d ~ 301'017'600 km: day 117
I have been storm chasing since 2004 and have now seen 43 Tornadoes with 2010 being the best season yet with 22 Tornadoes in 6 weeks.
On the 30th May 2010 we headed up towards Oklahoma City. That night an intense hailstorm erupted and moved towards our location at the Hotel, this Storm went on for a good 5 hours and kept some of us awake most of the night with the vivid lightning and loud thunder.
We awoke to a Slight risk for thunderstorms in SE Colorado so I gathered the troops and went west from Oklahoma city towards the Oklahoma panhandle. Models were showing juts a 2% risk for a tornado today and when this happens it goes one of two ways, nothing much of note or that rare day in the year when the 2% is easily succeeded. Luckily it was the latter today and one of the most photogenic tornadoes in the last 6 years would be observed by us.
Image © Paul Sherman/Netweather.tv
At around 5pm a Supercell that had been ongoing for a few hours started to drop a few funnel clouds and weak tornadoes around the Springfield area of SE Colorado (the same place we had seen another tornado just 6 days earlier). We gassed the car up and headed even further west hoping the show would not be over by the time we got there. Upon approaching Boise City in the OK Panhandle we finally got a view of the base of the storm to our North West. It had a beautiful Classic Supercell look to it and had a Wall cloud hanging in the SW Quadrant. I took a north farm road blasting through a smaller storm a few miles up that road that contained some small pea sized hail and stopped back in the dry about 5 miles SE Of the almost stationery Supercell.
We all got out of the car to take some pictures of the structure of the storm when a powerful funnel cloud appeared almost at that instant (it was almost as if it was waiting for us to park up and get the cameras all set-up on the tripod).
We were then treated to a Wizard of Oz type twister which elegantly snaked it's way to the ground from the rotating wall cloud, the storm was still moving towards us from the North West so we had lots of time to observe this beautiful tornado in bathed sunlight and temperatures of 80f, a warm inflow breeze from the South East prevailed all the time. The tornado was now morphing into a large cone tornado and was on the ground for a full 17 minutes out of the rain.
Image © Paul Sherman/Netweather.tv
After that time the wet RFD (Rear Flank Downdraught) made the tornado go back into the rain and we briefly lost sight of it, but after about 5 minutes the 2nd tornado would appear clearing the rain out and a lot closer to us, this tornado only lasted about 3 minutes, the last tornado appeared about 10 minutes after and only lasted for about 2 minutes.
The storm was by this time almost at our location and losing it's power as it moved more southerly now instead of south-easterly (clearly the boundary it had left as it moved direction had a marked effect on it's lifespan) Numerous other storms were erupting now as darkness fell and at one point on the drive back to our overnight location in Liberal (Kansas) we were surrounded by 4 Supercells which were giving us a 360 degree view of lightning. We punched through a few of the storms cores on the drive back and the new chasers who had just witnessed that as a first chase day thought every day was going to be like that, if only they could.........
Really hoping 2011 will be as active as last year but once again seeing Tornadoes over open prairie as opposed to built up areas is desired. We set off on 28th April and head to central US. We hope to keep you posted right here on the BBC 23 Degrees blog and on netweather.tv.