Storm Chaser Deaths Shock Local Chaser

Storm-chasing fatalities rare, says local storm chaser

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A local storm chaser says he is shocked by the deaths of three chasers in Friday's Oklahoma tornadoes. (Published Monday, Jun 3, 2013)

    A local storm chaser says he is shocked by the deaths of three chasers in Friday's Oklahoma tornadoes.

    Samaras, his son Paul, a videographer, and Carl Young, a researcher and conservationist, were killed Friday when a powerful tornado near El Reno, Okla., turned on them as they were conducting research.

    "Tim [was] a very careful, conservative, thoughtful chaser," said Martin Lisius, an NBC 5 storm tracker and president and founder of Tempest Tours, a storm tracking and tour company. "I think probably what happened was that Tim felt he was in a good position and the storm evolved in the wrong direction -- we did see that."

    Fatalities among storm chasers are rare.

    "Storm chasing is over 50 years old, and these are the first three fatalities caused by a tornado ever," said Lisius, who was in Oklahoma with his crew on Friday taking pictures and shooting video of the storms.

    Lisius said storm chasing has come a long way in its 50-plus years, providing the public with invaluable, life-saving research.

    "The lead times on warnings are better than ever, and that has to do with that research -- research that Tim did and that goes into a big pod of information and we share that information," he said.

    Storm chasing is not a thrill-seeking sport, but something that should be left up to the experts, Lisius stressed.

    "It's an art, something you have to study very heavily," he said. "We're trying to find where a tornado is going to exist eight hours before, before the storm is there. The sky is clear blue, and we're trying to pinpoint where a tornado is going to be later in the day."