Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Oklahoma high risk

We started the day in Blackwell, Oklahoma. With a very large risk area today it was tricky to pin down a target. There were some hints that the area around/west of Enid/Hennessey might be a good starting point. It was certainly a central place to start. Thus, we headed for Hennessey, stopping for lunch in Enid on the way.

By the time we got to Hennessey a storm had developed about 80 miles to the SSW. Storm motion was NE, so we decided to head west towards Canton to attempt an intercept. As we approached the storm the rotation was increasing on radar, and a tornado warning was issued. We got sight of the wall cloud which was rapidly rotating to our west. We inched closer until we reached a road junction. We stopped there and watched as a funnel developed, and then descended down, and a tornado formed. Quickly this grew into a large tornado, probably around 1/2 mile wide. We had no internet connection at this time but the Spotter Network client was running and so displayed the NWS Norman number. I put in a call to say that we were watching a large tornado 2 miles north of Canton, moving north. After a while this tornado vanished behind rain curtains, but we saw a further 2 fairly brief tornadoes.

At this point a huge convoy of chasers turned up. We decided to head south and then east to another storm, although this died out. However, we continued east almost to I-35 and then south towards Guthrie. A large, violent tornado, which sadly claimed lives to the west of Oklahoma City, was heading towards Guthrie. We couldn't see anything through the rain but we could see via radar that the circulation would pass very close to Guthrie. During this drive, various 'bits' were falling out of the sky in the rain, such as pieces of felt, and leaves. This was very eerie and pretty sobering/scary.

We stopped north of Guthrie to allow the circulation to pass to our south - the rain was intense and so there was no way we were going to thread the needle. CG lightning bolts slammed down all around and the sky to the south was almost completely dark - it was pretty scary stuff.

We then headed south and found branches blocking the road in north Guthrie. I got out to try to move them but one of them was pretty big. A chap turned up the other way in a large pick up. He simply got out, wrapped a chain around the larger branch, tied it to the truck, and pulled the branch out of the way. He then tossed the smaller branch out of the way. We could then pass through - many thanks whoever you were!

We then headed east and then south, to the south of I-44. Another supercell approached whilst we were in Chandler. Further bits of material were spiralling out of the sky amongst the rain. We didn't see a tornado from this, but it had produced several beforehand.

We then continued east, sampling the back of another supercell south-east of Bristow. We found some golfball sized hail and very strong north-westerly winds in the backside of the low-level mesocyclone, but couldn't punch east. We then pulled over to let the storm go. A short time later, the mesocyclone crossed the small town of Haskell. When we drove into town a little later we found police everywhere with the main road closed. A tornado had passed through although the damage didn't look really bad, but it was damage nonetheless.

We then headed to Tulsa for the night and had dinner and Applebee's.

Pictures and video should be uploaded shortly.

This was a very nasty day of severe weather and our thoughts go out to all those affected by the storms today, and indeed the last several days.


  1. Sounds like you had quite a day. We look forward to seeing your video footage. We are going to Cardiff today for tomorrow's first day of the England v Sri Lanka Test. Back Friday pm.
    Stay safe,
    Ma & Pa

  2. Glad to hear you all made it out safely. I was following the events on GR Level 3 and live stream of OKC channels 4 and 9 last night. Very nasty situation - the couplet on the storm heading for Guthrie was VERY pronounced about 20 mins before it got there. Some amazing live feed of the Goldsby tornado and sadly some pretty horrific damage scenes from El Reno and Washington / Goldsby / Noble too.
    Take care,