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2018-05-02 REPORTS: IA/IL/KS/MO/NE/OK/TX

This felt like more of a storm chase than yesterday, but still fell a bit below expectations. It happens.

I started the afternoon in Erick and began to meander east as storms began to take on supercellular characteristics. The NSSL sounding near Elk City suggested just a touch of a veer-back-veer signature and one of the main limiting factors overall was a lack of substantial low-level shear.

My initial storm was the one near Elk City that looked like it was starting to wrap up. I never really had a clear visual on anything impressive and no pictures, so I'll glaze over that.

I then followed a relatively isolated supercell from roughly Hobart to Binger. It was tornado-warned for a while, but I never witnessed anything more than occasional rising scud. The cloud base lowered a bit in the Mountain View area, but I'm guessing the low level wind fields were not sufficient to produce a sustained tornado. (I say that because at least one LSR suggests there may have been a brief tornado)
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The above photos are from the area near Mountain View. I had a few other photos, but the contrast was low and they're not worth showing. I'm sure several chasers will have more compelling footage to share.

I followed this storm back in the general direction of Oklahoma City, before bailing early as the storms congealed into a QLCS. Just before getting back home, there was a modest mammatus display, so that gave one last photo opportunity before the rains came.
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After all of this, I didn't leave Oklahoma City until about noon and got back home before sunset. Considering that this event did not meet my expectations, at least it involved less driving than the last two chase days.
 
After playing around too long with the stuff in southern Kansas, I dropped SE through Woodward, OK to the cell north of I-40, which I ended up tracking from Oakwood to Enid. I crossed ahead of it heading SE on 270 and when I got near Oakwood this was coming straight at me:

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Contrast was too low to tell what was going on with that lowering under the wall cloud, but no tornadoes were reported here, or for that matter anywhere with this storm. There were marginally severe hail reports, and I encountered wind in the 50-60 mph range with blowing dust as I bailed SE out of the way of this. These winds were likely from the RFD. I followed the storm NE to south of Enid, where it tried to get its act together again and got a couple more SVR warnings. I will post a full report as time permits. Congrats to those who got tornadoes - that cell was just a little too far south for me to get to, and would have meant going into my personal no-go area near OKC. Would be interested to hear how many chasers were on that storm - I would guess a lot.
 
I started my day in Coldwater KS, checked unphotogenic mess NW of Ashland, then decided to go south toward SCs in Okla.
Followed northern cell from Roll to Watonga, sampled some marginally large hail and strong wind gusts, then moved south and followed storms from Binger to Chickasha.I saw some 1+ inch hailstones laying on the road.

I see that tornado was reported 5 mi S of Pocasett, this is a photo made at that time, didn't notice anything else but rotation. I was located between US 81 and Amber.
 

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Started in Clinton. Went over to look at the storm near Foss Lake, and finding it junk, dropped down to the better-organized storm at Hobart. Lost internet data after 10 miles south of I-40 and didn't get it back until near the end of the chase at Chickasha. Had to use ThreatNet for radar the rest of the day.

I went east through the forward flank of the Hobart storm to try and cut ahead of the meso at Mountain View, but it beat me across the road. Ended up in the RFD here and used Highway 9 and 146 at Fort Cobb Lake to finally get back ahead of the storm, which was undercut with a merged RFD and FFD.

I went east to Minco and dropped south to the next storm at Pocasset, which slowly began wrapping up as it approached. I tried to jump down to Chickasha to get on the H.E. Bailey to stay with it, but the blinding RFD precip beat me into town. I was on the turnpike just southeast of the circulation at Amber, but never could get out of the rain to see anything.

After this, I went to the north OKC tower farm for upward lightning, but there was none due to the lack of a well-developed trailing stratiform region. Ended the chase here at 10:00PM.
 
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Targeted Clinton initially, then shifted West towards Elk City just before initiation. Decided to stay put when the northern stuff went up, looked quite messy and figured it would stay that way considering how early things had lit off. Ended up driving down to the Lone Wolf supercell and got on shortly after it got its first tor warning. Storm struggled quite a bit for a while with being outflow dominant. Saw a good number of gustnadoes(one of which I think actually got reported as a tornado).

Stuck with the storm all the way until it got past Cogar and bailed once the circulation became embeded in the FFD from the southern cell. Decided it was too much work to get through it to get to the Amber cell so I drove up to El Reno to get something to eat and to prepare for my long drive back home. I didn't get much picture/video-wise from this chase day, but I figured I'd still write up a short report for it.
 
