Thursday, March 22, 2012

Central Oklahoma Surprise 03/21/2012

After noticing that some low-topped storms were on the way to developing, and with minimum equipment on board (iPhone and DSLR) I (Gene) left Cordell shortly before 1:00 CDT heading out east on SR 152 to observe what might happen - expecting a bit of hail and maybe a funnel-cloud or two.  On the road a few miles east of Cordell, it became apparent visually and was confirmed by radar that a storm moving NW from the Carnegie-Ft. Cobb area was gaining strength so it was a go for Eakly and points south to intercept.  Noted a few strokes of lightning while on the way.  Upon reaching the SR 58 junction I headed south toward Alfalfa and set up to watch about a mile south of the little town.  As the storm strengthened further, a rather ragged wall-cloud began to come together.

View to the W from 1 mile S of Alfalfa at 1:29 CDT:

After remaining at this spot for only a few minutes, I elected to return north to Alfalfa and head out west along a paved county road to get a closer look.  As I headed west a funnel cloud formed on what was now a  small, low-topped supercell. (Note the picture below seems to show a second funnel further north which I do not recollect observing.)

Wide angle view to the W from 2 W of Alfalfa at 1:35 CDT:

As I proceeded west the funnel cloud began to extend downward and it appeared that it might actually make ground contact.

View to the W from abt 3 W of Alfalfa at 1:37 CDT:

After taking a few shots (since I figured the possible tornado would not be very long-lived) I blasted further W to see if I could confirm ground contact.  While on the way a pencil-thin condensation touched down and upon reaching the top of the next hill, I was able to observe a small amount of dust and grass debris even though at that point the condensation extended only about half-way to the ground.

View to the W from abt 5 W of Alfalfa at 1:43 CDT:

The very weak tornado persisted for a few minutes tossing up pieces of grass/wheat chaff and a small amount of dust (the ground was damp from a previous shower) and then suddenly and quickly dissipated at about 1:46 CDT.  

I followed the storm nearly back to Cordell and then eventually made a circle back around to another storm in the Carnegie area, but for the remainder of this short, local chase I encountered nothing more than a few strokes of lightning, some moderate rain and a bit of nickel-sized hail.

This was an expensive chase however, as I left my DSLR on top of my car at one point as I moved toward the tornado in stages and it made ground contact with the asphalt and the damage it suffered was catastrophic on the DSLR-based EF scale!

Chase Data:
Solo Chase by Gene (Eric was able to observe the tornado from Cordell)
Miles: 176 (two 80 mile circles)
Tornadoes: 1

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