Chased grungy setup, intercepting several severe warned storms noting nothing more than brief encounter with sub severe hail and winds.
Hail: .88″ (Nickel)
Wind: est 50mph thunderstorm gust.
Saturday, October 13th was thought by many to be the big day in the 2-3 day setup. I was skeptical the entire time, but the fact that even a chance presented itself is what made the trip worth gambling on. The forecast changed wildly. Original plans were between a cold core chase in SD, or warm front play in IA. Neither of those came to fruition and instead the best (and I use that term loosely) target was right in Central Oklahoma into Texas. Ongoing precip and extensive cloud cover contaminated much of the area, not much different than the previous day, however today lacked the good directional shear that Friday had and also had more forcing. Clusters of line segments were the favored mode. Still though, with impressive speed shear in place, it was possible that any storm could find a hidden boundary and have a chance at a tornado.
We awoke in Norman and took our time getting ready. It was obvious we needed to be west but we were torn between north or south of I-40. I liked south, but others in my group liked north. We decided to head west and see what would develop once a tornado watch went up in both target areas. Our jog west took us to just north of Hinton, where we waited for the first batch of severe storms to approach. As expected things were a linear mess moving at speeds in excess of 50mph which meant for a difficult chase. We decided to head back east and then south towards Chickasha to get some better looking storms heading into that area. These storms had a less linear appearance on radar and were moving into an area with slightly backed flow.
Storms were never able to really get going, and one by one they weakened as they approached, not offering much in the way of structure or severe weather. More storms were forming further south but we wrote them off as they were in the same environment and would likely suffer the same fate. One storm to our north took on brief supercellular characteristics on radar with a slight hook echo and brief rotation. We made that our last chance effort as the cold front was right behind it, and then it would be game over.
We actually got into perfect position on the storm, but it too had began to weaken. This was about as structure-esque as it got.
We noted some broad, weak rotation, but that soon faded and there was nothing tornadic about our storm. So naturally I opted for the core punch. We got into position to let the core roll us. A view as the core approached.
We were peppered with some small hail up to nickel size and experienced a few sub severe wind gusts, probably no higher than 50mph. Behind the storm was the cold front with rapid clearing. We knew this was game over and called the chase early. We had yet to have a celebratory dinner from the previous days tornadoes so we opted to head back into OKC for dinner at the Cimmeron steak house, the same place I celebrated after the amazing November 7th 2011 chase and experienced an earthquake.
After dinner we were treated to some nice backlit storm structure as the storms moved further away, including a freaky display of mammatus under the anvil.
The day panned out exactly how I thought it would, so I was not upset at all over the outcome. I never understood the hype the day got, as it was quite clear to me given the largely unidirectional shear, extreme forcing and lack of cap that we would be dealing with a linear mess. I can’t call this one a bust because we did get on some severe warned storms, even with sub-severe results. The forecast verified, and we played the setup about as good as we could have. Oh, the north target never saw storms either, so going south was definitely the right call.