I wanted to share a story about Tim Samaras. We were in Iowa at the Des Moines Severe Weather Conference. I had always looked up to Tim thinking he was a great chaser and impressed by the work he had done. I was surprised that he was sitting alone at dinner. (At these conferences people always tend to flock together...it is why at COD conference we have assigned mixed seating:-) I asked him to join us and got to spend the next few hours talking with him. I had known him from chasing and although I had met him a few times in person, knew him mostly from on-line discussions.
He was such a great guy. He was friendly,
cordial to my students and spun a great yarn. I thoroughly enjoyed that
evening getting to know him. He was a passionate, considerate and
encouraging guy. He was humble and patient with everyone. I knew that we
shared the passion and love for severe weather. He had a boyish quality
when he talked about storms. Something that many of my chase friends
I think the last time I really got to talk with him was in
Goodland, Kansas after a chase when we stopped at the Pizza Hut for a
late night pizza and beer dinner. He had been getting data for a hail
storm project he was working on. Usually avoiding the storm, he now got
to punch the core on purpose!
Tim was always one to wave and say
hi. And I must admit, I will miss the opportunity to meet up with him
again. He will be sadly missed.
As chasers, we all do stupid
things, and we all make mistakes in judgement. But we also know that the
supercell is a whole lot more unpredictable than most will give credit
to. When someone of his skill dies, it should make ALL of us stop and
worry and rethink what we do. And in this day of in-vehicle radar, maybe
take a step back and respect the storms even more. Realizing that
chasers are getting a little to casual about getting up-close and
personal. In the old days, before GRlevel3, I know that I was a lot more
afraid, knowing how little I knew. Now I think I know more than I
probably do. And I know a heckuva lot more about storms than most
chasers. And i amazes me what some chasers will do.
I hope that
Tim's death provides a lesson that all chasers will heed. We are still
powerless. The storm ought to be respected and that what we do is
dangerous. Foolish behavior has no place on the highways of tornado
And for heaven's sake, chasers ought to think 4 times
before they think they know enough to always be safe. And damn it, let's
learn more about what is really happening in the storm. I am sick and
tired of too many shows telling the wrong thing about storm structure.
And encouraging chasers to go out. This rant will be for another time,
but the reality is that some of the reports of a large wedge, etc...do
not save lives. It was clear on radar that this was a fricking beast of a
storm. I knew that bad things were happening. I am not sure that
people's lives were saved because there were visual reports of the
storm. People in Oklahoma should know when the NWS says a very dangerous
tornado is occurring, they should respect that.
I am rambling
because I have so many thoughts going through my brain. I am a chaser
but I hate what chasing has become. But I cannot blame people for
wanting to see what I see. And I am sorry for the mess much of the media
makes with live reports. Tornado voyeurism. And I am very sorry that
people die in tornadoes and there really is not much we can do to save
And I miss Tim.