(OKLAHOMA CITY) — The tornado outbreak that swept through Oklahoma on Friday night moved in quickly, for the second time in two weeks, and the cluster of twisters were deadly. In the storm’s aftermath, 13 people have been confirmed dead. Among them were three veteran storm chasers.
Tim Samaras, his son Paul Samaras and their colleague, Carl Young, were all killed while trying to document and research the storm.
Tim was found inside his car with his seat belt still on. Paul and Young were pulled from a car by a tornado. One of them was found dead a half mile away.
Tim Samaras, who led the storm chasing team, was an esteemed scientist. In the storm chasing community, he was known, not only as one of the best, but one of the most cautious. He chased because he wanted to learn, find out how to improve warning systems and help meteorologists do a better job of forecasting tornadoes.
Much of Samaras’ recent research was funded through National Geographic, which issued a statement today that said, “We are shocked and deeply saddened… [Samaras] was a courageous and brilliant scientist who fearlessly pursued tornadoes and lightning … in an effort to better understand these phenomena.”
But Samaras also was well aware of the real dangers of storm chasing.
“At times I have mixed feelings about chasing the storms,” he said. “On one hand they are incredibly beautiful, on the other hand these powerful storms can create devastating damage that change people lives forever.”
At the end of a chase last year, Samaras told ABC News’s Ginger Zee that it was his desire to know more, to inform us all, that fueled him to keep going out into the storm again and again.
“I don’t know how many storms I’ve seen in my lifetime, but every single one of them, I still get pretty excited,” he said. “The little boy in me just wants to come out here and just watch and stare.”
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Andreas Preuss, CNN
Sara Ganim and Eric Levenson, CNN
Jackie Wattles, CNN
Morgan Loew, CNN