Tuesday, December 29, 2015

March 25, 2015 Chase Log


A solid chase day with a beautifully structured supercell unexpectedly forming just ahead of a crashing cold front north of Anadarko, Oklahoma. A weak, positively-tilted shortwave rapidly moved through the central Plains with a strong westerly component at 500 mb. Dewpoints from 58-61F overspread much of central and southwestern Oklahoma ahead of the sweeping cold front approaching from the due north. Multiple other supercells would occur this day along the front, including the Sand Springs tornado and a weak spinup out of another HP supercell in Moore. The Anadarko supercell would end up being the be the most classic of the storms that day, with most chasers ending up in a logjam at the junction of US-62 and US-81.  

This would promise to be the first major chase day on the Plains for 2015. The Storm Prediction Center slapped a moderate risk across northeastern Oklahoma into southwest Missouri, with a broad 5% tornado swath along the I-44 corridor through Lawton. A brisk cold front was progged to rapidly move through northern and central Oklahoma by later that evening with forcing being exceptionally strong along the southward sag of the front just west of the OKC metro, hinting at the possibility of a linear mode from the getgo.

A lead impulse ahead of the main trough swung through central Oklahoma around 19Z, exacerbating worries about a premature initiation and persistent cloud cover across the area. It shot off a few small cells and led to some strange mammatus under a stratus deck in Norman before firing off the strongest supercell of the day northeast of OKC that would eventually follow I-44 into Sand Springs and produce an EF3 stovepipe.

My chase partner and I left Norman shortly after the lead impulse swung through around 19:45Z with an initial target of Minco, OK. We cut through Chickhasha and swung just north of Pocasset to watch the struggling Cu field off to our northwest. After sitting for half an hour, the first signs of life stirred in the Cu field to our west around 21:30Z. By 22Z, full blow intitiation was underway and we were hauling it west towards a pretty beefy cell southwest of Gracemont and northwest of Anadarko. We ended up taking a brutal dirt road detour towards Gracemont on Dutton Road before finally emerging in some rolling terrain north of Gracemont and stopping on E1250 Rd to watch a beautiful storm take shape.

We were forced to move after about 15 minutes of watching the storm and a brief chat with a nice farmer who's home was about a 1/4 mile down the road from where we were sitting. The linear mess to our north was encroaching rapidly and the storm was continuing to be pushed southeast by the front.

We passed the OU radar trucks on the way down US-281/OK-8 before stopping about 100 yards north of the Gold River Casino to watch the supercell wind it's way south, with a few gustnadoes dancing around under it's gust front.

After watching the gustnado show with a few chasers we continued trekking south back towards US-62. We decided to try and blast east towards US-81 to try and get in front of the storm one more time. We encountered some decently high winds south of Anadarko and managed to make great to time to US-81. The cell attempted one more cycle and put out a pretty beefy wall cloud before choking on stable surface parcels and withering. By now the hail threat was manifesting itself in the storm and we hurried back to Chickasha to get partial cover under the awning of a Shell as quarters and a few ping pong balls pelted Chickasha. We briefly attempted to meet up with a few friends from OU before giving up the ghost due to the storm rapidly approaching Chickasha. We ended the day at the Dairy Queen before heading back to Norman to an awesome lightning show. The 2015 season was open for business.

Chase Stats
Miles Driven: 132 miles
Cost: $35
Tornadoes: 0
Largest Hail: Ping pong (1.5")
Highest Winds: 45 mph (estimated)

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Brief November 16 Writeup

Sorry for the delay on this, work and school have colluded to make the last few weeks of the semester absolutely crazy. I managed to nab a few tornadoes to end my season in my favorite part of the High Plains: the Texas Panhandle. While getting a late start out of Norman, we still managed to make Goodnight just as the first supercell emerged out of the mouth of Palo Duro. It spat out a small, classic tor southwest of Goodnight. The road options down there screwed us out of good views of the next two, but we still managed to see the Groom tornado through the rain to the north and on our way down I-40 back to Norman, managed to get a view of the second Pampa wedge as it hit what I guess had to have been a transformer given the fact that it illuminated the entire tornado and base in white. All in all, a great way to end a great year.