USA Storm Chase 2019

Day 5: Elk City, OK to Wichita Falls, TX

This day, we had a rare high risk from the SPC (first since May 2017), and an almost unheard of 45% tornado risk box. Unfortunately, the forecast didn't really verify, with the atmosphere having other ideas. The sheer number of storm chasers on the roads, and some horrific dangerous driving, made it a challenging day to say the least! We had lunch in Shamrock, TX, where several other chasers were also watching the weather models and data coming in:

Chasers

Chasers

The first severe storm went up near Paducah, TX. We were within 20 miles but low visibility, with the low cloud and haze from Mexican fires, meant we couldn't see any structure. All we could see was grey sky and some rumbles of thunder. We stopped to let it move towards us near a solar power plant construction site. When the tornado warning came through, hundreds of workers were evacuated, most not knowing what direction to go to get away from the storm:

Cars

The storm did produce a brief tornado but we couldn't see it. As the storm crossed in front of us we could see rotation, and got a brief funnel as it moved away:

Storm

Storm

We then headed back in to Oklahoma to chase a more promising-looking storm near Mangum, OK. It also produced a tornado, but by this stage we were too far away for a good view. We caught a distant glimpse before it became rainwrapped. Here, the white cone is just about visible above the car in front:

Storm

We then encountered crazy chaser traffic, with speeds down to 10mph in places. There were several accidents, and side roads were queuing to join. We suspect one chaser had even tried to immitate the police, with flashing red/blue lights and a siren to try and get other chasers off the road!:

Traffic

Traffic

Traffic

We gave up on the craziness and headed back south towards some new storms. We drove through a spectacular warm front on the road which made our cars instantly fog up on the outside as we went from 57F to 83F in just a mile or two. The storm looked very menacing as we approached through the surprisingly mountainous area:

Storm

Storm

Storm

Storm

Overall a frustrating day, but we did glimpse a tornado and saw some spectacular scenery. We even managed to see some dusk lightning:

Storm