Saturday 25 May 2019

Day 2 - Oklahoma Panhandle

SPC Convective Outlook
SPC Tornado Outlook
Morning surface analysis
Starting the day in Woodward (OK), rather grey and overcast, we met up with Dave Ewoldt and his chase partner Ray Walker before setting off in the general direction of Guymon (OK). En-route storms begin to fire over west Texas and the Texas panhandle, with further development eventually across the Oklahoma panhandle and SE Colorado. Some of these storms became severe-warned, but given how many had developed they were all competing with each other and it quickly became a large mess of marginally-severe thunderstorms.

We kept trying to head east out ahead of this now-developing squall line, which started producing 70mph straight line winds. We parked up in Alva (OK) and let the line pass over us, then as it cleared to our east the northern side of a bowing segment became tornado-warned with hints of an inflow notch on radar. It didn't look particularly impressive, so we chose to ignore it and carried on driving back to Woodward (OK) for a hotel for the night.
Our location (blue circle) and the tornado warning to our east
On the way, the setting sun illuminated the mammatus overhead, and created a bright double-rainbow on the back edge of the thunderstorm complex moving away from us. We stopped to take a few photos, then carried on our way.
Double rainbow as the line of storms move away to the west, near Freedom (OK)
Mammatus and rainbow to end the day above our chase vehicle, near Freedom (OK)
Mammatus and faint rainbow near Freedom (OK)
Later in the evening we heard news of a brief tornado at El Reno (OK), which had occurred in a similar vein to the hook echo east of Alva earlier in the evening. Unlike classic supercells that can produce long-track tornadoes with reasonably good visibility of them, QLCS (quasi-linear convective system) tornadoes tend be to very brief, often rain-wrapped on the leading edge of the squall line and while small can be damaging because they can occur out of the blue. This small tornado just happened to touch down over a mobile home park and nearby motel, causing significant damage and sadly fatalities - not helped by the fact it occurred at night (10:30pm).

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