May 8, 2002

After going more than a month without a chase, I was anxious to get back out on the road again. The agony of watching day after day of good chase potential being squashed by intrusions of cool, stable air and extensive cloud cover, combined with being stuck at work all day on the two decent dryline days this year (Apr 16-17), made April a frustrating and forgettable month. The first full week of May brought some good chase days, however I sat these out since it appeared these would be a bit out of reach. I was determined however to make a chase out of May 8, as a cold front was expected to barrel through the area that night which would end any severe weather threat for the Plains for a while.

By early afternoon, tornado watches had been issued for much of central Kansas and western Oklahoma. Since it appeared Oklahoma was going to stay capped, I decided to blow off the dryline and head towards the triple point near the KS/OK border. At 3:30pm, I left Norman and headed north on I-35 in that general direction. I began to see storms off to my northwest and north once I got to Guthrie, but as I continued north I could see that the structure was not very impressive. But once I crossed the border into Kansas, I started to notice some inflow bands to my east feeding into a storm to my northeast. At the US 166 exit, I got off I-35 and started heading east towards Arkansas City, then north to Winfield.

Once I got to Winfield, there was a thunderstorm just west and northwest of town. This cell looked outflowish and linear, and covered the sky in a nice "whale's mouth" feature. Recognizing that it probably wasn't going to be TOO severe, I set up shop at an RV park on the west side of Winfield, where I hoped to get some good video of wind and hail. I sat in my car as watched as the "whale's mouth" boiled and swirled overhead and the greenish-brown hail core drew closer. At 6:46pm, I started to get pelted with pea sized hail. After 10 minutes I moved to a parking lot on the southeast side of town to get more hail footage. I never got into much wind, but I did see quite a bit of pea sized to marble sized hail. By 7:02, the hail had ended and everything was pretty much undercut by outflow, so I decided to start heading back towards Arkansas City.

As I approached Arkansas City, I noticed another cell coming in from the west. Seeing that it was completely wrapped in rain and undercut by cold air, I decided to blow it off. But once I got into town, I noticed lots of people standing outdoors looking off in the direction of the storm. I also saw numerous cops, spotters, and chasers parked along side the road just west of town looking at this thing as well. Apparently a tornado warning had been issued for this cell, but I didn't hear about it since I was having Wx Radio issues at the time. So I continued on my way back towards I-35, punching through rainy core after rainy core on my way back to Oklahoma. By the time I approached the Blackwell area, I had gotten out of the rain. At this time, I heard a trucker say something over the CB radio about a tornado west of the mile 218 marker. At this time I was at mile 222 thinking to myself, "what?" But as I looked off to my southwest, I could make out a faint but good sized gustnado. I ended up seeing several fairly large gustnadoes go up along the outflow boundary/cold front as I continued south down I-35 before crossing back into the humid, hazy headwinds that I would face the rest of the way home.

Today's chase gets a 10 out of 17. It was great to feel outflow and experience a nice hail core after what has been a slow spring.

Total Mileage: 345 miles
Total Driving Time: 6 hours, 24 minutes

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