Chase Log: 2010: Week 2
5/15/10, Llano County, TX (2 Funnels)
5/16/10, Childress County, TX (7 Funnels)
5/16/10, Hardeman County, TX (1 Funnels)
5/17/10, Taylor County, TX (1 Funnels)
5/18/10, Hartley County, TX (3 Funnels, 1 Tornado)
5/18/10, Moore County, TX (3 Funnels, 6 Tornadoes)
5/18/10, Hutchinson County, TX (3 Funnels, 4 Tornadoes)
5/19/10, Dewey County, OK (3 Funnels)
5/19/10, Kingfisher County, OK (2 Funnels)
5/19/10, Oklahoma County, OK (1 Funnels)
5/21/10, Briscoe County, TX (1 Funnel, 5 Tornadoes)
Pick up tour group in KCMO. We head south towards Wichita Falls, TX. By Wichita Falls I had to make a decision to either head to the Trans Pecos area where the SPC is talking about storms being tornadic or follow my forecasting ability which is telling me further east of there. The TPA was still cloudy and there was clearing by Brady, much warmer air and higher dew points. Easy choice. So we headed south through Breckenridge toward Brownwood. A storm had fired south of San Angelo and was headed east at about 25 mph. This storm will get much stronger when it hits the warm moist air. Well when it hit the warm moist air It did strengthen and ended up tornado warned. We worked our way south through Richland Springs and San Saba. Then head for Llano. The whole way we could see our storm off in the distance. Near Llano we are looking at a tornado warned storm that spotters have seen a funnel on. When all of the sudden a funnel appears. The dark little funnel drops about 20 percent down to the ground and lifts back after about a minute. As we drive into Llano we stop for gas and a bathroom break, while some of us were still watching the cloud base. Another funnel in nearly the same spot in the storm appears and dissipates, this time is different the updraft base is definitely weakening and the storm is dying. We head south because some Cu are popping just south of us near Fredricksburg. We drive down route 16 to the storm and work our way just east of another rotating wall cloud. We see incredible lightening and end up getting some hail. So we moved east. Then after watching the storm for a little while we get more hail. Well the storm died as quickly as it blew up. So we go to Fredricksburg for the night. What we find is that after 50 minutes there was still piles of hail in spots on the west side of town. We take pictures and enjoy the sunset. We find some motels and then head for what is the best steak in Fredricksburg, TX, The Bavarian place.
We leave Fredricksburg at 10am and head back north to Wichita Falls. On the way we redirect to Altus, OK. Storms have fired and are looking to skirt just north of Altus. We are trying to make time so we stop and try to eat lunch at a Dairy Queen and gas up at the same time. Everyone takes a bathroom break and goes to the DQ. I gas up and head to DQ. Well it has been 15 minutes and I figured that most would have their food. When I walk in, everyone is still in line and nobody has ordered yet. Well we just leave and snack in the van. Apparently there was just one employee that was training another employee and they just could not handle the crowd. Well when we finally get to Altus and are ready to chase the storm falls apart. Well at this point McD’s sounded great and that is where we had a late lunch(5PM). Then we hit one hotel and they were priced like they were the Taj Mahal. So we go to look at a couple of other hotels. On the way I notice a cu firing up west of us. Forget the motels we have a little 6 o’clock magic going on. I call Mark and Jim and they head north out of Childress and we head west out of Altus. We meet up under the main storm and it is producing funnels. We drive right up to the wall clouds, with no other chasers around, on 256 just west of 83. We just watch this storm from extremely close distance. The storm is now moving south east. We stay as close to it as we can and catch another funnel. At this time it is rotating very quickly and the base of the wall is very low. We are on 83 now south of the red river and we move off road. We just barely keep up with the storm and have deer all over the place. One jumped out in front of the van and I could not see most of its body or legs, because it was so close, but somehow I missed hitting it. I really wish I had video of that. Well we get to a south paved road and get onto 287 east. We get south of the rotating wall again just at dusk and get another rope funnel half way to the ground(Photo courtesy of Brett). Then we head back to Childress for the night to meet up with Mark and Jim.
