Destructive Hailstorms Pound the Oklahoma City Metro
Posted on Monday, May 28, 2012 at 5:00 PM MST
BLANCHARD, OK -- Destructive hailstorms pounded the Oklahoma City metro on May 29th, bringing enormous hail, 80 mph winds, and a few tornadoes to the area.
Storms formed in the late afternoon near Lawton, OK and started moving to the northeast. One was particularly persistent and long-lived and was tracking right up Interstate 44. I left home around 6:30 PM and headed west on Highway 9 to chase it.
One of the golden rules to chasing monster storms like this, especially when they have a history of producing huge hail, is that you need to give them a wide berth as they can grow or shift course without warning. It is also a very good idea on days like this to keep yourself between the storm and home so you don't get trapped. I headed south on Highway 76 out of Blanchard down the eastern flank of the storm, looking for good shots.
It quickly became obvious that I needed to get back east to get a better shot of the storm, so I turned east on the 74B Spur where I got some good shots of the storm. I then continued south on Highway 74, getting much better shots of the storm. I found a large open gravel parking lot at the junction of Highways 74 and 24 where I could stop and get more great shots of the storm. I had to keep an eye on the radar though.
A short while later, the storm did make a right hand turn and was red-lined for Norman, so I had to scurry home ahead of it. Thankfully, I was only about 15 minutes from home, and the storm turned back to the left and missed Norman. It was starting to get dark, so it was time to head home anyway.
I turned the weather on when I got home, and saw that downtown Oklahoma City was in the crosshairs of about 4 of these monster storms that were producing just enormous hail. The storm that I was chasing was coming up from the southwest and there were three more supercells lined up like box cars on a freight train moving in from the northwest. The lead storm in that line produced 5-inch hail near Kingfisher, OK and was still producing 5-inch hail as it moved into the northwest metro.
The storm began pounding the north and northwest sides of Oklahoma City with wind-driven baseball to softball sized hail, which was way worse than the huge hail I saw on April 9th in Woodward (there was very little wind with that storm). Just when you though it couldn't get any crazier, a tornado was reported near Piedmont, in almost the exact location that the EF-5 tornado hit on May 24, 2011. This tornado was thankfully weak and short lived. Significant hail damage was reported all over Oklahoma City.
Later that night around 10:30 PM, another monster storm took aim at Norman. I battened down the hatches and waited for it to arrive. The storm came ripping through with 65-70 mph winds, but amazingly no hail. It was a wild ride, and the next day had a Moderate Risk up and appeared to be looking even crazier.
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