Thursday, 23 May 2013

Friday 17th May 2013 - N Central Texas

Started this day in Amarillo and the risk are had moved somewhat further south and east again, so it was back down the Highway to Heaven 287 back towards Vernon for lunch, Storms today would be initiating in temps of over 100f so there would not be much of a chance of Tornadoes..........Or so we thought! Local mesoscale influences throughout the day brought about a nice bonus chase day with 2 Tornadoes thrown in for good measure to surprise us as well.

We messed about with storms near Graham, Olney and Jacksboro for a few hours, these were mainly dumping small hail, but 1 of the storms started dumping baseballs in Graham and started to kill off the other smaller cells, as it done this it also lowered the temperature down to about 79f and with a 72f dewpoint things were starting to look quite interesting.

We went back west to the only cell left and punched through the core, only small hail was encountered, we took the south west road out of Graham and was greeted by a rapidly rotating wall cloud, it was not long before this put down a nice funnel cloud and boom fully conensed cone tornado right to the ground, this tornado was on the ground for a full 17 minutes, we had to keep moving every 20 minutes or so as the bears cage kept catching us up, but it was a real cool chase with the storms motion at 7mph. This Supercell was also riding some sort of boundary which extended north to south.

Our Position is shown above as the Tornado was just starting to do damge on this Classic Supercell
We then went further down the road after the Tornado had lifted and it was not long until the prettiest tornado of the day touched down a mile or so to our North, this was perfectly backlit by the setting sun, we watched and filmed this tornado for a while longer until the lightning got a little too close for comfort, after this we went further south but the storm took a huge eastwards jolt and left the boundary and over the next 20 minutes died a slow and painfull death in front of us.


Wednesday 15th May 2013 - N Central Texas

After a few down days and messing around on the Farm in Kansas it's straight back into the action today, we started the day in Wichita Falls with a risk of dryline Supercells around the Abilene to Childress Line. So after heading south west and lunching in Seymour we waited along the dryline, a small storm went up and we were straight under it but it really was struggling, in fact the dryline had surged so far eastwards it had dryed the storm out completely and shrivelled it to nothing with 30 minutes, it was still only 5pm and our attention was now averted to an area of backbuilding storms much further east towards the (ironically) Wichita Falls to Mineral Wells to Brownwood line, a Tornado watch was issued shortly after we blasted east to try and intercept the rapidly growing supercells. Our position was about 50 miles to the west but one thing on our wide was the very slow movement of the storms to the SE At 5mph. After driving for an hour we finally started to get visual on our target storm just near Mineral Wells and driving through the town could see that the hail core had done some significant damage with softball sized hailstones littering the roads and pavements, car windscreens were also damaged from the recently passed Supercell.

But no time to stop for the hail as our storm was tornado warned with a rapidly rotating wall cloud noted on it, we went south and then east and caught up with the back end of the cell, noticing the storm starting to hook on radar there was only 1 thing for it, we had to head straight south through the rain curtains and hook area to see a possible developing tornado, we did this and emerged just near the I-20 Interstate, upon going under the bridge and turning eastbound there she was in all her glory, a beautiful tapered cone tornado sitting over the town of Milsap.

The tornado was on the ground for about 12 minutes before it lifted and the new occlusion was occuring off towards our east near Weatherford, it was here we saw our 2nd tornado of the day, a multi vortex tornado (Not quite getting the wedge tornado done) but a very definiate touchdown from our location.

We now had to head south and east but the road options were very bad for us, we did see the start of the Grandbury EF4 Tornado that unfortunately killed 6 people and injured dozens, we even had to core punch back North East and then come back south to be within 1 mile of the now huge wedge tornado in front of us, power flashes were in front of us on the road in now darkness and signboards along the road were being ripped to shreds by the RFD Winds. This was 1 hook area I was not about to punch through so we played it safe and retired to Glen Rose for the night shooting anvil crawlers until midnight.

A very good chase for us with 3 Tornadoes but sad to hear of the loss of life in that small town.

Friday 10th May 2013 - Texas Hill Country

After the amazing Ballinger Supercell from the day before it was round 2 of another severe day in parts of West Central Texas. A cold front moving down from the NW Would be the focus of severe weather this day, the tornado threat was near minimal and supercells would struggle to initiate, but there was going to be hail and lots of it as we later found out.

Left Fredericksburg and headed North West to a cell moving south eastwards near San Angelo, we intercepted this quite quickly and followed it east to near Brady, we then had lots of initiation around us and quickly got caught in some golf ball sized hail near San Saba (Texas) In fact the hail was starting to get so big we had to take cover in what I thought was a car wash which later turned out to be a covered drive through area of a Funeral Home, only 2 of the cars could get in so Ian parked his car on what he thought was a concrete parking space under a tree, oooops this was in fact grass and the Tahoe quickly started to sink in the mud. By now drifts of hail were building up and hail fog was creating an eerie scene.

Effectively at that point the chase was over, the storms were quickly scooting away and were pretty much normal thunderstorm types anyway, to be fair the tow truck came quite quickly and got us out of the muddy problem and did not want paying for his 1 minutes work so once again the good people of Texas came through for us.

All in all was a very fun chase.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Thursday 9th May 2013 - Texas Hill Country

Started the day in Wichita Falls with a pretty good idea on where storms would fire along the dryline in Western Texas. We got onto our first South Eastern moving storm near Abilene, we followed this south and east and left it as it became outflow dominant, new cell growth was occuring to our old storms south west so onwards to the south we went. Just North of Ballinger (Texas) the storm we were just south east off went supercellular and put on a great structure display, also at the same time this storm became tornado warned.

At our location we only had about 5-10 minutes as Tennis Ball Sized Hail started to rain down on our cars so it was time to depart south towards the town of Ballinger. Here we let the storm over-run us and got some dime sized hail and gusty 50mph winds, we then punched back through the core and got back in front of the storm just North West of Fredericksburg. The supercell was now massively HP Dominant and put on some great shelf cloud structure.

We kept ahead of the storm and checked into the Super 8 Motel and let the storm unleash on us as darkness fell.

A great start to the 2013 Storm Season.

Thursday, 2 May 2013

4 Days To Go!!

Well it is that time of the year again, the time when us storm starved brits head over the pond and embark on Supercell and Tornado hunting.

This season has been one of the slowest starting I have ever followed and also quite incredible from just how long winter does not want to let go of it's grip, even today Snow in Kansas and wintry showers into Oklahoma from another crashing cold front last few days.

Most of the time and by the time we get to the states we are playing catch-up to our american based chaser friends but not this year, pretty much all of them are still awaiting their first photogenic tornado of 2013. April like March was a complete dud save for a few chase days in Dixie Alley. One thing that has been very good so far has been Storm Structure on Supercells that have formed on those rare chase days, this bodes well for the season ahead. Gulf moisture also has not had any struggles returning northwards for the last few favourable chase days.

So what beckons for our first tour which officially starts on Thursday 9th May, well it is currently not looking too bad at all, the is model agreement in the return of moisture for next week and an ejecting western US Trough, ECM Currently is quicker with the eastwards progress with an active day on Wednesday 8th May, GFS Is slower and favours the first real chase day as Thursday 9th May, obviously we would love the GFS To be correct at this stage as we would be hitting the ground running so to speak.

It currently looks like a dryline set-up from West Texas upto the Oklahoma Panhandle as things stand at the moment, but will firm up on this once we land on Monday and see if the models are still playing ball. Moisture will not be a problem, the only thing lacking at the moment is the upper flow (Or lack of it) from the Southern stream of the Jet. Will leave you with a few charts for now.