Tuesday, May 21, 2013

A Swing and a Miss, May 20

“No time for breakfast, we leave now if we want to see the storm!” Those were the words from our fearless leader, JD Whitt as we prepared to leave the hotel this morning. The morning outlook was extremely promising. Isolated super cells showed up all over the models, each with the capability of producing some serious tornados. Storm chaser extraordinaire, Savannah Stafford, took the reins in the hot seat, guiding Dr. Barrett and LCDR Woods to our target area. Our pilgrimage across Oklahoma to the storms was highlighted with rolling fields, cattle and the occasional hay bail. Jackie Chimiak led the charge on the logistics end, navigating Oklahoma’s highway network with the poise of a Russian ballet dancer. We stopped at Billy Sim’s barbecue for lunch, much to the displeasure of the vegetarian in the goup, Kate. She nearly devoured an entire rack of ribs before thinking the better of it, deciding to get her chlorophyll fix at Walmart instead. Team moral was improved as Hank #cashmoney Leslie provided jokes and entertainment, possibly still hyped up from the 5 hour energies he took the previous day. After we gassed up, we were off to catch some isolated super-cells that were developing in Southern Oklahoma. DJ Savannah, assisted by DJ Bor-A-Go, provided beats for the van to rock out to as we tracked down our storms. Dr. Barrett’s stormy sense was on par as he sniffed out and successfully located our storm on the METAR; operation tornado wrangler was now in full effect. We found a nice observation point next to an old barn and watched a few wall clouds develop, but none produced the twisters that SWIFT is all about. We then decided to pursue a different storm that was indicating a tornado on radar! Adrenaline began to rush as we thought that this could be “the big one.”  On a more serious note, it was about this time we found out about the tornado that tore through Moore Oklahoma, killing dozens of people and leaving hundreds without their homes. It left a very somber feeling in the van, as we were chasing storms similar this one. It took a minute for everyone to take a step back and realize that our mission is to forecast and observe severe weather, for the betterment of science. Our thoughts and prayers are with all those affected by the Oklahoma City tornado. At the end of the day, we didn't find any tornados.  Some nice wall clouds appeared, but they just didn't quite materialize. We are going to head down to Southern Texas today, the air and conditions there are quite favorable for tornadic storms. Thanks for reading! 

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