2011 goes into the record books as a year of exceptions and extremes in weather on both sides of the Red, with another example of this served up by Oklahoma skies on November 7.
A long-track tornadic Supercell rumbled across southwestern into west central Oklahoma, destroying two Oklahoma Mesonet weather sites in the process. There were six separate tornado tracks given by a National Weather Service (NWS) storm report issued November 8th.
Tornadic storms tend to "cycle" through strong and weak phases, but apparently all six tornadoes came from the same parent storm as it moved northeastward over a 3 hour period.
Oklahoma Mesonet sensors have been in place since 1994, providing high-resolution weather data every five minutes. Records can also be retrieved on-line from Mesonet sites for rainfall, temperatures etc going back to the 1990’s.
This is the first time a tornado has destroyed a Mesonet site. The odds of two being hit by twisters in a single day are very remote, especially when you consider these sites survived outbreaks like the May 1999 episode intact. The two installations were destroyed about 2 hours apart; the Tipton, OK site (shown below) was knocked out around 2:50 p.m. and the Fort Cobb site fell victim to a tornado at 5 p.m.
Some amazing images were captured by KXII storm chaser Doug Drace as he pursued the tornado-producing storm in Tillman County near Frederick, OK.
*** The National Weather Service has rated the twister an EF4 with winds in the 166 to 200 mph range.It's the only November EF4 on record in Oklahoma since good records began in 1950. ***
Tipton, OK Mesonet site wiped out by Nov 7, 2011 tornado, one of two destroyed by the same storm.
Drace reports that this was visually "one of the best” tornadoes he has ever tracked, and what made his chase experience even better is that no one was hurt (although there was some damage).
Thanks to Jeremy Milligan who accompanied Drace on this outing and contributed video to KXII’s storm coverage effort.
The tornado pictures above are shown in the same order as they were taken.