Iowa State meteorologist, grad students worked with Tim Samaras, calling him 'the safest storm chaser we knew'

AMES, Iowa -- Iowa State University meteorology professor and storm chaser Bill Gallus said researchers around the country are "in shock" over the death of Tim Samaras, the well-known storm chaser who was killed in the El Reno, Okla., tornado Friday.

"He was the safest storm chaser we knew," said Gallus. "He was incredibly safe. That's why we worked with him."

Gallus was close to Samaras. They first started working together in about 2003, and Gallus said ISU graduate students were allowed to conduct tornado research with Samaras because of his record of safety. "He refused to put people in harm's way," Gallus said.

News of Samaras' death spread quickly among storm researchers, and the common reaction was, "It can't be true."

Samaras was well liked by Iowa State students, Gallus added. "Tim was a great guy."

Gallus also is a tornado researcher who has followed storms throughout Iowa and the Midwest. He and some students drove into Parkersburg on May 25, 2008, just minutes after the devastating tornado hit that community.

Gallus is available today to speak with members of the news media at 515-294-2270 or