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18 May 2017 / Tornadoes Seiling, Chester, Waynoka, Oklahoma

YOUTUBE Link here

We expected this day to be messy and in many ways it was.  Surprisingly, our success came from a storm that managed to be isolated enough from the mess to allow us to play it during its greatest tornado production.

We initially drove northwest to Seiling and west into Ellis County.  During our entire drive, numerous areas of storms were developing to our west and southwest, and tornado producing supercells were moving northeast across southwest Oklahoma.  Several of the storms within reach were severe, but there was a large amount of precipitation and haze that prevented us from seeing anything with sharp detail.  We first targeted a storm that tracked from near Fargo to northwest of Woodward, but this storm was very wet and entered an area with a bad road network.  While trying to decide whether or not to stay with this storm, an east/west explosion of storms occurred south of Woodward and was headed our way.  The decision was made to abandon this entire area and move southeast on Highway 3 back toward Seiling.  Our luck changed as a storm southwest of Seiling rapidly became severe and immediately started rotating.

We worked through the north side of the core with only slightly limited visibility and some small hail.  What we encountered when we arrived just west of Seiling was a storm that bordered between classic and low precipitation.  The updraft was nicely exposed and an area of rotation was evident to our southwest.

Several tornadoes were observed with this storm as it tracked almost straight north near the Major/Woodward county line.  (Times CDT)

1) 4:11 pm – A small, brief tornado about 6 miles west of Seiling in Dewey County.

2) 4:23-4:36 pm – This tornado was fairly large, up to 200 yards wide at times.  It tracked from about 4 miles west of Chester to about 10 miles north of Chester in Woodward and Major counties.

3) 4:37 pm – Another small, brief tornado about 10 miles north of Chester in Major County.

4) 4:50-5:07 pm – This tornado was another large one, up to about 200 yards wide.  It tracked from about 12 miles south southwest of Waynoka in Major County to about 4 miles west southwest of Waynoka in Woods County.

 

16 May 2017 / Supercells, weak tornadoes – Texas Panhandle and western Oklahoma

Second small tornado of the day – about 12 miles northeast of Wellington, TX – 5:46 pm CDT

This day featured a fairly significant risk of supercells and tornadoes across the eastern panhandles and western Oklahoma.  We drove west to Shamrock early in the afternoon where we met up and chatted with numerous chaser friends.

The first storm attempt of the day started showing up near Groom, TX and we moved west on I-40 to McClean.  This first attempt failed, but it wasn’t long before other storms started forming to our southwest between I-40 and Clarendon.  We drove south on Highway 70 and stopped near Howardwick to view our first storm of the day.  It quickly took on supercell characteristics and became tornado warned:

Looking southwest from 6.5 miles north of Howardwick, TX - 3:40 pm CDT

Looking southwest from 6.5 miles north of Howardwick, TX – 3:40 pm CDT

Donley County, Texas presents some navigation issues.  Outside of Highway 287 which runs northwest to southeast across the country, there are no paved roads to get you east off of Highway 70.  Storms in this area needed to produce something west of the highway because we had no chance of chasing them east.  Our original storm started shrinking while a new storm formed to our southwest – or northwest of Clarendon.  We moved to the second storm with the same road problem laying ahead of us.  Neither storm produced a tornado west of the highway and we started to make the long haul southeast in an attempt to get back in front of the storms.

Before this was accomplished, another storm became targetable to our southeast.  It was developing near Memphis, TX and we made the move east through Quail to the west of Wellington.  This storm evolved into an impressive supercell storm and it would have our attention for the rest of the chase.

Looking west from 3.8 miles west of Wellington, TX - 5:10 pm CDT

Looking west from 3.8 miles west of Wellington, TX – 5:10 pm CDT

We observed three weak tornadoes with this storm.  The first tornado occurred about 7 miles north northeast of Wellington at 5:42 pm CDT:

The second tornado occurred a few minutes later, about 12 miles northeast of Wellington (top of page image).

The third tornado occurred just across the border in Oklahoma, about 14 miles south southwest of Erick at 6:03 pm CDT:

 

And for the second time this day, road options became a major problem.  There are no paved roads running east off of Highway 30 between Erick and Mangum – a distance of about 31 miles.  This storm decided to move straight through the middle of this road void and we were caught playing catch up for the rest of its life.  Thanks to our positioning and the mesocyclone being wrapped in rain, we didn’t have a view of the large tornado that occurred near Elk City.

 

10,11 May 2017 / Supercells near Red River and Kingfisher, OK

May 10, 2017 - 6:02 pm CDT - 4.2 miles south of Wellington, Texas (Looking NW)

May 10, 2017 – 6:02 pm CDT – 4.2 miles south of Wellington, Texas (Looking NW)

May 10 and 11 were two consecutive chase days that involved some significant supercells.

