Day 5: The First Chase
Today was our first official storm chasing day. After having a rough start this morning due to the “Swirl” drinks at the Mont Restaurant in Norman, OK, the team got it together after the SPC brief. The weather team briefed us on the way to Oklahoma City where we would pick up a new Drone and get lunch at the local chick-fila with USNA grad Mr. Novak. Our target area was decided to be Northern Texas. There was clear indication of a storm coming from the southwest and it would arrive in Seymour, Texas around 8 pm. The team departed Oklahoma City around 1300 to Witchita Falls Texas (3 hours) where we would access the weather situation again. Once we arrived we decided to travel another hour south to Seymour Texas to view the thunderstorms. Before departing the logistics team prepped the van for the first time with Windex and Rain-ex. The team also re-organized the van that way when getting out of the van nothing would get lost and kicked out.
On the way to Seymour, the team made 2 stops to view the thunderstorm developing off in the distance. From there, we traveled another hour south to Gutherie in order to be in the potential hail. Once arriving in Gutherie, the team was able to take lightning photos and we were able to drive through hail. Brian, our brave SWIFT member volunteered to go outside during the hail storms to collect hail. After a few minutes, Brian came back in the van soaking wet with a couple .25 inch hail and Ian Lowry made the first report to NOAA. At this point, the sun was about 20 minutes from being set. The team accessed the situation and decided it was time to head back to Witchita (where our hotel at the Comfort Inns is). On the way to Witchita, logistics struggled to find food. All the towns between Witchita and Gutherie are extremely small with little to no food joints. Luckily the team found a Sonic that stays open till 10 pm. The 12 man team rolled into Sonic 15 minutes before closing. Logistics made sure to call ahead in order to pre-order and speed up the process.
Overall, the 5th day of SWIFT went well. Both Logistics and Weather worked non-stop from the departure in Norman, OK at 1000 to the arrival in Witchita, TX at 2300. Both teams had to overcome a dysfunctional Wi-Fi connection. The team predicted on seeing a storm today but no one expected the degree of this storm. There was hail, high winds and flooding along with amazing cloud formations. The moral on the SWIFT team is extremely high right now. We are determined to see a tornado and with how well today went, I am confident we will see that and much more.