The American Meteorological Society has released a preliminary version of its after-action report on the El Reno, Oklahoma, tornado, which killed noted storm chaser Tim Samaras, his son Paul and chase partner Carl Young. The result, even in dry, acronym-heavy academic language, manages to serve as both an enlightening and horrifying account of storm chasing's worst day.
Charity Head/KWTV News 9 Tim Samaras' Chevy Cobalt on Reuter Road, southwest of El Reno, Oklahoma.
A storm chaser who heeded the bad feeling in his gut and decided to hang back that day told me the tornado was "designed to kill storm chasers." This report indicates he's more right than he could have known. Doppler imaging pegged the tornado's width at 2.5 miles, the widest ever documented. But the main circulation was crawling with smaller tornadoes, some moving at speeds of 260 feet per second (177 mph), according to the report. The authors conclude, "it is likely that no clear direction to safety was apparent."More »