On the 10th, our target area was the Red River area of southwest Oklahoma.  We ended up jumping back and forth across the river four times before the evening was over.  Our first storm encounter was with a high precipitation supercell southwest of Goodlett, Texas.  This storm showed strong rotation on radar, but seeing anything visually was nearly impossible.  We dropped this storm near Quanah and worked back west to intercept a supercell that was approaching Wellington, Texas (top image).  This storm was weakening by the time we caught up with it, but it did provide some nice photo ops.    Our attention turned back to developing storms near Quanah, that eventually organized/intensified and produced a couple of weak tornadoes in the Davidson/Loveland, Oklahoma areas near and after sunset.  These were very short-lived events.

On the 11th, a supercell storm formed over and just southwest of Kingfisher, Oklahoma.  This storm produced hail to the size of baseballs in Kingfisher and did a considerable amount of damage.  Hail video:

After pulling out of the large hail in Kingfisher, I was able to stay ahead of the storm until I reached Guthrie.  Near Guthrie, more storms began developing overhead and ended up merging with the main supercell.  I got caught in an area of ping pong ball size hail just east of Guthrie.  I remained ahead of the storm as it continued to organize and produce very large hail as it tracked toward Perkins.  The area of rotation that prompted a Tornado Warning was heavily wrapped in rain when I took this image:

3:06 pm CDT - 4.1 miles south of Perkins, Oklahoma (Looking northwest)

3:06 pm CDT – 4.1 miles south of Perkins, Oklahoma (Looking northwest)

After the storm passed, I made several stops along highway 33 between Perkins and Coyle to measure hail which reached up to 2.02 inches in diameter.

15 April 2017 / Supercell near Protection, KS

Protection, KS supercell

This was one of the first days of the year that some decent moisture returned as far north as southern Kansas.  Low pressure was moving eastward across northern Kansas and the low level flow was veered a bit over my target area – still, there seemed a decent shot at a few storms with supercells possible.

I initially drove toward Woodward and ended up in the Fargo and Shattuck area watching storm attempts over the northeast Texas Panhandle.  These didn’t survive long, and more persistent development was occurring just to my north.  I worked my way northeast through Buffalo and north to Sitka, navigating around the north side of a developing supercell just to the south of Highway 160.  This became the storm of the day – so much as it was.  Low volume was a big issue and it never looked capable of producing a tornado, but some large hail occurred and the storm took on a nice shape near sunset.

The nicest part of the storm was the very slow movement – about 5 mph – as it crawled east across Comanche County.

The largest hail I measured was 1.78 inches – 1 mile south of Buttermilk, KS – at 8:16 pm CDT.

26 March 2017 / Ada Tornado

7:27 pm CDT - Looking north from 8.5 miles east of Ada, Oklahoma

7:27 pm CDT – Looking north from 8.5 miles east of Ada, Oklahoma

This was a fun little solo chase.  I don’t often make the run toward southeast Oklahoma, but felt good about the chances of seeing some decent storms.  A fairly strong storm system was moving across the state, and by afternoon, a dryline extended from west of the OKC area southward into northwest Texas.  Confidence was high that there would be storms – and fairly high that there would be rotating storms.  The main limiting factor for tornado production was the meager moisture returning northward ahead of the dryline.  When it was all said and done, we ended up with mixed surface dewpoint temperatures ranging from 57-61 degrees, and that was enough to get tornado production (weak as it was) from one storm near Ada.

I started south on I-35 and exited at Davis at 4:15 pm.  I went west from there to first investigate a storm organizing near Ratliff City.  This storm became severe but was disorganized for quite some time before attaining supercell characteristics near Pauls Valley.  I followed the storm northeastward to between Byars and Stratford, reaching Highway 3W to the northwest of Oil Center.  This was a dead end as the storm was starting to move across the river valley with no good means to continue following it.  There was another storm that had organized southwest of Ada, and with the only options being, take the new storm or go home, I started toward Ada.

Visually, the Ada storm was unimpressive as I drove around the west and south sides of the city.  I took up a position just southeast of Ada around 7 pm and observed the storm getting much better organized.  It was fairly high based, but that was to be expected given the limited moisture.  The storm exhibited a small wall cloud with moderate rotation and occasional funnel clouds.  I thought it would be very difficult to get a tornado to the ground given the height of the base, but to my surprise, there was first evidence of a tornado occurring at 7:14 pm.  For the next 13 minutes, I observed at least four places where this intermittent tornado was on the ground.  Not long afterward, the storm started looking a little disorganized.  Darkness was beginning to set in and roads were getting tough.  I called it a good day and started home.  I did make one stop just to the south of Allen where I measured hail larger than golf ball size.

YOUTUBE time-lapse video

Locations and times of tornado:

24 March 2017 / Wichita, Kansas Storms

6:50 pm CDT – 1.9 miles ENE of Wellington, KS – Looking NE

My expectations were a little bit higher on the day.  I expected it to be messy, and it was… I expected there to be some hail producing storms, which there were… and I expected a tornado or two, which there wasn’t.  I headed north on I-35 and exited at Belle Plaine, playing around in storms between Winfield and Derby.  A nicer storm developed which was producing severe hail and I followed northward across the western parts of Wichita.  I observed quarter size hail in Clearwater – the first time I’ve observed severe hail in Sedgwick County.  Most of the storms were small and messy, much like the picture at the top of this page which I shot near Wellington on my way home.  A good way to work all the bugs out of the systems that have been sitting for the last nine months.

