter

The Weather Channel lost sight of reality today, trying to get close to get the best footage for live coverage, and paid the price. Fortunately, they weren’t killed.  Just last year, the TWC ran this segment by TWC meteorologist Mike Bettes, where he asked:

Mike Bettes’s Open Mike Discussion “Storm Chasers, Have They Gone Too Far?”

And it seems, Mike Bettes doesn’t listen to his own advice. Watch:

From TWC’s report on the incident:

Meteorologist Mike Bettes was chasing the monster rain-wrapped tornado near El Reno, Okla. when he says the storm picked up the heavy chase SUV and threw it an estimated 200 yards.

“We were ahead of the storm. We stopped to broadcast and I saw a large violent wedge tornado,” Bettes said in a live phone interview after he established phone connection after the incident.

“What we were trying to do was just get away from it and get to the south side of it,” Bettes said. “But what ended up happening was all three of our vehicles that we chase with were all hit by it.”

Basically, he put his team so close, he couldn’t get away from it.

And, he should know better. From the videos I’ve seen, this appeared to be a multiple vortice tornado, with a central core surrounded by other vortices (typically 3 or 4). Sometimes these outer vortices are intermittent and invisible.

ElReno_tor_Capture

Trying to dodge multiple vortices in the middle of live TV is of course a recipe for disaster.

h/t to Firsthand Weather

UPDATE: Before the tornado caught it, all blinged out:

TWC_ChaseVehicle_before

Image by Kevin Parrish of NBC News

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117 thoughts on “Tabloid Meteorology – The Weather Channel goes a bridge too far in storm chasing

  1. Wild ride tonight. Rode it out with a few neighbors in the storm cellar. No apparent damage near us. It will be interesting to get better information and damage estimates tomorrow.

  2. I was just watching TWC for a bit. Boy, certainly pushing the envelope. It’s one thing to play chicken with a tornado with a narrow base where it’s really tough to get hit, it’s a whole different scene with half mile wide wedge tornado that you can’t dodge.

    I had air bags in my car “tested” when a pickup truck turned left in front of us. It’s really amazing that people can be strapped into a metal can while its sheet metal is twisted in ways I can’t do at home, but that you can walk away from afterwards.

    Yep, I think at least two storm chasing teams need to rethink their goals. If it’s just to provide ground truth to the radar images, they really should be more careful about their communication links!

  3. The misleading opening statement in the video….”year of the tornado”….

  4. This storm was not typical. It was more like a hurricane. Tornadoes formed, dissipated, and reformed near the preceding one. It was not what these chasers are used to. Of course, you are right. They should know and take precautions accordingly. The tornado that got the chase vehicle, and several others, though I think this one was the only one picked up and tossed, had taken a sharp turn to the south. Again, unusual. Apparently five fatalities, all vehicle related. The number of hospitalized seems to be about fifty. Better numbers will of course be forthcoming. Flooding is the problem at the moment. It is not clear how much damage was done.

  5. I wasn’t watching TWC, but from what I have seen, watching through various TV stations and spotters, live, this is unfair.

    In the wake of the previous Moore tornado, local stations were telling people to -evacuate-, so they did, and the i35 was packed with people fleeing the OK City area. The chasers got caught in that traffic jam. This does not seem to have been a matter of getting to close the way ‘core-punchers’ tend to do, this was due to the news stations giving very bad advice, resulting in this disaster. Now, maybe more information will get out that will change my perception of what happened here. But at present, this seems to be the case.

    It was also somewhat unusual in that you had a train of supercells not greatly separated in space, one after another.

  6. I-40 is a major east-west interstate that was shut down, so westbound travelers had to go somewhere. I’m not sure, but I bet they were detoured onto I-35 which is major north-south road. I-35 is usually very busy on any day, but especially on a Friday.

    The line of storms was going in the standard SW to NE direction, but then the line turned east and even started moving in a NW to SE direction. So the standard “go south” option was the wrong one.

    The teams that are here for the NCAA softball championship rode out the storm in the hotel’s underground parking lot. And there was a hockey game at the Cox Center that they also evacuated everyone to the garage. But, there are reports that the underground tunnel system in downtown OKC is a bit soggy because of the 5+ inches of rain.

    http://newsok.com/video-serious-flooding-downtown-underground-tunnels-being-evacuated/article/3840592

  7. Agree, but disagree.

    First, for all intents and purposes the only people that seemed to be in that area were chasers, so it’s not like they were blocking legitimate escaping traffic.

    Second, there’s no way our insurance will be paying for that vehicle, unless they’re magicians and managed to talk an insurance company into insuring a clearly marked tornado chasing vehicle against tornado damage. My guess is they didn’t.

    Third, the video from that vehicle is some of the most incredible I’ve yet seen. Watching the multiple suction zones forming and zipping around was breathtaking… and useful. Not to mention the scene where they get crushed ALONE should keep a lot of chasers farther away than they normally might have risked.

    In my personal opinion the movie Twister did far more harm than today’s ill-fated chase.

    Meanwhile, it was stressful watching the packed highways with tornadoes and softball-sized hail descending upon them. I sincerely hope when tomorrow dawns the first responders have nothing but good news.

    I was watching on CNN (I despise Anderson Cooper, I got the distinct impression he was annoyed that his day was “wasted” by storms), FoxNews (Shepard Smith is great at this stuff, but the Lo-Def feed is horrid), and KFOR-4 in Oklahoma City, which was the authoritative channel. Within minutes YouTube had some great videos. Things have sure changed.

  8. No doubt the tornado was magnified by global warming. Before global warming, that would have been a safe distance. /sarc

  9. That would be a multiple VORTEX tornado, not a multiple vortice tornado.
    Plural for vortex is vortices, so singular for vortices is vortex.

    But singular for multiple flips in your tornado-chasing SUV is still STUPID.

    Kurt in Switzerland

  10. Bwaaa….amateurs never take less likely possibilities seriously.
    A roll cage for a vehicle that just might be rolled by weather? Good idea clowns.

  11. Mike Bromley the Kurd near the Green Line says:
    May 31, 2013 at 9:36 pm

    The misleading opening statement in the video….”year of the tornado”…

    You missed this introductory text:

    Just last year, [actually 2011 I think] the TWC ran this segment by TWC meteorologist Mike Bettes, where he asked:

    Mike Bettes’s Open Mike Discussion “Storm Chasers, Have They Gone Too Far?”

