Chase Date: May 6, 2015
Jon Stone, Adam Reagan, Alec Scholten, Jeremy Jones, Stephen Jones
Miles Logged: 221
States Chased: OK
Tornadoes Witnessed: 6
Largest Hail Encountered: 1.5"
Highest Wind Encountered: 90MPH
Severe Risks: SPC Outlooks
What a day, and one of the best chase days of the year. I was originally planning to chase, but wasn’t expecting it to be so close to home. The original hope was to leave around 4pm from Norman and head southwest into SW OK. Luckily I had a little easier forecast than that, and a tornado warning was issued near Anadarko/Chickasha for Grady County around 3pm.
So off I went down the turnpike to Chickasha, where I got on the storm just west of town. Multiple wall clouds and occlusions were seen, but no real wrap up for the first hour to 90 minutes I was on the storm. I followed it north towards the OKC metro area on the decently gridded roads north of Chickasha. I stayed ahead of the storm and watched many times I thought things would wrap up and produce a large tornado, but it never wanted to until I finally got to I-44 near Amber.
I was on the overpass to I-44 looking to the west at a decent wall cloud. Decent motion that was picking up, so I decided to head towards it for a closer look. A closer look I got, as I found myself almost under the wall cloud looking at a tornado in the field. What did I do? I drove closer, almost up to it before looking above and becoming very worried about a larger tornado coming out of it.
I backed up and followed this back across I-44 more towards Blanchard now when a much bigger tornado started to form. There was even ground contact with a satellite tornado for a bit before it became shrouded in rain to me. Unfortunately I mis-judged the direction and thought it would come more East so I reprositioned for a better view. It happened to go more north or northeast and I could have remained pretty close. I ended up on the overpass of the Norman spur just east of the tollbooths but was worried I was in the path, so I continued bailing north and east towards Newcastle.
I got a good glimpse of a large wedge tornado with a large front ‘moustache’ inflow cloud in front of it almost like a cow catcher.
The tornado was moving almost due north at this point, so I took 277 north towards Newcastle casino and decided that since it appeared to be occluding the best and safest river crossing would be I-44 instead of driving back into any potential path on SH9 into Norman near Riverwind and I-35.
So I bailed up to 149th and then back east and south, making pretty good time seeing the next circulation coming over the river and into west Norman. A cone was reported, but I never saw a real cone structure, just a lot of rain wrapped goodness.
I went down Robinson to 36th and then to Rock Creek and stopped on the bridge over I-35 for a vantage point and seemed to see a tornado to my SW, but I was also becoming concerned about rotation just to my west and even northwest. I headed to 24th and made a left to go north. I saw a funnel cloud to the west just on the other side of I-35 near 36th ave.
Up to Tecumseh road I headed back west to I-35 where the tornado definitely touched down right in front of me and brought the power lines down with it. I thought it was moving more east again instead of north and turned around and bailed so I didn’t get hit.
Over to Flood I stopped in the right lane and watched inflow into the tornado pick up multiple times as it strengthened. I assume pressure was rising and falling rapidly as it’d calm down a lot and then pick right back up with estimated 70-80 mph winds.
I continued down Tecumseh to Porter and then north to 34th SE in Moore. I went around Lake Stanley Draper before losing all visuals and heading back west on I-240 to catch the next storm that had fired where that one originally had down in Grady County. A large cone tornado was reported as I crossed the south side of Oklahoma City and headed down I-44 again. I got off at OK-37 which turned out to be a good idea since I-44 was screwed up from the first tornado with debris everywhere.
I took OK-37 over to Tuttle and then south on 92 and did it all over again, following the storm from near Amber back to Bridge Creek. I witnessed at least one more tornado before nightfall and had some scary situations with rapidly flooding roads and hydroplaning and then bailing into the core again later near Tuttle on SH-4 and having things wrap up over me with very strong inflow.
I eventually headed back to Norman, giving up on the storms. One more significant tornado happened up along I-35 between I-40 and I-240 in Oklahoma City, but it was well after dark, and given the amount of flooding, I didn’t feel comfortable staying out.