Yesterday marks the first day of chasing for me. I was at work until 6:00pm, having taken a break part of the way through the day to pack my bags. I needed to grade a project, but there was an exam in the room with the hardware I needed, so I ended up coming home and taking care of chase stuff (fixing the VHF radio, packing my bag, packing the cooler, cleaning the car, etc) and then going back into work to grade the project when the exam had finished. After I graded the project, I biked home, washed the car (so I’m not stuck removing bird crap with a squeege at some random truck stop), picking up a quick dinner and ice for the cooler.
I took I-25 to I-40, targeting Amarillo, TX for the night. That would put me in striking distance for everywhere from Hays, KS to Lawton, OK for the chase. It was already late, and I knew that I would not get to the hotel until relatively late at night.
Everything was peachy, until about Tucumcari. I noticed that there was an occasional flash to my southeast. I watched for a few minutes, and saw that it was lightning. I didn’t think much of it- some late night convection and nothing more. I kept heading east on I-40, until I noticed that I was gaining on the storm, and the lightning becoming more frequent. I turned off my car stereo and tuned around to try to find some weather radio reception. Nothing. I turned on my hand scanner and tried it (I have an external antenna for it), and still nothing.
I still was not too worried, so I crossed into Texas and heard just a few words from the weather radio: “pong ball sized”, “Parmer”, “Castro”, “northeast at 45mph”. I pulled over at a picnic area somewhere west of Adrian and brought up the internet on my Autonet router. I didn’t know what a “pong ball” was, but I knew ping pong ball sized hail would not be pleasant. I also knew that Parmer and Castro were the counties south of me, and so this storm was going to cross I-40 somewhere between me and Amarillo, my destination. I also knew that a storm moving 45mph in the open plains was no fun either. One of the radar images from this storm is shown below:
I also brought up my APRS track. It was dead. I have to figure out this morning what is wrong with the tracking.
A quick analysis said I could probably make it to Adrian and actually take cover under a gas station overhang, versus hanging out here at a picnic area with no shelter. Mind you, I’m looking for hail shelter, as a gas station overhang does not shelter you from much. I drove to Adrian, TX and sat at a gas station on the south side of I-40.
At the gas station, I learned several other things. The autonet router never reconnected. I was unable to pick up any weather from the weather radio. The lightning and wind were becoming more intense. I pulled past the gas station onto a farm road to test out the camera I borrowed from PayDirt. I was trying to get lightning photos, but not having much luck- the lightning was mostly obscured by precipitation, making them all “flash” lightning instead of neat streaks. I would occasionally see a very nice anvil crawler, but not frequently enough to keep snapping photos. Plus, it was beginning to rain, so I packed up the camera and went back to the overhang.
The wind began to intensify. I watched the gas pumps rock in place. I pulled out my hand anemometer and rolled down the window. Anemometer is dead. However, after a few minutes, the wind eased up and I continued east. Somewhere between Adrian and Vega, the weather radio roared to life and kept announcing severe thunderstorm warnings. A few minutes after each warning, the warning would be cancelled as the cell weakened, but then it would reintensify and warrant a new warning.
Creeping along, I finally made it to the Camelot Inn in Amarillo, TX around 4:15am. I slept for a few hours and just finished eating breakfast.
I’ll do a full analysis of where I am going later. I know I need to be much farther east than I am, so I am going to get east before moving north or south along the dryline.
The weather here in Amarillo is pretty crappy this morning. It’s overcast and drizzling off and on. Not the severe clear I’d like to see. However, maybe I’ll be able to catch an outflow boundary from this mess and go from there. I might need to get north of this mess eventually.
Starting Odometer Reading: 206314
Ending Odometer Reading: 206697