Geoff Mackley's tornado chase log - 2001
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June 13 was the last and most eventful day of the 2001 tornado chase

June 13th
Large tornado destroys homes in Nebraska
Click here for full report and photos
June 5th
Below is a link to photos of tornadic storm cells near Attica in Kansas
3 Photos: Tornadic storm near Attica, Kansas
June 1st
Below is a link to a couple of photos of severe storm cells near Kingman in Reno County, southern Kansas, a full report will be done when time permits
Photo: Severe storm in Reno County, Kansas
May 30th
Today was spent climbing Pikes Peak in Colorado and getting caught out in a blizzard and severe thunderstorm high on the mountain, read about that on
May 26th
Today was spent chasing several storm cells in the near the town of Snyder in north Texas, no tornadoes were produced by this storm but the usual lightning display occured. This will be my last chase report until Wednesday 30, I will be going to Colorado Springs for the weekend.
May 25th
Today is a "down day" at Bills house in Austin, Texas with no severe weather predicted anywhere near us......
May 24th
Today / tonight the severe storms were in an area around Bandera County, Texas, several severe thunderstorms provided a spectactular and intense lightning display, which at it height was producing lightning at around 300 strokes per minute.We finally got home to Austin about 2 am .
Photo: Lightning during a severe storm in Medina, Texas
May 23th
Today is also a "down day" at Bills house in Austin, Texas with no severe weather predicted anywhere near us......
May 22th
Today is a "down day" at Bills house in Austin, Texas with no severe weather predicted anywhere near us......
May 21th
The day starts in Paris, Texas and after having breakfast at mid day we head south to a rapidly retreating cold front in Texas, the SPC has a slight risk of severe weather posted in south eastern Texas into Louisiana. The SPC tornado probability shows a 2 to 5% chance of tornadoes in far south eastern Texas south of the cold front and along any old outflow boundaries. We have a slim chance of catching up to this system but we are going to try. We stopped in Lufkin, Texas and downloaded the latest radar data, there were a number of cells forming near the Louisiana border heading east towards the coast. A few cells indicated mesocyclones so we decided to try and get in front of them. We went all the way south to Newton, Louisiana, by the time we got there all the cells had either dissipated or moved off the coast....end of chase, dinner at the Golden Corral in Jasper followed by the usual 400 mile drive late into the night.....
May 20th
The day begins in Wichita Falls, we were unable to set up the satellite dish and full data could not be obtained but enough to tell us that we should be heading towards Ardmore, Oklahoma. SPC had issued a moderate risk of severe storms for extreme north eastern Texas and most of eastern Oklahoma. The tornado probability graphic showed a 15 to 25% chance of tornadoes and a small area in southeastern Oklahoma that showed a chance of significant F2 to F5 tornadoes occurring, additionally a stationary front stretched across Texas / Oklahoma in an east-west orientation and would be a focusing mechanism for severe / tornadic storms that day. A very low pressure center was situated over Wichita Falls at 29.60 inches of mercury. Ardmore was situated north east of the surface low and near the frontal boundary. There were a number of other factors such as the jet stream, high energy in the atmosphere, directional and speed shear in the atmosphere which would all coincide and help to destabilize the atmosphere. Ardmore was the logical starting position given all the above. After viewing the latest satellite imagery we left Wichita Falls in a great hurry before the explosive convection began. The trip to Ardmore was hampered by the fact that Bills vehicle was fitted with an engine cutout that operates at 100 mph. Bill tried to get that feature removed but was told that it was illegal to tamper with it. We raced north up I35 toward Ardmore as 2 cells began around 1300 hrs. Bill knew instantly that these cells would grow quickly and become tornadic within a short period of time. This guess proved to be true. Radar downloads and internet hookup were working well and we were able to get all the latest warnings. The storms were moving fairly quickly
to the east, unfortunately this proved to be a problem because that required us to travel north east through small towns and on back roads slowing our progress.
