April 26, 2016


Initial Target
Storm Intercepts
Lawton, OK
3 miles WNW of Kremlin, OK 12:01 AM 4/26/2016
4 miles S of Minco, OK 3:03 AM 4/27/2016
Tipton, OK; Anadarko, OK
0 mph
Rotating Wall Cloud, Striations, Whale's Mouth


Dryline/warm sector play in southwest Oklahoma. Intercepted tornado warned supercells near Tipton noting rotating wall clouds and striated HP structure, but no tornadoes. Called chase when complex gusted out with large Whale's Mouth.

Crew and Equipment

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




Camping in my van the night before the chase in the middle of nowhere Oklahoma, I was awoken by a light shining through the window. It was this pale moon rising above the tiny town of Kremlin. I scrambled to get my camera on it, and wrote this:

I see a bad moon rising. The night before a big tornado event I often find myself on the road as the skies are engulfed with a thick humid blanket surging up from the south on the low level jet. And then I see it. The moisture thick air blots out most of the stars, but the moon rises, a pale, dull orange disc on a black sky. After many warnings that tomorrow could bring damaging and deadly tornadoes, this sight is always unnerving, like an ominous and sinister harbinger. I caught it tonight just as I was settling down to sleep, camping in the van on a vast expanse of empty fields: a bad moon rising over a tiny town in the middle of nowhere Oklahoma.
I had spent three nights in my van on this run. Tuesday, April 26 looked like it was going to be the big tornado day of the trip. A strongly to extremely unstable dryline was forecast from Kansas through north Texas. I debated whether to play an outflow boundary up in northern Kansas or further south along the dryline where CAPE was higher. I opted for the southern target hoping to pick up a bigger, more discrete, and classic storm. My initial target was just west of Lawton off the nose of a thermal axis and forecast dryline bulge at which high res models were hinting.

Camping Spot
3 miles WNW of Kremlin, OK
8:57 AM
This is where I spent the night. Super pretty, middle of nowhere, it was the perfect spot to camp. The morning air was thick with moisture streaming north from the Gulf. Exactly what you want to see and feel on a big chase day.

Memorial Convergence
5 miles SE of El Reno, OK
1:57 PM
On my way down to Lawton, I stopped at the Twistex Memorial southeast of El Reno, OK. A half dozen chase vehicles were already there. The memorial has become this gathering point for the community and brought a lot of people together.

Rotating Wall Cloud
3 miles SSE of Tipton, OK
4:54 PM
While stopping in Lawton to refuel and check data, storms quickly fired to the west. I went after Tail End Charlie coming up off the Red River and caught it south of Tipton. There was a lot of rain in the rear flank like it was high precipitation, but the storm quickly organized with a rotating wall cloud. There was even a focused point in the middle like it was spinning up a funnel. I thought a tornado was imminent.

Supercell Pano
3 miles SSE of Tipton, OK
4:57 PM
A panoramic showing the whole base of the storm. Rotating in the wall cloud continued but after a few minutes it fell apart. The storm would need to cycle again.

Low Wall Cloud
2 miles SE of Snyder, OK
5:35 PM
I chased it up to Snyder, noting a new robust and very low lowering. The storm refused to produce, however. At about this time Sean Casey and Justin Walker bumped into me, chasing in a white truck. They were likely getting some extra shots for the Extreme Weather IMAX film, said hi, and then we split to keep chasing.

Striated HP
8 miles SW of Anadarko, OK
6:47 PM
The storm gusted out into a big outflowy mess so I ran north after other tornado warned supercells. I caught a striated high precipitation supercell near Anadarko. It looked dramatic, but the prospects of getting a photogenic torando out of it were pretty low.
This storm eventually gusted out too and a large complex with embedded circulations was starting to form. Tornado warnings abounded, but buried in the line, and wrapped in rain, my chances of getting shots of anything rotating were pretty much zero. I stopped to shoot the Whale's Mouth, basically the "game over" storm structure, before heading into Chickasha to find some Mexican for dinner. The restaurants were all closing shop due to the warnings, however.
Lots of tornado reports, but most of them were rain wrapped and/or after dark. Very little in the way of photogenic, chaseable tornadoes came out of this event as far as I'm aware. It was a severe weather outbreak, however, so the outlooks and probabilities were definitely justified.


I had my hopes up for this chase, and it was supposed to be the big day of the trip, but the tornado shot eluded me. I'm tempted to call it a bust as a result, but the array of rotating wall clouds, supercell structure, and pretty sights like the Whale's Mouth, made this a pretty well rounded and exciting chase.

Lessons Learned

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