A dusty old Ford Explorer stands abandoned on a track before a towering inferno of wind and Kansas dirt in an image that feels like a scene from the Wizard of Oz.This astonishing photograph of a landspout tornado stretching some 4,000 feet into the sky was taken by one of the most famous 'storm chasers' in the United States.
Last June 11 Tim Samaras and two colleagues did the near impossible—they chased down a tornado and placed a probe with video cameras directly in its path. It’s a new name for a new geologic epoch—one defined by our own massive impact on the planet. The National Geographic Society aims to be an international leader for global conservation and environmental sustainability. Tornado-chasers there covered seven hours and 150 miles (241 kilometers) tracking the supercell thunderstorm that produced this cloud formation.

When individuals pledge to use less water in their own lives, our partners carry out restoration work in the Colorado River Basin. Supercell thunderstorms are known to spawn tornadoes with winds exceeding 200 mph (322 kph). He stood watching the tornado boil toward him, then, at the last second, he jogged over, hefted the 80-pound (36-kilogram) probe, and shifted it 40 feet (12 meters) to the north. The one Samaras caught plucked up a steel bridge and threw it down in a twisted heap, severe damage that earned it an F3 rating, with estimated maximum wind speeds of 158 miles (254 kilometers) to 206 miles (331 kilometers) an hour.
Scientists can measure wind speeds with mobile Doppler radar, but only from a safe distance.

Samaras's cameras looked into a part of the tornado long hidden from scientists using Doppler: the bottom 30 feet (9 meters).
Understanding these winds—the tornado's strongest and most erratic—may enable engineers to design better tornado-resistant structures.

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