Spēg's 2012-2013 Chases

Spēg's 2012-2013 Chases

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Spēg's main chase page

Spēg's 2013 chase scorecard:

5 chases
4 supercell chases
2 chases seeing tornadoes

Spēg's 2012 chase scorecard:

2 chases
0 supercell chases
0 chases seeing tornadoes
The few big storms did not match my schedule in 2012.

The synopsis of Speg's 2012-2013 chase seasons.

Friday, May 30 - El Reno OK

tornado. headache with flooding260 miles, 11:31
Chase partner: Dave and Mari Ewoldt. convoy some with Peter Scott, Steve Lansdell and Nathan Edwards

This was just one of those days when you knew strong tornadoes were possible as instability and shear were quite strong. And central Oklahoma looked to be in the danger zone. I drove up to Okarche to meet Dave, he noticed a persistent east-west cloud band across southern Oklahoma City implying a subtle surface boundary of some sort. Extrapolation of the orientation of this boundary west would intersect the dryline west of El Reno, so that was the target area. And that also put the western sides of the Oklahoma City metro area in some serious jeopardy if storms developed as strongly as feared. After watching for a while, Dave, Mari and I packed into the car and convoyed with the British chasers. We initially stopped just south of Okarche and watched some of the initial storms develop to the west and move to our northwest. Storms continued to develop into a small line with the southern end in western Canadian County, west of El Reno. We drove south through El Reno and found a place to watch the storm develop to our west. Before too long, we could occasionally make out a tornado although it was difficult to see because of the distance and somewhat buried in rain from our perspective (see photo at right). But when we got glimpses of it about 7 miles to our west, we could tell it was getting big. And knowing the atmospheric environment today, we knew that was trouble. So at some point, Dave and I both came to the realization that this was going to get very bad, and we decided to just leave. So we start driving south to Union City making decent time and occasionally seeing the tornado to the northwest. But our adventure was not over.

About one-half mile north of Union City, the traffic quickly became congested with a likely combination of chasers and locals getting bottled up at the four-way stop. Traffic southbound from Union City across the Canadian River bridge looked bad, but eastbound traffic from Union City was clear. So we decided to go east and and cross the river near Mustang. Little did we know at the time that apparently a lot of people in Oklahoma City were leaving and traffic became very thick again near Mustang. Getting to the bridge was going to be difficult, so we decided to take side streets into southwest Oklahoma City and find a way out from there. Again, little did we know that if it was a north-south road in Oklahoma City, it was jammed in what may have well been the worst city-wide traffic jam to affect the area. As we got funneled into SW OKC, we initially took May Avenue to get south. But it took us 12 minutes to get one mile from SW 59th Street to SW 74th Street. Meanwhile, although not strongly tornadic anymore, the storm was beginning to bear down on us and many areas of SW OKC received wind damage as the storm approached. So for the next couple of hours, we tried to get out of Oklahoma City dodging the storms, damage, and flash flooding. From the time we got into the city limits of Oklahoma City, it took us almost 2 1/2 hours to get out of Oklahoma City, finally getting out of town southwest as we could not find a simple way to get northwest out of town toward Okarche. We stopped for a quick bite at a convenience store in the Newcastle/Tuttle area, then finally got back to Okarche avoiding the damage paths in Canadian County.

This was an "interesting" way to spend Dave's birthday. As I left Okarche to come back to Norman, I told Dave "Happy birthday. Let's never do this again."

About an hour and a half of our driving "adventure" in Oklahoma City (compressed into a 10 minute time-lapse) can be seen in this footage from Dave's dash-mounted camera.

Wednesday, May 29 - Dill City OK

2 supercells342 miles, 7:37
Chase partner: none

Storms were expected along a dryline across the Texas panhandle into western Oklahoma today. There would be good shear and decent instability, although there were some negatives such as backing winds with height between 500 mb and 300 mb. But it's late May and there would be storms. While driving west, storms did develop, but quickly became a line. There was a south end of the line near Turkey TX that would move into southwest Oklahoma if there it could keep from lining out farther south. Ended up watching one storm that occasionally had some structure in the Elk City area, but did not really develop, so I decided to head back home.

While taking a dinner break in Clinton, I was paged of a tornado warning for a storm near Carter moving into Washita County. The radar presentation looked good and it wasn't too far away, so I went back into chase mode and caught up to the storm near Dill City. Some supercellular structure was apparent as I approached, but seemed to become more outflow-dominant as it moved east. Still, there was enough structure at times to keep an eye on it while there was still some daylight (see left).

Monday, May 20 - Purcell OK

weakening severe storms66 miles, 1:29
Chase partners: Jane and Harper

Most of the day was spent surveying tornado damage from the east Norman-Shawnee tornado. But as we were finishing this up northeast of Lake Thunderbird, the storm that was produce the very damaging Moore tornado developed. Our survey team decided it was time to quit and get back to the National Weather Center. When I arrived back at the office, they were staffed well and did not need me to stay. The Moore tornado had just (finally) dissipated and there were already reports of significant damage. I did not think that I could stomach watching the damage coverage then, and there were other storms in southwest Oklahoma, so I decided to see what those were doing. If I was going to meet a storm today, it was going to be on my terms.

We drove down to the Wayne area, but these storms were weakening as they approached I-35. So we turned around and came home, and I started to prepare myself for the reality of having to survey the Moore tornado damage the following day.

