The day after Memorial Day proved to be a productive one for the Hokie Stormchasers. Starting out in Pratt KS we rolled reluctantly toward southwestern Oklahoma to set up for a chase in the – hopefully – less waterlogged portion of the state.
We finally wound up outside Frederick where we parked on a ridgetop looking westward at some developing cells.
The one on the left became severe-warned and even produced a horizontal tube funnel:
But after this the cell appeared to fall apart as the rain shaft diminished. However convection behind the visible rain shaft continued and the storm re-intensified. Thus instead of heading back to Frederick and then turning north to follow the right hand cell we reversed direction to stay ahead of the southern one.
As we drove along in our attempt to get out of the rain/hail and to gain position on it a substantial wall cloud formed. Then, as (bad) luck would have it a funnel snaked out of the wall cloud for perhaps 30 seconds without touching down. Few folks in the vans were able to snap photos of it as the feature was at our 7 o’clock position while we motored away from it. We did continue on and eventually got south of the storm, crossing safely in front of it and witnessing the neat sight of the rain shaft visibly separated from the updraft. That’s a sure sign of a tilted updraft characteristic of a supercell.
The storm wound up being undercut by cold outflow from a monster complex further south over Texas. However that same outflow provided entertainment in the form of both a nice shelf cloud, very gusty southerly winds that kicked up dust, and some asperatus clouds.
We followed the convection a bit further east before giving up on it as there were too many cells popping up to really see anything, something we had anticipated in our morning target decision. Thus we called the chase early and rolled back west and then north toward I-40 for dinner and lodging.
However Nature had other plans. As the sun dipped toward the western horizon a couple of mediocre storms to our east and north ramped up, providing some incredible sunlit sights:
This cell beckoned us so we – temporarily – forgot about our empty stomachs and turned south again, catching an east road to remain close to it. We stopped amid a wind turbine farm as the evening light faded, listening to the eerie turbine blade sounds, fighting off hordes of mosquitoes, and watching the lightning display from this storm and the one to the north. It was a special moment.
We finally gave up when darkness fell, sated with storms but still hungry and tired. We overnighted in Elk City OK.