May 04, 2020   

Decided to make the trip out to the plains for a one day chase.  Our friend Lucas Munzlinger and I headed out to meet up with Brian Stertz the night before.  We had dinner and got a good night's sleep at Brian's place.

As we prepared in the morning, the target chosen was near the Kansas / Oklahoma / Missouri borders for the projected late afternoon / evening storms.  We were on the road by around 10:00am.  We headed down Highway 69 on the Kansas side of the border out of Kansas City heading toward Pittsburg, Kansas.  As we drove to toward the target, we took note of a few morning storms just to the south and to the west as we drove.  One of those storms caught our eye and was the one closest to us, just to our southwest.  The closer we got to it, the stronger it seemed to get.  Hail markers on radar were becoming huge within the storm.  Decision made.   We were now in intercept mode on a very unexpected morning storm.  Lots of green showing in the clouds as they approached from the west.

Now the problem was beating it to the Highway 69 crossing point and getting to a protected viewing position before the storm and its hail core crossed.  We were able to just beat the storm to the core's crossing point at the Lacygne, Kansas exit.  We were hoping for a gas station canopy, but the only cover we could find was under the Highway bridge.  We positioned there and waited for only a few minutes before the storm overtook us.  There was strong winds of 70+mph that rocked the car coming out of the west, then the south, then the east along with blowing hail that nearly covered the road at one point as the meso went right overhead.  Luckily for us, the largest hail stone was only around penny size as the bridge was not much protection against the blowing hail.

Certainly a good teaser to start the day.  As moved on toward our afternoon target, the target shifted a bit further south and a bit further west.   Clouds were building but did not seem to take off in the early afternoon as we leisurely made our way to the new target which was now Vinita, Oklahoma.  We eventually ended up a little further west than that, just north of Tulsa, Oklahoma in the late afternoon.

Finally the storms started to come together and look a lot more promising.  We latched onto a storm north of Owasso, Oklahoma that was growing rapidly and we began following it.  It began showing a wall cloud, so we got out ahead of the storm and stopped just west of Pryor Creek, Oklahoma to watch it.  It went through many shape changes and had a constant barrage of close cloud to ground bolts that sent us back inside the car for safety.

As the storm caught up to us again, we moved down the road near Locust Grove, Oklahoma and watched the wall cloud again continue to change shapes over a farmstead.

After moving again, we stopped between the town of Rose, Oklahoma and Twin Oaks, Oklahoma to take a few more looks at the storm coming at us.  After a few minutes there, we made a hasty exit as hail began falling. 

As it began getting dark, it became very obvious that the storms were not gaining anymore intensity.  Even though the wall cloud was consistent, there was only very minor rotation and the velocity signature on radar was constant, but had a very broad rotation. As we neared the Oklahoma / Arkansas border, we stopped in West Siloam, Oklahoma and had dinner.  When we were finished, we came out of the restaurant and saw the back side of the storm as the last beams of light showed from the sunset.

**Some of the pictures in the story taken by my chase partners Lucas Munzlinger & Brian Stertz**

Check out the Blog by Lucas Munzlinger about this event HERE

1126 Miles - 47.5 Hours

Click on the link below to see video of some of these storms.

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