Oklahoma Storms: May 19, 2010

 

 

chase images and log by William T. Hark, M.D.

 


After lunch at a Subway in Weatherford, Oklahoma, we relaxed in the nearby parking lot and waited for storms to develop.(pic 1),(pic 2) I was chasing with Scott McPartland, Dave Lewison, Chris Kridler and Mark Robinson and his Canadian crew of meteorology students. Eventually, some storms started to form in far western Oklahoma. We initially waited as there was a possibility of closer storms forming to our north. As the western storms appeared dominant, we headed west on I-40 and north on 183. The storms developing to the northwest were visible by 3:18 PM CDT. There was another storm forming to our northeast that would later become the storm of the day. Tornado warning! Arrghh! The storm to our northwest by Leady already had a reported cone tornado at 3:40 PM. We turned west and the storm was visible to the north at 3:55 PM. Unfortunately, road options in the area were poor. We couldn't get closer to the storm due to a river between us and the storm (4:02 PM (3)). We headed back east to get ahead of the eastward moving storm and there were a couple of road options to the north. I decided to take the first option and then follow the storm east on a dirt road shortcut while everybody else took a another northward road option to the east. I was expecting the storm to produce again and didn't want to wait until it moved farther east. I turned east on the dirt road at 4:48 PM near Oakwood. Big mistake! The approaching storm was to the north. The dirt road (4) became increasingly narrow, muddy and slippery as I continued. I would have been stuck if I tried to stop and turn around. I could only slide forward on the road (5). I plowed through muddy pools and fish-tailed down hills. At one point, I even got out to look for sticks to wedge under the wheels for traction. I was inching along, wheels spinning, and losing precious time as the storm to my north moved eastward. I finally reached the paved road and turned north on 58 by 5:00 PM. I am amazed that I wasn't stranded. The storm was now to my east thanks to the dirt road delay. When I reached the path of the core just south of Canton, the road was totally covered with hail. I couldn't see the road or the shoulder due to hail drifts and fog (6); (7). I slowly plodded north as the storm moved farther to the east. I passed the hail field and turned east on 51 by 5:15 PM. I was north of the storm and had to race east to get ahead of it. I turned south at 5:57 PM in Hennessy. The storm to the west was rapidly approaching my route. I could see a wall cloud to my southwest in the bears cage (8);(9). I tried to get ahead but was cut off by rain curtains to my south. I was too close. I turned east at 6:01 PM near Dover. I could see some rotation to the west but the storm was rather disoirganized. I shifted south to 33 and encountered a massive horde of chasers. I continued east and saw a brief funnel by 6:43 PM near Guthrie. I reached Guthrie, Oklahoma by 6:56 PM. The tornado sirens were blasting. I made a quick stop for gas and continued east. I ran into Cloud 9 at 7:35 PM and lent them an extra tow rope to pull one of their vehicles (John Guyton) out of the mud by the road shoulder. (Image of Charles Edwards supervising the towing) (11) At 8PM, there was a wind shift, and we may have seen a brief funnel (10) in the growing darkness. Scott and Dave, who were nearby in a separate vehicle had a closer encounter and saw some flying debris. It is unclear if they were in the actual circulation. We all met up in Shawnee for a post-chase dinner (12). No tornadoes but an exciting chase with hail drifts, high winds and almost getting stuck on a muddy road.


(1)

(2)

(3)

(4)

(5)

(6)

(7)

(8)

(9)

(10)

(11)

(12)

XM Radar Images


3:30 PM CDT

4:30 PM

6:25 PM


Go toMay 20 - 21, 2010 Storm Chase Accounts

All images Copyright 2010 William T. Hark