  12. Footage was shown here in Australia on SBS News. You could see the from inside the vehicle that it was being hit by various airborne objects, one looked like a vehicle another was a bale of hay. There does seem to be an increase in bad weather reports, and the desire to be first to report right in the centre of the event. Glad they were unhurt, but rather silly thing to do. Reminds me of the eruption of Mt. Ruapehu in New Zealand in 1995. Some of my workmate got in their cars and drove ~400km’s to go see it firsthand.

  13. Another point to consider are those idiots who pay to be storm chasing tourists. WTF? They really do not need to be in the way. There have been lots of reports about those people in the area.

    I don’t have a problem with the guys from the stations who report back on the location of the storms. I have great respect for the station helicopter pilots who go up in the storms to track them. The local stations are very good and they track the storms by streets. It is only nervewracking when they mention your street!

    But the great local reporting may cause some people to delay taking shelter. I was getting ready since I made the decision to shelter in place – I contacted the neighbors. key friends, etc and watched the TV. Then the storm turned east and I was ok (northern suburbs), but the central city was not. So, those people may have decided to hit the road.

    By the way, one cable news show made it sound like everyone in the OKC Metro area was in their cars and in a panic. OKC Metro has about one million people. The vast majority were safe in their houses and not panicing.

    I prefer Gary England on Channel 9. Gary and his crew are very calm. Some of the other TV guys tend to get over dramatic. But one excellent thing that happens in OKC is that most of the radio stations switch to the TV stations, so even people traveling through the area can hear all of the warnings.

    Here is an interesting story about the above ground shelters in Moore – http://newsok.com/oklahoma-tornadoes-aboveground-shelters-stood-up-in-face-of-ef5-moore-tornado/article/3840636

  14. Well, I dunno… Traditionally, journalists have been worthy of respect because they have the guts to go where most of us won’t go voluntarily. War fronts, disasters, etc. Bettes showed some guts, thus he deserves some respect.

  15. I’m a little worried about Luther Wu. In his last post he was trying to evacuate and things weren’t going well:

    Luther Wu says:
    May 31, 2013 at 4:46 pm

    Storm chasers getting hammered w/debris- it’s coming right at me (dang) but still time to dodge.

    funnels popping out of a 4- mile radius area- debris flying everywhere

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/05/31/testimony-of-climate-depots-marc-morano-at-congressional-hearing-on-climate-change/#more-87373

    U OK Luther?

  16. When I saw the wreckage of that car I thought this is getting to be like NASCAR with the cars all trimmed with sponsor stickers. How long will it be until there is a ‘Red Bull’ tornado run?

  17. Perhaps that “common sense gets literally thrown to the wind.” is due to fact and fiction becoming blurred

    Heroes and death.

  18. The trend in the news seems to be ever more hype for storm events with reporters in the brunt of the weather. We see intrepid young reporters standing in the hurricane to show us how much the wind is blowing, I suppose, or in blizzards, floods and now tornadoes. I keep wondering what is going to happen when one of the sweet young things gets hit by something moving along at 70+ mph. Guess this one was what happens when the reporter gets caught in the tornado. I’m glad he survived, but although stupidity is not illegal, it can carry a death penalty. The story should be about the storm and those affected by it, not the reporter. I tend not not watch these folks hyping the weather for ratings.

  19. Illuminating WUWT posting of the roar of the tornadoes and the stink of the tabloid journalism; the exhilaration, the one-upmanship. I, and my sailboat, survived Hurricane Hugo. I stared the Ringgold, Georgia tornado in the eye from the Quality Inn. All things considered, I’d rather be home in my cabin in Wisconsin without broadcast television.

    Safety is the new Liberty, and recklessness is the new Freedom, and Anony Mouse is the new John Handcock.

  20. As a result of CAGW hysteria, weather has become a profit center and media event, spinning lies, lives and fortunes.

  21. Last week-end, the Tornado Vehicle Intercept Vehicle II, got video from inside an F3-F4 tornado.

    The TVI II is specially made 7 ton vehicle with moveable sloped armor, bullet-proof glass and hydraulic spikes to anchor in a dirt road.

    Watch this video to the end because it just gets crazier as it goes on. Near the end, one can see the inner vortex just 10 feet away. Bandwidth should support putting this on 1080p HD or you might want to open in Youtube and watch full-screen.

  22. wow – that video is unbelievable!

    that photo at the top of the post is gonna be one of the photos of the year; there is something so perversely appropriate about that suv having “TORNADO HUNT 2013″ plastered all over it.

  23. “commieBob says: June 1, 2013 at 3:16 am
    I’m a little worried about Luther Wu. In his last post he was trying to evacuate and things weren’t going well:

    Luther Wu says:
    May 31, 2013 at 4:46 pm

    Storm chasers getting hammered w/debris- it’s coming right at me (dang) but still time to dodge.

    funnels popping out of a 4- mile radius area- debris flying everywhere

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/05/31/testimony-of-climate-depots-marc-morano-at-congressional-hearing-on-climate-change/#more-87373

    U OK Luther?”

    Yeah, I agree commieBob. When Luther posted that he was in the path and bolted, I took that as a cue to turn on the weather radar. Truly impressive front and an amazing live radar echo dissection by the experts.

    Luther?

  24. “…Basically, he put his team so close, he couldn’t get away from it.

    And, he (Bettes) should know better…”

    After watching, and turning TWC off in disgust, weather actor Mike Bettes twisting logic and science to make asinine CAGW causation statements, e.g. “…caused by global warming, oh my, and it’s getting worse…”; Knowing better is not a Mike Bettes trait.

    Often it seems that Bettes and other weather channel ‘show’ personnel feel they can do Jim Cantore’s storm analysis better and showier than Jim. Maybe they can, but they’re darn lucky they didn’t send one of their “show” blowhards and his video team to their death. If TWC fails to learn from this almost tragic experience, sooner or later, they’ll get their wish.

  25. Tornado Hunt 2013? Looks like it found them. The Weather Channel should mount the hood of that van in their lobby as an example of what not to do.

  26. @Steve says:
    May 31, 2013 at 10:48 pm

    No, that had nothing to do with it. At the time, it was still early, and the chasers (and super cells) were west of the metro in rural area. There was no exodus yet. There may have been looky lues, and there were probably too many chasers, news and otherwise, but the roads were not congested at that time.

