June 9, 2009
Editor: Putnam E. Reiter
Risk Area: Enhanced Moderate Risk
Initial Target Area: Caldwell, Kansas
This year has been rather interesting and not in a good way. After being quiet for severe weeks, the atmosphere over Oklahoma appeared to be a little more favorable for severe thunderstorms. For this setup, good moisture return of upper 60s dewpoints was in-place across the region. Temperatures were expected to be in the upper 80s resulting in CAPE values above 4000J/Kg. A ridge has been in-place across Texas with the southern jet stream over northern OK/southern KS.
The presence of stronger flow aloft and good instability seemed to provide a good chance for severe thunderstorms and tornadoes. Early in the morning an MCS moved across eastern Kansas, finally clearing the southeast parts of Kansas by late afternoon. Several tornadoes were reported with this activity.
An outflow boundary associated with the eastern Kansas activity slowly moved south into southern Kansas. This occurred as a warm front moved north in Oklahoma, slowly becoming diffuse. Daytime heating and convergence along these boundaries was expected to result in severe thunderstorm development. Directional and speed shear were both adequate for organized severe thunderstorms.
Storms developed during the late afternoon hours near Dodge City, Kingfisher, and Elk Co KS. Additional storms then developed near Ponca City and Cherokee. CAPE values were rather low near Ponca City to Wichita KS and east as the outflow boundary pushed cool/dry air into the region. Storms moving into this area quickly became elevated and dissipated. Storm near Dodge City remained isolated and supercellular the longest and produced a brief tornado. Storm near Kingifsher became part of a larger multi-cellular area. Storm near Cherokee moved east and tried to stay isolated but was unable to do so. It eventually started propagating southeast and dissipated near Marland.
The only tornado of the afternoon in the chase area was near Dodge City.
The Chase –
Team 1 – Rob Ferguson, Brett LaBare, and Putnam Reiter
Miles Driven – 315 – Gas spent $34.00
Departure Time – 14:20 CDT
Return Time – 21:15 CDT
We left Oklahoma City and went north on I-35. We got to MM231 and went on north via HWY 177. We got to South Haven and went west on HWY 81 and then turned north on HWY 49. We got about 10 miles north of Caldwell and sat for a little bit. Getting data was a little tough but we eventually got Edge service back. Mesonet showed veered winds near us and just west. Additionally, while the CU development was pretty good near us earlier it decreased over us and to the west.
We moved north to HWY 62 and east into Wellington for a quick bite. During this time several storms developed as a shortwave trof moved into the region. We figured the storm near Cherokee would be the best options given lack of development near it and access to ample instability. We headed back west on HWY 62 to HWY 49 and then south through Caldwell. HWY 49 turns into HWY 81 at Caldwell so we end up on it and head southwest. We had a good view of the storm near Ponca City which had a wall cloud at this time. It did a brief RFD, but nothing to write home about.
We got into Medford just as our storm was arriving. Its quick movement tended to indicate it was slightly elevated. We had some pea size hail and 45-50mph winds. We got south of Medford around 18:30 and watched the storm. The rotation area passed right over us, but it wasn’t anything that impressive. We could see upward motion, but very little differential.
The storm go away from us as we had to deal with bad road options, dirt versus paved. We got back into Medford and started following the storm. For something that was going 30mph, it sure got away from us fast (hint I think it was moving faster). We did see some neat hail shafts and rainbows. Rob was also playing with his new lightning trigger for his camera. He managed to get an anvil strike with a rainbow, not bad!
We continued on east via HWY 11 attempting to catch the storm. By this time it was obvious the storm was headed (propogating) southeast. So we got on I-35 and headed south to get behind it and maybe look at some hail. We got south of Tonkawa and saw the back-edge of the storm. Seeing some upward motion and slight differential, we decided to follow it a little more. We had seen no hail of interest so far.
We exited to HWY 15 east, which turned into HWY 156 towards Marland. Almost to Marland we noticed the storm had become glaciated and the updraft had disappeared. We believed that this was the end of this storm. We sat there and watch it, it has also slowed down. The updraft area turned into a region of TCU and we decided the fun was over. Heading back west on HWY 156 to HWY 15 and then south on I-35.
Lessons Learned –
– We had a good chase and adjusted well with the changing conditions. I have no complaints about shifting our area as the Cherokee storm took off. The only storm to produce a tornado was near DDC and not sure I’d ended up there anyway.
– My only other note is the over stating of wind speed as was noted in Medford. A TV station called in 60jmph and I’d put money it didn’t get much above 50mph. We were there at the same time and place an didn’t get it.
Engaged Storm: Medford
Hail (larger than 0.75 inches): No
Wall Cloud: Yes and the one near Ponca City
Wind (above 57.4 mph): No