Some folks have been worried about me, so I thought Id write this post to mention that I am okay, Arnie is okay, everything is okay with me.
In the seven years Ive lived in OK, Ive been though a lot of storms. Its only been bad enough for me to come to work (I live close to work, work has an emergency shelter, generators, etc) three times.
This past Friday was one of those three times. And the first time I was actually scared. The wind, the frantic way the trees were shaking, the way the windows were breathing (not in unison)– Its the first time Ive left my penthouse lab for the emergency shelter (with Arnieman, of course). Got to the bottom floor– the double set of doors was protected by a large, brand new, cement overhang– shaking like they were going to blow out any second. Went to the inner tunnels to hang out with lots of other employees, campus neighbors/friends/kids, and a ton of puppies and kittens.
Stayed there until the University sent us an ‘all clear’… but it kinda wasnt. Everything was flooded. Everything (including the entry to my research building, which is not in a particularly ‘low level’ area) OKC metro area is going to smell like mold and mildew for a while *sigh* Anyway, the rest of Friday night was thunder (interestingly, it was like, constant thunder. not normal thunder. I dont want to hear any more thunder for a while. no thunder up. thunder down.) and rain and hail and no sleep from the adrenaline and my phone going off for weather warnings.
But Im safe and fine.
But not everyone was this lucky. Storm trackers– the people who let us, in the path of a storm/tornado know how bad it really is, what the tornado is doing, what it looks like, the people who are amateur or professional scientists doing their job, following their passion, even though it is unquestionably dangerous– three of them died in Fridays storm.
Tim Samaras, his son Paul Samaras, and Carl Young (who I believe was the camera/photographer). I know Tim was an engineer who invented instruments for studying tornadoes. I know that because you only have to search this very National Geographic site for his name, and you can see and learn lots of amazing things.
One of the tornadoes on Friday– We all watched as it did something entirely unexpected. It turned South. And it got bigger at the same time. It caught the Weather Channel trackers off-guard, but they were okay. We almost lost one of our local news crews, live, but they were okay. But it got these three men.
As a virologist, someone who does ‘dangerous’ research, research that could potentially take my life– because I love it, because it could help people– This hits close to home.
I cannot thank these men enough for doing what they did for science, for humans (and their Arnimans) in the paths of dangerous storms.
Their deaths are heartbreaking for their families, for science, and for the people they helped.