Monthly Archives: May 2015

19 May 2015 / Central Oklahoma Supercells

(GoPro) Looking east from 1.4 miles southwest of Purcell, OK (3:09 pm CDT)

(GoPro) Looking east from 1.4 miles southwest of Purcell, OK (3:09 pm CDT)

This chase was somewhat spur of the moment.  I figured that I would just monitor things through the day from home, and take off if something looked interesting and close.

Around 1 pm, a band of storms was advancing eastward across Grady and Stephens counties.  Several storms in this band began to exhibit supercell characteristics and I started southbound on Highway 81.  It was a bit of a battle with heavy rain, some flooding, and heavy traffic, but I was able to work to the western side of a tornado warned supercell that was passing over Purcell.  As I came out of precipitation associated with the hook region of the storm, a rotating lowering appeared over the far southern part of the city.  Everything looked to be falling in place for me to observe the mesocyclone east of Purcell.  Then things came to a stop as a traffic accident on the only bridge that crosses the Canadian River had the road blocked.  The nearest alternate crossings were too far away, and I let the storm go.

I started back west and southwest toward storms that were moving across the Wichita Wildlife Refuge.  I observed a small supercell near Apache that exhibited some cloud base rotation.  This storm was soon absorbed into a line of storms that was pushing eastward across Caddo County.

I was treated to torrential rainfall on the trip back through Verden and Pocasset.  Water was flowing across several places of Highway 81 near Pocasset.

16 May 2015 / Supercells and Tornado – Red River Valley

Thunderstorm development began over the Texas Panhandle and Texas South Plains before I left.  Morning storms had stabilized the environment across northwest Oklahoma.  What was a rather large target area the night before, became fairly concentrated over southwest Oklahoma.  I had made it to near Clinton when the first tornado warnings were issued in the Texas Panhandle.  I was a long way off, but the first warned storm seemed like a good initial target.  When I reached Elk City just before 3 pm, things had become messy around the storms near Shamrock, Texas and a county or so to the southwest of there.  I didn’t even take the time to look at those storms and turned south on Highway 30.  I told Doug Speheger that if nothing else, I just needed to get however far enough south that it took for storms to remain discrete.

I stopped around 4:15 pm in the far southwest corner of the state and observed a small supercell that was near Dodson, Texas.  It didn’t hold my interest very long and I considered waiting for another storm that was near Childress.  That plan was tossed for an impressive storm that had formed to the southwest of Quanah, Texas.

I crossed the Red River and entered the northern edge of the core of the Quanah storm when I reached Highway 287.  The next six or seven miles was a little nerve wrecking as the hail size started to increase.  I expected some hail, but not what ended up falling.  Once again, the glass angel was riding with me and I managed to keep all my glass intact despite being bombed with hail the size of baseballs.  I pulled away from the core in Quanah and continued to Chillicothe where I turned north.  There was a period of zig-zagging northeast through Odell before I made my first stop.  From just east of Odell I could see a nicely structured supercell to the northwest.  Radar showed that rotation was increasing, and I knew I had decent road options after I crossed back into Oklahoma.

Over the next 20 minutes, the storm evolved into an incredible supercell and began producing a tornado near the Red River.  I didn’t start seeing the tornado until 5:42 pm.  It spent most of its life obscured some by rain and blowing dust.  I had an excellent viewing advantage a few miles northeast of Elmer – until hail started falling again.  I was surprised to be getting any hail at all, but really surprised at the size.  By the time I got rolling east, the hail had increased once again to baseball size.  The glass angel must have taken a break because one stone hit at the edge of the glass and cracked a good part of the passenger side windshield.  I moved to just west of Tipton and finished my viewing of the tornado as it passed to the northwest of the town.  The tornado became more rain-wrapped and traffic was heavy, so the decision was made to head south to the next supercell.

I arrived just west of Grandfield around 7 pm and observed a nice looking supercell storm as it approach from the southwest.  This storm became less impressive visually as it passed north of Devol, and I decided to change storms once again.

