Storm Chase Details

Chase Date: March 18, 2012
Miles Logged: 486
States Chased: OK, TX
Tornadoes Witnessed: 3
Largest Hail Encountered: 2"
Severe Risks: SPC Outlooks

Chase Recap:

Jeff Duda, Cory Watkins and myself piled into my truck and left Norman around 11 am in a caravan with Eric Treece with an initial target of Shamrock, TX. We made pretty good time and arrived in Shamrock around 1:30 to find a pretty big circus of chasers in town. After some Dairy Queen, we headed south of town.

The first storm, and really the storm of the day started going up south of Childress, so we drove down that way. The storm was very moving and very anemic looking on radar, but it was definitely a healthy storm with quite a healthy updraft.

We parked just south of Childress and waited for the storm to get its act together. It started to split and seemed to have trouble throwing off the left split, but eventually was able to do so. We took a creaky bridge across the red river east of Childress into Oklahoma.

The storm started getting its act together as soon as we got into Oklahoma, however, another cell had gone up to it’s southwest and it took quite awhile for the main storm to ingest it.

We continued up towards Hollis as the storm had pretty good rotation and a decent wall cloud lowering. I was pretty sure it was going to get its act together north of Hollis, but it could never seem to get through the bottom layer of air and produce.

The road network near Hollis is pretty good, and we were able to stay on dirt roads in a somewhat gridded fashion and follow the storm to the northeast as it continued to cycle and look better on radar. It was also moving into what I considered a more favorable environment.

We ran into Jay McCoy and Steve Miller (TX) north of Gould, OK as the storm really started wrapping up. There was multiple funnels that appeared, including quite a long rope funnel. I thought the storm would start producing then, but it didn’t. We had to move to stay ahead and it continued with a very persistent rapidly rotating wall cloud.

Eventually we had to get around the river southwest of Mangum, OK so we got quite a bit ahead of the storm and were treated to amazing stacked plates structure and incredible views of the base of the storm. Radar showed that it was wrapping up again and showing quite a bit lower level rotation, but there was still no significant lowering underneath.

We continued on to near Mangum, OK where we were treated to some incredible breathtaking structure. We stopped for quite a while and observed the alligator mouth inflow under stacked plates – a first for me.

We went through Mangum, and up to the east SH-9 route and went west on the dirt road option and observed our first tornado of the day – a brief snaky tornado next to the rain core. Northbound along dirt roads we stopped momentarily and got out, and lightning struck right behind us giving us all a giant scare.

We decided to run back to the paved option north (283/34) and stay north of the lowering as it was still west of the road. We observed 2 more tornadoes, one of them a brief slim cone and the other tornado a very nice elephant trunk and rope. The motion of the elephant trunk is depicted at the end of my youtube video, and was quite intense.

We continued north and ended up in the rain to get over the river that was cutting off all east options for a number of miles, and then punched east. We crossed a paved road and immediately became stuck in mud. Attempting to become unstuck resulted in me driving half the truck into the ditch. The mud was no match for my 5.4L V8 4×4 F-150 and with the help of 4Low we were able to get out and get back on our way.

Back onto the paved road we headed north to meet up with SH-6/SH-55 and took that south to our next east option. It was about that time we apparently had a small gustnado or circulation spin over us, but it didn’t seem to cause ear popping and really I barely noticed it, however Cory and Jeff saw it all.

We decided to continue east on our option (E1250) and finally decided it was dark enough to give up and the storm was actively cycling down. It was off to Clinton for Pizza Hut where we met up with Steve Miller, Hans Schroeder and Mike Boik.