  27. Phil says:
    June 1, 2013 at 1:02 am

    Reminds me of a dog. What does it do when it finally catches the hubcap?
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Mine caught the lug on the tractor tire and hung by his teeth suspended about two foot in the air for about a minute. Wish I had taken a picture but I was too busy laughing.

  28. They should repaint the logos on that SUV as “TORNADO FOUND 2013″….
    Good that they’re OK….hope Luther Wu is too!

    Maybe the gov’t should take some of the money they’re wasting on CAGW and put it
    towards helping folks build shelters for this sort of weather….assuming we’re getting
    a repeat (cycle) of 50-60 years ago, how long did this kind of weather last?
    Would probably be a good use of the money, and definitely a case of preparing
    for a known disaster (as opposed to the “precautionary principle” and CAGW)….

    I can just see Hansen, et. al. out there trying to make the wind stop by using
    their protest signs….maybe Gore could blow back in the opposite direction..
    oops, hot air might aggravate the situation…darn…..

  29. Storms making a right hand turn are typical when tornadogenesis occurs. Its a classic sign that a large tornado is on the ground.

    I have several relatives in both law enforcement and who are members of RACES. They are the real storm chasers who work as a team to track the storms. Unlike the ambulance chasers at TWC.

    TWC used to be about the weather. Not anymore. The local stations in OK, KS, MO and TX have phenomenal people with real hard science backgrounds and dedicated resources behind them to track and report on these storms. The TWC sucks up the oxygen that should be given to the local stations and the RACES teams who do the heavy lifting every day every year.

    I listen to the storm spotters on the ham RACES network to get a precise location fix on tornadoes and how bad they are. The spotters perform an invaluable service as they put eyes on what the doppler radars are showing. Everyone should get a handheld receiver to listen to the spotters as the TV stations can and often get knocked off the air during bad weather. Everyone should get a handheld receiver!!

  30. Thanks for this Anthony. Not just TWC, but many storm chasers got caught unprepared yesterday. Very fortunate that none died. They are taking too many risks. Unless the community shames this behavior enough, it will only get worse. With TWC and CNN showing these reckless videos constantly and many chasers justifying their behavior and being rewarded, this will only egg them on to get closer next time. Eventually chasers and possibly innocents around them are going to get killed and the government will step in. That will hurt the responsible professionals out there.

  31. What, no roll bars??? Should have skimped on the fancy paint job and invested in some roll bars.

  32. Thanks for the clip. Just watched 1:35 minutes of TWC. That brings my total for the last 5 years up to 1:35 minutes.

  33. CodeTech — Thanks for the link.

    A couple of questions, anyone:

    Is there a more likely time of day for the occurrence of a powerful tornado?

    The distinct dark/black color of the vortex will wax and wane at ground contact yet wind/circulation appears to continue. Is the dark region entrained water? If so, would the kinetic energy of this entrained water be a significant factor as to why the ground destruction in a tornado will seemingly destroy every thing in its path yet skip over a couple of homes. I guess what I’m suggesting is that 200 mph water would have more destructive force than 200 mph air.

    The awesome force of nature and convection.

    As far as the “thrill seekers”, I would be one if given the chance.

  34. I’ve seen varying reports of this ill-fated flight by the Wrong Brothers. Some say the vehicle was thrown 200yds, while others claim it rolled 200ft. Based on the TWC footage of the aftermath, I tend to favor the latter estimate. It didn’t seem to be resting that far from the road. That–and the vehicle would likely resemble an accordion after being tossed two football fields’ distance downfield. Glad they lived to hype–I mean tell–the tale, though!

  35. Luther may very well be one of those who don’t have power this morning. The last time I heard, there are more than 100,000 people without power.

  36. Bettes and crew are so lucky, I’ve seen vehicles like his thrown into 345 KV power line towers, dumpsters thrown through brick and concrete wall 3 stories above the ground and 2X8’s through steel-belted radial car tires. These tornadoes are nothing to take lightly, they might drop a boat or a house on you.

  37. I was watching coverage of this storm from local chasers on KFOR in OKC as it was developing. The reason why these chasers got caught in this storm is that it made a nearly 90 degree sudden turn. Now these storms do wobble somewhat and a little movement either side of the general path is expected but what this storm did was unusual. That is why it caught FIVE chase vehicles by surprise, not just the WxCh guys. The KFOR chasers are some of the most experienced at this on the planet and they are extremely familiar with the local Oklahoma region and the behavior of storms there. I was watching video of one of their chasers barreling down a dirt road IN REVERSE in their desperation to get away from this storm. They got away but not without the loss of the rear windshield of their vehicle from hail or debris. Some of the hail associated with that storm was the size of softballs.

    The point I am making here is not to get the idea that the WxCh chasers were being unusually reckless in their observation of this storm, this storm did something very unusual. It completely changed its direction of travel and the chasers did try to “bug out” of the area just as soon as they detected this fact. This is one reason why chasers often try to “get behind” these storms but that wasn’t effective in this one because of the massive amounts of rain behind it. Several did try to do just that and I listened to their frustration on live audio as they were getting absolutely hammered by drenching rain and hail.

  38. They could have been risking their lives sitting around eating burgers and chips. I have no problem with either activity at all.

  39. In other words, imagine you are to the north of a storm that is moving in a southeasterly direction. As you travel along its path, you are actually a little behind it. What this thing did was basically stalled and then turned right into the chasers. The entire mesocyclone completely changed its track from moving in a ESE direction to a NNE direction in the space of about a minute. The storm stalled, stopped its easterly progress, and ran back up to I-40 before turning east again and dissipating near El Reno. It had been heading toward Chickasha from roughly the Clinton area when it suddenly turned somewhere south of Hinton and started heading back up to I-40. If you look at a map of Oklahoma tornado tracks, it is unusual to find one that makes such a hard left turn for such a long distance and then makes a hard right again. I do see one historical track in the 1950’s in the OKC area where a large tornado did change from a southerly to a northerly track but it has probably not happened during the lifetime of any of the chasers there.

  40. Good for them, especially the hunters with data gathering equipment. There are certainly much Less useful ways to risk your life.

  41. I doubt that this tornado season is or will be the the worst ever. What might make it seem so to some is that we’ll have video made by such fools. They aren’t out to understand tornadoes and help people but are out to make a buck and scare people. (I wonder if Bettes will get a bonus?)

