Mayfield - Sweetwater Oklahoma
Part 2

All images and text © copyright Gene Moore unless otherwise indicated.

larger tornado forming tornado moves northeast
At this time the funnel is growing into a substantial tornado with a well defined concentric wall around the top of the vortex. It continues northeast and appears it will cross the road we are on about two miles north of our position. In the distance we see a couple houses in the apparent path.

funnel getting symmetrical This images shows the tornado at its best during the chase. A well formed cylinder forms over the top of the funnel and a thin rain curtain rotates around the outer edge of the circulation. The tornado continues to move to the north-northeast. We could not hear the tornado that well but we could hear the trees getting chopped up.

Our next move is done methodically with little thought of the consequences. The tornadic winds were only in the funnel; right on the edge of it and extended no further outside that circulation. We were in strong wind, but not unmanageable. This was one of the best chances in years to approach the funnel for close in photography.


tornado behind house bottom of tornado

During this time we are intent on watching and photographing the tornado, not noticing a curtain of rain is circling around us. It is getting much darker and it's late afternoon. Looking around, the highway patrol car that was behind us was gone. The funnel neared the road to our north barely missing a house on our left. Just as it got past the house the very bottom of the funnel lifted about 10 meters off the ground. We zipped up for a close look.

 

In the first image there are three small funnels violently circling around the bottom of the vortex. The one on the left is pretty obvious with its v-shape of debris coming off the ground. There is one in the middle and another on the left side. An amazing sight. Quickly the whole tornado comes down again and we get a feel for how large it is. Reverse was the gear of choice. The next image is looking over our left shoulder to the back the tornado behind the house. It remains in the field and fails to strike anything but trees and power poles.


side wall of tornado

The last image is looking north as the tornado makes it closest approach to the road before turning to the northwest. Hopefully, you can see the side of the tornado as the 45 degree angle behind the second power pole from the left. The tornado then extends up to the top of the picture and beyond. The rest of its path length would be away from the few houses in the area and out into open range and farmed fields.


The whole time this was going on the rain formed a perfect circulation around us. The bear's cage, as it's now called. It continued to get darker, but the rain was interesting to watch from the inside looking out. It was striated in a curtain, and just marched around in a neat circle. We decided not to follow the tornado in it's turn to the northwest. The circulation around us was closing in and rotating tighter and faster. It was time to get out.

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