Chris Kridler's Sky Diary: storm chasing, photography and rainy-day tales

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gallery: May 19, 2010

May 19, 2010: I started the day with Scott McPartland, Dave Lewison, Bill Hark, Mark Robinson and crew in Shamrock, Texas. We drove to Weatherford, Oklahoma, to wait for storms to fire. A couple did and almost immediately produced tornadoes, but we were nowhere near them - and then, as the storms went more high-precipitation and we caught up with the one near Leedey, it provided awesome structure but not much in the way of tornadoes unless you were in the hail or flying a news helicopter (one got great footage of a tornado near Kingfisher). It was still a fun chase. We split up as we caught up with the storm. I chose to stay south of it and got some nice pictures of the rotating mesocyclone, the hail core and a funnel west of Guthrie, where the tornado sirens were screaming as I drove through. I ended the day with a fantastic sunset in Arcadia, as the storms moved east and my Plains storm chase winds down. Share

Click on the thumbnails to see a larger image, or view these photos as a gallery. From the gallery pages, click the "up" arrow to return to this index.

051910-01 051910-02 051910-03
The crew hangs out in Weatherford, Oklahoma, waiting for action. Mark Robinson. Dayna releases bubbles into the strong surface wind.
051910-04 051910-05 051910-06
Mark's crew improvised a hail shield. Brad and Dave discuss their options. I am continually fascinated by the amount of stuff Mark's crew can fit into the van.
051910-07 051910-08 051910-09
We caught up with this storm near Leedey shortly after it produced a tornado. The convection was impressive. We had to do some circumnavigating to get across the Canadian River. When we caught up with the storm again, our party split up. This was my view of the storm as it moved east. The storm had impressive motion, but also HP (high-precipitation) characteristics.
051910-10 051910-12 051910-13
Another view of what might have been an area of rotation. The large mesocyclone surges over a wheat field. I tried to stay ahead of it, but I had no edge like the helicopter, a dot in this photo. Perhaps hundreds of storm chasers were on this road, Route 33 from Watonga east.
051910-14 051910-15 051910-16
A wall cloud menaces a house. This is a quick snapshot taken while driving. The wall cloud looks ominous.
051910-17 051910-18 051910-19
Did someone say "core"? Looks like a lot of hail to me. The storm is moving a little south of east, making the chase difficult on the east-west road for many, many chasers. The storm was beginning to move south of the road, bringing hail with it.
051910-20 051910-21 051910-22
Here's a video grab of the rotating wall cloud over the road. As the storm eased south over the road and the bazllion storm chasers using it, the circulation was also over the road, and a funnel formed. The funnel persisted for a couple of minutes but did not touch down. I scooted east to stay ahead of the meso and the core, which was wrapping around the circulation.
051910-23 051910-24 051910-25
I drove through Guthrie ahead of most of the crowd with the tornado sirens screaming. Immediately east of town - that is, east of I-35 - the territory becomes hostile to chasing, with hills and trees. I stopped for a photo. I stopped at Pops in Arcadia, an awesome gas station/restaurant/shrine to soda (with 500 types). Josh Wurman was getting interviewed in front of the giant bottle sculpture. Here's a view of Pops, on old Route 66, as the storms moved east at sunset. I love the architecture.
051910-26 051910-27 051910-28
Clouds and Pops. If the bottle appears to change colors in the photos, it's because it does - it's lit with ever-changing colors. Take a drink of cloud ... The whole line was moving east. This is the back end.
051910-29 051910-30 051910-31
There goes the sun. The gorgeous light lit up the retreating storms, and in the distance, you can see one more. Our group met up again in Shawnee to share tales of hail, tornadoes, muddy roads, and chaser follies.

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