Today's severe outbreak in Oklahoma was not good for storm chasing. Our target area in Cherokee, OK was perfect and we were able to intercept a very powerful supercell that developed around 3:30pm, but we couldn't keep up with it because it was moving at over 50 mph and the road network around Cherokee was not good. That storm went on to produce a tornado near Wakita, OK, which ironically was where we were this morning visiting the Twister movie museum.
Once we lost that cell, we were able to intercept another supercell to our south. That storm produced a very distinct rotating wall cloud, but couldn't quite produce a tornado and quickly escaped from us. The baseball-size hail that fell from the downdraft of that storm shattered the windows of a car on I-35 northbound south of Perry, OK. We did encounter some hail from both supercells, but it was ping pong ball-size or less.
Parts of Oklahoma City, Wichita, KS, and numerous other locations throughout Oklahoma and Kansas were devastated by fast-moving tornadoes. So far there have been 33 reports of tornadoes today and I'm sure there will be many more. The pictures of the damage around Oklahoma City are just incredible with aerial imagery showing the wide paths that these tornadoes had.
From a technical standpoint, we did very well today. The target area we picked was right where these supercells got going and the first supercell we intercepted went on to produce a tornado after it got away from us. The problem was that everything was moving way too fast. We suspect that the first supercell we intercepted was moving at more than 60 mph, which is faster than we could travel on the roads we had. Had these storms moved at half the speed they were, we would have seen a tornado or two. The SPC's HIGH risk issuance this morning was spot-on given the amount of tornadoes that caused widespread damage throughout the region. Overall, this outbreak was not good for storm chasers out here due to the fast storm movement and certainly not good for the residents of areas that were damaged.
Tomorrow looks pretty good for chasing based on the latest computer models. It's looking like we'll be traveling to the Oklahoma/Texas border, probably around or north of Wichita Falls, TX. CAPE values will be surpassing 3000 J/kg again with adequate moisture and decent shear. Even better, the storms shouldn't be moving as fast! The SPC has issued a SLIGHT risk for this area as well. I'll post on here tomorrow morning as soon as we figure out exactly where we're going.