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I’m enjoying the abnormal warmth sitting on my back porch this December 12th. I’ll take it because the three winters since our move to southwest Virginia have featured at or above average snowfall totals and accompanying chilly temperatures. I could get used to this eastern ridge / western trough pattern!

Meanwhile I watched NatGeo’s “Inside the Mega Twister” special last night. It featured the 2013 El Reno beast that took the lives of three Twistex team members and came close to snuffing out a number of other chasers. It brought back vivid memories of that day’s chase with the Hokie Stormchasers. We actually sat in the El Reno Wal-Mart parking lot that afternoon while waiting for convection to fire.

We had already determined that we weren’t chasing in that area as any storm that went up would head directly for the OKC metropolitan area. So we waited until several storms fired and chose one well south of I-40. It wound up being severe-warned for large hail but didn’t amount to much:

LP supercell

This storm fizzled as the monster near El Reno took over that entire region of Oklahoma. We cautiously ventured north to take a peek at the tornado-warned supercell, finally stopping just outside Chickasha to look northward at it:

the western cell and traffic

With a wall cloud in the background the traffic volume ramped up quickly due both to it being Friday afternoon and to the mass exodus of panicked OKC residents. We jumped back out on rural roads and egressed southward just ahead of the human bow wave (and the approaching storm).

After dodging several other cells containing hail cores we finally stopped late that night at a hotel in Lawton where we met some of the “storm refugees” in the parking lot. We were all very tired and hit the pillows hard, only to find out about the demise of Tim Samaras and his Twistex partners when we woke up. (We had met them in Guymon OK almost a year to the day prior to this.)

It was a tough morning.

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