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Susan Smith-Harmon

Susan Smith-Harmon

   EL RENO, OK (ABC) - Storm chaser and meteorologist Tim Samaras, his storm chaser partner Carl Young, and his son Paul Samaras, were among the 13 people killed in the latest round of tornadoes and severe weather to hit Oklahoma Friday night, according to family members. 

    They were killed near El Reno in an EF3 tornado with winds up to 165 mph that ripped through the Oklahoma City area during rush hour.

    Samaras, 55, his son Paul, 24, and Young, 45, were all killed while trying to document and research the storm. Tim Samaras was found inside his car with his seat belt still on. Paul and Young were pulled from a car by a tornado. One of them was found dead a half mile away.

   "They put themselves in harm's way so that they can educate the public about the destructive power of these storms," Canadian County Undersheriff Chris West told the Associated Press.

   Tim Samaras, 55, dedicated the last three decades to learning about tornadoes while he successfully combined his passion for storm chasing and an engineering career.

   "I'm not sure exactly why I chase storms. Perhaps it's to witness the incredible beauty of what Mother Nature can create" Samaras said in a Youtube video posted on his website.

   Samaras' brother, Jim Samaras posted a statement on Tim Samaras' Facebook book early Sunday morning:

   "It truly is sad that we lost my great brother Tim and his great son, Paul. Our hearts also go out to the Carl Young family as well as they are feeling the same feelings we are today," the statement said. "They all unfortunately passed away but doing what they LOVED. Chasing Tornado's. I look at it that he is in the 'big tornado in the sky...'"

   ABC News meteorologist Ginger Zee knew Tim Samaras well and said his death was a reminder of the power of the storm.

   "Out of all storm chasers he doesn't take chances, he's the one that puts the probes in the path of the tornado to learn more about them. He is not, you know, a young gun running around making bad decisions person, so I am so sad and shocked, it is such a loss for the community," Zee said of Samaras.

   Watch the "Nightline" 2012 interview with Tim Samaras on the mystery of how lightning forms.

   Zee said Samaras left behind a legacy of work.

   "He was a pioneer, he was getting things and teaching us things that no one else could do. This is a guy who was not just a meteorologist, he's an engineer, he's one of the smartest men I have ever met in my life," she said.

   Samaras holds the world record for "measuring the lowest barometric pressure drop (100 millibars) inside of a tornado that destroyed the town of Manchester South Dakota, on June 24, 2003," according to his website.

   Samaras also built a special probe equipped with cameras that "are able to look inside of a tornado safely."

   The probe allowed Samaras and Young to document the tornado from different angles and speeds when they deployed the device in the path of a twister on June 11, 2004 near Storm Lake Iowa.

   Terry Garcia, Executive Vice President, National Geographic Society said Samaras was "a courageous and brilliant scientist who fearlessly pursued tornadoes and lightning in the field in an effort to better understand these phenomena."

   "The National Geographic Society made 18 grants to Tim for research over the years for field work like he was doing in Oklahoma at the time of his death, and he was one of our 2005 Emerging Explorers. Tim's research included creation of a special probe he would place in the path of a twister to measure data from inside the tornado; his pioneering work on lightning was featured in the August 2012 issue of National Geographic magazine," Garcia said in a statement. "Though we sometimes take it for granted, Tim's death is a stark reminder of the risks encountered regularly by the men and women who work for us. This is an enormous loss for his family, his wide circle of friends and colleagues and National Geographic."

   Samaras also founded TWISTEX (Tactical Weather Instrumented Sampling in Tornadoes EXperiment) research group and appeared on the Discovery Channel show "Storm Chasers."

   "This is a devastating loss to the meteorological, research, and storm chasing communities. I ask that you keep the families in your thoughts and prayers during this very difficult time," Tony Laubach, meteorologist and TWISTEX collaborator posted on the TWISTEX Facebook page . "There is some comfort in knowing these men passed on doing what they loved... Your support means the world. Thank you."

   Young was chasing tornadoes with Samaras every spring since 2003 and together they tracked more than 125 tornadoes, according to his bio on the "Storm Chasers" website.

   The pair met while Young attended a meteorlogical conference. Young started out working on Hollywood film sets until he was inspired to study the science of tornado dynamics.

   He graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno with a masters degree in atmospheric science.

   We're deeply saddened by the loss of @tim_samaras, his son Paul, and their colleague Carl Young. Our thoughts & prayers go to their families," The Discovery Channel tweetedthis afternoon.

   The Associated Press contributed to this report.

   LANCASTER, Calif. (AP) — Nearly 3,000 people from some 700 homes are under evacuation orders as a wildfire north of Los Angeles kept growing, feeding on old, dry brush, some of which hadn't burned in decades.

