5/25/97 Chase by Robert And Dene Brock


                                Storm chase log for 05-25-97    Robert and
Dene Brock

Chase started from Sherman, Texas.  We took 82 west to I35 then north to
Norman.  We hung around in Norman, ate lunch,  waited for the 12:30 severe
weather update and for the low clouds to break.  We decided that things
would most likely break toward the west so we headed southwest on state
highway 9.  I could see a really good tower going up toward Lawton and we
decided to head for it.  There was another cell northwest of Chickasha that
I did not think looked impressive but Dene wanted to stop and check it out.
We stopped about two miles east of Chickasha at the top of a hill for about
thirty minutes while the storm moved closer.  About 3:45 a severe
thunderstorm warning was issued for this storm The initial reports indicated
that it was moving east - northeast but the storm appeared to be moving east
- southeast.  I kept looking at the developing tower toward the southwest
that was, to me, much more impressive that the storm we were watching.  By
4:00 PM a nice wall cloud developed and Dene notice rotation (I could not
see any rotation but she insisted it was there).  Later even I could see the
rotation.  The now impressive rotating wall cloud passed within 1 mile of
our position.  It looked like smoke with strands of "angel hair" around the
base of the wall cloud. At about 4:15 we took 277 toward Middleburg but just
after we stopped and got out of the chase vehicle we were buffeted by the
rear flank down draft which was directly overhead (40 to 50 MPH winds and
dust).  Dene wanted to stay and chase but, as usual, I thought we were too
close and moved back southwest down the highway about 2 miles and turned
around.  Looking through some trees I spotted our first tornado at 4:20PM
already on the ground!  It must have developed as we were retreating. In
less than one minute a tornado warning was issued.

  We moved back up the road about two miles and there it was, A beautiful
white tornado less than three miles away. The bright slot from the rear
flank down draft was causing the funnel to be a very bright white with
excellent contrast for pictures.  The tornado moved slowly southeast as the
condensation funnel lifted and went back down to the ground three times in
about 9 minutes before dissipating. Little to no debris was seen. 

We noticed several other chasers including two white stormchase vans and a
small sports car with Louisiana "SKYWARN" license plates in much elation.
We took pictures but I am sure the other chasers
have excellent pictures and footage.  We attempted to follow the storm but
heavy rain curtains made us retreat back once again. About this time a man
pulled up in a sports utility vehicle and claimed to have passed within 100
feet of the tornado while it was on the ground.  He said he could see the
trees and stuff being sucked up as he drove away in a panic.  He said a
State trooper pulled him over for speeding but let him go without a ticket
because he was "running for his life".  As he was talking to us, I notice
tornado #2 about 5 or 6 miles to our east-southeast.  We snapped off a few
shots, but this funnel did not last long, maybe two minutes.  The storm
looked like it was fizzling and I still wanted to chase the massive
backsheared tower to our southwest, so we started back down highway 277
through Chickasha.  Just to the west of Chickasha the weather radio
indicated yet another tornado in the same storm we just left near Dibble so
we turned around again and headed east on 39 toward the storm.  Lots of
storm damage (mostly trees) on the south side of 39 By the time we passed
Dibble, the weather radio indicated the tornado was at Purcell and Wayne. 

We were again faced with massive rain shafts and no view of any tornadoes.
We decided to go south on highway 24 and attempt to move into better
position (the south side of the storm).  Six miles after turning on 24 we
came up on several power poles in the road and were blocked. We attempted to
take some unknown secondary roads east to get on I35 and go south.
Unfortunately, the road ended about 50 yards from I35 with no access (we
learned a valuable lesson from this).

Moved south on more secondary roads until they also dead-ended in view of
I35.  We backtracked and finally made it to I35!!.  At this time I35 was in
a severe thunderstorm warning just to our south so we decide to continue
east on  59 to Byars.  We were once again looking at massive rain curtains
and no view of tornadoes.   At this point we decided to give up and went
back east on 59 to I35 then south to Ardmore to spend the night.  As my
chase partner slept I could see beautiful massive towers several miles east
of the Arbuckle mountains,  south at Ardmore and south at Gainsville.  The
entire time the weather radio was indicating continuous tornado/severe
thunderstorm warnings to our north east, east, and south.
When we checked into a hotel about 8:15PM at Ardmore, the local TV  station
was showing six different tornado warnings for the counties in their
viewing area but we were too tired to pay much attention.  I did snap off a
few shots of the storms.

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