Sunday, 29 May 2016

Wednesday 11th May 2016 - Texas (Slight Risk)

Started today in Norman with a broad target of the Lubbock to Abilene area along a weak dryline. After travelling south to Gainsville we headed west on Highway 385 towards a storm that had developed much further west than all models had developed. We got our first look near Breckenridge of a looming HP Supercell which was dropping an angry mix of hail and winds. After noting the south east movement we headed down to Albany and got a look at the all too familiar Outflow Dominant green skies with quite striking lightning. Although this Supercell went tornado warned we saw little to zero rotation from our vantage point. We took a few structure shots and headed back east to the now developing bowing line heading towards our hotel for the night in Weatherford (Tx)

Below : HP Supercell near Albany (Texas)

Down Days During Tour 1

The weather has settled down in the middle of Tour 1 so we went and did other stuff to keep ourselves busy before severe weather came back for our last day of Tour 1 on Monday.

We first went to have a look back at the EF4 Tornado that struck just west of Wynnewood on the 9th and came across the path quite easily from our location a few days before (Ruppe Road)

Above & Below some of the Tornado Damage from the 9th May 2016 Tornado event!

The next day we went to the El Reno Memorial site and left a little bit of England there as a mark of respect for the Twistex crew who perished at that very site 3 years ago. It was a very sobering occasion for quite a few of us.

On the 14th we went to Wakita (Oklahoma) to spend the day at the 20th anniversary of the film Twister which was filmed at that location during 1995 for the films release in 1996. The Twister Museum was great and the number of chasers there was amazing, we participated in the chaser procession down the main street in Wichita and mingled the day away with chasers from all over the world before we departed west in readiness for tour 1's last chase day in the Oklahoma Panhandle.

Friday, 20 May 2016

Monday 9th May 2016 - Enhanced Risk (SE Oklahoma)

We awoke today after a very frustrating chase yesterday in Enid (N Central Oklahoma) and SPC had a large enhanced risk over SE Oklahoma and SW Arkansas which is not ideal chase country. Today would see a dryline out west with much better moisture east of I35 there was also an old outflow boundary around the Red River from yesterdays Supercells. I really thought the SPC Had the risk in the wrong area today and after running a few model runs we decided to head south after an early lunch in Perry. Along the way I somehow stumbled across a special bulletin from the SPC in which they had launched a special weather balloon and found that moisture was surging North-Westwards much faster than they anticipated and that a dryline bulge was racing across an area from Childress to Duncan. My mind was now made up that Pauls Valley was going to be my target. The location of the Oichita Mountains has always held me in good stead with set-ups like these and tend to steer tornadic supercells in certain ways. After refuelling the cars the first radar echoes appeared near Duncan and we headed to a location with a view to our south west to see a healthy storm building.

SPC Continued with their marginal risk and 2% Tornado risk over our area but by the looks of this storm I knew we were in business. It looked just like the Pilger violent EF4 from a few years back so knew straight away we were sticking with this storm. Other storms started to form around the Red River Valley which we could see to our south, the outflow boundary thing was nagging at me but on GRLevel3 the Outflow Boundary seemed to be heading North west into our storm, if our storm could get severe quick it might be able to ingest this OFB and then we will have a serious situation on our hands. We positioned ourselves another 5 miles south and the storm started to spit out some really dangerous lightning at this point and some small hail, the storm also looked like it had jogged to the east from its initial north east course. Once again I positioned us further South and then not long after a multi vortex tornado touched down.

It was clear this tornado was becoming violent and quickly, once again I noted the tornado was not actually heading towards us but would slip by to our south so once again I repositioned us further south down I35 towards Wynnewood. Along the way our cars were suffering baseball sized hailstones hitting our cars and with a large cone tornado just a few miles to our west churning away heading towards us it was quite an eerie sight.

I plotted a course to Ruppe Road which would take us right next to where the Tornado would be so knew it would be crucial to get to our viewing spot before the tornado to see if we could get a safe location, as it turned out when we got there the Tornado was still about 1 mile to our west heading straight at us. We pulled our cars over and when we got out of the vehicles the roar of the tornado and the ground rumbling was like something I have never felt or heard before, we were literally a few hundred yards from a Violent EF4 Tornado.

The videos we were now shooting were some of the best we have ever shot (Will link these at the bottom of this entry) The tornado was hitting houses, trees and barns at this point and was heading due east literally a few hundred yards to our north. The noise was deafening and we also started to get about 90mph RFD Hitting us as the tornado was to our ENE. Debris was raining down around us and items were getting flung across the field in front of us. As the tornado was about to cross I35 a few hundred yards behind us it roped out into a beautiful white rope and the mesocyclone occluded above our heads.

I probably dallied a bit too long at this point and should have been on my way further south and east as the Supercell was clearly not done yet with the 2nd occlusion looking ominously like it as about to put a strong wedge tornado down at any point and thankfully to the east of I35 and to the North of the town of Sulpher. We headed off again and took 35 south and then east towards Davis and Sulpher. We caught back up with the now classic textbook radar signature and could see the strong wedge tornado to our North.

