Monday, June 3, 2013

At Least One Ham Killed in Oklahoma Tornado; Three More Survive Close Call

Weather researcher Tim
Samaras, WJ0G (SK)
(From Tim's page)
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 - three of whom are hams. The car in which Bettes was traveling was picked up by the storm and sent tumbling hundreds of feet off the road. The one crew member injured seriously enough to require hospitalization was Austin Anderson, N5YNE, of Austin, Texas. Satellite truck engineer Cleve Massey, W5CEM, and RF Engineer Kevin Parrish, N6LUI, were not injured. Massey noted that "driving a 12,000-pound, low-to-the-ground satellite truck has its advantages," although the truck did sustain considerable damage from the storm.

[Updated 6/3/13 to show that 3 members of Weather Channel crew are hams, and to correct/update Massey's call sign]]