A blog about weather, climate, and science. Occasionally, we'll post on other topics of interest.
Mike,From what I have read and observed, Tim was not as reckless as some of the "Media" affiliated chasers. There were times when watching the "Storm Chasers" program that he did get too close sometimes. If they were in the same area as the Weather Channel team it appears that that would have been to the E to NE of the circulation. While a great place for pictures, it leaves you no place to retreat if anything happens. As you noted in a previous post the tornado can rotate around the mesocyclone following the sinusoidal path.My perception is that there is significant pressure within the Media based chasers to get more extreme footage of tornadoes. This pressure results in greater and greater risk taking through competition for the closest and perfect shot. Now it appears that this aggressive mentality has resulted in the deaths of three people (pending the investigation of course). Much like war correspondents placing themselves in danger for a story and pictures, these media reps have now passed the same threshold. The real question is do you need to get that perfect back lit shot of the tornado knowing that you are on the E to NE side with very few avenues for escape? For me I would say no. My only hope is that Tim was placing instrumentation in the path for data gathering, and that the data is usable. It would make his and the two other members of his team's sacrifice to have been more that just some video and pictures for a reality show.
Richard,I'm confident Tim was attempting to do good Friday. The tornado was shifting in its movement (scroll down to see explanation of sinusoidal path). For those that were close, options likely diminished very quickly. Several seem to want me to write more about this and I'm working a piece right now.Mike
I think the pressure to get the best tornado video is the result of two things: One, the mass market availability of HD video. And two, ironically, the availability of accurate advance warning data.I think once the market gets saturated with up-close HD tornado video, the pressure to get new videos will go down.Finally, I think that the tornado videos do serve a useful educational purpose-- they show how quickly a tornado can drop and intensify, how it can appear invisible initially, how violent the inflow winds can be and how debris can choke the escape route and destroy a vehicle. All these things are useful things for the layperson to know and see.I think back to the Boxing Day Tsunami. Lots of people stood there watching the ocean recede, because they had never seen a tsunami before. Now that there is ample video, no one will stand on the beach gawking at a disappearing ocean ever again.Personally, I think the guys who invest in armored vehicles do the most useful "mass market" service. Yes, they take enormous risks. But there's no illusion that I can safely do what they do with a mere passenger vehicle. And I can see exactly what I never want to experience first hand.