I was stunned and deeply saddened when I heard of Tim Samaras' untimely death in the Oklahoma tornadoes this weekend, as well as his son and chasing partner. Tim was a veteran storm chaser and I knew him well. Back in 2002, Tim helped to test an early version of SWIFT WX, which would later become Weather Defender, in his history-making tornado probe deployments. We published a press release about his success which got noticed by National Geographic who featured Tim's work and went on to fund future projects.
A few years later I asked Tim to be the keynote speaker at the 1st Annual Minnesota Skywarn Workshop I was organizing. It was a free event and I couldn't afford to pay him beyond travel expenses, but Tim came anyway because he believed in the mission of Skywarn and promoting severe weather awareness. It was a packed house and Tim's presentation on In-Situ Tornado Probes was well received.
Tim was a brilliant engineer and at the very forefront of weather technology and severe weather science. And he was nothing if not cautious. That's what makes his death so difficult to accept. When I remember Tim, there are many positive traits that come to mind. But mostly, he was a good man who was respected by all. It was my privilege to know him.
My prayers are with the Samaras family and all the families who have witnessed the ultimate devastation in recent weeks.
Founder & CEO