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Tornadoes are twisting masses of air that can do tremendous damage in a relatively small area; they form from thunderstorms

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Storm Chasers

Storm Chasers

Credit: Daphne Zaras
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Dszpics1.jpg
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

Three well-respected storm chasers were killed in Oklahoma in late May 2013. Tim Samaras was a storm chasing personality, having appeared many times on television news and shows. The others who died were his adult son Paul and Carl Young, a meteorologist, both veteran storm chasers.

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Credit: Anthony Quintano
Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/quintanomedia/11232323793/
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

The Weather Channel's Tornado Hunt team chasing storms [Figure2]

  • Storm chasing is one of the most dangerous jobs in Earth Science. But the scientists who measure tornadoes do extremely valuable work. The goal is to drop the equipment in the path of the storm and then get out of the way. But it is very difficult to predict which way a tornado will go. Most times, the tornado changes direction and does not pass over the equipment. 
  • With Samaras and his colleagues, the tornado changed direction and went over them. Samaras was extremely cautious so the EF3 tornado that killed them must have been acting very strangely.
  • An increasing number of people chase storms for the thrill. Storm chasing tours are even offered by companies. These “storm chasers” often do not know what they’re doing. They endanger themselves and the scientists who must navigate crowded roads while trying to escape from a storm.

Can You Apply It?

With the link below, learn more about Tim Samaras, storm chaser. Then answer the following questions.

  1. What is learned from the work storm chasers do that cannot be learned in any other way?
  2. What are two questions that Tim Samaras wanted to answer?
  3. Why was Tim Samaras unique among storm chasers? (How did his activities as a child affect his storm chasing?)
  4. What is the ultimate goal of scientist storm chasers?

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Image Attributions

  1. [1]^ Credit: Daphne Zaras; Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Dszpics1.jpg; License: CC BY-NC 3.0
  2. [2]^ Credit: Anthony Quintano; Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/quintanomedia/11232323793/; License: CC BY-NC 3.0

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