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The National Geographic Society called Tim Samaras a "courageous and brilliant scientist" and posted on its website an interview conducted with him last month.
"Being close to a tornado is one of those incredible, fleeting moments that sometimes you have to take a couple of seconds to take in," he said in the interview. He told the magazine there were probably fewer than five storm chasers who pursue tornadoes for data.
"On a big tornado day in Oklahoma, you can have hundreds of storm chasers lined up down the road," he said. "Oklahoma is considered the mecca of storm chasing. We know ahead of time when we chase in Oklahoma, there’s going to be a traffic jam."
The Storm Prediction Center said scientific storm chasing is performed as safely as possible, with trained researchers using appropriate technology. It encouraged all, including the media and amateurs, to chase safely to avoid a repeat of Friday’s deaths.
Arkansas-Oklahoma News Editor Kelly P. Kissel reported from Little Rock, Ark., and Peipert reported from Denver. Associated Press writers Lynn Elber in Los Angeles and Shelley Adler in Washington contributed to this report.
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