Chase Date: November 7, 2011
Adam Lucio, Jon Williamson
JR Hehnly, Steve Miller, Brandon Sullivan, Craig Maire, Mike Nelson, Connor McCrorey, Cory Watkins
Miles Logged: 392
States Chased: OK
Tornadoes Witnessed: 8
Largest Hail Encountered: 2"
Highest Wind Encountered: 50MPH
First November Tornado
Severe Risks: SPC Outlooks
Starting the Chase
I left work at 11:15 and headed to my apartment to pick up Adam Lucio and Jon Williamson. We were quickly on the road and heading I-44 towards Lawton and then on US-62 west. Cory Watkins followed us as we made the trek west towards Altus. Storms had begun to fire and were starting to mature. We had a choice of a cell near Childress, TX and another passing Quanah, TX. The decision was made to go after the Quanah cell, which had a better looking base from where we were located.
We drifted south towards El Dorado and caught up with the storm. It seemed to be cycling somewhat rapidly, never fully organizing. RFD would try to wrap around the southern edge of the storm but the wall cloud could never tighten up. Eventually the storm lost all base features and we decided to start heading east as the storm heading towards Frederick was looking better.
Eventually the Frederick storm, what would become “storm of the day”, became the clear winner and we started driving as fast as we could towards that storm. Unfortunately the wet red dirt roads were tough to drive on.
We found a paved road through Olustee and then through Elmer before coming on the back side of the storm heading through Tipton. The vault was hidden by a hail shaft, but spotter network was popping up reports of tornadoes. As we started punching through the rain and hail it came into view – a beautiful white cone with debris cloud around the base. We drove north to get close as a very well defined wall cloud was to our east and dropping what would be Tornado #2 – The Manitou tornado.
We headed east on the slippery Red Dirt roads, and almost lost control a couple times. Even with my new BFGoodrich All Terrain tires, it was hard to maintain more than about 35mph. I forgot to hit record again on Tornado #2 as we were driving east – It was lost all in the excitement of keeping on the road.
We got out to 183 and headed north as another couple vorticies danced on the ground. We got to 62 to head east so we could go north on OK-54. There was a parade of state trooper vehicles blocking the road, making it impossible to get by. We got behind the wall cloud a bit as multiple vorticies were touching down just north of 62 on the mountain there.
We headed north on 54 and stopped short of the road that goes through the wildlife refuge. I found some hail stones over 2 inches in diameter there and snapped a pic, and got some video of a multi vortex touching down again there right next to us before we got BLASTED with rain and wind in the RFD.
We started into the refuge, but traffic was going 35MPH, so we decided to flip around and punch out and go up 54 to 19. We had to punch back through the hook to get east again, and did so just north of the wind farm near Saddle Mountain, OK. The tornado came over the mountain and went through the wind farm, proving some amazing video!
Once it was through the wind farm we started heading north again, and one meso seemed to occlude while another intensified over our head. Debris was going both ways in opposite directions directly in front of us on the road and all of our ears popped in the car.
We continued following the storm all the way to Fort Cobb, seeing multiple tornado touchdowns and ending with a very nice cone over the lake by Fort Cobb, OK.
The chase was finally called to an end at Binger, and we headed to the Cimmaron Steakhouse in Oklahoma City to meet up with other chasers and compare video and celebrate with steaks. While we were at the Cimmaron Steakhouse, a Magnitude 4.8 earthquake happened, centered nearby in Lincoln County. What an incredible day! Quakenado