December 14, 2014


Initial Target
Storm Intercepts
Enid, OK
Norman, OK 11:20 AM 12/13/2014
Springfield, IL 11:17 PM 12/14/2014
Fairview, OK
0 mph
Updraft Base


Visit to Norman and El Reno, OK to collaborate and do damage surveys for the El Reno Survey. Busted late season chase in northern OK after abandoning junky storms early before they organized later in the evening.

Crew and Equipment

Solo chase. Equipment: Canon 60D, Canon t2i, Canon EFS 10-22, Canon EF 50mm, Sony HDR-xr500v..




Twistex Memorial
5 miles SE of El Reno, OK
12:15 PM
Anton Seimon, John Allen, and I traveled to Norman, Oklahoma to collaborate on the El Reno Survey, a crowd sourced study of the 2013 El Reno tornado, and present the project at the National Weather Center. Part of our trip out there involved a visit to the El Reno tornado damage path and memorial at the site where Tim Samaras, Paul Samaras, and Carl Young were tragically killed. The ever growing and constantly maintained memorial is going to have a permanent monument added in the near future. Doug Gerten, the police officer who came upon the Twistex wreck, is organizing plans and funding to have a stone monument and engraving crafted for the site.

Flash Flood Incident Site
Yukon, OK
3:20 PM
We met Doug and all had lunch at the Green Chile in Yukon, OK. I thought I recognized that drainage ditch. It's where Chris Novy's infamous flash flood encounter occurred after the El Reno storm. The water got up to the roadway, and Chris' car went clear through the tunnel. He was rescued by a police officer, but his car and much of his gear were destroyed.

The Gerten Farm
6 miles SE of El Reno, OK
3:29 PM
A year and a half later, the rural landscape south of El Reno still shows deep scars if you know where to look. Anton, John, and I visited the damage path looking for points of interest that came up in the video contributions to the El Reno Survey project. Doug Gerten, the officer that came upon the Twistex wreck, has devoted huge amounts of his time assisting family and victims of the tornado. He accompanied us to the sites as a guide and introduced us to some of the residents that lived through the tornado, while also showing us his farm that still shows severe damage. His help with the survey has been invaluable.

Doug shows us the damage at his farm:

Chevy Silverado Wreck
4 miles N of Union City, OK
4:01 PM
The remains of a Chevy Silverado are nearly unrecognizable. The wreck remains in the middle of a field, a stark reminder of the horrific results of tornado impacts on vehicles.

Razed Slab
4 miles N of Union City, OK
4:20 PM
A damaged house has been bulldozed to the slab. A forgotten axe and a few items strewn about the field are all that remains.

Hail Findings
4 miles SW of El Reno, OK
4:40 PM
A resident shows us his farm that was impacted by gigantic hail. Huge dents in the roofs of his buildings can still be seen, struck by hail exceeding 6 inches. The storm produced potentially the fifth largest hail on record.

Photographing Hail Damage
4 miles SW of El Reno, OK
4:40 PM
I had a chase opportunity on the way home. A trough was forecast to move through with a modestly unstable moisture axis across Oklahoma. I targeted the Enid area where it looked like the best backed surface winds would be colocated with modest instability. I dropped Anton and John off at Will Rogers Airport before dawn, caught a couple hours of sleep in the van outside of El Reno and then headed north under soupy grey skies.

Updraft Base
2 miles N of Fairview, OK
1:18 PM
A line of storms erupted to the southwest. I had a visual on an updraft base and a brief, junky looking RFD clear slot. The storms appeared to line out into a sloppy mess though. Rather than screw around with those all day and come home a day late, I decided to call it a bust and get home to the family.
Of course the complex organized once it crossed into Kansas that evening and produced a fairly stout stovepipe. That's what I get for not sticking it out until the bitter end, but sometimes you just don't have the time and patience for that kind of chasing.


The chase was a junky late season bust, but it was worth a shot after the hugely informative, somber, and reflective trip to El Reno and Norman.

Lessons Learned

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