Respected storm chaser Tim Samaras, who appeared on the Discovery Channel's Storm Chasers, has been confirmed among the casualties of Friday's deadly tornado near Oklahoma City, along with his son Paul and fellow chaser Carl Young.
The news was confirmed on Sunday by the respected families.
"Thank you to everyone for the condolences. It truly is sad that we lost my great brother Tim and his great son, Paul," Jim Samaras wrote in a statement posted on his brother's Facebook page. "Our hearts also go out to the Carl Young family as well as they are feeling the same feelings we are today. They all unfortunately passed away but doing what they loved."
Samaras was known for his company Twistex, which designed probes that would measure a tornado's environment.
While the data collected is invaluable, the process of laying down the probes is extremely dangerous - someone has to go out and put it directly in the path of the tornado.
News of the team's passing shocked the storm chasing community, especially the Weather Network's own meteorologists.
It has been confirmed that Tim Samaras, his son Paul, and friend Carl Young were killed in the El Reno tornado on Friday, May 31st.
Tim Samaras was highly respected among storm chasers, who appreciated his contribution to science.
It's believed that the three were hit when the El Reno tornado they were following suddenly took a sharp turn north. The team was not aware of the change in direction and could not escape at the last moment.
The same tornado also hit Mike Bettes and the Weather Channel’s Tornado Hunt crew as it traveled onto the busy Interstate-40 highway. The tornado picked up their SUV and threw it 60 metres into the air. Bettes amazingly only suffered cuts to his hands, but otherwise, he and his crew were able to escape with minor injuries.
So far 11 people have been confirmed dead and more than 100 injured by the tornado.
It's the second deadly storm to hit the Oklahoma region in under two weeks. Overall, at least 5 tornadoes are believed to have touched down on Friday.
Torrential downpours caused localized flooding, halting clean-up efforts. Up to 300-millimeters of rain fell Friday evening.
Preliminary reports have rated the twister an EF-3, based on the damage.
Storm chasing teams organize in North Dakota to pay tribute to their fallen comrades (Courtesy Twitter)
Condolences have been coming in around the world for the storm chasing team.
The Spotter network, which links spotters, chasers, coordinators and public servants, organized a tribute in North Dakota using the GPS beacons of several chasing teams.
Tributes have been flooding in on social media sites (Courtesy Facebook)
Tim Samaras's research on the formation of tornadoes has been used by weather services to predict and warn people about dangerous storms.
His team carried up to 10 probes, which monitored weather conditions in and around tornadoes, cameras, laptops and GPS navigation.
Few doubt that his research has saved many lives and will continue to in the future.
I considered Tim Samaras & co right up there with the works of Fujita in helping the science. Heart goes out to the Samaras and Young's. RIP