Daily Mission Update : 2010-05-19
Report Detail - Day 19 --> 27 days left
Day 19 started out with SPC reports of a high risk outlook for severe weather in central Oklahoma. The morning forecast was accurate with reports at the end of the day of 25 tornadoes, 20 reports of hail (five reports of 2 inch or greater diameter hail) and several high wind reports. We left our hotel earlier than normal this morning starting out of Amarillo, TX and heading eastward on I-40, to Clinton, OK, then shot north on route 183 to towns like Custer City and Thomas, OK. As storm towers began to go up quite explosively in the region, the FC (field coordinators) selected a target storm and the teams positioned themselves accordingly. Thankfully, today`s storm motion was slower than those which we had experienced previously and so it allowed the mobile mesonet and probe teams to gather data moving east, then north and then east again. As the probe vehicles were in transit, obtaining relative humidity and wind velocity data, the storm underwent a number of cycles, strengthening and weakening, then strengthening again. The storm intensified at a rapid pace, becoming tornado warned very quickly. The entire storm was high in precipitation, and the tornado quickly became wrapped in rain, making visibility almost impossible from our positions relative to the storm (it was large, so part of it was to our north, part of it was to our southwest, and the entire system was traveling to the east northeast). Additionally, the local media had their helicopter in the air, circling the storm, and we heard play-by-play accounts of what they were saying as it was broadcast over local radio stations. It was very surreal to be driving along a storm which, according to what we were hearing over the radio, was producing a large and damaging tornado. We were instructed to continue traveling east, and there was brief consideration of having the probes deploy PODs to the north of route 33, where the tornado was supposed to cross the road, but it was determined that we wouldn`t have enough time to do so safely so that plan was aborted. Instead, we continued to the east, coming up on the town of Kingfisher, OK. By this time the chaser convergence and it was very frustrating. All of the chasers on the road really hampered the Vortex2 crew`s movements and endangered the safety of everyone. Just outside of Kingfisher, the region of strongest rotation/circulation passed almost directly above our probe vehicles - literally, we saw a large funnel form almost directly over our heads - but that, too, became rain-wrapped before we could see any sort of touch down from our vantage points. This storm weakened shortly after our close encounter, and operations ended for the day while there was still daylight, so we dropped south on 74 and made it to Edmond around 8pm.