9 May 2016: Violent tornado near Elmore City, Oklahoma
May 9, 2016: My expectations were not high when I woke up in Wichita this morning, but it was clear there would be severe weather, with the most potential - given the upper-level flow and moisture - in southeastern Oklahoma. Known not-quite-affectionately to chasers as "the jungle," this is a very difficult area to chase, with hills and trees hindering visibility and navigation. Nonetheless, I hit the road. Though I looked at a number of forecast parameters, I was intrigued to see one little cell go up right where the HRRR model said it would. I arrived in its vicinity, near Elmore City, Oklahoma, when it was just a shower. As it grew, I observed eerie "fingers" (shear funnels, presumably) dangle briefly from the storm. Then it began to strengthen, and I dashed a bit east and south near Katie, Oklahoma, and found the top of a hill to observe the areas of rotation. One of these produced a tornado that became the most dramatic I had ever seen. It was on the ground for about 25 minutes. I worried it might run me over (though I had an escape route planned), but it stayed just to my south, where I had a view of its violent motion and could actually hear the tornado's roar. Unfortunately, I later learned there was a fatality along with damage to several homes in the area.
I was then late to get to the wedge tornado near Sulphur and saw it only from a distance. But I did see a pretty white tornado form near Connerville out of a negligible storm. Overall, it was an amazing day.
Video of entire life cycle of the violent tornado that hit in the Elmore City to Katie area of Oklahoma area on May 9, 2016 - plus a pretty white tornado at the end. For best quality, click on gear symbol at lower right of video and choose 1080HD. Video by Chris Kridler.
Click on the thumbnails to see a larger image.
The maturing cell approaches my position east of Elmore City, Oklahoma, over a field of wildflowers.
As the cell near Elmore City was just starting to mature, it produced these eerie shear funnels. (Phone photo)
As rain overtook me, I repositioned slightly east and south and found the top of a hill to get a better view. Two circulations were evident; this one quickly produced the tornado that would go on for 25 incredible minutes.
Violent motion at the ground showed this meant business.
The tornado digs in.
Here's a wider shot showing the impressive mesocyclone with the now cone-shaped tornado.
And an even wider shot - what amazing structure!
The tornado grows and gets closer.
Here, it threatens structures, and it's apparent it will cross the road. Love the wide view of the mesocyclone.
Here it comes.
There was fierce motion at the ground.
Now it kicks up dust in earnest.
A research vehicle plunges down the road ahead of the tornado to deploy scientific instruments.
The colors in the meso were amazing.
The tornado approaches the road. Note the taillights of vehicles much closer than I was!
A wider shot shows the mesocyclone as the tornado tangles with power lines.
The light cone and the dark base.
Unfortunately, the tornado is destroying buildings, as seen by the flying debris.
Stunning mesocyclone and destructive tornado.
Another shot - stunning and terrifying.
I love seeing the entire structure of the mesocyclone and tornado. Unfortunately, here it's really doing damage.
A closer look shows the dust envelope around the funnel.
The white tornado, the jade-green base - I was stunned.
A skinny vortex wraps around the tube.
The tornado continues its destructive path.
Another wide shot reveals the amazing meso.
Unfortunately, it's still causing damage.
Debris and dust wrap around the tornado.
The tornado began to weaken.
But it still showed impressive rotation and did damage.
Not giving up yet...
The rope-out was so pretty, it belied the twister's violence.
The tornado's delicate finale.
It's not quite done - and now it's ethereally beautiful.
A squiggle at the end...
I was lagging behind the business end of the storm at this point and raced to catch up to the wedge north of Sulphur. This is it from a distance.
Another shot of the wedge. By the time I got close to it, it was gone.
At the back of the violent storm - a rainbow.
East of Sulphur, and quite a distance from me, a pretty white tornado formed near Connerville.
The tube was almost translucent.
There was great motion around the funnel.
A gorgeous rope-out!
Skinnier and skinnier...
...until it was just a thread of a tornado.
Here's a shorter video of the Katie, Oklahoma, tornado on May 9, 2016. (The longer video, without music, is above.) For best quality, click on gear symbol at lower right of video and choose 1080HD. Video by Chris Kridler.