Field Notes

May 16, 2015 Tracking Storms

11:30 PM

Tornado Warning for Tulsa was canceled.  Storm moved a little further east.  I dodged that bullet.

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11:21 PM

Tornado Warning for east central Tulsa county.  My house.  Heavy rain, small hail and lots of wind, so far.  Lost radar connection.

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10:28 PM

A line of severe storms moving into the Tulsa area.  Risks are heavy rains, hail and damaging winds.  Tornadoes are also possible.

Tulsa Radar

Tulsa Radar

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8:47 PM

Tornado Watch #182 has been issued for much of eastern Oklahoma, in effect until 3:00 a.m.  This watch includes Tulsa.

Tornado Watch #182

Tornado Watch #182

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8:33 PM

A line of storms is finally moving into the Tulsa area.  The most severe, at this point, still in SW and SC Oklahoma, slowly moving to the east-northeast.  I’m watching it on radar, but doubt I’ll go out.  Solo chasing at night is a dangerous adventure.

Tulsa radar

Tulsa radar

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4:39 PM

Tornado Watch at 1600

Tornado Watch at 1600

Storms are just now beginning to develop way out west.  This is going to turn into an “after dark” thing.  I’ve made the decision to stay in Tulsa.  Not quite the way I’d planned this thing.  I’m wondering now if the NWS over-played the set-up.

The Tornado Watch areas have increased in the past couple of hours, in effect until midnight.  Doesn’t include Tulsa.  However, the forecasts are still indicating the area will move east as we progress through the evening.

Maybe I’ll chase down some dinner.

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2:15 PM

Nothing much has changed.  The area identified this morning is still the area now.  I’m waiting for the next update that should come out about 3:00.

A tornado watch was issued for the Texas panhandle and the far west counties in Oklahoma.  I’m not driving that far today.

I’ll know more when the update comes out.

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8:05 AM

The outlook hasn’t changed much since earlier this morning, but the wording is a little stronger.

A WIDESPREAD THREAT OF SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS IS EXPECTED ACROSS THE
PLAINS STATES TODAY THROUGH TONIGHT...FROM PARTS OF NEBRASKA
SOUTHWARD TO TEXAS.  RISKS WILL INCLUDE VERY LARGE HAIL...DAMAGING
WIND GUSTS...AND SEVERAL TORNADOES -- WITH A FEW STRONG/LONG-LIVED
TORNADOES POSSIBLE.

Beginning in far western Oklahoma, the timing for storm development will be early afternoon.  Closer to 4PM for central Oklahoma.  I’ll pinpoint the area before I head out.

Updated tornado outlook for today (SPC 0800)

Latest tornado probability for today (SPC 0800)

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1:40 AM

The SPC has released the outlook and a large portion of central/western Oklahoma and Kansas has been carved out for a moderate risk of severe weather today.

HIGHLY SUGGESTIVE OF POTENTIAL FOR A SEVERE WEATHER OUTBREAK.

It looks like we could be hitting the road later today.  I’ll get some sleep then check it again in a few hours.

Outlook for today (SPC 1:39 AM)

Outlook for today (SPC 0139)

May 9, 2015 NW Oklahoma

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The craggy bluffs on the Cimarron River south of Freedom, Oklahoma

It was a LONG day for sure.  I left the house at 12 noon and arrived back home at 12 midnight after covering 554 miles.

The tornado watch issued was for SE Colorado, SW Kansas and NW Oklahoma.  I decided to venture towards the panhandle.

The closer I got to Woodward, it was obvious that I’d missed the target.  The watch for that area had been canceled.

At that point, I wasn’t far from Freedom – my Dad’s birthplace – so I made the decision to check it out.

Freedom is a very small town with a two-block mainstreet.  I didn’t stop, but now I wish I had.  Next time I’m near there I will.

Just south of Freedom is the Cimarron River and her banks are lined with gypsum bluffs.  Pretty awesome sight.  Seeing them makes me want to spend a couple of days traveling to the far west edge of the panhandle to visit the Black Mesa.  Maybe in the fall I will.

