Oklahoma/Kansas Storm Chase

This is our chase route from start to finish.
Three southwest Missouri weather enthusiasts on a chase in Oklahoma and Kansas on Saturday, April 14, 2012.

I experienced my first big storm chase yesterday. Two of my good friends/weather enthusiasts decided to head toward the Oklahoma/Kansas border to see if we could intercept a twister.

We decided to take the chance because the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center, along with many other weather outlets, were predicting a high risk outbreak in Kansas and Oklahoma — something they had been anticipating for several days.

Although we didn’t see a twister on the ground, we could hear rumbles of one west of where we stationed to possibly witness one in Medford, Oklahoma.

Our journey started as we left for Oklahoma from Monett, our driver’s homestead. We went through several quaint small towns as we traversed westward on Highway 60.

Our first stop was at a McDonald’s in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. Although we had our mobile radar on our smart phones, we wanted to check our main radar product — which needs to be made available for a mobile device. After checking the radar and reading new information from the Storm Prediction Center, we continued westward on Highway 60.

We made another quick stop in Pawhuska to do the same. We traveled through the Ponca City, a major oil town, and decided to go north and stop for another check of our weather data in Blackwell, Oklahoma, a small town off of I-35.

Storms were starting to fire up to the southwest toward Woodward, Oklahoma by this point, and we decided to try to intercept the initial cell, so we headed west through Medford, Oklahoma and then headed up north into Anthony, Kansas. The initial storm that was tornado warned was going in a more northerly direction so we decided to head back south to possibly intercept another cell. We traveled a terrible highway between Anthony and Caldwell, Kansas (which later experienced a tornado) and found ourselves back in Medford, Oklahoma.

Mammatus clouds in Medford, Oklahoma.

It was definitely supper time by the time we got back to Medford, so we decided to stop off for quick bite while we waited for an approaching cell. Eats ‘N’ Treats the only restaurant in town that was actually open on a Saturday night in Medford, and we were pleasantly surprised with the food and the fact that a small-town café offered free wifi.

After finishing a tasty burger and analyzing the radar, we positioned ourselves north of Medford to try to witness a confirmed tornado. Unfortunately, it was about 8 p.m., and it had gotten too dark to see very well. The extreme lightning within the cell was incredible, and we were able to hear a faint rumble in the background which confirmed that a tornado was definitely to our west.

Another great tool we used during our chase was a live stream, so many of our relatives and friends were able to witness the awesome lightning show along with us.

All-in-all, it was a great first chase for me, and even though we didn’t see a twister, we can rest assured that the tornado season has only yet begun.


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