Chase Date: September 17, 2011
Miles Logged: 366
States Chased: OK
Tornadoes Witnessed: 3
Severe Risks: SPC Outlooks
A needle in a haystack day is all I can call this day. I had originally thought about a 15% or so of chasing the night before, and woke up with 0 intention on chasing, but I gave the RUC a look in the morning anyway. I rolled out of bed sometime around 10 or 10:30.
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) along with a northward surging warm front. I like warm fronts, and decided that I’d probably meander up north to see what I could run into but that it would probably be a waste of gas.
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 storms were near Woodward, and in not a very favorable environment, but were going to go into a more favorable one to the 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 and wanted to be on anything that may fire in the area of favorable environment from alva to burlington back to the southwest 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 storm of the day.
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 previous.
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 went to the task of editing video and driving back to Norman, getting back in town about 9 pm.
What seemed like such a marginal chased turned into a GREAT chase day.