The trough that led to the amazing Rozel, Kansas tornadoes on May 18th, 2013 was positioned to support another round of severe weather on the 19th. Dew points were reaching into the upper 60s into eastern Kansas and Oklahoma. With steep mid-level lapse rates, mixed layer cape levels were heading over 3000 J/KG. Ample shear was in place to support supercells. The exit region of an advancing speed max ended up giving further support to strong, widespread convection over eastern Kansas.
An outflow boundary was positioned just south of the Oklahoma-Kansas border. With the advancing dryline, these two would help focus storm initiation and increased tornado potential along the outflow boundary.
I chose to begin my chase further north in Kansas because I anticipated Oklahoma storms along the boundary would propagate into difficult chase territory and storms further south along the dryline would enter dense urban areas along the I-35 corridor.
Storms ended up erupting in two clumps: one area from east-central to south-central Kansas, and another pretty much right over the OKC metro area.
21Z Visible Satellite
Video documentary of the chase.
Thematic spot to park and check data south of Moline, Kansas (1800Z)
As storms matured, I made my way toward a cell approaching Oxford, Kansas. By the time I was positioned east of Oxford, the storm was HP and had a tornado warning. The look of the storm was incredibly menacing. The forward flank was lofting a ragged, low shelf that had the train-like appearance of an inflow tail as it led into the sealed notch between forward and rear flanks. Positive lightning strikes were landing just ahead of it and casting off fearsome canon-shots of thunder.
Reflectivity and position near Oxford, Kansas (2133Z)
Approaching forward flank (2133Z)
Positive charge lightning strikes ahead of the Oxford HP Supercell.
The green rear flank rolls northeastward along the heavy forward flank of the Oxford HP Supercell.
As the green RFD curtain approached, like it was rolling along the gears of the forward flank, I repositioned three miles further east. From this new spot, I witnessed the spectacle of rapid circulation developing in the rain free base just ahead of the FFD/RFD notch as a new RFD seemed to push out, trying to get ahead of the occlusion. The established RFD was moving in quick, so I had to abandon that spot and drive east to stay ahead. So I wasn't in position to see the tornado that was reported 6 minutes later about 6 miles northeast of that spot.
Circulation developing in the rain free base just ahead of the Oxford HP Supercell.
About that time, the Oxford storm started to congeal with others and form into a severe squall line. This convinced me to work my way southward to stay out of the mess and look for opportunities with any isolated storms on the tail end of the squall line. I had some pretty impressive views of the advancing line as I headed south.
Massive gust front on a congealing squall line from Winfield, Kansas (2158Z)
Another gaping gust front as seen from 4 miles south of Arkansas City, Kansas (2242Z)
A brief rope tornado was reported 1 mile north of Arkansas City about 17 minutes later.
I eventually wound up on an isolated supercell near Newkirk, Oklahoma. I was able to hang out for a half hour in that spot and watch it approach. RFD was working its way into the base and encouraging a slender wall cloud to inhale scud, but it just wasn't strengthening. I was also concerned about the quality of roads to my east, so I let it go. It picked up a tornado warning not long after.
Reflectivity and position near Newkirk, Oklahoma (2304Z)
RFD cuts into the rain free base of a supercell 3 miles north of Newkirk, Oklahoma (2311Z)
Scud rises into an anemic wall cloud on the Newkirk supercell (2313Z)
RFD and wall cloud on the Newkirk supercell (2316Z)
Since new development still seemed likely, I decided to give the farm roads to the east a try. They were a lot better than I thought--pretty rocky actually--so I spent over an hour navigating north and east as I watched a very thin line of convection do pretty much nothing exciting stormwise, but did make for an excellent sunset display.
Tail end of a line of convection on the Kansas-Oklahoma border (2357Z)
After finally getting back onto a paved road, back into Kansas, I noticed a severe-warned storm, moving up out of Oklahoma. I tried racing south to get ahead of it, but couldn't manage it. After it passed, I did get to sift through its wake and picked up hail as large as 3 inches along the roadside about 7 miles east of Maple City, Kansas.
Collection of large hail (0130Z)
Three inch hail near Maple City, Kansas (0130Z)
Three inch hail near Maple City, Kansas (0130Z)
My first contribution to an SPC storm report.
So, no tornadoes, but definitely some awesome sights on this chase. The dynamics near Oxford were unforgettable, and even though I missed seeing the tornado, I had an amazing perspective on that storm.
May 19, 2013 Chase Map
SPC Storm Reports - May 19, 2013
Links to more chase accounts from May 19, 2013: