24 May 2011 Chickasha and Goldsby Oklahoma EF4 Tornadoes
Photos 2011 Scott F. Blair

The original purpose of 'chasing' on 24 May 2011 was collecting data for the field project HailSTONE. Upon obtaining one good dataset earlier in the day and the increasing concern over the safety of team due to strong tornadoes, we called off operations just shy of the initial stage of the Chickasha, OK tornado. At the time of the photo, the tornado was affecting southeast portions of Chickasha.

The tornado neared 1.5 miles south of our location as it quickly moved northeast through the eastern outskirts of Chickasha, OK, very near I-44. Little to no precipitation was falling as we remained in the northern inflow notch relative to the circulation.

The tornado intensified as it crossed Highways 9/39/62/277, just east of the I-44 interchange that leads into Chickasha. Hook echo precipitation began to fall, evident by the white streaks in the photo.

The tornado continued to quickly intensify, with an expanding condensation core and increased rotational velocity near the surface. Likewise, a large amount of debris was lofted around the circulation as it crossed the north-south Maple Road. Contrast was decreasing as hook echo precipitation filled in between us and the departing tornado, so we decided to reposition.

We elected to take Highway 62/277 to parallel the eastern flank of the tornado. This also provided an improved contrast for most of the duration of the tornado. The vortex continued to expand and became near wedge-shaped approximately 7 miles NE of Chickasha. The RFD clear slot became evident from our vantage point as it gradually worked around the large scale circulation.

The strong tornado continued to look impressive as we approached 7 SW Blanchard, OK. Precipitation was increasing in the vicinity of the circulation as hook echo precipitation became more widespread, and additional precipitation was seeding the inflow sector from another tornadic supercell to the south.

We caught back up to the circulation 2 N Blanchard along Highway 76. The visual appearance of the tornado had become messy, in part due to copious precipitation filling in the inflow sector from the storm to its south. The photo shows the tornado roughly 1.5 WNW of our location along Hwy76.

We slowed down precisely one mile south of the tornado crossing Highway 76 to provide an ample safety buffer. Very strong RFD winds on the order of 70-80 mph were experienced at our location, at the intersection of Hwy76 and Parkland Ranch Rd. Damage was incurred to trees, power lines, and fences from the RFD winds. Shortly after, we crossed the damage path along the intersection of Highway 76 and the Norman Turnpike. With the tornado moving into a highly urban landscape, we elected to jump south to observe the ongoing tornadic event in Grady and McClain Counties.

It took less than 15 minutes to depart the old storm, head south on I-35, and first spot the ongoing tornado approaching Goldsby, OK. The tornado was beginning to move in a northerly fashion as the parent circulation occluded and the tornado transitioned into a rope. Even in its smaller state, the tornado continued to inflict a notable amount of damage to the area.

The tornado finally decayed in a snake-like, wispy fashion approximately 1.5 W of our location. An incredible amount of debris rained down from the sky, evident in the photo by hundreds of dark speckles lofted through the air. It was a surreal and fitting ending to the day, and a somber reminder of the damage the tornado caused along its journey.

All photographs and images on this and associated pages are Copyrighted by Scott F. Blair. Any reproduction either electronic or otherwise without written permission and consent from Scott F. Blair is strictly prohibited by Federal Law. Please direct all inquiries or comments to: Scott F. Blair

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