Spēg's 2005 Chases

Spēg's 2005 Chases

Spēg's main page
Spēg's main chase page

Spēg's 2005 Chase scorecard:

8 chases
4 (maybe 5) supercell chases

The best storms did not line up favorably with my days off this year. Oh well.

Sunday, April 10 - GOLDSBY/ Norman OK

30 miles, 2:00. Pre-tornadic Supercell
Convoyed some with Curtis Alexander

Storm near Goldsby OK After an afternoon of waiting, a storm finally took hold in southwestern McClain County. Although not the best environment, it was close so I went to take a look. I found a high spot south of Goldsby, and watched from that point for over 45 minutes as the storm slowly moved north to my southwest and then west. The was some decent looking structure at times, but there was never any significant rotation and rarely any significant rising motion observed. The only rising motion that caught my attention was way down the flanking line of the storm. While I was there, Curtis Alexander came by and we convoyed the rest of the way.

The storm drifted north of us, and we finally started moving north to stay with it which led to the most interesting moment of the evening. Just a little south of the Canadian River while driving north on I-35, I looked out the window to the west and saw some of the lowest scud fragements I have ever seen within a mile or so. Hail started falling at about the same time. Although there was still no significant rising or rotational motion observed with this scud, I decided to get off and move east on Atkins Hill road to let the storm pass to the north. We just enjoyed the view from just south of Norman for another 15 minutes before slowly following it north through Norman. We gave up due to darkness and disinterest about 40 minutes before it organized enough to produce a brief tornado near Harrah. No complaints though.

Tuesday, April 19 - PRAIRIE DOG TOWN OK

287 miles, 6:36. Non-storm photo ops
Chase partner: David Ewoldt

Prairie Dogs Another borderline day with uncertainty on if storms would develop, but there was sufficient shear for supercells if there were storms. Satellite showed towering cumulus in the eastern Texas panhandle, so I drove up to Dave's house with the plan to head west on I-40. But in transit, the towers died and the limited focus seemed to shift toward southwest Oklahoma. So we left to put ourselves into position in case anything developed, but didn't want to commit to driving all the way to Altus or Frederick since we didn't know if storms would go up.

The stratocumulus in central Oklahoma broke out into what looked to be convective cumulus near Chickasha. The look of the clouds changed into transverse cloud rolls approaching Lawton, followed by clear skies in the Wichita Mountains. So we made lemonade out of the meteorological lemons and did some photography in the Wichita Mountain National Wildlife Refuge. It was a great day for photography and we probably took more photos than if storms had developed.

Monday, April 25 - THACKERVILLE OK

240 miles. 6:43. Supercell (finally) and storm structure/lightning photo ops
Chase partner: David Dowell. Nowcasting from Dave Ewoldt

Back of thunderstorm The shear was nice, but the low level moisture was the issue. In fact, I had looked at the surface map mid-morning and written off the day. But we did get some marginal moisture up into north Texas and southern Oklahoma by early-mid afternoon - enough to get me out the door when I finally looked at the data again in the mid afternoon. Storms had already developed west of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, but Dave and I decided to play the northern end of the instability in southern Oklahoma.

We drove down to the Arbuckle Mountains (is this Oklahoma?) and waited for a storm to go. And we waited. And we waited. And we took photos of wildflowers. Things tried to develop nearby, but struggled. Finally one took hold just north of us, and we debated if we should play that storm (farther from the better shear), or go south for developing storms that we could not see well visually. After going back-and-forth (literally), Dave Ewoldt mentioned a storm improved dramatically in Jefferson County, so we went south to meet it. And we drove south. And we drove south.

We were hoping to meet it near Overbrook, but the real updraft of the storm always seemed to be farther south when we could tell what was happening. It got confusing because the storm split a couple of times. The right-mover started moving east-southeast, so we went southwest of Thackerville to watch it. We finally got to see the updraft area of the storm, and initially it looked healthy but disorganized. But it slowly improved enough to be entertaining. At one point there was a well-defined lowering under the updraft base, and even a conical shaped scud formation that developed on the north side of the updraft. (Yes, the foreground is a little blurry as the exposure time was long). For a few seconds, it looked smoother and could have been confused for a funnel, however there was no rotation, and only slow rising motion. We got sprinkled with pea-sized hail before the updraft feature disorganized again. As it moved away, the updraft tower looked quite healthy, but we were trapped by the Red River, and even if we went south on I-35 across the river, road options were not good east of I-35 on the Texas side. So we let it get out in front of us, and we ended up with a very good session of structure and lightning photography on the back side of the storm (see above/right). It seemed like it pulsed up better the first time when we were watching it southwest of Thackerville, and continued to organize better as it moved back into Texas and away from us. It took it long enough, but the one shot at watching the updraft base organize, and the photography at sunset pushed this chase into the success category. Now if we only had a little better moisture.

Sunday, May 8 - VELMA/ Antioch OK

162 miles. 3:30. Well, there were thunderstorms
flying solo

Sunset A couple of storms developed near Lawton. Mid-level winds were weak, and surface moisture had been fouled up by a morning MCS over Texas. So, although not really expecting tornadoes, the storms were close enough and I was hoping to at least have some photogenic storms, so I went for them. Actually the best storm structure I saw (which was pretty marginal) was with a developing storm north of Lindsay as I was driving south to the other storm. Had some small hail with that as well. There was always a tease that there might be an updraft base with the storms to the southwest, but they never looked real good when I got a view. I made it as far south as Velma before bagging it.

