Thursday, May 19, 2016

May 9 2016 South-Central Oklahoma Tornadoes

It's been a very busy spring so far between storms, school and work. Finally, here are my pictures from the SC Oklahoma tornadoes near Wynnewood, Sulphur and Bromide. I'm continuing to chip away at last season's chase logs so I can begin on this season's chase logs before I get too behind. Photos will be captioned below.

First view of the Katie-Wynnewood EF4 north of Wynnewood as it churns west of I-35 

The tornado as it begins to enter it's ropeout phase crossing I-35. Sitting just east of Wynnewood. 

The tornado begins to come undone completely with a massive barrel updraft and long inflow tail

The condensation funnel rapidly evaporates

The large mothership looming south of Wynnewood prior to the Sulphur wedge

The large Sulphur wedge about 4 miles north of Sulphur. Inflow was quite strong.

The entire updraft and wedge 

Hard RFD cut with solid updraft tower and the low contrast wedge continuing to the east

The Bromide tornado shortly after touching down. Viewed from southeast of Hickory.

The tornado viewed from full zoom as it morphs into an elephant trunk

The ropeout stage begins

Displaying walled structure in the center 

Rapidly breaking down after 7-8 minutes on the ground 

A distant view to the north at the Norman LP 

Arguably one of, if not the best chase days I've had. We saw four tornadoes in all. The Katie-Wynnewood tornado was initially rated as an EF3 before being upgraded to EF4. Both the Sulphur wedge and Bromide tornado were rated EF3.  

Looking ahead, it looks like we have an active week of some less synoptically-evident severe setups starting Sunday on the High Plains. It should be a busy week so updates may be few and far between for the next 7-10 days. 

Friday, May 6, 2016

April 24 2015 Chase Log


Insufficient time to get to the best target along the I-70 corridor near Hays and a crappy south target in northeast Texas lead to playing the middle in south-central Kansas. Extraordinarily strong upper level winds on the order of 110 knots coupled with meager instability lead to the only cells south of monster HP in Hays to get sheared over.

With two enhanced risks splitting Oklahoma, it became clear that northern Kansas was the place to be. Unfortunately, multiple time constraints due to the time of year (closing in on finals) forced us to improvise and attempt to play further down the dryline into south-central Kansas. We ended up getting a late start but gradually made our way from South Haven, up to Kingman and finally making our final stop in Pratt. The HP cell that produced the notable tornadoes of the day was already ongoing by the time we reached Pratt. We decided to sit and wait in the Pratt McDonald's as a few attempts at CI were ongoing.

Finally, a TCu managed to push through the strong winds aloft directly over Pratt. The storm began spitting out hail almost immediately and started drifting northeast at a pretty steady clip. We followed it northeast along KS-61 and watched it develop a small, rotund updraft base. Unfortunately, it was the best the storm would ever look.

 As we drew closer to Preston, it was exceedingly clear that the updraft was struggling. Finally, near Langdon, the storm began to fall apart and withered away with it's anvil being blown off extremely far downstream.

We cut our losses and headed to get dinner in Hutchinson as a line of storms went up further west along the retreating dryline. We were treated to a nice lightning show on our traipse back south on 35 but got the added issue of hitting what appeared to be bits of an old wooden dresser just past Wellington, KS. It managed pinched the gas line of the car and made the most ungodly sound I've heard from a car while chasing. We thankfully limped back to Norman without issue.

Chase Stats
Miles Driven: 534
Cost: $35
Tornadoes: 0
Largest Hail: Dime (3/4")
Highest Winds: None

April 18, 2015 Chase Log


A promising dryline setup turns out to be an LP dud in far western Oklahoma. An extremely compact shortwave slowly dug into the southern Great Plains with a modest moisture fetch from the Gulf of Mexico in advance of a sharp dryline situated at the state line between Oklahoma and the Texas Panhandle.

An enhanced risk was in place across from the Rio Grande up through far western Oklahoma and into northwest Kansas near Great Bend. While tornado chances appeared low, the possibility for scultped supercells was too good to pass up. We initially set a target of Mangum.

After departing down 40 west, we decided to adjust and stuck north of Mangum near Willow and watched the first attempts at convective initiation going up along the dryline near Erick. We slowly moved north as the towers began to anvil out.

Unfortunately, the moisture in the immediate vicinity of the dryline had begun to crater and LCLs began to skyrocket. We had two distinct updrafts with bases well above 1500m by the time we got our first view south of Sayre.

The strong ventilating winds at the anvil level coupled with the persistent moisture depth issues made the storms LP from the getgo. Almost no precip fell at any point at our vantage point even as we moved just to the north of the updraft. Eventually, both bases began to shrivel up and die leaving a substantial orphan anvil in it's wake.

Shortly thereafter, we decided to move back east on Oklahoma 152 to meet a cluster of storms coming out of the Wichitas. Unfortunately, the storms were extraordinarily outflow dominant and presented a meager shelf cloud with cold air streaming out east of Cordell.

Shortly thereafter, we decided to call the chase and began traipsing back east with the storms hot on our heels as we negotiated OK-152 to OK-37 back towards Norman.

Chase Stats
Miles Driven: 299
Cost: $15
Tornadoes: 0
Largest Hail: none
Highest Winds: 30 mph (estimated)

Sunday, May 1, 2016

First Tornado of the Season

Finally got on the board this previous Friday (April 29th) after a month and a half of chasing progressively better setups from March onward. An HP supercell that formed in Comanche County produced a brief multi-vortex tornado that we were able to view from just east of Cement as it traipsed northeast and wrapped up. I also saw some of the most intense inflow just off the deck that I've seen in years. Moisture was visibly streaming in from miles outside of the updraft.

While the tornado was brief and I didn't manage to get any salvageable pictures of it (It was twilight lighting at 4 PM CDT), it was nice to get the monkey off my back and enjoy a quick chase within an hour of Norman.

Looking ahead, the pattern begins to take a nosedive. 2016 so far has been notable for it's seeming lack of tornado/supercell productions on the Great Plains. Outside of the Eads, Colorado tornado and the Eva, Oklahoma tornadoes on April 15th, this year has been a pretty big letdown. The Plains look to go between systems in the next week and come under the influence of a cutoff low sitting in the center of a pretty persistent omega block. Funnily enough, after an open Gulf of Mexico the past week with rich moisture streaming all the way to Nebraska, we look to struggle to regain a foothold with respect to moisture content on the prairie. It's been a strange year and it looks like we might be waiting until the end of May into June to really get going.