Bill surmised that we would not likely be able to catch these cells. There would be many  more forming in the afternoon. We decided to peruse the two initial cells until we caught up to them or other cells formed. We were almost to the initial target cells when newer cells began to develop around us. These cells also began to become tornadic. We could see rotation and lowerings in the cloud base and radar showed the cells to have mesocyclones, very soon thereafter the NWS began issuing tornado warnings for many of the cells around us. About this time we began to see interesting spectacles along the roadside. Hundreds of vehicles were converging on the scene, storm chasers and members of the public were parked along the highway, some people were even parked in the center median with people standing on the roof of their vehicles with cameras (an ideal lightning conductor) while others preferred to drive at the same time, cutting us off and even stopping in the road lanes, it was mayhem. We followed one particular cell into Pittsburgh county just west of McAlester.  About this time Bill downloaded the latest InterRad image and it sounded a warning for a TVS (tornado vortex signature), this sounds like a world war II air raid siren. This got our attention.  We started filming the clouds and a funnel formed several times and began descending towards the ground. A number of times we would jump back in the car and move down the road to keep up with it. Just as it looked like a funnel would reach the ground we came into the town of McAlester,...25mph speed limit, slow traffic and buildings blocked our view. As hastily as possible we made our way through McAlester and took a road which lead north east toward the developing funnel and into the storm.
We waited for as long as possible for the funnel to form a tornado but eventually the road separated us from the funnel and led us into heavy precipitation. Sadly we lost sight of our target. We continued on through the storm attempting to reacquire the target but many new cells were forming and visibility was becoming poor.
Bill knew it would be difficult to find the same funnel but also knew a new tornadic storm was forming a county away to the south west which had good rotation and for which the NWS had already issued a tornado warning. Darkness was fast approaching. Knowing time was running out to acquire the prize we raced headlong directly into the tornadic storm. This was further made difficult because south eastern Oklahoma is comprised of large hills and winding roads and large trees.
Constant lightning littered the sky. In the approaching distance we could see a very large and ominous portion of the storm. The setting sun and dark clouds gave the scene a doomsday end of the world effect. We continued this way until it became apparent that we might run directly into a very large tornado. Obviously at night with country roads, total darkness, blinding rain and zero visibility, this would not be good. Bill decided we should try and turn around and outrun the storm when we were over run by it. At this point it was chaos, I (the driver) wanted to jump out and film, but Bill was more intent on working the GPS and radar in order to ensure we weren't eaten by a tornado. It was extremely frustrating to not have the camera running, but it was also a difficult time to switch places with Bill while all the madness was occurring.  For a while we floundered and attempted to escape the menacing winds and it was obvious there was no quick exit. Very high speed winds began buffeting the car and a few times switched direction suddenly from one side of the road to the other. At this point through the blinding rain Bill thought he could see a dark shape which appeared to be part of the shape of a tornado crossing the road about 1/2 to 3/4 mile away. Shortly after we were blinded  by two power transformers exploding and then another one further off the road to the north then also exploded. At this time we also heard a loud bang as something hit the vehicle. We were unsure if it was large hail or airborne debris.
The winds subsided and the storm passed, soon after we had dinner at Pizza Hut in Wilburton. All in all a fun filled day......

Photo: Developing tornadic storm cell, Oklahoma
May 19th
This morning we awoke to find ourselves in the area most likely to produce severe weather, already  at 1000 hrs there are severe storms developing.
Bill used a satellite dish to download data at 10 times the normal rate, essential for time saving when looking at satellite images etc.
The Storm Prediction Center was forecasting a slight risk of severe storms over the Texas panhandle and northern Texas,  by 1000 hrs an early severe storm east of Amarillo became tornadic as it moved south-eastward along the frontal boundary. These boundaries enhance the storm relative flow and improve the chances of tornadic storms developing along that boundary. Directly over us in Haskell County a low was forming. Our target for the day was
Childress, Texas / Altus, Oklahoma which put us near the stationary boundary which was oriented north west to the south east and it put us north east of the surface low. Our plan was to intercept storms along the boundary which were back building southeastward. By 1100 the National Weather Service were issuing tornado warnings for a cell that was developing north east of Amarillo along a boundary. We believed that due to the distances we couldn't catch that storm but we hoped to catch new similar development along the boundary as the afternoon progressed so we headed north of Childress, Texas and drove parallel to the boundary as storms forming along the boundary began over running us. These storms were producing high wind and hail and blowing up large amounts of dust, reducing visibility
but they were mostly outflow dominant. Outflow dominant storms are not usually tornado producing because they tend to cut off the flow of air to the severe storm and limit it's violent tornado producing potential. The original storms that developed north of Amarillo developed south eastward and produced a number of verified tornadoes. We managed to get within 30 minutes of one of these storms before it fell apart. At that point SPC upgraded parts of north western Texas and south western Oklahoma to a moderate risk. A tornado watch was issued which ran north and south between the border of Oklahoma and Texas crossing over into the eastern portions of the Texas panhandle. At this time we ran into the doppler on wheels trucks and other storm chasers trying to intercept the approaching severe storms. The storm that we were currently on was not producing tornadoes and was outflow dominant even though we saw some lowerings form the base of the storm and some rotation. At this time we turned west toward the developing cells in the Texas panhandle which were moving south east.