I crossed the Red River again and stopped a few miles west of Sheppard Air Force Base to view a pretty supercell near Iowa Park, Texas.  This storm started steadily downhill just after 8 pm.  I called it a day and started the crawl back north on I-44 through about 40 miles of torrential rainfall.

9 May 2015 / TX-OK-KS Low Topped Supercells

Looking northwest from 1.1 miles southwest of Beaver, OK (6:35 pm CDT)

Looking northwest from 1.1 miles southwest of Beaver, OK (6:35 pm CDT)

There was yet another round of atmosphere wrecking morning storms just east of the dry line that extended from southwest Kansas into the Texas Panhandle.    Skies started clearing and it appeared that the atmosphere could recover enough to support a supercell threat over the eastern panhandles.  I arrived near Booker, Texas with building cumulus from northwest to west to southwest.  There were a few storms that managed to get established.

One storm that I considered targeting tracked eastward near I-40 and ended up producing a small tornado near Elk City, Oklahoma.  I stayed with a small cluster of storms that originated near Perryton, Texas and tracked northeast across Beaver County in Oklahoma.  The storms eventually consolidated into a nice little supercell as it tracked across Meade State Park in Kansas.  And as typically been the case this year, this was a region with very few paved roads.  If the storm produced anything, it was when I was making a long journey to get around the storm.  By the time I got reacquainted with the storm, it was starting to fall apart.  A fitting end to dealing with this storm system.

8 May 2015 / Supercell near Grandfield, Oklahoma

Morning storms had contaminated a good deal of the atmosphere across Oklahoma, and early thoughts were to not chase the day.  By Noon, a boundary had lifted north across the Red River and a moist and unstable atmosphere had worked into the southern tier counties of the state.  I drove south and spotted up just north of the Red River near Davidson, Oklahoma.

All my chips were on a supercell which had formed across far northwest Texas.  It started moving slightly north of due east, and it appeared that the business end would make it into Oklahoma.  Before getting to my location, the storm became a high precipitation ‘northtexassaurus’ and tracked near and just south of the Red River.  Complicating things was a very hazy atmosphere.  Despite the storm getting close to me at one point, structure was hard to observe.

I stayed close to the storm as it tracked by Grandfield and Randlett before returning home.

6 May 2015 / Supercell near Renfrow, Oklahoma

This day was the first of three consecutive chases, over a four day period, that were all incredibly uninteresting.  This despite the fact that I observed tornado warned storms on all three days.

When I left around Noon for my dry line target in Kansas, a few storms had developed over Kiowa and Comanche counties in southwest Oklahoma.  These were well away from any identifiable boundaries, and I didn’t give them much thought as I continued to my target area.

When I crossed into Kansas at 2 pm, the southwest Oklahoma storms had intensified and new development had occurred to the west and southwest of Enid.  I still couldn’t see a good reason for the storms to be there, and didn’t give them much hope for lasting very long.  I continued north and west toward the original target area.

I passed through Kingman, KS at 3 pm.  Tornado producing storms in Oklahoma were now out of reach.  There was strong development occurring along I-70 which was also out of reach.  My hope was on new development that was occurring along the dry line just east of Dodge City.

I fueled up in Pratt at 4:15 pm.  A severe storm within reach had formed west and northwest of Medicine Lodge.  The storm’s visual appearance was encouraging.  Unfortunately, the storm peaked just after reaching severe levels and began to shrivel as it tracked northeast.  Something wasn’t right.  I am still not quite sure what was missing in the most obvious target area.

At 6 pm, the decision was made to abandon the area I was in and start toward the Kansas/Oklahoma border.  The hope became that I could intercept a tornado warned storm moving slowly north northeast across Grant County in Oklahoma.

At 7:40 pm, I dropped south out of Caldwell, Kansas and was greeted to beautiful supercell structure which was just northwest of Renfrow, Oklahoma.  The storm still looked capable of producing a tornado.  Once again, the hope of seeing something special faded away quickly as the storm became cluttered with nearby development and started to weaken as it crossed the state line.

I made one last stop after dark near Goltry, Oklahoma to view an elevated supercell over Alfalfa County.