  42. This year’s tornado total is quite low, one of the lowest in recent years:

    In fact, we are not far above the all time minimum number of tornadoes for the date. This has been an extremely quiet year for tornadoes.

  43. It is the nature of a weather nut, to do things others think are extreme. I have watched my son get upset if a thunderstorm misses us, even though I tell him if it rips our roof off its a huge problem. This whole situation reminds me of Tom Pettys Song “Dogs on the Run” the Lyric
    “Some of us are different theres just something in our blood, theres no need for explanation its just Dogs on the Run”

    I have done some stupid things with the weather.. they look stupid now at 57 but they werent at the time. It was “stupid” for me to wrestle a guy in college that outweighed me by 150 lbs, but I can tell you I actually thought I was going to beat him and be a PSU legend ( 46 seconds into the match, that dream ended). Its stupid for me to do heavy squats on my own, but there is something in my blood that says without risk, there is no reward. So lets lighten up a bit on Mike here. What might be stupid to you.. or pushing it too far, or something you WOULD NOT RECOMMEND to others, may be the very things that is in a persons nature. As long as he is not hurting anyone else, he has the freedom to make his own choice.

    ONE of dumb things I did in the name of weather: It was not with tornadoes they scare me, but in an effort to get right into the thick of blinding snowsqualls I found myself sliding off a back road toward a 400 ft gap with no guard rail in the middle of nowhere when I was in college.

    I would never do that again, but to wrestle for PSU I would do what I did there again.

    Like I said, Dogs on the Run

  44. Looks like the Weather Channel chasers bagged one…too bad they can’t mount it on a wall.

  45. Joseph Bastardi says:
    June 1, 2013 at 2:13 pm

    ===================================================================
    New perspective noted.
    (To bad you were an amateur when you wrestled!)
    PS to Luther Wu. I know I’m not the only that is glad to hear from you.

  46. That was the most amateur move ever! all the other drivers knew to stop short plus its a multi vortex that could put down a suction vortex way past there attempted escape that’s a 1st yr rookie move,lets drive east then south and try to outrun it, also I could be wrong but it looks to me like they just drove off the road and rolled it.if you look at the other vehicles next to them they stayed on path,the red pickup next to them he stopped just as they where driving off the road was there any other lifted and rolled vehicles close to them?

  47. Greetings everyone- thanks for the expressions of concern.
    Sorry for the late response- power was just restored in my neighborhood and I’ve been dealing with aftermath of storm. I know how WUWT readers are and I should have checked in sooner, sorry ’bout that.

    The sky was shaking. I mean it. Thunder was so continuous that it was a constant bass note like God’s own wall of sound, with attendant vibration- it was almost a solid tone, like a Vulcan gun, only deeper in pitch. A friend twenty miles north of here could hear it.

    I cut it too close…should have left sooner. My plan (widely followed in OKC,) was to watch the storm radars/reports until it was clear where the storm track would be and then dodge it. There is little chance of survival of a bIg EF4/5/6 tornado unless you are below ground or out of the way. As we saw tragically last week, above ground reinforced concrete doesn’t amount to much when a Chevy flies through it at 200 mph. Weather stations advised that major roads leading away from the storm’s path were at a standstill, with many folks making a run for it, so I tried to escape over surface streets. Major flooding and heavy hail made that plan difficult. Compact cars were swept into storm culverts, etc. and tree limbs flying around all over the place made it interesting. The tornado was not just huge, but this monster was also oscillating back and forth along about a 4-5 mile North/South arc as it moved along it’s eastward track, putting many people at risk, so many more were trying to evacuate. The track also changed directions completely at least twice, all of which helped jam traffic.

    I haven’t watched The Weather Channel in years, as they came to be political with their weather reporting. Nevertheless, I’m not going to lay a trip on their team which got caught out and ruined their ride, as some of the local boys got caught also, and they are the best of the best, with more experience than anyone.

  48. @Luther Wu
    Yay!

    Thanks for the additional details in your report. I’m still in the midst of the evening news in my time zone and they have not covered – at all – the difficulties people encountered during the evacuation. They’re hitting the Weather Channel wreck pretty heavy, but I guess it’s fair that the news channels would be concerned for “their own”.

  49. Never been close enough to one to say, but it must be rather exhilarating when the hunter becomes the prey :)

  50. Thanks for that report Luther. My impression from reading the live warnings was that no funnels dropped in the city but hail, heavy rain and straight line winds were still big problems.

  51. eyesonu says June 1, 2013 at 9:02 am

    A couple of questions, anyone:

    Is there a more likely time of day for the occurrence of a powerful tornado?

    2:35 PM CDT in the afternoon …

  52. crosspatch says June 1, 2013 at 10:32 am

    I was watching coverage of this storm from local chasers on KFOR in OKC as it was developing. The reason why these chasers got caught in this storm is that it made a nearly 90 degree sudden turn. Now these storms do wobble somewhat and a little movement either side of the general path is expected but what this storm did was unusual. That is why it caught FIVE chase vehicles by surprise, not just the WxCh guys. The KFOR chasers are some of the most experienced at this on the planet and they are extremely familiar with the local Oklahoma region and the behavior of storms there. I was watching video of one of their chasers barreling down a dirt road IN REVERSE in their desperation to get away from this storm. They got away but not without the loss of the rear windshield of their vehicle from hail or debris. Some of the hail associated with that storm was the size of softballs.

    Atypical behavior; Reason it caught everyone off-guard (The lesson learned should be: “Past performance is no indicator of future progress.” The only safe position for ‘spotting’ would seem be to the Southwest or west of the wall cloud.)

    Here are the three (3) main tracks courtesy of KFOR; the first track on the far left (with the jog) is the one we’re discussing:

    “Preliminary track map from May 31 tornado outbreak”

    http://localtvkfor.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/tracks.jpg?w=660&h=456

    Saved on tinypic: http://oi39.tinypic.com/2ym9a1u.jpg

    … the jog to the ‘left’ was unexpected …

    .

  53. Austin says June 1, 2013 at 7:31 am

    Storms making a right hand turn are typical when tornadogenesis occurs. Its a classic sign that a large tornado is on the ground.

