I am going to start this post with one question.....OUN where are you?
So here goes......I have noticed the last few years (while chasing in Norman's CWA) that they have become somewhat relaxed in issuing tornado warnings on storms that clearly needed it.
The 4-25-09 Clinton supercell was no exception and in my opinion could have been a very bad situation with an outcome similar to that of the deadly 4-21-96 Fort Smith tornado.
For those not familiar with that event, the link to that report is here:
Just for the record, the above picture was taken by me 2 miles south of Clinton OK on 4-25. There was/is clearly a tornado on the ground as we noted "possible" ground circulation but I was not sure and most other chasers around were not sure either. Our exact location as I noted above was 2 miles south Clinton in a gas station parking lot and our view at the time was due east north east. Before going too far in detail I feel that a partial description of the chase leading up to the event may help explain the situation and might help the other chasers who were on the event.
After leaving the Hammon, OK supercell (as it appeared to weaken) we decided to dive south and catch the next supercell south of Clinton. Driving south on HWY 183 we punched the east side of the core and got right up under the updraft base. We decided to stop to film and shoot pics so we pulled into a gas station parking lot where it appeared we were the only chasers there at the time. The UDI area was pinched together and was still west of HWY 183, it was rotating very hard and quickly produced a full rotating wall cloud with rapid rising scud pulling into it.
I noticed that winds had shifted and were now pulling in from the southwest......from that point on we just let the it roll over us as it produced a small funnel on the outer rings of the collar cloud.
By this time there were quite a few chasers in the parking lot one of which asked me if it was a tornado. I replyed that I was not sure and informed him that NWS had not issued a tornado warning on it yet. At this point, I ran around to the east side of the gas station and snapped a few pics and noticed what I thought was debris under the funnel but I was not exactly sure due to a big wooden fence in my field of view. After looking at the pictures and video it is VERY CLEAR that this WAS A TORNADO.
The fact that we filmed a tornado is certainly not the big deal nor the issue at hand. The issue is the fact that this storm should have been tornado warned long before we intercepted it.
After looking at data that is why we targeted this storm to begin with. Although I did not post it (I closed out my SRV fields) there was a great couplet on the backside with nearly 90kts gate to gate before the storm was even severe warned with 3 inch hail being reported south west of Clinton. On that note, some may argue that since the storm was severe warned the general public should have already taken actions. Again, please see the link I have posted above.
The fact of the matter is that this was could have been a very bad situation.
WHERE WERE YOU OUN?
Big thanks to Chad Berryhill for going with us on such short notice. Also, thanks to Jeff Smith who made chasing on the 26th a blast....thanks for the radio Jeff! And to Mr. Shane Adams and Brid as well as Mick....I enjoyed breakfeast!
For the record (for what its worth) after looking at video and pics I filmed 3 tornadoes in two days....certainly not close up and picture perfect ones down in Roger Mills County but we got some good stuff and had a blast.