Yesterday’s moderate risk proved tragic for Moore, Oklahoma. I will dedicate a separate post at a later time to the Moore tornado.
Yesterday’s chase seemed so short, compared to the 851 mile drive-fest that was Sunday.
We were already at the edge of the moderate risk when we went to bed, so we got to sleep in a few extra hours. After doing some analysis, I met up with Bobby Edmonds, a fellow storm chaser from New Mexico for a half an hour or so at the Rudy’s BBQ in Norman. We both agreed that south would be our best option. I targeted Lindsay, OK, and he left, targeting somewhere farther south.
I arrived at Lindsay, and the tiny cumulus puffs grew into supercells almost instantaneously. The speed at which these cells went severe was noteworthy- they made their first appearance on radar as warned storms.
From Lindsay, I decided to drop south. Several storms were around Duncan, OK, to my southwest. I dropped down to try to get to the southeast side of them. I spent a lot of time on OK-29, pacing back and forth- heading towards the storm and then turning around when the precipitation got heavy, waiting it out, and trying again. Supposedly, this storm dropped several tornadoes that crossed OK-29, but I have not seen pictures of them.
A lot of the storms in my area lacked definition. They were severe warned, dropping large hail and packing strong winds, but were not particularly photogenic.
After a little while, I headed east on OK-29 towards Paul’s Valley, OK for a storm that had passed through earlier. Just east of Elmore City, OK, there was an interesting feature: in the region where we should (and mostly did) see a shelf cloud, there was also a ragged, rotating wall cloud:
The photo does not show the rotation, but trust me, those fingerlike clouds were spinning like a top.
The cycle today was wall cloud, die, mesocyclone handoff, rinse and repeat. Many times, these storms built and then fell apart in south central OK.
I headed east out of Paul’s Valley towards Ada, OK. The storms were becoming mushy and linear. Nothing had definition anymore, except one large cell to the southwest. It was in Ardmore, heading east. We drove a little ways down US-377, only to realize that the precipitation core was already crossing US-377, and the whole storm went from 25mph to 60mph. We could not get in front of it, so we called it a night.
We drove back up US-377 and eventually US-177 towards Shawnee. We first started hearing about the Moore tornado sometime south of Shawnee. At the time, the storms had already passed through, and we were looking at the backside of the squall line that had formed. The picture below is mammatus clouds that formed from sinking air on the backside of that squall line. It’s amazing to think how this beautiful structure is part of the same storm that caused so much devastation in Moore.
We stopped in Oklahoma City for the night, and will head back to Albuquerque tomorrow to pick up another storm chaser.
Starting Odometer: 281859
Ending Odometer: 282248