MARCH 24, 1997

WAKITA, OK CHASE
Tim Marshall only

HAAG - This is the first chase of the 1997 severe weather season. Monday. An upper low is moving in from the west which is typical for early spring bringing in strong dynamics. Other positives are a strong low-level jet this morning of 50 knots, great low-level turning as we had a frontal passage two days ago that forced east-southeast winds across the area, and ample moisture return as dewpoints in Dallas are above 60F this morning. A dry line will be moving into western Oklahoma today and hopefully be a focal point for convection. There are good westerly winds behind it which sets up a moisture convergence max west of Oklahoma City. A big negatives is a strong cap due to lots of radiational cooling the past few nights. The convective temperature at OKC is 89 degrees! No chance of them getting close to that. However, I am expecting colder air aloft to help destabilize the situation. 500 mb temps are -16 over OKC with -20 at ABQ. SPC has gone to a moderate risk over Oklahoma. I think they are overreacting here -a slight is all that is needed. They are saying "a few tornadoes". In Dallas this morning we have scattered strato-cu and strong south winds. Patchy CI west. I-35 N. Target town is WATONGA with our 60 mile wide ellipse (north-south) being our forecast area.

10:54 001 HAAG- (16,000 miles on truck at the beginning of the year.)

11:54 063 GAINESVILLE - S winds at 25. Thin CI is invading from the west. Clear S.

12:53 134 Overcast CI N. No strato-cu. Too much CI is bad news. Should go home. OTO- "Although not likely, isolated tornadoes are possible this evening." 1pm ob- OKC- 74/58 67% S 28g36 29.71

OTO-"There is a moderate risk of severe thunderstorms late this afternoon and tonight over central Oklahoma. The area is east of state highway 58 and north of a line from Randlett to Colgate. The primary threat is large hail with damaging winds later this evening. Although not likely, isolated tornadoes may be possible this evening. Part of northwest Texas and south-central Oklahoma are in the slight risk area of severe thunderstorms this afternoon and evening. The primary threats are large hail and damaging winds. Low pressure over central Kansas this afternoon, will increase surface moisture convergence across central and north-central Oklahoma through the afternoon and early evening. A strengthening upper level trough will approach western Oklahoma early this evening which will increase upward forcing enhancing thunderstorm development. Meanwhile, a dry line continues to move east through northwest Oklahoma but a very stable layer in the lower atmosphere will keep storms from developing until very late this afternoon or evening. A cold front across southwest Kansas early this afternoon will move into northwest Oklahoma by late afternoon and catch up with the dry line this evening in central Oklahoma. This will provide the needed low-level convergence for thunderstorm development. Wind shear is more favorable for severe storms over central and north-central Oklahoma than it is farther southwest. Greater amounts of moisture will also exist across this area this evening. As the front approaches the central part of the state, a squall-line will likely develop and contain severe storms as it moves to the east this evening."

2:15 182 NORMAN - Stopped off at Gene Rhodens house. Saw Jim Leonard and the satellite on The Weather Channel. CI is thinning out to the west. Gage has west winds and temp is 85 degrees! Triple point looks like between Woodward and Sayer. Still a question of if it goes today due to the cap. WATONGA is still the target town. CI is patchy on satellite. No main streak or band.

2:34 200 I-240 W. Thin overcast with some breaks. No low clouds.

3:10 241 Rt. 270 exit. Virga persistent with bubbly cu west. If anything does go, it looks like a late show. S winds at 30.

3:27 258 GEARY- Build-ups 60-100 miles NW. The tops of the towers have not reached the cirrus level.

3:30 260 Rt. 281 N. The towers N have sheared over and are evaporating -in 3 minutes.

3:34 Stopped to take several pictures and video of impressive virga.

3:36 Leaving film site.

3:55 277 WATONGA- Rt. 8 north. Hmm. surface winds appear SW.

4:13 297 OKEENE- Agitated area of towers is boiling up and evaporating NW.

4:16 297 Stopping- Took 1 picture of towers developing in clear slot in cirrus, video.

(TORNADO WATCH- E KS, W MO. 95 E/W 60SE ICT 35 ENE SJT.) 4pm obs END - 75/61 62% S 20g 30 29.59F PNC 78/57 48% SW 14g32 29.60F -only stopped briefly.

4:39 320 Jct. 60, still Rt. 8/58 N. Line of towers extending NE-SW to my north. Turkey towers NW, a few penetrate cirrus, nothing glaciated yet. Towers are oriented along clear slot in cirrus.

4:47 330 Rt. 45 E. Line of convection NW. Also, mushy line NE shearing over.

4:52 334 Turned north on road to Jet. Two lines of convection, one NW, one NE.

4:56 338 LP storm NW. 2 picts: 1 zoom and 1 wide angle

4:59 338 1 zoom NW. Took some video. Nice looking LP NW.

5:01 338 2 picts of LP with windmill. Vertical, crisp updraft, high base. New tower on back end of the LP. Pileus cap NE on line.

5:06 343 JET- LP NW is leaning over and having a tough time. Multi-cell line NE foaming on.

5:11 348 1 pict NW of LP with hay barn. Shearing over, base elevated. New tower W.

5:15 351 1 pict NE of Doppler facility and squall-line. LP NW is drawing up its base and shrinking. Typical of LP's.

5:22 355 Stopped at Great Salt Plains Lake and took lots of picts.

5:26 359 Rt. 11 E. Cb top NE.

5:40 572 Jct. 11a. Stopped at TWISTER sign. Took picts.

5:50 578 WAKITA - Took a side trip to where the movie TWISTER was filmed. Person at grocery store called Mrs. Wade who came down and opened the TWISTER museum just for me. She had me sign the TWISTER wall and of course I bought lots of things. Wakita is a neat town. I'll have to visit again.

6:35 378 WAKITA - Leaving town. Cb N. Multicell Stopped to take picture of Wakita sign and multicell storm N. Rt. 11 E. Squall line is to the north in Kansas. Virga is W.

7:17 419 I-35 S. Lightning W and N. Strike out for Oklahoma today. That cirrus never did clear. There was an interesting clear slot in the cirrus under which the towers went up along the front. What causes such a slot in the cirrus? (Severe Thunderstorm Watch - FSI to PNC)

8:36 512 OKLAHOMA CITY - Occasional LTG NW. Strong S winds. Low clouds here.

9:09 535 NORMAN ($29.86 gas) (Tornado Watch issued for North Texas 85 E/W SJT to ADM until 4 am!)

11:27 697 FLOWER MOUND- 696 miles, 12.5 hours, TRW

Summary: Target was a bit south. Cap was too strong in Oklahoma. Cold front across Kansas did become active producing a squall-line . Saw a nice LP NW of Wakita -in forecast area. Cirrus shield over Oklahoma prevented surface temps from climbing as much. Lifting above the cap aided cirrus shield all day.