Changing Planet

At the Epicenter of Danger: Chasing ‘Super Storms’

Tim holds a device that is tossed into an active tornado and used to measure the low level dynamics of tornado cores. Tim is the only person in the world attempting these scientific measurements. Photo by Jim Webb.
Tim holds a device that is tossed into an active tornado and used to measure the low level dynamics of tornado cores. Tim is the only person in the world attempting these scientific measurements. Photo by Jim Webb.

This Earth Day, National Geographic is teaming up with NASA and Catlin Seaview Survey to bring you a Google+ Hangout that explores the land, sea, and sky (Read more).

Explorer Profile: Tim Samaras, National Geographic

Whereas most people would likely flee in terror, Emerging Explorer Tim Samaras has spent his entire career chasing severe weather– everything from earsplitting lightning storms to baseball-sized hailstorms, to even deadly tornadoes.

In recent years the world has seen an uptick in the severity and frequency of these ‘Super Storms’. Most recently Hurricane Sandy devastated the U.S.’s northeastern shore; however several phenomenons have been recorded in the last few years.  The ‘Super Tornado Outbreak’ in April 2011 consisted of 358 tornadoes over three days resulting in 348 deaths. Missouri suffered 174 lives lost from an EF5 tornado–making it the single biggest killer tornado in U.S. history.

Inside the newly outfitted 'chase truck'. Photo by Tim Samaras.
Inside the newly outfitted ‘chase truck’. Photo by Tim Samaras.

Tim is investigating whether or not ‘Super Storms’ are here to stay as a result of global climate change and how we can provide early detection warnings through new and innovative technologies.

Send in your questions for the explorers and they may be asked on air. You may even be invited to join the Hangout and ask your questions live. Submit your questions by…

  • Uploading a video question to YouTube with #OurEarth (submissions due by April 17th)
  • Posting a question on Google+ or Twitter with #OurEarth or
  • Commenting directly on this blog post

Follow National Geographic on Google+ or tune in right here on this blog post to watch the Google+ Hangout Monday, April 22th at 12 p.m. ET (5 p.m. UTC).

In the meantime, watch as Tim’s “Chase Truck” windshield shatters in a baseball-sized hailstorm.

Up next, caught on tape, Tim and his son Paul watch a tornado plow through a Kansas highway.

NEXT: Incredible Lightning Photos

Learn More: Follow Tim on Facebook and Twitter!

  • Tesla

    What is the general or specific education path that will get me into storm chasing as a career?

  • roger schwartz

    Does lightning come from the cloud down to the ground or from the ground up toward the cloud?

  • Vinícius

    What do I have to know or do to engage this kind of projects?
    I

  • Vladimir Putic

    I am delighted with your feats of and I would go with your expedition to the ends of the world.
    This can consider my job offer.

  • Lara Kay Christiansen

    How do you get a good photo of lightning during the day time if you have a low end camera?

  • Tina Coon

    Do you ever think we’ll have the ability to either change the intensity of these tornadoes, or be able to ‘steer’ them away from populated areas?

  • stu elman

    How do you know where to find the lightning? And how close do you get when you find it?

  • Sheri

    Can lightning originate in a vertical pattern?

  • Sheri

    Can lightning originate in a horizontal pattern?

  • Angela

    This is purely amazing! What made you want to go into this field and become an explorer? What is your favourite experience? What do you like about being a thunder chaser?

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