Thursday, March 11, 2010
March 8th Convergence Zone setup along dryline
As the morning fog lifted off Elk City, OK during a luncheon at Mazzios (pizza joint), the morning convection line made it's way into western Oklahoma giving a comfortable 45-50F rainstorm. While crossing over I-40 looking west I could see the air so clear giving indication of a strong dryline. Temps were not a concern while looking at sfc obs around 1pm in eastern TX underneath the pure sunlit area. It was heating up considerably in the 70's. Given the moisture in place from the early convection; the dewpoints stayed relatively high in the 50-60's. This was money for convection as long as something was there to force the air up. Shear was no problem; as well as CAPE which seemed to rise giving a better chance for an explosion of energy to convect.
I previously chased the March 5th action in Kansas; and had forecasted for Sun/Mon to have severe weather in TX 2 weeks back. Having said that, my original plan was to drive back after the chase Friday, but instead I drove to see friends in Elk City, OK. Even before the March 5th event, I was intentionally going to drive to Elk City, anyways, but I backed out Thursday morning. That was until Dann Cianca called me and said "you go to Kansas now." Therefore it was meant to be to end up in Elk City since I was already going to be all the way out there.
After hanging out the whole weekend while keeping an eye out for the severe weather setup for Monday March 8th. I had Altus rattling in my brain, but while watching the skies the morning at Mazzios. This is when meteorology kicked in and told me to wait it out. SPC put out 2% risk for naders in the Elk City area early in the day than shifted south into Altus, OK. We left around 2 to get into the evaporating early morning convection into the dry air. Driving randomly west to Sweetwater, OK; we stopped and waited. Brad Duncan & I checked the last radar that we were gonna get for the rest of the day. Looking south of Sweetwater, we watched towers building. 2 disorganized cells lining up were looking impressive as the minutes ticked.
The chase was on.....
Driving with the storm, we were on the backside for most of the time and got into some sweet hail. While we chilled in the back we watched the cells converge giving a massive base to our north. This was looking impressive to say the least. We headed south to Sayre, OK thinking cells to the south would converge with this cell. This putting us in the SE position of the storm so we could see the hail falling along with the main base in the distance. While on the furthest south remaining cell in Sayre, OK, I felt a strong blast of cold air and said "we have to go now!"
Heading west on I-40 towards Elk City about 3 minutes into it, I get 2 text messages from Ryan Shepard & Dann Cianca saying "are you seeing that tornado, OH MY G'" At that second Brad and I looked to our north and BAAAAAAMMMMMM. There it was!
We drove to highway 34 and got up to catch it cross the highway as it hit the town of Hammon. Many other chasers caught amazing footage as most of you know. If I hadn't made all the stops I did, there was no problem me driving into the tornado. BUT I OWN A SATURN! Seeing the house explode was not something I really wanted to see. While it crossed the road Brad and I saw debris filling the tornado and power flashes. I'm sure most of us chasers wouldn't mind just dirt & power poles.
Dealing with what we're dealt with, I opted out of continuing the chase and wanted to rush to make sure everyone was okay. The damage was a first for me. I've seen my fair share of damage. The best part out of the whole circumstance was the safety of the citizens south part of Hammon.
Once the emergency medical management teams arrived. We left and let them do their jobs. Well done crews....hats off to them...
All the SPC reports made were all accounted for:
1 inch hail
We spotted at least 3 funnels & and a horseshoe vortex.
Thanx to Brad Duncan for coming along for the ride and videoing....
Brad Duncan facts:
2 per chase
all in Roger Mill County?! that's crazy....
Here are the radar & satellite archives of the Supercell~