27 MARCH 2004 OKLAHOMA TORNADOES

The day began with two storms competing for the attention of chasers, one north (which produced the Vici tornado—great TWC footage, guys!) and one storm to the south. I was on the southern storm from initiation, and spent quite a while in Elk City waiting for it to approach me as it dropped baseballs on Sayre. My idea was to follow it up 33, though I hoped it would turn more easterly as it became rooted in the boundary layer. As the storm approached, the crown of the northern storm dominated the skyline with
bright sunlight glinting off the knuckled anvil. I drifted north, and, when the tornado warning came, broke something of a cardinal rule and raced north, leaving a very healthy storm then approaching Hammon.

I didn’t make it to Vici in time. When I closed on the storm, and saw also the second development to the west of Vici, I didn’t like the looks of it and headed back south. Back and forth, back and forth. I just knew I was going to manage to miss all the tornadoes by chasing NOAA tones, but I couldn’t seem to help myself. Fortunately, I cut east to 183 and dove south in time to observe a long rope tornado from the intersection of 33 and 183 facing west toward Butler. I estimate this tornado was about one-half mile from me and lasted only about four minutes. Time was 3:05 PM.

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Racing to Vici

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Back to the southern storm just in time
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3:00 PM Near Butler, OK
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I followed 33 northeast, paralleling the storm’s course, and observed a second tornado, which began as a thin rope, then expanded into a narrow elephant trunk and finally displayed a very narrow condensation funnel extending to the ground from the larger upper half—this is what Shane referred to that we called “half a tornado.” No question from the size of this tube that it was on the ground. This tornado appeared very soon after one of the storm’s frequent occlusions, and almost appeared to be on a gust front. However, it was obviously a full tornado and not a gustnado, just in an unusual spot.  This was north of Custer City about 3:35 PM CST.
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About 3:35 PM near Custer City, OK
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I then dropped down to Clinton and watched the beautiful supercell sit on the interstate and make one effort after another to produce a fully-backlit tornado, but to no avail. Finally this storm began drifting east northeast, cycling from a compact classic into a small HP and back again, but not with the same success at funnel production.
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Digital stills this row
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Video captures this row and below
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I then dropped down to Clinton and watched the beautiful supercell sit on the interstate and make one
effort after another to produce a fully-backlit tornado, but to no avail. Finally this storm began drifting east northeast, cycling from a compact classic into a small HP and back again, but not with the same success at funnel production. Then, intending only to shoot structure, Eric Nguyen, Scott Currens, and I saw the twin funnels, one of which apparently dropped, southwest of Okarche. This was a complete surprise, as were most of the day’s tornadoes, forming quickly from hastily-organized wall clouds then disappearing without a trace soon afterwards. Later we wondered if both storms interacted with leftover outflow from the morning’s convection, as they seemed to produce tornadoes when structurally they did not seem at the height of their powers.
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Twin funnels
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Southwest of Okarche, OK about 7:00 PM CST
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Had a fun dinner at the Pizza Hut in Oklahoma City with Eric Nguyen, Scott Blair, Jason Politte (whose
excellent video I owe a review), and some others from OU. Nothing better than celebrating a great chase
with old friends. Also enjoyed running into Shane, Chad, Jo, Blake Naftel (a true road warrior), Graham
Butler, Dave Drummond, and Tony Laubach. It was quite a chaser confab out here today. So I had the best of
both worlds this weekend: the caprock all to myself Friday, and a wild tornado chase with friends (and
every chaser within 250 miles) on Saturday.

Thanks to Evan Bookbinder of SGF for relaying a report to OUN. Also, I can’t say enough about the flawless
nowcasting of Jeff Gammons and Mike Hollingshead. Huge thanks to both.

Amos Magliocco's Storm Chasing Page