5/26/97 KS/OK chase by Brian & Nancy Morganti

Subject:      Harper County Tornado

Greetings all,

On Sunday [5-26] with all the dynamics finally coming together for tornadic
storm development throughout central Kansas & Oklahoma..the chase would
truly be on for everyone.  We decided to head toward the triple point
somewhere south and east of Dodge City, Ks.  Traveling east on 412 through
Enid, Ok. around 2:00 PM a tornado watch was issued Grant, Alfalfa,
Garfield Counties, etc...we were right there..but where to go?  No towers
were going up, so we decided to proceed no further west than the
intersection of route 8 & 412, for fear of running into the rapidly
approaching dryline.

Arriving at that destination about a half hour later,we pulled into a
picnic area to watch and wait.  It was'nt long till we were joined by eight
other chase vehicles, including the channel 5 crew from OKC.  About an hour
later after ideas were exchanged and a hint of some towers forming it was
time to move.  Part of the group decided to head north on 8, then east on
64.  We intercepted Jim Cantore doing the 5 PM live broadcast for TWC  just
outside Nash, Ok.  They indicated tornado on the ground south of Norman,
Ok. and another one near Russell, Ks.  Too far to attempt
an intercept.  There appeared to be an aggitated area of convection taking
place back to the Northwest.  I was reluctant to go back there, as we
already experienced due points drop from 69 degrees to 60 just 15 miles
further west..the surface dryline was arriving fast, with clear blue skies
to the distant west.  This appeared to be the only option so we headed back
to route 8 and drove north Kiowa, Ks.  The towers were starting to grow
rapidly and a dark rainshaft with rainbow appeared to our east, and a
hailbow further to our north..things were getting real interesting and the
tension was heightening!

Somewhere along route 2 going northeast the chase group started to break
up..some lingering to take photos & video [myself included], other racing
toward the developing storm.  A visable wall clould and occassional funnel
cloud could be seen in the more dominant storm to our north, but things
were changing rapidly with the smaller, but exploding storm to our north.
Route 2 turned due east north of Hazelton, Ks, and the this previously
smaller, but now dominant storm was now to our northeast with a ragged
rotating light gray wall cloud hanging from a black RFB.
Time to pull over!  We were about to go down a hill leading to the town of
Anthony about 1/4 mile away. Could not see the ground due to some distant
trees and low buildings, but I was not about to chance racing through town,
and missing the show.

I just got my cameras set up when the town tornado sirens alarmed, and a
distinct funnel cloud was taking shape.  A moment later a light
condensation funnel was visable and a large red dust swirl came up from the
ground..TORNADO ON THE GROUND.  The show was brief, less then two minutes,
but thankfully it occured over open country just on the other side of
Anthony in Harper County, Ks.

I tried to follow this storm further, but soon found myself under
developing rain shafts, with zero visability just ahead...it was time to
back off.  We went back through to Anthony for a quick stop at the Diary
Queen..After being swarmed with curiousity seekers with lots of questions
[Are you a stooorm chaser, whats all that equipment do, what are you
doing..who are you, on and on] we quickly moved to a quieter spot just
south of town.  We spent the next hour and half till well after sunset
shooting slides and video of the most beautifully front lit retreating
storm structure, complete with large fibrous cirrus anvil and underhanging
mammatus.  Below were the boiling cumulus towers changing in color from
white to yellow to pink to black at the base. This was all futher enhanced
with the occassional CC lightning..just awesome!
Some of this final show was also captured by TWC and featured in their top
of the hour report on Memorial Day.  If some of the the other guys were we
previously traveling with caught the tornado or retreating show, I would
like to hear from you.

Brian & Nancy Morganti

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