Oklageddon and the Quakenado
Posted on Sunday, November 6, 2011 at 5:00 PM MST
FORT COBB, OK -- Tornadoes and severe thunderstorms broke out across southwest Oklahoma, netting me my first tornado since March and gave me at least one last chase before the winter sets in. The SPC had been forecasting this event since the end of last week, so I knew the potential was there for all facets of severe weather...hail, damaging wind, and tornadoes.
I had identified two possible target areas on Monday morning. One was along the I-40 corridor near Weatherford, and the other was just to the north and west of the I-44 corridor between Lawton and Chickasha. I was in class most of the day, so I wasn't able to leave Norman until about 2:30 PM. I wanted to get down near Snyder, but that was pretty unfeasable to get down there and see anything before dark. So I opted to play further north, gambling that there would still be discrete supercell producing tornadoes once they got north.
I chose to head west on I-40 to start, which would leave me with the most options (there were also some grumblings about storms possibly firing north of I-40). The plan was then to surge south when things started looking good. There were two supercells on the menu to choose from. One was east of Hobart, headed for the Weatherford area, and the other one was northeast of Snyder, and already had at least 2 confirmed tornadoes on it. The Hobart storm seemed to be blossoming as I was leaving Oklahoma City, so I opted to continue west to try and intercept it near Weatherford.
I got off I-40 in Hinton, Oklahoma, about 20 miles east of Weatherford, between the 2 supercells, which were both Tornado-Warned at the time. I sat in the back of a parking lot of a casino watching both cells and taking some pictures, but then realized that these storms were moving a lot slower than I originally thought. It was time to pick one and attack it.
I went back and forth trying to decide which storm to pick, but the eastern storm that had produced the Snyder and Tipton tornadoes seemed to get a second life, so I chose that one. I needed to get south, but didn't want to punch the core, so I doubled back and headed east on I-40 then blasted south right along the eastern edge of it. The storm seemed to be headed towards Anadarko, so I set that as my target. It seemed like an eternity to get down there (the storm was over a pretty big road hole), but I rolled into Anadarko shortly after another wedge tornado was reported on the ground near Fort Cobb. By now, though, it was after 5:00 and we were losing daylight fast.
With a race against the clock before the sun set, I turned north and surged out in front of the hook. Looking back at the core, you could tell something was in there, but you couldn't tell if it was indeed the tornado you were looking at or whether it was rain wrapping around the tornado. Either way, I was within 2 miles of the twister, so it was enough for me to chalk it up as at least one last tornado tally for 2011 (I had a couple earlier in the year in Florida). I heard the Tornado Warning expire from just southeast of the base as we neared total darkness and began the very satisfying drive back to Norman. I was greeted by another 4.7 magnitude earthquake shortly after arriving home, putting the experience of November 7th into a class by itself.
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