Archive for the ‘Tornado’ Category

Eulogy: Tim and Paul Samaras

June 7, 2013

Tornado Chasers, Chased…Taken

Mike Nelson, chief meteorologist, KMGH-TV:

“Many fellow storm chasers have combed the debris field and have located cameras, cell phones, backpacks and other items belonging to Tim, Paul and Carl. These will provide us with a great deal of information about what happened.”

Comfort the colleagues, friends, family, loved ones.

Mike’s eulogy is on his Facebook page.



El Reno Tornado Widest in History

June 4, 2013

Tornado Declared an EF-5

Source: @NWSNorman

The twister’s historic power and erratic path left people in vehicles little to no chance of survival.

Especially storm chasers, (watch):

The tornado was 2.6 miles wide, on the ground for 40 minutes and delivered winds exceeding 250 mph, per The National Weather Service.

Storm chasers, even the “experts,” became part of history.

Source: KFOR-TV


Samaras: "Too Close"

June 2, 2013

Veteran Colorado Tornado Chaser’s Last Tweet

“Dangerous day ahead for OK-stay weather savvy!”

A tweet four days earlier jumps out:

“too close”

Tim Samaras Tweets: Look at May 27, 2013

Sadly, four days later, Samaras and his chase team got “too close” to this violent, multiple vortex tornado in El Reno, Okla.:

Samaras, 55, his son Paul, 24, and meteorologist Carl Young, died after the tornado took a hard left turn and hit their car:

Credit: NWS, Norman, Okla.

When the tornado threw its left hook, other storm chasers, including The Weather Channel’s Mike Bettes, were also “too close.” Fortunately, Bettes lived.

Tributes to Samaras, a respected pioneer, came in from around the world.

From KMGH-TV Chief Meteorologist Mike Nelson:

“I have known Tim for over 20 years, he was the most brilliant and most careful severe weather researcher of them all. Tim was not a cowboy, he was as cautious as possible about his approach to studying these dangerous storms.”

Dr. Jeff Masters, meteorologist, blogged:

“My condolences go to all of the family and friends of Tim Samaras, Paul Samaras, and Carl Young. I hope that their deaths will lead towards safer tornado chasing, and help spur efforts to use emerging drone technology to take measurements in dangerous storms such as tornadoes and hurricanes.”

Tornadoes inspire awe.

Powerful monsters of nature.

Their fury attracts TV specials, twister tubes, a Spielberg movie, spotter networks, “cowboy” chasers.

So much so, we’re in an era of tornado tourism.

A tornado economy.

And the scientists work in it.

Competing with amateurs during tornado outbreaks for room on-the-highways … even escape routes.

Tornadoes excite interest, followers.

But they have no friends.

In this tragedy, Samaras’s own words provide counsel.

Dangerous day ahead?

Don’t get “too close.”

Stay weather savvy.

Source: CNN

Mike Bettes Lived

June 1, 2013

Deadly, Widespread U.S. Tornado Outbreak

A multiple vortex tornado – an extremely violent event – roars toward Oklahoma City:

Meteorologist Mike Bettes describes the moment:

“There’s no time to waste … shelter … we could be putting ourselves in danger.”

Bettes points to the monster, an EF-3, broadcasting live:

Trying to flee, Bettes becomes a victim.

His huge “Tornado Hunt” SUV, lofted like a pebble, was tumbled and crushed:

“My life flashed before my eyes,” said Bettes. His vehicle’s airbags deployed.

The Weather Channel icon lived. In understated jargon:

“We took a ride.”

The deadly tornado surprised KFOR-TV’s experienced storm chasers, too.

Two felt their truck sucked into the monster, even as they stomped on reverse:

They lived.

Other storm chasers intercepted the tornado. And felt its fury. This is scary:

Look at this – the number of storm chasers in harm’s way.

Traffic jammed I-40 and I-35, major U.S. traffic routes. Cars, semi-trucks took direct hits.

It was rush hour. And people were told to drive to safety.

But there were multiple tornadoes. Stuck cars became easy targets.

For the second time in two weeks, people died and were injured:

On radar, Oklahoma City was under siege. KFOR-TV’s coverage went “live” online. A tornado emergency was declared:

Historic rainfall caused flooding, too. That black vehicle (below) was trapped, going under:

Look closely. Two women escaping that sinking car lived:

With this event, and a horrific EF-5 on May 20, Oklahoma City set a new record for rainfall in May:

Transformers blew, as chunks of the grid went down:

The severe weather moved east.

Radar caught a tell-tale signature – the “hook” echo of a tornado – over St. Louis, Mo.:

Even National Weather Service employees were forced to take shelter.

Another day of severe weather, perhaps two, are expected across the country from this system.

