Meteorologists were hyping-up the possibility
of severe weather on this day for a week in advance. The 6Z
day 1 convective outlook from the Storm Prediction Center called
for a moderate risk of severe weather in Oklahoma. However,
early morning convection and clouds limited the instability
in the area, and the moderate risk was downgraded to a slight.
Since it was spring break, Valerie and I set aside the entire
day for chasing. However, it WAS St. Patrick's Day so we made
sure to have a glass of green beer at O'Connell's in Norman
before heading out. We left at 2:15 PM and drove south (after
sobering up) on I-35, to Pauls Valley, eventually making our
way to Antioch. As we approached the town from the north, we
observed a wall
cloud off to our SW (radar
image). As luck would have it (St. Patrick's day, huh?!?),
the wall cloud began to dissipate as we drove west out of town.
We ditched that cell in lieu of a storm to the south, towards
Elmore City, that had some wicked
scud and a possible wall cloud. We encountered torrential
rain but somehow dodged the golf ball sized hail.
We then drove NW towards Chickasha and were faced with the typical
chase dilemma. A tornado warning had been issued for a storm
south of us (east of Lawton) as well as for a storm near Binger,
northwest of us. Based on the spotter storm reports at the time,
it sounded like the Binger storm had the best chance of "tornadoing."
We drove north, to between Union City and El Reno, where we
had an amazing view of the mesocyclone and wall cloud off to
the west. Although it never did produce a tornado, it offered
perhaps the best storm structure either of us had ever seen.
We arrived back in Norman at 7:30 PM but the show hadn't ended
yet. Half-an-hour later, I drove south to just past Purcell
(Wayne, Oklahoma to be exact) where I intercepted another severe
storm. As it moved off to the northeast, I was able to capture
some great lightning pictures (see below).