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May 16 - Tornadoes in Texas & Oklahoma

Hello from a thundery Lawton, Oklahoma!

We saw our first tornado of the trip south of McLean, east of Howardwick, Texas. 

We started the day off in Woodward, Oklahoma and forecasted an initial target in and around the Shamrock, Texas. We waited in Shamrock until initiation as storms went up to our west and repositioned just north of McLean, Texas on the 273. From there we watched a supercell mature but it seemed to be struggling as a storm building to its south so we decided to position ourselves south of the I-40 and watch this supercell grow. Due to some terrain issues we had to keep moving around on the 273 to find a spot that wasn't blocked by trees and hills. We finally found a good position and watched the wall cloud form, then the funnel, then eventual tornado. The image below is a quick screen grab from our video of the tornado as it was initialy touching down. After a few minutes the tornado became wrapped in rain so we moved slowly north on the road anticipating it to either get near to or cross the road. Eventually the tornado re-emerged from the rain  as it was roping out. We watched it rope out then we had more decisions to make because other storms were maturing and taking shape.

Tornado near Howardwick, Texas on May 16, 2017.

A storm south near Sayre, Oklahoma was maturing and looking tornadic so we moved east along the I-40 and dropped south to get into position. This storm had a beautiful bell-shaped updraft and was visually stunning but the "business" part of the storm was wrapped in rain from our vantage point. We watched the storm move past us but because of our positioning on it, we had to approach it carefully, travelling east, from the west side of the hook. Due to the fact that this was so high-precipitation we decided to stop and wait for the circulation to cross the road. Unfortunately, the tornado was doing a lot of damage so the local emergency managers shut down an east and southbound road which left us losing positioning on the storm. Since there was no way for us to make up that time, we decided to drop south again to another storm that was forming. The storm we were leaving was producing a very large tornado but it was wrapped in rain and we couldn't see anything. This eventually moved into Elk City and caused quite a bit of damage.

We moved south to the far south storm but by this point, the cap was building back in and the storms starting to die out. We called it a day and decided to head to Lawton for the night.

Today is a down day and we're moving closer to the I-40 corridor again to setup for tomorrow's chase. The NWS SPC has already issued a MODERATE RISK for severe storms tomorrow (below) so another big chase day ahead for us.

SPC Day 2 Categorical Risk (valid for Thursday, May 18).