Saturday, April 14, 2012 (Southwest KS/Northwest OK, 745 mi.)

Synopsis

After hours of stress and disappointment, the tail-end dryline storm redeems this particularly crazy day.

Observed 5 tornadoes, and hail to quarter size.

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Left home around 8:30am, and started chasing by 12:30pm after lunch in ICT. Never bothered getting out my camera until after 7:00pm. What a long, stressful day -- the kind that has never panned out for me historically, until now.

I chased four supercells over an eight-hour span. The first three (#1 - W/N of Greensburg, #2 - S/E of Pratt, #3 - NW Harper Co., KS) were completely unrewarding in every way, especially given the parameters in place. By 6:30pm, I was resigned to going home in disgrace, as has been typical on High Risk days. I dropped S out of Attica into northern Alfalfa Co., where I found I had absolutely zero data on either Verizon or AT&T. After all the money I've invested in data plans, antennas and amplifiers, etc., it was NWR and local radio that provided me with the information I used to intercept the long-lived, cyclic beast that tracked from Woodward Co. to ICT. I strongly suspect that having data would have allowed me to intercept this storm earlier, and thus bag a couple more tornadoes than I did, so I'd like to give a big shout-out to Pioneer Cellular and their non-roaming towers for screwing chasers year-after-year.

Basically, after sitting helplessly for awhile at the OK-58/OK-11 intersection near Burlington as one clearly non-tornadic supercell passed by, I was eventually able to get detailed locations on the southernmost cell from a local radio station. I then dropped S to Cherokee, and watched in awe as tail-end Charlie approached my location.

I must admit, I was slightly frustrated that the new meso which dropped the drillbit/cone just W of town couldn't really get its act together until it did. By that time, road options had forced me to rocket E on OK-11 for the long-term play. It finally paid off when I watched the fat stovepipe pass near Manchester from a mile S of town.

I'm not much for night chasing, so I wasn't too aggressive in trying to play catch-up N of the state line. However, while driving back toward I-35 in southern Harper/Sumner Co., I could periodically make out one or two of the stout tornadoes ravaging the Argonia/Conway Springs area.