Sunday, May 19 - Arcadia/Carney OK

5 tornadoes310 miles, 12:13
Chase partner: Peter Scott, Steve Lansdell, Nathan Edwards. Convoying with Dave Ewoldt, Thom Yancey

Looking at the weather data this morning, I thought that I would be making a drive up to the Kansas-Oklahoma border this afternoon. After church and picking up some lunch, I noticed significant towering cumulus development across central Oklahoma as I drove up to Okarche, and I suspected we would not have to drive very far after all.

We left Okarche and watched the initial storms begin to develop from southwestern Logan County. One storm near Piedmont began to organize and move into the northern Oklahoma City metro area. We drove and set up near Arcadia and watched the storm move east. From just south of the Pops restaurant in Arcadia, we watched the first tornado develop to our west over Edmond. We watched it (and right) for a few minutes while it continued to move east before finally dissipating. The storm still had very strong rotation. As we left to go northeast from the Arcadia area, both Dave and I noticed what appeared to be a tornado that matched up with an area of damage noted by the ground survey. Since it was brief and we were moving, we did not get a photo of tornado #2.

We drove east/northeast along route 66 when Steve noticed through a brief clearing in the trees that there was something very suspicious to the north. Of course, with the trees and terrain we were not able to find a good vantage point for a while to confirm it, but we strongly suspected a tornado to the north. We finally found a relatively high place to pull off the highway, although our vantage was still hindered by trees. Jogging to find a clearing to look north, we saw a very large tornado. We watched it a while, then tracked northeast along route 66 trying to get some distance ahead of the storm and find a vantage point. Once we found a place southwest of Drumright, the storm, while still somewhat organized, was not producing a tornado. Although as we left, again Dave and I both noticed something suspicious to our east, but again trees complicated our view. But this also matched up with a tornado confirmed by a Tulsa TV spotter. Again, no photos of this tornado due to the brief nature.

After this storm appeared to disorganize as it moved northeast, we watched a low-precipitation (LP) storm to the southwest. Cloud-based rotation was evident and produced a nice cinnamon swirl as it passed just to our north, but it did not have enough to do much more.

As these storms moved away, another significant supercell was to our southwest. This storm produced a violent tornado in east Norman and Shawnee. We attempted to get out in front of this storm by driving east from Drumright, then south through Bristow. The storm had a lot of precipitation by the time it reached us in the Welty/IXL area, but Steve saw the silhouette of a tornado somewhat obscured by rain. This tornado was only briefly visible, so again, no photos.

Again, Dave was able to get some good time-lapse video at various times, including the life cycle of the Edmond tornado.

Friday, April 26 - Canute OK

supercells334 miles, 8:35
Chase partner: Dave Ewoldt

A decent opening chase of the 2013 season. I drove up to meet Dave in Okarche, and noticed a number of colorful canola fields had been planted along SH-3 between Oklahoma City and Okarche. Unfortunately by the end of the day, they probably did not fare too well.

Dave and I targeted storms developing near the triple point (the front/dryline intersection) in west central Oklahoma, found a nice vantage point, and stayed there for 45 minutes watching the storm to the northwest. It had impressive structure (see this photo and photo to the left). We saw a few well developed wall clouds (and here and here). At times, we wondered if a tornado was occurring ( here, here, and here (zoomed), but this would have been just north or northwest of Elk City with a number of closer spotters looking at it, and there was no report. From our distance, it would be too difficult to confirm. Being in one location for 45 minutes, Dave was able to get a nice time-lapse video of the storm.

We stayed ahead of the storm as it moved east-southeast through Washita County. The storm had evolved more linear, but still gave us some nice sunset photo ops.

On the way back to Okarche, we found 1.94" hail that would have fallen about one-half hour before we found it, so likely would have been larger when it fell.

Then while driving near Piedmont on the way back home from Okarche, I found a multiple-mile stretch of hail drifts from a storm that had moved through the area about three hours earlier! I imagine this hailstorm did quite a bit of damage to the canola fields I had passed this afternoon. Dave's wife said that there was still hail in the area at 9:30 the next morning when she drove to OKC.

Saturday, October 13 - Apache OK

severe storms335 miles, 8:57
Chase partner: Dave Ewoldt

After a very successful fall chase last year, we thought we'd give it a try in the same area this year. But the storms were not too impressive. Granted, there were some photo opportunities and we got to listen to the University of Oklahoma crush the University of Texas in football, 63-21, but we ended up running around between various storms in and near Caddo County OK, none of which showed much potential. But there was a nice sunset (right) as I was leaving Okarche to come back home.

Sunday, May 27 - Smith Center KS

severe storms915 miles, 18:38
Chase partner: Dave Ewoldt

Here it is late May, and I've not been on a chase this year. I was on my honeymoon in April when the Norman tornado and the northwest Oklahoma outbreak occurred. And my schedule did not allow me to go to Kansas for some of the Kansas events. But now, it's a day off with a strong storm system moving into the central Plains states. Although the day still has issues with dewpoints being a little low and the storm system being predicted by the models to be a bit farther north than I was hoping. Still, there was enough to make a run toward the Kansas-Nebraska border.

The marginal moisture did turn out to be a problem. We first watched a storm north of Smith Center, which included a high-based funnel (which posed no threat of creating a tornado), but then that storm moved quickly into Nebraska. So we go to watch another storm moving in from the southwest and watch it move northwest of Smith Center. The storm did produce a clear slot and some scuddy clouds, and gave us some picturesque scenes (see left), but it never really looked like it was going to do much more. So we went to Concordia for the night and drove back home the next day.