Cyclone Road


Sunday, March 28, 2004

MARCH 27 2004

The day began with two storms competing for the
attention of chasers, one north (which produced the
Vici tornado?great TWC footage, guys!) and one storm
to the south. I was on the southern storm from
initiation, and spent quite a while in Elk City
waiting for it to approach me as it dropped baseballs
on Sayre. My idea was to follow it up 33, though I
hoped it would turn more easterly as it became rooted
in the boundary layer. As the storm approached, the
crown of the northern storm dominated the skyline with
bright sunlight glinting off the knuckled anvil. I
drifted north, and, when the tornado warning came,
broke something of a cardinal rule and raced north,
leaving a very healthy storm then approaching Hammon.

I didn?t make it to Vici in time. When I closed on the
storm, and saw also the second development to the west
of Vici, I didn?t like the looks of it and headed back
south. Back and forth, back and forth. I just knew I
was going to manage to miss all the tornadoes by
chasing NOAA tones, but I couldn?t seem to help
myself. Fortunately, I cut east to 183 and dove south
in time to observe a long rope tornado from the
intersection of 33 and 183 facing west toward Butler.
I estimate this tornado was about one-half mile from
me and lasted only about four minutes. Time was 4:05

I followed 33 northeast, paralleling the storm?s
course, and observed a second tornado, which began as
a thin rope, then expanded into a narrow elephant
trunk and finally displayed a very narrow condensation
funnel extending to the ground from the larger upper
half?this is what Shane referred to that we called
?half a tornado.? No question from the size of this
tube that it was on the ground. This tornado appeared
very soon after one of the storm?s frequent
occlusions, and almost appeared to be on a gust front.
However, it was obviously a full tornado and not a
gustnado, just in an unusual spot.

I then dropped down to Clinton and watched the
beautiful supercell sit on the interstate and make one
effort after another to produce a fully-backlit
tornado, but to no avail. Finally this storm began
drifting east northeast, cycling from a compact
classic into a small HP and back again, but not with
the same success at funnel production. Then,
intending only to shoot structure, Eric Nguyen, Scott
Currens, and I saw the twin funnels, one of which
apparently dropped, southwest of Okarche. This was a
complete surprise, as were most of the day?s
tornadoes, forming quickly from hastily-organized wall
clouds then disappearing without a trace soon
afterwards. Later we wondered if both storms
interacted with leftover outflow from the morning?s
convection, as they seemed to produce tornadoes when
structurally they did not seem at the height of their

Had a fun dinner at the Pizza Hut in Oklahoma City
with Eric Nguyen, Scott Blair, Jason Politte (whose
excellent video I owe a review), and some others from
OU. Nothing better than celebrating a great chase
with old friends. Also enjoyed running into Shane,
Chad, Jo, Blake Naftel (a true road warrior), Graham
Butler, Dave Drummond, and Tony Laubach. It was quite
a chaser confab out here today. So I had the best of
both worlds this weekend: the caprock all to myself
Friday, and a wild tornado chase with friends (and
every chaser within 250 miles) on Saturday.

I?ll post captures and stills when I return to Indiana
tomorrow night, and post some video segments as well.
Thanks to Evan Bookbinder of SGF for relaying a report
to OUN. Also, I can?t say enough about the flawless
nowcasting of Jeff Gammons and Mike Hollingshead.
Huge thanks to both.

Amos Magliocco

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Saturday, March 27, 2004

For whatever it's worth, the models have misjudged
precip with this system consistently for the last few
days. The 18Z RUC eliminated all precip in the Texas
and Oklahoma panhandles for yesterday evening, as it
had done the day before. Both days saw small storms.

I don't have a clear target yet either. Right now I'm
tempted to just get on the road and make for Shamrock
and check data again later for cloud breaks or some
localized backing along the dryline. I don't see any
features like that at the moment, and I wonder if the
surface is going to look wacky for a few hours in the
wake of that initial impulse moving through--the
subsidence on the backside. Right now, clouds look
thinnest in extreme southwest Oklahoma, but that may
soon fill in from this new, low level stuff forming in
the eastern Texas panhandle. I'm on a slow connection
and can't loop anything to look for secondary impulses
for later today. Guess I'll be going on faith---LOL.


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Friday, March 05, 2004

The system that came through the plains and upper Mississippi Valley this week didn't yield the sort of storms that chasers hoped for. A powerful but tornadically inefficient squall line developed in west central Texas on Thursday and raced east into the Arklatex region and beyond, causing major wind damage and generating seventeen tornado reports which may or may not be accurate. No chasers reported witnessing tornadoes, and most noted the frustration of wind, rain, and fast-moving linear convection. The weather pattern quiets for the next several days and only the medium-range forecast models suggest another round of active weather toward the middle of March.

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Everybody in the southern plains is trying to make sense of the next storm system moving through tomorrow and Thursday. It looks to be badly timed and out of phase for everybody except those who can chase the Big Bend region of southwest Texas on Wednesday afternoon. Then the upper level trough goes negative tilt and swings through Oklahoma and the midwest, but apparently with so much cloud debris ahead of it that insolation is limited and CAPE values are nil.

It's still early March. Still I plan to leave the gear out and ready to go. Just last week, while working to prepare the truck, I had no idea or thoughts of chasing Monday. That's the way it is in spring--suddenly you're chasing. What a transition!

Monday, March 01, 2004

Things look on track this morning with clearning developing already in western sections of Illinois and dewpoints reaching the upper 40's with a few fifties. I think the chances exist for a few 64/52 readings in areas along and south of the I-74 to I-80 corridor depending on the amount of insolation. With a negligible cap in the cold-core style regime, storms could fire relatively quickly and move into favorable low level shear. I hope some fire south enough to spend more than an hour or so in the favorable theta-e air--RUC breaks out precip first quite far north. We'll see.

I'm leaving for Peoria in about an hour and hope to see some low-toppers!

I still think tomorrow (meaning later today, Monday March 1) in Illinois is marginally interesting. Tonight, storms
fired in the dryslotted area of southeastern Kasnas and did so near nightfall with 50 temps /upper 40 dps. They were small and weak but one (maybe more--didn't check) went severe, and, more importantly the area cleared out very nicely. I expect much the same effect in western Illinois tomorrow. The line of showers is passing through IL right now, and is very elevated and thus having no effect on BL moisture. Dewpoints behind the showers remain in the 40's and continue to climb.

RUC forecasts clearing skies and with temps in the 60's and dews in the 50's, I certainly think low-topped supercells southeast of the main upper low are possible. I don't know if they're likely or not, but possible, with the very cold midlevel temps of aruond -25C. Deep layer shear should be on the order of about 45 knots and low layer shear is marginally supportive of rotation. SRH values should range around 200 m/s in the area from west central Illinois to the Indiana border. I am thinking the area from Bloomington/Normal to Peoria would be interesting, mainly because it seems the best compromise between promximity to the upper low and access to the better dewpoints. And it's on the interstate highway--built for speed! LOL! Of course I'll look for any boundaries that might remain from tonight's activity, too, and adjust accordingly.

I think storms will fire early, perhaps between 1:00 PM and 4:00 PM, and take off to the east northeast. By 0Z the show will be over as instability disappears after sunset.

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