Storm Chase Details

Chase Date: May 24, 2011
Miles Logged: 441
States Chased: OK
Tornadoes Witnessed: 2
Largest Hail Encountered: 1.5"
Highest Wind Encountered: 75MPH
Severe Risks: SPC Outlooks

Chase Recap:

A recap of my chase on May 24, 2011 where I observed the Chickasha, OK tornado and the Shawnee/McLeod, OK tornado.

Pre-chase

I started off this day with high hopes of leaving work early, but as the morning and early afternoon progressed, I was starting to hope for being able to leave on time or leave at all to chase. Needless to say, it was very frustrating to watch a wedge tornado happening 20 miles from your location and being unable to chase it.

12Z Upper Air Soundings

18Z Upper Air Soundings

Leave work at 5pm, see tornado

Around 4:30 my boss gave me the green light to hit the road, so I raced down to Chickasha by SH-9 to I-44, arriving with about 5 minutes to spare before the Chickasha tornado touched down. I missed the initial touchdown as it was obscured by a hill, but I was able to quickly get into position, get a camera tripodded and start shooting stills.

Chickasha Tornado

I followed the Chickasha tornado all the way up 277/SH9 through Blanchard where it became obscured by rain. The tornado started off as a cats-tail tornado and morphed into a wedge eventually. Unfortunately, the road network is pretty crummy in that part of Grady county. I finally bailed at the turnpike spur, and headed east to try and intercept the other cell going through Goldsby.

Purcell, Oklahoma (20Z) Sounding on May 24, 2011
Purcell, Oklahoma (20Z) Sounding

Driving through Norman

I encountered torrential rains and outflow winds on SH-9 east. The winds were enough to blow my car from the right lane almost into the left ditch as I neared I-35.

Getting onto I-35, I went north and exited on SH-9 east. I was trying to see if I could see anything on the southeast side of Norman. I observed a wall cloud but nothing more, and raced up 48th SE to Franklin, then over to 120th up to I-40.

McLoud Tornado

I jumped on I-40 eastbound and observed the most beautiful elephant trunk crossing I-40 near McLoud Road. The tornado hit a semi trailer and spewed debris into the air, some of which was falling on my truck as I was pushing east on I-40.

I kept heading east on I-40 to SH18 and headed north to Meeker before giving up on that cell. I headed south as it appeared the next cell in the line was showing some big signs of strengthening. As I was heading to intercept it, I got stuck on I-40 for a number of miles in a construction zone, and finally decided to give up as it didn’t seem to be doing anything either.

Exiting the highway at SH56, I topped my tank off and ran into a bunch of other chasers at the gas station. I managed to fill my car up, and was sitting around editing video. I finally looked back at radar, I realized the storm to my northeast was looking beautiful.

Back on the chase

I ended up being a sucker for that, following it all the way to Wagoner before giving up on it. There was a couple times I could see power flashes near Haskell, OK. Tulsa has confirmed an EF-2 tornado southwest of Haskell, so this must have been what I saw.

I left Wagoner and made a quick stop in Tulsa before heading back home to Norman.

Video

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