Targeted Cottonwood Falls, KS, initially. Rationale was that the storms would be fast moving, and I wanted to avoid some of the chaser convergence I expected near the triple point / initiation. Modeled soundings in the area still showed very respectable hodos, and fine instability; I thought that some embedded storms might produce and have relatively few eyes on them and so I took that risk.

As the southern line segment towards my target, it was messy and had a clearly detached gust front in person and on radar. It had lost all severe warnings at this time: I continued to stay well in front of it to allow for a play. I noticed a cell within the bow start to surge and catch the outflow from the northern segment, and thought the enhanced convergence and southerly inflow would be enough to notch it up as the MCS formed. Here's a radar grab of when I decided to make the play.

The storm quickly went severe, and then tornado warned. Near New Strawn/Wolf Creek Nuclear Power Plant, the notch developed a decent lowering
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As the notch formed, the storm was continuing to surge and reached a speed of ~60mph. Luckily, it paralleled 35/old highway 50 and so I was able to stay directly in front of the notch despite the fast motion. The storm remained tornado warned for almost 2 hours, and routinely produced similar lowerings. Because I was in front of the system, I didn't get to watch it carefully.

However, near 135th and I35 in Olathe, KS, I saw the notch pick up a more organized lowering,

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There was some rotation evident in it. In person, you could see dust being kicked up nicely under it, and catching the lights; I didn't see any rotation in that dust, and pulled back on the road to stay ahead. Within the next minute or two, it produced an EF-1. I only saw one power flash and was not aware of the touchdown at the time, despite being in the correct position to observe it. I continued in the still warned notch, and saw several intense power flashes/road sign damage a few minutes after this radar grab. I didn't feel able to stay safely in front of the system, and when I had a place to duck out near oak grove I let the line pass and returned to the areas I saw power flash to see if there was damage; I only found tree and fence damage in addition to the power outage.

Ultimately, a rewarding and frustrating chase because I was able to stay on the cell through the full duration of intensification and 6 tornado warnings. However, between the fast storm speeds, QLCS spins at night, and being alone, I did a poor job of documenting and being in contact because I had to focus on driving and had only very limited ability to stop.
 
I was moseying on home up US 81 north of Salina just getting glancing shots from the storms as they traveled east when they started getting mini rotations embedded in their leading edges. They certainly didn't visually look like anything that could produce a tornado but Topeka started lighting them up with warnings. Sure enough I could see at least one very small area descend from the high cloud bases that was rotating, but didn't produce a funnel or tornado that I could see through the rain.

But I did catch a distinct funnel several miles to my west, which seems to be the catch of the day (I use that term both liberally and sarcastically). So here's a crappy screenshot from a crappy video of a little funnel miles away while driving 75 mph.

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After a ridiculously unprepared chase the day before that ended up scoring my first wedge tornado, I was feeling pretty good about today. I started the day in Salina KS, thinking to push to Woodward OK and await initiation there. I ended up getting completely suckered by storms firing up in western Kansas, which quickly lined out.

Squall line/Gust front near Bucklin, KS by Bill Giles, on Flickr

Then I faffed around, indecisive about whether or not to continue south with the original plan or try my luck with some of the currently discrete looking cells near the end of the line. I chose the former, which ended up being a bad move all around.

My consolation prize ended up being at the end of the night. I opted not to race into the mess heading towards OKC, instead sitting just south of Kingfisher. I ended up with a double rainbow and anvil crawler lightning, and that's about it.

Anvil Crawler Lightning near Kingfisher, OK by Bill Giles, on Flickr

EDIT: I have a couple more pictures from today up on Flicker.
 
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I decided to give our first local Severe Thunderstorm Watch a run last Wednesday, as the SPC had a 5% tornado risk across most of western/central/northern Illinois despite obvious moisture quality issues. It had just been such a long winter that I couldn't say no! As I approached the first batch of storms popping up west/southwest of Chicagoland, it became obvious that the dewpoint depressions (mostly around 20 degrees across the area) were going to preclude any real tornado threat. Storms remained discrete and loosely organized, so it at least made for some nice weather enjoyment and photographs.

First severe warned storm of the year, just west of Kankakee:
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After this first batch, I decided to head southwest towards a batch of cells forming near Peoria that would be headed my way. Parameters were slightly better in that direction. I observed the first storm a bit north of El Paso.
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Although the storm was high based, it did eventually show slight signs of mid level rotation and what I believe was an RFD cut into the base of the storm:

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P1010512 by chris bray, on Flickr

Although everything was marginal overall in my area, this storm's outflow did produce 50+ mph gusts which kicked up the large amounts of dust in the dry cornfields, making for quite the surreal and hazy scene as I got blasted by dirt and cornhusks. Plus, there were some large hail reports much farther north. Can't wait for the next, hopefully much more promising chase!
 
