Tornado researcher Tim Samaras, who was killed May 31 by a tornado outside El Reno, Oklahoma, was an Extra Class amateur holding the call sign WJ0G. According to news reports, the twister he was tracking along with his son, Paul, and partner, Carl Young, suddenly changed course and headed directly for them. All three were killed.
According to reports on The Weather Channel, Tim was a self-trained engineer who designed and built virtually all of his weather monitoring equipment. He is credited with developing unique tools to measure barometric pressure at the base of a tornado. It was unclear as this was written whether either Paul Samaras or Carl Young were licensed amateurs.
The same tornado surprised Weather Channel meteorologist Mike Bettes and his crew – at least one of whom is a ham. The car in which Bettes was traveling was picked up by the storm and sent tumbling hundreds of feet off the road. Only one crew member was injured seriously enough to require hospitalization. Satellite truck engineer Cleve Massey, WD5BOR, reports he was not injured and that his vehicle remained on the road, although it did sustain damage. As he put it, “driving a 12,000-pound, low-to-the-ground satellite truck has its advantages.” At this writing, we do not know whether any of the other Weather Channel crew members also hold ham tickets.