Friday, March 13, 2009

March 9th western OK night supercells

Started the day off at work in Jenks, OK. Worked for a few hours, then begged my bosses to let me off early(thanks Eagle and Joshua). My target was the Weatherford area but people were trying to talk me into going to the KS/OK border. I decided to take 75s to 40w to keep focused on my South target. I had been having some car troubles for about a week, and I thought I had it fixed. As I neared the Okeene area, my tahoe was still having trouble so I stopped and had my fuel filter changed. After a few miles, same spitting and sputtering came back. So I did some internet research, and decided to replace my crankshaft position sensor. I bought a new one, found the old one, took it out, and half of it broke off inside the crankshaft. AWESOME. So I went back into the autoparts store, and bought some things I thought MAYBE could be used to pull, pry, or squeeze it out. After wrestling, screaming, cursing, and pleading with it for 30 minutes, she came right out. So I plugged it all back in, and headed W right at sunset, and the storms had just started cookin. I met my first cell of the day near Amber, OK and the structure was amazing. I wish there had been more lightning, but the cell was weakening. She had an amazing mothership structure though. Here's a picture of the early stages of that storm

I decided to just North to catch the next cell near Union City. As I neared the storm, the lightning was intense and the supercellular structure made my mouth water. I caught the storm a few miles East of Union City, and just as I set up the camera, the storm weakened and the lightning died off. I was very angry but the structure was still very beautiful.

As this cell weakened and drifted over the OKC metro, I dropped S to Minco to wait on the next storm. It looked good in the distance, but weakened as it got closer, and was outflow crap by the time it got to me.

So I shot some pictures, and headed to Yukon for some late night Wendy's action. While chatting about the weather and chasing with the dude working the drive through, lightning struck a transformer about 1/2 a mile in front of me. It was awesome. I pulled into a parking spot to eat and watch the lightning show. Before I could even put it in park, another bolt hit a transformer about 200 yards to my right, showering sparks onto Garth Brooks BLVD. It was awesome. I finished my dinner, and headed to Stillwater. A small LP supercell blew up near Guthrie and was drifting off to the NE So I tried to catch it. Every few minutes, it would spit out a monster CG from the base of the storm, and she was a beauty. I finally got to where I could take some pictures, but she was too far away and the lightning was obscured by BS clouds between the storm and I, so I headed on to Stillwater to sleep. It's always nice to get out and chase, but the storms all seemed to weaken as they were getting going. Low instability-high shear days suck.

334 miles.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

February 10, 2009 C OK Moderate Risk

Started of the day changing my tires at home in Glenpool, OK. Randy Rhea and I scooped up Josh Gregory(progress in color) and headed S. Our original target was Denton, TX but before we could get that far S, the dryline started to blow up. We were in walmart in McAlester, came out to the truck, and the radar had gone from dead to 3 supercells in a matter of 15 minutes. So we backtracked to I40 and headed W. The first cell had already smashed cars with baseball hail in Yukon, OK, and was in the process of tearing up mansions in Edmond, OK. We jumped N off of 40 to intercept near Langston. We could see the monster wall cloud, and it was a ground scraper(see video). There was definitely a tornado on the ground, but I'm not sure we were seeing it. We were about 1 minute late crossing the Cimmaron River, so we were behind the tornado, driving through quarter sized hail to catch up. I'm pretty sure the tube crossed 33 about thirty seconds ahead of us. Which is REALLY scary seeing as how no one on our side of the tornado(a few chasers, spotters, AND A FREAKING SCHOOL BUS) could see it due to the rain/hail core. We finally got through the hail, and noted a damage path that was about 300yds wide, before noticing that the tornado was roping out right next to us(check video). We report the tornado and damage to KTUL, and follow the cycling wall cloud into Stillwater. At this point, KTUL wanted me to stop and send the video in. The storm was looking cold and rainy by this time, and we decided to hang back and wait for the second cell while uploading video for Frank. The next cell had a very impressive wall cloud, and the storm snuck up on us faster than expected. We had parked in front of a home on a county road, and the owner came out and chatted a bit, and another local had driven past us. I was finishing the upload when the guy took off running for his house, and we all looked ahead and saw a brief spin-up about 100yds down the road. It was a very small, but very intense vortex. I couldn't film, because the tape was in a bad spot, but luckily Randy snapped this picture.

At first we thought it was a gustnado, but we noted a bit of cloud-base rotation with a lowering seen in the picture. It was only on the ground for about 5 seconds before disappearing, none-the-less, I called 911 and reported it. We headed E to reposition, and followed the storm to ok51 and decided to let it go, as the terrain N of there gets pretty bad, and the storm was looking just as cold as the first one. So we dropped back and waited for the next one. It never did anything, and we decided to head S and hope for some more cells to go up ahead of the line. The storms never fired, so we jumped on to 44 in Stroud, and headed home.

461 miles. 4 supercells, 2 tornadoes at close range, and 1 hell of a first chase for 2009.