Sunday, October 20, 2013

Wrap-Up Chase Season 2013

After arguably the most frustrating season I have ever had, the fat lady has finally sung for my 2013 chase season. I'll have a review of all the chase days below. I also will be adding my remaining three chase logs in the next week or so, including the October 4th supercell near Clinton, OK. Below is a general overview of all the chase days this season.

February 9 2013 Texas Panhandle
A very marginal day that appeared on the models and looked too good to be true for the eastern panhandle. I ended up chasing with Zach Elliot, Jon Stone and Brady Kendrick. After photographing an awesome abandoned gas station in Hollis, we went and hung around the Mempis, TX area until sunset. Storms never did fire in the daytime, but the dryline kicked up a dust storm in its wake along I-27. After grabbing dinner in Memphis, storms exploded about 30 minutes after sunset. We hopped northwest on US 287 and southeast of Clarendon caught the severe storms that had started lining out. After Brady's car took a few tennis balls we bailed back east and south to get out of the way (hitting a tumbleweed of doom on a market road). Unfortunately I never had enough time to get my camera out to get a photo of one of the hailstones. This day definitely set the marker for 2013.

March 9 2013 Southern Oklahoma & Northern Texas
A very under-performing day. Instability in northern Texas was never quite realized due to thick stratus until roughly 19Z across northern Texas and southern Oklahoma. I chased with Jon Stone and ended up heading out of Norman in the early afternoon. We caught the first severe storm of the day east of Duncan and got probably the only storm of the day that came close to realizing any of the potential of the shear environment. The storm displayed some slightly supercellular characteristics with a lowering that had visible rising motion from a good distance away before lining out and dying as it went back up into Norman. From that point we continued south and entered Texas around 21Z and got to a stopping point in time to see a pretty cool multi-tiered shelf outside Gainesville. We then continued dropping south and ended the day watching some junk storms near Era before heading back to Norman.

April 7 2013 Western Kansas
One of my favorite days of the season. Chased with Brady Kendrick and Zach Elliot in western Kansas on a decent day across Kansas. We set out from Norman around 18Z with the original target of Alva, OK. We were expecting more discrete, supercellular storms along the KS/OK state line in the early evening but that never materialized due to cloud cover over much of NW OK limiting the thermodynamic environment. The only supercell that day formed along and rode the warm front way up near Great Bend, KS. We initially had given up on the day around 23Z as turkey towers were toppling all over SW KS and were halfway to Greensburg (I hadn't seen the town's recovery) before turning back around and blasting north out of Pratt after seeing a nuclear updraft to our north on that WF supercell. While we failed to catch it when it was at its most picturesque, we were still able to get some excellent shots as it neared sunset southwest of Great Bend.

April 17 2013 Southwest Oklahoma
This day has a special place on my s**tlist of chase days. It's arguably the most underwhelming day I have ever had the displeasure of wasting gas money on. This day had been progged by the GFS and to a lesser degree, the Euro, to be the first legitimate tornado day of the 2013 season. That is until, the NAM got involved. The crashing cold front solution and weak H7s it predicted would end up coming true and cutting this day down like the Reds' playoff contention. Andrew Lyons and I ended up chasing with a group of meteorology friends from OU and reached the first supercells east of Lawton around 19Z. We sat back and watched the first supercell go by and spit out a lot of wind and rain. We then side-stepped it and went after the next supercell. South of Lawton that storm quickly died. At that point we were sitting on a small country road south of Lawton watching this day crash and burn. That is until one HP supercell decided to tick up its inflow (which was some of the strongest I have ever been in) and spin out a brief bird fart in Lawton. We had a very murky view and except for the first powerflash which gave us a brief glimpse, we never saw anything else. After our crappy encounter of the spinny kind we debated whether or not to sit and wait on more storms coming up. Those storms would end up biting it as they entered a worked-over environment with crappy mid-level winds. We then decided against moving south to tail-end charlie near Vernon, TX (which would produce the only decent-ish tornado of the day) and headed back to Norman on the heels of the crappiest excuse for supercells of this season. 

May 18-31 2013 
I was on a family vacation to the west (Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Vegas, etc.). A little bit of me died. 

July 12 2013 Eastern Iowa
A very disappointing bust day with Andrew Lyons, Nate Curtis and Aaron Rigsby. We initially saw some potential in eastern Iowa with the target set as Iowa City, but by midday it became readily apparent that nothing was going to happen. We stopped in central Illinois, turned around and drown our sorrows in Sweet Tarts with little unicell crappers shooting off all over creation. 

September 27 2013 Texas Panhandle
Another marginal fall chase day that ended up being ok. I chased with Brady Kendrick with the initial target set for Groom. We got to Groom just as storms began firing off along and in the Caprock Canyons. We patiently waited east of Groom with Jon Stone to see if any of the storms would get their act together enough to at least put out some nice structure. Unfortunately the lack of an appreciable inversion prevented any storms from becoming organized and except for a brief lowering with some rising motion, nothing else got close. But as we headed back east to get to Norman at a reasonable hour, we got the opportunity to get an awesome shot of the now bowing line of storms as they came off the Caprock west of Alanreed. Some decent shots were salvaged and we weren't left with too bad of a taste in our mouth. 

October 4 2013 Western Oklahoma
What ended up being my favorite chase day out of this season. I headed out of Norman with Andrew Lyons and Cj Sayre around 18Z with the initial target of Elk City. We made it to Elk City around 20Z and after lunch were in the perfect position to catch storms off the dryline before the cold front swept south. We watched the first robust tower of the day near Elk City until it shriveled up, before blasting north around Foss Lake to partake of some of the more vigorous convection north of Hammon. We were treated to an awesome view of the storm's updraft tower and base with a few nubs protruding from the base before the storm crapped the bed. We then dropped south again to get on a storm that had begun to get separation from the others east of Sayre. We got caught at a strange angle and ended up core punching the storm to get back to I-40. Only small pea-sized hail was in the core but once we got out far enough from the updraft base we were treated to an awesome view of a multi-tiered/mothership updraft structure. We continued east to about Clinton before stopping to get some shots of some of the best structure I have ever seen in person. Afterwards the storm began to rapidly decline as it congealed into the line coming up as the cold front caught the dryline and we drifted back east to Norman. 

All in all, I can't complain about my first full season of living on the Plains. Even though I missed the best tornadoes of the year and got seriously hosed on some setups, it was still great to end it on such a good note. Hard to believe chase season 2014 is just around the corner. The stats of the year will be posted below.

Chase Season 2013
Miles Traveled: 2752
Chase Days: 7
Busts: 3
Tornadoes: 1
Largest Hail: Tennis Ball (2.5 in.)
Highest Wind Gust: 85 MPH (estimated)
States Chased: OK, KS, TX, IL