After pushing very hard on Monday we overnighted in Conway Arkansas to set up for a push into either the Texas panhandle or north Texas on Tuesday. With a groaningly early start Tuesday we rolled westward analyzing the convective potential on the fly. The northern Texas panhandle seemed to be the place to go so we set our sights on Amarillo until…the mid-day SPC convective outlook came out.
After reviewing that we completely shifted our focus and redirected to southwestern OK / northern TX. Diving southwest on I-44 out of Oklahoma City we had to divert off the highway and huddle under a bank overhang as a severe storm with large hail pounded the area. The largest hail we got caught in was perhaps half-inch in diameter but some very large stones fell not far from where we were.
After this storm and its copious rainfall moved out we continued southwest but diverted again as more storms blew up ahead of us. Identifying one main cell we moved east of the interstate to await its arrival after it went tornado-warned. Then began the story of yesterday’s chase: lots of rain dictated paved roads only, and we zigged and zagged to try to peek into oncoming storms that continued to grow and merge into one huge rainy mess.
After several hours of dodging severe and tornado-warned storms that we had absolutely no way to see the business end of we booked a hotel in Ardmore OK…only to abandon that for a couple of hours as a tornado-warned storm with huge hail aimed straight at us.
We motored south on I-35 and sat under a gas station awning for almost two hours waiting for this storm to pass. We finally got back to the hotel – everything was in one piece! – and called it a day, albeit a frustrating one.
If only we’d had one more hour to get south of the action before it all began we would have seen the tornadoes that many others reported.