Final Week of April - Days Tour Highlights
A successful week of chasing! We had 3 day tours this week starting with Sunday the 24th, next chase day was Tuesday the 26th and finally Friday the 29th. We will start with Sunday April 24, 2016. In the 3 days we traveled 2,600 miles, intercepted 5 tornado warned storms, saw baseball size hail, powerful straight line winds, powerflashes, great structure, several wall clouds and funnels and 1 confirmed tornado near Fletcher, Oklahoma on Friday April 29th. Not to mention a couple of white knuckle moments to add to the excitement!
Sunday April 24 - Target: South Central KS.
Storms had fired in our target but were quickly beaten out by strong capping. Followed struggling cells NE until they finally became nothing more than a memory. Jumped north to a rapidly developing storm and witnessed baseball hail on the ground, intense CG lightning, and watched a funnel cloud for about 3 minutes just NE of Salina, KS.. The evening provided some excellent photo ops with the sun setting casting a beautiful orange glow through the stormy skies. Tour guest Jonathan and Brian enjoying the scenery!
Tuesday April 26 - Target: SW Oklahoma.
Moderate Risk Day issued by the SPC. Morning observational soundings through the region showed strongly backed winds in the mid levels of the atmosphere. We targeted the dryline in SW OK. Cloud cover was persistent all day and lapse rates were struggling. Southerly component at mid levels kept storms from moving off the dryline causing storms to seed each other. A quickly developing storm fired just south of the Red River near Vernon, TX. We moved into position and intercepted the storm in Tipton, Oklahoma which was mainly linear looking in nature but had a persistent mesocyclone. Not long after meeting the storm a wall cloud started to form, rotation started to build and a funnel extended towards the ground but outflow quickly undercut it. The storm exhibited great structure at one point but it did not last. We decided to drop the storm and drive south to the rapidly expanding squall line. As we punched the core we experienced small hail and awesome straight line winds. We noticed on radar isolated cells ahead of the line. We decided to drive down HWY 287 to HWY 82 in North Texas to see if these cells would provide final hope for the big let down of the day by mother nature. A lot of times storms that fire ahead of squall line can become rooted at the surface and can become tornadic. As I saw on February 10, 2009 with the Lone Grove, OK EF4. As soon as we arrived in Muenster, TX the storm was really shaping up to be a nice classic supercell. We punched through the hook and soon as the rain cleared we had a nice bowl circulation in front of us and the storm became tornado warned. The bowl lowering had lifted and another funnel had formed extending about half way to the ground. It may have been a brief tornado but could not confirm since it was already dark and no power flashes could be seen. We went to go find somewhere to eat in Sherman, TX but as soon as we got in another circulation was developing in the line of storms, the isolated cells had already been absorbed into the line by this time. We raced back into the van and went east towards my home town out of all places. A tornado was confirmed but we could not see it due to bad visibility. The tornado missed my home by 1 mile! How about that!
Tour Guest Kevin taking in the view! Near Tipton, Oklahoma.
Large bowl lowering south of Muenster, TX
Funnel Cloud south of Lindsay, TX
Friday April 29 - Target: SW Oklahoma - Kind of!
Started out in Henrietta, TX. Two target areas in mind and that town was a good middle ground to get into position to either. First was a warm front in North Texas and remnant outflow boundary. Second was the triple point in SW Oklahoma. Storm in SW OK was struggling to get on the boundary and would not gain strength, storms in North Texas were of the garden variety at the time. The Oklahoma storm started to root and we jumped on it. It was a violent HP supercell. We got on the storm just north of Elgin, Oklahoma and an impressive sight was to behold. Crazy NErly inflow feeding right into the circulation/wall cloud region. Once the RFD started to wrap up it was on! We were in close proximity to all this and we had already established an escape route. We were being chased by the storm as we stayed along the forward flank. Tour guest Jonathan got a brief shot of the developing tornado as we were departing the chaos! The National Weather Service in Norman found two distinct tornado damage paths, including where we caught the brief view just north of Fletcher, Oklahoma.
The storm became too dangerous to chase so we kept a distance from the storm. Meanwhile in North Texas at my other target there were reports of a tornado. While the target in Texas was a shot in the dark it verified as well. Too bad we cannot be in two places at once! Friday was pretty insane with a couple of hairy moments and some good photo ops during sunset.
Pretty cool view of the backside of a gust front in
Whitesboro, TX after the chase.
The monster circulation near Elgin, Oklahoma
Quick screen grab of the developing tornado.
( photo credit to guest Jonathan )
Here is a quick time lapse of the circulation.
Overall it was a pretty awesome week! The guests had an excellent time and cannot wait to come back! We spent a lot of time going over data and teaching everyone what we were looking at and how we come up with our forecast, the data we use and where to access it.