April 26, 2014


Initial Target
Storm Intercepts
Wichita Falls, TX
Springfield, IL 3:00 PM 4/25/2014
Oklahoma City, OK 3:59 PM 4/26/2014
0 mph


Day before the day dryline play in southwest OK. Targeted north of Wichita Falls, TX for evening supercells and nocturnal tornado play. Despite storm initiation at target area by evening, convective inhibition kept storms elevated and restricted updrafts. Aborted chase by mid afternoon and hung out in OKC instead.

Crew and Equipment

Chase partners: Jennifer Brindley Ubl. Equipment: Canon 60D, Canon t2i, Canon EFS 10-22, Canon EF 50mm, Sony HDR-xr500v..




A potentA potent trough was forecast to enter the plains starting on the 26th before ejecting across the deep south a couple days later. A multi day severe weather outbreak was anticipated as a result. Brindley and I made plans for a four day chase run across the southern plains and gulf states, starting with the 26th as a “day before the day” type play. Shear profiles looked great, with modest to moderate instability across the plains. The trough was still lagging to the southwest, however, and capping looked to remain stout. Questions remained about whether we’d get any surface based supercells or even storm initiation at all. Our target the following looked to be just to the east, however, so we decided to go down a day early and see if we could get lucky.
Chasers were split between target areas: eastern Nebraska and southwest Oklahoma. Both targets had their draws, the northern having a warm front with better directional shear and hodographs, while the southern was closer to the upper level support and looked like it might have better moisture depth.
Two forecast model plots drew me to the Oklahoma target, even though the warm front in Nebraska would have been much closer. The first was the Lid Strength Index, a measure of the strength of the capping that suppresses storm initiation. By mid to late evening there looked like a substantial opening in the cap in southwest Oklahoma, enough to allow storms to develop as the trough nosed into the area.
The low level instability was the other draw toward Oklahoma. At 10pm almost no low level instability was forecast over the Nebraska target, which could mitigate any chances for tornadoes. The late arrival of the trough, capping, and instability configurations meant any tornado would play would be well after dark, however. I don’t typically make long distance chases for nocturnal plays, but given that our next day’s target wasn’t too far off and we wanted to maximize our chances of catching a tornado, we decided to bite on the chase anyway, with an initial target of north of Wichita Falls, TX on the Red River.

Cap Bust Beers
Oklahoma City, OK
6:10 PM
We left the day before, stopping in Missouri for the night. Making the long drive down to Oklahoma, the morning models started to trend more negatively. The moisture at the surface was mixing out and the capping was stronger. The Lid Strength Index and 3km CAPE plots were now indicating that we no longer had a shot at surface based supercells or tornadoes. Passing Tulsa we decided to abort the chase, saving ourselves from 4 hours of extra driving and a frustrating night chase that would leave us tired the next day. Instead we found a microbrewery in Oklahoma City and decided to grab dinner and a few drinks there. We pulled into a part of the city known as “Bricktown” and got a couple beers at the Bricktown Brewery.
No tornadoes for us on this chase, but Brindley and I did bag a couple of hurricanes.
We like to make the most of our down days and have a blast even if storms are a no show. We found a quirky bar across the street with live music and hung out there the rest of the night having a great time.
One of the musicians at the bar told us about his encounters with the tornadoes that ravage the Oklahoma City area. Brindley got a couple photos for her "Locals' Portraits" project.


Despite the models indicating a chance for surface based supercells and even a nocturnal tornado across southern Oklahoma, the capping turned out to be stronger than forecast. Storms initiated by evening across the target area, but the capping forced them into an elevated state and only a smattering of hail and wind reports resulted. Adding four hours of driving onto our trip and cutting our sleep down for the next day’s big chase event wasn’t worth it for us, so having a good time in Oklahoma City turned out to be a much better way to spend the day.

Lessons Learned

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