Three men who appeared on a popular Discovery Channel show are now dead after an F3 tornado ripped through parts of Oklahoma.
Tim Samaras died along with his 24-year-old son, Paul Samaras, and partner, Carl Young, while they were chasing the storms on Friday, although authorities say they have yet to determine the actual cause of their deaths. Witnesses say that the tornado was such a strong, unpredictable one that many people got caught out in it and were surprised when it changed direction. Even Samaras, who was a veteran storm chaser who founded Tactical Weather Instrumented Sampling in Tornadoes Experiment–or Twistex–was unable to foresee what path it would take.
Mike Bettes, who is a meteorologist for the Weather Channel, was one of several people in a truck which got tossed more than 200 feet in the twister. Several Weather Channel employees were injured.
“I think this was just an erratic tornado. I think the size of it and the speed of it changed very, very quickly,” Bettes said. “I think the direction of movement changed quickly. And I think there were a lot of people out there that, you know, ended up getting stuck in positions we didn’t want to be in.”
While many people are fascinated by tornadoes and chase storms in order to capture them on video or just to say they did it, Samaras and his team were in it for the science. Twistex was formed in an effort to better understand funnel clouds and what makes them behave the way they do in order to help save lives. Samaras’ brother says that’s what he needs to be remembered for.
“He looked at tornadoes not for the spotlight of TV but for the scientific aspect. At the end of the day, he wanted to save lives and he gave the ultimate sacrifice for that,” Jim Samaras said.