5:12 pm CDT - Clearwater, Kansas

5:12 pm CDT – Clearwater, Kansas

 

29 May 2016 / Western Oklahoma Storms

Looking west from 4.6 miles south of Reydon, OK (3:30 pm CDT)

Looking west from 4.6 miles south of Reydon, OK (3:30 pm CDT)

Looking southwest from 7.9 miles north northwest of Sayre, OK (5:03 pm CDT)

Looking southwest from 7.9 miles north northwest of Sayre, OK (5:03 pm CDT)

Looking southwest from 7.9 miles north northwest of Sayre, OK (5:06 pm CDT)

Looking southwest from 7.9 miles north northwest of Sayre, OK (5:06 pm CDT)

 

 

Tough to find much to say about this day.  With very little capping, storms went early and often across the Texas Panhandle.  We drove northwest through Seiling and Vici before dropping back southwest toward Roll and Sweetwater.  Our goal was to stay on the east side of the best storms and see what kind of lightning we could squeeze out of it.  In the end, not that much.

A surge of outflow air moved rapidly southward, leaving dissipating storms in its wake.  We all did manage to drag out a few lightning images from just northeast of Sayre, but overall, it was a rather uninteresting weather day.

27 May 2016 / North Central Oklahoma Storms

Looking west from 7.0 miles west southwest of Orlando, OK (7:04 pm CDT)

Looking west from 7.0 miles west southwest of Orlando, OK (7:04 pm CDT)

Looking south southeast from 2.0 miles south of Mulhall, OK (7:49 pm CDT)

Looking south southeast from 2.0 miles south of Mulhall, OK (7:49 pm CDT)

 

At least this chase was short.  A cluster of storms formed near the Kansas/Oklahoma border between 2 and 3 pm.  It’s been a common theme this season, but we arrived finding updrafts small and ill-defined.  Lightning was limited, but we stayed with persistent storms between Garber and Marshall.

Things got a bit interesting between 6:30 and 7 pm when a supercell storm managed to get organized over northeast Kingfisher County.  This storm actually looked to be on the way to having tornado potential before a negative impact from another theme of the season.  Storms southwest of OKC sent off a strong left mover that tracked across western Oklahoma City and eventually merged with our storm over northern Logan County.  The merger wasn’t a good one and our storm went rapidly downhill.  We were left with another roadside visit with friends near Mulhall, while we hoped for a lightning strike or two that rarely came.  Once again, at least this chase was short.

26 May 2016 / Kansas, Oklahoma Supercells + Car Trouble

Weird day.  It appeared as if it would be an early show, so we started north during the late morning, making our first stop in Enid for some auto maintenance.  After spending an hour at the Jiffy Lube getting an oil change and AC service, we continued northwest reaching Anthony, Kansas just before 2 pm.  Storms were already rolling across a large area of northwest Oklahoma, southwest Kansas, and central Kansas.  Several of the storms had nice looks on radar and numerous warnings were out.  The northern portion of the area was a bit messy, so we targeted the southern part and headed west from Anthony.

By the time we got to Coldwater at 3 pm, it looked like everything was going to be falling our way.  One storm to our southwest was tornado warned and had a nice shape visually.  There were other storms over far northwest Oklahoma that also looked to have tornado potential, so the worst case would scenario would be having to change storms.  It appeared that a significant outbreak of severe weather was underway.

Between 3 and 4 pm, the storms transitioned like I’ve never seen before.  Like a switch had been turned off, every storm within a couple of hours of us started rapidly falling apart.  The warnings stopped, the updrafts shrank, the lightning stopped, and in a very quick time, we had no play in front of us.  To make matters worse, the fresh AC we had enjoyed for a few hours stopped working completely.  Waves of light smoke entered the cabin every few minutes.  We quickly decided that getting the car home – hopefully – would be the best move.  We did make it back, and a rental was secured the following morning to finish our chase vacation.

25 May 2016 / Southern Kansas, Northern Oklahoma Storms

Looking southwest from 5.8 miles east of Wellington, KS (8:23 pm CDT)

Looking southwest from 5.8 miles east of Wellington, KS (8:23 pm CDT)

We left mid-afternoon and started northbound on Highway 81.  A north/south boundary extended from south central Kansas to north central Oklahoma.  The atmosphere was quite unstable, and a decent amount of mid-level flow remained.  There was not a well defined wave to kick things off, but there had been model signals of a couple of storms by afternoon.

Unfortunately, it ended up being a one storm show which produced a strong tornado near Chapman, Kansas, but that one storm was just a bit out of reach for us.

Just after 6 pm, scattered storms started forming from southeast of Wichita to east of Enid.  We spent the better part of two hours bouncing around between Blackwell and Wellington, with only a couple of things to hold our interest through the evening hours.  Several of the storms took on nice shapes, but they were greatly lacking in volume and it became clear at sunset that this play wasn’t going to pan out.  On our way back, we stopped briefly to check out a supercell that developed after sunset to the northwest of Enid.  Apparently this storm produced a tornado, but it occurred while we were still about 30 miles away.  We found the storm burping out a strong surge of outflow and called it a day.