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Posted at 10:45 AM ET, 07/10/2008

And the Weather Darwin Nominees Are...

By Steve Tracton

You've probably heard of the Darwin Awards, which unofficially "honor people who ensure the long-term survival of the human race by removing themselves from the gene pool in a sublimely idiotic fashion," according to Wikipedia.

Like most people, I've done some real stupid things in my life. For example, my insistence on water skiing several years ago in extremely rough and dangerous conditions -- generated by strong winds following a cold front passage -- nearly qualified me for a Darwin Award. Fortunately, I escaped with "only" a bad knee injury requiring what was then an experimental "meniscus implant" (from which I've have never fully recovered).

Why did I do something so idiotic? Was I challenging Mother Nature? ... or my perceived abilities on skis? ... or both? Whatever the reasoning, somehow I convinced myself I could do it without being seriously injured or killed.

But what of other risk-takers who, either by stupidity or self-denial, take on nature in a bid to nominate themselves for a Darwin Award? A sampling of those tempting fate follows...

Keep reading for a sampling of Darwinian moments. Also, see our full forecast as well as NatCast for tonight's game at Nationals Park.

1) Let's see how close we can get to a tornado -- and perhaps live to tell about it (and get media attention)... This appears to be the name of the game for storm chasers, such as the devotees in the clip below.

2) Ah, the hurricane won't be that bad, so let's stay put and ride it out... Despite evacuation warnings delivered by police and emergency managers, there's always a select few (and often more) who believe they can defy the dangers of wind and water, even from the shelter of a vulnerable structure or trailer home along an unprotected shoreline. Though it's happened often since, the classic example is the so-called "Hurricane Party," when some folks ignored pleas to leave in advance of Category 5 Hurricane Camille in 1969. The exact number is not known, but at least several people were killed while allegedly partying in an apartment building pictured below. And while survivors have since contended that there was no party, it still stands that there were many fatalities amongst those refusing to evacuate.


Richelieu Apartments in Pass Christian, Miss., before (left) and after (right) Hurricane Camille. Courtesy University of Colorado. Credit: Chauncey Hinman.

3) What were the pilots in the video below thinking in attempting to land in such dangerous conditions? Surely they or air traffic control must have been aware of the cross winds that were present. At least they made the right decision to abort. Planes landing in similar conditions have not always fared as well.

And in the same vein, what was the captain of the ferry in this video thinking by leaving port in the face of such violent waters?

4) These two guys should certainly know better -- standing on the beach in the midst of a thunderstorm -- and doing so in isolation of anything else taller than themselves. Give me a break! As the commentary attached to this video states, "you can see the people run after the strike, probably with poop in their pants."



I'll bet, dear readers, you too have some examples of would-be candidates for a weather-related Darwin Award. Nominations (and feel free to nominate yourself) are welcome using the comments link below.

By Steve Tracton  | July 10, 2008; 10:45 AM ET
Categories:  Tracton  
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