Storm Chaser Andy Gabrielson, who had an uncanny ability to film dozens of tornadoes up close, perished Saturday evening in a tragic traffic accident in Oklahoma. He and another driver were the victims of a drunk driver going the wrong way on the Interstate. This is the second storm chaser death this decade, but it's notable that neither died while chasing.
Andy was a well respected chaser who had traveled over 180,000 miles in 24 states to intercept over 150 tornadoes and was arguably the most successful, even more so than well-known chaser celebrities. Yet he shied away from the limelight, doing what he did to document for science and save lives through spotter reporting. An incredible thing happened upon the news of his death -- dozens of chasers and spotters in Kansas formed the initials "A.G." by faking their GPS positions on the SpotterNetwork.Org's map, while those who couldn't lit up the rest of the Midwest like a Christmas tree. It was a fitting tribute to a great man. Here's a timelapse of the GPS positions:
A memorial fund has also been setup by his chasing group, SevereStudios.com. They say, "100% of donations will be given to the Gabrielson family to help his young daughter. Andy's parents are also researching a scholarship in Andy's name to help students interested in weather. In addition to the Memorial Fund, you may still purchase Andy's DVD's at the SevereStore with all proceeds after shipping going to the Gabrielson family." If you want to see what the legend was like (and help his family), buy these two DVDs today.
He was chasing in Texas as recently as Friday, when WFAA interviewed him during a ridealong (video above). You can also leave comments on SevereStudio's page; a couple are reprinted below:
"Andy was one of the first chasers I started watching, and I remember watching every time I could, I met him a few times and was astounded by how polite he was."
"I always admired the work that Andy did, he put his heart and soul into chasing and documenting severe weather. Simply one of the best of the best. Wishing I had a chance to shake his hand. He will be watching over us now. Andy, steer those tornadoes to open fields and live streams. Rest in peace, dear Sir."
Another nice way that we can remember his work is to nominate him for a ShortyAward in #weather. This was his last video uploaded to YouTube, less than a month ago (although he was streaming live video while chasing in Oklahoma as recently as last Friday):
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