Fatalities, injuries, flooding, hurricane-like rain, power outages, damage are left in its wake.

As are near misses. The Weather Channel went on a hunt:

Mike Bettes, meteorologist, was “successful”:

He and his team found a tornado … and live to tell about it.

“Hold on brothers. Hold on.”

Watch from inside his vehicle.

Update Saturday

“Hopefully our mishap will teach us all to respect the weather & be responsible & safe at all costs. I thought I was doing the right thing, but obviously I wasn’t. Lesson learned the hard way. Someone was watching over us. Very blessed to be headed home tomorrow to see my family.”

Mike Bettes, Facebook page.

Oklahoma Tornado Heroes

May 22, 2013

Ms. Doan

By Manny Fernandez and Jack Healy:

“‘She’s just worried about her kids,’ he said. ‘That’s all she’s thinking about right now.’

But the principal told him something else. Two of the students she had wrapped in her arms had survived.”

Such tragedy.

Amazing stories.

Reporting contributed by John Eligon from Moore, Dan Frosch from Denver, Michael Schwirtz from New York, and Ben Fenwick from Norman, Okla.

Horrific, Monster Tornado

May 20, 2013

Deadly Tornado hits Moore, Okla., 3:30 p.m. May, 20, 2013:

“A horrific, monster tornado.”

Some 25-to-30 square miles of countryside shredded, per KFOR-TV. A “ball” of debris about 2 1/2-miles-wide clearly visible on radar:

Debris “ball” radar signature

Twisted wreckage littered the front entrance of a ruined hospital:

Track of today’s beast (in orange) compared with an historic May 3, 1999 twister:

Front of what’s left of Plaza Towers elementary school, the site of much tragedy:

Preliminary reports rate the tornado an EF-4; The Weather Channel found EF-5 damage.

Dramatic scenes of total destruction.

Ripped pieces of Moore sucked into the atmosphere fell from the sky 250 miles away in Missouri.

Prayers for the families.

Peace to all.

Especially the little ones.

This monster’s now given a rare EF-5 rating.

All Screen Capture Credits: KFOR-TV

Colorado Tech Helps Texas Tornado Relief

May 17, 2013

DigitalGlobe Providing Satellite Imagery

DigitalGlobe FirstLook activated … Multiple tornadoes swept through north Texas on Wednesday May 15th, 2013. At least six people were killed after a twister touched down southeast of Granbury, Texas, a suburb of Fort Worth. Imagery is being tasked to help with relief efforts.

DigitalGlobe is a Longmont, Colo.-based firm.

Its high-tech satellite fleet delivers world-class imagery and information services.

After this tornado, emergency management needed great data, fast:

U.S. tech is not just for intelligence agencies, anymore.

Good job, Colorado.

Thoughts about Tornado "Tourism"

January 22, 2012
Tornado Tourism Maps: Controversy in Joplin, Mo.

“Tornado Tourism.” It’s apparently the next phase of a natural-disaster, at least in Joplin, Mo.

The city’s Convention & Visitors Bureau now has maps highlighting spots of special viewing interest from the horrific EF5 tornado of May 2011 that killed 161 people.

Local hotels are handing out the maps, too.

A spokesman says the maps are not meant to capitalize on the destruction, but to provide education.

Local residents disagree. Read the comments on the Facebook page of Joplin radio station Newstalk 1310.

And some 700 people to date have “liked” another Facebook page, Joplin Citizens Against Tornado Tours.

So the perception is that the maps are about tourism. Not education.

And this perception, real or not, is now the reality.

The other reality? There was nothing to like about the Joplin tornado. Watch this video, especially the end:

In crisis management training, I talk about the general stages of a disaster:

  • Preparation / Training
  • The event
  • The aftermath
  • The response
  • Recovery
  • Lessons learned / Training
  • “Anniversary” coverage, (e.g., “It’s been one year since… .”)

In addition to the loss of life, the Joplin tornado caused more than a billion dollars in damage.

Eaten to the ground were entire neighborhoods.

A damage map from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is jaw-dropping.

And now the tragedy is the stuff of an apparent new phase in natural disasters: “Disaster tourism.” Follow the map – see destruction.

There are lessons and memories from the Joplin tornado that should never be forgotten.

The community needs to recover, first.

Yes, the event should become a “living” source of education and awareness, too.

But people need to rebuild, and decide how best to honor memories through future generations.

And do so before tourist buses and “looky-loos” decide their own paths.

Supporting a long-term recovery featuring compassion, sensitivity and respect would seem to be a better role for the Convention & Visitors Bureau…than “education” maps about this tornado.

Healing a community should come before any appearance of promoting historic tragedy.

After all, as it says on the front-page of the Bureau’s website: “Welcome to Joplin…We’re Just Right.”

Show us “right.”

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