An outpouring of support from the storm chaser community took the form of a GPS message this past week, memorializing the death of three fellow storm chasers in the wake of a string of Oklahoma tornadoes.
Since devastating tornadoes ravaged Moore, Oklahoma less than two weeks ago killing 24, nine more casualties have been chalked up to storms in the area, including three celebrity storm chasers: Tim Samaras, his son Paul Samaras, and his chase partner Carl Young, who had been featured on the Discovery Channel show Storm Chasers.
The three men were killed when their Chevrolet Cobalt was thrown from the highway outside of the Oklahoma City suburb of El Reno.
“It looks like it had gone through a trash compactor,” Canadian County Undersheriff Chris West said. “The car was probably about 60 to 70 percent of its normal size because it had been pushed and mauled and compacted as it was tumbling down the road. Like wadded up.”
A number of weather science colleagues and admirers took to social media after Friday’s tragic event, commemorating the deceased’s contributions to weather research. Many attempted to get the hashtag #twistex trending; an acronym for the Tactical Weather Instrumented Sampling in/near Tornadoes Experiment, an experiment founded by Tim Samaras.
The most moving tribute, however, came in the form of a message spelled out in GPS tracker plot points on storm chaser community site The Spotter Network. The message, which stretched across the Dakotas and Nebraska, spelled out TS, PS, and CY, the initials of the fallen storm chasers.
The EF5 tornado that caused this particular devastation was especially erratic, and doubly dangerous as it was shrouded in rain and difficult to see. Young and the Samaras’ death is the most recent in a series of disasters that has cast new light on the rising competitive nature within the storm chaser community.
The Discovery Channel will be airing a special, “Mile Wide Tornado: Storm Chasers Tribute,” on Wednesday to honor the chasers.