March 9, 2009 Storm Chase – Central Oklahoma

March 9, 2009

Storm Chase

Central Oklahoma

Editor:  Putnam E. Reiter

Forecast/Setup –

Risk Area:  Slight Risk
Initial Target Area:  El Reno, Oklahoma



SPC Case Review

After last Saturday’s event, there appeared to be potential for severe thunderstorms again today.  Moisture got pushed into Texas, but rapidly returned into Oklahoma.  The presence of the subtropical jet over Oklahoma made forecasting sky conditions and resultant temperatures quite difficult.  Most forecasters went with (and I agree) cloudy skies and temperatures in the mid 70s.  There was the additional threat of showers during the morning hours as a shortwave trof moved across the state.

The shortwave trof did setoff a few storms across northern Oklahoma, but these had no impacts on the threat area.  As the system exited it helped clear skies across western Oklahoma.  Temperatures quickly rose into the upper 70s, with dewpoints in the upper 50s.  This produced CAPE values up to 1500J/Kg.  CU developed across the area and SPC issued an MCD around 14:15 CDT.  A tornado watch was issued a short time later.  Storms eventually developed around 17:00 as lift from another shortwave trof moved into western Oklahoma.

Storms struggled to stay discrete and even the discrete storms struggled.  A few severe thunderstorm warnings were issued but no tornado warnings.  The best looking storm of the day seemed to be after dark in north-central Oklahoma.  Some storms may have briefly become supercellular, but they didn’t hold it for long.

Storms continued moving east and eventually became non-severe by 10pm.

The Chase –

Team 1 – Rob Ferguson and Putnam Reiter
Miles Driven – 430 – Gas spent $5.00
Departure Time – 15:00 CDT
Return Time – 21:00 CDT
Track Path

We left Oklahoma City and went west on I-40.  We got to El Reno and got some fuel.  We knew a hotel nearby that had WiFi, so we went and setup shop.  I’d guess this is around 4pm.  We stayed here until 6pm when the storms to our southwest seemed to have better organization.  We jumped back on I-40 west and went to Exit 108 (the one to Watonga).  We sat on the southwest side of the Interstate and watch the towering CU/some storms.

About 7:30pm we had enough and drove north on HWY 281 as the storm near Geary seemed the strongest of the bunch.  Getting into Geary, the storm look unimpressive and glaciated.  Having another reason to head home, we turned around and head back south.  Jumping on I-40, we headed on east to OKC and home.

It was nice that storms developed, but certainly not what was in my forecast or thinking.  This was a case of very strong shear but limited instability.  The lack of a well defined lifting mechanism given the prior to items appears to have kept this event from getting more interesting.

Lessons Learned –

–  Hum, maybe forecasting???  Well, several other chasers were out, so we had good company.

Multimedia –


Encounters –

Engaged Storm:  South of Geary
Tornado:  No
Funnel:  No
Hail (larger than 0.75 inches):  No
Wall Cloud:  No
Wind (above 57.4 mph):  No

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