5/23/16 Woodward, OK Tornadoes

This day was another day of excellent forecasting, even when computer model consistency was not entirely clear. The Valparaiso University Storm Intercept Team headed north into the Oklahoma panhandle from their hotel in Shamrock, TX, eyeing a region where a sharpening dryline bulge intersected an outflow boundary from morning convection over Kansas that slowly drifted toward the panhandle. Thoughts were that an isolated storm would form on the dryline and latch onto this boundary, giving it the enhanced helicity it would need to rotate and possibly produce a tornado.

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Once late afternoon came, a couple of towers erupted in this “perfect” location. Despite our efforts to get as close as we could to them, they were quickly killed by riding off the boundary and into the cold air the morning storms left in their wake. Thinking that our day was over, as these storms would have the perfect combination of ingredients, we were about to head home when a storm erupted quickly south of these near Woodward, OK. Although this storm was not attached to the boundary that would give it extra spin, it became explosive fast.

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The structure looked somewhat cold and smooth, and its organization seemed awkwardly elongated. The inflow band off to the right was very strong, however.

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The storm was sucking up inflow at this point, but was not organized correctly to produce a tornado yet. The forward flank inflow band was almost parallel to the rear flank outflow.

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This changed quickly, however. As inflow became less pronounced, the rear flank shelf cloud to the left became quite thick and began wrapping around the updraft. Scud became visible under the now rounded base.

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It was not long before a clear slot wrapped around this lowering and a brief cone tornado dropped. The entire updraft of the storm was visible, and it was now structurally sound.

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A second tornado touched down, this one lasting for quite awhile as the inflow band thickened again.

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A nice ranch house got to enjoy a bit more than a sunset.

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Dramatic landscape as the tornado became wrapped in a bit of rain.

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It shriveled up as it was pushed into the rain.

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What a nice sunset.

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