What do storm chasers and cattle rustlers have in common? Well, we found out this day and it almost cost us a pretty tornado! Seems the locals didn’t know that we were storm chasers and called the county sheriff to report us as suspicious parties and potential cattle rustlers? WHAT???? Seriously! We were pulled over by the sheriff and local police and asked who we were and that we were potential cattle thieves. After proving who we were with the sheriff, who also asked for a business card, we were turned loose and blasted west to this tornadic supercell. We ended up 10 miles away from the tornado as we lost 25 minutes with our cattle rustler situation, but we still captured the beauty of the event! Storms initially formed as high based and disorganized, but a feed of moisture arrived just in time to cause this storm to explode. It also spun quickly and dropped a nice elephant trunk shaped tornado. The storm structure was top notch as this LP supercell churned on through the evening. A great treat, an interesting day to say the least, left our guests with stories to tell LOL!!! Enjoy the pics!
April 23rd kicked off our storm chasing tour season and what a way to start! After leaving Oklahoma City at noon, my target was the triple point somewhere near Childress, Texas. Mid afternoon, updrafts formed and quickly became severe and tornado warned. It tried on the first tornado warning to produce one, but shear just wasn’t quite right yet. Decent moisture for late April with mid 60s dewpoints, as well as 3000 CAPE was sufficient to get intense supercells to fire. I had a hunch this storm would be special
and we stuck with it the rest of the day.
Between the bluebonnets in full bloom and the developing supercell, it made for an amazing scene. Soon, though, we we treated to an even more spectacular view, as our supercell latched onto the boundary and the low level jet cranked up causing it to produce 6 tornadoes in a little over an hour, while drifting very slowly eastward! A few of these, in the photos below were incredibly photogenic!! An amazing way to start Tour #1 and our season off! Please enjoy the images!!!!
Here are two cool videos form this day too!
May 11th brought about a boundary that stretched from northeast New Mexico, southeastward across the Texas panhandle north of Lubbock. Moisture initially wasn’t high quality, although shear and lift were very good. Storms first went up southwest of Lubbock, followed by more storms northwest of Lubbock along the boundary. One storm rode the boundary, and started to get very organized. This supercell eventually merged with another cluster of storms. It later emerged from the line of storms and become a stunning supercell, with very strong rotation on the eastern side of the storm. We watched this entire sequence of developments, amazed at this storm’s ability to push through other weaker cells and emerge as the most intense cell of the day. It also became extremely photogenic as it marched southeast toward the north side of Lubbock. Producing huge hail and very strong winds, it pushed across town and eventually weakened. Enjoy the photos! Please click on an image to see a larger photo.
May 7th brought our first chase of the season. Tours began and we hit the road for the triple point near Childress, Texas. By late afternoon, a storm formed on the boundary and moved southeast while intensifying. As it moved east of Childress, it produced very large hail over baseball sized and had incredible structure. It was never a threat to become tornadic, as the base was a tad too high. We stayed with this supercell to the northwest side of the DFW metroplex when we let it go as to not take a chance chasing in a huge city. Please click on an image below to see a larger photo. Enjoy!
Sometimes, you just don’t care if a storm produces a tornado. It can be that pretty. Dryline supercell thunderstorms can be quite pretty, although they are often higher based. This day would give us just that. We had a high based supercell that formed along the Texas/New Mexico border and drifted slowly southeast towards Muleshoe, Texas. It spun like crazy. There was plenty of shear and instability this day and with the active dryline closeby we were hoping for a pretty storm. Active for several hours, this supercell produced incredible lightning, some of the best of 2019 to date and had nice structure.
Other storms would form later in the day and especially during the early evening as the cap was breached. Many of these storms were very electrified and intense, often being warned for large hail and damaging winds. A couple storms would become tornado warned, however no tornadoes occurred this day in our area. All in all, a fun day with a great storm and superb lightning!