Drove back home through Pernell, Elmore City and Antioch and salvaged the day with some photography before sunset of a rainbow, and some sun rays (left).

Friday, May 13 - GOREE TX

501 miles. 9:15. Apparently-tornadic HP supercell
Partners: My parents
Nowcast support from Keith Brewster and Dave Ewoldt

Knox County HP storm The curse of the north Texas High-Precipitation supercell!

I really despise chasing northwest Texas. Dave Ewoldt and I had commented before the season how northwest Texas storms (the area northwest of the metroplex into the northeast Texas south Plains and southeast panhandle) seem to always be HP monsters. And it came true again today.

Was hoping an outflow boundary across north Texas would lift north into southwest Oklahoma and was targeting Altus. The boundary stayed a bit farther south, and the initial storm fired near Paducah and turned hard right moving southeast. So the initial plan of Altus OK became Knox County TX.

Saw some decent structure east of Benjamin, but didn't realize initially that there were two storms in close proximity east and west of each other. Then we saw the updraft in what we thought was the front flank core (although it was really the east storms updraft being heavily seeded by the west storm) and realized that this was going to get messy. The Doppler on Wheels crew apparently detected a tornado buried in the rain with the east updraft (perhaps as close as a mile or so away from us at one point), but nobody could visually see it. Radar shows how close we were to the hook echo of the east storm although the west storm was raining into the area of interest and making things very messy. I really didn't want to play tag with this, and circumventing it was a challenge given our position with the storms and the road network, so we drove in front of it to Throckmorton and got around the east side of it to come home.

When trying to stay in front of the storm, I tried calling Dave to get radar info. He heard me say I was in Goree before my cel connection got cut off. When I called a couple of hours later to find out what he saw, his first words were "it's good to hear you made it." Apparently the radar was showing some ridiculous rotation very close to Goree when I called the first time, but it was quite far in the rain, and apparently he didn't like where I was either.

Wednesday, May 18 - CHENEY KS

395 miles. 9:52. Unorganized severe storms
Partners: Dave Dowell. Convoyed some with Dave Ewoldt.

Tower attempts over Cheney Reservoir Went out with low expectations, and it was justified. Clouds kept bubbling near and east of Wichita, but it took a long time to even get a storm to develop. We first went to near Cheney Reservoir (see left), but these attempts were apparently north of a weak cool front and were much softer than the clouds even 5 or 10 miles farther south. So we drove south and found a place to watch clouds trying to grow, and trying to grow even an hour later from the same location. Finally, a couple of storms did develop before sunset, and we drove a bit farther southwest, but they weren't all that exciting. It did give us some decent sunset photos though.

Saturday, June 4 - CAMBRIDGE KS

394 miles. 10:12. Linear severe storms
Partners: David Dowell and Kevin Sharfenberg

new storms in northern Oklahoma We drove north to near the Oklahoma-Kansas border hoping for the tail-end of storms that were expected in Kansas. The best atmosphere was going to be in northeast Kansas, but we weren't interested in driving that far. Near Arkansas City, Kansas, a storm developed that we followed northeast toward Dexter and Cambridge. And although it showed brief signs of organization, too many storms developed and it turned very messy, and no particular storm could organize too much.

Plus, southeastern Kansas had received a lot of rain, and we got cut off at one point south of Grenola KS by the Caney River flowing over a road that we were on. That's never good.

We came back south into Oklahoma and saw other storms developing behind the initial line of storms (see right). It made for a nice scene, but not good chasing.

Monday, June 13 - WAURIKA LAKE/ Wichita Falls TX

315 miles. 6:39. Supercell
Partners: Dave Ewoldt, Erin Maxwell
Nowcast support from Dave Dowell

Mammatus in southwest Oklahoma A borderline day, but there was still some mid-level flow, so we decided to at least get out there and look. While everyone was at my house waiting to decide where to go, a storm went up almost overhead (but slightly to the north) where we could hear a lot of rumbling of thunder even before the central Oklahoma radar showed anything at it's lowest tilt! A nice storm, but our focus was more to the southwest in southern Grady County. So we let the Norman storm go and went toward the southwest. We played in the hail for a little bit north of Lindsay, then made a move to the then tail-end storm in Cotton County that was developing some rotation according to radar. We saw a small funnel from a high updraft base to the west at 6:27 pm when we were just south of Waurika Lake. It was only about 20% to the ground and did not look like it would produce a tornado even when we saw it, and then the funnel disorganized quickly. But we did find a place to watch the storm (and Dave and Erin try lightning photos).

This stop reminded me how localized some of the effects of thunderstorms can be. I could see a nice strong outflow surge at the southern edge of the rain curtains that lasted about 20 seconds and probably was very small in area that would have received these high winds. Here is another view to the northwest a few minutes later, but even where we were there was strong north winds, so the chance of tornadoes was almost zero with this part of the storm.

We made one last step to play the new tail-end storm that had developed southwest of Wichita Falls TX, but information from both Dave Dowell and Dave Andra told us that this plan looked useless, so we turned around in Wichita Falls and started coming home.

On the way home, we did have a few really nice photo ops. From just north of Wichita Falls, a rainbow caught our attention. But the most impressive photography was the mammatus that covered more than half of the sky at sunset (see above/left). We stopped three times, once near Randlett, once near Cookietown, and another west of Walters to shoot the mammatus. I even got out my 300 mm lens to get very close to the mammatus.