Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Binger, OK Supercell

DAY 7 MAY 31, 2008

We left Lamar, MO and headed west to Oklahoma on hwy 166. We decided to go wait for a little bit in Wakita, OK at the Twister Museum while Ron checked the models. The sky looked capped today but indices and dynamics for a tornadic supercell were there. A boundary was off to the southeast. Ron expected the action to occur in southcentral Kansas and northcentral Oklahoma. We decided to head a bit more west to get closer to the dryline bulge. We pulled in to Alva, OK for a mid afternoon lunch at Sonic and hung around there for a bit. I took wind, temperature and humidity readings. The winds were coming from the east northeast and it seemed a bit dry, but some towers were starting to build along the boundary.

We pulled into a McDonalds after to get wifi so Ron could get an update on the models. I noticed something building off in the distance along the boundary. Some of the TCU was starting to explode and anvil out! I called everyone over to have a peak. It was such a great thing to see, given it was getting later in the day and we were about to give up. We continued to watch as it grew more. This storm went up in less than a half hour, which indicated that the updrafts were quite strong. Jack brought up the Baron to see what it was doing on radar. It was southeast of our initial target, but it was only about 60 miles away and probably the only storm of the day. Ron's words? "Ok let's go."

On our way south on hwy 81 through Enid, the sun began to set, creating a beautiful sunset with the supercell. The storm was 60,000 feet tall already! The sun set but we did not give up on the chase. At first lightning couldn't be seen, but as we got closer, lightning illuminated the supercell's features... it seemed to have a classic barberpole effect and beautiful updrafts! Oh I was it were daytime! We pulled west at Minco on hwy 152 to get to the south side of the storm. A low big bulky wall cloud could be seen near Binger. We pulled onto a dirt road to watch the wall cloud and grab lightning shots. Later we decided to continue west to get closer to the rotation. We pulled over and got out of the car. The first thing I noticed was a tornadic roaring sound... the winds in the vault region of the supercell were cranking! A large rotating wall cloud hung low to the ground. I did another attempt to get lightning shots with the wall cloud, but after I took the first picture, my camera decided to not cooperate. I wanted to keep the shutter open on bulb but it shut closed on me without letting go of the shutter cable release. I couldn't figure out why and I was getting worried that my camera was screwing up, so I tried putting in a new memory card. It still did the same thing, so I threw in a new battery, but it still did the same thing! "Gosh darn it why of all times must it do this?!", I thought.

After taking a better look, I realized that I must have accidently switched camera shooting modes and my settings changed on me. Doh! I set it back to manual and continued to get another atempt, but the rain started to come down. I played back my pictures and realized that I actually did manage to get one picture of a CG right beside the bowel shaped wall cloud. Awesome!

It was close to midnight now, and we still had to get back to Liberal, KS because Ron booked rooms there. We were supposed to neet Felix from France, who is doing a severe weather documentary. We had a 4 hour drive to do, and it looked like we would be pulling into the motel at 4 am. Oh dear!

We called the chase off and stayed at a Super 8 in Liberal, KS. We were getting very giddy from such a long drive and pulling in very late. It looked like a nice place to stay but too bad we would only get about 4 hours worth of sleep!

Ron was planning to target northeast Colorado and western Nebraska tomorrow.

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