May 26, 1996 Chase by Gilbert Sebenste

Chase Summary, 5/26/96, Oklahoma: Too good to be true

After an exciting day Saturday, Sunday was supposed to be La Creme De La
Creme for chasers. The strong upper level low in New Mexico would be moving
into the Texas Panhandle, with a surface low in southwestern KS. The
Dryline would fire in southwest OK, and storms would move east in 3K CAPES
and 250 helicities. But we got up late, and we'd have to play catch up.
Still, Scott Olthoff, Ed Mlozik, Karl Schulze and I were still confident of
seeing some great storms today!

We walked into the Lubbock NWS office with a case of Coke, and then I
looked to my right. Three familiar faces greeted me: Chuck Doswell, Al
Moller, and Sam Barricklow. They had been there for quite a while. And I
must admit, I thought I knew how to analyze maps until I saw theirs. After
just a little while, their analysis painted the picture well, and pretty
much in accordance with what we saw on the progs the day before, if only
somewhat further north. I won't go much into the meteorological details
here, but they were similar to the day before, except upper level winds
were stronger. What more could you ask for? The dryline was bulging across
northern TX. Southwest and central OK would be the targets today.

We left there at 1PM and headed east on US 82. We then turned north at US
83 and headed north towards Paducah. We had stopped at Guthrie to realize
we would have to cruise quickly into central OK to get the developing
storms!

And they did develop quickly and early. So much so that we were worried
that with all the activity going on, there wouldn't be enough CAPE to
sustain strong updrafts with all of the outflows the other storms were
producing. But there was something more fundamentally wrong with this day:

The surface winds never really backed.

Pressures didn't fall along the dryline. Thus, it was a squall line, and
it was capped from the Red River south. The storms were crap, helicities
were low as a result, and when we arrived near Altus, basically we watched,
and waited...all late afternoon. Nothing but a few showers. We watched to
our dismay the "triple point" in Kansas go wild, producing 3/4 mile wide
tornadoes, and a picture-perfect supercell captured on video by Craig
Setzer in southwest Kansas. By 6PM, it was obvious nothing was going to
happen, so Greg and our team parted. It was still a great weekend,
nonetheless. It was over.

Or was it?

Suddenly, we get word of a tornado warning in the OKC area. We take
Oklahoma road 7 to I-35 and blast north hoping to intercept the HP storm.
Little did we know that we were on Greg's tail too! Since it was on our
way, we followed the storm up I-44. But we were too far behind, and we
missed the show. However, according to others who were there, the show
stunk as the meso was completely obscured and rain-wrapped. One of the
"others" was Brian Jewett and his wife Gwen, who we met near Tulsa at the
McDonald's oasis. What a coincidence! They did have better luck with that
storm. Still, they were not impressed.

But we did not give up hope. We stayed at Joplin that night amid flooded
streets, and we were looking for a better day tomorrow. We would not be
disappointed...

(TO BE CONTINUED)

Gilbert

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Gilbert Sebenste                                                     ********
Internet: sebenste@geog.niu.edu    (My opinions only!)                 *****
Owner of the Storm Chaser Homepage                                     ***
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