I pulled off on the highway, south of the river, and grabbed my camera for the first time on this trip.  I stopped a couple more times further south on highway 50 to take in some of the scenery and to marvel at the vast reaches of the landscape.

I finally found one developing storm moving into NW Oklahoma from the Texas panhandle.  It moved VERY slowly to the east-northeast (about 30 mph) cycling up and down the whole time.  After tracking it for a couple of hours, I knew intercepting it was doubtful – even if the storm stayed together until I could.

As it’s been the last couple of times, the really active storms were south of Oklahoma City.  My choices were to wait for the Texas storm, that hadn’t even crossed highway 33 yet, go south into an area that is dangerous to chase in, or head back to Tulsa.  Once I got to highway 51, I decided to call it and head east.

It was a good day though.  I saw some country I’d not seen before.  I’d visited the city where my Dad was born, and I made a few photographs along the way.

To view the photo album, click here.

TulsaWXLogo edit 75x75

6:47 PM

I’ve worked hard today to stay out of the OKC area.  I’m in Seiling, OK waiting for a few minutes to see if this storm that’s developing to the SW is going to stay together by the time it gets close.  We’ll see.  If that doesn’t work out, I’ll head back towards Tulsa to see what trouble I can get into.

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8:04 AM

Models are being updated and the moderate risk area identified earlier this morning is gone.  There’s still an enhanced risk, with SW Kansas being the target area.  I’m going to head out in a bit and head west.  I’ll pinpoint the target area later today.

SPC outlook at 0800

SPC outlook at 0800

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7:50 AM

It’s not the best setup I’ve seen.  But, I guess we have to take what we can get.

The dryline is at the Oklahoma panhandle and should advance to the east through the day, and the front will be moving south.  The best chances will be in southwest Kansas for late this afternoon.  But, a line of storms will move through this area this morning could work the atmosphere over, taking the punch out of evening development.  The question I ask myself is, “will it recover in time?”

I woke up at 4 a.m. to review the models and found them to be less than impressive.  Disappointing.  So, I went back to bed.

Back up at 7 a.m. and now I’m waiting for another update.

 

April 8, 2015 Severe Weather in SE Kansas, sort of

10:11 pm – I traveled a little over 300 miles chasing 3 storms.  None of the three really produced much, but it was nice to get out and into nature.

I started in Coffeyville, chasing 2 cells into Parsons.  Then back south and west for several miles to meet up with the 3rd storm – the one I really thought would produce.

It didn’t.

20150408-005

The cap that was in place prevented storm growth.

Then south through Osage county.  Nice drive, crappy cellular connection.

I’m not too disappointed, though.  It’s still early in the season.

Next time.

I did shoot a few pictures along the way.  To view the photo album, click here.

TulsaWXLogo edit 75x75

12:00 pm – We’re now looking at a moderate risk for tornadoes.  I’m loading gear.

Today's updated outlook.  Moderate risk for tornadoes.  (NWS, 12:00 pm)

Today’s updated outlook. Moderate risk for tornadoes. (NWS, 12:00 pm)

6:24 am  – I’ve been looking at the forecast and models for today and there’s an “Enhanced” risk of storms today…onset is likely this afternoon.  The potential for storms will continue through the night into the morning hours.

Currently the front is on the Kansas/Oklahoma state line and the dry line is in far west Oklahoma.  But, those positions will change through the day.  And, with highs today in the mid 80s and dew points in the mid 60s, the potential for severe storms is pretty high.  However, some capping could inhibit storm development.

I think the key factor will be the dryline.  Dryline positioning in relation to the front and improved low level jet stream will be the factors to watch.  If those come together, the potential for tornadic supercells will increase.

Overall, this is worth keeping an eye on through today as the forecasts are updated.

Outlook for today (NWS, 6:39 AM)

Outlook for today (NWS, 6:39 AM)

 

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.