Monday, May 23, 2016 — Northwest OK


Breaking away from the hordes pays off for once, with a picturesque tornado in front of the setting sun.

Observed 1 tornado.

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Daniel Betten and I started out in Elk City after lunch, but quickly decided to hedge more north toward the dryline-OFB intersection on the OK/KS border. After meandering up toward Shattuck, we endured a couple agonizing hours baking in the sun as Cu failed to deepen much; all the while, a full-fledged supercell was ongoing well to the S near Clarendon. Eventually, a couple updrafts developed along the OFB to our NE, which sent us off in that direction. While they dissipated in short order, an explosive new updraft over WWR became our next target, and ultimately proved fruitful.

We watched the WWR storm from S of town for awhile early on. It's common for chasers (including myself) to overuse the "LP" monkier these days; this was one of those textbook cases where it really applied, though, at least for its first hour or so.

Eventually, the tornado risk appeared to be ramping up visually, so we closed in on the base. We spent much of the first cycle darting back and forth through the main intersection, unsure whether to set up shop E or N of town. Thankfully, this first cycle was not close to producing, or we might've really blown it. When the second cycle began in earnest, we had finally figured out that the storm was drifting N, so we headed up that way and stopped on OK-34 a few miles N of town for the show. The main daytime tornado appeared to last 10-15 minutes, but was only intermittently condensed as a cone for a minute or so at a time. This would have been decent enough on its own, but finally getting the fabled "sun behind tornado" shot I've dreamt of year after year really augmented the experience.

Our only regret was failing to recognize that a paved E-W road was available a couple miles N of where we stopped on OK-34, which probably would have led us right up to the funnel. Still, with rain wrapping in the immediate vicinity of the tornado, positioning there might well have had its own downsides. A very solid chase day that would soon be overshadowed by its successor, but we went home more than content, regardless!