We start at 10 in the am and head south, there is a cluster of storms that is going to go severe and that will be the best action for the day. We go south on 83, and as we are going heading south a severe t-storm box is issued the storm we are chasing goes severe. Really since we are out in front of it, It is chasing us now. We stop occasionally to look at the storm but it is now putting out 60 – 80 mph winds and large hail. Storms form out in front of the line and then merge with the line and each time this happens the storm strengthens. We start to see rotation on occasion in the wall clouds. Then south of Abilene we finally get a brief funnel. Just afterwards we get some strong outflow kicking up dirt across farm fields. So we head south east on 84, and then double back along the outflow through Novice and Winters, TX. Then up 153. We do this because we don’t want to be out of position for Tuesday. So we head to Clovis, NM and hook up with Mark and Jim again.
Well we are close today to where the action will be today. It is going to be a good day. We get up late and eat, gas up and get everything in the van. Mark and Jim are looking at maps and start to head north to Dalhart. I look at some maps and see north is good and we drive to Vega. Mark and Jim stopped near Channing and some cu’s are going up in a line and 3 cells are there. Then two merge and then another pops up. I didn’t want to get stuck due to roads so we hang back. Then I see rotation on the Doppler where the storms are merging. We head north on 385. Just then Mark calls and says he has a tornado on the ground. We are not that far away but it felt like forever. As we are approaching the storm we are having funnels drop out the flanking line and have a landspout tornado. We go through Channing and get onto route 722. Half way across 722 we see a tornado to our north, a large wedge. We keep driving east and run into a chaser convention. We find Mark and Jim just as another tornado partially wrapped by rain is visible. Finally we had back south and east on 1913 and stop and take pictures of another tornado. We wait just a little longer because if this thing turns right we will be in big trouble if it does due to a lake to the south. Well it is still moving east so we hustle up closer to it where we have a SE road and an escape route. When we get there the inflow is blowing at 35+ MPH we have quite a treat another condensation funnel to the ground and a couple of landspout tornadoes. Well the structure of the storm keeps improving and the Meso and vaulted region is getting picturesque. Mark and Jim Split off to get closer(north) we stay put and hop skip around the storm by moving South east then back north east, and end up out in front of the storm near Stinnett. The Meso Is FREAKING UNBEILEIVABLE! Stacked plates to our west and the biggest meso and vaulted region I have ever seen leading back to a tornado. Then the sirens sound and another tornado. The sirens were going for 40 minutes in the town of Stinnett, TX. Twin Funnels one of which was rotating clock wise, another tornado, then the second updraft and all the other chaser showed up. We followed out west on a paved road and then onto a dirt road and watched it move off to the east. Then we hooked back up with Mark and Jim and headed for Elk City, OK. What a day!!
This day is going to be tough. Much more moisture, means rain wrapped tornadoes. We start out By positioning just a little further west to Clinton/Weatherford. Well the first Cu got up SW of Arnett and we drove north and West to catch it. Well near Putnam on 183 decision time again, north or south of the Canadian River. I chose north and It turned out to be the wrong decision the storm has a cell that merges from the south and produces a tornado near Leedey. We can see a distant funnel, but we need to get south of the river. Not only that but another storm that is larger is about to merge with the storm and we may get cut off. We hustle back to 183 and south. Then just as we get through the rain there is a new updraft in addition to the one to our west. Well all the chasers that were on the Leedey Tornado, miss the new updraft and drive right under the rotating wall cloud and a couple of funnels are directly over them. Just at about that time Mark and Jim pull up and we are getting hit with outflow. We are one of the first ones to realize this and head south on 183 to 47 to 33. By this time the storm is tornado warned again. We drive north on 8 from Watonga towards Hitchcock. We see the amazing rotating wall cloud. As we are heading towards Hitchcock and another paved road that heads due east, I realize that we will be in the bears cage and too close to the hail, high winds, and tornado threat. So we pull a Uey. Then go further south and get on a gravel road. The gravel road was a