I started this chase day in Great Bend, KS.
The SPC issued a slight risk and 2% tornado threat for northern TX and southwest OK
There was some CAPE, and some capping inversion. I wasn’t super impressed with the CAPE or the shear, but it was better than any other sounding in the area.
I will post more on a follow up, but when I checked GOES east, I could see a very clear boundary across northern TX, and decided that was my focal area. I headed south for Abilene, TX.
At 18:30z, I stopped in Clinton, OK to evaluate the weather. GOES East showed a thin line of cumulus clouds along the boundary I saw earlier, but that is far to my southwest, so much so that I could barely see the clouds. The NWS in Norman said that Skywarn activation will be needed this evening, 4PM to 7PM is storm initiation. A cold front is draped between Hollis, OK to Ponca City, OK, and a stationary front is draped between Lubbock, TX and Vernon, TX. The one I saw on satellite was the Lubbock-Vernon front.
One fun thing about storm chasing is being in areas of the country that many people do not appreciate. For example, I drove through Roosevelt, OK, and thought, “what a pleasant little town.” Here are some of photos of a few of the brick buildings that I find so pleasing…
At 19:26z, along US-183 near Mountain Park, OK, to the south I can see a few cumulus clouds, including one that is much taller than it is wide. There is also a cumulus field to the east, but more can be expected to the south. According to the SPC Comp Map, the stationary front and the dryline are overlapping across northern TX.
At 20:36z, I pulled over south of Vernon, TX. There is a mesoscale discussion that says initiation of storms is possible, particularly between Lubbock, TX and Midland, TX, but that storms will also fire here as well. I’ll head a little farther south, perhaps in Munday, TX. SPC says 80% chance of severe thunderstorm watch going up later. No words at all on tornadoes, hail is the primary threat. The system will morph into a complex MCS by evening.
At 20:58z, a severe thunderstorm watch was issued. I am 9 miles out of Seymour, TX on US-183, at the intersection of US-82/277. There is cumulus all over the place, I am in the middle of a large cumulus field. I will try to get a little southwest of Seymour, TX.
At 21:39z, I fueled up, and a cell started to fire north of me, near Vernon, TX. I’m headed back up US-183 towards this very slow moving cell. According to GOES East, there is a cell near OKC, and several closer to Lubbock, TX. The cell to my north is not super promising; glaciated and not very crisp. It is dropping precipitation, however.
At 22:03z, I made it as far as Lake Kemp, but then turned around so that I could go up US-82/277 to get ahead of this cell and another cell not too far away.
Along US-82/277, another cell began to fire to my southwest. I bounced back and forth between the cell that was headed for Wichita Falls, TX and the new cell developing to the southwest. This is a picture of the cell to the southwest:
Now, it is time to discuss a quick lesson in rookie storm chasing. Just because you see a storm in front of you does not mean it is safe to ignore all other events around you. For example, say you see a ragged wall cloud along US-82/277, you might think “hey that is pretty neat!”, but between Wichita Falls, TX and Seymour, TX there are very few southern escape routes. At some point, I realized that there was a cell building to the southwest that was going to strike Seymour, TX, and then travel up my only escape route. I headed to Seymour as quickly as I could.
I arrived at the north end of Seymour just as the hail and wind arrived. I parked the car under the US-277 overpass (FAR off the road, there was plenty of space…) and met several other folks who did the same. The storm that hit there was reported to have 82mph gusts. I only saw about pea sized hail, but supposedly somewhere there was 2″ diameter hail associated with that storm.
This whole time, I was monitoring the Archer County Skywarn Net, and listening to the reports, though I was not familiar enough with the area to know exactly where they were stationing people and where people were taking cover. I did hear them discuss “the 25”, meaning TX-25 quite a bit.
Once the hail and wind lightened up, I decided I would head to Olney, TX, but only made it a few miles down TX-114 before running into the back end of the storm again. At this point, the storms were beginning to morph into a line.
The cells had fully morphed into a linear segment, and I was safe on the west side of it as the sun set. I took a few pictures of the mammatus on the backside of the line.
I ended the day in Wichita Falls, TX at the Travelodge. This city was designed by a moron. Furthermore, the Travelodge was crap. It smelled stale (but I was too tired to care, hung an air freshener over the vent), the shower leaked (significantly), and half way through the night, the fridge died, making all my food spoil. And the internet is unreliable, so who knows when I’ll post this…
Starting Odometer: 248576
Ending Odometer: 249148