Thursday, April 22, 1999

Chase Accounts

Robert Satkus -- Bobby and I rushed towards eastern Ok to stay ahead of the cold front. We watched towers along the front from just north of Kellyville for awhile, then headed towards Tulsa as storms were backbuilding from ne Ok. We didn't want to chase through town at rush hour, so we dropped south hoping for new storms to form. Several did but they had puny updrafts with small cores. We dropped to north of Okmulgee and while we waited the southernmost storm rapidly intensified. Strangely, it had a linear base like the storm on 4-21. We followed it east to near Bald Hill, but it was outflow dominant. A new storm was exploding in Okfuskee county, so we decided to try to get to it before sunset. We saw a brief wall cloud from south of Okmulgee, but this storm quickly became part of the line as well, producing a spectacular, laminar shelf cloud.

Tim Vasquez & Gene Rhoden -- Thursday brought us to the Inola storm east of Tulsa; we parked 5 S of Inola and saw essentially the same thing as Rich Thompson did -- tight wrapping of a spectacular HP storm. The upward motion on the scud was fantastic. South of Inola what was a long paved road on two atlases (Roads of OK and DeLorme SA) turned out to be a horribly maintained dirt road, so we spent several intense minutes fleeing for the safety of U.S. 69 with the RFD close on our heels. East of Wagoner the storm appeared to be gusting out, and after bumping into Tim Marshall we settled for a leisurely dinner at the Smokestack BBQ while it poured buckets outside.

Jay Antle -- On the morning of 4/22, it appeared to me that the combination of a decent shortwave, surface low riding up a frontal boundary through Northern OK and into SC KS, and good progged instability would produce a few supercells in SE KS/SW MO/NE OK. The ETA the previous night has put good EHI values and moisture convergence in that area. Surface analysis that morning put good moisture convergence in NC OK with some signs of clearing on OK and into SE KS. The chase was on. My chase partner that day was Terry Jacobsen who was out on his first chase. My target was just south of Chanute, Kansas.
          About 30 minutes from Chanute, (and as we were beginning to break out of the gunge...getting south of the boundary) got a call from Mike Phelps who suggested that it looked like the best instability was going to stay in Northern OK and that Coffeyville might be a better target area. After arriving in Coffeyville (around 3PM), I found the local library (helpful folks there) and got on the internet. Looking at satellite and radar showed a line of developing thunderstorms to the west with building towers down into OK. HUB-CAPS put CAPES in C and NE OK 2-3000 but the better helicities were in extreme Northeastern OK. So, the plan was to head east on hiway 166 out of Coffeyville, watch the line, and then play tail-end charlie, wherever he went up. We got about ten miles east of Coffeyville and watched one cell to our west go nuts. Nice lightning up in the updraft tower and almost constant rumbling of thunder (which I've found to be a good sign for severe development). A group of media chasers sat just to our west at the town of Edna. At 3:36, Wichita issued a severe thunderstorm warning for this cell (Labette and eastern Montgomery Counties) and things looked promising. We headed south of Edna a bit to see what was going on on the inflow side of the storm. We noticed both an attempt at a wall cloud by the svr storm but also another dark precipitation core to the south down in OK. We would be playing with this storm shortly...This southern storm hampered the inflow of our Labette County storm and it weakened. So, we headed east and tried to get some Oklahoma radio stations for info on what was going on down there.
          After having terrible difficulty hearing the stations through the lightning interference (and being out of Tulsa NWS range) we did hear that the storm to our south was potentially tornadic and we headed south to intercept the new tail-end storm moving through Nowata County, Oklahoma. By 4:25, this storm was moving into Craig County and we were approaching it from the north....ugh. We made it around the western side of the storm and crossed the Grand Lake of the Cherokees just behind the radar indicated tornado. This was clearly a HP storm. HP storms, Chasers' Bane. We nudged the rear side of the precip shield through the town of Grove. The precip lightened up there and we looked to the northeast and briefly saw a wall cloud but poor contrast did not allow us to see any rotation in it. We followed this storm into McDonald County Missouri which was under tornado warnings for almost two hours. We did see rising scud and spiraling rain curtains off to the east as we sat near Southwest City, MO, but poor terrain (read the Ozarks) kept us from pursuing. Meanwhile, another severe storm (the next in the line) was moving out of Craig County near our location. We travelled south out of Southwest City to get on the inflow side of this next storm only to encounter...the Ozarks way. So, we found a nice location and prepared to get munched. We watched the wind direction and the rain curtains carefully, but at no point were we in any danger. Reports of funnel clouds from both cells in McDonald County came over the radio, but there were no touchdowns from these HP storms to my knowledge.
          So, we had played with two HP supercells, which wasn't a bad chase day but it got better as we drove west back to Grove. Off to the east was a fantastic rainbow which filled the sky and then we noticed the solid wall of updrafts and decent backsheared anvils which extended far to the south (including the tornadic Cherokee County storm-one spotter report of a touchdown here, I believe). Tail-End Charlie was way the heck down there now. We stopped at sunset to take some golden hour shots of golden and reddish colors in the wall of towers and anvils and some lightning as well. Absolutely gorgeous stuff.
          All-in-all, a good day (until an owl decided to commit suicide on my windshield....UGH...I may be cursed now) and Terry seemed to enjoy his first chase experience. More importantly, Antle Advection was overcome and did not kill the storms we were on......

Did you chase on this day? Send in your account and we'll add it! Selected chase accounts will be published in STORM TRACK Magazine (with your permission of course).

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