June 16th featured strong instability, good moisture and moderate deep layer shear. An old outflow boundary across the I-20 area west of Abilene would be the focal point for severe and tornado warned storms this day. We started the day in Denver and left very early to reach our target by initiation time. We made it with little time to spare! Storms rapidly developed and intensified along the southward sagging boundary. We headed south from Sterling City and got in front of a beautifully structured and tornado warned supercell! This storm was quite pretty, had a rotating wall cloud and incredible lightning. It spun southward for hours giving us a treat to watch.
Eventually near dark, the storm weakened, but not before giving us one last great lightning show! Over an 800 mile day, but worth it! Just goes to show we’ll go anywhere we need to so we can get our guests the best storms around!
A crazy day ensued as a cluster of high based storms formed in New Mexico and tracked east into west Texas. As the storms approached the Lubbock area a very well formed haboob occurred, with a wall of dust/dirt scouring the landscapes. Haboobs can be very photogenic and this one was one of the best I’ve ever witnessed in 35 years of chasing in the Texas panhandle! High winds, large hail and that wall of dirt occurred within this line of cells as they raced across Texas. An exciting day on a day when we weren’t expecting anything significant! Enjoy the cool pics!
My 20th looked downright scary on all models. SPC issued a HIGH RISK for long tracked violent tornadoes and had a greater than 95% probably of numerous/violent tornadoes on their tornado watch box they issued. Schools closed, Air Force bases evacuated aircraft, lots of safety precautions were made. It ended up being a major, major bust. Very few tornadoes occurred and there were no violent tornadoes. Fortunately we played the dryline in northwest Texas where strong heating and good convergence would result in a couple of supercells forming by mid afternoon. We blasted down to Paducah, Texas from Childress and watched one storm produced two tornadoes. One was on the ground for about 5 minutes and the other about 10 minutes. They were fun to watch skipping across the countryside! Chaser convergence was horrendous this day, as expected being close to Oklahoma. We opted for another target later in the evening instead of fighting with the mobs in Oklahoma, but neither target panned out. Fortunately we got tornadoes this day as many, many chasers did not! Fun day, frustrating day and a disappointing day in the end. No lives were lost, very little injuries occurred. Good news for the plains!
May 7th was advertised to be a strong tornado threat. In the end of the day, there really weren’t many tornadoes and none that were strong/violent. Too many storms would form and create a competition where none were able to be long lived tornado producing machines. We were able to chase 3 significant supercells, one near Stinnett, Texas, one near Amarillo and another near Tulia, Texas. The Tulia storm was the only one that produced, and even that was not significant. We arrived near Tulia a few minutes too late to see a weak bowl with a couple condensation fingers and also another small tornado. As we arrived, video caught a tornado in the distance about 10 miles away. The storm was high precipitation and very messy. We stayed with it as long as we could, however the caprock escarpment has few roads off of it and it made it impossible to stay with the storm. Later in the evening we chased 2 other tornado warned supercells in southwest Oklahoma near Hobart and Vinson. Fun day, a bit frustrating, but we still had several tornado warned storms to chase!
A fantastic day and great way to end the Caprock Magic tour this day! High based LP supercells formed west of Channing and Adrian, Texas this day amidst modest moisture and instability. Great wind shear allowed these cells to spin, enhancing hail production and longevity. We watched one supercell west of Channing try hard to stay alive, but it just didn’t have the needed instability to survive long. We dropped down to I-40 west of Amarillo and headed towards a cluster of storms near Adrian. When we arrive it was apparent that one cell was anchored, enhancing its ability to rotate. As another cell approached from the west, the downdraft from that cell hit the anchored storm causing the low levels to rotate strongly. A white funnel formed and touched down for about 3 minutes before dissipating. The storm eventually became a very pretty high precipitation storm as it moved south of Amarillo. What a great day and an amazing event that caused our supercell to produce a tornado. Enjoy the photos!