June 13, 2010


Initial Target: Perryton, TX
Departure: Perryton, TX 9:00 am CDT
Arrival: Westchester, IL 6:30 pm CDT June 14
Intercepts: Slapout, OK
Tornadoes: 1
Hail: Non-Severe (not measured)
Wind: Non-Severe (not measured)
Features: Tornado, Wall Cloud
Miles: 1,158


Triple point/dryline play in the TX/OK Panhandles. Targeted Perryton, TX for early afternoon initiation of supercells. Arrived in Perryton in the morning greeted by flooded roads. After lunch at Subway where V2 was stationed, intercepted cells west of town and followed them into the OK panhandle as they took a few hours to organize. Witnessed rain wrapped cone tornado on HP supercell near Slapout, OK. Followed storm as it fell apart targeting new cells to southwest, but observed mostly rain wrapped or linear structure. Called it a chase by evening and started heading for home.

Crew and Equipment:

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




Sunday was my fifth and final day chasing on the plains for this trip. The good southwesterly flow aloft that was firing off storms each day was forecasted to finally weaken and push off to the east. This would be my last chance to bag a tornado for this trip and chances looked pretty marginal as surface flow was mediocre.

This is where I had spent the night after the chase the day before: some dirt ranch roads by a river just south of Perryton. Storms had been training to the north all night causing a lot of flash flooding. I was worried I would get caught up in it overnight, but the storms stayed to the north. Showers were still moving through the area and can be seen looking north here:

Mudpuppy and clear skies to the south:
I drove north into Perryton to get some breakfast and check data. Road crews had stopped traffic just shy of town though as flood waters were covering the highways. They were turning away cars, but letting trucks pass through. The flagger looked at my van and told me I'd probably make it, but to drive real slow, and they'd send someone to tow me out if I stalled.
Passing a flooded business on the way into town. I forded the water without too much trouble and made it to a motel where I was able to hop on the wifi and check data.
Looking across the street from the hotel at some flooded residential streets:

More flooded roads:

I had to drive through another stretch of flooded highway to make it to the Subway in town for some grub. The water got up to the bottom of the van's undercarriage. The van had picked up a bit of a shimmy from mud getting caked on the drivetrain from the chase the day before. After I forded the flood waters, I noticed that the shimmy was gone. It had effectively cleaned the van's undercarriage.


I saw all of V2 and some of the Discovery crew camped out in the Subway/truckstop parking lot. The lines weren't too bad inside though and I was able to get my usual footlong BMT on herb and cheese with everything on it. I had probably eaten well over 10 feet of this Sandwich just this season.

While gassing up, chaser Darin Brunin stopped to chat with me, telling me about how his season was going driving for Sean Casey's team while his chase partner Dick was driving for Reed Timmer's team. It was nice running into him after it had been over a year since I last saw him out on the plains.

Storms started to fire by early afternoon just west of town. They were going up in a line and looked pretty linear and I feared that we were going to have a repeat of yesterday's event. You wouldn't want to be caught outside in your tent with your camping supplies in this kind of storm.

Some grey bases with an attempt at a ragged lowering:

I followed the storms as they tracked northeast. None of the side roads were traversable as the training storms had flooded them badly overnight and these new storms were adding to the problem.

Completely impassible road:

Passing back through Perryton and catching the storms on the east side of town I picked up Jesse Risley on the radio. I passed a silver impala on the side of the road and jumped out to say hi thinking it was Jesse. Instead famous tornado researcher and scientist Howie Bluestein got out. I said hi anyway and snapped a few shots of the storm. Possible wall cloud with tail cloud on the right developing here:

The contrast was good, and quite uniform for the sky and foreground which made these photos really pop when I edited them. Usually the sky is way too bright for the foreground and you have to separate them if you want to enhance the contrast and see both areas, or the ground just goes dark if you enhance the sky.

I caught up with Jesse along with Adam Lucio, who had been out the past couple days but I hadn't run into yet. I followed their caravan for a few miles before I got antsy and diverted on my own.

The highway I was on went north into the OK panhandle but would have meant core punching the storms, and knowing how bad the roads were flooded I decided to cut several miles east before going north and then back west to catch the storms in the OK panhandle. I lost data in the process and had no idea my storm went tornado warned with a classic hook echo. Here's the view I was greeted to as I caught back up with the storms. The HP nature of the supercell lead me to believe I was still chasing a rather solid line rather than a discrete supercell.
The gravel roads I was on were in good condition, but rather than gamble with them and what I thought was a line of storms rather than a discrete supercell, I went a few miles north to the main east west highway to keep ahead of the storm. Turning on to the highway I was met by the largest chaser convergence I had seen all year. The entire Vortex 2 fleet was there and dozens of other chasers. Moving east down the highway with the herd I saw something moving through the rain curtains to my south a couple miles. The motion was rapid an unmistakable. There was a large cone tornado embedded in the rain.
My first Oklahoma tornado was in progress. The video from the robotic camera dome was down due to some gremlins that cropped up in the software while I was making my way to the highway. I had no video. Chasers were close behind me trying to drive and the shoulder was packed solid with chasers pulled off. There was no place to stop and I had to keep moving. I had no way to get my video running, and was only able to shoot a few stills through the passenger window.
The tornado lasted a couple of minutes before the condensation funnel started to lift.

I got out east ahead of the crowds hoping to get a better visual on the storm. The storm became even more heavily rain wrapped and started to gust out with a mean looking core.

Back on the gravel roads I was free of the chaser convergence, but the storm was pretty much done producing. I passed a turtle trying to to cross the road and went back to help him along, but couldn't find him and saw traffic coming down the road behind me so continued on.

I was finally able to regain some data as I pushed further east into Oklahoma. My storm was falling apart but there were a couple cells to my southwest coming out of Texas that were still going strong. I decided that I might as well give this chase every chance I could while I was out here on the plains, even if the storms would probably die by the time I got to them.

They died pretty much as I thought and I stopped for a few photos before finally calling it a chase in the early evening and starting my long journey home.


I passed some neat looking gust fronts on my way through Oklahoma as night set in, but there wasn't enough light to get good pictures of them. I stopped for the night in south central Kansas on an access road to a radio antenna tower.

I woke up the next morning and found my phone completely dead, probably the victim of some condensation getting inside as it rained all night where I stopped. I made my way home by evening ending my five day plains run with a few stills of a rain wrapped tornado. It was a great trip though with lots of great memories and storms.


What started out looking like a rather mediocre day for tornadoes and supercells, netted me my first Oklahoma tornado. I didn't go home empty handed after a five day plains runs either. Although I was only able to snag a few blurry, rain wrapped stills of the tornado before it lifted, the chase was still worth it for me, and the trip in general. I saw some great supercells over the past five days, met up with a bunch of chasers, and had some awesome experiences. My tornado catch was one of only a few that day too, so I felt fortunate having intercepted it.



Lessons Learned: 

  • If the gravel roads are in good condition, stick to them to avoid the chase hoards.