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The events leading up to the traffic Jam in SW OKC on May 31st 2013

I accidentally posted so I will finish what I was writing in word and post it in here in a bit.

Edit: I reposted below, this can be deleted.
 
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Maybe this is already being done, but one possible solution to the "chaser hordes" dilemma might be to start steering young or new weather enthusiasts toward local storm spotting rather than chasing per se. Teach them to study and observe the weather in their own backyard and make reports to their local NWS, etc., before they even consider taking up chasing.

I've been doing this for years. Haven't made it out to the Plains yet and not sure if I ever will, now more than ever. Wisconsin has trees, hills, road construction and long-duration, photogenic tornadoes are few and far between, but away from the Milwaukee metro you're probably going to have the roads near a storm pretty much to yourself.
 
I guess law enforcement messing up our plans is something we need to plan for. I have been thinking about this quite a bit, about Skip's map and what I would have done. It is the ideal way to stay safe from the tornado and exactly what I would have done if I was concerned about staying safe from the tornado. But it's necessary to remember that chasers also want to stay where they can see and video or photograph the tornado for as long as possible, and they often cross the potential path. It's part of what a lot of them do, without a second thought even. To drive North or West is to totally abort. They are not thinking about only avoiding the tornado. When folks where coming up to 81 the tornado was still likely a ways to the West, like you said it was for you. And the tornado was moving East and even South of East. You know a North hook is possible but you can't really expect it to happen. So the path of the tornado is unkown. Going south on a fourlane well ahead of a tornado does not seem that dangerous. Continueing to drive East does not seem like such a bad option if your south road is blocked. With other tornadoes is would have been ok. But as the thing changed course and once folks were in a panick actually fleeing the thing... to think to stop and turn around or turn this way or that way ... well the foot floored on the accelerator wouldn't allow that to happen. I would think most would have just been going as fast as they could go which ever way they were going. Also... I've read one account of several folks getting caught when it turned to the right before it reached 81. Just a crazy situation. It must have been very hard to judge what it was doing. It also sped up and more than doubled in size. I just wanted to say I can see how it all happened. And how someone would have handled it is totally dependent on where they were in relation to the tornado and what their purpose was for being there.
 
I think this is all important, trying to reconstruct the events that lead up to that tragedy. Its good to get the many different "data points " now while it's all fresh. I suppose there will probably be some formal investigations, with important issues at stake, with some person or group ( law enforcement / EM officials ? ) issuing some "final report". Then that will be digested by the public, the media , maybe some lawyers, insurance co.s, etc

Maybe this has been suggested before , but what about having a team of experienced chasers to look at all the data, as best they can and present some findings from a chase perspective. Ultimately I think this would go a long way to help save lives and improve safety.

Here's a link to a commentary in the Fort Worth Star. "Storm chasers also asking “How’d it happen?” to Samaras team" that has some other considerations.




"Life is like a weather forecast "
 
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Haven't seen this elsewhere, but apologies if it's already been posted. A short video overlaying Spotter Network chaser positions with approximate tornado size and path.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IVUHdCGqiSI

Hi All,

This is a very interesting graphic. I wonder if this community might pool all available video footage and use this graphic as a basis for a minute by minute unfolding of events. If the chasers who were on this storm could each identify their vehicle icon on this animation, and then from the graphical depiction of their position one could cut to the footage they captured, the storm could be "viewed" from many angles in a minute by minute manner. In other words, choose a clock minute and run multiple clips in sequence to show all the angles before moving on to the next minute. And keep referring back to the animated graphic to show where the footage comes from.

This would take alot of coordination, but could be an incredible product. If done properly, the finished product could be sold for broadcast so that all the contributors could be paid. Otherwise it could just be screened at the next ChaseCon. This seems like the perfect opportunity to utilize all the gathered footage and also incorporate data where available to really dissect this storm.

