Storm Chase Details

Chase Date: September 17, 2011
Miles Logged: 366
States Chased: OK
Tornadoes Witnessed: 3
Severe Risks: SPC Outlooks

Chase Recap:

Small Chance of Tornado

A needle in a haystack day. I had not anticipated chasing the night before and woke up with no intention on chasing. That changed once I perused the morning RUC runs. A warm front draped across Northern Oklahoma with a trailing cold front. The RUC (and the HRRR) were painting a very different picture than the NAM and GFS had been painting all along. Surface observations were also showing quite high dewpoints (mid 60s). I didn’t have any big plans, and it was a Saturday. I decided I’d meander up north to see what I could see.

Hitting the road

I cleaned up my apartment, and loaded up my equipment and hit the road around 1:30pm. A stop off for gas and Mcdonalds had me on I-35 northbound around 1:45 pm. I headed up to US-412 then west through Enid. Storms were starting to fire as I was east of Enid and really started getting going as I passed through Enid. The first storms were near Woodward, and in not a very favorable environment. They were moving into a better environment further east.

As I continued west on US-412 I decided to head up towards Alva, my original target as I wanted to stay east of the Cimmaron river. I wanted to be on anything in the area of Alva to Burlington and back towards Enid and Blackwell.

As it turns out, a storm did fire just northwest of the radar site near Burlington, OK. I decided to go after that as it seemed like the best bet. This turned out to be the right storm.

It looked good at first, with a decent wall cloud as I went through Cherokee, then it seemingly fell apart for awhile before finally organizing southwest of Manchester. A decent wall cloud dropped with decent rotation, so I continued following east. The storm took a hard right turn, almost moving SE, so I had to keep dropping south and east to keep up.

As I crossed OK-132 the storm really started becoming wrapped up, with violent rotation over and just west of OK-132. This is where I finally ran into my first chaser as I had seemingly been on the storm all by myself previously.

Wakita Oklahoma Tornadoes

I continued east towards Wakita getting to Highway 11A before dropping south another mile. I then saw the first tornado of the day – a brief dust swirl under rotating lowerings. Then a huge white cone coming at me, so I had to position east a couple miles. That is where I observed 2 tornadoes – a beautiful elephant trunk tornado to my southwest and a beautiful rope tornado to my southeast.

The storm really became quite linear after the two tornadoes dissipated, but I still managed to be near a rapidly rotating wall cloud just west of Medford before the whole storm gusted out.

I headed back to Norman where I was greeted with a great light show.