The Hunters Become the Hunted
Posted on Tuesday, May 7, 2013 at 5:00 PM MST
GRANITE, OK -- I chased three separate clusters of storms across western Oklahoma. I first captured an isolated supercell north of Clinton, but did have to battle some hills and a less-than-ideal road network. When that storm began to weaken, I dropped south and captured some gorgeous pictures of a line of storms coming out of the Texas Panhandle.
The big adventure came while I was trying to get home. One storm had fired near Fort Cobb and another had fired down near Lawton. I was trying to sneak between them in order to get home, which, looking back on it, may not have been the best decision. However, there was a huge difference between this storm and the storms that ravaged Oklahoma at the end of May: this storm had absolutely zero tornado threat. The main threat was hail between quarter and golf ball size, which will not kill you.
Further complicating the matter was that I was driving through an area that had very little cell service, so getting reliable radar updates proved to be quite difficult. As I passed Mountain View and continued east on Highway 9, I could see a clearing to the east and a clear slot between the two storms for me to pass, so I pressed on. I had been in contact with my dad, and he was able to describe what the radar looked like.
By the time I got to Fort Cobb, the two storms began to dissolve into a line. The curtains of precipitation were closing in on me and it felt like they were closing very fast. I was finally able to re-establish a reliable cell connection and could get radar updates reliable. The run from Anadarko to Chickasha was tense, but I knew as long as I could still see the bright area to the east, I still had a chance to beat the storms. Having the radar updates again was a huge help, as I could tell that the big hail core was still way down by Lawton, so if the storms did swallow me, I would only be dealing with heavy rain and wind.
I made it through Chickasha and east of the storms just as the gap between the two storms closed. Again, I want to stress that there was only heavy rain in there and possibly some small hail, so I would not have been putting myself in a huge amount of danger if I did get caught in there. I scurried home to Norman ahead of the storm. It came through Norman about half an hour after I got home struggling to maintain itself above severe limits. It dumped a lot of rain on us, and I saw a few wind gusts around 50 mph, but that was it.
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