|Wed, 22 May 2013 14:16:15 -0500|
Chase Summary May 20, 2013
|Jon and I started the day in Ponca City while Rob, Mitch, and Candice started off in Tulsa. We had a general target of the Red River in mind -- farther south where hopefully storms would remain more isolated and stay as supercells for a longer duration of time. We were concerned that the area between the Red River and the Oklahoma City metro would evolve into non-supercell type structures quickly, so we opted for the later development down along the Red River. We met back up with Rob, Mitch, and Candice in Norman and continued south at about 11:30am. On the drive south, we totally ignored the incipient towering cu noted on visible satellite back to our northwest (one of which becoming the eventual Moore, OK EF-5 tornado) that started going up around 1:30 or so. We noticed a mesoscale area of interest between Mineral Wells and Wichita Falls, so we made our way all the way to Denton before heading west. After a quick bite to eat in Decatur, we headed northwest toward a rapidly growing supercell just east-northeast of Wichita Falls. On the way, in the town of Bowie, I got a call from Matt Crowther stating "May 3rd Part II" in Moore. We were totally oblivious to what was going on up there since I was so focused on what our next move was as we approached our target storm. The supercell storm we were after to our north-northwest as crossing the river at Ryan, OK and we made an intercept, finally, at this town. Unfortunately, this storm became HP and outflow dominant quickly. |
About 12 miles east of Ryan along Hwy 32, we made the decision to blow off this lead storm in favor of vigorous development back east of Wichita Falls to our southwest. We drove back to Ryan then south to Ringgold, TX and came into a great position as significant rotation with this new storm was just off to our west. We stopped for about 10 minutes on the south side of Ringgold and watched tremendous, but fairly broad rotation to our west with awesome east inflow winds of 35 to 45 mph. There may have been a tornado buried back in one of the fairly opaque precipitation cores as the RFD region was becoming quite wet, unfortunately. We had to continue east-southeast on Hwy 82 to Nacona where we drove south on Hwy 175 to Montague. All the while during this drive, the radar velocity certainly suggested the possibility of a big tornado wrapped in thick RFD precipitation, but we never had any visual of an obvious tornado. We stopped again just south of Montague where I photographed the approaching HP storm structure, complete with the aquamarine color of the storms precipitation core. This was the best storm structure we would end up getting from this storm. The storm rapidly evolved into a mess with a storm merger occurring. We continued east and north on farm-to-market roads to the Muenster area before basically calling it quits and heading back to Gainseville. All in all a disappointing day. We never anticipated the massive, destructive tornado threat for Oklahoma City, but a more careful analysis of the surface observations and satellite would have drawn my eye to this area more. I was so keyed in on the Red River region and adjacent North Texas from the get go that I basically scoffed at anything farther north. This reluctance to change targets after a previous night and early morning forecast target area cost me on two of three days on this trip -- a very frustrating result. Jon and I said bye to Rob, Mitch, and Candice northwest of Gainesville, and Jon and I headed north so I could drop him off at his car in Wichita. On the way, we passed through Moore on I-35 about an hour or so after the interstate was re-opened. The sight and smell where the tornado crossed the interstate was sobering indeed.
A high-precipitation supercell approaching this cluster of windmills at Montague, TX on 20 May 2013: