Overall, this was a good chase year. The entire week before the chase, I was expecting virtually no storms. I was afraid there would be very little to chase, and that we would be simply out of luck. It looked like May 1, our first day, would be the best day, and we wouldn’t be able to get far enough east to see anything.
On our first day, we did not see much. We were delayed a little in our departure, and then again in Roswell, NM, picking up a quick emergency supply. Either way, we could not have reached far enough east to have caught the few storms that formed.
On our second day, I had not been optimistic, either. Even with the 5% Tornado threat ring, we were chasing in rough terrain, with low Lifted Condensation Levels (LCLs) and a giant Verizon data hole. Even so, we were within a few miles of a tornado-warned cell, though there was nothing to see.
On our third day, we had a tough travel from Austin, TX, to Lubbock, TX. There were storms to our south, but we opted to travel north for the storms that we thought would form the following day. It turned out to be a good move.
Our fourth day was fantastic. We didn’t get a tornado, but we got a whispy funnel next to a rainbow, and a beautiful, isolated supercell in the southern Texas Panhandle. Considering I thought Saturday would be a “down” day at the hotel, this was a fantastic catch.
The fifth day was a bust, at least for us. We got on storms early and had the choice between two cells that were in the Lubbock area. Neither looked great, but I knew that they would cross a boundary and fire. I should have chosen the southern cell, but I did not. Instead, we stuck with the northern one. It fell apart, and the southern one put a tornado on the ground for probably an hour. There was no way for us to intercept. Busted, by a bad call on my part!
The sixth day was long. Nursing our wounds from the day before, we decided to trek north to the much stronger risk in Kansas. It was the first time we’d left Texas on the storm chase. Storms fired too late in the day for us, however. We should have turned around, but I hung out near a boundary in southwest Kansas for a little too long. Eventually, some storms that had formed in Colorado progressed east, becoming severe as they interacted with this boundary. We got on an embedded tornadic supercell at night, and played cat and mouse with it, slowing our pace south and east. We never saw a tornado, but in the lightning, the shelf cloud for the squall line was amazing.
On the seventh day, we needed to head west and arrive home. It took us too long to get there, and we ended up caught in the Moderate Risk through the panhandle of Texas. As it turns out, most of the tornadoes were rain-wrapped, so we were smart not to chase them (as if we had a choice with our time schedule). We did have to duck under a carport to avoid some hail. Either way, it was a long journey home.
I’m already looking forward to next year’s chase, and I think some of the students are as well. It was good to get out and chase with the students!
Thank you for reading my post.