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High Plains Drifter

disclaimer:  "The meteorological views/forecast thinking expressed are those solely of the author of this blog
and do not necessarily represent those of official National Weather Service forecast products,
therefore read and enjoy at your own risk and edification!"

April 27, 2009

Chase Acct: April 25, 2009 (Northwest OK)

Filed under: Chase Accounts,Latest Chases,Storm Chasing — Mike U @ 8:36 pm

It was a last-minute decision to chase, leaving 4:30pm from Dodge City after working an 8am to 4pm day shift.  Since storms would be underway by the time I reached northwest Oklahoma, my thought was just to head to Woodward, getting there by 6:30pm and target a storm by the time I got there.   I intercepted a supercell that tracked northeast along the Canadian River valley north of Cheyenne, OK into Dewey county.  I sat at a location south of Taloga about 6 to 10 miles along US-18, photographing the storm as it approached.  There was another marginal supercell just northeast of the main storm which was fairly photogenic at times as well.  On my way home at around 10:00pm or so, I managed to photograph some impressive staccato lightning.  I have included 8 images below.  A more detailed account will be forthcoming on this blog post soon.

(edit 5/19, 11:55pm CDT):

Full account:

April 25, 2009:  Roll-Camargo-Taloga, OK Evening Supercell & Woodward, OK Staccato Lightning

25 April 2009 had the makings of a potentially impressive mid-late evening tornado event across western Oklahoma as a strong front was expected to stall by late afternoon from the TX Panhandle northeast into northwestern OK.  The front was then expected to lift back north as a warm front by early-mid evening with a very impressive low level jet expected to develop by 8:00pm CDT or so.  I was working the day shift on the 25th, and since no storms were expected across southwestern KS, I was able to get off work right at 4:00pm.  All along, I had no intention of chasing this day, but a last-moment decision was made to go ahead and go after this event.  In some ways, this reminded me of the 9 May 2003 chase I had in central OK — a day in which I also departed Dodge City rather late in the afternoon following a day shift.

Storms were going to be underway by the time I reached northwest OK, and my plan was just to head to Woodward then target a storm upon reaching town.  I was expecting to reach Woodward by 6:30pm, which would give me a good hour and a half of decent light.  There were numerous storms to my east through southeast through south by 6:30pm or so upon my arrival to Woodward {2333}.  Given the storm motions, it was a lot easier to incercept storms to my south or south-southwest then anything east of me.  Hwy 270 (the “Northwest Passage”) goes southeast from Woodward, which would make life very easy for me from a positioning standpoint.  The most interesting storm by the time I reached Woodward was a storm along the Canadian river valley to my south-southwest, near Roll.  There were many chasers on this storm, per SpotterNetwork icons.  In fact, by 6:42pm {2342}, the storm west of Roll was tornado-warned.  This was by far the easiest intercept for me, assuming that no additional storms took over between now and the time I could reach this area.  As the Roll storm headed east-northeast, I headed southeast on Hwy 270 from Woodward {0004}.  Another storm developed northeast of the primary Roll storm, off to my south-southeast.  When I reached Mutual, the sky was getting quite dark, and I could begin to make out a rain-free base well off to my southwest as I continued southeast closer to Seiling {0031}.  I stopped briefly to watch this, however I figured I needed to continue south to get into better position of not only this, but the larger storm farther southwest.

I headed south on Hwy 183 through Taloga, ultimately stopping at what would be my primary stopping place, a few miles south of Taloga, until darkness set in.  I was in a very good position here {0044}, able to monitor both the storm to my northwest and west-southwest.  Both storms had radar rotation.  I was near the Canadian River, and the rolling hills/terrain in this area is quite scenic.  The high spot I found a few miles south of Taloga suited me well and I did not feel like I needed to move from this spot… just letting the westernmost storm approach me.  It was a battle against time, though, as darkness was really beginning to set in after 8:00pm.  I managed to get a few cloud-to-ground (CG) images from the northern storm with my lightning trigger on the Nikon D200.  The western storm was getting closer, and was revealing a nice lowered area beneath the rain-free base.  I was getting rather excited about the prospects of a tornado in the not-too-distant future given the inflow winds I was experiencing, plus the fact the low level jet was expected to be inreasing rather markedly by about this time.  There was one problem, though.  One big problem.  The front was not exactly warm-frontogenetic.  It still had cold front characteristics — it was not lifting north.  As the storm continued to approach between 8:10 and 8:20pm, it was becoming increasingly clear that it was at least slightly undercut by outflow and/or the front itself.  I noticed quite a bit of north-to-south cloud motion with an inflow/outflow interface at the southern edge of the lowered area that was approaching.  Nevertheless, this storm had incredible rotation with it, and it still had an opportunity at tornadogenesis if it could deal with only slight undercutting problems.  A more compact wall cloud formed at the southern periphery of the rain-free base off to the west at around 8:25pm {0124}.  I managed to get a number of decent images of this feature, and I picked a good location to shoot from with a windmill sitting right in front of me.  There was just a brief moment between 8:25 and 8:30pm where I thought tornadogenesis was imminent, but that did not last long.  A massive amount of precipitation was about to wrap around the southern edge of the circulation obscuring my view (as of the impending darkness was enough of a problem).  It wasn’t long before the whole thing was rain-wrapped.

I stayed at that location until about 8:35pm, and then I continued back to the north approaching Taloga.  I wanted to get a few more long-exposure structure images, which I did with some success between about 8:40 {0142} and 8:55pm {0155} or so.  It was clear at this point the storm was outflow-dominant given the elongated shelf cloud structure.  This was the last I would shoot of this storm, so I waited out the passage of the core to the north before beginning my trek back to Dodge {0213}.  I finally headed back north around 9:20pm or so, heading in the direction of Woodward when other storms began to develop in front of me on the highway to the northwest {0244}.  Surprisingly, brilliant staccato CGs were occurring in front of me and to the right of the road, so much so that I just had to stop to setup to photograph.  I photographed CGs between roughly 10:00 and 10:20pm southeast of Woodward {0302, 0319}.  A couple of the staccato CG images from this set were definite keepers, which will be added at some point to my fine-art portfolio.  After that, I began my trek home to Dodge, getting home about 1:45am.


1 Comment »

  1. Great lightning pictures!

    Comment by David Drufke — April 28, 2009 @ 9:22 am

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