The Tiny Probe That Stands Up to 200MPH Tornadoes

Some would say that Tim Samaras is nuts. Why's that? Because in 2003, Tim placed a couple cameras and three probes in front of an oncoming F4 tornado that was 100 yards away and blasting 200-mile-per-hour winds. And he did it all for science.


These probes are officially called Hardened In-situ Tornado Pressure Recorders [HITPR]), and the name fits. They're only six inches tall, but their conical design keeps them from flying away—in fact, super-fast winds drive the probes further into the ground. (The aforementioned tornado, which tossed telephone poles upwards of 300 yards? Didn't move the probes an inch.) They have a number of sensors to measure humidity, temperature, wind speed, direction, and pressure; and because of Tim's death-defying research, he and his team got a first-ever glimpse inside a tornado and discovered that the barometric pressure dropped 100 millibars at the tornado's center. (Alternatively, think of it "like stepping into an elevator and hurtling up 1,000 feet in ten seconds.")

Tim probably sums it up best: "That's the closest I've been to a violent tornado, and I have no desire to ever be that close again." I'm right there with you, Tim. [jokerpro via National Geographic]

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