May 22, 2011

May 22: Stovepipe Tornado, 2 Funnels, and Possible Second Tornado

Short:  Thom and I were on the Independence KS storm as it cycled.   We tried to stay with it and got to Joplin MO about 10 minutes before the tornado came through, but were cut off by the hook....   We dropped back west and caught the second Grove tornado as it first had a debris cloud and then became an impressive stove pipe tornado.  (We didn't get much photograph because of the forests and fast developments.  But once we have time to download it, we will post it here).

Long:  Thom and I saw one major tornado today, two funnels two thirds of the way down, and another possible tornado near sunset.  We targeted the area northeast of Bartlesville, and went north to the first Independence flare up.   It cycled...ingested a few other storms...looked good for a while, with a couple of wall cloud attempts, and finally an HP bears cage bearing down on Coumbus....but as we dropped south, the storm had two right flank we got to Miami OK...only to find the southern most storm produce a laminar elephant trunk two thirds of the way to the ground.  Actually, the base of that was obscured in the buildings and trees north of it could have been a tornado.

The Columbus storm amalgamated with the two cells to the south to produce a monstrous hook just on the Missouri border northwest of Joplin.  So we got on I44 and got into the western portions of Joplin, only to be gobbled by the hook.  The heavy rain and large hail (about half dollar stopped us in our tracks.   The storm was extremely's been years since we've seen such great continuous show of CG.

We got on I44, fortunately, just at the right time.  I don't know how lucky our stars were today...because the troopers closed I44 in both directions just after we started back to Miami. Ominously, lots of emergency vehicles goint northeast...many many of them.   As we turned onto the Interstate, Thom spotted another funnel hanging 2/3 of the way to the ground from the next cell to the southwest.   But we saw the better looking storm south of Exit 302 on the Interstate.   As we came into Grove, and turned south, and crossed the bridge, a large laminar funnel was dancing over the road, about 4 miles south...and then corkscrewed sideways, and sinuously came to the ground, producing a gout of debris.   Frustrating was the poor visiblity preventing good photography of the thing as it moved eastward and became a broad stovepipe about 5 miles northeast of Jay.  But our ability to get to the east-west road was thwarted by the damage path of the tornado...the troopers had closed the road about 1 mile north of Jay.  We had to get back to Grove and then move east, but yet another supercell was on the way.

We know that the subsequent storm probably had a tornado south of our position...but, with the road closed,  we were stuck in the core...under the roof of a gas station....with GRlevel3 showing a TVS and strong mesocyclone on top of us.    We had to abandon the chase there, but as we moved back to I44 yet another supercell came rolling up the boundary there....and in the distance we saw a gout of dust extend from the ground up about 1/3 to cloud base under the updraft base just after sunset....with mid level stingers extending into the updraft core from all sides.  Not enough light for pictures, though.

All in all, a terrific day, except for the sad news about Joplin.

We are overnighting in Tulsa, and found a great German brew pub with home made Bratwurst!!!

Looking at the progs, I must say the next two days' patterns look to be very prolific supercell producers.  We think we'll be in the eastern TX Panhandle or SW Oklahoma tomorrow and then south central KS the next day.   The patterns are "synoptically-evident" and liable to have strong and violent tornadoes too, like today, in parts of the region.