I had high hopes for this chase several days in advance, but as each new model run came out, those hopes diminished a little bit more. CAPE was forecast to be incredibly high, especially for this time of year, but other ingredients left something to be desired. Hyped up as a potential outbreak, this day didn’t live up to the hype.
I wasn’t that confident the morning of, or even the night before, that there would be a good chance for tornadoes. There were a couple of key issues. Meridional flow at 500mb, plus S-curved hodographs meant there would be messy storms that would interact with each other, and quickly form an MCS. It was even worse than I expected, however. I thought we’d at least get an hour, maybe 2 hours with isolated cells, but things went linear almost immediately. There just wasn’t enough directional shear to keep cells isolated, plus the storm motion almost parallel to the dryline didn’t help that, either.
In the morning, high-res models were showing some enhanced sig tor values in southwest Oklahoma, so I decided on the target area I had been flirting with since the night before: Lawton, OK.
I set out immediately after work and went straight to Lawton, then on to Cache, where I sat at a gas station for a few minutes looking at a developing storm near Vernon, TX. I decided it was good enough to go after, so I head toward Frederick.
I watched the storm develop from west of Frederick, and saw a funnel-shaped scud cloud that was reported as a funnel cloud. The storm was subsequently tornado-warned. This is somewhat frustrating to me, because this was clearly not a funnel cloud to anyone who has seen one before. It was not rotating at all. Not even moving, really. People are already pretty numb to tornado warnings, so we really need to avoid false warnings.
There were a few moments where I saw some rotation on this storm, but they didn’t last much longer than about a minute. When the storm was approaching Snyder, it was looking its best.
My only good road option to get east of it took me right through the back edge of the storm, and into some hail. I got hit by a few golf balls that I believe added a couple new dents to the car. I had my hail guard on over my sunroof, but I’m not sure if any stones even touched it. It did stay put like a champ, however, even up to 80 mph, so the four 82 pound magnets are sufficient enough.
I broke away from this storm at this point, choosing the better road options to get in front of it, and beat it to Apache, OK, which I did. Nothing really changed with the storm, and just north of Apache after snapping the photo below, I decided to call the chase.
There was quite the squall line that had formed to the south in Texas. By the time I hit Wichita Falls and began tracking southeast on 287, I was on the back end of the line. I was treated to a wonderful lightning show on the way home. One round of strikes started in front of the vehicle, then worked their way around the right side and all the way behind the vehicle. It was quite an amazing sight to behold!
As soon as I got back to my apartment I rushed to set up my camera on my balcony, where I was able to capture this shot.
Overall this was a pretty uneventful chase. It certainly didn’t live up to the hype, but I had said that morning I’d consider myself lucky if I saw a tornado that day. I guess I wasn’t lucky!