2006 APRIL 24: RANDLETT, OKLAHOMA TORNADO

 
Tail-end Charlie in southern OK April 24, 2006. Later produced Randlett, OK tornado below
Tornado southeast of Randlett, Oklahoma in Cotton County ~0130z observed from east-northeast at ~7 mile distance. (click to enlarge) All images ©2006 Amos Magliocco
Tail-end Charlie produced a tornado south-southeast of Randlett, Oklahoma in Cotton County I observed between 0130z and 0140z.  Other chasers with better vantage points report this tornado was on the ground a full twenty minutes. The tornado began as a tapered funnel and grew into a fully-condensed elephant trunk before growing into a wedge, reportedly two hundred yards wide. This tornado was just north of the Red River according to spotters closer than I was.

After teaching today, I checked data and saw that the dryline was pronounced over southwestern Oklahoma and northwestern Texas. I preferred the area north of the river because dewpoint depressions were significantly lower, owing apparently to congestus earlier in the day, I was told. Either way, the 90F surface temp at SPS was not nearly as attractive as the more common low 80s over southwestern and south central OK west of I-35. Winds were backed and there seemed enough low level shear to offer the chance of rotating storms should individual cells organize. I was aware of the problems with anvil level flow and thought perhaps the earlier stages of any stormís lifespan might hold more promise for tornadoes than later.

I drove north to Ardmore and turned west on State Road 70 toward the tail-end convection, which around that time (~2330z) was multicellular and unimpressive. While the cells organized and split twice and generally struggled, I noticed another storm to my north approaching Lawton with a pronounced hook. It was fifteen miles away and too tempting to ignore. I headed north and sacrificed my excellent position but realized within five minutes the classic stupidity of what I was doing and turned back south, now a little further east, to cast my lot with the southernmost storm after all. This bit of wizardry probably cost me a view that some spotters described as a "tall white" tornado. At the very least, it forced me to play the storm from a half-dozen miles away which yielded the lower-contrast, distant images I brought home.

Today I was thinking how ironic it was that I drove to Kansas on Saturday, chased all day Sunday, arrived home in time for a few hours sleep before work, taught school, and then with five minutes forecasting and preparation, raced out the door to my first real tornado of 2006 in a target chosen by time and space constraints.

Another note: it's been so long between Oklahoma tubes that I had forgotten the outstanding professionalism of spotters and Skywarn networks in Oklahoma. These guys are succinct, smart, and relatively bold with their positioning. The net controllers are coolly efficient in the way they collect and disseminate information. Not only is it immensely helpful to listen to the linked repeaters in Oklahoma, but it's about the best weather programming on any radio or television anywhere.