Re: Tornado Alley Chasing 2011

Hi all, quick update on our chasing exploits. We will be posting on the blog this quick update with a few select pictures, however we don't have much time as an outbreak is on the cards for today across Oklahoma and Southern Kansas. The SPC has issued a HIGH risk day Tuesday May 24th with 60% chance of Tornadoes in the OK/Kansas area.

May 23
Today we intercepted several dangerous supercells and 3 tornadoes in Western Oklahoma. The first 2 tornadoes were near Ferrell Ranch on a classic structured supercell that we intercepted very early in its lifecycle. It also produced baseball size hail but we managed to avoid adding any new dents. As we positioned NE to Oklahoma City on dusk we watched 2 supercells strengthen, one with a particularly massive hail echo as they headed for OKC. We decided to intercept and headed to Okarche in search of a petrol station roof to hide under. We got within 5mins of town when we started to see with help from lightning illumination that this storm had a serious wall cloud and it wasnt long till it produced a shortlived tornado. Eventually we backtracked to NW Oklahoma City and found a petrol station there and waited for the large hail which arrived not long afterwards and belted down on the roof. 15 minutes later we found a 3 inch stone nearby.

May 22
Yesterday we intercepted the Joplin tornado with some video and pics from SW of the beast before it became too difficult to see - thankfully we weren't in its path but we knew where the couplet was before the tornado formed. Cape and helicity in this area was insane. We dropped south off this storm because we knew it was hitting Joplin, the storm was almost in HP mode and the tornado had become rain-wrapped. This decision turned out to be GOLD as we dropped onto the next storm south which went tornado warned as we arrived and despite the hills and trees of NE Oklahoma we intercepted (with pics and video) at least 3 and perhaps 4 tornadoes including one that went through elephant trunk, multi-vortice and wedge phases. As we chased this wedge we encountered another tornado up close and then came across large tree damage across our road as well as a mobile home that had been hit (no one was home). Due to the helicity and extreme instability storms went tornado warned like crazy - the NOAA radio was in overdrive. It was simply an extraordinary chase day and it is safe to say we nailed it and remained safe doing so.

May 21
This was pretty much a two storm day in Kansas, the northern target for the day. We positioned north of Topeka KS, and chose the northern cell which showed a powerful signature on radar as we approached and was warned for Tennis Ball hail (and not just warned, Observed by some people who got a little to close). We closed in on the cell and managed to punch between it and a second west of the Missouri River, perfectly in time to see it produce its first tornado under a nicely structured base. A quick jaunt south to cross the Missouri and we were back on it...

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