Live Blog: Storm Chasing in the Plains

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Chief Meteorologist Garrett Lewis and Meteorologist Joe Pennington are taking over the reigns from Meteorologist Tyler Southard and continuing the storm chase with more severe weather on the way.

They will be in Oklahoma and Kansas this weekend chasing storms as they head toward NE Oklahoma and NW Arkansas.

Tyler Southard May 18, 20137:55 pm

Photo taken by Joe as he looks north from the KS/OK state line.

Tyler Southard May 18, 20137:52 pm

Here is the live stream link broadcasting from Garrett and Joe’s storm chase vehicle:

Tyler Southard May 18, 20137:48 pm

Garrett and Joe under a wall cloud in NW Oklahoma.

Tyler Southard May 18, 20137:46 pm

Garrett and Joe about to intercept a supercell storm near Buffalo, OK.

Tyler Southard May 18, 20135:57 pm

Garrett and Joe have shifted west to Woodward county Oklahoma. Storms are developing to their west and to their south and will eventually push toward them as the storms continue to strengthen. Thunderstorms across the plains are quickly becoming severe with large hail and strong winds. Some have begun showing signs of tornado formation.

Tyler Southard May 18, 20134:19 pm

The tornado watch has been expanded south into Texas. Garrett and Joe are in Lamont, Oklahoma near the KS border.

Tyler Southard May 18, 20133:08 pm

A Tornado watch has been issued for parts of the Central Plains. This watch is likely to soon expand further south into Oklahoma.

Tyler Southard May 18, 201312:53 pm

Chief Meteorologist Garrett Lewis and Meteorologist Joe Pennington will be in Oklahoma and Kansas this weekend chasing storms as they head toward NE Oklahoma and NW Arkansas.

A significant multi-day threat of severe weather is expected through the weekend and into early next week. Storms will be moving into our area Sunday afternoon and into Monday.

Here is the current severe threat area for today:

Here is the current severe threat area for Sunday:

Here is the current severe threat area for Monday:

Tyler Southard May 17, 201310:38 am

After a busy stretch of days chasing, I will be leaving Granbury today and heading back to NW Arkansas. I will be back on the air this weekend with your forecast on 5NEWS.

It is shaping up to be a busy week with severe weather likely. It looks like the severe season was just a little late on arriving this spring.

I will be airing my chase specials next week on 5NEWS. I have some really great footage to share with all of you!


Tyler Southard May 16, 20133:25 pm

#Johnson County on the east side of Lake Pat #Cleburne. #txwx

Tyler Southard May 16, 20133:24 pm

@NWSFortWorth: The Millsap Tornado (Parker County) has been rated an EF1.

Tyler Southard May 16, 20133:23 pm

An estimated 19 buildings were destroyed in Hood County, CNN reports

Tyler Southard May 16, 20132:52 pm

#Tornado damage in the Racho Bravos subdivision of #Granbury, Texas. #5NEWSSTORMCHASE

Tyler Southard May 16, 20132:52 pm

#Tornado damage in the Racho Bravos subdivision of #Granbury, Texas. #5NEWSSTORMCHASE

Tyler Southard May 16, 20132:51 pm

#Tornado damage in the Racho Bravos subdivision of #Granbury, Texas. #5NEWSSTORMCHASE

Tyler Southard May 16, 20131:39 pm

Police blockade leading into the devastated Rancho Bravos subdivision in #Granbury, Texas. #5NEWSSTORMCHASE

Tyler Southard May 16, 201311:17 am

At least 10 tornadoes touched down in the area overnight, according to NWS. CNN reports six were killed, they were located in a Habitat for Humanity neighborhood in Granbury. Dozens are injured. More updates:

Tyler Southard May 16, 201311:14 am

Heading to #Granbury Texas to survey damage from a #tornado we were chasing last night. Initial estimates are EF4 #5NEWSStormChase

Tyler Southard May 16, 20133:25 am

Wednesday was a long but exciting day of storm chasing. Our team met at the WDT offices bright and early to discuss the day’s chase plan. Thankfully, conditions were looking better for storm development which didn’t seem to be the case the previous day. In fact, the Storm Prediction Center had issued a slight risk area for severe weather in the portion of North Texas we were previously targeting.