    Some call that “rooted” or being rooted in the ‘boundary layer’ (warm, moist layer closest to the earth) whence they become weather-making/influencing forces unto themselves, moving to the ‘right’ (a “right mover” as ‘ol SK meteo Harold Taft used to say) of the prevailing mid-level winds that guide or ‘push’ most ‘lesser’ storms swiftly along their paths to the northeast …

    Note is is most often the most southwest storm (supercell) in a complex like we’ve seen these past two weeks which become the “right movers’ … there is often a train of storms comprised of discrete cells that move off swiftly to the NE of the ‘anchor’ or right-mover cell …

    The storms on the 31st all seemed to form along an E-W line and moved south in unision, with the lead cell which moved east first spawning the bigger damage-causing tornadoes. All this time the cold front and dryline convergence seemed to be the point of initiation on the most westerly point.

    .

  54. eric1skeptic says:
    June 1, 2013 at 5:26 pm

    Thanks for that report Luther. My impression from reading the live warnings was that no funnels dropped in the city but hail, heavy rain and straight line winds were still big problems.
    ____________________
    That’s all I’m aware of, but haven’t listened to any damage reports. Damage around my part of town appears to be mostly from wind and rain, with a measure from hail/lightning.The funnels stayed out of the city proper, as far as I know.
    I did pick up a few pieces of shrapnel from my yard- good sized piece of shattered plexiglass, small piece of crumpled sheetmetal, limbs, etc and had an empty planter with a hole through one side like someone shot it- likely it got hit by one of those freak hailstones.
    There have been some number of huge tornadoes in past years which have aimed straight at the city, but veered off and flailed the suburbs, instead.
    Knock on wood.

  55. TeeWee says June 1, 2013 at 6:18 am

    Tornado Hunt 2013? Looks like it found them. The Weather Channel should mount the hood of that van in their lobby as an example of what not to do.

    When I first saw the pix of their ‘rolled’ vehicle, I asked myself: “Where did they find an old Chevy station wagon to chase in?” That’s what came immediately to mind.

    Later on it became evident it was a a full-size SUV, a Chevy Tahoe or some such …

    .

  56. Well, recanting here… looking at storm tracks (thanks Jim), the 2nd and 3rd tracks were definitely in OKC. doh.

  57. All this time the cold front and dryline convergence seemed to be the point of initiation on the most westerly point.

    Seemed like the whole mesocell wanted to suddenly decide to ride up the dry line is how I remember thinking about it as it was happening. I haven’t seen any detailed analysis but I know that the left turn is what really took them by surprise. I remember the forecaster saying something like “lookout, guys, this things turning!” to the chasers who copy his audio. And I was one town West in my earlier (going from memory, thanks for the map), seemed like it dissipated outside Yukon. It stalled there, too, before finally lifting. The KFOR forecaster called it 5 min out from Yukon several times as the storm slowed, then stalled, then finally lifted. But they had been calling for people toward Chickasha to look out during the first part of that track, then they moved the projected track north to Moore and SW OKC and finally Yukon. It seemed like only a few minutes after it dissipated in Yukon that things started along the new I-40 crosstown in OKC but nobody could get a good look at it because there was just too much rain and it was starting to get dark.

  58. One important service that the chasers provide in the OKC area are to verify that there is actually a tornado on the ground and to get an idea of the severity. Radar might show rotation but that rotation might not be on the ground. There were several times yesterday when the radar showed very strong rotation aloft but the chasers reported no tornado on the ground. The chasers provide detailed information on potential damage extent and location so that first responders can get into the required areas immediately. That said, there are basically two kinds of chasers, at least in the OKC area. OKC has what amounts to a staff of professional chasers that work with the media outlets of the city and have a long history of reporting on these storms. Then there are the “wackers” who hop in a car one day and decide to chase a tornado.

  59. _Jim says:
    June 1, 2013 at 8:23 pm

    eyesonu says June 1, 2013 at 9:02 am

    A couple of questions, anyone:

    Is there a more likely time of day for the occurrence of a powerful tornado?

    2:35 PM CDT in the afternoon …

    ———————————————-

    Thank you for your reply.

  60. There were some chasers that died…. A well known and professional Tim Samaras, his son and Carl young died chasing that very tornado.

  61. TWC is fixated with a culture of “every weather event a disaster”. This leads their workers to putting themselves closer and closer to harm.
    Fortunately these workers survived. Perhaps TWC decision makers should consider a review of just what they are trying to accomplish before they cause real loss of life.

  62. James Wesley posted the names above. Here is a link:

    http://www.koco.com/news/national/Storm-chasers-among-Oklahoma-fatalities/-/9844074/20391440/-/7i8eh2/-/index.html

    “Tim Samaras, 55, his son Paul Samaras, 24, and Carl Young, 45, died while chasing a tornado in El Reno, relatives said.”

    Ginger Zee was interviewed on KOCO locally, and she emphasized how committed Samaras was to the science involved, and to safety. She said she was confident he took no extra risk. He was known for caution and missing opportunities due to caution.

  63. James Wesley says June 2, 2013 at 6:04 am

    There were some chasers that died…. A well known and professional Tim Samaras, his son and Carl young died chasing that very tornado.

    Wow, James. Did not know that. Condolences to next of kin, friends, and all that knew him and son and Carl Young as well.

    Colorado storm chaser Tim Samaras killed in Oklahoma tornado along with son, longtime [chasing] partner

    Colorado storm chaser Tim Samaras, his son Paul, and Carl Young were killed in the EF-3 tornado that tore through El Reno Oklahoma Friday.

    Tim Samaras lived in Bennett and frequently worked with 7NEWS and other organizations here in Denver.

    Samaras was considered a leader in storm chasing expertise and worked with National Geographic, the Discovery Channel, Boeing, and the federal government.

    This is something that the chaser community fears, as it may lead to increased law/law enforcement/legislation focused on this highly ‘unregulated’, unscrutinized and on more than one occasion ‘lethal’, potentially dangerous activity.

    General Google search on Tim gives some idea how far reaching his work was.

    For more info, this is one of the first tornado and severe-storm oriented websites which has discussions on this and related storm-chaser topics by meteos and long-time ‘chasers': http://www.stormtrack.org/

    .

  64. Joseph Bastardi says June 1, 2013 at 2:13 pm

    ONE of dumb things I did in the name of weather: It was not with tornadoes they scare me, but in an effort to get right into the thick of blinding snowsqualls I found myself sliding off a back road toward a 400 ft gap with no guard rail in the middle of nowhere when I was in college.

