Norman and Saddle Mountain, OK Tornadoes

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Storm Chase Details

Chase Date: April 13, 2012
Chase Partners:
Cory Watkins

Chasers Encountered:
Bill Oosterbaan, Bob Hartig, Robert Forry, David Drummond, Jay McCoy

Miles Logged: 357
States Chased: OK
Tornadoes Witnessed: 4
Largest Hail Encountered: 1.5"
Severe Risks: SPC Outlooks

Chase Recap:

Started this day by leaving work around 1:30ish and meeting up with Cory Watkins around 2 at my apartment. Turns out we should have just sat there for 2 hours and we would have witnessed a large tornado going through Norman.

We headed west on State Highway 9 and intercepted the storm originally near Amber. It looked mostly outflow dominant when we got on it, and didn’t have its act together at all. The hail was intimidating, so we stayed our distance back.

We followed it east as it seemingly turned right and started showing a decent hook echo on radar. Visually, the storm never looked super great, even from the Riverwind Casino parking lot about 10 minutes prior to producing a tornado a mile north.

I headed up I-35 to SH-9 east in hopes to get east of Norman and stay ahead of the storm. I quickly realized this would not be possible as traffic was at a stand still. We had the FM radio on and Mike Morgan was on whatever station we were listening and about the time we got to Imhoff the storm spotter they had on the phone started talking about a large tornado on the ground at Lindsey and I-35 and debris in the air near the Sooner Mall. This is very close to my apartment so naturally I freaked out.

I tried looking around and was not able to see the tornado, but Cory spotted it momentarily.

We made it to Chautaqua Ave and made a left and right into the Lloyd Noble center parking lot where I decided to head back to my apartment to make sure everything was ok.

I found damage along Ed Noble and Lindsey St and just west of there along the 36th Ave S.W. My apartment was OK so I headed back over and shot damage video at the Jason’s Deli along Ed Noble Parkway.

I got that uploaded and hit the road to go after the storm just to the west going over the same area as before. We even took the same roads, but it became painfully obvious in a hurry the storm was garbage and that the storm to head to was in southwest Oklahoma.

So Cory and I headed to Southwest Oklahoma by heading to Chickasha then west towards Carnegie. I made the mistake of cutting across the dirt roads from 62/281 to 58 which apparently had just been rained on and were flooded out. I managed to get through, but only because I drive a truck. I also had to stop briefly to do a phoner with The Weather Channel.

Tornadoes were being reported with the storm down by Blair, and we headed across by Saddle Mountain where I observed tornadoes in the wind farm in November and then to Cooperton. It appeared there would be no way to get east because of the Wichita Mountains so I headed back up and dropped south on 115 to meers and took the long way around

The storm didn’t turn as hard right as I had expected, so we ended up re-approaching 115 from highway 19 where I witnessed a large cone tornado. I was skeptical at first, but a later look at the radar archive shows a very well defined couplet right where I saw the possible tornado.

I witnessed 2 more tornadoes about 30 minutes later on OK-58 south of Carnegie with David Drummond and Jay McCoy. It was well after dark by this point so it was only illuminated by the lightning.

Later on I headed north into Carnegie and found some debris in the road which could have possibly been Tornadic. I also ran into more flooding and hail as I punched east down State Highway 9.

Eventually I gave up on the storm near Fort Cobb where I met up with Adam Lucio. We headed back to Norman and ate steak at Applebee’s.