TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW)-Three veteran storm chasers died when an EF3 tornado ripped through Oklahoma City, among them was 54- -year old Tim Samaras.
"Tim was a very experienced. He's provided very good information to the Weather Service. His research has directly impacted and made tornado research better, so it's a real tragedy not just for the weather community but for the chasing that that happened," said Ken Harding, Meteorologist at National Weather Service.
Harding knew Samaras and says there is a difference between an experienced professional and thrill seekers.
"It's best to not be there at all," said Harding.
Meteorologist Rob Peppers and Photojournalist Eric Ives have spent more than 15 years chasing storms for WIBW.
"Storm chasing is not a joke. I try to keep a fair distance between the storm and where we are located and Eric knows that," said Peppers.
"There are storm chasers and we are storm reporters. I think there is a huge difference there. Storm chasers go out there and are getting the thrill of it and then getting themselves in trouble and don't know anything about the system. Us, on the other hand, we are reporting live with our equipment with Rob on the phone or whatever and letting people know this is coming your way. And so I would say we are saving lives," said Ives.
The Weather Service says it's those eyes that help them sound earlier warnings, giving people more time to get out of harm's way.