May 8th 2015 Warika, Oklahoma Supercell

May 25, 2015


Intercepted HP supercell in southwest Oklahoma noting dramatic structure. Decided to let storm roll us in the town of Warika as embedded circulation ramped up and passed overhead. Stopped to view back-lit structure as storms departed before heading for back to Norman.





Tornadoes: 0
Hail: 1.00″ (Quarter)
Wind: est 60mph

The Forecast:

Main piece of slow moving trough finally entering southern plains. VBV (veer-back-veer) shear profiles a concern regarding storm mode. In addition there was no EML/Cap forecast in place which meant early morning storms could potentially wreck the day. Still, plenty of moisture was in place, as well as speed shear for severe storms. If skies could clear out and too many storms not go up at once, storms stood a chance at tornado production. SPC went MDT risk for hail, but kept tornado probs at 10% due to uncertainties regarding storm mode.







Detailed Account:

The days leading up to this setup were quite agonizing, as the initial pieces of energy form this trough produced tornadoes across the plains on each day from May 5th through the 8th. The event on May 6th turned out to be a surprised tornado outbreak that featured numerous photogenic tornadoes across Kansas and Texas. Less visible tornadoes also impacted Norman, OK providing catches for just about every chaser on the planet – except me. Why was I not there? Over a week prior to this date I made an appointment to have work done on the vehicle. It needed coils and boots replaced or I would not even be able to drive it out to the plains to chase. Owch.

Needles to say my desire to get out there and grab my piece of the pie was burning at this point. Danny was down to chase and once I got home from work, took a really short power nap I was ready to go. The forecast was iffy from the get-go, but we made it down to Norman in good time. Morning storms were indeed all over the place and playing havoc with the target area. Since we got to Norman early we decided to stop at Ben’s place rather than continue to the target area. We arrived just in time for lunch, and met everyone up at a local BBQ shack. Afterwards we went back to Bens place. The forecast still wasn’t looking too impressive, and me being as tired as I was began looking for reasons not to chase.

Supercells had fired south of Red River in Texas, and across Central Oklahoma, but displayed major HP signatures on radar. Tornado threat seemed low, but warnings were out. Eventually we decided to leave Bens as a pair of supercells were coming up from the south. Alec Scholten decided to join us to make for a cheaper chase.

We decided to jump on the more southern of the 2 storms, as it was now tornado warned with a few questionable reports coming in from chasers in the area. By the time we got to the storm it was ready to cross the Red River and we had to make the call whether to go into Texas to get on it sooner, and risk falling behind it, or simply wait for it on the other side, in Oklahoma. We chose to wait. Our first look at the storm showed an intense HP beast.

The storm being so HP meant it was hard for us to see into the notch to pick out any critical features. In addition to that, the area had received much rain the day before, and many of the dirty backroads were simply too muddy to gamble with. Shortly after this the storm produced a tornado on the Texas side just before it crossed the river. It was a low hanging multi vortex that only 1 chaser got a shot of.

Keeping in the notch as best we could, we stayed with the edge of the core. We could note areas of rotation but never any tornado. The storm, however, displayed beautiful HP structure which made for some dramatic images.
Warika Oklahoma Storm

Warika 1

The storm appeared somewhat linear on radar, with a big HP core and circulation embedded deep within. The tornado warning was eventually dropped, and it was now severe warned for 80mph winds and hail up to tennis ball size. Nearing the town of Warika, Oklahoma we decided to park in a car wash and let the storm roll us. We figured filming 80mph wind driven tennis ball size hail would make for some awesome video. As the storm began overtaking us (with hail only up to quarter size at best) an embedded circulation began ramping up, nearly overhead. A tornado warning was re-issued from spotters/chasers reporting a tornado. From our location we could see strong low level rotation and swirling rain bands. We had no clear view of the ground, but I was 90% convinced there would at least be some sort of ground spinup to confirm a tornado.

20150508180243(1) 20150508180528(1)

We watched for one, but never noted one. As the storm began to slowly move on we drove through town looking for damage or any signs of a tornado, but the most we saw were a few small limbs down, suggesting the storm was a lot of bark and very little bite. At this point trends on radar were unimpressive, we were down to the last hour of daylight and the only other tornado warned storm was well to our south. We decided to call the chase and head back to Norman. On the way we waited for the storm to depart so the setting sun could light up the back-side, which often provides a really photogenic view.

It wasn’t quite the vivid show we were hoping for, but there was a nice rainbow along with purple streaks of anvil crawler lightning. I attempted to catch them on camera, but soon realized I was out of practice with quickly adjusting the settings on my camera and missed most of it.

We stopped for dinner at a Pizza Hut in Lawton, where a gentleman needed his car jumped in the parking lot. As tired as I was I really wasn’t in the mood to help, but did anyways. After getting some pretty poor service and having half the items we wanted to eat unavailable, we had full stomachs and arrived back in Norman around midnight. I managed to stay awake for the latest SPC outlook since the next chase appeared to be a big one, but was out asleep before I could finish reading the text.


A pretty solid chase. The structure and riding the storm out in Warika made the chase. I came away with a few nice images. The day itself under performed big time, as the amazing parameters in place largely went to waste thanks to morning convection. It was a big let down in that regards, but we got about as much as we could out of the day. Had we left Ben’s a little sooner we could have had a better shot at the tornado on the other side of the river, but it was pretty low contrast and somewhat brief.


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