Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Chase 6 May 23rd 2011 Oklahoma Classic Supercell Hail & Funnel
Let me start with this. Unforgettable chase by far in my season, not because of tornadoes, but instead close to softball sized hail and my closest friends. Leaving around 4AM in Greeley, we had lots of ground to make up for today’s chase day in Oklahoma with Brad Duncan and Stephanie Baker.
Skipping all the parts of the drive we reach Canadian, TX and see towering cu’s along the dry line in western Oklahoma. It was only a matter of time when we would reach Elk City to pick up our Oklahomans ;) Shep and I were cutting it close and hoping for another hour and half to get in position. The cell in northcental OK was beginning to come together and was going to make for a long afternoon. We get to Brad’s house in anticipation and head on our way to Clinton, OK.
Getting to Clinton, OK, I was getting discouraged because I knew the cells were good, but we were in for catch up the whole time. Seeing cells strengthen on the dry line to our south, Shep and I decided to see if this would collectively merge into a nice supercell. In fact as we drove south we could see the updraft was impressive and it was very uplifting. Finally in position, I get out of the car and play around in the marble to golf ball hail. The hail stone that told me to stop was this massive first hailstone of the day, half of a tennis ball. Putting on my helmet cam and Skinner personality kicked in. I loved it! Just sitting out there and watching hail fall outside. As we waited we could see some structuring looking south on the cell we were sitting underneath. As it began to create this base, we knew we were in for a show!
I got back in the car and wanted to get south before it started to rain too hard on the north side. Pretty much there was no hurry for anything, so the chase was just perfect timing in every aspect. As we drove closer to the base, the hail furry began. I drove through it and decided to go back to get some hail samples, which I fail to do a lot of times because a lot of the times I’m always in a hurry. So we drove back into the white hail streaks and softball season started! Watching individual baseball to softball fall on the road and flat wheat, dirt field was something I’ve been waiting for my whole chase career. The sound banging on the car and the road is something I’ll never forget.
With my helmet ready to go, I witnessed Brad getting out of the vehicle and grabbing a softball sized hail stone just outside his door. Joy and laughter. I was so excited to watch all the hail bouncing outside and they kept getting bigger. I ran outside around the car to the grassy ditch and grabbed a handful of baseball, hen, softball sized hail. My adrenaline was kicking soooo hard, best feeling ever, specially when a softball sized hail stone smashes into the side of the vehicle while picking up monster hail. I was hoping to get hit by one just to have a wound of some sort to show off :) Yea, I’m passionate crazy!
Jumping back in the vehicle, I totally lost breath from all the excitement. Than I took deep breaths and we were at it again watching hailstones falling more and more. It was beautiful to see white stones slowly getting smaller but with more frequency falling so violent happy.
Now turning around to get back into the SE quadrant of the now supercell structured storm, we watched the dark base create some intense backside RFD creating massive gustandoes. The base was rotating but there was no signs of funneling just yet. The supercell was now taking a SE direction therefore sucking up more of that wonderful warm moist SE flow. Another favorite moment as we stood there watching its birth. Stop and drive, stop and drive, stop and drive until we got near some hills of Oklahoma, the meso base and clear air notch was trying very hard to tornado, but leaving instead with a beautiful funnel in front of us. We watched and marveled as a group, as it began to break down and weaken. This is where Shep told me to pull over to get what I think is an award winning photograph! This would be the end of our wonderful chase as things dwindle leaving behind an outflow boundary for tomorrow’s setup :)
Half Dollar, Golfball, Tennis, Baseball, Softball Sized Hail
Here is a Video of the whole chase journey in full! Very Fun to watch!