Category Archives: 2002

Tornado – Kingsdown, KS – May 7, 2002

We almost blew this day completely.  We felt sure that storms would form in Kansas, but that others would develop southward into Oklahoma.  We sat in Gage for 45 minutes or so, evaluating the sky and listening to reports of tornadoes coming from the Kansas storms.  Finally, we had had all we could take, pulled the plug on Oklahoma, and starting driving toward tornado producers in Kansas.

The show was almost over, but had one more tornado in it as we arrived near Kingsdown.  The tornado was classic looking and on the ground for seven minutes.  After that, the storms had some merger problems and outflow under cutting issues.  We spent the rest of the time in the area playing with hail cores where we found stones larger than baseballs.

A not so Happy Tornado – May 5, 2002


My friend, Steve went on three storm chases with me.  His first was a trip to Northwest Oklahoma that was a complete bust.  His second was a trip to Southwest Oklahoma that saw some severe thunderstorms.  Natural progression meant that we should ramp it up to some supercells on this chase, and we did.

The day was a fairly classic May dryline day across the Plains.  Moderately strong southwest mid-level flow was overspreading a long plume of rich low-level moisture which extended all the way from Texas to South Dakota.  There would be plenty of severe thunderstorms and tornadoes.  With no particular spot seeming that much better than the others, we took the logical shortest drive straight west on I-40.

By 6:30 pm we had positioned ourselves on a supercell storm located west of Happy, Texas.  The storm had a persistent wall cloud with moderate to strong rotation and we had southeast winds blowing into the storm that were gusting to 50 mph.  The first tornado appeared as a very broad bowl of rotating dirt under the wall cloud that didn’t seem to be spinning that fast.  The dirt extended to cloud base and gave the appearance of a very large tornado.  Still, the motion wasn’t all that impressive.  We got closer and could see that there was a much more intense smaller core to the tornado.  It was on the ground for 14 minutes before weakening just west of Happy, leaving the air filled with suspended dust.  It only took a couple of minutes for another tornado to form on the west side of the city.  Unfortunately, this tornado was positioned perfectly to move through the city.  We could see roofs of houses being lofted as the tornado moved through, and came across a considerable amount of damage in the city.  Our first scan of the damage didn’t reveal anything that looked all that bad, or even anything that might have required our assistance.  In fact, the tornado only ended up receiving a rating of F2.  The bad news was that it did find a mobile home where two people were killed.