Hurricane Harbor

A writer and a tropical muse. A funky Lubavitcher who enjoys watching the weather, hurricanes, listening to music while enjoying life with a sense of humor and trying to make sense of it all!

Monday, June 03, 2013

Storm Chaser Carl Young Among the Dead in Oklahoma City From the Twister.- - Yellow Circle Alert in Tropics

The really great picture above was posted on Carl's birthday a few weeks back on Facebook... it sort of says it all about Carl and it says it all about a lot of of his friends. We are an unusual group not bound by any normal demographics. We come from different backgrounds, different cultures, different religions, different countries with one love that binds us all and that is a love of weather. And, a passion and a mission to want to help others and make the world a better place. Whether it's me with my writing or someone else writing modeling programs or taking photos to later study or employing probes into a storm to measure information to be studied later... inside we are all the same. And, on Friday we lost people who were our friends, our teachers and members of our tight knit community.

Normally we make jokes, share information and learn from each other. Today we are mourning together.

Carl posted this a week ago, shows who he was his chaser partner was and who we all are:

Carl Young shared a link.
Deep respect for all those helping in the wake of the recent tornado disasters.

We have been busy on our research mission this last week to learn more about tornadoes:

So, I've been sort of been putting off this post all day, as really it is difficult to for us to wrap our heads around the reality that three of the best chasers out there died on Friday in the Oklahoma City Tornado. And, I want to call it OKC Tornado ...vs El Reno or whatever other term is being bandied about. It was a tornado in a CITY... not in a rural area on a long winding road that makes for picturesque tornadoes dancing across the plains. It did in fact dance across the plains and then made a bee line for Oklahoma City and the suburbs that stretch out in all directions... El Reno to the West..Edmond to the North, Norman to the South.. etc. It is a big metropolitan area and a sea of smaller cities of suburbs.

The team chasing the tornado did not die because they were doing wild stunts out on the prairie trying to out do each other for some video clip to put up on Youtube. They were a seasoned team, professional weather monitors who share information that is used to lower the number over time of deaths from tornadoes.


You used to have 3 minutes warning... 5 minutes warning before a big Twister hit a small town. Now, because of the better radar and satellite imagery and the meteorologists on the ground sending back real time information... we could give Moore Oklahoma fifteen minutes or more of warning to protect their families, homes and businesses.  Trust me if you could choose between 3 minutes and 15 or 20 minutes and it was your baby or your grandmother you'd be thrilled and think it's a lifetime and indeed it often saves LIFETIMES for many.

They died because they like other storm chasers got stuck in massive traffic jams caused by few available roads in an urban environment and add to that people panicked and took to the roads to try and evacuate as visions of Moore danced in their heads.  (watch the video...)

Above link explains what a multiple vortex twister is...

Problem was this was a multiple vortex tornado, rain wrapped and making random zig zag movements. Again, everyone always thinks they will have the hurricane or the tornado they had last time. Add to that rush hour traffic and it was a sea of cars on the road in the way of the ever changing, rearranging tornado playing peek a boo like Thor throwing lighting bolts down at his enemies vs the big picturesque, slow moving, lumbering wedge tornado moving neatly in one direction at a precise speed.

It was what we call a worse case scenario. It was a worst case scenario for the mother and infant who were killed, stuck in traffic. It was a worse case scenario for Mike Bettes and TWC channel crew who isn't even sure if they were hit by the tornado or a car nearby that was hit by the tornado...there were cars everywhere being picked up and tossed about and smashed into other cars on the highway.

This was not some fun, adventure movie like Twister. This was real life and a worst case scenario.

And, for the first time in our community of weather trackers and chasers... we have suffered the very public, heartbreaking loss of three of our finest and most cautious and conservative chasers. Not daredevils or tourists paying a fortune to ride with chasers to "see a Twister" but an intricate part of our community that has now been shattered and forever changed.

Again, it's important for me to make it clear that is not about them being chasers... doing randomly wild adventure crazy storm junkies...but following a tornado into a metro area where people panicked and took to the already crowded roads to escape a tornado that was not the type of tornado you can outrun.

Let me tell you a little secret about TWC... they are extremely careful and cautious with their crews. They often pick a more boring spot or protected beach when they send out their On Air Meteorologists which is why Jim Cantore often gets teased for missing the action. They do not take risks with their million dollar personalities and they are the most conservative of the crews to follow wild weather and Mike Bettes and crew are lucky to be alive.

Normally, chasing is not as dangerous as it seems to people who don't really understand the dynamics of severe weather ... be it a tornado or a hurricane. It's not like the Finger of God coming down and zapping you while you sit at home watching One Life to Live. You pick your spot, you do your research you know tornadoes and the roads and the you are part of a large community who has every one's back. But, this Friday the storm chasers veered off the country roads to follow the tornado, to gather the data and do their job and even if they had wanted to escape there was no way to get off the crowded road. And, people there panicked the way they panicked in Hurricane Rita in Houston.

