Memorial service Thursday for storm chasers Tim Samaras, Paul Samaras, killed in El Reno tornado

EF5 tornado was widest ever

LITTLETON, Colo. - Storm chasers Tim Samaras and his son Paul Samaras were remembered in Littleton Thursday with a service at Mission Hills Church at 620 South Park Dr.

Tim, Paul and their partner, Carl Young, were killed last Friday by a tornado in El Reno, Oklahoma. The tornado was an EF-5, packing winds reaching 295 mph and was 2.6-miles wide, according to the National Weather Service.

"I’m standing and breathing, I don’t know how at this point," said Tim's wife, Kathy. "I know that my husband and son are with us. I also want you to keep Carl Young's family in your prayers."

Kathy said Tim was her best friend.

"I felt like Cinderella for the 31 years I was married to him," Kathy Samaras said.

"Tim lived a fairytale life to be able to storm chase," Kathy said. "Tim and Paul are going to leave a legacy. Good things are going to come from this."

"It was a blessing to pursue life-long dreams as a father and son," said Pastor Brett Garretson.

"They were a true father-son team," said Tim's brother, Jim Samaras.

Tim's daughter said while most people know her dad as a storm chaser, he was also the first male girl scout leader in Colorado.

"I always knew I was his top priority," she said. "I had a picture perfect childhood and a Dad anyone would be lucky to have."

She called her brother, Paul, a creative genius behind the camera and beside their Dad.

Tim's other daughter said Tim had a solution or idea for everything.

"My Dad was my hero, there was nothing he couldn't do," she said.

She also said her brother had the kindest heart, was selfless and gave the best hugs.

A woman on Facebook wrote that Tim, Paul, Carl and others like them helped save her daughter's life.

"Yes, I can personally thank Tim, Paul, Carl, and all the meteorologists and scientists who worked hard to improve the warning systems - it helped saved my daughter's life last week when the tornado hit Moore," wrote Denise DuPlessis Cheney.

"We all looked up to him [Tim], he was the most brilliant person I ever met," said a family member at the service.

Tim Samaras was considered a pioneer in the storm chasing community and was widely respected by chasers and weather scientists across the country. Samaras founded TWISTEX (Tactical Weather Instrumented Sampling of Tornadoes Experiment) and invented the probes that measured wind velocity, pressure drops and other data. He also placed the probes directly in the storm's path.

Samaras was a scientist, a researcher and at heart, a kid who was fascinated with tornadoes ever since he saw the Wizard of Oz, his family said. He was humble and open, always willing to lend a hand, give advice and mentor other chaser, friends and colleagues said.

"Why do we chase," 24/7 Weather Meteorologist Mike Nelson asked at the memorial service. "We chase because it’s important to better understand these storms. The data is crucial to issue faster and more accurate warnings. We know because seconds save lives."

"I would like to think that Tim, Paul and Carl now have the very best vantage point possible to watch the storms," Nelson said.

In lieu of flowers, the Samaras family is asking for donations to be sent to a foundation set up in Tim and Paul's honor. Additional details about that foundation are pending.

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