May 12, 2010


Initial Target: Enid, OK
Departure: Stillwater, OK 12:00 pm CDT
Arrival: Enid, OK 12:30 am CDT
Intercepts: Clinton, OK
Tornadoes: 0
Hail: Non-Severe (not measured)
Wind: Non-Severe (not measured)
Features: RFD Gust Front
Miles: 473


Third day in a multi-day chase trip with Extreme Chase Tours. Coldfront/Dryline setup across southern KS and western OK. Targeted Tail-End-Charlie of cold front play across northern OK. Headed to Ponca City, OK for lunch and then moved west towards dryline. Stopped in Enid, OK after tour leader, Lanny, fell ill. Continued tour without Lanny and headed southwest to Clinton, OK intercepting tornado warned HP supercell. Dropped south to avoid core and noted large wall cloud before storm fell apart. Headed back to Enid for the night.

Crew and Equipment:

Chase team included Extreme Chase Tours.  Equipment:  Kenwood TH-F6A Tribander, Dell Inspiron Laptop.  Kyocera data card and router, Holux 236 GPS, Robotic camera dome with Sony XR-520V.






Wednesday was our third shot at a tornado with Extreme Chase Tours. A cold front was forecasted to drape northeast to southwest across eastern KS with a dryline extending south into western OK. We decided to target the intersection of the two in northern OK hoping to get a play on Tail-End-Charlie. We left our hotel in Stillwater fairly late and mozied up to Ponca City for lunch at the Sonic after a scenic detour through Tonkawa.
Kansas, the popular target, lit up early with tornado warned storms near Wichita. They quickly started to fill in to the southwest. We were a good hour or two east of the dryline and had to back track quickly toward Woodward, OK trying to catch Tail-End-Charlie. I was worried we weren't even going to make it, but then disaster struck. We pulled off in Enid. Lanny had food poisoning or the stomach flu. We pulled off at a gas station and let Lanny out to rest and get something to drink. We were sidelined in Enid, a hundred miles from the nearest storm, unable to chase, but we had to tend to Lanny. Finally after about an hour and a half of debating whether or not he could continue with the tour, Lanny decided to get a room in Enid and let the tour continue on without him.

The cold front storms had congealed into a linear line and were unplayable. I feared that the day was over, but there was new development southwest of I-40 along the TX/OK border. We decided to go for it. There were three tornado warned cells coming up from the southwest and we made a play for the northern one first since it was the closest. The rain free base came into view near Leedey, OK. There wasn't too much motion underneath and it seemed to be falling apart so after a few pictures we left it for a much stronger looking storm that was tracking along I-40.

We were coming in from the north and our storm looked way too strong to core punch, so we tried to race south and beat it before it crossed our highway. We decided to play it safe though and cut over further east, going around Foss Lake before heading south and crossing the storm's path. Crossing I-40 our storm came into a view. A menacing high precipitation supercell with a huge rear flanking core.
We got right out ahead of the beastly storm and stopped near Burns Flat for a few pictures as the core approached us:

The storm was still tornado warned, but we knew we'd have a hard time spotting any tornadoes through the rear flanking downdraft and would have a difficult time staying in the inflow notch, the only place with a view.

The rear flanking downdraft (left) and inflow band of streaming into it from the north (right):

Without a good paved road to keep out of the core, we dropped south, racing the core as it crossed the road and just clipped the outer edge of it. We got a little rain but avoided the hail and severe winds embedded within it. We proceeded to track the storm from the south along highway 152 towards Cordell. Vortex 2 had the same idea and we quickly wound up in their caravan of mobile mesonets and radar trucks. We stopped for a few minutes where we had a somewhat decent view to the north through the core. A large wall cloud had formed on the northern edge of the rear flank:

The wall cloud quickly fell apart, however, as the storm appeared to go outflow dominant:

We passed through Cordell, before heading back north up towards Weatherford as it was getting dark. We stopped briefly to try and get our clients, Phil and Annette, some lightning footage. The lightning wasn't all that great though as the storms continued to weaken.

We stopped for dinner at a fast food joint in Weatherford and parked next to the "Womberlander," a van some guys had spray painted their names on along with pictures of tornadoes and storms:

We drove all the way back up to Enid, where we had booked rooms when Lanny got sick. Lanny had since and left and went home and we got in after midnight.



Disaster struck this chase, but when someone on the tour (and the leader at that) gets sick, its something you can't prevent and have to deal with before you can continue. Our delay in Enid ultimately didn't prevent us from intercepting any tornadoes at our original target since there were none. The Kansas target produced a few tornadoes but they were brief and isolated amongst many storms. We might have been able to make a better play at some tornadoes near the TX/OK border that came out of the storm we did intercept had we gotten down there an hour or so earlier, but that's anyone's guess. There was a report of a cone tornado near Clinton on our storm while we were tracking it. However, it was heavily rain wrapped and it was too difficult and dangerous to maintain our position in the inflow notch where we needed to be to see it. It most likely would not have yielded the shot Phil and Annette were after, anyway.



Lessons Learned: 

  • Be prepared for when someone gets sick on a chase trip.