Field Notes

Storms and tornadoes move through Oklahoma

I wasn’t going to chase today.  My plan was to watch it on radar and relax.  Right after I posted the first tornado warning at 5:21 PM, all hell broke loose.  A tornado was reported on the ground near Westport moving to the east, towards Tulsa.

I jumped in the truck without my chase gear (mistake) and headed north.  I stopped at I-244 when radar showed the storm cell tracking east along the highway.  It was 5:34pm.

I had to move south a couple of times to get out of the path.  One short stop was at 11th and Garnett.  Still not far enough south.  My next stop was at Garnett and I-44 at the QT.  My last stop was on 41st street, west of Garnett.  7 miles from the starting point.

The tornadic part of the storm had moved to the east, towards Catoosa, Claremore and Inola.

I headed home at 6:45 pm.  An intense hour for sure.

Once home, I began getting reports of major damage in Sand Springs, and the heartbreaking news of injuries and a fatality.  That’s the one thing I hate to hear.

Lessons learned?  Might be a couple.

  • Get the gear ready.  It’s not too early.
  • Check camera settings.
  • Check time on camera (spring forward, right?).
  • Have the right lens on the camera.
  • Charge the batteries.  (duh).
  • Shoot some video.
  • Don’t chase in Tulsa during rush hour.  (brilliant).

Besides the pictures I posted to my Twitter account, I shot these along the way.

It was a short chase – April 13, 2014

I really hadn’t planned to chase today, but when the storms started lining up in a watch box, I couldn’t resist.

20140413-1536-radarI tossed minimal gear in the truck and headed north.  About 28 miles north of Tulsa, I stopped in Ramona about the time the squall line moved in.

20140413-E-1024-004It wasn’t a storm that would typically produce a tornado, but it was spitting hail and winds were gusting.

20140413-E-1024-006When I got home and processed the few images I’d taken, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I’d caught a bolt of lightning in one of them.  It was an unexpected surprise.  I also realized how close I was to the bolt.  I shot this picture with a 50mm lens.

20140413-E-1024-001I only drove about 90 miles, round trip.  Not bad for the first run of the season.