"Through embedded sensors, the probes can measure a tornado's wind speed and direction, barometric pressure, humidity, and temperature," the magazine wrote. "Samaras's mission, and his passion, is to plant them in the path of the funnel. His hope is that both he and the instruments survive."
The website for TWISTEX, which stands for Tactical Weather Instrumented Sampling in Tornadoes Experiment, says Tim Samaras in June 2003 secured a pressure drop measurement in a violent South Dakota tornado that has never been matched.
Samaras had received 18 grants from the National Geographic Society for his research, said Terry Garcia, the organization's executive vice president of missions. In a written statement, he described Samaras' studies of lightning as "pioneering."
"Tim was a courageous and brilliant scientist who fearlessly pursued tornadoes and lightning in the field in an effort to better understand these phenomena," he said.
Their tornado-chasing work may sound like cowboy stuff, but the trio's colleagues say they were professionals who operated with the utmost care.
CNN's Myers, who also covered Friday's storm in Oklahoma, said Tim Samaras was known for his attention to safety.
"There's just no one safer than Tim. Tim, he would never put himself in danger," Myers said. "He certainly wouldn't put his son in danger."
Myers also emphasized that Tim Samaras was in an upper echelon among his forecasting and storm-chasing brethren.
"We all know that this is difficult and dangerous and sometimes things go wrong. But I think to portray Tim as just a chaser out for a thrill is just the wrong thing," Myers said. "I just want people to know that Tim was a scientist. He was out there to put probes out there. He was out there to learn and understand and to make science more understandable. ... We all go out there and we try to protect the public, but Tim was even one step higher."
Doug Kiesling, a videographer who chases storms and calls himself The Weather Paparazzi, said the three men were more than storm chasers. "They're researchers," he said.
"This thing is really shaking up everyone in the chasing community," he said. "We knew this day would happen someday, but nobody would imagine that it would happen to Tim. Tim was one of the safest people to go out there. ... He's had close calls, but he's always had an escape route."
"Storm Chasers" aired for five years on the Discovery Channel. Its last season was in the fall of 2011. The network expressed condolences in a statement Sunday.
"We are deeply saddened by the loss of Carl Young, Tim Samaras and his son. Our thoughts and prayers go out to their families," it said.