Chase Date: April 22, 2020
Mike Scantlin, Justin Hughes, Stephen Barabas
Miles Logged: 324
States Chased: OK
Tornadoes Witnessed: 1
First chase with new Lenovo laptop
Severe Risks: SPC Outlooks
Ingredients were coming together for a classic Oklahoma tornado setup. In terms of timing, moisture, shear vectors, this setup was one of the better setups we have recently had in Central and Southern Oklahoma. Unfortunately, the models had trouble in the days leading up to this setup. The target area changed multiple times. I started having doubts.
Luckily, these issues seemed to work themselves out by the morning of the 22nd. I was pretty confident that morning I would see a tornado that day.
I had planned to leave work early, but I was a bit surprised when storms started forming west of I-44. I ended up leaving a bit earlier than anticipated, taking a trip down I-44 to Chickasha. The storm west of Lawton at the time was definitely behind the main dryline and under the low. It produced some big hail I guess, but I dropped down US-81 to Duncan. Storms were firing right overhead.
I headed east on OK-7, meeting up with Justin Hughes who caravaned with me. With the road and terrain issues around the Arbuckles, I decided to get ahead of the storm that would drop the Springer and Bromide Oklahoma Tornadoes.
Picking a storm
There were a few good storms, and picking the right one would be key – or would it? Eventually I settled on the one just to my south as it seemed the best from a logistical standpoint. While I was sitting south of Sulphur, there was apparently a tornado near Springer. I couldn’t see anything but a whales mouth from US177. Was a bit frustrated with that. I also had a new laptop with me, and that provided some challenges as well. Specifically, I had an issue with the GPS driver and lost navigation.
The storms were moving pretty fast, and I ended up on some terrible roads near Mill Creek. Eventually I popped back onto highway 7. I was riding behind Stephen Barabas, and he pulled into the shoulder to make a right, so I did the same thinking he was being courteous. Then he came to a complete stop and the rest of the line overtook me.
Luckily the last one in line happened to be Mike Scantlin. We continued down the next section of highway 7, crossing the Blue River.
Bromide, Oklahoma Tornado
I realized we had a north option to go towards Bromide. Mike was in front of me, so I started my left blinker and flashed the crap out of him. He saw and went on the road from the opposing traffic ‘turnoff’ onto highway 7D towards Bromide.
A bit of confusion just east of the city of Bromide as we ended up in some rain. I could tell the meso was behind the rain, with motion pretty evident. I dropped south onto an extremely crappy back road to get closer. With no escape routes, it looked like a wedge was coming right at me. I started working on repositioning and finding perhaps a better spot to view, but was unable to find one.
I ended up giving up shortly after that near Atoka. The terrain past that is beyond ridiculous.