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Tornadoes and Tragedies

Remembering Storm Chaser Tim Samaras at NI Week 2011

Many of us were there, gripped by his enthusiastic use of NI products to instrument tornadoes. And also gripped by his fascinating, yet terrifying videos of lightning capture at 10,000 frames per second and deployment of instrumentation pods in the path of an on-coming tornado.

Yet this fascinating story had a tragic ending.

Tornado and Tragedy:  In Memoriam Tim Samaras

By Carsten Thomsen

A few weeks ago I was sorting old business cards and found one from Tim Saramas, the Tornado chaser featured as one of the Keynote Speakers at NI Week 2011. 

That triggered an avalanche of thoughts and feelings, and after a deep dive on my hard disk, I found a number of photos from NI Week 2011 exhibit floor of the TWISTEX storm chaser truck, slides from Tim Samaras presentation as well a couple of videos of lightning capture at 10,000 frames per second and a nerve wracking video of place an instrumentation pod directly in the path of an oncoming tornado.

Two years later, as many of us heard, and were deeply touched by his untimely death on May 31, 2013 along with that of his 24 year old son, Paul, and Meteorologist Carl Young, 45.  They were victims of the El Reno, Oklahoma tornado with winds up to 295 mph (475 km/h)

The book, “The Man Who Caught the Storm” was published in 2018

A  tape from his memorial service was posted on YouTube in 2018.

The first photos below are from the NI Week Exhibition floor followed by the photos of his presentation on the convention hall stage. Below the photo gallery, there is a fascinating slow motion video of lightning, following by a scary tornado chaser video, and finally the video of the Memorial Service for Tim Samaras.

The following video shows 10,000 frames/second video of lightning!

and below, the video of an attempt to place the instrumentation pod directly in front of an on-coming tornado, and then getting out of the way in a hurry.

And coming back after the storm to see if the instrumentation pod survived.

Placing an instrumentation pod in front of tornado!

…and finally, a posting on YouTube in 2018 of his memorial service five years after Tim, his son, and a Meteorologist were killed by an Oklahoma tornado which made a rapid, unexpected turn.

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