May 24, 2011

Canton, OK

Just days after our close encounter with the Joplin tornado, we woke up on May 24 to the possibility of another extreme and potentially deadly tornado setup. SPC was forecasting a major tornado outbreak across much of Kansas and Oklahoma, issuing a rare high risk.

The day lived up to its intense potential. We caught our first tornado as it developed just north of the town of Canton and watched as it evolved from a classic cone to an elephant trunk, then to a fat stovepipe (borderline wedge).

Tornado at Canton Oklahoma during the May 24 2011 tornado outbreak

The ‘Welcome to Canton’ sign seemed ironic in the foreground as the tornado grew into a massive stovepipe and was passing north of town

Fortunately the tornado passed just north of town, avoiding what would have been a disastrous direct hit. Nevertheless, just a few days after the Joplin event, it was upsetting to see such a violent tornado close to another small town.

Following the Canton tornado, we witnessed one other white, cone tornado touch down nearby. Then we drove south, catching more tornadoes not far from the Oklahoma City metro. One of them was a deadly and destructive F5 that tore through the Guthrie and Piedmont areas, and we caught a distant view of the massive wedge not long before in became rain-wrapped and dissipated.