Ken
 
A review of this topic-post confirms that there was briefly one blockade just south of where Jensen Road crosses US81, in the southbound lane. Apparently, there was also a second blockade against south-bound traffic, just south of the Reuter Road crossing (at the same time or separately?). Does anyone know when these were setup? I assume the Jensen Road blockade was in place by 6:18PM CDT (video shows) --and perhaps earlier, since I believe they were setting up when I turned west from there on Jensen (about 6PM). However, when I returned back east to #81 about 6:08 or 6:09PM and turned south, I don't recall seeing them and believe they had left. Did those *same* patrol cars go further south to set up again south of Reuter Road? I might have passed them in the south-bound left lane --but don't remember any flashing lights down there. I ended up at Union City. Lots of questions here.

I am doing a detailed plot on several Google maps, taped together, to show where different chasers/tour groups were and their chase routes that day. I have anecdotal information on these two road-blocks but don't know of on any others, which may have affected traffic. - - - David Hoadley (I was on Jensen Road, south of I-40 and two miles west of US81 --
and took several photos of the early wedge to the WSW)
 
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Hi All,

This is a very interesting graphic. I wonder if this community might pool all available video footage and use this graphic as a basis for a minute by minute unfolding of events. If the chasers who were on this storm could each identify their vehicle icon on this animation, and then from the graphical depiction of their position one could cut to the footage they captured, the storm could be "viewed" from many angles in a minute by minute manner. In other words, choose a clock minute and run multiple clips in sequence to show all the angles before moving on to the next minute. And keep referring back to the animated graphic to show where the footage comes from.

This would take alot of coordination, but could be an incredible product. If done properly, the finished product could be sold for broadcast so that all the contributors could be paid. Otherwise it could just be screened at the next ChaseCon. This seems like the perfect opportunity to utilize all the gathered footage and also incorporate data where available to really dissect this storm.

Ken


I think it's a good idea to fully understand the life cycle of that unprecedented tornadic storm and also how it relates to the Samaras team fatalities. I was wondering, is anyone aware of any formal or "chase forensic " investigation going on by the authorities ? I'm not aware of any. (Maybe this should be a separate thread ) There are many hundreds of videos out there of that day. Perhaps some of them contain footage of the Samaras team passing by various intersections etc. and an exact timeline/ plot could be assembled.
Any thoughts? , Greg

Ps. It may turn out, that it will be forums like this that ultimately help solve the mystery

"life is like a weather forecast " WindPhoto.com
 
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I think it's a good idea to fully understand the life cycle of that unprecedented tornadic storm and also how it relates to the Samaras team fatalities. I was wondering, is anyone aware of any formal or "chase forensic " investigation going on by the authorities ? I'm not aware of any. (Maybe this should be a separate thread ) There are many hundreds of videos out there of that day. Perhaps some of them contain footage of the Samaras team passing by various intersections etc. and an exact timeline/ plot could be assembled.
Any thoughts? , Greg

Ps. It may turn out, that it will be forums like this that ultimately help solve the mystery

From Dan's blog:
At the intersection of NW 10th and Highway 81, I briefly considered turning south again on Highway 81, but could see that the tornado was already beginning to cross the highway to the south by approximately 1 mile. For this reason I chose to continue east on NW 10th to maintain a safe distance. At this point, the white Chevy Cobalt occupied by the Twistex crew was immediately behind me.
Other than the Twistex Cobalt and a red pickup truck parked along Highway 81, there were no other vehicles in our immediate vicinity. In other words, chaser traffic was a non-factor at our location.


As for my experience in Union City, I only saw north bound traffic being blocked, uncertain about other times though... either way flashing lights always slow traffic, combined with storm chasers, and others simply fleeing, it did lead to substantial congestion. I considered re-intercepting the cell, but with the traffic I largely abandoned this idea.
 
I was wondering, is anyone aware of any formal or "chase forensic " investigation going on by the authorities ? I'm not aware of any. (Maybe this should be a separate thread ) There are many hundreds of videos out there of that day. Perhaps some of them contain footage of the Samaras team passing by various intersections etc. and an exact timeline/ plot could be assembled.
Any thoughts? , Greg

Ps. It may turn out, that it will be forums like this that ultimately help solve the mystery

"life is like a weather forecast " WindPhoto.com

Greg -- Yes, the events surrounding the deaths of Tim and company are being investigated. As you might expect, there are "normal" items that law enforcement can use to reconstruct accidents, and some people are working to reconstruct what happened. I don't have full knowledge of the details, nor am I at liberty to say much given the circumstances.
 
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