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Wellington Daily News - Wellington, KS
  • Kent Bush: Hindsight has no perspective

  • Some of those flying monkeys are still around commenting on news stories on the internet.
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  • The recent tornado outbreak in Oklahoma taught us a number of things.
    The Moore tornado reminded us how dangerous these storms can be.
    The El Reno tornado showed us that even trained scientists don't fully understand these storms.
    And we also learned that the only thing we have that is impervious to tornado damage is hindsight.
    About 75 years ago, a twister picked up Dorothy's farmhouse and dropped her and Toto in the land of Oz. There she hung around with a Scarecrow, a lion and a tin man, not to mention witches and flying monkeys.
    I think some of those flying monkeys are still around commenting on news stories on the internet.
    After the Moore tornado hit schools without safe rooms, these same people who would have attacked school boards for wasting money if they had approved such an expenditure were attacking those board members for not installing the storm-proof rooms in every school in the state.
    Hypocrisy never blocks the view of hindsight.
    For more evidence of this, check out the comments on stories about the death of "storm chasers" Tim Samaras and his son and colleague.
    People who obviously know nothing about Samaras and his work call him a cowboy and say his recklessness led to his death – a death they all knew would happen one day.
    Some of these same people are safe from tornados because of the "reckless" work Samaras had done for the past three decades.
    I have loved chasing storms for the past 20 years as a newspaper reporter because they are major stories and they have an impact on the people we cover. Thankfully, I get to use a zoom lens and stay at a safe distance. Samaras and others like him get in front of the storm and deploy probes and sensors that help feed new information to tornado researchers. The information has helped lead to better warning systems and safe room construction.
    Samaras himself recorded the world's largest pressure drop of over 100 milibars when measuring data in a tornado.
    The storm that killed Samaras was erratic and didn't behave like tornados typically do. I hope one day, the measurements he took before the tornado swept up his vehicle and claimed his life and two more will help explain why.
    Many people have said Samaras died "doing what he loved."
    I don't think it was just chasing the storm that he loved. I think Samaras enjoyed making people safer.
    Samaras worked for the feeling of knowing that he played a part in saving lives every time a storm siren went off 15 minutes before a tornado hit a town or people came out of a shelter unharmed.
    Page 2 of 2 - That is what he loved. That is why he risked his life for research.
    And for all of these flying monkeys with iPads commenting on stories about his death, the footage these "cowboys" get while storm chasing has made a lot of money for the Discovery Channel via their series "Storm Chasers" not to mention the Weather Channel's "Full Force Nature" and a lot of content in National Geographic.
    People are interested in how these people do their jobs and they want to see what they see. How else would you explain a highly unrealistic movie called "Twister" becoming popular or why tornado tourism is more popular now than ever? People are willing to pay a pretty penny to see these storms in action.
    They say hindsight is 20/20, but I would add that it has no perspective.
    Without reckless actions by these researchers, we wouldn't be as safe as we are today. Do some cross the line between scientist and adrenaline junkie? Sure.
    But they also contribute to your safety in ways no radar image or debris study can.
    You don't have to celebrate Samaras' life. But you have no room to criticize him.
    Kent Bush is the publisher of the Augusta Gazette, the El Dorado Times, and the Andover American newspapers. He can be contacted at: kbush@augustagazette.com
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