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  2. 7 Behind-the-Scenes Secrets of Roadies | Mental Floss
  3. Thrilling Short Film Looks At The Crazy Life Of Storm Chasers

What about Refunds? Please do not book a tour until you are comfortable with the dates. There are no refunds if you are removed from tour or leave a tour early for ANY reason. Extreme Chase Tours reserves the right to remove a guest from a tour for any reason. We will simply reschedule your tour for a later tour as agreed upon. If you are late this will obviously effect their tour as well.

Can I take photos and video while on tour? In fact, we encourage you to bring your camera or videocam to shoot breathtaking video and pictures while on your tour! I want to go, where do I sign up and pay? You are then required to have full payment to us no later than Jan 1, If a seat becomes available by. Please see below. If arriving by air, you will fly into Tulsa International Airport. Please do not be late! We will not wait on you. Tulsa International Airport have convenient and secure long term parking.

You are required to have full payment to us no later than Jan 1, If a seat is still open and booked prior to full payment for the tour is due upon requesting your seat. All tour payments must be received no later than Jan 1, unless other arrangements have been made or if booking a seat before There are no refunds on the deposit or payment. We will simply book you o the next available tour or the following year. There are no refunds period. On the darkening horizon, thick clouds billowed in a promise of rain. But around 4 p. At its peak, researchers estimate that the twister spanned 2.

Over the course of its minute rampage, the twister caused millions of dollars of damage, injuries and 20 deaths. Each of those deaths was significant, but three were particularly unusual: the first storm chasers ever known to be killed in a tornado. The violent winds enveloped Tim Samaras, 55, his son Paul Samaras, 24, and his colleague Carl Young, 45, toppling their car like a toy in a breeze. Their deaths may not seem surprising; storm chasing, as you might expect, has its risks.


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But Samaras was a seasoned chaser who pursued tornadoes for over two decades. As journalist Brantley Hargrove writes in his new book The Man Who Caught the Storm , Samaras worked to change the face of tornado science, helping researchers better understand how changes in pressure, humidity, winds and air temperature conspire to produce a phenomenon so powerful it can snap trees, flip cars or even derail a multi-ton train.

Throughout Samaras' career, he ventured ever closer to the deadly storms to deploy squat cone-shaped probes he engineered to measure the pressure, humidity and temperature in the heart of the tornado. But to do this, Samaras had to bend the chasers' one rule: "never get too close or too cocky," as Hargrove puts it. Hargrove was a reporter for the Dallas Observer when he heard of Samaras' death. The drama Twister had loomed large in his teen years—and Samaras' story was like a real-life retelling of that suspenseful tale.

What was he trying to accomplish out there? As Hargrove would soon learn, Samaras' dangerous work had good reason: he was trying to save lives. By getting ground-based data, he hoped scientists could better understand these tricky beasts, and use the information to hone their forecasts and design structures to withstand the roaring winds. As Samaras once stressed : A ground-based measurement from within the twister "is especially crucial, because it provides data about the lowest ten meters of a tornado, where houses, vehicles, and people are.

Currently, seven out of ten tornado forecasts from National Weather Service are false alarms, and the lead time on an oncoming twister is an average of just 13 minutes. In the early half of the 20th century, tornadoes were deemed so unpredictable the word was forbidden from weather forecasts to prevent unnecessary outbreaks of hysteria.

Progress on the forecasting front moved slowly until the s, when the first Doppler radar scans illuminated the elements of these twisting storms. Scientists could track the storm's development and soon learned to spot the signs of a developing twister. But there was still much to learn. As Hargrove writes, the Doppler can say nothing about temperature, humidity or pressure inside the tornado. Since the s , researchers had been attempting to measure these basic pillars of atmospheric science from the tornado's heart. But many of these devices weighed hundreds of pounds, making them impractical to move in the few heart-pounding moments a chaser has to deploy.

Others simply couldn't withstand the tornado's winds, which have been measured up to around miles per hour. Many factors can affect the developing tornado—from changes in air temperature to the tug of nearby storms. And unlike hurricanes, which can be spotted days off shore, tornadoes develop over the course of hours or minutes, which makes taking on-the-ground measurements even more challenging. As Hargrove says, "tornadoes are creatures of variability. That's where Samaras came in. Samaras, born in Lakewood, Colorado, was curious from the start. He became an amateur radio operator, using parts of discarded electronics to build transmitters.

He also had a lifelong love of storms and weather, sparked by a childhood obsession by the twister that swept up Dorothy and Toto in The Wizard of Oz. Instead, he got a job at the Denver Research Institute fresh out of high school, where he tested explosive weapons systems and ran a suite of high-end electronics to characterize the blasts. The position was a dream for Samaras, but his love of storms kept calling him back. His foray into chasing was cautious and methodical, including his enrollment in a basic meteorology program in It turned out he had a talent for spotting the subtle signs of a developing storm, reading the twister's moves as if the winds whispered directions in his ear.

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He'd record every moment of his pursuit, later selling the videos to weather stations. Samaras soon became known as "the guy who always gets the killer shot," Hargrove writes. And now we have to make our move. It looks promising. A heavy wind has been unloading on the prairie, twisting the cottonwood leaves onto their pale backsides, leaving grain fields squirming. We head out with the skies overcast, like dirty fleece hanging off an old sheep. Thunderstorms are raging to the south. We haul across the Oklahoma border and reach again into the Texas Panhandle. By we're in cattle country, where the towns are rawboned, as if the buildings had been scoured into packing crates by the prairie wind.

