August 27, 2004

Today was a very marginal looking setup with a cool front sliding down from the northwest and weak winds aloft. The hope today was to get something on the tail end of a squall line. I left Norman at 6pm, then took I-40 west from Oklahoma City.

On the way there, I began noticing some impressive looking cells to my distant northwest producing overshooting tops. But with new towers going up to my west, I decided not to go after these. Before long a warning was issued for Blaine County, so I took US 281 north through Geary and towards Watonga. As I approached Watonga around 7:30 the storm began to look interesting, and it appeared a wall cloud was forming underneath it's base. However, new development kept forming to its southwest, and the cell quickly became part of a line. Being that these storms didn't seem like much a threat and there was hardly anyone out, I decided to mess around a little bit and try out some of the dirt roads northeast of Watonga. The road was rather rough at times, covered by tree debris which appeared to be from a recent flash flood. But I got some interesting vantagepoints of the storm as the setting sun started to make the precip shafts glow a bright orange, all the while it was producing spectacular cloud to ground lightning. Once I got to Hitchcock I took a paved county road east towards Loyal to keep up with the storm. Here the storm really started to taking a linear appearance, with interesting looking scud bombs underneath the shelf. Some of these scud bombs looked a lot like condensation funnels, and I suspect we would have seen some tornado reports had this storm occurred closer to OKC, Tulsa, Wichita, or Topeka. Anyway, darkness rapidly set in as I continued east down this road, which ended near Dover. I then dropped down another county road which led to US 81, which I took south towards Kingfisher. Before arrving there though, I decided to pull off another dirt road to try getting some lightning video. Unfortunately, the weeds were extremely tall - almost like cornstalks - and there was no way I was going to get my camera above them. On the way back to US 81, I got blasted by the gust front - which was a bit of a surprise considering the storms were still at least 10 miles away. Winds rapidly increased out of the northwest, kicking up quite a bit of dust that reduced visibility. I outran this boundary by the time I got south of Kingfisher, and the rest of the drive home was uneventful.

The storms I chased generated little in the way of severe reports. However, the storms further north in southern Kansas actually did go on to produce a few tornadoes - one which did F2 damage. What an amazing year that part of the Sunflower State has had.....

Total Mileage: 217 miles
Total Driving Time: 4 hours, 11 minutes

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