TempestTours®   Est. 2000

Join our storm chasing mail list

May 25, 1997: Anthony, Kansas Chase
By Brian Morganti

With all the dynamics finally coming together for tornadic development throughout central Kansas & Oklahoma, the chase would truly be on for everyone.  We decided to head toward the triple point somewhere south and east of Dodge City, KS.  Traveling east on 412 through Enid, OK around 1400 CDT a tornado watch was issued for Grant, Alfalfa, Garfield counties, etc...we were right there, but where to go?  No towers were going up, but LI's -6 to -9 and CAPE's were running as high as 4000, dewpoints hanging around 70 degrees and the dryline was fast approaching.  We decided to go no further west than the intersection of route 8 & 412, for fear of running into that rapidly approaching dryline.

Arriving at that destination about a half hour later, we pulled into a picnic area to watch and wait.  It wasn't long until we were joined by eight other chase vehicles, including the channel 5 crew from OKC.  About an hour later after ideas were exchanged and a hint of some turkey towers forming it was time to move.  Part of the group decided to head north on 8, then east on 64.  We intercepted Jim Cantore doing the 5PM live broadcast for TWC just outside Nash, OK.  They indicated a tornado on the ground south of Norman, OK and another one near Russell, KS.  Too far to attempt an intercept.  There appeared to be an agitated area of convection taking place back to the northwest.  I was reluctant to go back there, as we already experienced dewpoints drop from 69 degrees to 60 just 15 miles further west.  This appeared to be the only option so we headed back to route 8 and drove north to Kiowa, Ks.  The towers were starting to grow rapidly and shear over, as a dark rain shaft and rainbow appeared to our east.  Further to our north a hail bow appeared. things were getting real interesting and the tension was heightening!

Somewhere along route 2 going northeast the chase group started to break up. some lingering to take photos & video [myself included], others racing toward the developing storm.  A visible wall cloud and occasional funnel cloud could be seen in the more dominant storm to our northwest, but things were changing rapidly with the smaller, but exploding, storm to north.  RT 2 turned due east north of Hazelton, Ks. and the previously smaller, but now dominant storm, was now to our northwest with a ragged rotating light gray wall cloud hanging from a black RFB.  Time to pull over!  We were about to go down a hill leading into the town of Anthony, which was about 1/4 mile away.  I could not see the ground due to some distant trees and low buildings, but I was not about to chance racing through town and missing the show.

I just got my cameras set up when the town's tornado siren alarmed, and a distinct funnel cloud was taking shape.  A moment later a light condensation funnel was visible and a large red dust swirl came up from the ground to meet it..TORNADO ON THE GROUND..it is 1930CDT.  The show was brief, less than two minutes, but thankfully it occurred over open country just on the other side of Anthony..in Harper County, KS.

I tried to follow this storm further, but soon found myself under developing rain shafts with zero visibility just ahead, I could see a wall cloud becoming rain wrapped.. it was time to back off.  We went back through Anthony for a quick stop at the Dairy Queen...after being swarmed with curiosity seekers with lots of questions, and one elderly gent offering me a copy of his tornado footage [in case I missed it], we quickly moved to a quieter spot just south of town.  We spent the next hour and half till well after sunset shooting slides and video of the most beautiful front lit retreating storm structure, complete with large fibrous cirrus anvil and under hanging mammatus.  Below were the boiling cumulus towers changing in color from white to yellow to pink to black at the base.  This was all further enhanced with the occasional CC lightning..just awesome!  Some of this final show was also captured by TWC and featured in their top of the hour reports on storm chase 97 shown on Memorial Day.  We arrived at our motel in Blackwell, OK at 2230 CDT..what a day...total chase mileage was 367 miles.