Initial storm had a low-hanging wall cloud in the distance that persisted for quite a while.
Supercell taking on good structure with solid inflow bands near Waurika, OK.
A short while later, the storm began to form a wall cloud with noticeable clear slot.
Sneaky 2nd tornado that formed northeast of our initial tornado near Terral, OK. Grainy image, I know.
Lightning out the side of the first tornado near Terral, Oklahoma.
STORM PREDICTION CENTER OUTLOOKS:
MAY 19, 2015 CHASE LOG: TEXAS & OKLAHOMA
Written by Rich Hamel: (www.bostonstormchaser.com/)
A long chase day, but in the end it was worth the wait! We started out from OKC with the intent of heading to Amarillo, TX. From there the plan was to drop south to either play storms we hoped would form on the dry line / outflow boundary intersection or to head all the way south to Midland or Ft. Stockton to play the storms the models all broke out there.
Put mildly, the atmosphere was a mess: It rained all the way west into Texas and ultimately we did not see the Sun once all day. Usually a recipe for a complete bust of a chase day, but not today! Once we made it to the Oklahoma / Texas border, our plans changed: The models were now downplaying the dryline option, but were now indicating a strong play along an instability axis running from around Childress down to Abilene. We headed south to Childress and stopped for lunch and evaluated.
As the models continued to push the action area east, we decided to head east out of Childress for Vernon, through sloppy rainstorms all the way. Arriving in Vernon, it looked like the day was pretty much over, with multiple elevated rain storms in the area and nothing looking decent. After the obligatory Braum's stop, we decided we'd head south towards Abilene and evaluate, giving us some chance to catch any storms that formed way south, or if the whole day busted we'd be closer to our hotel in. We headed south on US 283 but as we got away from town one of the elevated blobs had congealed into a nice storm with a developing hook. We blasted east on a FTM 1763 towards Harrold as the storm quickly went tornado warned and there were reports of a tornado in progress! The problem for us was that the storm was crossing the Red River into Oklahoma and we were on the backside of the hook echo, where we’d never be able to see anything!
We rushed to Burkburnett and across the river back into Oklahoma, then had to stair step north and east towards Randlett. By this time there was another storm coming up at us from Wichita Falls that looked better than the storm we were chasing, which was now looking like a high-precipitation blob and it was clear looking down the notch that the storm wasn't producing a tornado. We proceeded as far as Walters, then dropped southeast to Temple on Rt. 5, then all the way to Waurika, heading south as the storm moved along just to our west. We stopped just north of Terral as the hook passed to our west, a murky, rainy beast just like everything else today. The storm was incredibly electrified and we had to keep everyone in the vans as smooth lightning bolts crashed all around us with loud “Booms” every time (as opposed to the crackles you hear from branched lightning). This might have been the closest series of lightning impacts I've witnessed. In fact, even though we had everyone in the vans we still decided to move south to get out of the way.
A few miles later we stopped again as the mesocyclone passed just north of us. After it crossed the road, we looked back and could see the old occluded meso on the back side of the hook echo, and soon it produced a large cone tornado! The tornado widened out and lasted for a solid 2-3 minutes before becoming a multi-vortex tornado with 3 distinct vortices spinning around. The tornado then dissipated, but a few minutes later the storm produced another tornado, this time an elephant trunk east of the road, which lasted only a minute or so before lifting, and despite trying several more times did not appear to touch down again.
Cutoff by the river and the storm, we headed south on Rt. 81 back into Texas and east to Nocona, then north on Rt. 103 to Spanish Fort and along a dirt road to as close to the river as we could get. As we approached we could see a big lowering that produced a funnel about 1/2 way to the ground, but it never touched down. Eventually we had to settle for some nice structure shots of the striated updraft before giving up and targeting a whole series of storms coming up from the south, every one of which was tornado warned. It was getting dark though, and after traveling all the way to Bridgeport we decided to call it a night and head to Abilene, even as a nasty looking tornadic storm occurred just to our northwest and hit the towns of Vineyard and Runaway Bay hard.
A LONG, but ultimately successful chase day. I still can't believe that we never saw the Sun the entire day, meaning there was no ground heating, yet the atmosphere destabilized to produce a dozen or more separate tornadic storms. Unreal!
Mileage for the day was 696.