Tim Samaras, one of the world's best-known storm chasers, died in Friday's El Reno, Oklahoma tornado along with his son, according to a statement from Samaras's brother.
"They all unfortunately passed away but doing what they LOVED," Jim Samaras, Tim's brother, wrote on Facebook, saying that storm chaser Carl Young was also killed. "I look at it that he is in the ‘big tornado in the sky.'"
Tim Samaras, who was 55, spent the past 20 years zigzagging across the Plains, predicting where tornados would develop and placing probes he designed in the twister's path in to measure data from inside the cyclone. (Read National Geographic's last interview with Tim Samaras.)
"Data from the probes helps us understand tornado dynamics and how they form," he told National Geographic. "With that piece of the puzzle we can make more precise forecasts and ultimately give people earlier warnings."
Samaras' interest in tornados began when he was 6, after seeing the movie The Wizard of Oz. For the past 20 years, he spent May and June traveling through Tornado Alley, an area which has the highest frequency of tornados in the world.
Samaras's team used probes that Samaras designed to measure the pressure drops within the tornados themselves, but The results were often frustrating. Tornados developed from only two out of every ten storms the team tracked and the probes were useful in only some of those tornados.
But when the probes did work, they provided information to help researchers analyze how and when tornados form.
"This information is especially crucial, because it provides data about the lowest 10 meters of a tornado, where houses, vehicles, and people are," said Samaras once said.
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