In September of 2005, in the aftermath of the recent tragedy of Hurricane Katrina people who were not in danger took to the roads in a mass evacuation of the general Houston area. Mind you an evacuation was ordered...but people in safe areas, far inland, not in a flood area or a bayou in well built homes with hurricane protection took to the road and joined the others who were evacuating ALL expecting a replay of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans...even though that was not going to happen. Cars ran out of gas, no one went anywhere and most were not even in danger but the perception of danger was there even if it was an illusion.

Read the article about Hurricane Rita and the Traffic Jam that caused the mess shown above.

A similar problem happened on Friday when many tried to run away from the tornado with visions of
Moore dancing in their minds and joined the rush hour traffic added by storm chasers doing their job and ... again I have to reiterate if was a worst case scenario that killed so many including some of the best in the meteorology community.

Carl Young had a Masters Degree in Atmospheric Science.. he had chased for 10 years with Tim Samaras and more recently with Tim's son Paul and they knew what they were doing. Yet, the tornado pulled odd punches with an erratic path and a date with a metropolitan area vs a corn field.

Check out TWISTEX the company that his partner Samaras founded.

"TWISTEX (an acronym for Tactical Weather Instrumented Sampling in/near Tornadoes EXperiment) is a tornado research experiment that was founded and headed up by Tim Samaras (until May 31, 2013, when Samaras was killed during the May 26–31, 2013 tornado outbreak) from Denver, Colorado. The project normally runs from mid-April through the end of June with a domain that covers the Great Plains and portions of the Midwest. The project is normally at full strength for most of May and June with four vehicles, all equipped with roof-mounted mobile mesonet weather stations. One of the vehicles transports an array of in situ thermodynamic and video probes. Due to graduate and upper-division undergraduate student participant availability, a reduced vehicle compliment consisting of the in situ probe deployment truck and one support mesonet station vehicle is used in the first few weeks of the project.
The objectives of this research are to better understand tornado generation, maintenance and decay processes and to gain insight and knowledge of the seldom sampled near-surface internal tornado environment. Progress on these research fronts is aimed toward increasing tornado warning lead time while the internal tornado near-surface sampling provides essential ground truth data for structural engineering analysis of the interaction of tornadic winds with homes and buildings.[1]"

On Friday Tim and his son Paul and Carl Young would have been safe out there on the plains, but Friday something was different and no one was safe.

This was his work and his life.

Tim was no "Weather Cowboy" he was a professional and his son who followed in his business and shared his love for weather were two of the best.

And, on Friday I lost a friend .... Carl Young who chased with the Tim and Paul Samaras... a bright part of the weather world who celebrated his birthday a few weeks back.

May they all not scare people off from studying and following weather, but inspire them to learn more, study more and help make the world a better, safer place the next time some F5 forms and people are given 20 minutes to evacuate a school or a business or help get to a safe room. And, if you can't decide where to spend $2,500... and you live out there, spend it on a tornado safe room and go see the Bahamas on a cruise another year.

And, I hope and pray that more people learn about tornadoes and how to stay safe in them and how to stay aware of the uniqueness of that particular tornado that might be bearing down on them to find a safe place in their home or community rather than taking to the road in a panic and creating a much worse situation... like the one that happened on Friday.

Panic is never good. Tim did not panic and neither did Carl.. but many people did and had they not panicked and hunkered down somewhere SAFE the death toll would not include the first deaths ever of storm chasers, but would also not include several children who were killed while their cars were picked up and tossed about like matchbox cars slamming down into the ground on into another vehicle.

That is the tragedy. Not that they were chasing, the tragedy is that they were pinned in a bad situation and life happens and death happens and may their lives not their deaths inspire more people like them who help us get a better handle on how to predict the rapid formation of all twisters, especially multiple vortex tornadoes that are like the faces of hell coming down to earth to cause misery.

...As for my part of the weather world ... there is a yellow circle up that includes the remnants of Barbara and a low pressure trough that has been raining and already causing misery down in the Florida Keys.

Currently it has a 20 percent chance of forming.

Another new set of Models... so is it FL or places North?

Please remember SEVERAL days ago I said that the moisture from Barbara and the tropics was flowing up towards the plains and it would exacerbate an already bad tornado outbreak.
And, I was right and it did.

Look at that surge of tropical energy (oranges and reds) surging north into the Plains
and all week there threat for more tornadoes in the same areas remains

If and when this invest develops into more than a yellow circle I will write much more.
But, today has been a day for remembering.
Remembering who Tim and Paul and Carl were...
....and remembering who we are.

Besos Bobbi

Just remember Tim:

Paul who did all sorts of photography... will let his photography speak for him.


Never easy losing friends, never easy saying goodbye.


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