Guymon, Oklahoma Tornado: May 31, 2007



chase images (except as noted) and log by William T. Hark, M.D.

May 31 was an unexpectedly good chase day. I had considered blowing off the day until I checked more data. There was the potential for tornadic supercells in western Kansas and eastern Colorado. I liked the stronger jet and the increase in the lower level jet by evening. Surface winds would be from the southeast. I was still worried about the cap and high dewpoint depressions.

After breakfast (1P) at a local diner, I left Garden City, Kansas with Jason Persoff, MD. and Robert Balogh, M.D. We drove to Liberal and checked data before heading west on 51. The favored area for development was to the west near the Colorado-Kansas border along a boundary. Storms were already forming by 3:38 PM CDT when we left Rolla. We drove west and met up with Charles Edwards, George Kourounis, and John Guyton with Cloud 9 Tours at 4:00 PM CDT. We waited (4P, 5P) near Richfield as three small storm cells slowly developed. We wanted to see which would become the dominant storm. The one in the middle developed impressive mid-level rotation, but it was high-based and would eventually die as the more southerly storm took over. Our caravan left at 4:20 PM CDT, heading west into Colorado. We initially intercepted the middle storm (6V) at 3:41 PM MDT before it lost strength. There was a brief rain-free base. We turned south on 44 from County Road X at 3:48 PM MDT to intercept the next storm. The southerly storm slowly intensified. Our group stopped at approximately 4:30 PM MDT to watch the developing storm (8P - 13P). Eventually, there was a nice lowering by 5:09 MDT (14P - 16V). Rain wrapped around the meso after a few minutes and our storm was becoming an HP beast. We continued south into Oklahoma, following the storm. At 6:41 CDT, we were able to get in front of the storm on 171. Thanks to Charles for finding a route around the storm and avoid getting munched by hail. There was another lowering at 7:00 PM CDT on the storm now to our north (19P - 20P). This lowering lasted a few minutes before vanishing by 7:07 PM CDT. We followed the slow moving HP and became separated while stopping to take pictures in different areas. I was on my own. (XM radar image of the storm at 7:16 PM CDT (22V)). As I was moving east on 412/64, the storm to the north was strengthening. I stopped to observe the storm (21P - 25P). I watched a brief brush fire from County Road 14 (just off of 3/64) at 7:53 PM CDT with a smoke column that was moving into the storm from the inflow (26V). About 4 to 5 miles northwest of Guymon, I stopped again for a better look and noticed a long slender tornado. I was near the intersection of 64/412 and 22. The tornado was becoming more visible between the rain curtains. The tornado lasted for a couple of minutes around 8:15PM (27V - 30V). I continued east as the storm took a right turn prompting tornado warnings for Guymon. I left Guymon as the tornado sirens sounded and headed east on 412. I briefly met up with Jason and Robert in Hardesty, Oklahoma and we listened to more tornado sirens as locals ran for cover. The town's spotters were deployed but the tornado threat was ending. The storm was now a large mass of rain, hail and high winds. We said our goodbyes and I drove east to Enid, Oklahoma for the night. I arrived just ahead of the storm and filmed some of the highest winds I've ever encountered. I estimated the gusts to be about 70 MPH. This was my last day of chasing for 2007 and I had success with a nice HP supercell and rope tornado. I took an early flight home the following day.







(7V) 4:24 MDT















(22V) 7:16 CDT








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P -- Image with D200
V -- Digital still

Images #2 and #4 courtesy of Robert Balogh


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