I sat in El Reno with Lou Rou until early afternoon until cells began to initiate around 2 PM, then we sped towards the dryline. The first cell that went up was a doozy, quickly becoming severe. It was tough to see with all the hills and trees, but we could make out a rapidly rotating wall cloud. However, it retreated to the northeast, and where we stopped there were no roads to follow it. As we were repositioning, it dropped a large tornado, just out of sight.
In trying to catch up with it again, I split off from Lou and attempted to get a better position, but he turned out to have made the right call, and saw the second and final tornado this cell produced. I got a whole lot of nothing.
The rest of the day was spent driving through rain. For hours and hours, I tried to break through the massive line with embedded supercells, but system was moving so quickly that it was impossible. I never was able to get in a good position to see anything except a lot of heavy rain and wind.
I did not see any of the damage from the major tornadoes today, as I was further north, but I did drive through Geary, OK, where a tornado had passed west of downtown. Most of the damage was to trees, but I did see a few damaged houses as well, and power was out throughout the whole town. Drivers in town were very good at moving out of the way for emergency vehicles and treating dark stoplights as four-way stops.
The real fun began around 7:30. One cell had been able to form south of the line, and it was bearing down on the town of Beggs. I was north of it at the time, and thought I had enough time to cut in front of it. If I were 15 minutes earlier, I could have been in perfect position. As I came upon the mesocyclone from the north through the driving rain and hail, I had to stop and let it cross the road a few miles in front of me. It was far too dangerous to approach the area of circulation from this position; I could have literally driven into a tornado.
I later learned that this cell produced a tornado that caused damage in Haskell, and I thought I heard that one was reported in Beggs, as well. I definitely made the right call by turning around, and don’t regret missing that tornado one bit.
So yeah, that was my big outbreak day. No pictures, some shaky video footage, but in the end I arrived in Tulsa intact.blog comments powered by Disqus