April 28, 2006 Chase

I chased solo this day, and got a late start. Because of this, the preferred target area early in the day was out of reach, which forced me to choose a closer one. After looking over some data before leaving, I was convinced southwest Oklahoma would actually be the better play for tornadoes. Though the target further south had the best instability, I noticed what appeared to be a mesolow forming near Childress. With the environmental shear and instability already "doable", this feature looked to enhance this area. I grabbed my gear and headed to Altus.

I drove through town once I got there, and proceeded further south and west on OK6 through Olustee and Eldorado. South of Eldorado but still north of the Texas border, I decided to stop and watch some distant towers. I could tell they meant business, but couldn't decide which way to approach them; I had no direct route to the storms, so I was faced with the challenge of either going further south into Texas and then turning back west, or heading back north and then going west. Neither choice would be a quick one, but I had to make a decision. After a bit of wembling, I chose to go north.

I went back to Eldorado, then jumped onto OK5 west, and took that west and north towards Gould. As I drove, low-level clouds were starting to block my view of the original towers I had been targeting. Eventually I began to see a new storm, north of the others and considerably closer. By the time I got to Gould and headed west on US62, it was obvious this was the storm I needed to be on. I continued west to Hollis, where I turned north onto OK30. By now the storm had gone severe and was the only thing around. I raced north trying to beat the storm to my next east option, OK9. I was able to get there before the storm and headed east. I drove a few miles ahead, then stopped to watch the storm.

I wasn't at all impressed, as the storm's base was very linear and outflowish, with the southern edge visibly pushing out to the southwest. Despite this, I noted that ahead of the storm there was still strong surface inflow. I figured the storm still had a fighting chance, and since it was now the only thing around, I stayed on it. I continued my game of driving ahead and then stopping for a minute or two, all the way down OK9 through Vinson and Reed, until I reached OK34 just north of Mangum. I went north four miles until I caught OK9 again, and continued east. I stopped again a few miles west of Granite.

The storm's base had looked rather benign the entire time due to its outflow nature, but as I sat there watching, I noticed what I thought looked like some rotation developing. Between my previous visual observations and the reports I was hearing via scanner from other chasers who were closer than I was, I hadn't expected to see anything close to rotation in the low levels. I did a double take and looked harder at the storm's updraft base. It wasn't yet strong, but there was definitely rotation developing there. A notch was appearing as well, and the rotation continued to intensify quickly.

A wall cloud developed suddenly, followed moments later by a funnel, and before I even knew it was happening, a tornado was in progress. At first I didn't believe it because the storm had looked so bad for so long, but apparently it found something it liked. The tornado continued as a fully condensed cone funnel, and began churning up a vigorous debris cloud. However this phase was short, and as quickly as it had come, the tornado began to dissipate and in less than a minute was gone.

I jumped back in my car, continued east a bit more, then stopped again. A new area of rotation had developed southeast of the original one, which was now filled with rain and dissipating altogether. I watched this new area for a few minutes, but the overall storm seemed to have done its thing. I went through Granite and then turned south, not wanting to deal with the Quartz Mountains inside the storm. I drove south out of the storm's way, and noticed a new storm trying to develop off its south flank. However this amounted to nothing, and once I made it to US 283, I decided to turn back east onto OK44 towards Lugert, and trail the original storm.

I negotiated the Quartz Mountains anyway, following behind the storm which was obviously not what it had been earlier. I went through Lone Wolf and Hobart (while going through the storm as well), and ended up heading south on US183 having cleared the storm. I found a nice viewing spot and stopped to observe the now-decaying storm. It was pretty but had run its course. I continued south to Snyder, eventually taking up a position on the overpass at the US183/62 intersection. New storms had developed and were coming in from the southwest, but after about ten minutes I realized they weren't going to amount to much. I called it a day and headed home.