Storm Chasing Dangers and The Legacy of Tim Samaras

I never cheer for storms. You will never hear me say “boy it was a great day, because we had some good tornadoes.” Images from Elk City, Oklahoma this week affirm why I say this. Having said that, I understand the awe and curiosity that weather geeks have for extreme weather. It is part of the reason we love the weather at a level beyond the average person.  In the past decade, storm chasing popularity has exploded and given many professional and amateur weather geeks a chance to scratch their curiosity or fascination itch.

There are scientific field campaigns, chasing tours, and individual chasers. It seems like every year there are storm chasers who draw criticism for getting too close to tornadoes and the debate rages on concerning the value of storm chasing. There are clearly positive and negative points that can be made.

One positive was the work that Tim Samaras and his team were providing for the weather community. By now, you probably know that Tim and his team lost their lives a few years ago doing what he loved to do, chase and conduct research. Their efforts to provide near or in-storm measurements of tornadoes were dangerous but valuable for scientific research. Lanny Dean of Extreme Chase Tours is a storm chaser. However, he was also a part of the scientific and engineering studies pioneered by Tim. Lanny has vowed to continue the legacy of Tim’s work.

We invited Lanny Dean and his long-time friend and chase partner Randy Hicks of Outlaw Chasers to come to Weather Geeks. This is an important discussion because I always like to get to the “good, bad, and the ugly” of chasing in these discussions. Dean and Hicks discuss their chase philosophy and how it has changed since Tim’s death. Additionally, they explain the fascinating science of trying to get in-situ measurements with field instrumentation as one of nature’s most powerful forces is bearing down on you. We are also going to let you experience what a tornado “sounds” like using equipment deployed by Lanny Dean and his team.

Calling all weather geeks and chasers. This one’s definitely for you.

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