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Posted on June 10, 2013 on

Storm Chasers - Dangerous and Deadly

Timothy M. Samaras
(November 12, 1957 - May 31, 2013)

No one expected it to happen to him. He had been doing it for decades. He was considered a professional in the field of tornadoes research. We have all heard of adrenalin-crazed storm-chasers who, with reckless abandon, drive dangerously into storms with their cameras to prove they did it and survived. But Tim Samaras was not one of them.

Samaras was respected around the world for his research into violent weather and tornadoes. He traced his fascination with tornadoes back to his childhood, when he first watched the violent storm sequence in ‘The Wizard of Oz’. That’s when he said he was ‘hooked for life.’ (1)

Samaras and his team starred on "Storm Chasers" for five years on the Discovery Channel, with the last show in the fall of 2011. Over the years Samaras received numerous research grants to pursue his passion for learning more about tornadoes.

Speaking with a reporter from the National Geographic, in what would perhaps be his last interview, Samaras gave some advice about being safe in tornado country:

"Make sure that families have a plan of action when they're under a tornado warning—that all the family members know what to do in the event of a tornado warning. Even go so far as to practice.

Knowing what to do, where it’s a good place to be, and above all, making sure you have a National Weather Service radio—that's the best bet for information.

And in the springtime, be weather-aware. Know that it can happen. Before you start your day, take a quick look at the forecast and know if you're going to have severe weather during the day. Just be weather smart." (2)

It was 11PM, in Oklahoma, the Mecca of storm-chasing according to Samaras, when the veteran storm-chaser tweeted: “Dangerous day ahead for OK [Oklahoma] - stay weather savvy!” The tweet included a picture of an empty road with clouds gathering overhead. He, his son Paul and their colleague Carl Young were together tracking the latest round of tornadoes to tear through central Oklahoma. (3)

Mike Bettes, an anchor with The Weather Channel, came far closer to the fierce power of the tornado than he ever wanted to experience. He said it was the most frightening moment of his life, when the truck he was in was sucked up and tossed into a field 200 yards away. CNN meteorologist, Chad Myers said it was an erratic tornado that gained strength quickly. The very wide wobbling tornado turned unpredictably - catching people off guard and in places where they did not want to be.

And that’s what happened - even the best were caught in places where they did not want to be. Meteorologists, weather buffs and storm chasers around the world were shocked to learn the next morning the tragic news of the fate of the world’s foremost tornado expert.

Veteran storm chaser Tim Samaras, 54; his chase partner of a decade, Carl Young, 45; and Samaras' son, Paul Samaras, 24, a photographer, died Friday in an EF-3 tornado in El Reno, Oklahoma. Crews hauled away their white truck Sunday. It had been crushed like a tin can, its metal frame violently twisted and its windows smashed. (4)

While families are left to mourn and the weather-world suffers the loss of experts in the field, can we draw some spiritual parallels from this tragedy that could benefit you and me spiritually?

Five Applied Spiritual Insights

  1. Sin Chasers - The Inbred Attraction in all of us.

    Only a very few people have an inner attraction to storms and become storm-chasers; but all, without exception, are sin-chasers. We all have sins we chase but the chase is rarely public. Often the chase is under-the-radar and not detected. For example, the respectable guise of business smarts and competition may be the cover for inner greed, covetousness and pride. What images and sites you visit in the privacy of your electronic world - is all a part of the hidden but very real chase.

    God not only tracks the sins we physically chase; He records the ones we mentally chase and play within the secret chambers of our minds. Nothing is hidden from Him.

    You are not alone with your inbred, innate attraction to sin. We all have it. The Bible clearly says that “all have sinned and have fallen short of God’s holy standard.” (Romans 3:23) In fact, the Bible says: “if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us...” (1John 1:8)

    Another Bible verse says: “...each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire, when it has conceived, gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” (James 1:14-15)

  2. Sin has thrills but kills. Sin is the mostly deadly force in the world.

    The Bible acknowledges that there is ‘pleasure in sin’ but it is short lived. (Hebrews 11:25) So there are times when sin thrills. But sin is not all thrills. The side-effects and consequences of sin, without even mentioning the spiritual aspect of sin can be downright brutal, leaving emptiness, many regrets along with deep wounds and scars.

    Here’s what the Bible says: “The wages of sin is death.” (Romans 6:23) When our first father Adam introduced the sin virus into the human family in Genesis 3, the ripple effect of his sin was far-reaching and devastating. Romans 5:12 puts it this way: “... just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned...”

    Deadly diseases and killer storms are darkly eclipsed by the most deadly force known to the universe - sin!

  3. Sin, as a process, is unpredictable but its end results are not.

    Not everyone who drinks or does drugs or gambles becomes an addict. But sin can wobble out of control and take sudden unpredictable turns. It’s true - not everyone who cheats on their spouse has to go through a divorce process. Not all who indulge themselves in pornography become a sex fiend. Not every cut-throat, wheeler-dealer ends up in prison for fraud and extortion. The sin of pride over our good works and good life - may not grow into full-blown boastful arrogance that totally offends others. No, the process of sin seems almost random and unpredictable at times. The Bible talks about the ‘deceitfulness of sin’. But the end result of all sin, of every kind, (small and great) is always the same: separation from God and spiritual death.

  4. Human efforts always crushed by the brute strength of sin.

    Even the most amateur storm-chasers understand you don’t win when you take a direct hit from a tornado. We are no match for the forces of nature. Spiritually, the Bible teaches that there is not one solitary thing humans can do to win against sin. Good works, religion, prayers, sincerity or charity cannot eradicate the root of sin in all of us. Human efforts and programs can help us minimize and curtail and even remove some of the side-effects of sin - but no amount of human effort can free us, once-for-all, from the inner root problem of sin.

  5. Rescue, protection and safety available to all.

    In Samaras’ last interview with the National Geographic he warned people to make sure they had a plan of action to deal with tornadoes. What is your spiritual plan of action against sin? Are you prepared for death and beyond? The warning from the Bible is constantly sounding - left without a shelter, your sins will take you to Hell. The good news is: Jesus Christ is the one and only shelter for sinners. If humans are no match for the power of tornadoes, how much less are we equipped to deal with the power of sin!

    In our powerlessness over sin and vulnerability, listen to what the Bible says: “While we were still helpless, at the right time, Christ died for the ungodly.” (Romans 5:6) “Whoever calls on the name of the Lord, shall be saved.” (Romans 10:13) “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23) “The blood of Jesus Christ, God’s son cleanses from all sin.” (1John 1:7)


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