My wife and I departed Kansas City, picked up a friend of mine in Emporia, KS and we initially targeted somewhere south of Wichita. We wound up between Cheney and Goddard, KS hopeful of some decent development. It seemed like everything that tried to go up was just immediately shoved by the southerly into the line that initially was only slowly advancing to the east. Everything was basically flowing northward within the line and each new formation occluded the other.

Combined with that, the high speed flow close to the surface seemed to tear everything apart before it could get going. On top of that, the line eventually started to shift east and produced an outflow boundary. We kept hoping the warm air it was moving into would get things going but that didn't turn out to be the case, mostly thanks to that outflow in my opinion. Nothing spurred up along that as I've seen happen either.

Eventually the north end surged out ahead into some more unstable air that received a little more sun earlier in the day and started having spinups reported from near Cassoday I believe all the way to the KC Metro Area. I did wind up with one OK photo of the line near Eureka, KS.

Oh yeah: I'm new here, so I didn't mean to barge on in a week old thread if that's not proper forum etiquette here, but...hey!

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I finished the upload of my 4-way timelapse of this event showing the entire chase from beginning to end:


Details and timestamps:

01:23 Turn west on Kilpatrick Tpk at N Macarthur, OKC
01:57 Turn west on I-40
04:53 Arrive at Clinton, OK (dry ice, hail shield mount, lunch)
09:44 Depart Clinton, OK on Hwy 73 westbound
10:42 Stop at Foss Lake, then turn back eastbound on Hwy 73
11:35 Through Clinton, OK again then south on Hwy 183
12:18 Enter forward-flank precip of Lone Wolf/Hobart, OK supercell
12:31 Pass through Cordell, OK
13:02 Turn east on Hwy 55
13:34 Turn south on Hwy 54
13:37 Turn around upon encountering RFD winds (meso is east)
13:41 Turn east on county road E1270
14:14 Turn south on Hwy 115
14:31 Turn east on Hwy 9 at Mountain View, OK
14:56 Pass through Carnegie, OK
15:28 Turn north on Hwy 146
15:48 Intermittent chaser traffic slowdowns begin near Fort Cobb Lake
16:16 Turn east on Hwy 152
16:30 Pass through Binger, OK
17:14 Pass through Cogar, OK
17:46 Turn south on Hwy 81
17:52 Fuel stop at Minco, OK
18:48 Several stops and turns on county roads at Pocasset, OK to observe storm
21:20 RFD precip overtakes Hwy 81 southbound
21:30 Turn east on Hwy 62 at Chickasha
21:47 Turn north on H.E. Bailey Tpk (I-44)
23:24 Pass I-44 & I-244 interchange, Oklahoma City
 
Chased in Oklahoma after spending the night in Wichita. Felt dry line was the way to go versus the big line/mess of storms that was forecast to go up in Kansas. Made it to Elk City about 230 and storms went up shortly thereafter in eastern TX Panhandle. Waited for a while before leaving gas station heading west. There was storm pretty much west of Elk City and then another storm southwest of town. Since we were so close to the storm to the west and there was a report of a funnel that had already come out with, we decided to stay with that storm at first.
Initially storm had some lowerings with it under the base, but nothing that was rotating or looking to interesting. Soon the storm became less organized though and we immediately bailed and headed south.
The southern storm was looking better and soon had a tornado warning with it. It looked amazing on radar and had a very strong couplet at times. We were able to eventually get out in front of it when it was no longer tornado warned and I took the pics I posted below. Storm was kicking up a lot of dust out in the fields and we felt the cold outflow almost right away.
Thereafter we stayed with the storm as it continued east, occasionally getting tornado warnings but we didn't see anything. We were just past Binger OK, when a storm was coming up from the south so we thought we would drop south a bit to see this one. As we approached and were going through the town of Gracemont, he positive CG strikes from this storm was IMPRESSIVE. So many it didn't feel safe to even consider getting out of the car.
At this point it was almost 7 and we decided to call off the chase. We went to Chickasha and were eating there when the storms to our north produced the tornado near Amber, and the line that came up from the south produced another tornado south of town. Both tornadoes were within the lines and were hard to see so we didn't feel too bad about missing those. After supper we headed north back to Wichita to get ready for the next day's chase in Iowa or just head home to Omaha.

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