    Spotting at night pre-NEXRAD (WSR-88D) ‘days’ put the fear of God in me; when that wall cloud changed shape from lightning-flash to lightning-flash and the ‘brain’ stitches that series of images ‘together’ mentally …

    I have witnessed a wall cloud with clearly defined circular (rotary) inflow (literally: cloud material appearing from nowhere and passing into the ‘wall cloud’!) passing directly overhead with *no* tor warn in effect for the DFW area … again back in the pre-NEXRAD*, (WSR-57 only) days. Scary stuff to witness firsthand knowing the possibilities from that point forward.

    .

    * NEXRAD (WSR-88D) actually gives the forecasters a 3-D view of active ‘atmospheric processes’ when it comes to precip-generating and even non-precip generating phenomenon owing to it’s exceptional sensitivity and elevation scanning schemes coupled with graphical displaying algorithms – and this pioneered in the 80’s and continually refined even to the present.

    .

  65. Mike McMillan says June 1, 2013 at 11:54 am

    As a note to the hunters, 3M makes Scotchshield Ultra Safety and Security Window Film.
    Makes glass a whole lot harder to break through.

    The problem is, some of these windows get ‘sucked’ out (literally) in toto (rather than misc. debris impact e.g. large hailstones). Safety glass as used in vehicles also differs significantly in characteristics from plate glass used as in, say, residential windows …

    For hail protection (protection from), there are other solutions:

    .

  66. I just saw the article on Samaras on the Channel 7 news site in Denver. The behavior of this storm took some of the most seasoned storm watchers in the country by surprise.

  67. The other problem with the security films is they blur the image a bit. Might be fine for a glass door at a shop, but not so good for driving, particularly at night in the rain.

  68. @Luther Wu and really everyone
    “There is little chance of survival of a bIg EF4/5/6 tornado unless you are below ground or out of the way.”

    People need to get this out of their head. It will end up killing people. First, there’s no EF6. Second, while you may have a bad chance in EF5 winds, EF5 winds are very rare and only occur over a small part of most, if not all, tornadoes. The Joplin tornado is the worst damage I’ve seen. That EF5 damage was only over a street block or two width.

    Third, EF4 damage is very survivable. Most interior rooms in decent structures will remain. Fourth, you don’t know if a storm is EF5 when it’s coming for you. Combine all of this, especially in an urban area, and it’s far better to shelter in place than try to outrun a storm. You may be in trouble if you’re stuck in a house in that small are of EF5 damage. You will be in trouble if you get stuck in your car over a much wider area of the tornado.

    I mentioned the Wichita Falls tornado. In that storm, 42 people died. 25 of those were in vehicles. Some of them fled homes that were not greatly harmed by the tornado. I wasn’t watching live, but I’ve heard that KFOR in OKC was telling people to evacuate to the south and east. If true, I hope people call them out for that. It’s reckless advice.

  69. Paul in Sweden [June 1, 2013 at 4:01 am] says:

    When I saw the wreckage of that car I thought this is getting to be like NASCAR with the cars all trimmed with sponsor stickers. How long will it be until there is a ‘Red Bull’ tornado run?

    Good point!

    These are the same people (the Weather Channel) who ramble on endlessly instructing the regular people to evacuate, leave their homes and all their possessions including pets and submit to local authorities every single time a tropical storm comes calling. Meanwhile *they* will have correspondents strapped to a tree with video and microphone reporting from the scene.

    And then their photo-op is inevitably ruined by locals playing around behind the camera shot making monkeys out of them. :-)

  70. Does anyone have useful information on the actual weather and full damage of the 31 May 2013 storms here in Oklahoma? I’m finding it frustrating to figure out anything beyond the death toll, that is up to nine, and at least one of those was due to the flood waters within the last 24 hours, not the actual storm. There is very little damage everywhere I have ready access to. (I’ve avoided populated areas. I’ll not be a lookie loo.)

  71. Considering that the most careful, most professional storm researcher was also caught and killed in the tv station initiated traffic jam, perhaps we can stop just assuming the worst with blanket condemnations.

  72. @Scott B says:
    June 2, 2013 at 9:42 am

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1999_Oklahoma_tornado_outbreak

    03 May 1999 was much worse than Joplin 2011. We had fewer deaths, and I’m not sure how, but the $-values of damage were estimated at half. Still, neighborhoods were flattened for blocks wide and miles long. Flattened. Even pavement was chunked up in places. Remember, this was the highest wind speeds ever recorded, over 300 mph (nearly 500 kph). The Joplin tornado was smaller with significantly lower winds. What made it so catastrophic was the fact it took out roughly one-fourth of the entire metro area, the largest metropolitan area withing 1.5 hours driving distance.

    We live near Tinker AFB. We had a friend stay with us a few hours until the roads were open. We sat with the whole family huddled by candle light. Starting the next day, I drove to work across the damage path. The next neighborhood over was devastated, and Moore was hit harder. I saw it first hand. I could see across several house foundations with no walls standing in all directions. F5, utter devastation. More than a block or two.

    Yes, getting out in vehicles is unwise. All of the fatalities this time seem to have been associated with vehicles, even the drownings. And, yes, Mike Morgan and others were advising to get under ground, get the neighbors (we had 12 in our cellar), or get with the neighbors, or get out of the way. Reports around here are that it was easy until south of Moore, in the Norman area. I suspect the weather reporters around here will not make that mistake again. Note, throughout the event, the advise was adamant to abandon cars and seek shelter inside any permanent structure if a tornado approached. Still, many survived the 20 May storm because they fled. That storm tracked fairly straight. People didn’t have trouble fleeing. This monster was different. Fortunately it didn’t do much where the congestion was. It sure was scary though, jumping and turning like that.

  73. @Steve says:
    June 2, 2013 at 10:19 am

    No. The traffic congestion was south of Moore, in Cleveland County, south of Oklahoma County. The storm chasers were caught to the west, where the tornado was severe, in Canadian County hours earlier. That is where most of the damage and casualties were. People were fleeing mostly because they had been listening to the reports of destruction and how fickle the storm was for over two hours. The weather reports’ assertions probably had little practical effect, and I will add that the straight talk of our local meteorologists are significant in the limit of casualties. Our meteorologists here in central Oklahoma are the best in the world.

