Posted on October 12, 2016 at 5:36pm CDT
Last week I embarked on a fall storm chase not far from home(about 1.5 hours southwest of home to be exact). A strong storm system combined with unseasonably warm and humid air produced an environment quite favorable for supercells along a dryline over western Oklahoma. The caveat, however, was whether or not storms would form to take advantage of a primed atmosphere. Despite favorable thermos and dynamics, upper level forcing was lackluster as the main upper level support was displaced well to the north of the better parameters. Convergence along the dryline wasn't all that impressive either with southwesterly 700mb winds just ahead of the dryline not typically favorable for storm formation.
Despite these particularly glaring issues, I decided that it was October and the thought that if I missed this opportunity to get out there who knows if another would prevent itself before the long wait till Spring. Also the HRRR model was optimistic in developing a couple of ominous supercells southwest of the metro during the evening and taking them ENE. Obviously such a scenario would pose big problems for rush hour traffic and a densely populated area. I rolled the dice and took a jog southwest to good ole' Duncan, OK.
It was a little after four by the time I arrived to my target and the National Weather Service had issued a tornado watch for a large portion of western, southwestern, and central Oklahoma. Confidence was pretty high that at least one or two big storms would develop per the consistent CAMs(Convective Allowing Models), and these storms would mean business. The tornado threat would increase as storms moved east and encountered favorable lower level wind shear.
An hour passed. Nothing. Then two, still nothing. I was starting to lose hope realizing that convergence just wasn't enough to get things going and that it would wait until the cold front overtook the dryline well after dark before they would. The cumulus field began to dissipate and I decided to trek back to the north on highway 81. As I'm driving, I notice a thin line of fairly robust looking cumulus not far to my northwest. In fact, there was a couple of towers starting to go up and what appeared to be a promising attempt at initiation. I pull over at a quick stop and check radar. Lo and behold development was indeed taking place to the north west of Chickasha. I get on highway 62 and head west towards the growing cumulus. With time a severe warning was issued and the storm had really began to take shape. Even better was that this was a Low Precipitation(LP) supercell which made viewing easy. The structure was textbook with a bowl shaped mesocyclone underneath the updraft.
The storm eventually went on to impact the Oklahoma City metro and unfortunately daylight was dwindling so I ended up abandoning the storm. It had weak and broad rotation as it passed directly over my apartments with a ragged wall cloud but it couldn't get the job done thankfully. Had the storm had more time to organize, I feel like it could've been a different story. Here are a couple of pictures I managed to take with the cannon. I wish I had a better foreground but I actually kind of like the composition.
It's going to be a long wait till Spring! Maybe we will get another trough in the coming weeks before it shuts down for the Winter. Right now it sure does feel like fall with a stout cold front coming through earlier today. Check out the temperature change since yesterday.
Some locations are 30+ degrees colder than this time yesterday! That's a pretty significant change. Temperatures have been falling through the afternoon and evening here in central Oklahoma with low to mid 50s now commonplace. It will be a chilly night with lows in the upper 40s. After a cool day tomorrow with some rain around, temps will rebound nicely for the weekend. 'Tis the season!