We got our team and chase fleet together for final preparations and a group photo. All together we had around 30 people which included many members of the WDT team, TV stations KQAD 8 from the Quad City region of Illinois and WHNT from Huntsville Alabama, two men who came all the way from Russia, and a few other weather enthusiasts.

Below is a picture of the 5NEWS Chase vehicle loaded up. It includes a laptop for weather analysis, video editing, blogging, iPad loaded with RadarScope, weather radio, 2 way radio to talk to the other vehicles, 2 Go Pro cameras, and a HD handheld cam. I had to improvise a bit with the banana box to make everything accesible.

This is me sporting our team uniform. It’s a supercell style hawaiian shirt. That’s one fashion statement I dont think is going to catch on, haha.

We drove south to position ourselves within the target area in North Texas. Once we arrived in Wichita Falls, our team grabbed lunch while we analyzed how the atmosphere was setting up to determine where we should head next.

We decided to go another hour or so SW to Seymore to await the first signs of convection.

A storm began developing to our south about an hour later north of Abilene so we were on the road again. Although this storm was great to look at, it really wasn’t the strong.

There were a number of stronger storms beginning to form to our east so we changed course again and headed down highway 180. As we got closer to these storms we could tell these were going to be good ones.

The supercells had great structure and they just kept getting stronger on radar. Eventually severe thunderstorm warnings were issued on some of them, and the storm we were closing in on near Mineral Wells developed a tornado signature as we were about to intercept.

We were coming in a great direction to view the storm and spot a tornado. As we approached, we could see the ground littered with large hail and some downed branches where the storm had just past.

As we got closer to the part of the storm where the tornado would be, the skies looked more and more ominous. We could see the rotating updraft very clearly.

After a couple attempts to gain position on the storm, we spotted the tornado. If that wasn’t awesome enough, there was a rainbow right next to it.

This was the first tornado I have ever seen in person. It was quite a rush!

We continued chasing the storm as it headed east into the night. Eventually we switched to another storm that was just to the south of us as it got close to Fort Worth. We stopped just as the sun was setting to get a glimpse of this storm. This one also had a tornado and a huge low hanging wall cloud. Although it was too dark to clearly see the tornado, we watched as it passed over the highway creating power flashes as it hit transformers.

The team continued into the storms despite the darkness. At one point we found ourselves in an area where two tornadic supercells were merging. This was exciting and scary all at once. The rain was extremely heavy and the winds were quite strong. I could feel my truck rocking back and forth as we sat on the side of the highway waiting for our chance to exit the pit of the beast.

Overall, what first appeared to be a slower chasing day turned out to be just the opposite.

Below is a look at the storm reports from Wednesday’s storms.

Garrett Lewis May 15, 20133:24 pm

Tyler’s storm chase team discussing their next move in the Wichita Falls, TX area.

Tyler Southard May 14, 201310:12 pm

Greetings from Norman Oklahoma, the weather hub of the southern plain states!

Starting bright and early on Wednesday I will be on the road, traveling across the plain states to track down storms and capture their life cycle in action. I am joining a team from WDT (Weather Decision Technologies) along with other Meteorologist and weather enthusiasts. You can follow me on this adventure through this blog where I will provide updates as the chase advances.

On Tuesday evening, the team met in Norman for a meet and greet and our first chase debriefing where we go over the latest weather data in order to develop our plan of attack.

The weak upper level low that is moving into the region from northern Mexico will provide the dynamics needed for some storms to form. The system has been producing some convection over west Texas on Tuesday, although the majority of these have not been severe. The ripe atmospheric set up just isn’t there. The image below shows how the surface features will be set up during the best potential chase time Wednesday evening.

Although we do expect areas of storms and rain tomorrow, the severe risk looks very low. The green shaded region in the image below is where sub-severe storms could form across the country tomorrow. As you can see, there are no slight, moderate, or high (yellow, red, pink) severe areas on the map. There are two areas I’ve market with a target that our team has narrowed down that would have the best potential for some of these storms to become a little stronger and possibly severe. We will decide tomorrow where to travel after fresh data has come in.

Keep checking back for updates and follow my hashtag on Twitter: #5NEWSStormChase

-Meteorologist Tyler Southard