OKC Area Tornadoes 11-10-04

This picture looks weird as I've enhanced the colors. But you can better see the tornado.
May 22, 2007: Tornado in Trego County, KS
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Meteorologist George Flickinger's Storm Chasing Pictures
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Meteorologist George Flickinger's Storm Chasing Pictures
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May 24, 2008: 1 Supercell; at Least 6 Tornadoes in Central Oklahoma
OKC Area Tornadoes 11-10-04
May 24, 2008
How many tornadoes did we see?

The actual number of tornadoes is unknown as numerous brief tornadoes touched down in addition to the 5 distinct tornadoes below. Other "satellite" tornadoes occurred around the parent tornado and several vorticies were seen within. It's nearly impossible to gauge the damage from the separate vorticies as they were spawned near and within the the large, broad tornado circulation.

For this account, we'll count this as 6 tornadoes as you'll see 5 tornadoes from Dan and me, and my wife (who chased separately) saw 1 more (not pictured) on her chase.
Tornado #1 emerges 1-2 miles in front of us. Mike Morgan of KFOR provides live radio coverage in the video link above.
Though menacing, this tornado disappeared within minutes.
I created this map based on what I observed before the supercell formed, and also of the storm's path.

The day's severe threat developed quickly after a storm complex rumbled across Oklahoma that morning. The residual moisture and temperature differences helped create a small but ripe environment for severe weather.

Here's what I saw... the morning storms pushed out an outflow boundary (yellow dashed line) across several counties, and a distinct surface Low formed along it between the heat of western Oklahoma and the morning clouds and deep moisture of eastern Oklahoma. Sharp wind convergence, greatly helped by an easterly wind to the "right" of the Low provided an obvious target for air to rise and storm clouds to develop.

Now....once a storm formed, it had potential to go nuts in a narrow, instability maximum created by this heat/moisture boundary...the storm would be huge!

I felt the model data was greatly underestimating the severe potential, as the data didn't take into account the local effects created by the earlier morning rain.

Early that afternoon I called chase partner Dan Lockhoff and told him that I thought a small "moderate" risk area should be issued in Central Oklahoma, and that we needed to leave now to get there.

One storm formed near Hennessey (labeled "H") and it moved toward Perry ("P".) This one storm formed exactly along the outflow boundary east of the Low and tracked very slowly eastward. The storm weakened east of I-35 as surface temperatures were cooler.

The results are below!
See me with the camera in the video clip above? This is the picture I was taking. The tornado weaked rapidly and vanished two minutes later.
Tornado #2. The large circulation (mesocyclone) offers clues that a large tornado might form.
The video link above looks better defined as you can see the tornado movement. Several smaller tornadoes are spinning within the larger tornado.
I accidently timed this picture perfectly to capture the lightning. This might be a 3rd tornado, but am counting this is #2 again as I couldn't tell if it briefly dissipated.
Enjoy!  It's a 5 minute video clip. The download may take several minutes.
Tornado #4. Smaller tornadoes like this one are prettier to photograph. I call these "Wizard of Oz" tornadoes.
Tornadoes #3 (back left) and #4 are about one mile apart. Neither tornado was that strong.
Unknowing motorists sometimes drive into huge tornadoes because the tornado looks like an ordinary cloud.
This tornado was rated EF-3.
Tornadoes can stretch into weird shapes as they weaken. Their appearance can be influenced by inflow and outflow wind produced by the storm itself.
Tornado #5. Another huge tornado formed. This one caused damage between Stillwater and Perry. We chased this one visually as we were "lost" on some dirt road.
Chasers: George & Shyla Flickinger, Dan Lockhoff.

Special Thanks & Assistance: Dan Threlkeld, John Hollingshead, Kent Tyler, TJ Florence.
About this chase...This will rank among my favorite chases ever. I also saw the largest (0.9 mile wide) and slowest moving tornado I've seen in my chasing days.

Rarely do chases go exactly as expected, but this one did as a single storm formed exactly where it was supposed to. The chase target area was very small and easy to identify.

I normally plan out chase days ahead of time, but this one was a quick decision based on examining the weather data after our morning newscast. I called Dan Lockhoff, and he only had a few minutes to get ready. 

But what makes this chase the best was its simplicity... it was a throwback day: we left Tulsa so quickly that I didn't have time to grab much of my usual chase gear.  I had no laptop computer or GPS.  We had only a "Roads of Oklahoma" with missing pages, and often time we didn't know what dirt road we were on...Our chase was completely visual... an old-fashioned chase!
Dan Lockoff chasing with me in 2004. Dan's a snappy dresser and he likes donuts with lots of icing.