Monday, May 17, 1999|
Chase accounts, data, maps, and photographs
J.W. King --
The morning of the 17th dawned cloudy and moist, with storms in Tulsa and forecasts for re-development along a line stretching through NE Texas. I was drinking coffee, watching TWC when the first rumble came. Then another. Short, loud, explosive thunder.
Outside, the low clouds looked anything but ominous. With the next boom, I sheepishly realized that Fort Sill, just to the north, is an artillery training base. All you experienced chasers are saying, "Well, like, DUH!" Shucks, gimme a break, I'm sorta new at this...The only concrete prediction I would make that morning was that the area near Corsicana, Texas would be a likely area to see activity.
After some dawdling at the local CB shop and wasted time at the local internet bar (the data gathered told me what I already knew), I took off for Duncan, 25 miles east on S.R. 7, where I spotted some towers forming ten miles east. The storms were young (it was about 2 P.M.), and I rode the lead roll clouds into what I thought was good position to the southeast of the storm. The problem was that the storms were pushing southeast instead of tracking northeast, and what I was riding was a cold wave at the back of the front, as evidenced by the obvious horizontal rotation in the "gust front", which was totally calm. I rode this wave all the way across southern OK, and by the time I reached Lake Texoma at 4:30, it had formed into a very active line of storms stretching from Lampasas to Dallas, McAlester OK, and north to the Tri-State border. There were obvious HP storms along this line, but I had a dilemma: get on the southeast side of this wall and set up to intercept the actual gust front
(where the likelihood of tornadic activity was less), or do my usual tail-end chase looking for Charlie. Problem was, I could SEE the clouds were too cold. Don't ask me how. Rotation was evident in many spots, and dramatic lowering was taking place all around me. I got some very impressive film of the roll cloud from horizon to horizon, dipping, lowering and rotating, but not "tornading."I would overtake a storm, get blown about, and observe occasional wall clouds lowering darkly to the ground, then it would rain harder, obscuring any visible activity. This went on until I reached Sulphur Springs, Texas near dark, and I found that those little HPs in the distance had dumped as much as three inches of rain an hour in selected spots. The best activity was in Van Zandt County, to my southwest, and was entering the Longview area. Next time my instincts say Corsicana, I'm going to Corsicana! Actually, I got some great film, had a blast riding this wall, and learned what happens in a southeast-moving
front that has no northeast-tracking storms. Less tornadics than I would expect.
My last shots were of the rainbow at the Mount Vernon, Texas rest stop, and the fiery sunset filled with fast-moving scud. I rode the dark storm all the way back to Little Rock. Nine hundred ninety eight miles and thirty six hours older and half a season wiser, my biggest gain is in my film review. I need to vastly improve my filming and narration techniques, especially in the van.... J.W.King
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