We pull into Lipscomb, Texas, and a car full of local women rolls up. But we're late, and out of position. If we try to drive around the storm, we won't have enough daylight left to see it. So we decide to "punch the core" of the thunderstorm, forcing our way into the "bear's cage," an area between the main updraft and the hail. It's an apt name: Chasing tornadoes is like hunting grizzlies—you want to get close, but not on the same side of the river.

Sometimes you get the bear; sometimes the bear gets you. And so we head straight into the storm and find ourselves splattering mud at 60 miles an hour 97 kilometers an hour on a two-lane road, threatening to hydroplane, visibility near zero. Anton is less than comforting. It's like small meteorites banging down. When the storm spits us out, we stop to look back at the supercell steaming across the prairie.

Its top is shaped like a giant anvil, and lightning flashes from it like artillery. Stacks of cumulonimbus clouds pompadour from its top, and dark wisps of clouds curl like imps from the "wall cloud" that has dropped from its rear flank; that's where tornadoes are known to originate. We sprint into position down a country road and—how does this happen? Down the road are the headlights of local spotters, many of them sheriff's deputies.

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Spotters will react on the side of caution, and account for many false tornado sightings. But spotters' vigilance saves lives and property. The supercell moves in with an immense, dark, roiling tapestry of clouds that leaves us gaping. Hail roar—hailstones clattering against each other as they fall from high in the storm—resonates like a Harley-Davidson.

The storm does not deliver a tornado, but after it passes, lightning scorches the sky for half an hour. Brad Carter, Tim's chase partner for this trip, shakes his head. If I had seen one right away, on the first trip, maybe I wouldn't have gotten so hooked. Disappointments arrive daily now. The morning strategy sessions, the long drives, the wild chases across the High Plains, the spectacular busts. It's been two years now without a tornado worth documenting. The tornado season is another matter entirely.

It starts with an explosive string of May storms that roar through Arkansas, Tennessee, and Missouri, leaving entire towns for dead. But we're still either a step behind or a step ahead. On the way to Colorado, my chase partner, Scott Elder, and I pull into Pierce City, Missouri, where just two weeks before an F3 had flattened homes and left the tidy brick shops and restaurants on the town's main street in rubble.

Sixty survived there. Over pancakes one morning, Jon Davies, a veteran meteorologist from Kansas, outlines a paradox,"it's so hard to reconcile the destruction of towns and people suffering," he says,"with something you enjoy doing. You won't see me whooping and hollering under a tornado.

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7 Behind-the-Scenes Secrets of Roadies | Mental Floss

These things turn people's lives upside down. Tornadoes have also ripped the southern plains in the season, and by the time Carsten, Scott, and I join Tim and Anton for the chase, they have already dropped one probe into a Texas twister. Joshua Wurman's DOW trucks were out on the same storm, so there is complementary data to feed into the computer models.

Before his project, in more than ten years of trying, scientists had managed to place such an instrument exactly once: A team from New Mexico Tech made the first successful drop in By June 4 we're in a caravan of four cars barreling back down to Texas, where we chase a supercell tagged with a tornado warning into Clayton, New Mexico.

On a farm road between fallow cornfields, we find ourselves perpendicular to the storm's inflow wind. Hail hacks at our rooftops. Red-brown soil flows across the road like liquid waves. And then the world seems to simply disappear. I can see nothing but Tim's red brake lights in front of us. The convoy grinds to a halt as a sandstorm rages, its winds approaching 70 miles an hour kilometers an hour , Tim estimates. Somewhere out there a tornado may be brewing. Tim's van begins to rock.

Thrilling Short Film Looks At The Crazy Life Of Storm Chasers

Anton's face turns ashen. We can't see the road, only the tops of telephone poles. Twenty minutes pass. Tim finally radios us: His GPS shows a T intersection in the road ahead that we could reach, and so we roll blindly, foot by foot, out of the sandblaster. We learn later that there was a tornado somewhere in that storm, but we sure as hell couldn't see it.

Our field time is running out when we caravan into northern Nebraska on June 9. Dew points are looking good there, and the National Weather Service promises a convergence of shearing winds. For the 30th time, this may be the day we finally see a tornado. We head into the undulating dunes of the Sand Hills.

The AM radio crackles with static. Turkey towers—tall, thin cumulus clouds that bubble upward—trot along the northwestern horizon. We'll get off the highway and assess the situation. Guided by the usual mix of computer images and eyeballing, we zigzag toward the South Dakota border, and by late afternoon we're in storm mode. A dark anvil lowers in the hurly-burly western sky. Hanging beneath it is a wall cloud—like an outboard motor to the vessel of the supercell.

Nervous technical jargon flies back and forth: "21Z analysis field shows a millibar low developing southward around Ogallala," Tim radios. The sky is now rotating majestically, and a confused bird flies into our windshield with a thump, leaving a stain of blood and feathers. And then a triangle of cloud lowers and sharpens into something pointier and leaner. It gathers into a funnel like an elephant's trunk, with the texture of soft gray cotton. It whirls like an apparition, no more than two miles three kilometers from us, looking alien in the landscape, as if a spaceship had landed.

So, it's happening—after three years of futility. I'm finally going to see a tornado. The tornado snakes down to the fields, where it's chewing up a maelstrom of soil and vegetation. It seems to stand almost still, and suddenly it's gone! It just lifts up, as if the sky were withdrawing a finger back into its fist.