5/26/97 OK chase by Roger Edwards



From: Roger Edwards (tornado@KIOWA.WILDSTAR.NET):
Subject:      McBungle in the Jungle

A brief (Sebenste-like) chase summary for 26 May 97 -- the 21st
anniversary of my first tornado:

Steve Goss, Mark Darrow, Chris Porter and I left (   ) in Norman shortly
after 4 pm (Mark and I had to work til 4), headed E on I-40 with the
intention of stair-stepping toward our target area SW of TUL.  [We were
deliberately avoiding the turnpike and its few exits.]

While leaving Chandler and then gassing up at Stroud, we noticed that two
of three persistent areas of TCu and Cu congestus NE-SE were exploding
thru the cap.  The northern area soon did its best imitation of a
thermonuclear detonation, becoming the Keifer/Stigler storm, while
the southern cell more slowly evolved into the Beggs/Preston storm.

Both had spectacular sunlit structure; but we chose to intercept the
southern cell due to the other's path toward south Tulsa (re: 4/24/93
lesson).  We had very few uncluttered vantage points along US 75 looking
W, once we got E of the storm, and even fewer to the W along hwy 56.  As
expected in eastern OK, hills and trees made viewing terrible; and we
missed seeing one or more tornadoes as a result.  We
did see one brief, low contrast funnel to the NNE when the storm was SW
of Beggs, which was immediately mentioned on TUL NWR as a tornado
reported by a "spotter."  We could not confirm it as a tornado from our
view and will not count it as such yet.

We got temporarily delayed by idiots parking under US 75 and blocking
the hwy 16 underpass; while we were honking at them to move, a cop
drove up and *ordered* them to move.  [Thank you, OHP!!!]  The meso was on
hwy 16 E of the intersection, with rapidly rotating rain curtains around
the W side, so we proceeded slowly E right behind it until reaching a OHP
roadblock and having to turn around.  While going back W under US 75, we
noticed an old lady outside her car gazing E and snapping her Funsaver.
After going up the entrance ramp to 75, we saw why: a tall,
front-lit-yellow tornado...a thick, helical and sunlit tube dangling
westward toward us out of the west edge of the meso and about 3 miles to
our E.  Time was 1944 CDT.  It formed a thin rope at top and bottom,
maintaining a fat, bulbous middle section for a few seconds before
dissipating altogether.

This whole sequence lasted less than 20 seconds -- not enough time for me
to find a safe pull-off, then get out and shoot slides or video.  One of
my partners -- unnamed for protection -- did get a few frames of
video of the tube (which others in the car saw via replay thru the
viewfinder) -- but he accidentally recorded over it while we were at the
McAlester McDonalds a couple hours later!

Matt Crowther and Betsy Abrams were just N of us; I hope they got a better
view and some pictures of it.  Despite no photographic documentation, the
memories will last a lifetime:  a few seconds of the prettiest tornado
I've ever seen...and the first tornado ever for Steve Goss.  Incidentally,
he is the third person this year to witness the first tube of his life
while chasing with me in the Meatwagon.  [Cure for Edwards Effect is
Found!!! : "virgin" chasers who are NWS forecasters!]

Anyway, this was advertised as the rope stage of the
Preston tornado, which we never could see due to intervening trees and
terrain.  The TUL LSR depicted the path as continuous.  
It may *not* be, since we cannot determine that the damage was continuous
after the tornado crossed US 75 and had no visual on it.
Only an aerial survey would give us a better answer on path continuity.

The rear flank began to decay, with more forced ascent and less buoyancy
as evident in the increasing tilt, narrower/more fuzzy towers, and obvious
ingestion of rain-stabilized air from merging cells immediately to its
SE.  We ended up unsuccessfully attempting to reach the Dustin/Indianola
beast before dark by diverting eastward around it, only to have it pass
north of us while we were in McAlester.  [At the McDonalds there, we ran
across Tom Grazulis and Mark Herndon; Erik Rasmussen and the
sub-V.O.R.T.EX. crew were nearby as well.]

Overall, this was another worthwhile chase from the standpoint
of fascinating storm morphology and processes, despite the frustrations of
dealing with the mountainous jungle and some bungled videography.


                        ----------------------------------------
*** No disclaimer necessary; this is my personal account! ***
"If you stop, stop slowly; or I         ===== Roger Edwards =====
 fly back into the windshield."             (   ) Forecaster
- current chase partner                   former NHC Forecaster
:::::::::: http://www.wildstar.net/~tornado ::::::::::
"I FEAST ON THE SMORGASBORD OF ATMOSPHERIC VIOLENCE."

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