Disappointment in Oklahoma (again!)
2004 05 13


We turned on the Weather Channel first thing in the morning and, lo and behold, there was Scott’s incredible footage of the Attica tornado. Scott soon received calls from dozens of media outlets and shows. We’re talking Inside Edition, Access Hollywood – Jay Leno offered to fly him out to LA to be on the Tonight Show! No one anticipated this kind of interest in this tornado footage. Surely, there had been other similar videos, right? Apparently not. It seems Scott’s was the first tripoded video of a tornado taking the roof off a house. Who knew?


After downloading and analyzing data, we left Enid around 10:45 am heading for our target, Del Reno, Oklahoma. This was basically straight south of Enid. There was a strong cold front moving south through Oklahoma and this was expected to trigger severe storms in Oklahoma and Texas.


We stopped at a Mexican place for lunch in Del Reno around noon, then tried to find a place to get some data with a warned storm approaching from the north. There was some confusion about where we were and where we were going, and soon we had lost the rest of the group (again!). We decided to head to Norman via Oklahoma City to chase a storm there and called up Dave Patrick to get a nowcast.


There was some initial confusion as we thought we were in one place, but were actually in another, but we managed to get on the right path and landed right in the middle of a traffic jam as the storm approached. We finally got to I-44 and headed south under an impressive “whale’s mouth” – we were clearly well behind a large gust front.


Dave Patrick suggested that we continue on south. There was an intense supercell near Witchita Falls, Texas, but that was way too far for us to go. We headed south on I-35 for a while and began to see cells developing to our south and west near 3 pm. We stopped for some pictures near I-35 and 7 at 3:30 pm, with a nice shelf cloud moving south over us, but it was clear that the expected big storms on this day were not materializing. At about 4 pm, we gave up and sat at a scenic lookout for a while (while Sarah slept in the backseat again!) taking a few pictures.


Photograph of Sarah getting a shot of the approaching storm with shelf cloud, facing roughly northwest.


Photograph of the best Cb’s Oklahoma could muster for us this day, facing roughly southwest.


The last time I chased in Oklahoma was May 2003. I was down for a project at the SPC and I got out to chase one evening (it was the week AFTER the big outbreaks – one of the quietest May weeks Oklahoma has ever seen), and that chase might as well have been in southern Ontario as well – poor visibility, mushy storms, and lots of rain. I don’t seem to have any luck in the home of the big twisters.


We finally were able to contact the others and agreed to meet Chris and Dave near Ardmore, though Ron and Jack and Scott and Peter had continued on to Texas. They actually got to Dallas before they gave up – such optimism! We decided to head to most chasers’ home away from home, the Guest Inn in Norman, Oklahoma. And once again, George and crew were there – they actually had the rooms right next to ours! We had dinner at the Outback restaurant and watched some of the video from the last several days.



All text and images by Dave Sills Copyright 2004.

Unauthorized use prohibited. All rights reserved.



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