As much as we tried we could not get back in front of the storm so decided to head north when the storm dissappeared into the trees and hills of eastern Oklahoma, but as we were another bonus small cone tornado dropped out of the western side of another storm heading north east into our original storm (Tornado Number 3!!) After this things were becoming too dangerous and roads crappy so we cut the chase off and head to Mcalister for dinner and steaks. Later that evening we heard the awful news that 2 people had perished in our storm which as always takes the shine of a successful storm chase.

Links to the Videos Below :

Monday, 16 May 2016

Sunday 8th May 2016 - Oklahoma (Moderate Risk)

Sunday was shaping up to be the bigger day of the 3 day risk and we awoke in Colby (Kansas) to a broad Moderate Risk area and 10% hatched risk for Tornadoes from Kansas down to Southern Oklahoma. A surface low with attendant southwards dryline would be the focus of storm initiation today. We went to Greensburg for Lunch and dropped a little south of there to the Oklahoma Panhandle to a developing storm near Woodward. The Surface low was in NE New Mexico and would transition east north eastwards to be in South West Kansas by 00z. Everything was pointing to an east norteastward moving cyclic supercell, but in reality what happened was very different to what we were expecting with storms continually splitting and low level shear never being good enough all day, at one point near Alva our Supercell did rotate like crazy but just could not get the job done due to low level winds being very weak. There were a couple of brief Tornadoes in NW Kansas ironically near Colby and a rain wrapped 2 minute Tornado near Duncan in Southern Oklahoma but other than that it was a very underwhelming day given the parameters on show, just goes to show Mother Nature was in charge once again today.

Above : Supercell near Alva starting to tighten up.

We cut the chase off north of Enid when things started to wind down but did have a nice show of Mammatus as the storms moved away South Eastwards.

Above : End of a frustrating Chase Day

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Saturday 7th May 2016 - Colorado (Slight Risk)

After the gruelling 12 hour drive up from Dallas the day before we awoke in our favourite Pre-Tornado Town of Limon for the days risk. The SPC had a 5% Tornado Risk in NE Colorado for storms moving north and north west along a stationery boundary that had moisture being pumped into the eastern side of it from low level south easterly winds. The big question was could 50f dewpoints make it up here in time which would be plenty for amazing Colorado. My target for today was a triangle of Fort Morgan to Sterling to Burlington and early storms along the front range suckered us in whilst the boundary was cooking near and south west of Burlington. This looked like a carbon copy of June 5th last year but with not so striking moisture available. The first storm we intercepted near Fort Morgan moving north straight away aquired a Tornado Warning and we went very close to have a look, this storm was massively outflow dominant when we allowed it to follow us eastbound along I76. But inflow started to crank up sporadically and enough to form a small inflow notch and our first Tornado of the 2016 season near Fort Morgan, This small EF0 Hoisted farm equipment across the road and span in a field next to us with a small silver coloured cone above it, it never fully condensed but was strong enough to strip trees of leaves whilst on the ground for a few minutes.

Above - EF0 Tornado near Fort Morgan (Colorado)

It was now that we made the decision to leave these storms as they were increasingly cold and wet looking and blasted east towards Yuma and Wray on exactly the same road as the 5th June last year, surely lightning could not strike twice ??

About 10 miles west of Wray near the town of Eckley a pair of Supercells were moving north and the top one that looked awful on radar started to spin right in front of us, as we were west of it a slender white cone started to drop, it really was an amazing sight from such a poor looking storm. This Tornado was on the ground for a few minutes.

Above : White Cone Tornado at Eckley (Colorado)

After this we crept east to watch the next much bigger and better looking Supercell approach the town of Wray. Stopping just west of town we watch amazing rotation drop Tornado number 3 a brief dust whirl with a cone above and then proceeded to the junction of Highway 385 in the centre of Wray in the hook of the storm with insane rotation above our heads on both sides of the road another bigger Tornado was imminant surely.

We went about 2 miles north on the 385 and pulled over to stop as a white funnel above our heads starting to touch down literally in front of us, the structure at this point was amazing.

Above : Tornado number 4 touches down just North of Wray (Colorado)

At this point we knew this was going to be one of those picturesque Colorado Tornadoes and could have driven right upto this thing as you can see above there were not a lot of vehicles on the road at this time but I chose to hang back and get the full beauty of the whole structure and Tornado in the next shot taken by Mr Vicary on a much better camera than mine.

Above : Fully condensed Cone Tornado and by now all manner of Emergency Vehicles speeding up the road.

After this was on the ground for about 20 minutes the road north was closed off and it was chase over so we headed to Colby (Kansas) for the night. An amazing Colorado chase and an amazing Day 1 of the trip.

The Wray Colorado Tornado was rated EF2 And damaged a few businesses and houses with a few minor injuries.