May 30, 2006: Western Oklahoma Supercell

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

I expected May 30th to be the most promising chase day during my vacation. There was a front across Nebraska and Kansas down to Clayton, New Mexico and a dryline from Boise City, Oklahoma down to Amarillo and Midland, Texas. There was decent flow aloft and backed winds at the surface. We were also watching an outflow boundary across western Oklahoma. I was chasing with Jason Persoff, M.D. Our starting point was Salina, Kansas and our target area was the Guymon, OK to Perryton, TX area at the triple point.

We headed southwest through Great Bend and Dodge City, Kansas then south to Beaver in the Oklahoma Panhandle. There was a line of storms to our east and south firing along an outflow boundary. We expected more storms to fire in our region south into the northern part of the Texas Panhandle. Amazingly, we were able to find Wi-Fi in Beaver. We waited and watched the sky along with checking weather data. We also talked with Charles Edwards of Cloud 9 Tours who was a few miles to the south. I was concerned that the best developing towering cumulus was to our south. Storms soon developed in the Dumas to Pampa area but they were disorganized. We also watched a storm become more isolated at the southerly end of a line of storms in western Oklahoma. This storm was near Gage, Oklahoma, and it was drifting southward into an area of better moisture. When it became clear that the Gage storm was the main storm, we blasted south from Beaver, then south from Canadian, Texas on 83. Road options were limited to cross the Texas-Oklahoma border. We turned east on 2124 at 4:45PM which becomes 47 in Oklahoma. The storm was almost due East when we reached the town of Reydon. We dropped south on 30 due to a detour (washed out bridge), skirting the core, then we could see a briefly rotating wall cloud by 5:10PM. We turned east, then south following the storm. At 5:23PM, it formed another nice wall cloud. The storm would vary between appearing outflowish, then rotation would increase and inflow would start. The storm would lose organization and the cycle would repeat. No tornado. We passed hundreds of storm-starved chasers. Jason and I ran into Tim Marshall and Stu Robinson traveling with Silver Lining Tours. We crossed I-40 at 6:40PM and found a dirt road for viewing. The storm was now disorganized but was sending out multiple lightning bolts which provided a great opportunity for photography. We watched a herd of cows run as lightning struck nearby. Two cows stayed behind and butted heads as more lightning flashed in the background. Smoke rose from distant brushfires. We ended up near the Salt Fork Red River Valley and watched numerous CGs strike the surrounding hills. A brush and structure fire was started and Jason called in an emergency report via HAM radio. After dark, we drove through driving rain to reach the Big Texan in Amarillo, Texas.

No tornadoes but a fun and successful storm chase. The supercell tried on multiple occasions but could not quite produce a tornado. I suspect the upper level winds were not strong enough.


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All images video stills except as indicated

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