May 30th 2013 Oklahoma Storm Chasing

Sep 08, 2013


Overslept and missed the main play of the day. Forced to play secondary area of development noting some pretty non-severe structure but no actual severe weather.






Hail: 0.00″
Wind: n/a
Tornadoes: 0

The Setup:

Similar setup to previous day with same frontal boundaries continuing south/east. Similar parameters were in place with a moderatly unstable airmass. Strong low and mid level lapse rates had SPC going with a MDT risk for hail, but slightly veered directional shear profiles kept the tornado probs down to 10%

Detailed Account:

It always happens at least once on every week long chase excursion. We all oversleep and miss the days main target. Staying in Dodge City, KS we had quite a ways to go to Central Oklahoma, but we blew the initiation forecast and left late. After an unpleasant leave from our hotel due to an impatient hotel manager, we were on our way with the first blips on radar starting to light up. Never a good way to start the day and we almost debated calling off the chase altogether knowing we had no chance. Still, the potential for a second wave of storms and knowing the next days target would be down there kept us on the move.

As we neared the Medford, OK area we could see the tops of the massive supercells we were missing, but luckily any tornado reports that came in were brief and weak due to slightly unfavorable shear. As expected, new storms blew up behind the main outflow boundary on a secondary boundary that was pushing in from the south and colliding with the cold front to our north. These storms only pulsed up briefly and went warned for marginally severe hail but didn’t last long.

After letting a couple storms go we decided to grab a bite to eat at a delicious BBQ place off I-35 (the name escapes me but its well known.) As we sat there yet another round of storms blew up so we quickly went after them, but noting a similar story. Brief warnings for severe hail but despite our efforts we could never really find an intense hail core. There was still some pretty non severe structure.

We decided to follow one last storm east of 35 into the unfavorable terrain. This storm exhibited some supercell characteristics on radar briefly and was worth sticking with.  After getting far enough ahead, it began weakening and by the time it slid past us there was nothing more to see than a small, high rain free base.

The rain free base should have been a signal to stick with the storm despite the weakening radar trends, but the storm was moving further away from our target area and evening was setting in, so we let it go and made our way back to Oklahoma City to get into position for the next day. Sure enough, about an hour later the storm pictured above produced a pretty prolific white trunk tornado that several chasers documented. Lesson learned, always wait for that evening LLJ to kick in to see if it can beef up the storms (like on the Rozel day back on May 18th.)

Some cool anvil structure on the way back to OKC. We arrived in OKC, went to dinner and then the casino for some night time fun, ready for the next days chase. Little did we know what the next day had in store for us, as this day would come to change our lives forever (and not for the better.)


A chase with pretty low expectations yeilded slightly worse results than we were hoping for due to our own sloppiness in forecasting. Even the tornado our storm eventually went on to produce was at dusk and not the ideal catch. Still, at this stage in my chasing career I feel I shouldn’t make basic mistakes like oversleeping and missing the main target, but on the other hand when driving 5 days straight, a little rest is needed.

Map. Arrows show points of different storm intercepts.

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