May 1, 1997 Chase Photos

The following are actually Sony VX-3 video clips from the 5/1/97 chase with myself, Gene Rhoden and Jev Vandegrift. My 35 mm slides have yet to be developed. If these photos appear grainy to you, you will need to check the display video depth (color settings) on your computer and increase them above 256 colors (8 bits), then restart your system. -Tim Vasquez

1401 CDT, I-35 near Clinton, OK. Matt Biddle's unusual chase vehicle moves past us westbound, heading for the Texas Panhandle.

1550 CDT, Shamrock, TX, looking W. The tower from storm "north" erupts on the western horizon, about 30 miles away.

1557 CDT, Shamrock, TX. Gene Rhoden takes a moment to capture video of the "north storm".

1623 CDT, Shamrock, TX. A glance at the "south storm", which is in a more advanced stage of development. Its location is west of Wellington, TX, and later became the main "show" that attracted the majority of chasers. A flanking line trails off to the right.

1628 CDT, Shamrock, TX, looking W. A last look at the "north storm", which has a well defined updraft (not entirely visible from this angle) and a precipitation area. However it is small and high-based. At this point we decided to break off from it, figuring the south storm would have the best access to moisture.

1651 CDT, 12 mi S of Shamrock, TX. Heading southbound on US83 towards "south storm". We get a view of the updraft towers through the breaks in the clouds. At this point, an updraft has just pulsed into the storm and it shows a small amount of anvil backshear.

1705 CDT, Wellington, TX, looking S. This is a video montage of the fantastic updraft base under "south storm". It was only about 4000 ft off the ground, and gradually rose to higher levels as it moved away from the moisture axis into drier air in Oklahoma. At the very right is evidence of a clear slot, representing a rear-flank downdraft trying to cut under the updraft.

1718 CDT, 5 NW Dodson, TX, looking SE. Inflow winds gusting to 30-40 mph lift dust off of crop fields and into the updraft, from right to left. We drove through some of this dust and in several instances could not see the road under us.

1730 CDT, 6 E of Dodson, TX, looking NNW. Watching the updraft base. It is at this point when most chasers have caught up with it and documentation of the storm was at its best.

1755 CDT, near Vinson, OK, looking WSW. A very turbulent, rotating updraft base churns through the evening sky.

1819 CDT, 5E Vinson, OK, looking NW. Looking at the northern edge of the updraft base, which had a distinct shelf-like appearance. At the right is a beaver tail trying to come together.

1845 CDT, 1E Granite, OK. Jev Vandegrift holds a marble-sized hailstone that came through the window into the vehicle. We encountered hailstones just short of golfball sized. Some chasers ran into larger hail and sustained damage.

1854 CDT, 2S Lone Wolf, OK, looking S. Hail blankets the highway leading south from Lone Wolf. Thankfully most of the hailfall had ceased by this time.

1927 CDT, 9S Hobart, OK. Hail damage on Richard Bedard and Mark Herndon's chase vehicle, sustained about 45 minutes earlier near Granite, OK.

1928 CDT, 9S Hobart, OK. Chaser convergence -- we meet up with Chuck Robertson, Mark Herndon, Richard Bedard, and Robert Willis. Standing here is Storm Track editor Tim Marshall, joking about the chase vehicles behind him: "Ya don't need all this newfangled gizmo stuff! I want you to know that I'm going absolutely blind today! I don't have a TV! I don't have a ham radio! I don't have a scanner! I'm just going absolutely visible today! And it just goes to show you that you can go visible without having all that techno-garble there and at least get to the storm!"

1959 CDT, 4S Hobart, OK, looking NW. Obscured by crepuscular rays, haze, dust, and moisture, we can see the edge of the newly-formed "storm west" brewing near Erick, OK. We decided to head northwest to intercept it.

2026 CDT, 3W Cordell, OK, looking W. A closer look at "storm west". At the very bottom of the storm, some inflow bands can clearly be seen. This storm is thought to have had the best potential for tornadic development.

2049 CDT, Burns Flat, OK, looking SW. The last good look we had at the updraft base before darkness fell over the Plains.

All photos (c) Copyright 1997 Tim Vasquez. Reproduction for commercial use is strictly prohibited.

Return to main menu