Target Area: Arkansas City, Kansas (Click on city names for Yahoo! maps links)
Observations: one tornado, two wall clouds, four supercells, lightning, and one armadillo
Distance: 550 miles
Time: 12 hours
Chase Team: Car 1 - Dean Narramore, Amy Edmonds, Diggs, and myself; Car 2 - Rob Lee, Rob Warren, Rob Graham, Pete Argyle, Becky Hewins, and Kate Brown
SPC Convective Outlook: Moderate Risk (Click to see SPC products, data, and storm reports)
Chase Setup: Dryline setup through central Kansas and western Oklahoma, but dewpoints lower than desired. Instability and shear decent for some discrete supercells, but storms likely to be high-based hailers.
Chase Log: Dean, Amy, Diggs, and I left Norman in the early afternoon and headed up to the Kansas/Oklahoma border, in order to position ourselves near the sharpening dryline. We got off the freeway at Wellington, and stopped briefly in a church parking lot to regroup and meet up with the Brits, who had left a little later than we had. There was already a supercell conveniently to our south at this time, so we drove west on Highway 160 through Winfield and south on Highway 77 towards Arkansas City.
Just north of Arkansas City, we suddenly spotted a low contrast, elephant trunk funnel cloud that appeared to briefly touch down behind some trees in the distance. We couldn't be absolutely positive that it was a tornado, as we were too far away (and on the wrong side of the trees) to see a debris cloud. However, it looked like it was over 3/4 of the way down to the ground, and was reported as on the ground (same time and location) by the KAKE-TV (Wichita) storm chasers. A few other chasers in the vicinity reported that they never actually saw it touch down, though, and I never did see any photos of the tornado debris cloud, so it may not have been an actual tornado.
We heard the tornado sirens go off as we stopped for gas in Arkansas City. Driving back to Highway 166, we headed east and then found a north road so we could continue following the storm. Unfortunately, many of the county roads were unlabeled on the map, the road, or both, so we had difficulty finding the roads we wanted and wound up losing the storm.
Somewhere along the highway we saw another wall cloud on another supercell, but it didn't do anything exciting. We stopped at a gas station to watch the sunset, and ran into some other chasers (KAKE-TV, Find The Tornado, and a couple others). While I was inside the mini mart buying some junk food, I heard a girl outside screaming "Tornado! Tornado!" As I hurried outside, wondering how there could be a tornado on a weakening storm that didn't even appear to be rotating, I asked what was going on. The girl said, "oh, I don't know, some people were taking pictures." What?! Yep, that's right, she was freaking out over some of our group taking photos of the sunset and a rainbow.
Further on down the road, back in Oklahoma, we drove through the Osage Indian Reservation on our way to intercept the back side of a storm headed for the Tulsa area. We ate dinner at Sonic in a town called Hominy (yep, small town names never cease to amaze me! Probably a sister city to the town of Corn, Oklahoma). Afterwards we stopped to watch some nice lightning on the back of the storm. When we got back to Norman, we watched more lightning on yet another storm nearby.