Herb Stein. Photograph courtesy of Jennifer Brindley-Ubl.
Driving east through the open flatlands of northern Ohio, onward towards a gathering organized by Herb Stein and his family, it was obvious this meeting, a first for me, would also be the last. We had briefly corresponded via e-mail over the last year. Herb was very willing to recount and record his many stories for the storm chasing anthology. Sadly, we never did get a chance. After being informed of his diagnosis with pancreatic cancer late last year, the time to say a fleeting hello, and goodbye for a brief moment did occur. I was only familiar with Herb’s works through various publications, friends whom had worked directly with him both at the University of Oklahoma and during many DOW (Doppler On Wheels) field projects. He would frequently appear on the many VHS videotapes that have graced the make-up of this project, both provided from his close friends, television shows, and so-forth. His contributions to assorted meteorological studies were numerous. It was clear he loved to talk weather, storm chasing, history, and experiences. We did finally meet, within a Presbyterian Church setting during a living vigil held on Saturday, January 30 in a Cleveland suburb. During the service, and afterwards at a gathering of family and friends, it was very obvious how deep of an impact Herb had on so many others. The atmosphere was friendly, with obvious bittersweet tones of sadness. Those attending celebrated his life, friendship; all united thanks completely to how universal of an individual Herb was. A convergence of friendship like none other. The Plains will certainly feel a void from this point forward. Yet Herb’s accomplishments will continue to inspire those in the field of meteorology, science, and engineering for decades to come.
This is his obituary, via his son, Freddy Stein:
Herbert Alfred Stein II of Berea, Ohio, age 57, passed away on February 4, 2016 after a brief and courageous battle with pancreatic and liver cancer. He helped plan and attended a Celebration of Life party on January 30, 2016 that was attended by over 125 people from all over the country – storm chasing colleagues, family, and friends. Herb was a highly regarded expert in the field of extreme weather, particularly tornadoes. He was part of the Storm Chasers television series sponsored by The Discovery Channel. He also appeared on many other shows produced by The Weather Channel and National Geographic.
Herb was always interested in weather as he grew up and began his storm chasing career in 1984 when he lived in Norman, OK while studying at the University of Oklahoma. He worked with many of the top experts in the field of extreme weather, including Dr. Josh Wurman and Dr. Howard Bluestein.
Herb Stein (left) Howie Bluestein (right). Photo courtesy Howard Bluestein.
He also worked with Sean Casey and his Tornado Intercept Vehicle (TIV) and was featured in the IMAX movie Tornado Alley, released in 2011. Herb participated in many of the major tornado studies that have helped improve our knowledge of the storms and improved our ability to predict upcoming storms and warn people.
He built and maintained the Doppler On Wheels (DOW) radar systems for the chase teams. He was also the lead driver as the teams criss-crossed the country trying to gather data.
In 1999 and again in 2012, he was the featured speaker on tornadoes and severe weather as part of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History Explorer Series Lectures.
Herb was a ‘renaissance man’ filled with a wealth of knowledge about many subjects. He loved history (particularly Native American history), astronomy, fossils, and medicine. As the weather teams traveled, they would often ask Herb for “a history lesson” about the areas they were going through and more often than not Herb came through, sharing his knowledge over the DOW intercom system with his team members.
Herb worked as an ER nurse, an Emergency Medical Technician, and was a volunteer fireman for the cities of Garrettsville, OH and the Egypt Fire Department in Fairport, NY. He was also a long-time adult leader for Boy Scout Troop 129 in Pittsford, NY. Herb also worked in demolition and collected fossils for historical groups.
Herb is survived by his children Frederick, age 20, and Katherine, age 15, and Ramona Stein (former spouse) all of Pittsford, NY; mother Joy; siblings Rick (Mary), Sara Lee Stein White, and Robert Kent (Kim); many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his father Russell and nephew Kenny.
Service and burial will be private. In lieu of flowers, Herb requested donations to “The Katherine Stein, Donation Account by Sara S. White, Custodian” and “The Frederick Stein, Donation Account by Sara S. White, Custodian” at any Chase Bank Branch or sent directly to the Custodian Sara S. White, 31302 Walker Road, Bay Village, OH 44140.
Arrangements were entrusted to the Laubenthal Mercado Funeral Home and Lorain County Cremation Service of Elyria.
Video compilation of moments from 1988-1991 with Herb Stein and others. Video provided by Jim LaDue.