  74. Does anyone have useful information on the actual weather and full damage of the 31 May 2013 storms here in Oklahoma?

    Depends on what you mean by useful. Death toll is now up to 11. The KFOR website has some interesting stuff today including a helicopter survey of damage areas, some video from the day, and photos.

  75. Scott B says June 2, 2013 at 9:42 am


    I mentioned the Wichita Falls tornado. In that storm, 42 people died. 25 of those were in vehicles. Some of them fled homes that were not greatly harmed by the tornado. I wasn’t watching live, but I’ve heard that KFOR in OKC was telling people to evacuate to the south and east. If true, I hope people call them out for that. It’s reckless advice.

    I think this is being blown slightly out of proportion, via 2nd hand repetition and perhaps just the slightest bit of added embellishment on each retelling …

    Here below is the segment where ‘driving’ gets mentioned several times and I think it may be intended for that part of the audience already in their vehicles … now having said that, he does at the 9:55 point in the video below say “or get in your car and drive south at least to central Moore …” – is this cause for concern? Listen to his exact words and delivery and judge for yourself within the context of the other warnings and admonitions to ‘take shelter':

    Bear in mind that at this time Track #2 (center track) might just be getting started/laid down west of I-44 and south of I-40. These tornadoes were also not moving that fast, perhaps some of the slower forward-moving tornadoes we’ve seen to date.

    Big tornado-track map:

    .

  76. [ Jim says:
    June 2, 2013 at 7:17 am ]

    Your story sounds like a similar experience to one I had two years ago here in Wichita, KS.
    A lot of folks around here like to watch the clouds until the last minute, then run inside to the basement if it looks bad enough, or when the wall cloud passes and it starts to rain in earnest. I was standing in my driveway looking skyward listening to the tornado sirens, my wife was looking up from the front door of the house.There was some obvious inflow rotation almost directly over my head and some pretty hefty winds with a smattering of big raindrops, but didn’t appear to be particularly ominous. I yelled at her, “Hey, come look at these clouds, I’ll show you what rotation looks like.” She screamed, “Get in here you &%#~* idiot!!!!” Almost simultaniously, my favorite Greg Norman golf hat I was wearing flew almost straight up hundreds of feet in about one to two seconds it seemed, and then out of sight into the clouds. I ran inside.

    That initial tornadic updraft touched down at the end of the hole 14 fairway behind my house and cut a path of minor damage for about two miles ESE.
    I still miss the hat, can’t find another just like it, but the wife is still here.

  77. Scott B says:
    June 2, 2013 at 9:42 am
    ____________________
    All I know is what the weather guys say… I’ve heard them say several times over the years and during the powerful storms that the only way to survive is to get below ground or get out of the way. They specifically and repeatedly state that to shelter in a closet or bathroom won’t work.

    I’ve seen storms in my town with nothing left of neighborhoods except for rubble piles, or entire blocks of no rubble, just bare slabs and the slab peeled up if the wind could catch a corner.
    When someone tells me to forget running, that I can really survive hiding under the bed, I tend to discount what they say… you might be right, but I’m still here.

  78. The truck you have shown was destroyed but all inside lived to tell the tale. A picture of the truck in which the three storm chasers died can be seen at http://www.NewsWatchCanada.ca . The death truck is much more seriously mangled. They were real scientists, engaged in meaurement and tracking and it’s a big loss. RIP.

    Typically the roads are clear enough for storm chasers to reverse course and escape but the roads were clogged by people on Friday trying to escape, which is how both these veteran crews were hit hard. Many others died in their vehicles on Friday.

  79. crosspatch says on June 1, 2013 at 10:32 am:

    “I was watching coverage of this storm from local chasers on KFOR in OKC as it was developing. The reason why these chasers got caught in this storm is that it made a nearly 90 degree sudden turn. Now these storms do wobble somewhat and a little movement either side of the general path is expected but what this storm did was unusual. That is why it caught FIVE chase vehicles by surprise, not just the WxCh guys. The KFOR chasers are some of the most experienced at this on the planet and they are extremely familiar with the local Oklahoma region and the behavior of storms there. I was watching video of one of their chasers barreling down a dirt road IN REVERSE in their desperation to get away from this storm.”

    I also saw discussion about the tornado doing a sudden 90 degree *left* turn.

    What I saw in the video from the TWC vehicle getting caught: The tornado did somewhat of a sudden right turn. It was also shown as large and multivortex.

    I would have reversed the southward course at least 1 minute before impact, maybe 2.
    Even driving over highway shoulder or farmland if necessary to do so. At that point, the TWC team appeared to me to be on collision course with the left side of a large multivortex tornado. The winds have a high rate of being worse on the right side.

    Also, I think Mike Bettes knows this, and how tornadoes sometimes take non-straight paths.
    I would have turned back as soon as he got a little good video of the subvortices of the main tornado.

  80. I’d add that there have been some number of tornadoes of lesser power over the years during which the local meteorologists advise people to take immediate shelter in closets, center of the house, etc. if no other shelter is available. They reserve the dire “below ground or gone” type warnings for the strongest twisters.
    It was hard to figure out what to do during this storm due to wide- ranging reports of funnel location, strength, direction, multiple siren warnings, etc.

  81. Dan et al. Though I’ve said it repeatedly on this thread, the fleeing masses had nothing to do with interfering with the chasers. The chasers got caught by a wild storm. It behaved more erraticly than they allowed for. Emergent phenomenon can do that. I have heard no reports of injury, at least not related to the storm, that affected the fleeing masses and the traffic congestion. The tornado missed the traffic south of town. West of town, near El Reno, that was different. The tornado wreaked havoc, fortunately for very few.

    http://www.cnn.com/2013/06/02/us/midwest-weather/index.html?NewsWatchCanada.ca

    In the text, Bettes speaks for himself, obviously shaken.

  82. Tribute film to Tim Samaras.

    I would never have gone into these regions that he did driving the truck he did. Still what he did was courageous and advanced the science of tornados, much as volcanologists (quietly) put them selves at risk to understand those monsters.

    RIP Tim, you will be missed, even by those you didn’t know, but whose lives you still touched.

  83. Thanks Carrick. The Discovery Channel show tonight on the Moore tornado two weeks ago mentioned the deaths of Tim, his son, and Carl at the end of the show, which was the first I had heard of it. Three great and fellow scientists were \taken from us on Friday. There work is a great loss. Perhaps these new guys who essentially drive tanks have the right idea.

