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Another tragic reminder of the true danger in storm observing
LINK: Find the Tornado
NEWS LINK: The Weather Channel: Storm Chaser Andy Gabrielson Killed in Car Accident
NEWS LINK: MSNBC: Storm observer killed in Oklahoma collision with wrong-way driver
I was shocked, as was many of my colleagues, to learn of accomplished storm observer Andy Gabrielson's fatal head-on accident caused by a (apparently intoxicated) wrong-way driver on eastbound I-44 in Oklahoma. Though I had never met Andy, his work was well-known to me (and all storm observers) due to his uncanny knack for not only choosing the right storm every time, but with a precision that allowed for up-close tornado intercepts on an uncommonly regular basis. His footage is some of the most amazing ever captured in the hobby.
So far, auto accidents are the only causes of deaths for storm observers during the actual activity of observing: that means either during an expedition, on the way to one, or on the way back from one. Throughout the millions of miles all of us storm observers have logged collectively, storms themselves have yet to even seriously injure one of us. The highway - and other vehicles on the road - have always been, and always will be, the storm observer's only real threat. While the road is a dangerous place for anyone (observer or not), the many extra thousands of miles that individual storm observers log every year make us much more exposed to its threat than the average person. Compared to the road, the threat from storms to a storm observer is close to complete unworthiness of mention.
Andy is the fourth known observer who lost their life in a car accident since the early 1990s. The third was Fabian Guerra, one of my friends who accompanied me on many trips from 2004 to 2008. Fabian's accident was caused by a deer on I-80 in Iowa while he was on the way to an expedition target in June of 2009.
It's truly saddening when a tragedy like this befalls one of our own.
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