Chase Log

May 12th, 2005 South Plains, Texas Tornadoes & Hailstorm

It was the day in between tours and Dr Dave Gold rallied the troops to meet me in OKC early. We didn’t get out the door till 1 PM, headed southwest towards the triple point near Plainview. By 3 PM we were hearing of tornado reports and the Baron system showed a nice supercell near Plainview. I thought we would get storms firing off that boundary most of the afternoon, but never figured on what we saw.

We arrived southeast of Silverton by 5 PM and watched as the eastern supercell spun and tried hard, but developed outflow problems. We finally blew it off and headed through Silverton and south towards South Plains. The storm looked MONSTROUS and very HP. As we approached 207/689 intersection a tapered elephant trunk tornado formed just to our southwest. This tornado widened and strengthened as it moved east across 207. We SLOWLY drove south as it approached the highway, and at one point were about 200 yards north of it, getting the best contrast we could get. We had a Japanese film crew with us who had a probe similar to Tim Samaras’s, and they were able to drop it in the path of this tornado. The footage was INCREDIBLE!

The tornado crossed 207 and dissipated about one mile east of the highway. According to my time stamp on my camcorder, it was on the ground for 12 minutes. Many power poles were down, blocking 207, with some out buildings destroyed. It missed South Plains by about 2 miles or it could have been devastating!!! A second broad circulation developed about two miles east of the first tornado and a multivortex tornado formed. The motion in the cloud base and the tornado was horrendous!!!!! At one time I counted 4 vortices in this tornado. Then the real fun started as we were getting softball sized hailstones wrapping around the back of the tornadic circulation. It dissipated after about 5 minutes. Due to softball sized hailstones, we stopped and to seek shelter in a farmer’s tin carport. Then we had to sit and watch as baseball to softball sized hail took the farmhouse apart, along with trees and two windows in the van as we couldn’t get it totally under the shelter. One of the most prolific hailstorms I have EVER witnessed. Then we took off and headed east to Childress and watched the fantastic CG display with this monster!

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