Friday, September 15, 2006 — Northwest OK


Getting a late start leads to watching supercells on the southern High Plains from a distance, instead of up-close.

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This turned out to be the longest trip of 2006 distance-wise, but far from the most productive, unfortunately. Despite the cap and resultant questions about initiation (not to mention the climatologically unfavorable time of year), Bryan, Brandon, Kristina and I left Norman in Brandon’s car at about 3:30pm to head west towards the vicinity of Elk City. I guess part of the attraction this day offered was the potential for severe storms over the excellent terrain of the Southern High Plains, something that had been sorely lacking throughout the spring of 2006.

After trekking out to Clinton on I-40, it was time to decide whether to continue heading westward or begin moving northward. After consulting with some of the usual experienced chasers via cellphone, we determined the best course of action would be to take US-183 north from Clinton into Dewey County. We quickly lost cell reception, and had little idea of where to head since skies remained clear with temperatures in the mid 90s. We stopped in Vici for wifi and found no echoes whatsoever on any of the surrounding radar sites. While we were checking data, a couple OU chasers Brandon knew happened to pass by; they stopped to say hi and informed us that they were headed back, expecting a cap bust.

Not ones to give up easily, especially on an autumn chase and after already driving over 150 miles, we decided we wanted to continue on - but to where? With the grad students still out of cell service, we were left to our own devices, which is never a good thing. Though continuing westward on US-60 towards the TX state line would have been the most prudent option, I had the bright idea of instead heading north to Woodward, where we could stop again to check data when we arrived.

No more than ten minutes after leaving Vici, we got ahold of the other chasers again, who were already out in the northeast TX Panhandle where any pre-sunset convection was likely to occur. Of course, we were already committed to taking the north-northwest route to Woodward at this point thanks to my stupid idea. Now intent on getting westward as quickly as possible, we blew through Woodward and took OK-15 through Gage and Shattuck back down to OK-60, granting us westward access into the Texas Panhandle. Now nearing 7:00pm, impressive convection was becoming visible in the distant west and northwest sky, but it was rather obvious as we crossed the state line and pulled into Higgins, TX, that we would be far too late to catch anything before sundown, so we began the lengthy drive back.

Brandon was running low on gas, so we stopped in Vici, and I took the opportunity to at least salvage a complete waste of a day and took some photos of the distant supercells with the sun setting.