May 22 Chase Day: Today was quite the interesting day. We started off in Ardmore, Oklahoma this morning. After looking at the models we decided staying around the Ardmore area would be the most advantageous for us. There was storm potential stretching across most of the mid-United States. We could see a lot of storm chasers were targeting Missouri and Kansas. We decided to stay in Oklahoma for two reasons: 1) It would put us in better position for tomorrow's target and 2) The way the weather was setting up, the storms in Missouri and Kansas looked like they would be high precipitation supercells which means non-visible tornadoes and very dangerous conditions.
We stuck around Ardmore for most of the afternoon in the sweltering heat. It was 33°C with a dew point of 25°C. That's roughly a humidex of 45°C! Storms began to go up late in the afternoon. We chased down towards the Red River area but the storms began to disorganize themselves by the time we got there and never really produced anything but big hail. We just missed the core of the storm and went to take a look at the hailstones. They were baseball size by the time we got there which means they had melted quite a bit in the 30+°C heat. Needless to say there were a lot of broken windshields. I will be uploading pictures of the hail to my photo gallery.
At this point we started hearing the devastating news about Joplin, Missouri. A rain-wrapped tornado tore through Joplin and destroyed parts of the city. Based on damage pictures and reports it looks like a war zone. A couple of fellow chasers I've met are there helping right now. The hospital itself in Joplin has been damaged as well. Absolute devastation. As a storm chaser we love to see tornadoes but its best when the tornado occurs in the middle of a field and poses no threat to anyone. Here is a screen capture of the radar over Joplin:
The main issue with this tornado is no one could see it coming. This tornado was completely rain-wrapped which means to the average person it would just look like a lot of rain then all of a sudden tornadic winds. Here is a panoramic view of the devastation: Joplin, MO Panorama Damage
We went after a couple of more cells but then decided to call it quits for the night. We made our way to Norman, Oklahoma where we're spending the night. Looks like storm activity will be in this area tomorrow so we'll hold tight.
I've been trying to upload pictures and videos but there's a couple of issues. The first issue is we haven't really had a "down" day where there's no storms so we've had little time to process our pictures and edit videos. Secondly, the internet at these hotels is horrid. Very slow upload/download speeds. I'm attempted to upload pictures and video tonight but it may not be finished in time.