Chase Report for 2011 April 24: Tornado near Baird, Texas
Bob Fritchie and I observed the first tornado north of Baird, Texas around 3:30 pm. We followed the storm 90 minutes before we turned back west for the next storm in the line, but missed the second and third tornadoes of the day, also very near Baird.
In the early afternoon it seemed a surface low and weak triple point had formed south-southwest of Abilene. This was indicated in the surface observations, and the cu field evident by 17z showed what appeared to be an outflow boundary from previous convection draped along the interstate. With stronger midlevel flow than any previous setup in this regime, I assumed that if even half the RUC-forecasted CAPE was realized, the storms should be more intense than the last two days. When I left Denton, I planned to stop at Graham, but this setup and the RUC / HRRR convergence on the solution compelled me to to go much farther west. I only hoped I wasn’t too late.
I met Bob in Graham and he agreed. This target jived with his forecast from two nights ago. Soon a small shower formed near Abilene and we turned south at Throckmorten to check it out, though we held little hope for this initial cell since winds at ABI were northerly, and in the prior few rounds of obs, the surface low had become ill-defined.
Five miles north of Baird, we noticed elevated rotation in an otherwise unimpressive, almost HP-ish base. But soon this tightened up—just south of another large and rotating wallcloud. The rotation near us gathered rainbands and a clear slot cut behind the circulation. Moments later, a lowering descended, a funnel pointed straight down. It rotated a long time before fully condensing and then stretched and curved, attached to the back of the meso—the back of the entire storm, actually, like a tail. Behind it were clear skies. In the field ahead, the circulation barreled through the grassland.
After the tornado we dropped south and east to race out ahead of the storm. It developed several more wallclouds until it was clear the boundary magic was in the past. We turned back west for another storm approaching Baird, which also produced tornadoes almost in the same spot as ours, but these appeared before we regained sight of the notch. We followed that one also, another hour or so, before a third turn back west ended unsuccessfully.
We finally headed home around 8:00 PM, met with Denton chasers Robert Hall, Mike Mezeul II and his friends, for Italian food at Pasta Fina in Weatherford. Bob mentioned to me in a text a moment ago how much fun it was to see tornadogenesis at very close range in such detail. He’s right. Quite a spectacular phenomenon.
|Stopped later on I-20 for the shelf shot|