We are located in Guymon in the western panhandle of Oklahoma (our GPS tracker still has us pegged in the central part of the state as we haven’t successfully pinged any digipeaters with our APRS system out here in the high plains). After a flurry of days when we were on storms each afternoon and evening, we took advantage of a welcome break in the action and visited Palo Duro Canyon in Texas topped off with a hearty dinner at the Big Texan in Amarillo. Both stops have long been mainstays of our adventures out here. In future times I hope to return with hiking boots and backpacks in-tow with my family.
Below is a picture of the Ripley OK tornado from Thursday as it moves behind the roadside treeline. Intercepting storms in this area is much like catching storms in central parts of Virginia: rolling topography and lots of trees.
We are still trying to digest the events that unfolded in the Oklahoma City area on Friday, and how it re-affirms our commitment to safety first when engaging storms. Located a few miles south of the storm, we could see the extremely dark cloud bases/wall clouds, and I imagined what a turbulent place that would be, crowded with people in their cars, many of them stuck in traffic with no place to go as mesocyclones and their accompanying tornadoes moved eastbound close to I-40. Baseball-sized hail and flooding rainfall also pounded residents, chasers, and travelers under those ominous cloud bases. As traffic began to increase from our vantage point from fleeing motorists, continual scanning of radar forced a move southward as the storm began to encroach on the road, and we moved southward to maintain our distance. The picture of what happened in the Oklahoma City area is beginning to unfold, and I will let that evolve over the next several days with some follow-up. The storms that we pursue are non-selective in who they impact or what they destroy. The tragic events on Friday remind us of that, whether it is a local resident returning home from work, or a long-time storm researcher who dedicated his life to the study of those very storms.