March 23, 2009 Storm Chase – Central Oklahoma

March 23, 2009

Storm Chase

Central Oklahoma

Editor:  Putnam E. Reiter

Forecast/Setup –

Risk Area:  Enhanced Moderate Risk
Initial Target Area:  Hinton, Oklahoma



SPC Case Review

After the March 9th system, an Arctic cold front moved through the region.  Little activity weather wise occurred across Oklahoma, other than the usual ups and downs of March.  The setup for this day was pretty clear at first and then the models got involved.  The GFS was the first to switch solutions to a closed low wrapping up over the central U.S, followed pretty quickly by the ECMWF and then the NAM.  While closed lows aren’t the best severe weather producers, there did seem to be decent opportunity for severe thunderstorms.  A big if was the ridge along the Gulf coast.  My forecast was for 60F dewpoints to return to Oklahoma as the ridge moved off during the day.  However, this did not occur and meager moisture was all that made it to Oklahoma.  Despite this, CAPE values still reached 1500 J/Kg under nearly clear skies.

Storms did develop early in the afternoon in northwest Oklahoma.  These storms were elevated but also formed in an area of enhanced moisture convergence.  Mesonet data clearly showed a west-east convergence boundary in northwest Oklahoma.  The dryline was situated to the south of this boundary and remained inactive much of the afternoon.  By late afternoon, storms became more numerous in northwest Oklahoma as they moved off the dryline.  One storm moved through southern Kansas with three brief tornado reports.  Another notable storm moved through Kingfisher County where it was essentially rooted as it entered Logan County.  A tornado warning was issued but no verified touchdowns.  The dryline popped up with storms developing along it by late afternoon.  The storms looks elevated and most moved northeast at 50mph.  Two storms moved slowly east in the Altus and Lawton areas widespread wind damage occurred in parts of Lawton with one of these storms.  I’ve done a 16 hour RADAR loop to few the evolution during this time period and afterwards.

Today was not the best day in the world, although a lot of chasers did head out.  GR2 was lit up like crazy with all the chasers.  I think after looking at the evening model data, there just wasn’t enough lift to balance against the shear.  The two storms that did the best in KS/OK had assistance.  Conditions just didn’t seem that good in west-central and southwest Oklahoma in hindsight.

The Chase –

Team 1 – Brett LaBare and Putnam Reiter
Miles Driven – 160 – Gas spent $9.00
Departure Time – 15:00 CDT
Return Time – 21:00 CDT
Track Path

We left northwest Oklahoma City and headed for our target area.  Storms had been ongoing in northwest Oklahoma for a few hours, but nothing major had developed.  We took I-40 west to Hinton and hung out there for a long time.  After fighting some software problems, we had radar to look at.  Storms started developing south of I-40.  These storms looked a lot like the ones to the north.  Strongly sheared and elevated.  One storm developed decent structure as it got north of us, but we figured it was too far gone to catch.  This one would go through Kingfisher and into Logan County.  We drove up and down HWY 281 between Hooker and Lookeba.  Seeing some better activity to the south, we drove to just north of Gracemont and hung out.  This didn’t look much better, so we turned around and head home.  We took HWY 152 to HWY 81 and then I-40 back to the city.  Overall it was disappointing because we didn’t get any storm structure and just drove around for a few hours.

Lessons Learned –

–  Hum, maybe forecasting???  Well, several other chasers were out, so we had good company.
–  Oh and to carry aspirin!

Multimedia –


Encounters –

Engaged Storm:  Hinton, Binger, and Gracemont
Tornado:  No
Funnel:  No
Hail (larger than 0.75 inches):  No
Wall Cloud:  No
Wind (above 57.4 mph):  No

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