Today sees my 4th Chase out of my favourite 12 (In no particular order).
We awoke in Dodge City under very dry conditions as we were behind the dryline, today was the last chase day of 2011 for us and we knew we had to be back at DFW Airport by early doors on the 12th June. The risk area for today was Colorado, Kansas and the Texas and Oklahoma Panhandles. We would also need a little bit of luck on our side as we knew the western target of Southern Colorado would not allow us to chase storms easily as their Northward Motion would take us away from Dallas. So we were kind of tied into Oklahoma but as it turned out that would work in our favour not just for Storms but also motion of storms and tornadic storms.
We ate lunch in Liberal (Kansas) and headed South East towards Woodward (OK Panhandle) to an area of developing storms, one storm took off and headed straight into Kansas, we gave this a little bit of a chase but the forward motion would have seen us in Central Kansas within a few hours had we pursued it. At about 530pm we sat tight about 30 miles east of Woodward and played a bit of football whilst watching the radar, one Storm on radar looked very good North East of Amarillo and we could see the crisp top of the Anvil 60-80 miles to our South West, I told the guys this would probably be our last shot of the year and could get a few hours chasing in before nightfall and the long journey back to DFW So the chase was on.
We headed South and then South West, with the Storm moving North East at 25mph and us doing 65mph South West it took no time at all to get within 10 miles of this now LP Supercell.
I stopped us about 5 miles to the North East of the Storm with it's core just to our west, around this time something strange happened to the Supercell with it just grinding to a halt and not moving for about 30 minutes. The Storm finally starting moving again around 7pm and now started to move to the East along a boundary, I got everyone into the Car and went 5 miles back East to a North-South road we passed. At that junction we went South for a few miles so that when the Storm moved east we would be sitting South East of it with a clear view at anything going on in the business end. The next time we stopped the Storm had now become Tornado Warned and was starting to take on a more Classic Supercell look.
A wall cloud came into view and tornado Touchdown occured just North West of Shattuck (Oklahoma) the Supercell was now transitioning from Classic to HP and the Structure was something to behold (See Picture) So we once again went South into Shattuck and then East back towards Woodward. We stopped various times along an East road and witnessed a very nice Needle Funnel which was halfway to the ground. Darkness was rapidly approaching so we followed the lead Supercell east back towards Oklahoma (Perfect for tomorrows trip south down I-35). Further West more Supercells were training along the boundary all moving eastwards. If we could we would have been shooting Lightning all night long but had to cut off at around 11pm as some sleep was needed. Sods law this always happens on or near changeover days but the last days chase had already been a very big bonus so the other guys all voted for beds over Cg's.
A great way to end the 2011 Season though!