In the Middle of A Tornado Outbreak

100510_rpts.gif Storm chaser Ben McMillan has seen his share of tornadoes, including the EF-5 that struck Parkersburg on May 25th, 2008.  Ben traveled to Oklahoma on Monday, May 10th, 2010 to try and chase what was supposed to be a major tornado outbreak… and mother nature did not disappoint.

More than 40 tornadoes were reported.  At least two were rated EF-4 in the greater Oklahoma City area.  Others reached an intensity of EF-3. 

You can see on this you tube video to the right getting close to the vortex was difficult.  It had already taken on a classic “wedge” type shape.  Ben captured this tornado near the town of Medford.  The National Weather Service is still working to determine the tornado’s exact path and intensity.  It’s currently believed this one was a long track tornado that at one point reached an intensity of EF-3.

For chasers this was a difficult one to track.  Most had just one chance to catch a tornado because the storms themselves were moving quickly at up to 65mph.  In many cases, once you got behind a storm there was simply no catching up.  It was all or nothing.

Numerous chasers were out in all parts of Kansas and Oklahoma this day.  Many storms were caught on tape from Wakita to Medford, Norman to Oklahoma City.  It was by far the most widespread and comprehensive tornado outbreak of the season.

One other interesting note from the tornado outbreak, the formation on anticyclonic tornadoes.  It means exactly what it says.  Anticyclonic tornadoes spin the opposite direction of most.  In fact, just 2% of tornadoes are anticyclonic.  Because they form in a different way, they are often very weak.  At least two anticyclonic tornadoes were reported in Monday’s storms, something very unusual.

As for the rest of May, things continue to look quiet for the area.  No major storm systems are forecast to move through the Upper Midwest anytime soon.  This second round of a calm weather pattern really doesn’t mean much.  The main threat for tornadoes can last well into June and of course tornadoes can happen anywhere, any time of the year.

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