djburnette.com
Storm Chase: 29 May 2006

Chasers: Dorian J. Burnette, Sarah Glenn, Jeremy Howard, David LaRue, Brittany Millspaugh, Cory Phelps, and Chris Wilson

Preliminary Destination: Medicine Lodge, KS

Note: Images are shown as thumbnails in the chase account. Click on the thumbnail to view a larger image.

The storm chase commenced in Medicine Lodge, KS where we sat for about an hour watching growing storm towers primarily off to our west and southwest (images below; view is looking west and southwest from Medicine Lodge). We were also watching the radar and satellite data, and as 5 p.m. approached, the storms to our southwest in northwestern OK began to look increasingly interesting. Thus, we moved south out of Medicine Lodge on U.S. 281 to intercept.

Towering Cumulus Towering Cumulus Cumulonimbus to the southwest

The best storm was located west of Alva, OK, and we arrived at a good location to view it on U.S. 64 around 5:35 p.m. The storm was showing a couple of inflow notches on radar base reflectivity. Unfortunately, the velocity data are range folded in the location of interest (links to radar below with a blue/white dot denoting our location). Regardless of whether or not there was some modest rotation going on with the storm, our main observation was outflow--lots of outflow. A brief gustnado did develop to our west on the leading edge of a strong downburst (first and second sets of images below; view is west of Alva, OK looking west). Video captures of the gustnado are the second set of images below (sequence goes from left to right). The third set of images below show an intense downburst going on to our immediate south.

Vance AFB, OK Base Reflectivity 2236Z
Vance AFB, OK Base Velocity 2236Z
Vance AFB, OK Base Reflectivity 2241Z
Vance AFB, OK Base Velocity 2241Z
Vance AFB, OK Base Reflectivity 2245Z
Vance AFB, OK Base Velocity 2245Z

Gustnado Gustnado
Gustnado Gustnado Gustnado Gustnado Gustnado Decaying
Downburst Downburst Downburst Downburst

Downburst winds were the main story on this storm chase, and we got our own sample of these winds during our next stop east of Alva, OK. We stopped well ahead of the storm itself, but the downburst winds from the storm were accelerating eastward and quickly arrived at our location (links to radar images are below with a blue/white dot denoting our location). This was not surprising, and Chris Wilson had his wind instrument ready to measure the velocity as the gust front passed by. He and Cory Phelps attempted to read it while ducking behind the car, and it registered wind gusts into the 50 mph range. It may have been underestimating the winds a bit given that Alva, OK recorded a wind gust to 66 mph. Overall, we likely experienced wind gusts on the order of 55 to 65 mph as the gust front moved by. The images below reveal the dust/sand-blown experience!

Vance AFB, OK Base Reflectivity 2257Z
Vance AFB, OK Base Velocity 2257Z
Vance AFB, OK Base Reflectivity 2302Z
Vance AFB, OK Base Velocity 2302Z
Vance AFB, OK Base Reflectivity 2306Z
Vance AFB, OK Base Velocity 2306Z

Downburst Downburst Downburst

The outflow winds were weakening the farther east they moved, and we were easily able to overtake the gust front as we moved eastward on U.S. 64. U.S. 64 turns south north of Cherokee, OK, and we made a third stop at that location to continue to observe the storms to the west and southwest of us (links to the radar images are below with a blue/white dot denoting our location). We continued to observe downburst winds (first set of images below; view is north of Cherokee looking southwest) but we also observed the development of a high-based wall cloud (second set of images below; view is north of Cherokee looking southwest). The overall environment really was not conducive for tornadoes because the storms were becoming outflow dominant quickly and their cloud bases were high. This minor wall cloud lasted only a few minutes and then dissipated.

Vance AFB, OK Base Reflectivity 2323Z
Vance AFB, OK Base Velocity 2323Z
Vance AFB, OK Base Reflectivity 2327Z
Vance AFB, OK Base Velocity 2327Z
Vance AFB, OK Base Reflectivity 2339Z
Vance AFB, OK Base Velocity 2339Z
Vance AFB, OK Base Reflectivity 2344Z
Vance AFB, OK Base Velocity 2344Z

Downburst Downburst Downburst Downburst Downburst
Wall Cloud Wall Cloud

The better storm organization (though it was not great) was definitely off to our southwest, so we continued south on State Highway 8 and stopped southeast of Carmen, OK. Radar images during this stop are below (our location is denoted by a blue/white dot). Only ragged SLCs (Scary Looking Clouds) were observed (images below; view is southeast of Carmen looking west) with downbursts occurring farther to the north.

Vance AFB, OK Base Reflectivity 0013Z
Vance AFB, OK Base Velocity 0013Z

SLC SLC

We continued to follow the storm to the southwest, and eventually ended up southwest of Cleo Springs, OK looking at clouds which were no longer impressive. We decided that we would follow the tail end of the storm eastward watching for any signs of organization, but nothing was noted and darkness was approaching. The storm chase ended viewing and photographing lightning from a truck stop on I-35 east of Billings, OK (images below; view is east of Billings, OK looking west).

Lightning Lightning

Thanks to Kim Huschka at WeatherData for an early morning discussion, and thanks to Rodney Price and Jeff House at WeatherData for nowcasting support in the afternoon and evening.