This was a setup that looked really great a few days out, and then took a dive south the night before. In fact, it had a moderate risk from the SPC on the 2-day outlook, but that was droppped on day 1. Dewpoints were fairly meager, but the biggest change, and in my opinion the biggest limiting factor, was in the wind shear.
My buddy Victor and I set out at 8am and drove up to Norman, OK to stop, get a bite to eat, and re-evaluate data. I was torn between the northern target in SW Kansas, and the southern target in SW Oklahoma. But given that this was a Sunday and I had to work at 8am Monday, I was leaning more toward the southern target. There was some question as to whether there would even be any discrete storms there, however. Looking at the 12z models, it actually looked like the better of the two targets, so I made the decision to head to Altus, OK.
We sat in Altus awaiting initiation, then once we had it, the decision of which storm to go after was the hard part! There was a storm further south, but it looked like it was struggling to get going. One to the north looked better, so we went after it. It was very high-based and generally disorganized. The storm to the south had a left split that was gaining some intensity, so we went and took a look at that on our way back down to intercept the southern cell.
We waited for the hail core to pass, and then continued east and south. I never saw anything bigger than maybe 1.5 inch hail stones on the ground, and only in a small area. When we made it through this storm, and the core of the target storm, the lightning was really intense on the east side of Lawton. I took this as a good sign that this storm was gaining strength. We went east on Hwy 7, positioned right inside the hook.
There was a lot of inflow into this storm, but I didn’t see much in the way of rotation. We kept following east, and at one point it did seem to have some rotation. As that got closer to us, I decided we’d continue east to stay in front of. As we were doing so, a report popped up on GRLevel3 of a tornado. I looked back and didn’t see anything initially, until I looked up a little higher and saw an elephant trunk coming down. It was difficult to see, as the sky was bright white in that area, and the tornado was also white.
We turned back around and tried to get video of it, but due to the low contrast you can barely even see it in the video. It then dissipated just a few seconds after I had the camcorder on it. Well… it wasn’t anything special, but at least it was a tornado, and I’d insure I didn’t go without one in 2016.
After that this storm was moving into a much more stable environment and began to fall apart. We called it a chase and started heading home, but not before one last stop to shoot the spectacular sunset!