In May of 2013, veteran storm chasers Tim Samaras, his son Paul and longtime colleague Carl Young were killed by a Tornado that ripped through Oklahoma, killing 22 people.

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Best known for appearing on Discover’s Storm Chasers, the 55-year old, self-taught engineer travelled over 50,000 kilometres annually, tracking tornadoes during the summer. He designed and built a variety of probes for the storms, leaving them on the ground just before a twister would barrel through – often at great personal risk.

Samaras’s work gave us insight into the thermodynamic functions that turn a thunderstorm into a tornado, and used those insights to increase warning times ahead of twisters.

“He did groundbreaking research, and he was very careful and very experienced, which makes his death all the more stunning…It was a tremendous loss.”

– Greg Forbes, Weather Channel severe weather expert and friend of Samaras.

Using a Cold War-era camera, originally used to film nuclear tests, Samaras retrofitted them with modern software and sensors, striving to capture the split seconds lightning strikes are born.  Samaras chased his passion, and lost his life doing what he loved.  His research and insights have given us new information about how Tornados and lightning form, and have led to better warning systems, saving lives in the process.

Tim Samaras: November 12, 1957 – May 31, 2013

There’s more stories from 2013.  Check out the Best of 2013 series here

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