April 30, 2003

For the last half of the month, I had feared I would go through the entire month of April without a chase. I had been working until 5pm a lot this month, which caused me to miss several chase opportunites earlier in the month. Although I would be working until 4pm today, I was hoping I would be able to get one last chance to get an April chase in. I had not seen any data since the previous night, which indicated there may have been cap problems in Oklahoma today. But as soon as I got off work, I could see there was an abudance of stratocumulus streaming northward. This is a good sign of adequate moisture for storms - and usually a sign the cap is not totally unbreakable. So the sight of this alone was enough to make me optimistic. Once I got back to my apartment, I checked surface obs - which showed the dryline was mixing into western Oklahoma. Then I checked the visible satellite, which showed storms developing in far southwestern Oklahoma. That clinched it for me - I got my jump bag and atlases and scrambled out to my car.

I took the Bailey Turnpike southwest to Chickasha, then from there I went west on US 62 through Anadarko. Between Chickasha and Anadarko, I could begin to see some turkey towers to my northwest really struggling against the cap, with orphan anvils being shorn well downstream - reminiscent of southern Kansas on June 3, 2001. However, I had also seen this sequence of events prior to small but picturesque LP supercells I had seen in Capulin NM on May 18, 2001 and near Quitaque TX on May 23, 2002, so I was hopeful we could get some LP magic going again today. Sure enough, updrafts continue to launch in this area - with one finally becoming vertical and developing a backsheared anvil. This updraft seemed quite persistent, so I took several north and west options in hopes of catching it - west on Hwy 9 to Fort Cobb, north on Hwy 146 through Albert, then west on Hwy 152 to Eakly. The entire updraft finally came into view as I approached Eakly - an extremely narrow bell shaped updraft tower which few visible signs of precipitation downstream. I was able to get a good look at this tiny LP supercell as I headed north on Hwy 58 between Eakly and Hydro, getting an interesting look at the anvil casting shadows on the cirrus deck below. At this time, another cell was rapidly developing 10-20 miles to its north, and really seemed to take off for a few minutes after developing a small beaver tail - with a long band of stratocumulus streaming towards it from the east southeast. Because of this, I speculated that the north cell had found an area of better moisture and would soon choke the south cell off. But the north cell quickly turned mushy and multicellular. I was also beginning to hear reports of large hail coming out of this south cell, so I continued to focus on it as I continued north and west up Hwy 58 through Hydro and beyond. At the intersection of Hwy 58 and Hwy 54, I was almost underneath the updraft, which was rapidly in the process of detatching and falling apart. Although I did get into some really big raindrops as I approached the updraft, I never did see any hail. So I took Hwy 54 to Hwy 33, stopping just northeast of that intersection at sunset to take video of the LP's remnants, as well as a new storm rapidly developing to the distant north. This distant storm quickly developed a backsheared anvil and overshooting top, but since I was scheduled to work the next day I decided not to make a night chase out of it, so I headed back to Norman - enjoying some brilliant in-cloud lightning from the distant Cb most of the way back.

This chase gets a 10 out of 17.....storms on the extreme LP end of the spectrum are always fun to watch. It was interesting that I did not see a single flash of lightning nor hear any thunder in association with the tiny LP storm. A severe thunderstorm which doesn't produce any thunder, perhaps? This topic has been discussed at length on certain e-mail discussion groups, and the consensus seemed to be that LP storms do produce some weak in-cloud discharges - which tend to be difficult for a ground based observer to see or hear.

Video captures

Total Mileage: 253 miles
Total Driving Time: 4 hours, 50 minutes

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