Storm Chase Details

Chase Date: May 8, 2016
Chase Partners:
Jari Ylioja, Zac Flamig

Chasers Encountered:
JR Hehnly, Jenny Brown

Miles Logged: 351
States Chased: OK
Tornadoes Witnessed: 1
Largest Hail Encountered: 2.5"
Severe Risks: SPC Outlooks

Chase Recap:


Had pretty high expectations of this day – Instability seemed good, moisture had returned better than I expected and wind shear was decent. The plan was to head to the Cherokee trading post on I-40 and decide if I wanted to go north or south. South had a better chance of a cap bust, but things generally looked better down there. North target seemed more of a ‘sure thing’ for supercells and possibly tornadoes.

Decision Time

We sat along I-40 and watched the boiling cumulus field coming out of Texas. It was then we realized we needed to head south and get in position. We were about 45 minutes from intercept near Hobart, so we filled the tank. Storms were trying to mature, but mostly just splitting. The left splits seemed to be favored. That was not in my forecast, that’s for sure.

Structure and Hail

One right split managed to maintain itself down by US 62, and threw off multiple left splits including one with amazing structure and a great wall cloud and even a great hooking radar presentation. We got some photos of that and then hid out in Mountain View at a carwash while the big hail blew by.

We then hauled some ass to make it south to the Lawton right moving storm, including the most white knuckle core punch/hook slice I’ve ever done on Highway 7 east of I-44. Visibility was only 10s of feet at some point between wind rain and hail. We eventually were able to punch out on the east side in the cage and had a great view of multiple wall cloud cycles with amazing rotation and motion, but no super great focus.

Finally as we were nearing US81 the wall cloud rotating above us did it – A funnel snaked down and I said “I’ve seen a tornado form before and thats what it looked like”. No less than 15-20 seconds later, we had a tornado!

The Marlow tornado wasn’t spectacular or greatly photogenic, but it felt good to score after some hail, structure and good storms earlier in the day.

Afterwards, the storm seemed to trend downward pretty quickly, losing it’s organization with multiple rotating wall clouds and then losing it’s severe warning and updraft collapse on radar. Many seemed to still be chasing even after I uploaded video on a side road. There was a whole line of chasers still chasing, and I’m not sure why as the road I was on went nowhere people would have had their hotel that night or home.