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« Chase Day 14 - Dust Storms, Supercells, Hail (May 30) | Main | Chase Day 12 - Gust Outs & Rainbows (May 28) »

Chase Day 13 - Big Hail, Big Storm, Big Wind (May 29)

And the fun don't stop! Thirteenth straight day of chasing; we and my vehicle are exhausted but we're getting out money's worth - so to speak. We started the day off in Wichita Fall, Texas and headed north on the 3 hour drive to Watonga, Oklahoma. The internet and cell signal were awful but we saw the storms begin to build and the chase began.

As we began to chase we noticed some large hail laying on the ground so we decided to pull over to snap some pictures and play with it. I got side-swiped by a golf ball-sized hail stone and immediately blamed Dave Lewison to which everyone quickly realized that ... well ... no one was throwing hail. It was coming from the sky! So we bailed south and began to approach the maturing storm.

As we're approaching the storm I noticed some golf ball sized hail stones falling in the road and said to Brad, "I think the hail is getting big." As he was responding a baseball sized stone hit the ground in front of us. Time to bail again! So we headed back west and south but Scott McPartland and Dave continued on with their hail guards. We beat the storm through Kingfisher, Oklahoma and continued south at Kingfisher. We continued to stair-step our way south and east away from the storm due to the large hail danger. The inflow winds into this storm was incredible. It was really difficult to keep the vehicle on the road. We got stuck behind a long line of storm chasers bailing south on a dirt road (the only option but it was dry so driving on it was ok).

We finally got far enough south that we could pull over and take pictures of the storm. Because we were so busy getting out of the way of this beast of a storm, we didn't notice, at first, its amazing structure. Beautiful stacked plate supercell. As we're watching we notice a tornado forming close to Scott and Dave's position in Piedmont, Oklahoma. I began radio-ing and calling them to give them warning. I knew they would either (1) be outside the car or (2) be in the car but it would be loud from hail, wind and rain so I knew I had to yell for them to hear me. Well, this proved to be quite dramatic video and audio.

Check out Scott and Dave's video from that day: Rolling Thunder: True Storm Chasing Stories ... Piedmont, OK Supercell.

The tornado eventually became rain-wrapped and dissipated. We then headed to the greater Oklahoma City area to ride out the "core" of the storm. We had a perfect spot in a self-serve car wash but the core was fairly lackluster. We met up with Scott and Dave and they told us they had softball sized hail stones (as proof in the video above). Charles Edwards said he saw a 10" hailstone fall (most likely two larger 5" hailstones stuck together). Somehow the Cloud 9 Tours vans managed not to get any damage from hail.

After a long, tiring day we headed to the Guest Inn in Norman, Oklahoma where we will spend the night.

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