March 30, 2006 Chase

I chased solo on this day, and left my house at around 10:45am, anticipating an early event. I headed southwest to Chickasha on OK9, towards an area of storms I'd seen on radar as I walked out the door. I was briefly tempted to turn back to the northwest and pursue a supercell storm moving along I-40 west of El Reno, but resisted the temptation, owing to the fact the storm would be crossing the boundary into stable air before I could reach it. I managed to reach Chickasha, and then kept moving south. I found myself eventually at the intersection of OK17 and US81, in Rush Springs. I decided to wait it out and listen to the scanner, to see what my next move should be.

After a few minutes, I decided to head west on OK17, and took off for about five miles before I realized this was the wrong move. I turned back and then went south on US81, headed to Marlow. The scanner reports were placing the most-intense storm near there, so I continued south, with the plan to set up on the north side of town, with an east option on OK29 if I needed it. I reached the north side of town as the storm's base came into view. I stopped and watched a well-developed wall cloud that was consistent, but not rotating. After ten or so minutes, it began to rain and my view was vanishing. I decided to move trough town to the south side, for a better view of the base. Once clear of the precip on the south end of Marlow, a classic "whale's mouth" formation loomed to the west, indicating the storm's severe but non-tornadic nature. I briefly considered going east on OK29 to stay with this storm, but a new scanner report of another developing storm southwest of Duncan caught my attention. I decided to abandon the Marlow storm and head south to Duncan for this new storm.

I didn't quite beat the core to town, as I was inundated as I rolled into the north side of Duncan. The rain was blinding, as I crept through the heart of town at a snail's pace, along with city traffic. After what seemed like an eternity, I finally managed to break free of the precipitation just as I reached my east option, with the storm's base in full view. It looked like all the others I'd seen to that point: benign. The base was high and linear, but this was the last storm in the line. I decided to keep going east and stay ahead of it, to see what would happen. After just a mile or two, I could already see pieces of scud being pulled into the base, as a wall cloud began to form. The evolution of this process was incredible to watch, as this mesocyclone developed rapidly from what had been a linear junk storm just minutes earlier.

The wall cloud continued to intensify, but a saturated RFD was developing on its western flank, and I could tell there was now a window of time for viewing this rotation. At one point, I saw a flock of geese flying very near the RFD/updraft interface. The RFD continued to encroach as the wall cloud continued to intensify. Moments later, a funnel began to form and rapidly descended, coming three quarters of the way to the ground. Though I couldn't see any debris I suspected this was now a tornado. In either case, the dense rain curtain was now wrapping around the funnel, beginning to obscure it completely, as I grabbed my tripod, jumped in my car, and continued east.

I drove a mile or so, looking back to see a completely rain-wrapped mesocyclone looming. I decided to keep driving, hoping I could regain my view of the funnel/tornado. After a bit further, I could once again see a large cone funnel, buried in the rain. I drove further, trying to get a better view, and eventually the rain curtains parted enough to give me my first view of this fully-condensed tornado. I immediately pulled over, grabbed my tripod, and started shooting video. The tornado grew larger, eventually morphing into a large teardrop shape at its peak. The tornado began to stretch vertically and narrow soon afterwards, finally roping out after just a few minutes. Noting a new area of rotation developing further east, I jumped back in the car and continued eastbound on OK7 towards Velma.

After nearing the Velma area, I stopped again and broke out the tripod, as the storm cycled up once more and produced a large funnel. The funnel remained for a few minutes, and touched down briefly to become the second tornado of the day. Once this one dissipated, it was time to move again. I drove east until I reached OK76, then blasted north, in an attempt to get in front of the storm before it crossed the highway. My next main east option was OK29, but as I neared the small town of Pernell, the storm caught me. I pulled over and tried to see the reported tornado I heard on the scanner, but could see none. I decided I didn't want to mess with driving into the circulation, and instead turned around and went back south, fighting RFD winds of around 60mph as I drove. After a half mile or so, the winds calmed down and I was in the clear. I rushed south back to OK7, then continued east. My plan was to get to I-35 and then blast north again, to try and do what I failed to do near Pernell.

I made it to the interstate, then flew north, trying in vain to catch up to the storm. It had become less interesting, and I'd heard no more reports of tornadoes with it since the ones I observed. Still, I continued north. Eventually I realized I wouldn't get to the storm before it crossed the interstate, but a second storm had developed just west of it, which I did have time to catch. As I drew nearer this new storm however, it was obvious that it was ingesting the used up cold air from the previous storm's outflow, and would not be a tornado threat. By this time I was only a half hour from home, so I decided it had been a good day, and threw in the towel. I was back home before dark, after a successful backyard chase that netted me two near-exclusive tornadoes.