Severe storms threaten central US; trucker dies in Oklahoma

Justin Greene
April 4, 2017

The storms that struck Texas and Oklahoma yesterday brought tornadoes, tennis ball-sized hail and powerful winds, but no widespread damage was reported.

When approaching an intersection, officials said Williamson failed to stop at a stop sign and hit 25-year-old Corbin Jaeger driving a black jeep traveling west, also a storm chaser from Peoria, AZ.

Williamson, along with fellow chaser Randy Yarnell, were killed instantly when they ran a stop sign Tuesday and collided with another chaser - Corbin Jaeger from Arizona.

The Storm Prediction Center warns that northern MS and western Tennessee on Thursday will have a moderate risk of severe thunderstorms, one of the National Weather Service's most elevated risk levels.

Cary Meltzer, who also knew Yarnall and Williamson, said the accident was a tragic loss for the storm-chasing community.

"The biggest danger out there is the other chasers, and the the grandma that's trying to get her kids, the tornado sirens are going off and she's trying to get them to safety".

A statement from The Weather Channel reads: "Kelley and Randy were beloved members of the weather community".

"He was always excited when there was a rain shower", Missouri storm chaser Billy Wade said.

Williamson and Yarnall were contractors for The Weather Channel.


"No more shifting rationales for storm chasing, from scientific research (where are the data sets?) to increased warning times (how much do chasers add to warning times - where's the peer-reviewed study?) to lives saved (how many chasers are trained and up-to-date in CPR and first aid?) to educational benefit (prove it with peer-reviewed educational research)".

Eilts said he worries about a severe storm striking potentially thousands of people stuck in traffic jams caused by storm gawkers. All three were killed on impact.

"Such a nice guy, would give you the shirt off his back", Meltzer said of Yarnall.

The storms spawned multiple funnel clouds and an occasional tornado in open areas of West Texas on Tuesday afternoon.

"We balance the technology we have here with satellite and radar which is good but it's remote sensing", James said. But some scientists lamented the rise of a post-"Twister" culture of storm chasing that elevated sensationalism over safety.

Storm chasing has nearly taken on a life of its own. About 50-50. Some people says "you're crazy" and the other half says 'I want to go with ya'.

Wade was especially close to Williamson, who would have been a groomsman at his wedding. "Usually around this time of year I would be scoping through your post, jealous of all the lovely storms you capture".

The Storm Prediction Center warns that northern Mississippi and western Tennessee on Thursday will have a moderate risk of severe thunderstorms, one of the National Weather Service's most elevated risk levels, as a cold front moves slowly across the Mississippi Valley, triggering thunderstorms as early as midday. Wade said of his friend that he would "still be at my wedding in spirit". "People don't respect flooding like they should".

Other reports by Ligue1talk

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