    The blaze had burned about 35 square miles in the mountains and canyons of the Angeles National Forest, destroying at least six homes and damaging 15 more.

   The fire, which was 20 percent contained, was fueled in part by chaparral that was "extremely old and dry" and hadn't burned since 1929, U.S. Forest Service Incident Commander Norm Walker said Sunday at a news conference.

   It was spreading fastest into unoccupied land, but populated areas about 50 miles north of downtown LA remained in danger, with more than 2,800 people and 700 homes under evacuation orders that were expected to last until late Monday or Tuesday in the communities of Lake Hughes and Lake Elizabeth, sheriff's Lt. David Coleman said.

   It appeared to be the fiercest of several burning in the West, including two in New Mexico, where thick smoke covered several communities and set a blanket of haze over Santa Fe. Crews fighting the two uncontained wildfires focused Sunday on building protection lines around them, hoping predicted storms could bring moisture to help reduce the intensity of the fires.

   In Southern California, about 2,100 firefighters were taking on the wildfire, aided by water-dropping aircraft, including three helicopters expected to stay aloft through the night.

   "We're putting everything that we have into this," Walker said.

   The cause of the fire was under investigation. Three firefighters had minor injuries, but no one else was hurt.

   Winds of about 25 mph and gusting as high as 40 mph had created "havoc" for firefighters for much of Sunday, LA County Deputy Chief David Richardson said.

   Propelled by the strong winds, the fire jumped an aqueduct into the west of Lancaster, officials said.

   Nightfall brought some weather relief, and firefighters hope they could take advantage of it.

   "It is cooling off," Forest Service spokesman Nathan Judy said. "The winds have died down, at least compared to earlier."

   In a report early Monday, fire officials said that the blaze was holding and no new evacuations or road closures were immediately foreseen.

   At least six homes had burned to the ground, and 15 more were scorched by flames, LA County fire Chief Daryl L. Osby said.

   George Ladd, 61, said among them was a cabin at Lake Hughes his family had owned since 1954, but sold just last week. He said he expected it may go up in flames sooner.

   "We had always worried about that thing going off like a bomb," Ladd said.

   He walked through the ashes of his former cabin and the other destroyed homes Sunday.

   "All of them are nothing," he said by phone from his home in nearby Palmdale later Sunday night. "A few scraps, a few pieces of wood with nails sticking out, but mostly just broken up concrete."

   Mark Wadsworth, 64, said he was confident his house in Lake Elizabeth survived. He spent Sunday parked in his truck atop a ridge, watching plumes of smoke rise from the canyons below.

   "I've got nowhere to go, so I'm just waiting for them to open the roads again and let me back in," Wadsworth said.

   In New Mexico, a fire burning in Santa Fe National Forest 25 miles from Santa Fe had grown to nearly 12 square miles by Sunday evening, causing thick smoke to cover parts of Gallinas Canyon and Las Vegas, N.M.

   The fire near the communities of Pecos and Tres Lagunas had prompted the evacuations of about 140 homes, most of them summer residences.

   Crews also cleared out campgrounds and closed trailheads in the area as they worked to prevent the fire from moving toward the capital city's watershed and more populated areas.

   Another New Mexico blaze, the Thompson Ridge fire near Jemez Springs, grew to nearly 3 square miles.

   Forty to 50 homes that were evacuated late last week remained so on Sunday.

   Forestry service officials say neither blaze and destroyed any homes, but one house suffered minor damage.

   For California evacuees, the Red Cross opened centers in Lancaster and Palmdale, where about 150 residents awaited word on when they could return home.

   A huge plume of smoke could be seen from much of northern Los Angeles County, and air-quality officials warned against strenuous outdoor activity.

   The blaze broke out Thursday just north of Powerhouse No. 1, a hydroelectric plant near the Los Angeles Aqueduct.

   The wilderness area is a draw for boaters, campers and hikers. Crews and residents were being warned to keep an eye out for rattlesnakes and bears that could be displaced by flames.

   Evacuations remained in effect for several campgrounds and two youth probation camps. Several roads and trails were closed.

Storm closes some businesses, including Boeing

Monday, 03 June 2013 06:51 Published in Local News

   The Alton Belle Casino is closed due to flooding along the Mississippi River at Alton.

   The River City Casino in Lemay is also closed because the roads leading to the casino are covered by floodwaters from the Mississippi.

   Due to power outages affecting several Boeing campuses in north St. Louis County, Boeing is reminding employees to check the company’s employee hotline (800-899-6431), to see if they are to report for their shift Monday.  All essential maintenance workers are to report to work as scheduled.

   The National Personnel Records Center in North County will be closed Monday due to a power outage from the Friday storms.  The center is expecting to have the power restored this afternoon.  Employees should check the center’s weather hotline (314-801-0900) this evening for the latest information. 

 

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