Storm Chase 2000: May 24

Long chase to Arnett, OK, lightning, sunset, CG's in Norman, OK

My original target was around Wellington, Kansas. There was a low near Shamrock, Texas and a front across Northern Oklahoma. The moisture was better South of the front but I was concerned about a very strong cap. After checking data at the University of Oklahoma library in Norman, I headed north on I-35. I was briefly slowed by construction near OKC. It was clear north of Oklahoma City and according to Steve Sponsler, ACCAS was already visible near Wichita, KS. By 12:35PM, 17 miles south of Tonkawa, OK, Cu became visible. I continued north and stopped near Blackwell. High based Cu covered approximately 1/2 the sky by 2PM near Blackwell. I was now in a Moderate Risk area which extended to the north into southern Kansas. I wanted to be north of a band of dewpoints in the 70's. I drove north and then west on Route 160 toward Harper, Kansas. By 4:30 PM, I was near Harper watching a storm to the north. The whole area was overcast and grungy. A satellite and radar report confirmed what I expected. The whole area was covered with clouds, showers and a few nonsevere storms. The clouds blocked the heating necessary for more severe storms. There was better heating to the southwest. I headed west, then south toward Alva, OK. At 5:16, I heard that a tornado watch had been issued for Texas and the Oklahoma panhandle. I was too far east. I could see the edge of the cirrus from a storm to the west at 6PM. I was going west on 64, east of Alva. At 6:24, I was south of Waynoka on 281. The sky was clear with a few Cu. I could see Cirrus from a storm to my west. I talked with Chris Kridler via cell phone who was in Beaver, OK and following a storm from the Perryton area. There was another near Pampa. The storms were moving east and I hoped to intercept one before darkness. I turned west on 51 toward Arnett, Oklahoma. There was a storm to the west with a possible inflow band. I stopped in Arnett but couldn't get any radar data. It was getting dark with a huge storm to the west. I couldn't see any detail but was afraid I'd hit the core if I continued west on 51 which turns southwest and becomes Route 60 in Texas. I headed south on 283 but I miscalculated and went too far south. The road network in this area is poor. I stopped at the Canadian river to watch a beautiful sunset (1V) and then lightning. It would be too dark by the time I reached any of the storms. After dark, I continued south and then east on I-40. There were up to four storms visible at the same time in the distance on my way back to Norman. Each was sending out huge lightning bolts which crossed the sky. Flash rates were as high as 1 to 2 per second for each storm. A spectacular drive! By radio report, one storm to the south had baseball sized hail. I arrived in Norman by approximately 12:30AM as a severe storm hit the city. Multiple CG's (2V)hit Norman along with high winds and torrential rains. A long and tiring chase but awesome lightning and beautiful sunsets.

1V 2V

(P -- Photo) (V -- Video Still)

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