mistake due to the heavy rain from the day before. There were parts that were mud and it slowed us down too much. So to get out of there we turned south on another gravel road. Well it started as gravel and turned in to a mud bog. We almost go back onto gravel, but got stuck in the mud. Phantom Jim said that he looked up and there was a cone above us. Well we were out of the hail, high winds and the tornado threat was moving east, so I knew we were ok. Mark and Jim backed up and got back to the other gravel road. We pushed the van half way back when a local and his family came to our rescue. They pulled us back onto the gravel. Bruce our driver gave one of the kids his WG jacket as a thank you. We then drove back to Hitchcock and headed east on that paved road that goes due east. We found out that it was a smart decision not to go down that road. There were power poles down and a outbuilding was destroyed(all pictured) when a tornado crossed the road. Then reading other storm reports, Jims cone came down and was rain wrapped. Well it would have come down directly on us had we not turned south and got stuck. Well now we drive south and go into Kingfisher. The power is out over some of the town. We end up with some small hail from a follow up storm. As we keep going south a flanking like of Cu’s we see circulation and funnels even on the flanking line. We get onto 3 and then 44 east to Tulsa. We see another funnel near Arcadia, but we just will not catch up with the main storm. So we pull off at the first exit. Then another storm merged with the cell to our NE. When this happened we had a wall cloud form to our SE and it produced a funnel and was tornado warned. At this point the sun was setting and we headed back down 44 to El Reno to sleep for the night.
I decide to take a break after 5 days in a row of funnels and tornadoes and severe weather. We sleep in and go to a late breakfast with Mark and Jim. They are leaving on Friday at 8 am. They are going to look for some damage from the tornadoes from the day before and then will venture back to Oak city. We say our goodbyes and they take off. After breakfast Bruce and I go to clean mud off the van. It took 10 dollars in quarters and 40 minutes to clean the van up. Next we go get some BBQ at a local mom and pop joint. Then find a shop to fix chips in the windshield. The guests play uno and go to watch a couple of movies at a nearby theatre. We spend the night in El Reno again.
Well I decide that Oklahoma panhandle is the place for today. So we head to Boise City. We wait, and we wait and we wait. Storms finally blow up south, near Lubbock to Amarillo. We head back south to Amarillo and the storm that is there is weakening. So we target the strongest storm near Tulia. It is rotating on radar but is not tornado warned. Well as we are driving south another cell is merging with the Tulia cell. So that is where we target. As the cell merges with the Tulia cell, the Tulia cell stops rotating. Then the South cell just goes nuts and it is now one cell near Silverton. In Silverton to the south there is a landspout tornado that in 20 seconds lifts and rotates 500 feet in the air. It is a nice semi crescent shaped tube of dirt. Then it just stops rotating. We stay close and then witness outflow and gustnadoes. We keep following the storm and it keeps battling outflow then inflow. The Landspouts were moving Northeast and the gustnadoes were moving Southeast. Well we were on a road that went SE, route 86. I figured that would get us a little further away from the storm and the landspouts. Well we see another landspout and this one was really spinning fast for 20 – 25 seconds. We drove a little further and just stopped. Then I said that people could get out. Brett opened the door and that is when it hit. The tornado pulled the door out of his hand and slammed it open. Wind blew through the van. I looked at the house next to us and saw steel shingles flapping in the wind and dirt everywhere. After about 10 seconds it moved NE across the road. We watched it for a few minutes as it went out into a farm field. Then the outflow hit it and then there were some gustnadoes moving with the outflow to the South East. Well everyone was ok, and we were all bagging on Brett for not being able to hold on to the door. We followed the storm a little longer and viewed the storm from in the van. The mosquito’s were just crazy. Well we were stopped again in a driveway when a truck came down that drive. It was a Boy Scout Troop Leader was wondering what to do. We reassured him that all was ok and the scouts were not in danger. He seemed happy about that. Then we drove to Childress to sleep for the night.
Head to KCMO to see the tourist/chasers off. What a tour 6 for 6 on chase days, 43 funnels and tornadoes. We will be having a Steak dinner tonight!