May 23rd, 2008 Fort Supply Tornado
May 23rd, 2008 Fort Supply Tornado

After having terrible luck the day before and believing that we (my g/f and I) needed to be back in Lubbock on that Friday drove all the way from Coldwater, KS to Lubbock, TX on Thursday night. I woke up just before noon realizing that I soon would be on the road again headed for the Woodward, OK area again. I didn't really pay much attention to Friday on the models till that morning. I had no chance to make it to KS, but I liked the area NE of Shamrock so I threw everything back into my Jeep and was on my way from Lubbock... again. A cu field was present to my east from the moment I left and was building just off the Caprock. As I neared Shamrock, the cu turned into numerous towers, so I grabbed so McDonalds and made my way north toward a very fast rising tower north of Wheeler.

I made a few wrong roads choices and almost got too far behind for my liking. I got stuck behind some oil rig trucks doing 20mph on a paved road with no way to pass them. I ended up taking a dirt road through the Antelope Hills of western OK and caught back up near Arnett, OK. It tried to cycle a few times as it started to slow down and took a slight right turn near the Gage/Fargo area. Sitting North of Fargo, I met a nice lady who had decide to leave her farm after receiving golfball size hail at her ranch. She asked if we were safe there just as we got hit by a very strong rfd. We set and watched as the rotation pass very close to her house just north of our location.

As I moved north toward Fort Supply I noticed a small funnel that lasted a few minutes and faded as it passed north of the wind farm. I went north on 183 in hopes of finding a decent road (straight road, I don't like trying to turn on mud) to follow the storm on. I turned onto a dirt (mud) road that ran through the wind farm to and saw what looked like nearly softball size hail laying all over the place. I would have spent more time looking at the hail (biggest I have ever seen personally), but I knew this storm was far from done. I stopped and took 2 quick pictures before jumping back in my Jeep to move east as I spotted a new small funnel hanging out the back of the storm. Right after this ropey funnel faded, to the right a larger rope began to drop that that quickly became a cone. As the road dropped down into the valley north of the wind farm the tornado bounced up and came back down as a large elephant trunk tornado. I drove along trying to stay with it till it began to rope out after a few minutes. I took a few pictures and sent a spotter network report in since it was a very slow roping out period (nearly 5 minutes). A new base had already formed to the east and I knew downed powerlines likely blocked my way, but I decided to head east on the first road available anyways.

I was not down the road a mile before coming across 2 houses that had been hit. From a distance it looked like just roof damage, but it was much worse. I drove into a power line hanging across the road which scratch my hood pretty bad, but that was the least of my worries because I feared people were trapped in those houses. Right after I stopped a local who knew all the families of the area told me he had called this family and they were not at home when it hit. Both houses had their roofs completely taken off with walls knocked down. The newer of the 2 houses fared better, but was badly damaged as well (the garage to the new house was completely gone). That place was very creepy. It was completely silent other than a carbon monoxide alarm that was going off and a slight smell of gas filled the air. Nothing can describe what it was like to see that. I stayed there till some EOC and police arrived on scene. I walked around the premises with one of the EOC looking for any other propane tanks that needed to be shut down. The front yard had a large mark across the ground that looked as though the grass had been sucked right up. At the end of my video you can see where a bush was ripped up and dragged across the yard into the tornado. An elderly couple arrived shortly after to see their crushed homes. They confirmed no one was home, which made me feel a bit better, but it was very rough to watch as they took their first glances at what use to be there home.

I was soon asked to leave in a very impolite manner by a police officer over his trucks PA system because I was "blocking the road" (I was pulled off to the side, not to mention the tree and powerline/pole lying across the road just over the hill). Only reason I had stayed there so long is because I wanted to help if I could. I have no problem of him asking me to leave, but considering I kept him from driving into the same powerline that I did, he could have been a bit nicer about it and shown some gratitude.

Definitely my most interesting chase to date.

Here are pictures from around the Fort Supply/Woodward, OK Area on May 23rd.

More photos can be found here: Photos

Here is the video from May 23rd, 2008.