May 19 2010 Oklahoma High Risk Fail

Feb 27, 2012


Played central OK for high risk setup. Targeted Anadarko along the dryline. Ignored earlier tornado producing storms on the warm front. Intercepted the one dryline storm that failed to produce a solid tornado. Tracked storm south of the OKC metro area with potential close tornado encounter in the bears cage but due to bad terrain it was hard to confirm based on visual. Called chase and headed back to Moore, OK for the night.
Tornadoes: 0
Hail: 1.25″ [half dollar]
Wind: 35mph est.
Miles: 345
Lesson Learned: Abandon a non tornado producing storm for better looking storms to the south, despite the terrain they may or may not be in.
Detailed Account:
Today was to be the start of an active period of severe weather across the plains. Danny and I left Chicago late with a destination of Oklahoma City. On the way down SPC upgraded the day from a Slight to a High risk centered over the OKC metro area. We thought we were in prime position.
Ben Holcomb was baited down there and flew into OKC from Chicago Midway, we picked him up from the airport and we set off for our target of Anadarko, which is a surprisingly depressing looking town. Storms had begun to fire north of there earlier than expected. None of us were sold on their look so we held our ground. The storm was barely going for 20 minutes when it went tornado warned. We still didn’t believe it. We held our ground in Anadarko as 2 supercells began to rage on.
Monitoring data we decided to make a jog to the NE which brought us closer to OKC. The terrain in this area was a surprising let down. Lots of hills and trees. We managed to find a spot with a view about 20 miles west of OKC and wait.
As we sat there in waited we watched in disbelief as all the tornado reports poured in from the storms to our north. We could have made it, but none of us thought they would be so long lived. They managed to latch onto the warm front and be tornadic for a few hours, and by this time there was no hope for us.
Storms began to fire in the area we just were so we back tracked yet again to the southwest. We found yet another spot to watch and picked our storm which began to look good visually.
The storm however, was taking a long time to get its act together, and even weakening on radar for a time. We began to get frustrated. Looking around I could see massive towering storms with overshooting tops. We were missing quite a show.
Interesting black and white cu next to each other…
Our storm had nearly caught up to us at this point so it was time to move. We had some run ins with the core and given the quick storm speeds it was difficult to stay ahead of but we managed. The storm finally began to get its act together and went severe warned. We were well enough ahead of it to pull over with a great view.
We sat here and watched it try and develop a wall cloud but with no success. I shot some video for time lapse before it was time to move on. While making our next move the storm ramped up and went tornado warned as it approached the metro area. We caught back up with it just south of the area and amidst blaring sirens we pulled over for more views.
The RFD was bowing out ahead of the storm as opposed to wrapping around it. The storm was trying really hard but could not get it done.
We kept ahead of the storm just in case it would finally produce. I wanted to ditch it for a southern supercell but was told the terrain down there would be bad and a waste, so we pressed on.
Crossing over I-35 and heading east into the jungle, we knew this chase would only become more difficult.
We managed to find a decent view again and watch the storm, which had begun inhaling large scud tags into it. We thought at any time this would form a wall cloud but it still never quite could.
It was time to move again and this is finally when things started to get interesting. The roads are bad, the terrain was bad, but we moved ourselves into the bears cage. Upon stopping at an intersection and looking west we could see what looked like a massive funnel inches from the ground, looking up I saw swirling rain bands all around. Would the storm finally produce with us having front row seats? I still do not know…but regardless we were in a dangerous spot and had to move east for not only a possible tornado but potentially large hail. Video tells the story now.

Hail actually hit me in the hand while I was filming. At that point we found ourselves in the most god awful terrain I have ever witnessed while chasing. We knew the chase was over. Other chasers near us who bailed south for the other storm were starting to report tornadoes and I was becoming livid hence the reason I was not happy to see a large mammatus filled anvil to our south.
We called the chase, and headed back to Steve Millers house in Moore, OK. Depressed and somewhat angry, it was just one of those chases where I repeatedly ask myself “Just how in the hell can you blow a day like this.” We ate a steak house in town. Ben and Danny got steaks to celebrate past victories. I ordered a smothered cheese fries and a burger.
Days like this happen. Its hard to call the chase a bust when you get severe hail, a potential tornado, funnel clouds, wall clouds and basically everything but a tornado. Seeing other peoples reports though is what made this day a bust for us. Multiple large tornadoes that we could have easily intercepted had we not decided to stick with the one storm of the day that just did not want to get it done.
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