Storms fired along a dryline through Kansas and Oklahoma late in the afternoon. After getting off a late start, I left Tyler, TX and headed northwest towards the Red River Valley, where I hoped storms would continue to fire along the dryline into north central Texas. I stopped for data when I reached Bonham, TX. No storms fired to my west, but I could see the monster supercell in Oklahoma off in the distance. I decided to head north into Oklahoma even though it would be near sunset by the time I could intercept. The road options in this area are terrible. I followed Bob's Road to continue in a northward direction. I eventually had a pretty good view of the storm from the south, but I was still a good distance away.
I realized that it would be too dark to attempt any meaningful intercept of the storm, but since I had already come this far I wanted to attempt some lightning photography. I continued driving closer to the storm, having to zig-zag along the Oklahoma highways. I made it to US 69 and drove northeast. The storm looked very intense, and a tornado warning was issued. I followed an ambulance from a distance. I was looking for a suitable place to take pictures from, but trees and valleys offered pitiful views. I told myself I would not go any farther than Tushka, since going any farther north would put me in the path of the storm heading that way.
I eventually ran into a damage path as I approached Tushka from a tornado that went through there less than an hour earlier. The town smelled strongly of freshly mowed wet grass. I saw overturned semis, downed powerlines/trees, and damaged buildings. It was not a good feeling at all to drive into a town after it was just hit by a tornado, seeing rescue efforts in full force. I turned around and headed back home since I had no emergency gear to help in my vehicle. I didn't want to get in the way any more than I already was. I was very sad to hear about the two fatalities. My thoughts and prayers are with this community.
This experience has definitely reaffirmed the need for me to put together an emergency kit in case I come across the damage path of a tornado on future chases. Many storm chasers have such a kit to some extent, and many will end their chase to stop and help search and rescue efforts in tornado damaged houses/communities. Kudos to all other storm chasers who have stopped to help storm victims in any way.