November 7 2011 Oklahoma Tornadoes. Tipton, Snyder, Fort Cobb

Feb 26, 2012
Chased 1 day fall setup near the OK/TX border intercepting isolated, cyclic supercell that dropped as many as 14 tornadoes over the course of 3 hours!
Tornadoes: 9
Hail: 1.50″ [half dollar]
Wind: est 80mph gust as tornado spins up over us.
Milestones: First November tornadoes.
Detailed Account:
I had been eyeing this setup for several days. It looked good, but far away to perhaps justifying a one day haul deep into TX, where it originally looked like it was going to setup. I kept a close eye on the forecast though, and didn’t see much wrong with it other than location. Two days before the event Jonathan Williamson coaxed me into chasing the setup, offering to drive his rental car down there to save gas. I decided to try and team up with Ben Holcomb as well to make things easier for us all. Arrangements were made, and off we went.
On our way down we stopped in Joplin, MO. This city was devastated by an EF-5 earlier this year on May 22nd. I had never seen the destruction for myself, so we thought it would be an interesting stop. The damage the tornado left behind is still clearly visible, reminded me of Greensburg.
I am typically not one who endorses treating a disaster area like a tourist attraction, so I found it hard to take pictures at first. However it puts everything into perspective as to why we chase, and I believe everyone needs to understand just what these storms are capable of.
Anyways, fast forwarding to the chase. We awoke to find our original forecast looked on track, and the setup looked very favorable for at least a tornado or two. I was actually very excited and felt a degree of confidence I have not felt in awhile for a chase. We set off once Ben got home from work and made good time as storms begun to initiate over the target area. There were 2 storms of interest and we chose the southern one which was moving into a better environment based off live data.
Our first look at the storm as we approach. Nice looking updraft with scuddy base!
We got into position as an RFD cut began wrapping around the storm along with a nice wall cloud. Things were looking good and we thought tornado time would be soon.
Not soon after this though, everything fell apart. We repositioned on the storm and watched it attempt to go through a new cycle, but it too fell apart. Not sure what was going on we began to move again when I noticed a new, better looking storm near Fredrick, OK. We made the call to ditch our storm as it was visually unappealing. Hoping we made the right call we blasted south to catch the new storm.
Tornado reports started coming in, we were missing the show, but were gaining on the storm from behind. It had an amazing look, and we knew behind that white hail shaft was the prize we were seeking.
As we got closer to the storm near the town of Tipton we noticed some wicked RFD motion on the backside of the storm. The clouds were slamming down to earth in a chaotic frenzy. We pressed east and slowly, through the rain a large, white tornado emerged with a brown debris cloud.
Amazing, we had caught up! We turned north and got pretty close to the tornado as it begun its dramatic rope out. A new wall cloud had developed to our east and quickly produced a tornado. We had two on the ground at once! One was a very close, dramatic rope out and the other was a brand new, large wedge from a distance I couldn’t figure out which tornado to film and went back and forth. The rope out was the most dramatic I have ever witnessed and focused mostly on that. Here is a shot from Jon.
It was time to move and get closer to the new tornado. The roads were plentiful but horrendous and we found ourselves battling Oklahoma’s infamous red clay. Very slippery and dangerous roads made for some white knuckle driving, during which we witnessed at least 2 more tornadoes, but eventually we found our way to highway 183 and onto pavement.
Moving north on Highway 183 some snakey funnels began forming and got about 3/4 of the way down to the ground. Tough to say which, if any touched down though. Our plan was to get to highway 54 and then go north. Upon arriving onto 54 found ourselves in a rolling road block. This was completely ridiculous. 6 or 7 squad cars moving down the highway at a slow rate of speed, greatly impacting our pursuit of the tornado. Ben navigated through them, and eventually we broke away just as the next tornado touched down in a field nearby with some dramatic back-side wall cloud structure.
We moved again as the tornado seemingly lifted, but strong rotation was still present. More chasers were now beginning to converge on the storm since it had been producing for roughly an hour now and traffic was becoming an issue. Attempts to hook slice and get infront of the storm again were slowed down by slow moving chasers that obviously don’t know how to make quick decisions. We did a U-turn to get out of the mess and by ourselves again and found a new road to hook slice on. In doing so we saw at least 2 more touchdowns. It was hard to tell if each one was a new tornado or just a long lived multi vortex type tornado with intermittent vorticies spinning up. This made tallying the tornadoes difficult.
Hook slicing near the Wichita Mountains brought on some hail I would estimate to be around 1.50″ though we found larger ones laying on the ground. As we got into the clear area we were near a wind farm. A new tornado touched down in or very near the farm, and we pulled over for an amazing show. Many chasers call this “the shot” because there has yet to be a shot of a strong tornado moving through a wind farm and causing damage but here we were, about to witness just that.
The tornado was probably on the weaker side, but that didn’t make it any less dramatic.
The windmills escaped unharmed. Next time. We made our next move just as a slender needle tornado touched down behind us. I lost count of tornadoes at this point. We found our next north option, which was loaded with chasers. Ran into several friendly faces out there including Connor Mcrorey, Steve Miller, JR Henly and others. Always nice to meet friends in a field for a quick WOO HOO!!!! Moving on yet ANOTHER tornado touched down 10 minutes later near the town of Alden.
This tornado, like many others was fairly short lived, probably on the ground less than 2 minutes, but beautiful nonetheless. Again it was time to move and I don’t know how many times I can repeat this. We played the same east-north-east-north jog with the storm. The whole time witnessing more touchdowns, some inside the truck, some outside the truck. This went on for a total of 3 hours and I have no idea just how many tornadoes we saw. Some were brief spinups lasting only a few seconds, others were trunks, cones, wedges lasting several minutes. The chase finally ended near the town of Binger as dusk fell. We called off the chase and decided it was time to head back to Oklahoma City for a celebratory dinner.
We arrived, met up with fellow chasers including Mike Nelson, Craig Maire, Steve, JR, Connor and others. While eating dinner I was treated to a bonus earthquake registering 4.7 on the richter scale. I have never felt a quake that strong and it was certainly an odd feeling. The whole building shook. It felt like being stopped on a bridge that is shaking while traffic moves over it. A very interesting and unique way to end the day. Tornadoes and Earthquakes in the same day, incredible. We went back to Ben’s and had a mini chaser party. Drinks and fresh storm video, it doesn’t get any better!
First the summary

Then a more detailed look at the Wind Farm Tornado.

Here is a radar grab of the incredible storm with us in perfect position inside the hook!
Whatever twists of fate led to me deciding to go on this chase last minute will forever have my gratitude. This was my best chase in 2011 and might even be better than the Bowdle day in 2010. To get this kind of chase in November is absolutely astounding. I was hoping for some severe storms and maybe 1 tornado. I never would have imagined this storm would go completely insane and drop as many tornadoes as it did. We played the storm almost perfect. It was a challenge though, with lots of tense moments. Some of the tornadoes we had great positions on, others not so much, but that is the game. The trip was definitely worth it, and I can not ask for a better way to close out the 2011 season.
I dedicate my life to chasing tornadoes, and I make allot of sacrifices including a “normal” life for a person my age in order to be able to live my dream. During long periods of chase/tornado drought I sometimes begin to wonder why I do it. Days like today remind me though. There is nothing else in the world I would rather be doing, and this will provide me the motivation to keep doing what I am doing. My last chase was July 26th, and I needed this badly.
Map. Red arrows show locations of first and last tornado sightings. Green arrow shows where we got on the first storm. Green blob shows restaurant/earthquake location.
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