First report on the garden…

Garden work is in full swing.  While we still have about a 70 percent chance of another freeze before things are over for the winter, we will soon be getting into the last part of March where record lows are only in the mid to upper 20′s.  That combined with model data that doesn’t suggest much in the way of cold air in the near future has kicked us into high gear.

The structure additions this season were a deck under our park bench by the Redbud tree and my tri-pergola near the center of our garden.  We hope to have aggressive ivy taking this over by the end of the summer.  We would also like ivy covering the trellis behind the bench.  K&K Creative Terrain did the work on the new bed under the pine tree.

We are quite pleased to see many of last years plantings coming back out.  The herb bed is producing thyme, chives, oregano, sage and mint.  All of the roses came through unscathed.  It does look like our two periods of below zero weather made a negative impact on a few things.  We have Carolina Jasmine, Rosemary and a Savannah Holly which we are more than a little concerned about.

The vegetable garden is mostly in… with radishes, potatoes, carrots, onions and lettuce planted.  We will give it another week or so before we risk getting tomatoes in the ground.

An overview of the recent projects.

An overview of the recent projects.

The herb bed waking up.

The herb bed waking up.

View of the "tri-pergola".

View of the "tri-pergola".

4

New bed to fill up under the pine tree.

New bed to fill up under the pine tree.

New deck by the Red Bud.

New deck by the Redbud.

Countdown to 30 (part 5)

1990 was an important year for me in that I was able to go out safely, identify what I was seeing, and accomplish observing several severe events – on my own.  1991 would be another step in the process by getting to deal with a couple of significant severe weather outbreaks in April.

Overall, the season for me started early and ended early with no chases past May 30th.  I continued to stay fairly close to home with only one brief trip into Texas (Memphis), and one brief trip into Kansas (Wichita).  It still felt I was leaving my comfort zone when I got out of the state.

I threw money out for a video camera, one of the original ones, big, heavy, and had to rest on your shoulder.  It’s still hard to believe that I spent over a thousand dollars on that in 1991.

The first of two big days in the plains was April 12th.  I probably picked the least interesting of the storms, but followed a supercell from near Binger northeastward into the northeast corner of Kingfisher County where it produced a tornado that lasted between five and 10 minutes.  Even though the tornado was one of the weaker ones of the day, I was happy with how I played the storm and had a decent viewing area to its east southeast.  The biggest problem occurred when the battery of the video camera ran out just before the tornado ended.  I spent a little too much time shooting the early stages of the storm.

The biggest day of the year for me was April 26th.  A significant outbreak of severe thunderstorms and tornadoes was advertised for several days in advance, and 58 tornado events ended up occurring in the plains.

A friend who worked at the National Weather Service in Norman was along with me, and I was glad to have the help.  We drifted into northwest Oklahoma during the early afternoon and initially tried to catch up with a severe storm that formed early and raced toward southern Kansas.  Recognizing that this was elevated convection which formed earlier than what the main show was going to be, we started back to the southwest toward Blaine County.

Things were already rolling along in the central plains when our storm of the day formed to our southwest.  The convection was explosive and some of the most dramatic I had ever seen.

Early stages of our "storm of the day".

Early stages of our "storm of the day".

We fell a little behind the storm because of its fast northeast motion and were driving through Enid when a tornado formed just east of the city.  This first tornado of the day was fairly impressive and presented us with a nice rope-out near Breckenridge.

Rope stage of the Enid tornado.

Rope stage of the Enid tornado.

We drove into Garber as the storm was reorganizing.  My early gray hairs were added to – along with adding gray to my chase partner – as we were nearly caught up in a developing tornado while driving through town.  He was the first to spot debris flying up next to the truck which caused us to expedite our departure from the town.  East of Garber, we were able to stop and gather our composure.  Soon after, the main event started.  A tornado formed just east of Garber and quickly became intense.  We would follow this tornado for about 30 miles over 40 minutes as it became large and in-charge.  The storm was moving so fast that the tornado put distance between it and us every step of the way, but we were always close enough to see just how big and intense this tornado was.  It eventually became about ¾ of a mile wide and portable doppler radar would measure winds near 290 M.P.H.  Luckily, this tornado stayed away from towns.  On our way home, we passed a lot of mangled trees, poles and cattle.  There was also one home near I-35 which was totally swept away.

Despite it being a short season for me, I learned a lot and saw some incredible things.  Afterward, I eagerly awaited the 1992 season.

Large tornado approaching I-35.

Large tornado approaching I-35.

Plenty of time remaining for freezing weather to return…

To many, it is feeling a lot like spring around here.  However, we have just entered our range of “last freeze dates” which have all fallen from March 8 to April 17.  Basically, we have a lot of time left to get down to or below 32 degrees.

So, while the garden plans continue to roll along… keep in mind that in Okarche, our earliest last freeze of the season occurred on March 8.  Our latest last freeze of the season occurred on April 17.  The average last freeze date is April 2nd.

Put into probabilities, here on March 12th, we still have an 88% chance of a freeze before the cold season winds down.  We won’t see those probabilities drop below 50% until late in the first week of April.

lastfreeze

Countdown to 30 (part 4)

A combination of my chase partner’s schedule and the feeling that I could give it a go on my own had me out chasing for the first time by myself in 1990.  By this time, I had introduced more in the way of scanners, weather radios and amateur radio with the call sign of N5ZZL.

My chases were fairly short, staying within the confines of Oklahoma.  I still had an interesting mid to late May and saw weak tornadoes on the 15th and 26th.  Also on the 15th, I saw some of the largest hail I had ever observed – 4.5 inches near Canton.

Both of these most significant storm chases of 1990 brought me through the town of Okarche.  Little did I know that only a couple of years down the road, I would be living there.

This was also the last year of heading out without making a good effort to document each chase.  I did a good job of getting my data to the National Weather Service, but that was really only in the form of severe reports and their locations.

It was also in 1990 that I almost became a car-jack victim while sitting out alone on a county road in Canadian County.  I had walked far away from my car and had three guys pull up to me and stop.  Without going into specifics of what they were doing and how they were acting, they were there certainly there to rob me or worse.  They got scared off when a car they didn’t expect turned down the same road.  They fled back to their van and sped off.  For me, it was a lesson learned that I keep with me here 21 years later.  I don’t let the amount of distance between me and my car get greater than what I can cover back and in before someone pulls up.