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.