This was a chase unlike any other in that I had not even planned on chasing, and therefore really didn’t look at any models or have any plan in place prior to leaving! I expected things to be too far off to the east, and didn’t think I’d have a chance to see anything after work. About the time I was finishing up at work, I saw a text from my buddy Rob about a tornado in Oklahoma. I pulled up RadarScope on my phone and saw that this cell was right over I-35 at the time. Hmm, I thought maybe if I left immediately and shot up 75 I could catch it.
I rushed home, grabbed my equipment, and headed out. The X-factor would be rush hour traffic. This is the DFW Metroplex! The good thing was that the storms were to the north, which is the quickest way out of town for me. It became apparent that I could not catch up to that dominant cell, which was also about to get some interference with the cell to the south of it, anyway. However, there was a cell that had just fired near Sherman that I figured I could catch. Luckily these storms weren’t moving very fast, maybe 30 mph or so.
From Durant, OK, the main road heading east was 70. At the time, the storm was almost centered over 70, and seemed to be taking an ESE track. So I decided to take 70E instead, as it ran further to the south, though it routed back to the north in Bennington, OK. Well, this turned out to be a mistake, and only cost me precious time, as I didn’t gain any ground on the storm, and was still behind it by the time I got back to 70.
Once on 70 I was finally able to catch up to it, and it also changed its track and started heading more ENE, bringing the area of interest within view. Just before getting to Boswell I saw a funnel that was not fully condensed to the ground, so I couldn’t confirm that it was a tornado at the time, but damage surveys did confirm this was still on the ground.
The view was limited with all of the trees, and since I was still behind it a ways, I just kept driving instead of stopping at any clearings. That tornado dissipated, but there was a large wall cloud right in front of me, and I knew it could produce again. Looking at the radar, I was still quite a ways behind this rotation, so I continued east at max speed, passing others who were creeping along!
I was pretty much right on this storm’s tail when I got to Hugo, OK, and noticed a funnel cloud. Again, I could not confirm ground contact at that moment, but when I continued into the town of Hugo, the damage told me that it was on the ground. The damage wasn’t horrible, but a lot of tree limbs were down, power lines down, glass broken, sheet metal strewn about, and shingles torn off of roofs.
I attempted to follow this storm by taking the first north option out of Hugo, but it became apparent that this was taking me too far north, so I turned around. At this point I felt like this storm was losing some of its punch, and I had time to get south and get in front of the storm approaching Paris, TX. So I left Hugo and dropped south.
Luckily the storm was moving slow enough that I was able to get through the eastern end of the storm and avoid the bigger hail. This storm actually had some good structure on it, and just north of Pattonville, TX I was able to find a nice clearing to view the storm at sunset. The inflow was picking up, and I thought this storm just might produce!
It never did produce, but it sure was beautiful, and a great way to cap off the chase!