  84. Our death toll is up to 16 with the additional deaths due to the flooding. http://newsok.com/oklahoma-storms-death-toll-rises-to-at-least-16-some-still-missing-but-search-will-continue-until-we-find-everybody/article/3841107

    The damage ratings have all been down-rated. The storm paths are less now than the preliminary indication. I realized that was going to happen when I found a good enough preliminary map to know we were very close to one of the paths, and there is just no damage on that path. We had straight line winds into the 80 mph range, and that is EF-0 range. The flood waters are definitely becoming the bigger story of this storm, despite the dramatic points made above.

  85. Storm chasing surely is and will be risky, but why are people so reckless and go there with these pseudo ATVs? At least some structural enforcement of the car (inner cages etc) should be standard – and it should not be possible to get sucked out of the car.
    Looking at the picture of the damaged car such an event should be much less harmful with a few logical precautions in place.

  86. Update:
    I just saw the real pic of the car.

    You just shouldn’t go there with of the shelve cars. They are useless toys.

  87. crosspatch says:
    June 1, 2013 at 10:56 pm

    One important service that the chasers provide in the OKC area are to verify that there is actually a tornado on the ground and to get an idea of the severity. Radar might show rotation but that rotation might not be on the ground. There were several times yesterday when the radar showed very strong rotation aloft but the chasers reported no tornado on the ground.

    =======================================

    One other thing that can happen … radar shows rotation, and the tornado just starts to hit the ground but then mysteriously retreats. I had this happen a couple of years ago. The radar showed a tornado right over me. For just a moment, a sort of pressure wave hit, almost like an earthquake. But there was never a proper debris / dust cloud set up and visually there was a mere funnel cloud. The tornado warning was removed a couple minutes after it was enacted. Then nothing more.

  88. Energetic says June 3, 2013 at 7:10 am

    Storm chasing surely is and will be risky, but why are people so reckless and go there with these pseudo ATVs? At least some structural enforcement of the car (inner cages etc) should be standard –

    Newbie (to ‘chasing’ I take it); take a look at what Reed Timmer ‘parties’ with (It’s not called the ‘Dominator’ for nothing!):

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SRV_Dominator

    Short intro:

    The SRV Dominator is a vehicle used for storm chasing, as featured on the Discovery Channel series Storm Chasers. In 2013, Reed Timmer, designer and operator of all three Dominator vehicles joined KFOR-TV’s 4WARN Storm Team, all three vehicles collectively referred to by the station as “Dominator 4″.

    The Dominator was modified from a 2007 Chevrolet Tahoe that was used during the 2008 storm chasing season and debuted in the 2009 chase season.

    The modifications included adding bulletproof sheet metal and transparent Lexan armor to protect against flying debris near tornadoes, and an external roll cage and NASCAR-style safety harnesses in case of a vehicle roll.

    The SRV is not designed to intercept (due mainly to a lack of an anchoring system as employed on the TIV 2) but is able to get as close as humanly possible to tornados. In 2008, a tornado in Aurora, Nebraska unexpectedly strengthened right over the Dominator and blew out the driver’s window, when its exterior Lexan window failed to roll up. Designer Reed Timmer and one of his passengers suffered lacerations to the face from flying glass.

    .

  89. Lonnie E. Schubert says June 2, 2013 at 8:22 pm

    Dan et al. Though I’ve said it repeatedly on this thread, the fleeing masses had nothing to do with interfering with the chasers. The chasers got caught by a wild storm. It behaved more erraticly than they allowed for. Emergent phenomenon can do that. I have heard no reports of injury, at least not related to the storm, that affected the fleeing masses and the traffic congestion. The tornado missed the traffic south of town. West of town, near El Reno, that was different. The tornado wreaked havoc, fortunately for very few.

    The thread linked below may be of interest;

    http://www.stormtrack.org/forum/showthread.php?29879-The-events-leading-up-to-the-traffic-Jam-in-SW-OKC-on-May-31st-2013&p=329905&viewfull=1#post329905

    Read the whole thing; I linked to the most detailed account of one man’s experience above. The whole thing is here: The events leading up to the traffic Jam in SW OKC on May 31st 2013

    .

  90. As some of you may already know, the El Reno Tornado that killed Tim, Paul and Carl has been upgraded today to an EF5 tornado and also was shockingly large at an estimated maximum size of 2.6 miles across with peak wind speeds measured at 296 mph by portable Doppler radar.

    Apparently the main funnel, when it made its 120 degree turn to the North east suddenly grew from about a mile wide to approximately 2.6 miles wide as the whole wall cloud apparently descended to ground level and accelerated its forward motion from about 30-35 mph to 45 mph. It also was spinning off multiple secondary vortexes that would rapidly form then disappear in a very short span of time.
    Note the width of 2.6 miles is at the EF0 65 mph wind speed lower limit of tornado winds, not the sort of 100+ mph winds the casual observer would suspect.

    This from the perspective of a storm spotter, makes the death of Tim and crew much easier to understand. He was a very safety conscious storm spotter but the very reason for the existence of theTwistex team was to go in harms way and place instrument packages where they would get run over by the approaching storm. That means that every time they deployed their packages, they briefly were poking the bear with a sharp stick and then trying to back away before they got bit. It was a hazard he accepted willingly and with full understanding of the possible risks, because he knew that that was the ONLY way to get the ground level instrumental data the storm analysis people need to improve their understanding of these storm.

    It is reported that other storm spotters have combed the area where he was when the storm over took him and have found items like cameras and cell phones and as was expected, (hoped) some of his tornado instrument packages which apparently were activated. If true he likely was not lost to some random error in judgement or road block and traffic jam but due to a unique and incredible storm far beyond the norm, and he died while trying to document and gather data on this incredible storm.

    I really really hope they can recover the data from those packages and the images captured by them before they were over run. It would provide some positive outcome to the loss.

  91. This has bugged me. For the record, there are “storm chasers” that are out there trying to help people by warning where the actual funnel is now and so give them warning. (Kind of like the guys who fly into hurricanes to gather data or these guys http://www.erh.noaa.gov/iln/research/ThunderstormProject/TSP.php.) If I said anything that could be taken as a put down on them, I apologize.
    What I said was directed at the “Weather Paparazzi”.

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