We filmed the approaching gust front of a severe storm kicking up huge amounts of dust in farm fields. There was a severe cell south west of Childress within the tornado watch box that we attempted to intercept. We tried to get on the south east flank of the storm and very nearly did. In the process of doing this we were overtaken by an intense outflow boundary which was near the inflow area of possible circulation. The car was buffeted by hurricane force winds and as I was driving and trying to film at the same time it was quite difficult, Bill was worried about the car being overturned and we tried to face the car into the wind and blinding rain. Additionally, ahead of us crossing the road half a mile away was an area of high speed rain bands that was ahead of the storm. At the time Bill was concerned that it was a rain wrapped tornado so we stopped immediately and waited for it to pass. The storm raced by and we raced to try and catch it but it was not possible. We turned east and attempted to follow it as other storms developed. Bill was trying to gather data off the internet as we did so. We went east all the way to Olney in the dark chasing a tornadic cell which after dark had tornado warnings issued on it. At this point it was to difficult to chase any further so we went to Wichita Falls for the night.
May 18th
Today was a "between weather systems" day with no significant storm activity in the area so the day was spent at Bill's parents house in Sagerton.
PS, there really WAS a snake in the yard tonight..........
May 17th
We left Austin and traveled up to the Texas panhandle in western Texas, the only place where any real chance of tornadic weather existed.
We were heading towards Childress to meet up with the group but at the last minute they decided to divert for a storm in Altus, Oklahoma and we headed instead towards a cell near Lubbock, Texas which currently had a severe thunderstorm warning on it.  As it was getting dark, realizing that we could not make that target we then diverted again to a nearby cell identified on radar as having supercell "Flying Eagle" signature characteristics in Haskell county. A tornado warning was issued for this cell soon after. In the distance, along the "rain free" base of this severe storm we could see the wall cloud, and small funnels apparently extending, but were not close enough to verify a tornado.  Local storm spotters apparently reported a tornado on the ground, but the next day checking the Storm Prediction Center's severe weather log we found that the "tornado" so far is not verified.  When we finally caught up to the storm, we briefly received heavy rain and small hail, but then the storm cell fell apart.
Later, at nightfall we were treated to a spectacular lightning show from 2 severe thunderstorms passing through the same area,  but no tornadoes. Coincidentally Bill's parents live in Sagerton, Haskell County, and after traveling nearly 600 miles (1000 kms) that day we arrived there at two in the morning barely awake to a hot
meal and a warning to "watch out you don't step on a rattlesnake" in the yard.
May 16th
The day started at 0800 when I was dropped off by friends at the Greyhound bus depot  in Houston for the 3 hr journey out to Austin to meet up with my chase partner Bill Tabor. Reminds me of an old song by Rod Stewart... At the depot I juggled myself and my 150 lbs of luggage and camera equipment to the gate first to make sure I got a seat on the bus. I needn't have worried, only 4 people got on the bus! However one of those people was a rather large woman with a loud screeching voice called Loretta,...I found that out during the 3 hours of continuous cell phone conversations she had with all and sundry people including her insurance agent, ...she was making a claim for her laptop which she ran over in her own driveway...(dont ask me how.) The driver was so upset with her he wanted to throw her off the bus, I agreed...moments before my own cell phone rung! Arriving at Austin I was met by Bill and spent the night at his place in Austin.

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