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May 30 - Chase Day 15 - The Hook & Driving Nightmare

What a day ...

We started off in Pratt, Kansas and blasted south into Oklahoma due to early initiation. We got on storms near Perkins, Oklahoma. Due to the direction in which we were coming we punched in through the west side of the hook. This can be a very dangerous position in certain situations. Today the hail core was well to the north of the hook and we had great visual on the wall cloud. As soon as we got on the storm we saw it ... A massive convergence of storm chasers, police officers and locals ... and it was a disaster.

Some of the worst driving was actually locals stopping in the middle of the road and not pulling completely over. 

We saw a brief spin up as we watched the wall cloud. As this was happening a second area of rotation from an approaching storm was rapidly coming up behind us from the west. The circulation on the main storm was north and east of us so our safest option was to continue quickly east.

Easier said than done ...

We start east down the 33 then end up stopped ... Dead stopped. Brad jumped out of the car to see what the issue was because, frankly, we needed to get going fast. If the storm behind us dropped a tornado we would be directly in its path.

Upon inspecting the problem, it turns out the Dominator 2 (D2) was half in the road and half off the road horizontally effectively blocking all eastbound traffic so no one could get through. Not to mention there were gawkers everywhere trying to get a look at it. I don't know if the D2 spun off the road or just pulled off there ... either way it was a dangerous situation. No one could get by and that was the way we needed to go. Since the circulation was rapidly approaching we had no choice but to race the circulation west and then head south.

Because of this traffic jam caused by horrible drivers and fortified chase vehicles, a whole line of cars was in direct danger. We are VERY lucky that second circulation did not drop a tornado. If it did, all of those trapped vehicles would have been in the direct path.

Without getting into a rant about the whole situation I'll just leave it ...

Anyway, because of that jam up we were put WAY out of position for the storm and even missed a tornado (albeit very brief). We abandoned those storms as they weakened and headed south. All the southern storms started dying off so we called it a day.

We're now in Norman, Oklahoma and getting prepared for our last official chase day tomorrow. The SPC has issued a moderate risk for tomorrow. Time to get some sleep. I didn't get a chance to take much video or pictures today because of the dangerous driving situation but what few I do have I will try to get up in the next couple of days.

Also, the wedge tornado we saw near Bennington, Kansas (Ottawa Co.) was rated an EF-4 by the NWS. The damage done to the area was EF-3 but a Doppler on Wheels vehicle measured wind speeds in the tornado that match that of an EF-4. Our first wedge and EF-4 tornado ...

 

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