Sometimes, even when a chase seems to be a total bust, something will happen that instantly turns things completely around.  Such was the case with Jenny’s chase in western Oklahoma this day.  The forecast was challenging and offered two target opportunities…one in far northwest Oklahoma/southwestern Kansas along a stalled warm front/cold front boundary, and other opportunities further south along the dryline in western Oklahoma.  Jenny and her team featuring veteran storm chaser Ric Burney and professional Dallas photographer Justin Terveen headed into Oklahoma with an original target area somewhere between El Reno and Enid which would offer several ways to quickly get north or west if need be.  None wanted to actually drive as far north as southwestern Kansas due to the distance back home and having to be at work the next day…but that’s where they ended up as storms began firing up in far southwest Kansas along the frontal boundary.  Heading west across several counties in southern Kansas, sporadic cell data became prohibitive to monitoring the latest trends and data on the group of storms now just two counties to their west.  Just based on radar presentation, they appeared to be on the cold side of the frontal boundary and not getting very organized.  In a data hole, there was no way to look at surface plots or detect that the frontal boundary may be retreating which would make further organization of the storms more favorable if they hopped over the boundary.  Meanwhile a strong cell had developed along the TX/OK border just north of I-40 along the dryline.  The team reached a point where they had to make a decision…continue north towards storms that appeared to not be getting any better organized…or head south in hopes of catching the cell along the dryline before it fell apart.  And the most important factor, a shorter drive home.  So, they decided to bail south.  There’s a couple of old sayings in the storm chasing community.  One is to never turn your back on a retreating warm front.  The other is to simply stick with your storm.  The team got about an hour south of the Kansas border when the most western cell along the boundary hopped the front and became tornado-warned near the town of Medicine Mound.  The cell to the southwest advanced too far east from the dryline and began to die.  It looked hopeless, and the team, tails tucked between their legs, continued south with a decision to just head home.  They got close to Watonga right after sunset and began to notice some beautiful lighting off in the distance.  Thinking that going home with a few lightning shots was better than going home with an empty camera card, they found a great spot looking out over an expansive field along Hwy 51A north of Watonga and set up their camera gear.  To simply say that the lightning was impressive is an understatement…and it was getting stronger and more frequent as the storm moved closer!  Ric checked the radar and noticed that a cell behind that one, near Hammon, was getting better organized and developing a hook echo.  On a hunch, they decided to get back in the car and go take a look.  The cell became tornado-warned about the time they moved through Thomas on Hwy 33 with sirens blaring as they drove through the town.  They arrived just in time to see the wall cloud with suspected funnel beginning to occlude, but it still made for an exciting end of a very long day. Photo gallery and a short video clips via Instagram:

Being Goofy…


Tornado Warning: